YOUNG Murray Grey breeder Chelsea Harrop, Sanderston, says the connections she has made at the SA Junior Heifer Expo have been life-changing
With entries now open the 22-year-old can't wait to attend her seventh Expo which will be held at the Adelaide Showgrounds from July 18 to 21.
She already has her heifer, Strawberry Kisses, which she has a special bond with, halter trained.
"She's had a rough trot through life. Last year we lost Pumpkin (her mother) and she was born six weeks premature so we bottle fed her until we were able to foster her onto Melon (another cow) and she raised her as a twin," Ms Harrop said.
Her first Heifer Expo experience was more than a decade ago when she borrowed a heifer from Big River Murray Grey stud, Murray Bridge.
"That was the start of my showing career," she said.
In 2014 Ms Harrop found another stud, Rainbow Valley Square Meaters, Springton, willing to lend her a heifer and began showing cattle with them.
It is worthwhile not just for the showing, it is worthwhile for the connections that you make and the fun you have and the opportunities which can come your way.- CHELSEA HARROP
Four years later she established Sunshine Murray Grey stud buying her first heifer from Bukartilla Beef, Kuitpo.
With her partner Matthew Causer- who shares her passion for cattle breeding and is also attending the 2022 Expo- they have quickly grown the stud to 15 head.
"You find a lot more reward in showing your own because you have done everything from conception, you can't not be proud of what you have done," she said.
Ms Harrop encourages anyone interested in agriculture to attend the Expo. She is pleased to be able to mentor other young people and plans on taking a team of five animals to the Expo.
"It is worthwhile not just for the showing, it is worthwhile for the connections that you make and the fun you have and the opportunities which can come your way," she said.
"The people coming with us are even more ecstatic than attending a country show, to have the chance to spend four days looking after an animal themselves."
In some years the event has attracted nearly 200 entrants from across Australia and even New Zealand but Expo coordinator Nat Hann says entrants will again be capped at 150- the same as 2021.
"In light of COVID still being present in SA and a number of other events not being able to go ahead we felt it was better to err on the side of caution," she said.
Last year the age limit was raised to 24 years of age and the committee have decided to keep it at that with the minimum age remaining at eight years.
Mrs Hann says during the event's nearly 40 year history the essence of the Expo has always been "education, having fun and forging friendships".
"The Expo has always prided itself on its education program and sourcing excellent speakers," she said.
"Where else can you spend four days with other kids that love the beef industry?"
Mrs Hann said many committee members have been previous entrants and wanted to give the next generation the same opportunities as they had.
"The Expo has had a huge impact on so many lives, especially those who don't come from a farming background like myself," she said.
"To see so many entrants go into great careers in agriculture has been tremendous."
The major prize is the Nutrien Livestock Beef Industry Scholarship and Show Society Foundation of Excellence which are together valued at $6500.
This will again be awarded to the senior champion herdsperson.
Entrants also have the chance to win a number of scholarships including a new one being offered by one of Australia's largest family owned beef and cattle companies, Stanbroke.
The recipient will spend a season ( March to September the following year, weather dependent) on one of Stanbroke's seven stations in the Gulf of Carpentaria in Qld.
A new addition to the program will be a celebration dinner on the Wednesday night which will include a live auction.
Each entrant is required to bring either a registered heifer under 22 months, or commercial steer or heifer (minimum weight of 280kg).
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