A South Australian stud that last showed cattle at the Melbourne Royal Show pre-pandemic has swooped in to reclaim the top spot in the Simmentals, winning both the major gongs for the bull and female classes.
The Baker family of Woonalee Simmentals from Furner, SA, secured the supreme exhibit for the breed with an April 2022-drop heifer, Woonalee Vasti.
"We're very proud because we haven't been to Melbourne in quite a few years and to be this successful makes us really chuffed," Woonalee Simmentals stud principal Lizzy Baker said.
"Having the heifer go grand female and then supreme exhibit obviously is pretty special, and then to win grand champion bull with our big boy who we rate highly is really pleasing."
The August 2021-drop bull, Woonalee SKW, was named after the late Australian cricketer, Shane Warne.
Mrs Baker said the bull was a memento of the great Aussie icon.
"Well, he got lots of cows in calf," she said when quizzed if the bull shared any similarities with the legendary sportsman.
The Bakers run a herd of about 850 registered Simmentals in SA.
"It's very rewarding to have them validated by an individual judge and get them a red, white and blue ribbon," Mrs Baker said.
"A majority of our cattle are black Simmentals, purely driven by market demand."
The stud hosts an on-property sale in February and a northern sale in Tamworth, NSW, in August each year.
"The Angus sector has done such a good job with the marketing of their cattle and the Angus breed is very popular, so I guess we are trying to provide a black-skinned animal that has the traits of a European," Mrs Baker said.
"We want to keep them soft and easy-doing, but focus more on muscle and performance.
"Their milking is exceptional as is their carcase and we really try to breed a soft animal."
The last time Woonalee Simmentals exhibited cattle at the Melbourne Royal Show was in 2018, and Mrs Baker said their return to Victoria was because of "a very keen daughter".
"We'd done all the hard work breaking them in for Adelaide and thought it was just another truck trip and a week out of our life to come over here," Mrs Baker said.
Simmental/Fleckvieh judge Scott Myers, Myers Angus, The Rock, NSW, said the SA stud was a standout throughout the exhibition.
"The breed is exceptional and has such a diversity within it from cold climates out to western NSW and WA, the breed really does suit every environment," he said.
"We had the traditional Simmentals through to the black polled cattle and it was really good to just see such a broad range of the breed."
Mr Meyers said the supreme exhibit was a "beautiful, fault-free female who had a great udder".
"She was right where the beef industry needs to be with an easy-doing, fleshy female with heaps of capacity," he said.
"The grand champion bull was an impressive bull which weighed in at 1100 kilos.
"He had a lot of muscle but softness to him as well, but the female in my opinion was just a more complete individual."
Mr Meyers said the breed was popular across on a global scale, and its popularity in Australia was increasing year-on-year.
"Within North America, Simmentals would be probably the most dominant breed in that country because of their ability to be extremely fertile and hit market specs on feed and conversion and MSA grading," he said.
"It's great to have purebreds, but the beef industry is all about crossbreds and that's why Simmentals do well."