BALAKLAVA young handler Duane Wilson drew on his many years of experience to win the open beef cattle junior paraders and, ultimately, the state championship at the Royal Adelaide Show.
The 21-year-old was “ecstatic” about his win, having only receiving one blue ribbon previously in 14 years entering the competition.
As the champion handler, he has earned the right to represent SA in the national finals in Vic next year.
Mr Wilson’s talents were also recognised at the SA Junior Heifer Expo in July, where he was the senior champion handler. He had a hectic show this year, fitting and showing 126 cattle from 10 breeds, including his family’s Arabar Charolais stud.
“I have always loved working with animals and the people you meet in the job is fantastic,” Mr Wilson said.
“It is about showing the animal off, not me. If someone notices me, I am not doing it properly.”
Throughout the year he works at the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin, drives livestock trucks and is involved in the live export industry.
NSW-based judge Jasmine Nixon, Wagga Wagga, put the handlers, aged from eight to 22 years old, through their paces, testing their ability to control their animals, and even getting them to stand their cattle up without a show cane in the senior classes. She said Mr Wilson’s winning edge was his ringcraft skills and rapport with his heifer.
“He had great control of the animal and awareness in the ring, making sure he never got caught in a corner,” she said. “You are here to sell the cattle to the people, so we need to make sure you are always showing them to the best of their ability, whether that is the marshalling yards or in the ring.”
Ms Nixon, who works for Teys Australia while also running Angus and Limousin studs, has been heavily involved with Angus Youth and won the Heifer Expo’s senior champion herdsman award in 2009. She was highly impressed by the professionalism of the handlers, especially the placegetters.
“Any of these young people could get jobs working in the sheds as professionals with their skills,” she said.
“They presented themselves well and really handled their animals well in the ring.”
The beef industry’s future looks bright, with this year’s field of 88 competitors eclipsing last year’s 77 entries.