Emmanuel College is hoping for a good result in the meat quality section of this year’s Royal Melbourne Show carcase competition after excelling in the animal parading and presentation sections in previous years.
Emmanuel, the only Warrnambool secondary school to run an agricultural studies program, will this week take six steers and 11 students for a five-day trip to the show.
Agriculture teacher Penny Ryan said agricultural studies were popular at the college with numbers growing each year.
About 120 students from Years 8-12 were enrolled in the subject this year, Ms Ryan said.
Students have reared the 12-month-old steers for the past four months, learning handling skills as well as feeding them.
Ms Ryan said the program taught the students about taking responsibility for the welfare of live animals.
“The students make a real commitment to it,” she said.
“The students make a real commitment to rearing the cattle.Penny Ryan
Students also learn teamwork skills with three teams, each headed by a senior student, taking responsibility for two steers each.
The steers, which have been shedded for the past six weeks, are sourced from beef producers across the south-west and South Australia.
Two Herefords came from long-time supporter of the school’s show cattle program, Ken Hodge of Mortlake, while Poll Herefords came from David Jenkin of Penshurst and a Limousin Murray Grey cross came from Jason Schultz in SA.
Ms Ryan said the school received assistance from Geordie Elliott in sourcing the cattle.
One of the steers is owned by the college and it shares the profits from the other five steers with the cattle producers.
Cattle in the competition are judged on their live structure, on how well they are paraded by the students, and on their meat quality.
Ms Ryan said the students did get attached to the animals, spending long hours with them during their rearing and presentation.
However they were accepting of the realities of primary production and that “it was a one way trip” for the cattle to the show, she said.
Ms Ryan said the college’s agriculture studies were successful in starting many students on a pathway to a career in agriculture or a related field.
“From last year’s Year 12, about 10 out of the 12 students went on to work in agriculture,” she said.