Minority breed succeeds at show

Liz Gibson parades Blue Stone Flo while Anton Gibson holds  calf Blue Stone Jackie during beef cattle judging at the Canterbury A and P Show in Christchurch. Photo supplied.
Liz Gibson parades Blue Stone Flo while Anton Gibson holds calf Blue Stone Jackie during beef cattle judging at the Canterbury A and P Show in Christchurch. Photo supplied.

When it comes to showing beef cattle at the Canterbury A and P Show, the Meat and Wool Cup is the holy grail for exhibitors.

So when 3-year-old Santa Gertrudis heifer Blue Stone Flo was named runner-up in the cup, which encompasses all breeds, at this year's show in Christchurch, it was a proud moment for owners Anton and Liz Gibson, from Middlemarch.

The success was particularly sweet, given that the Santa Gertrudis is a minority breed in New Zealand and the Gibsons are the only South Island stud breeders.

It was a breed that they ''absolutely believed'' had a place in the beef industry in New Zealand and, while it had been a 10-year struggle to get that message out, their client base was growing, Mrs Gibson said.

To be so highly placed at a prestigious event such as the Canterbury A and P Show was great recognition for the breed, which originated in Texas, in the United States.

In 2011, Flo won the all-breeds yearling heifer title at the show, the first time a minority breed had won that accolade.

She had a year away from the show ring, before making her comeback this year, with her calf. When cattle had been well-handled and broken-in, it was ''not too big a deal'' to bring them back in to exhibit, Mrs Gibson said.

She described Flo as ''totally correct'' and a very good example of the breed and of the type they were trying to breed for New Zealand conditions.

She had very good milking ability, was rearing a ''wonderful'' calf and she was an excellent mother.

Mrs Gibson likened her to a thoroughbred horse, saying she was very alert and aware, and it was a pleasure to work with her. She was free moving and good natured.

It was Mrs Gibson who paraded Flo at the show and she admitted that she was very nervous when it came to judging the Meat and Wool Cup.

''Personally, I felt the pressure. It was over to me to parade her properly,'' she said.

Doing so well was a ''huge thrill'' for all the Gibson family - son Will and daughter Jodie are very involved in the farming operation - and particularly as Flo was bred from homebred genes.

The Gibsons, who have about 40 stud cows, took six cattle to the show, including some of Will's Hereford cattle.

They usually exhibited at about five shows - Canterbury, Wyndham, North Otago, Upper Clutha and Mackenzie - although not necessarily every year, if it did not work out.

Shows were a great family hobby and it was also a good opportunity to ''showcase'' their animals and network with people. It was also a good social outing, Mrs Gibson said.

• The Meat and Wool Cup was won by a 6-year-old Angus cow, Lilliesleaf Boleyn, and her calf, owned by Rob Hall, from Waikaka, in Southland.

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