‘Gentle giant’ delivers sixth cup win

Richard and Denise van Asch were all smiles after their South Devon bull Burtergill Righton won...
Richard and Denise van Asch were all smiles after their South Devon bull Burtergill Righton won the Meat and Wool Cup at the Canterbury A&P Show in Christchurch. PHOTOS: TIM CRONSHAW
A sixth win in the Meat and Wool Cup by a South Devon bull has earned the van Asch family bragging rights among beef breeders at the Canterbury A&P Show.

In a celebratory mood were Richard and Denise van Asch, and daughter Emily, after their rising 2-year-old Burtergill Righton, stepped ahead of other cattle breeds to lead the field in Christchurch.

Most of the judging the panel placed the bull first in the inter-breed lead-up and his timing was perfect as the beef cattle class had Royal status.

Mr van Asch said he would be retained as a quality sire to go out to the stud cows as soon as they got home.

On saying that, everything was for sale at a price, he said.

"It’s his first show and he’s out of a home-bred cow by an Australian sire so he’s based on home genetics with an Australian out-cross.

"I picked that bull for all the reasons the judges said. He moves very well, he stands on terrific feet and legs, he’s got a great set of testicles, clean in the shoulder and he’s got a huge amount of muscling, but he’s in proportion."

There was more reason to celebrate when the bull won the silverware for the commercially focused All Breeds bull class and then the All Breeds title among all age groups.

The family had carried out this special achievement before, he said.

"If stud breeders are doing their job properly a good animal should have a commercial focus and be commercially viable. The days of stud cattle not being commercial cattle should be gone. As a studmaster my absolute focus should be be my commercial clients and my cattle should meet their needs and desires."

Rising 2-year-old South Devon bull Burtergill Righton has made Canterbury’s van Asch family proud.
Rising 2-year-old South Devon bull Burtergill Righton has made Canterbury’s van Asch family proud.
The van Asch family last won the Meat and Wool Cup in 2018.

They shifted from Marlborough’s Awatere Valley to West Melton in 2020 to run their two studs and commercial sheep and beef operation on a larger 480 hectare farm as well as continuing to work full time.

Their red South Devon stud, Burtergill, was begun by his father, Arnold, in 1972 and their black South Devon pedigree herd, Aschwood Stud, was formed in 2013.

A total of 156 stud cows are run in the same mob and separated for breeding with about 50 bulls sold to the dairy industry this month and about 15 two-year-olds usually average $6500 at their on-farm sale still held in Marlborough in June.

They still hold the world record price for a South Devon bull sold at auction for $43,000 at Beef Expo in 2007 and gained another honour after winning the champion of champions title at the expo in 2016.

"Traditionally the South Devon’s been high birth-rate and we’ve moderated them and concentrated on lowering the birth rate while keeping the growth. They’re known as gentle giants for a good reason and why people want to work with wild cattle I don’t know. They are absolutely relevant for the current commercial farmer."

He said they were originally a tri-purpose animal as an old British breed for clotted cream from their milk for Devonshire teas, bred to pull ploughs and farm machinery in the village and a meat breed.

Today they served as a maternal animal looking after their calves and an ideal terminal animal because of their growth, muscling and docile nature.

Mr van Asch said there was still unfortunately a mindset that show cattle were not relevant commercial cattle and that was something he was hoping to break.

Runner-up was a Murray Grey cow and calf owned by the Climo family of Clarkville and third and angus cow and calf from the Jenkins family’s Floridale stud.



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