Community & Business

11 June, 2024

School gears up for region’s shows

Judging by the enthusiasm of its students, Atherton State High School (ASHS) is poised to be a formidable force in the livestock and poultry sections of this year's shows.

By Brigitte Daley

Shelby Hamilton with one of the school’s show animals.
Shelby Hamilton with one of the school’s show animals.

A special feature of the school is its two clubs which allow students to develop and refine the “hands-on” skills which are required to prepare and present animals for showing.

ASHS Agriculture Subject area coordinator Cameron Harris said the school's poultry and cattle clubs were already established prior to his arrival at the school in 2000 and had been running successfully for more than two decades.

“The Cattle Club fosters connections among students who share similar interests across various year levels, while also facilitating relationships with staff members,” he said.

“It has also provided a platform for students to enter the industry by enabling networking opportunities.”

ASHS students have excelled in representing Far North Queensland in cattle judging and handling, as well as in poultry competitions, at the prestigious Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane (EKKA).

Mr Harris said the school had a long-standing tradition of raising poultry and breeding replacements.

“In the mid 2000s we became more involved in showing at the local agricultural show,” he said.

“Students have the opportunity to learn more about the birds in terms of nutrition, breeding, handling and disease prevention, while at the same time, using their knowledge at home.

“Currently we have also started to exhibit in the Atherton Tableland Poultry Club shows with Poultry Club playing an integral part in preparing birds to exhibit.

“Students have selected and prepared birds for exhibition as well as having helped steward at the local poultry club shows over the years.

“I have found this to be a great introduction into the animal care industry for students as it allows them to build confidence and skills before they move onto the larger animals.

“Poultry from the school has been shown at Atherton, Malanda, Innisfail, Mossman and Cairns shows, as well as Atherton Tableland Poultry Club Shows.” 

In addition to poultry, ASHS operates three purebred beef studs comprising of Brahmans, Charbrays, and Murray Greys, alongside commercial cattle bred prior to 2000.

The sale of these animals helps improve resources and opportunities for students. 

The school moved to both stud cattle (commencing in 2006) and commercial cattle to allow students to learn more about genetics and Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s).

“Currently the cattle herd is dispersed over three sites with agistment land,” Mr Harris said.

“Cattle are rotated through the school site to provide educational opportunities for students to gain skills in the industry.

“Students have attended up to five shows a year, as well as having attended the annual Malanda Cattle Handling School.”

Participating in shows enables the students to develop their cattle handling and judging skills.

After evaluating the livestock they further enhance their public speaking skills by delivering their reasons over the microphone to spectators.

“Atherton State High School believes that animals in the school benefits the mental wellbeing of students and their ability to learn in the classroom,” Mr Harris said.

“Students are always calmer around stock as we practice low stress cattle handling techniques.

“They then take this attitude into the classroom when conducting theoretical lessons.”

The school has adopted technologies to further enhance the genetic merit of its livestock.

“We are currently running synchronisation programs with the cattle herd and are looking to conduct embryo transfer programs into the future,” Mr Harris added.


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