Flood survivor reigns supreme after farm tragedy
VERONICA O'Shea was left with one miracle cow after the 2011 floods, but fast forward eight years and she has claimed an Ekka triumph after re-building the stud from scratch.
The tri-coloured supreme exhibit sash culminated years of hard work for Veronica and her partner Jim, of Red Gum Murray Greys, at Coominya.
It was Red Gum NightCap who impressed the judges, working his way up from senior bull through to supreme Murray Grey exhibit of the Ekka.
"He's the best I've ever bred," Veronica said. "He has all the Murray Grey attributes and he's a beautiful natured bull."
NightCap is by Monterey Sundowner and out of a cow that was donated to the O'Sheas after the devastating 2011 floods.
The 27-month-old bull weighed 926 kilograms, had an eye muscle area of 134 and a fat score of 16/10.
He was prepared and led by TLC Fitting Service's Troy Nuttridge, of Lockyer Waters.
"We've had the bull here from the time he was born, to see him progress and get better and better was a real good thing to be a part of," Troy said.
"He's a bull that has tremendous sire appeal, he is a long bull and walks extremely well. He's got tremendous carcase in him."
After the 2011 floods, the O'Sheas were left with Red Gum Danette, who survived a miraculous 95km swim down the Brisbane River, to be rescued at the mouth near Luggage Point.
Danette is still at the stud today, producing offspring like any other animal.
But if re-building the stud wasn't enough, the accolade was another heart-felt moment following on from the death of Veronica's son Mark Hunt.
"It was my son's stud, but he passed away in 2010 after a work accident, so we kept it going for him," Veronica said.
"We always said we would do one for Mark, and we did."
It wasn't just the Veronica and Jim who were emotional about the win, but also Troy who had grown up with Mark.
"It was fantastic, Mark and I grew up together, and to be a part of it was great," Troy said.
NightCap is no stranger to the Ekka, having visited in 2017 when he was just a few weeks old.
"Everyone commented at such a young age about how great he was as a calf," Veronica said.
The prized bull also won supreme British exhibit at both Ipswich and Laidley shows this year, along with Battle of the Bulls at Farm Fest. However, the O'Sheas are preparing to farewell their prized bull as they are looking to sell him.
"There are only one or two cows we have that aren't related to him," Veronica said.
"You can't have a bull sitting there doing nothing."
Red Gum Murray Greys began in the mid 1990s when Mark was given a cow from Warwick breeder Trevor Williams.
The stud aims to breed beefy cattle that can perform well in drought conditions, as well as short coats to prevent ticks.
"We aim for ones that don't need as much feed as others," Veronica said.
"We've got one bloodline you can put on dirt and they will turn out fat."
She said with the cost of feed in drought conditions, it was important to have an animal that would still perform well.