Tocal Steer Challenge

Filed under Education & Childcare, Event & Venue, News ~ by Press on  2 Aug 2012

Tocal College established a competition for local schools for students to care for and show cattle. Eight high schools in the Hunter Valley each got a steer from Tocal in May this year.

Participating schools are Rutherford Technology High, St Joseph’s Lochinvar, Cessnock High, Mount View High, Dungog High, Hunter River High, Morisset High and Wadalba Community School. 

Students are in the final stage of preparing their steers to compete at the Tocal Steer Challenge. On show day, students are judged on how well they set up the cattle yard, their knowledge of the health and nutrition of their steer, and how well they lead the steer.

The challenge took place for the first time last year with Cessnock High School the winner.

Cessnock High School Year 10 student Ashley Hunter said that the challenge revealed how much work goes into cattle production and the agriculture industry.

Last year’s Tocal Steer Challenge taught me a great deal about farming and working animals and was such a great learning experience that I signed up to do it again this year,” Ashley said.

The challenge is a lot of fun and I have learned about responsibility and improved my ability to work in a team with other students.”

Cessnock High School Agricultural Teacher Rebecca Northey said the school’s team this year is made up of more than 20 students from years eight to 11 who are looking forward to defending their title.

The challenge is a great learning experience for students as it not only relates directly to the curriculum but teaches students about all aspects of agriculture including the husbandry of cattle, providing care, ethics, training and parading or showing cattle,” Ms Northey said.

It was a very fulfilling experience for the school to win the challenge last year and was a great reward for all the hard work and many hours put into the preparation.

The Steer Challenge is also improving the self-confidence of our students and gives them something to look forward to as they enjoy working with, training and showing the steers.”

Coal & Allied Principal Community Investment Stephen Sneddon said the Coal & Allied Community Development Fund was proud to partner with Tocal College for the first time to help create strong and diverse communities in the Hunter Valley.

“The Tocal Steer Challenge is a highly practical, fun, and engaging learning opportunity for students interested in agriculture, farming, and raising livestock,” Mr Sneddon said. “It also helps promote beef production as a viable and important industry in the region as well as provide engaging training and education opportunity for young people to consider agriculture as a possible career.

“Since its inception in 1999, the Coal & Allied Community Development Fund has invested more than $11 million in the Hunter Valley with another $4.5 million available over the next three years from 2012.”

Dr Cameron Archer, Tocal College Principal said many young people grow up with little knowledge of agriculture and how food is produced.

This program aims to give students an appreciation for the beef industry and how farmers care for their stock,” said Dr Archer.

The week after the Tocal Live Show the steers and students have to compete in the Central Coast Steer Show at Gosford on 20 August 2012. From here the steers are sent to Wilberforce to be processed and judged on the hook with schools receiving all the carcass feedback for further evaluation.

Some students go to Tocal for work experience when steers go out to schools. They assist in quietening the steers down in preparation for leading.

When the competition is over, steers are sold and the schools share in sale proceeds. The Challenge has some feed costs sponsored by Castlereagh Feeds.

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