Andrew a true showman

Bob GarnantCountryman

Andrew Cunningham was found happily grooming his cattle at this year's IGA Perth Royal Show, just as his family has done for the past 70 years.

"I helped my dad, Tom, and grandad, Andrew, prepare dairy cattle for the Show when I was five years old," said the 64-year-old cattleman from Elgin in the South West.

"Back then, we traded a 10-gallon bucket of milk for our Show meals from the YWCA. We also filled the billies of many visitors from the local districts," Andrew said.

Dairy farmers were very popular, he recalled, remembering also how his grandad took so much pride in the family's Blaweary Friesian herd.

Andrew has been exhibiting at the Perth Royal Show in his own right for 32 years. A highlight of his showing career was winning the all breeds champion at the 1984 Sydney Royal Show with a Holstein cow. "Sydney was the ultimate in dairy shows at that time," he said.

Andrew notched up many show wins with his dairy cows, but with deregulation of the industry, he decided to breed beef cattle instead.

After his wedding in 1971, Andrew and his wife, Judy, travelled to the UK to see the Royal Highland Show and England's main agricultural show, where they were introduced to the Charolais breed.

The couple were quick to secure their first stud calves via three embryos from WA breeder David Ellis, of Kooyong stud.

The recipient cows dropped two bulls and a cow.

"We had success from the very start," Andrew said.

One of the bulls sold for top money at the supreme sale at Claremont, while the heifer became a Blaweary Charolais stud foundation cow.

More than three decades on, 2011 may be one of last Perth Royals in which the couple exhibit cattle.

They have three steers entered in the trade section and are hoping they perform in the on the hook judging.

It was also a thrill for the Cunninghams to see Blaweary Elexa, shown by Jim and Belynda Quilty's Elgin Park stud, take out the supreme of the Charolais breed this week.

"It was a great swan song to see our breeding give Jim and Belynda their first supreme win," Andrew said.

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