Dedicated to cattle breeding research
Lewis “Lew” Smit was known by many as an extraordinary cattleman who committed his life to running the Murray Grey and Angus cattle studs his father established in the early 1960s.
In 1974, shortly after his father Peter died, Lew and his now-late wife Rowan — along with Lew’s mother, Anne — moved from Keysbrook to Kojonup, where Lew dedicated his services to the national Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society.
During more than 50 years of breeding stud cattle, Mr Smit was involved with and chaired numerous organisations associated with the industry.
He influenced the national herd through his dedication to the application of research and technology to breeding beef cattle.
He served as a Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society board member from 1973-1978, as vice-president from 1979-1980, as president from 1980-1984, and as treasurer from 1984-1988.
The society recognised Lew as a valuable member who could contribute his knowledge and experience, and at the young age of 30 he became a member of the Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society’s Federal board.
He had been involved in discussion on Murray Grey breed development for more than 10 years before that.
In 1987, Lew was awarded an honorary life membership of the Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society to recognise his service.
Lew also joined the WA Angus Committee in the mid-1980s.
In 1987, he was elected as a delegate from WA to what was then the Federal Council of the Angus Society of Australia, and served as a board member until 2008.
Lew served as vice-president of the Angus Society of Australia from 1989-1991 before a three-year term as president from 1991-1994.
He later served as the Angus Society of Australia’s treasurer from 2005-2007.
During this time on the board, Lew was chairman of the Technical Breed Development Committee for three years.
Lew brought common sense and a knowledge of meeting procedure and processes to all his committee endeavours.
In 2008, Lew was awarded honorary life membership of Angus Australia.
The WA Angus Society appreciated Lew’s preference that cattle judges have sufficient experience and ability to decide what emphasis to place between Estimated Breeding Values and physical attributes in the performance classes.
Another measure of that respect was when the Shorthorn Society turned to Lew when it needed a breed inspector.
It was the Shorthorn Society which nominated Lew for the prestigious RW Vincent award in 2006.
The accolade is given occasionally for exceptional service to the cattle industry by the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association.
Lew was one of the few people awarded the WA Angus Society-endorsed Strathtay trophy three times — in 1993, 2003 and 2015.
In 2013, Lew was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to the cattle industry and to the community of Kojonup.
Lew never sought recognition for what he had contributed, although those honours were bestowed on him.
The awards never stopped him continuing to be an active part of the industry.
Lew was also a very astute stud breeder.
In 1977, Koojan Hills Angus bull, Champion, was judged the reserve champion bull at the Sydney Royal Show and sold for $5200.
The Smit’s Koojan Hill Murray Grey and Koojan Hills Angus studs were popular vendors at the Kojonup Knutsford bull sale.
In 1993, Lew and his family sold their Murray Grey stud to the Owen family, who ran the Bundaleer stud at Karridale, so more concentration could be put into the Angus stud.
Lew acknowledged the Angus breed was the first to use EBVs and that technology helped pave the way towards progress.
The Smits continued their Angus stud until 2016, when they sold the herd and prefix to the Metcalfe family, at Manypeaks.
Lew died on April 23 after an illness. He is survived by sons Peter and Adrian, Adrian’s wife Kelly, and the couple’s two sons, Sebastian and Nathaniel.
Peter this week remembered his father as an inspirational character focused on learning and education.
“Dad inspired us in many ways, but one of the most striking was the importance he placed on intellectual curiosity, learning and the passing on of knowledge,” Peter said.
“He was adamant that both of his children would get a good education, even if that meant that we were exposed to opportunities that ultimately resulted in neither of us continuing in our parents footsteps on the land.
“His embrace of knowledge and the balancing of the new with the traditional was a continual theme in this life through his approach to the cattle industry.
“We hope that he will live on not only through us, his family, but through his work to advance the cattle industry he loved and the many friends he touched along the way.”
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