Premier outing for Jai

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Bob GarnantThe West Australian
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Overwhelmed was how teenager Jai Thomas, 13, described his JT Shorthorn debut at this year's IGA Perth Royal Show.

Taking kindly to the livestock ropes at an early age on his family's Mundijong farm, the youngster dreamt of presenting his own cattle in the show ring and this year he grabbed the spotlight by the reins.

In the Shorthorn breed judging, Jai was awarded with both junior champion heifer and bull ribbons, smiling from ear to ear as the judge praised his cattle - "so true to type".

His JT Country Life Ketut, a one-year-old junior bull, went on to be sashed with the prestigious grand champion bull exhibit award.

To top it off, Premier Colin Barnett paid a visit to the inspiring young cattleman to congratulate him and wish him success as he ventures into cattle production.

Mr Barnett admired Jai's passion, which presented so well in his junior champion heifer, Thelma.

Jai's next mission was preparing three heifers for group interbreed judging which accumulated in the win, ensuring the Thomas family that their initial selection of stud females had hit the mark.

"My dad and I were confident Spry's genetics would make up the foundation of my stud and initial breeding stock (four heifers and an embryo transplant bull), with three heifers selected from Phil Burnett's Crathes stud (Vasse)," Jai said.

"I selected the Shorthorn breed partly because these cattle have the same type of red-and-white colour coats as my dad's Illawarra dairy cattle.

"They are also placid, easy to gain weight, high marbling, very showy and hard to fault."

Jai's parents, Kim and Monique Thomas, run their Ki-Orey Illawarra dairy stud at Mundijong where Jai and his older brother Mitch have free range to develop, with agriculture in mind.

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