PAUL and Janelle Relf will remember 2016 as the year one of their steers won the biggest prize in Australia - grand champion steer at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Levi, as he was fondly known, placed first in his class then went on to win middle weight champion.
Consequently he competed against the champion school steer, lightweight champion and heavyweight champion to win grand champion steer of the show.
He also won his class and a silver medal in the carcase competition.
The Relfs have been breeding Limousins for 10 years on their Wherrol Flat farm, Warrigal Stud, and are what Paul calls a 'very small' stud, with only 25 breeding cows.
In previous years they have shown their stud cattle, but this is the first time they have ever taken a steer down to the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
"We've had a bit of success with our cattle at Sydney and Brisbane Royal in previous years," Paul said. "But nothing at this level."
When asked how they reacted when Levi was crowned grand champion, Janelle replied, "we got a few goose bumps," and then laughed.
"We're probably downplaying it. It's a once in a lifetime thing.
"It takes the cake, this one!"
Paul and Janelle say they knew from the start that Levi was something special.
"He was an awesome calf. And he had an awesome personality, too. A bit cheeky," Paul said. "If you walked past his pen and didn't say g'day to him, you'd be in trouble!"
"Yeah, we'll miss him!" Janelle added.
Keeping it local
WHY the talk of Levi in the past tense? After the competition, all steers are auctioned and the majority sent to Wingham Beef Exports to be processed and the carcases judged.
Levi sold at a very high value on the hoof at the auction and the highest bidder was Wingham Beef Exports, knocking out Woolworths, Sydney butchers and top class restaurants to have the honour of winning the grand champion steer of the year.
Wingham Beef Exports general manager Grant Coleman thought it very important that a steer born and bred in the Manning Valley and reaching the apex of Australian competition go back into their Manning Valley Naturally brand.
"Grant thought that since a local producer won the grand champion it was important that we promoted buying the grand champion steer," said Chris Black, Wingham Beef Exports administration manager. "And he was a crackin' steer."
Chris, Grant and Stephen Moy, livestock manager for Wingham Beef Exports, were on hand to help the Relfs celebrate the win at the Cattleman's Bar after the auction.
"It's a massive achievement. It's the biggest show in Australia and winning the blue ribbon event - it's great," Chris said.
What made it even more exciting was the relationship the company has with the Relfs.
"The good thing is Paul does a lot of work at our company farm, Glenyarra Farm, harvesting the lucerne. His son, Ryan, works on our slaughter floor, and his daughter, Rachel, who paraded the steer, she works in our laboratory. So we know them all very well," Chris explained.
The Relfs are similarly appreciative of Wingham Beef Exports.
"It's a lot for them to come to the party and it's a big thing for everybody, really," Janelle said.
"At the end, it's good for the town."