BERT Barrass is a familiar face on the NSW show circuit, whether it’s in the cattle ring or behind the scenes.
The former Charolais and Galloway breeder from Blakney Creek, via Yass, knows a thing or two about cattle.
With his business, Mobile Cattle Care, he prepares and shows all breeds of cattle around the state and at Royal Canberra and Sydney Royal Shows.
At Royal Canberra this year he was in high demand, preparing up to 30 heifers in a day to go into the ring.
He’s also been a judge at local shows, and has been a member of Herefords Australia, Charolais Society of Australia, and Australian Galloway Assocation.
Now the enterprising fitter and breeder has revealed his biggest secret – Southern Cross Cattle.
And what a cross it is. At first glance the cattle look a lot like a Belted Galloway, however, Bert reckons there are at least five different breeds in the mix.
“It’s been eight to 10 years in the making to get them to the point they are,” he said.
“There are a number of breeds in them to get the docility and size and pattern I’m looking for.”
However, he refuses to reveal the details.
“Like a good poker hand, I’m keeping that pretty close to my chest,” he said.
Bert said he had calved down 29 of the breed, which he said he had trademarked.
The breed has a distinguishing feature – a cross pattern that goes right to the tip of the tail.
The herd now stands at 16 – 15 females and one bull.
He has been selling bull and heifer calves and yearling heifers this year.
Bert says the Southern Cross are “good eating and easy calving”.
He entered a steer in the Royal Canberra Hoof and Hook competition this year, which was judged a pleasing eighth out of 100.
After butchering, the steer yielded 58 per cent from the dressed weight.
Bert has been showing Southern Cross Cattle for two years in the Hoof and Hook, and was Reserve Champion at Bungendore Show and Champion Steer at Crookwell Show, but can’t enter the show ring as an official breed.
“It is unique in muscling and pretty handy as well,” Bert said. “It’s all about meat and muscle and fat cover.
“We’re the only ones in Australia – if not the world – doing this. We’re unique.”
Bert said he had brought down the size of the cattle deliberately.
They grow to 1.2 metres to 1.3m. The top weight female is 450 kilograms while the bull is about 500kg.
“I wanted to control the size of them for the market I am aiming at,” he said.
That market is the likes of his wife Christine Hawkins, who has had surgery, and can only work with cattle that are easily handled.