High school ag students in the Wide Bay–Burnett region gain valuable skills in the annual Hoof and Hook Competition. 

Story Kerry Sharp   Photo Matt Gees

It’s a rare thing for kids to be out of bed, dressed and pestering parents to drop them off at school well before the bell rings. Not so for young Queensland agricultural course participants who, two hours before formal classes start, are down at their campus farmyards checking cattle and scanning paddocks for newborns.  

“It’s exciting to see,” says Bob Hibbard, Bundaberg Christian School’s Head of Science and coordinator of the Hoof and Hook Competition for agricultural students from 14 Wide Bay–Burnett district schools. “The kids love it. They can’t wait to get to school for that hour or so of extracurricular cattle work.”  

Sixty head of cattle and some 160 swag-toting students from years 7 to 11 converged on the Bundaberg showground in September ready for three days of competition and events. These involved stock handling, cattle judging and carcase quality assessment after selected animals were trucked off for processing at Nolan Meats at Gympie. They also heard from speakers, including Central Queensland University’s Institute of Future Farming Systems director Professor Phil Brown, joined in an Agricultural Olympics and shared in lively interschool camaraderie.

This story excerpt is from Issue #140

Outback Magazine: December/January 2022