© Donald Crane

Winner, 2017 Camooweal Post Office Bronze Spur Award, Camooweal Qld.

All you who live a blinkered life and tread not oft on foreign strand,
And think the bounds of bovine breeds are those we see in our own land
Should be aware; – there is no land, no spot or place nor distant shore,
Where reds and roans have not roamed, where bovines have not trod before.
From icy peaks to deserts vast, in heat and cold, in every clime,
Five hundred breeds of beef and more leave hoof-prints in the sands of time.
On frozen tundra, steppe and veldt, in every land where wind has blown,
The local herdsmen favour types they proudly breed and claim their own.

The bovine world is quite diverse with breeds that very few would know,
With each adapted to their clime, from desert sand to mountain snow.
Diverse in colour – horned and humped, a hotch potch mix of genus Bos
With Indicus and Taurus genes – in many lands, the ‘ideal cross’.
Extremes in conformation too, besides the Longhorns and the Polled,
As Dexter midgets stand hock high, near Chianinas tall and bold.
In colour, temperament and coat, in nature, markings and physique,
As ‘tis with man, so too with beast, each breed of bovine is unique.

There forms a vision as I sit and grant my thoughts unfettered rein,
A phantom mob of bovines pass before my eyes, across the plain,
Through veil of dust I see them tramp, yet – silent as a winging bird;
Entranced, I watch them passing by, a ghostly spectral bovine herd.
Majestically in pride of place, the big horned Ankole take the lead,
The genesis of modern beef whose genes are found in every breed.
And in their wake the Zebu types, the Boran, Tuli, Brahman Grey,
Then endless stream of modern breeds, the Limousin and Charolais.

And stockmen come from every land, the world’s best cattlemen parade,
With bolas, whips and lariat, in skilful hands their tools of trade.
In sport or show ring, sand or snow, for centuries they’ve honed o’er time,
The skills required, the gear and guile, demanded by terrain and clime.
I see the Spanish Matadors, Vaqueros, Gauchos, – those who spend
Their life with stock from early morn until the day has reached its end.
An endless stream of cattlemen from many lands across the miles,
Five hundred different bovine breeds, a range of diverse handling styles.

Beyond the shores of our own land, from east to west and points between,
In every land, ‘twixt pole and pole; – an ever changing bovine scene.
On Everest heights the Sherpas guide their overladen Yaks through snow,
While Banteng plod with steady gait in paddy fields where rices grow.
Huge mobs of Bison, yet untamed, roam freely ‘cross the Pampas plain,
As fighting bulls meet death by sword in hand of Matadors in Spain.
The Shorthorns roam on County downs, the Angus midst the lochs and braes,
In desert sands the Sangas thrive, on Russian steppes Kostromas graze.

Our show rings host Stud breeder’s pride, the pampered pets of barn and stall,
Who ne’er have battled through a drought, nor felt the sting of whip or gall.
But in the west on stations vast, where days are long and work is hard,
Tanned Aussie stockmen work new breeds, in paddock or in branding yard.
The British breeds of yesteryear, fine Herefords and Shorthorn stout,
Have given way to hybrid types that better handle ticks and drought.
As purebred genes are intermixed, derived new breeds come to the fore,
The Santas, Brafords, Belmont Reds, to name a few – but many more.

And so it is since dawn of time; – the bovine gene pool has enlarged,
From ancient Aurochs and Ankole, to meet the need of stud men charged
With breeding stock that have the traits, the qualities long since decreed,
For beef or transport, draught or sport, whatever be that nation’s need.
And from the gene pool that now stands our future breeders will select
The qualities desired by trade, – to create breeds without defect.
So – Aussie Stud-men, take a bow, raise high with pride your flag unfurled,
In every aspect of your ‘game’ you’ve set the bar for all the world.

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