We checked in with former Angus Youth Ewen McLeish, to see where he is now as we have been looking back to at Angus Youth!
“Angus Youth back in my time was not as it is today. My earliest memory participating in Angus Youth was not until I was 37 in the year 1987.”
What is your earliest memory participating in Angus Youth activities?
Angus Youth back in my time was not as it is today. My earliest memory participating in Angus Youth was not until I was 37 in the year 1987. I went to Tocal Judging School run by New England Angus Breeders in 1987 where I ran second. There were approximately 40 people doing the course. We were all scored on many different judging exercises with bulls, cows and steers.
Representing NSW I competed in the National Judging Competition at Wodonga as part of the Angus National Show and Sale. I also did some commercial judging exercises on a local Angus property owned by the Scott family.
Final judging for the National Judging Competition was on a class of sale bulls. We had to explain our placings in which I was victorious, winning the University of Illinois Scholarship.
What an experience! 3 months of lectures, travelling parts of the USA, visiting Angus Stud sales, Fairs (shows) and Research Stations. Prior to this I already had a degree at Marcus Oldham Farm Management College. This put me in good stead to take on the Scholarship with great enthusiasm.
I was able to mix with students and university lecturers easily. During this time, I also spoke to many university technical staff officers who were similar to Australia’s Department of Agriculture.
Mind you I was married with two beautiful daughters. My wife Margaret came with me and she also attended some lectures and did all the travelling. My daughters Diana and Bindi stayed with Grandparents from August until December, which was the hard part.
What activity/event stands out to you the most (eg Roundup, leadership clinic, scholarships etc)?
Events that stand out are the Tocal Judging School and then University of Illinois, which is regarded as one of the best in USA and very competitive at sport (“The Fighting Illini”).
Also, being involved in many Angus Roundups with Diana, Belinda and Ross Coghill. There were many others involved with us as well. Armidale, Bathurst, Gunnedah, Glenn Innes, Dubbo and 20 years at Sydney Show were stand outs!
Exhibiting as many as 12 head at Roundups and 20 head at Sydney are also are a standout for me.
We encouraged many Angus youth members to be involved. This was my way of being involved in Angus Youth, through getting them involved with exhibiting cattle, parading skills and judging skills.
Many of those involved went on to win awards.
In terms of opportunities that you received for being part of Angus Youth, how did your involvement positively influence your development in the beef cattle industry?
Being a part of Angus Youth led to the development of Outwest Angus. Over the years we have sold bulls and females at the New England Angus Breeders Show & Sale in Tamworth, the Dubbo Angus Bull Sale, Sydney Royal and the Wodonga Angus National.
For the last 7 years we had an on-property Bull Sale at Wombalano, Coonamble.
Angus Youth helped me develop skills for breeding stud and commercial Angus and pushed me towards the use of latest Angus technology i.e. EBV’s and now DNA testing for parentage, EBV enhancements and genetic defects.
What were the key learnings you developed as a member of Angus Youth, through the program and then the additional scholarship experiences that you had?
I learnt about the selection of stud sires for stud Angus operations and the appraisal of stock, both stud and commercial.
The single biggest thing I learned from my scholarship experience was the dominance of Angus genetics in 1987, either purebred or black hided, in the USA. This gave me confidence to pursue a career in breeding Angus stud stock. The experience has been so good, and we have been back many times since, visiting stud stock farms to help our program.
How are you involved in the beef cattle industry now/where are you now?
We were running 600 registered self-replacing Angus cows here at Coonamble / Quambone NSW. I am on our family farm with my wife Margaret. At one stage we were selling 150 bulls, however these numbers have been decimated by droughts. We are currently back to 200 registered cows and selling 80 bulls.
Our Daughter Diana is married and is Marketing and Communications Manager of Angus Australia. Belinda is married and is a Banker at the National Australia Bank. I myself am a fourth-generation farmer at Quambone with our grandchildren 6th generation!
Why would you encourage others to become involved in the Angus Youth Program?
Angus Youth delivers learning experiences, travel within Australia and overseas, lifelong friends, camaraderie, networking for business and job opportunities.
Angus Youth helped my breeding and marketing skills and gave me a chance to have a crack at several different scholarships. Several past Scholarship winners have become successful individuals in the industry.