Hamish Anderson, Maraekakaho breeder of Santa Gertrudis cattle, had his hands full yesterday, as students from Taratahi Agricultural Training met the steers they will show.
He was also hosting Australian classifier Russell Gray, who was inspecting his stud bulls before they were registered.
Mr Anderson said the cattle were under-appreciated in Hawke's Bay.
"They thrive in the harder, drier conditions. Mind you, its been a tough old year this year," he said. "We have weaned the calves last week off the commercial herd and all the progeny have gone, weighing in at 240kg in the middle of February."
His family has been at Ben Lamond Station for over 50 years.
"My grandfather bought the place in the early 1960s. The herd is actually over 120 years old," Mr Anderson said. About 30 years ago they introduced Santa Gertrudis bloodlines.
"There are a lot of cross-bred herds around but a lot of our buyers are getting really good terminal results with a Santa across a cross-bred cow.
"There are Santa Gertrudis all over the country, from Southland to right up north to the tip, so they are acclimatised to all conditions," he said, adding they were not more popular because of a lack of familiarity.
"A lot of people hang on to their steers and send them straight to the works. You don't see them out in the salesyards. I'm doing this lead-steer competition so people can see the end result and how quiet they are."
The breed was formed by mating brahman bulls with beef shorthorn cows, with the final composition being about three-eighths brahman and five-eighths shorthorn.