Tenterfield High School year 9 and 10 ag students hit the jackpot at this year's Brisbane Ekka with their entry named grand champion led steer carcase, claiming the Ken Crotty OAM Perpetual Trophy.
This was in the open competition, which head ag teacher Phil Jones said drew the largest number of entries in Ekka history at 398. Furthermore the standard was the best he'd seen in his 20 years of involvement, despite the drought.
"It was a credit to producers," he said.
The team had already returned home following the led steer and heifer component of the competition, only to hear of the carcase win later on.
"The kids were over the moon, really excited," Mr Jones said.
"They'd put a lot of time and effort into getting the cattle ready, and this will be the highlight of the ag year.
"They're a fantastic bunch of kids."
Twenty-four students along with teachers Olivia Parker, Hughie McCowen and Mr Jones -- and three 'mum's Kerri Ford, Polly Sargeant and Liz Bulmer -- set off at dawn on the first Sunday of the Ekka, competing in junior classes on Tuesday and open classes on Wednesday before returning home later that day.
Along the way Hayley Carpenter and Isabell Halliday also won third and fourth-place ribbons in the Junior Judging.
The school team took seven steers and heifers, prepared by the students over the past six months. All the animals were sourced locally, from Col Rumming, Jennifer Smith, Brett Lawrence and Brian Chapman.
The grand champion carcase steer, bred by Mr Lawrence and Mr Chapman, was an Angus/Limousin-cross that didn't catch the judge's eye in the led round.
"We were a bit disappointed at that," Mr Jones said.
"We thought he'd be competitive, but the carcase section is probably more prestigious, as that's what they're bred for."
Once on the hook the steer scored 98 out of a possible 100, making him the highest-scoring carcase of the show, leading a field of around 130 head of cattle in his open middleweight section.
He tipped the scales at 436kg liveweight with a carcase weight of 265kg and a dressing percentage of 60.8. He had P8 and rib fat of 8mm and 6mm, an eye muscle area of 97 square centimetres and a pH of 5.63.
The grand champion steer was also awarded the Woolworths champion medium weight carcase.
Mr Jones described the 12-month-old as a 'safe' sort of steer, with enough cover.
"We knew he'd hang up well," he said.
"The meat yield was solid and he was a really soft little calf."
Along with a swag of trophies and ribbons the steer has secured around $4000 in prize money, which will go back into the ag farm.
Ag is proving to be the school's most popular elective, with the farm's operations including an Angus cattle stud and Poll Dorset sheep stud, as well as more than 20 led steers and heifers a year.
One of the school's purebred lambs topped the Glen Innes prime lamb sale last month, weighing 89 kilograms to make $330 under the hammer, contributing to a great couple of weeks for the school.
Next outing for the ag team is the Northern Schools led steer and heifer competition in November, this time in Glen Innes.
"We're really punching above our weight," Mr Jones said.
"We're competing with people who do this for a living so we must be doing something right, but it wouldn't happen without committed school staff and students."