I recently ran a photo competition for the Beef Bulletin. We received this photo from Sharon at Longwarry in Victoria – of her beloved cow, Bernadett, calmly chewing on pasture amidst heavy smoke on the morning of the devastating 2009 Victorian bushfires. Sharon said: “There was a lot of smoke; you could not see the sky. The smoke crept in through the trees, much like the fog that we get coming in some winter nights.”

“This is a photo of our much loved cow Brenair Park Bernadett, taken during the bushfires in Victoria. We breed Stud Simmental cattle.  Our property is at Longwarry and the fires jumped the highway and came to within a kilometre or so of us.

This older cow, Bernadett, never got upset with all the events going on and this contributed to keeping the other cattle calm.

The sky that day was very orange and grey; the smoke filtered out the sun. It was all very eerie.  Embers flew around the town and they thought we would have to evacuate. Farmers refused to go and remained with their animals.  We bought the cattle up near the home for what protection we could give.

We were fortunate that we never lost any cattle, but very sadly, hundreds of other farmers did.

Bernadette, aged 15, on greener pasture after the bushfire.

Bernadett is an interesting matron. She was bred by Don Mathieson at Drysdale Victoria, from German imported genetics. The cow is now 15 years of age and was 14 at the time of the photo. 

The older cow has a lot of history and we have had several offers from other breeders wanting to purchase her, but she will always remain here.  We have always liked her and the previous owner would not sell her, not until he had a dispersal sale a few years ago and we were lucky to buy her.  No one knew she had record figures for Marbling, Tenderness and Feed Efficiency at the sale. It was not until some time after we got her home and tested her that the results came through.

Bernadett has the World record of the highest DNA cow on record for Simmental for Marbling, Tenderness and Feed Efficiency, she has calved every year with all registered progeny and has survived three homes and a bushfire.”

You can see some of the other Beef CRC photo competiton entries on FlickR.

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