ONE of the Royal Queensland Show's most popular events is set to remain off-site for the foreseeable future due to a raft of scheduling and animal welfare reasons.
The Ekka's prime cattle competition is one of the most highly-anticipated events on the show's schedule, but in the past two years, it has been moved away from its spiritual home at the Brisbane showgrounds to the nearby Silverdale saleyards.
The COVID-19 pandemic was initially responsible for the move as it helped reduce the amount of people at the showgrounds and in turn lowered the risk of transmitting the virus.
However, RNA councillor Gary Noller confirmed to producers at this year's competition that the event would not be returning to the showgrounds because the new venue helped alleviate a number of animal welfare and organisational concerns.
"In 2020 we couldn't hold the event anywhere near the showgrounds because of the pandemic and last year we made the choice at very short notice to come back to Silverdale because the RNA didn't really know exactly where we stood in regards to whether the show would go ahead because of the pandemic," Mr Noller told producers at Thursday's competition.
"As it turned out, it was the right choice at the time and this year we made the decision to move out here again because of how wonderful this facility is, as well as the pressure it takes off the showgrounds itself."
Mr Noller cited logistical concerns as being one of the major reasons for the move, as the influx of cattle across the prime, led steer and stud cattle competitions put pressure on the showgrounds.
"We used to set up the led steers on Saturday or Sunday until Wednesday and once they moved out, the prime cattle would come in," he said.
"All of the exhibitors would use Gregory Terrace while the rest of the show was using it to set up, which over the past five years or so, has been a blasted nightmare in regards to workplace health and safety regulations.
"I understand the traditional reasons and the social reasons for wanting to keep the competition there, but we are getting ourselves into a tight position at the showgrounds when it comes to running this event."
As biosecurity threats linger over the country, the RNA is set to meet with government authorities to decide the best course of action for hosting this year's show.
"Given we do have the threat of foot and mouth disease floating around, it is probably for the best that we are here and limiting amount of livestock at the showgrounds, which in turn, lowers the biosecurity risks," Mr Noller said.
"We will announce what the plan is once it has been finalised with the proper authorities."
Mr Noller said animal welfare was also one of the major reasons for moving the competition to Silverdale.
"Animal welfare is our top priority and we do get a lot thrown at us these days in terms of animal welfare complaints on social media," he said.
"Every year, we probably deal with anywhere from 30 to 50 of these sorts of issues and honestly, a lot of the claims are unfounded, but it is something we have to be very mindful of.
"Those sorts of issues haven't been as prevalent during the pandemic, but we aware that they will most likely be back again now crowds will return.
"When it comes to the prime cattle, all told, those animals were at the showgrounds from Wednesday through to early Monday morning and I just don't think we can do that from a welfare point of view, especially when we have a setup like this where they can come in the day before and be sold the next day."
The decision to move the competition off site comes after the ALPA Young Auctioneer Competition was moved to Roma for the second straight year.
"The comments we have been getting regularly are that it is not the same, the atmosphere is not the same, but we are determined to make this thing work," Mr Noller said.
"We're always open to hearing people's suggestions about how we can make this event better, but I think it's really going to take some convincing to have it moved back to the showgrounds.
"As far as we're concerned, it's staying put."
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