As It Happens

'Knickers lives on': Giant steer saved from slaughterhouse because of size

Owner Geoff Pearson says Knickers is a "stand-out steer" — and it's hard to miss why. This huge bovine specimen stands head and shoulders above other cows.

The steer is almost as tall as NBA star Michael Jordan

Knickers the steer towers over a cow herd in a paddock in Myalup, Australia. The surrounding cattle are young Wagyu, which is a breed that grows to only 1.4 metres. (Channel 7's Today Tonight/ Associated Press)


Owner Geoff Pearson says Knickers is a "stand-out steer" — and it's hard to miss why.

The black-and-white Holstein Friesian has risen to fame after a photo surfaced of the 194-centimetre (6-foot-4) steer standing head and shoulders over a herd of cattle in Western Australia.

The young cattle that Knickers is surrounded by in the now-viral photo are Wagyu, a breed of cattle that normally only grow to 1.4 metres. 

"He always stood out from the rest of the pack," Knicker's owner and the manager of Lake Preston farms in Myalup, Australia told As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports the seven-year-old bovine is believed to be the tallest steer in the country and weighs about 1.27 tonnes (1.4 tons).

The steer is almost as tall as Michael Jordan and weighs the equivalent of 4,000 hamburgers. 

Knickers is a "coach" steer —  a bull that has been castrated and whose job is to "steer" young cows, known as weaners, who have recently been weaned from their mothers.

"When we want these weaners to come into the yard, we point Knickers in the right direction and away they go," Pearson said.

Pearson says Knickers's size is most likely due to genetics and his time spent with the young cows.

"I'm guessing Knickers has spent a fair bit of time eating what the weaners would normally be eating," Pearson said.

"He's been supplemented to his benefit."

'Bras and Knickers'

Knickers got his name from a friendship he had with another steer.

Pearson said in Knickers' early days at the feedlot, he was friends with a Brahman steer named Bra.

"Bra and Knickers," Pearson said.

While most steers are eventually sent to slaughter, Pearson decided to keep Knickers around a bit longer because of the steer's extraordinary size.

The enormous steer has avoided the abattoirs by being too big. 'Knickers' is believed to be the tallest in the country and weighs about 1.4 tons. (Channel 7's Today Tonight/ Associated Press)

Then, last month, Pearson tried to put Knickers up for auction as part of a charity drive to help drought-stricken farmers in Australia's East. 

The problem was, no slaughterhouse could handle him.

"He was just simply too big to process," Pearson said.

Now, Knickers will spend the rest of his days in Pearson's feedlot where "he's always got a crowd around him."

"Knickers lives on," Pearson said. 

Written by Sarah Jackson with files from Associated Press. Produced by Ashley Mak. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?