Rusty the cuddly cow is the winner of The News’ Picture Perfect Pets competition after more than 450 photos were submitted and more than 6800 votes were cast online.
Rusty was judged the most popular pet, receiving 1880 votes, 18 more than the second place-getter.
The competition was an overwhelming success with readers embracing the chance to share pictures of their much-loved pets, with many of them appearing in The News and all published at www.sheppnews.com.au
Rachael Rowe said the winning picture of herself resting her head on the three-year-old dairy cow Rusty was taken by her partner, Daniel Beattie, who saw the moment and just thought it would make a good photo.
‘‘I was having a bad day, when the picture was taken, I had gone to hospital for a caesarean, but their was a mix-up of the date and I went home — I was upset and disappointed, crying for my baby, feeling a bit upset,’’ Ms Rowe said.
‘‘So I went out and sat down with Rusty for an hour and we got up together, I didn’t know there was a camera around.
‘‘I felt better afterwards, funny thing is we were both pregnant at the time, I had my child in August before she had her first calf in January.’’
Ms Rowe said Rusty was really cheeky and loved to be patted.
‘‘She’s a wonderful cow with such a great nature, my nine-year-old daughter feels safe around her and often comes up to her to give a pet,’’ she said.
‘‘She can get jealous if you show attention on other cows nearby.’’
Rusty is one of 160 cows at the Harston biodynamic dairy farm and Ms Rowe has noticed the good nature of the animal since joining the farm.
Ms Rowe said Rusty was lucky she was loved, because she was kept on at the dairy farm, despite her only having three teats, meaning she does not produce as much milk as the other cows.
‘‘I rang the owner of the farm to tell them they can’t get rid of her now cause she is a prize winning cow,’’ she said with a laugh.
Ms Rowe said it was brilliant to win and she had to thank many dairy farmers for their votes after sharing the photo on a couple of Facebook groups.
‘‘I just explained the competition and talked about Rusty and it got a huge response,’’ she said.
‘‘People from all of the world were voting for her.’’
In second place was Anna McNamara’s rescued cat TC, who was one of four kittens dumped back in October.
Dianne Pryde’s cute puppies Cosmo, Zoe, Oscar, Lulu and Peppy rounded out the Picture Perfect Pets top three.
The top three vote winners will receive store vouchers courtesy of the Hunter Group.