No sale for Australia's enormous Knickers (who is male, by the way)

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Knickers among a herd of wagyu cattleImage source, Geoff Pearson
Image caption,
Knickers is often followed by a herd of wagyu cattle

Knickers looms above the thousands of other cattle that he feeds with in rural Western Australia.

At some 1,400kg (220st) and 194cm (6ft 4in), the seven-year-old is believed to be the biggest steer in a country home to millions of cattle.

And his size has proved to be his saving grace. When owner Geoff Pearson tried to put him up for auction last month, meat processors said they simply couldn't handle him - so Knickers avoided the abattoir.

He will now live out the rest of his life on Lake Preston feedlot in Myalup, 136km (85 miles) south of Perth.

"Knickers lives on," says Mr Pearson, who has been fielding calls from local journalists since the Australian public broadcaster drew attention to the enormous steer - a Holstein Friesian, but significantly taller than the average for that breed.

He was first bought as a "coach" - a steer that leads other cattle - at the age of about 12 months. Steers are castrated males.

"He was always a standout steer from the others, a bit bigger than the rest," says Mr Pearson. Although "some of his mates" were sent for slaughter at an early age, "he was still a standout so we thought let's leave him there, he's not hurting anyone".

But after a few more rotations of cattle, the cattle farmers "realised he wasn't stopping growing". And now he's too big to sell.

Mr Pearson - who owns about 20,000 cattle - reckons Knickers has a few years left. He's a hit with the other cattle, who follow him around the paddocks in their hundreds. Many of the cattle are wagyu and are dark brown. Black and white Knickers stands out even more in a pack because of his colour.

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And where did the name come from?

"When he was young, when we first got him, we had a Brahman steer [a breed of cattle] which was a friend of his," explains Mr Pearson. "So his name was bra... so we [had] bra and knickers.

"We never thought he would turn into a big knickers."

According to the record books, the tallest living steer is Bellino - who was 2.027m tall when he was measured in 2010 in Italy.