Exhibitors can’t wait!

The 2021 Supreme Champion, Pukekaraka Elle Delilah, owned by Glenalla and Snowfed farms in Mid-Canterbury will sit this year out. However, her owners are trucking 33-head to the Feilding event. Photo: Dean Malcolm

Exhibitors can't wait!

After being starved of competition, entries are strong for the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE) at Feilding from January 25-27.

Organisers have reported an exciting bounce-back after being forced to cancel New Zealand’s premier show event two of the last three years. It was cancelled in 2019 and 2020 because of Mycoplasma Bovis, and since then organisers have been navigating Covid-19.

At the NZDE’s 10th anniversary show in 2018 there were 389-head entries tabled. Last year 267 animals were entered, and this year there are 70 additional animals catalogued – 337 (92 Jersey – 32 exhibitors, 46 Combined Breeds – 20 exhibitors, 75 Ayrshire – 34 exhibitors, and 124 Holstein – 49 exhibitors).

The main change to the NZDE this year is that it will be a vaccine-certificated event, which will be policed by security guards. However, none of that has not put off exhibitors who are hungry to get back into the ring with their best cows.

IDW’s loss, NZDE’s gain

The instability of New Zealand’s border has added a king-hitter to the show. Warren Ferguson, of Ferdon Genetics, was slated to judge the Holsteins at International Dairy Week (IDW) in Australia the week before. If he had gone, he would have had to home-isolate during the NZDE. His withdrawal from IDW means he now re-joins NZDE’s most successful show string, which has not shown for two years. Warren his wife, Michelle, and their son, Corey, milk 220 cows on 92ha at Otorohanga, in the heart of New Zealand’s Waikato.

Ferdon Genetics has won Champion Jersey seven times, Grand Champion Jersey six times, Supreme Champion All Breeds four times, and Premier Exhibitor 10 times (every year it has shown). Adding weight to the family’s campaign is their son, Corey, who can fit the team in a year when a number of Australian fitters can’t attend.

Warren said they didn’t show last year for personal reasons. They were short-staffed at home, and the death of his brother, Wayne, at Christmas had shifted their focus.

“You think things don’t affect you, but they do,” Warren said. “Sometimes you just have to do that in life to function properly. People have to look after people first. We had the cows, but we weren’t in the right personal space to do it.”

The time-lag between outings means they naturally have a number of new names in their team of around 15-head. It is one of the first times they will be loading up without a known “name” cow. He says he won’t be counting any chickens in the lead-up.

“Most of our team haven’t been to a show. I guess that’s why we go to these shows when you have some cows you like – to see if they are as good as we think they are,” he said.

While Ferdon is without question one of the most recognised Jersey herds in the country Warren singles out one of only two Holsteins in their group which he ‘quietly thinks is quite special’.

He said he was disappointed but pragmatic at having to turn down judging at IDW.

“It was a huge honour to be asked and I would have loved to have done it. But, once the border was shut and my return flight was cancelled the decision was out of our hands,” Warren said. “I did not want to get stuck over there.”

33-head from the South Island

Another strong Jersey exhibitor – Glenalla and Snowfed farms – are in the NZDE’s history books for trucking their Ayrshire, Pukekaraka Elle Delilah, from Mid-Canterbury to Feilding and winning Supreme Champion Dairy Cow last January. The six-year-old proved untouchable every time she stepped out last season – crossing the Cook Strait four times. She is not included in this year’s team.

However, the Gilbert family is coming in hot with the biggest team and the longest trip. It will truck 33-head for six exhibitors across the Cook Strait.

Glenalla and Snowfed will have the toughest recovery to settle their team after 14 hours of trucking. The Gilbert family is also mixing it up, by offering its whole team for sale in a “Sell the Show String” Tag sale (excluding their clients’ animals who either board at their farm, or who are showing in their team).

The Tag sale format they are using is new for New Zealand, but is common throughout the world. It involves Glenalla and Snowfed pricing their animals during the week. If the price works for buyers, they will sell them.

“We felt it was time we had a sale and the Tag format has been successful in other countries, so we thought we’d try it there,” Peter Gilbert said.

Fresh faces

Robbie and Anna James, who milk 300 cows on 150ha (including young stock) at Linton in the Manawatu will be showing for the second time. However, Anna’s parents are well-known Holstein breeders, Lawrence (Co-Chair of the NZDE) and Judi Satherley (event hospitality co-ordinator). Joyclas Holsteins now includes 60 registered Holsteins and Robbie says they will be showing three in-milk cows and one entry in partnership with Semex’s southern North Island manager and part-time fitter, Isaac Kelsen. Their big hope will be last year’s winning four-year-old Holstein, Joyclas Sammy Moo. She is returning as a fourth-calved five-year-old.

“It’s an interest for us,” former builder Robbie said. “I like the cows and Lawrence and Judi certainly do as well. There’s some pretty good cows around, so who knows what will happen. Hopefully we’ll do ok.”

Sponsors and expectations

Gold Sponsors Semex and Allflex haven’t hesitated to get involved, along with long-time Silver sponsor Farmers Mutual Group. NZDE Co-Chair Johanna Wood said they had had some big decisions to make in the lead-up to the event, but the traffic light system had given them more confidence.

“Exhibitors and visitors can expect to have to show their vaccine passes or provide an exemption (supported by a negative covid test) if they do have one,” Johanna said. “They’ll be given a wrist band for the duration of their time there so we can easily distinguish who has been checked.

“I liken it to NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing). We have to track our cows in New Zealand, and now we have to track their owners too,” Johanna said.

The event’s “Summer Sensation Sale” on Wednesday, January 26 starts from 6pm, in addition to Glenalla & Snowfed’s “Sell the Show String” Tag sale which will be running through the week. The two sales will give buyers plenty of chances to pick from the best.

For more information, please contact Dianna Malcolm at Mud Media 0273 288 882 or email: dianna@mudmedia.co.nz

Website: www.nzdairyevent.com

FB: NZ Dairy Event

The next generation will have to clip, prepare, show, and judge animals under time pressure within a team. Photo: Renae Flett.

Last year’s winning four-year-old Ayrshire, Brookview Sassy Vick, was exhibited by Claire and Kieran Bourke, of Opunake. Their niece, Katie Starr, stole the limelight for a second. Photo: Renae Flett.