A Taranaki teenager’s steady hand with a set of clippers has helped her win a national accolade for showing and handling dairy cattle
Lara Honeyfield, 16, was awarded the Holstein Friesian NZ Paramount Cup at the National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camp in Stratford.
The four-day event at the A&P Showgrounds attracted 23 participants from across New Zealand, including five teenagers from Southland.
“Attending the camp was such a rewarding experience. I learned heaps of new skills,” says Lara, a Year 13 student at Inglewood High School.
Each participant had their own heifer calf, which they had to feed, groom, teach to lead on a halter, and get show-ring ready.
“The older students took turns spending time in the cattle barn overnight feeding and monitoring the heifers. It was lots of fun,” she says.
Workshops were held on animal health, breeding, and showmanship skills, and participants were taught how to use electric clippers to trim the heifer’s coat.
The barn resembled a hairdressing salon, with local Holstein Friesian breeders showing students how to use hair dryers to prepare the animal.
“The levels of concentration as people blow-dried, then trimmed the hair across their heifer’s back was intense,” laughs Lara.
“The aim is to get the line as straight as possible. Clipping is a huge skill to master and it helps enhance the animal’s appearance.
“I don’t have much clipping experience. So, it was great to learn a few tips to make the process quicker and easier for me and the heifer.”
Participants learned a raft of show ring techniques to help minimise an animal’s flaws, such as using the halter to move its head and adjust its stance. Rain forced a mini-show involving the heifers and their handlers indoors.
Lara received the Paramount Cup for being the top-performing Holstein Friesian NZ member at the youth camp.
Chloe Thomson, 15, took out the award for best-presented heifer and Jared Rutten, 16, won the Dennis Terry Memorial Trophy for most improved clipper.
“It was my first time attending the event. I had so much fun. I learned lots of new skills, which I’ll be able to use at future cattle shows,” says Chloe.
Chloe lives on a 310-cow dairy farm with her family at Winton and is a Year 11 student at Central Southland College.
“I love animals, especially dairy cattle. I have a passion for animal health and genetics and want to study to be a vet,” she says. It was Gore student Emily Agnew’s second time attending the annual youth camp.
“It’s a really fun experience for me because I don’t live on a farm. I live in town. So, it was four days where I got to work with cattle,” she says.
The 16-year-old enjoys preparing and showing other peoples’ Holstein Friesians. “It’s a great way to meet other like-minded people,” says Emily. “I’d never clipped a cow or heifer until I attended last year’s camp. This year, I was a lot more confident.”
A highlight of the event was a visit to Mark Rowland’s 110-cow Holstein Friesian stud on the outskirts of the Stratford. The herd is home to the 2019 North Island champion all breeds dairy cow Makuri Goldwyn Hazel EX2.
“I would recommend this event to so many people. It’s a great way to make new friends,” says Chloe. “Even if you’re not fully into showing cattle, it’s an awesome way to learn new life skills.”
Organised and run by Holstein Friesian NZ, the Taranaki Branch of Holstein Friesian NZ donated $2000 to help fund the event.
Other sponsors included CRV Ambreed, Bell Booth, LIC, Holstein International, Semex, Keith Baker Cartage, Gary and Karen Peters, Mark Rowland, Greenbank Holsteins, and Lakeview Holsteins.