Thursday, 09 February 2023 09:55

Ayrshire scoops top prize

Written by  Sharon Cain
Joanna Fowlie and her three-year-old champion Ayrshire Raetea Rubicon Debbie (Debbie). Joanna Fowlie and her three-year-old champion Ayrshire Raetea Rubicon Debbie (Debbie).

Young farmer Joanna Fowlie and her three-year-old Ayrshire Raetea Rubicon Debbie (Debbie) took out the All Breeds Supreme Exhibit award at the New Zealand Dairy Event held at Manfield Park, Feilding last month.

This is just the second time in the history of this event that an Ayrshire has taken out this award.

Growing up in a farming environment, Fowlie always knew that she would one day be on the farm full-time.

“When I left school Mum said ‘go to Uni, do something different and see where life takes you’, but farming was always my passion, my go to and I love it,” Fowlie told Dairy News.

The Fowlie family farm at Matamata, milking around 300 pedigree Jersey cows with a couple of Ayrshires and Holsteins.

Fowlie manages the day-to-day running of the farm with her Mum Heather, and Dad Stu does all the tractor and maintenance work.

Raetea Rubicon Debbie, bred by Shelley and Pat Schnirger, was just a ‘by chance’ purchase at the Waikato Next Generation Sale in 2019, a platform which allows young people to buy calves.

Debbie was advertised as a very quiet natured animal being a dream to halter, train, and photograph, who is well balanced on a good set of legs and carries herself well.

That year, it was an online photo sale so there were no physical animals to look at.

“I was not intending on buying as I had the money saved up for something else,” says Fowlie.

“Debbie was passed in at the sale for $800 and I spoke to the auctioneer at the time, Brian Robinson, asking if she was still available. He said yes and I was able to buy her for $850.”

She picked Debbie up, took her home, grew her and she came out as a yearling to the Waikato A & P show 2020, where she won four ribbons, taking out the Reserve Champion Ayrshire Junior Female and the Reserve North Island Champion Ayrshire Junior Female.

This was just the beginning of what was to come with a second placing as a senior yearling Ayrshire at the NZ Dairy Event in 2021 followed by a multitude of awards in 2022 including Reserve Champion Cow in the Youth Show and Reserve Intermediate in-milk Ayrshire Champion.

She also won the futurity two-year-old class, which is designed for those animals purchased in the sale and later was the overall futurity winner.

In the lead up to this year’s NZ Dairy Event, Fowlie says their show cows were put on a programme where they start re-learning and getting ready for the next event.

“They have such a good memory,” she says.

“As soon as they have a halter on, they are in show mode.”

Their diet is changed from pasture to hay along with a feed supplement ration.

Closer to the show the cows are fed twice a day and during show week, three times per day, which basically gets them ‘show ready, cleans them off and makes them stand out.

Behind the scenes, there is a team of people who work day and night shifts during show week to ensure that the cows always have someone with them.

Fowlie is now looking forward to the next Waikato A & P show in October and she is planning on flushing Debbie next season.

Breeder Honoured

Respected nationally and around the world, Manawatu Jersey Breeder, Richard Gibson, received a distinguished outstanding achievement and service award at the New Zealand Dairy Event in Feilding last week for his contribution to the New Zealand Dairy Stud Stock Industry.

Gibson is well known in NZ and around the world for his keen eye for a good dairy animal.

Born in Hawera, growing up on a farm, Gibson was destined to breed Jersey Cows.

He joined Jersey New Zealand in 1971 and represented Taranaki on the Jersey NZ Board from 1993-1999.

He joined the World Jersey Cattle Bureau in 1999 and served for several years, being their Vice President at one point.

He and his family moved to the Manawatu in 2000 and established Thornton Park Jersey Stud.

His most famous cow was Merrifields Brigs Opal who was four times Supreme Champion Jersey, Champion All Breeds and Reserve Champion on three occasions and was voted cow of the Century for Jersey New Zealand.

Many people and organisations, including the NZ Dairy Event of which he is a founding committee member, have prospered from his assistance and guidance.

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