Wednesday, 24 January 2024 11:55

Cow comfort made easy

Written by  Dianna Malcolm
The January 2023 event was hectic across all breeds. However, January 2024 is set to be more animal and spectator friendly. Photo Credit: Laurens Rutten The January 2023 event was hectic across all breeds. However, January 2024 is set to be more animal and spectator friendly. Photo Credit: Laurens Rutten

Cow comfort and staying relevant is at the heart of some major changes to the New Zealand Dairy Event’s (NZDE) show schedule in Feilding from January 22-24.

Historically, New Zealand has stood alone by offering a multitude of interbreed age classes that were open to everyone – regardless of where they placed in their respective breed classes. It extended the schedule, took significant time, and often resulted in different winners (because the breed judges all get a vote in the interbreed classes).

It also meant some animals got limited time to rest before they were trucked home – which also put additional pressure on their owners for the drive ahead of them.

The world standard in interbreed judging is that just one representative of each breed (the breed champion in the Junior, Intermediate, and Senior sections) moves forward to compete respectively for Supreme Junior (of all breeds), Supreme Intermediate, Supreme Senior Champion, and ultimately a Supreme Exhibit of the show (chosen by the judge collective from the three age Supreme Champions).

The 2024 NZDE interbreed will adopt this practice for the first time.

NZDE committee member Isaac Kelsen says there were concerns after January.

“It was an important conversation for our committee to have – a lot of cows walked a long way in January, and the programme was long. We want everyone to get home safely, and we felt that the old schedule was starting to put that in jeopardy.

“Things have changed in this space too, so that was a consideration. Gone are the days where you enter cows to participate. This is a serious competition, it’s expensive to commit to it, you go to win, and you want to look after your cows while you’re doing it.”

He said it was also important to appreciate that international judges invited to the NZDE take their impressions home of New Zealand – making it important for the NZDE to come into line with other shows around the world.

“We wanted to harmonise with other events – such as IDW [International Dairy Week in Australia) and WDE [World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin], for example – because we do want to be recognised as a global event,” Isaac said.

He said the committee was also concerned that the extended programme meant no-one was getting the chance to come together.

“The last night of the show last year I never got to socialise, which is part of showing. If you’re that wrung out at the end that you can’t have a catch-up with all your friends and competitors, we’re doing something wrong.”

Another change is that just one ring will be running at a time. In January 2023 there were two rings, and the breed judges alternated judging a class before they had to wait while another breed class came in and was judged. Isaac said the “stop-start” nature didn’t give the judges’ continuity so they could establish a judging pattern, and it wasn’t easy for spectators either.

“It also makes more sense for the people on the sidelines or for those who can’t attend if they want to watch the Jersey show, they can sit down and watch the whole Jersey exhibition without chopping and changing to other breeds that they may not be interested in. It will give a better flow for each of the breeds,” Kelsen said.

Joanna Fowlie FBTW

The first Ayrshire Intermediate Champion and only the second intermediate Champion to win Supreme Champion of the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Event, Raetea Rubicom Debbie, owned and handled by Joanna Fowlie, Matamata is back this year. Photo Credit: Laurens Rutten.

Sale A Bonus Feature

The additional time means that this year’s cattle sale will be a feature. It will include close to 35 lots that include international pedigrees, index, and show type.

“We did that purely because we want to hold the sale while everyone is fresh, and they can socialise around it, and the committee now has more time to put more focus into it,” Kelsen said.

“If a potential buyer doesn’t have an animal to show they can go and buy something and show it the next day. Because all the sale animals will be entered for the show.”

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