Wednesday, 24 January 2024 10:55

International judges, better schedule for premier show

Written by  Dianna Malcolm
US judge Brian Behnke. US judge Brian Behnke.

The New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE), underway this week in Fielding, is pushing hard to become the country’s premier show destination for dairy cattle.

Three of the five judges are international appointments. The show’s organisers have also made sweeping changes to the schedule to make it more user friendly for the animals and the public.

Exhibitors have responded with strong entry numbers despite the more challenging milk price this season. There are 86 junior exhibitors, 82 Jersey entries, 62 for the Combined breeds, 96 Ayrshires, 127 Holsteins, 44 youth handlers, and eight youth challenge teams.

The judges include well-known Dutch Holstein breeder Nico Bons will judge the Holsteins. Nico has judged more than 150 shows in the Netherlands, and his international resume includes Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, France, Russia, Czech Republic, Japan, Ireland, and the UK.

Nico and his wife, Lianne, milk 65 cows and have 60 head of young stock at Ottoland, a village in South Holland which is about 15km northwest of Gorinchem. The herd has been 100% homebred for more than six decades with an average 305-day average production of 10,800kg milk, 4.4% milkfat and 3.5% protein. Bons-Holsteins includes 36 EX cows with an average herd score (including two-year-olds) of VG89.5 points.

Three homebred cows have scored EX94 points and Bons-Holsteins has won a number of Dutch and international titles. Nico’s driving passion remains to own and show the Grand Champion of the Open European Holstein show.

US judge Brian Behnke will judge the Ayrshire show. Brian has attended every World Dairy Expo (the biggest dairy show in the world) in Madison for 56 years – judging there three times (Milking Shorthorn in 2018, Guernseys in 2016, and Red & White Holsteins in 2005). He has also judged the Western Spring National and Wisconsin State Fair, the Canadian Scotia 4-H Classic, the US National Guernsey Show in Louisville, Australia’s International Dairy Week, in addition to shows in South Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic and Columbia.

Brian and his wife, Tami, live in Brooklyn, Wisconsin. They are active on Tami’s family farm, Glenn-Ann Holsteins LLC – the 2016 National Herd of Excellence award winner from Holstein USA. Brian also works off-farm at ABS Global managing St. Jacobs’ product line.

Australian Simon Tognola will officiate the Jerseys. Simon has travelled the world working/clipping (fitting) cows, including living in Canada briefly.

In the nine Victorian Winter Fairs Simon has been involved in at Bendigo, he has helped prepare four Junior, five Intermediate, and three Champion Holstein Cows – along with a swag of Reserve Champions, and Honourable Mentions. He is well-known for his cattle photography business – having pictured multiple All-Australians, in addition to an all-Canadian finalist. He successfully blended videography into his cattle marketing portfolio.

Nico Bons FBTW

Dutch Holstein breeder Nico Bons will judge the Holsteins.

In 2023 he took a step back from fitting to work with ST Genetics as an area sales manager, servicing Northern Victoria.

NZ Judges

The combined Breeds judge is Taranaki’s Jamie Taylor. Together with wife Donna and their family, the couple are in their 12th season 50/50 sharemilking 320 cows at Auroa.

Jamie is a senior judge for both Holstein and Jerseys, and he has travelled throughout New Zealand officiating at shows. The president of the Taranaki Holstein branch says he is looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the other judges.

Fresh from representing New Zealand at the European young breeders school in Belgium, Kate Cummings, will judge the Youth Show.

Kate was the highest placed New Zealander at the event, which included approximately 160 young people from 16 countries. She finished sixth in the handler’s class, and third in the heifer conformation class.

The Southlander is the daughter of Helen and Jock Cummings, who own and operate Maylan Holsteins. Kate owns Maylea Holsteins, which she runs within her parent’s herd.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University (with a focus on ruminant health and nutrition) fuelled Kate’s passion for the industry.

She now uses that knowledge in her role as the west retail lead (with a team of 12 staff under her) at juggernaut Southland veterinarian clinic, Vetsouth. Vetsouth, which also edges into Otago, employs more than 100 staff across the entire business.

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