A Southland teenager’s steady hand with a set of clippers has helped her win a competitive dairy cattle event in Taranaki.
Chloe Thomson, 15, took out the overall award for the best presented heifer at the National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camp in Stratford.
The four-day event attracted 23 participants from across New Zealand, including five teenagers from Southland.
“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,” said 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 said.
Each student at the camp had their own heifer calf which they had to feed, groom, teach to lead on a halter and get show ring ready.
The cattle barn at Stratford’s A&P Showgrounds resembled a hair dressing salon.
Local Holstein Friesian breeders showed students how to use hair dryers and electric clippers to prepare and trim their heifer’s coat.
“I learned lots of blending techniques and how to keep my hands steady when using the clippers,” she said.
Clipping a heifer’s coat and holding her head correctly in the show ring can help enhance the animal’s appearance and minimise its flaws.
Rain forced a mini show involving the heifers and their handlers indoors.
Chloe won best presented heifer in her class and the overall award.
Jared Rutten, who’s 16 from Invercargill, also won best presented heifer in his class and took out the Dennis Terry Memorial Trophy for most improved clipper.
A highlight of the event was a visit to Mark Rowland’s 110-cow Holstein Friesian stud on the outskirts of the Stratford.
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 said.
The 16-year-old enjoys preparing and showing other peoples’ Holstein Friesians.
“It’s a great way to meet other like-minded people,” said Emily.
“I’d never clipped a cow or heifer until I attended last year’s camp. This year I was a lot more confident.”
Emily also plans to study to be a vet at Massey University in Palmerston North.
Southland students Kimberley Simmons and Lina Buhre also attended the youth camp, which was organised and run by Holstein Friesian NZ.
“I would recommend this event to so many people. It’s a great way to make new friends,” said Chloe.
“Even if you’re not fully into showing cattle, it’s an awesome way to learn new life skills.”
The Taranaki Branch of Holstein Friesian NZ generously donated $2000 to help fund the event.
Its members also ran hands-on training workshops and provided heifers for participants to look after and handle.
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