Event report: NZ Dairy Event


NZ’s premier dairy show attracted three international judges and a new schedule making the event more user-friendly for the animals and the public

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Holstein Honourable Mention Hukaview Alpine Lively-Red (left), Reserve Junior Champion Holstein (centre) Waipiri Lambda Tonio and Junior Champion (right), and Supreme Junior Champion, Glenidol Lambda Cookie, owned by Toby Whytock (kneeling)

Despite the more challenging milk price this season, exhibitor numbers were strong and of high quality, with 86 junior exhibitors, 82 Jersey entries, 62 for the Combined breeds, 96 Ayrshires, 127 Holsteins, 44 youth handlers, and eight youth challenge teams.

Supremes dominated by the Holsteins in 2024

This year, the Holsteins dominated the Supreme Champions awards. The Supremes are chosen from the breed Champions in the junior, intermediate, and senior sections. They were pointed out by the entire judging panel.

The Supreme Champion and Supreme Intermediate Champion both came out of the Fullerton and Dreadon team. It was a satisfying finish for the Hamilton family who had a week that initially challenged their decision to show.

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Holstein Honourable Mention Hukaview Alpine Lively-Red (left), Reserve Junior Champion Holstein (centre) Waipiri Lambda Tonio and Junior Champion (right), and Supreme Junior Champion, Glenidol Lambda Cookie, owned by Toby Whytock (kneeling)

Their cattle fitter slept through and missed multiple flights — almost turning Alex Fullerton into a travel agent. Their four-year-old Grand Champion Holstein and Supreme Champion of the show, Tahora Mogul Paris, didn’t handle the 360km journey to the show well and took some time to settle. Reflecting after judging, Alex said the overriding feeling was relief.

They bought Paris for $28,000 in a solid buy from Tahora Holsteins’ Party at the Pub sale in Canterbury in 2022. In her most recent herd test, Paris produced 2.8kg Milk Solids (MS) a day. She had finished her first season at her new Ngāhinapōuri home with more than 10,000 litres and 700kg of Milk Solids.

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Supreme Champion of the 2024 show, Tahora Mogul Paris, sired by Mountfield SSI DCY Mogul, surrounded by the Fullerton family and team (right) and judges (left)

The Fullerton family also snaffled Intermediate Supreme Champion with their three-year-old, Waipiri CR Freaky Girl-ET, sired by Oh-River-Syc Crushabull-ET. Alex said she was their surprise package in terms of the team’s results, and they were thrilled with her performance. 

Alex added that one of the special moments for the family was when the Holstein judge Nico Bons remembered seeing their seven-year-old entry, Waipiri Mogul Kristy in a photo three years earlier. The 2023 Senior Holstein Champion had an eye removed a month ago because of eye cancer, and she bounced back to win Reserve Champion Holstein this year in another broad ribbon effort for the cow who has been a constant in the Fullerton show team over several years. Kristy was Best Udder of the 2021 NZDE, and in 2023, she won Supreme Champion at Stratford, Senior Holstein Champion, and Senior All Breeds Champion at the 2023 Waikato Show. She was also the 2021 Semex On-Farm four-year-old Champion.

"Having those top herdsman see your animals and recognise them is the whole incentive to bring them out," Alex says. "Not only did Nico judge her this year but he had seen her before and remembered her.

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Reserve Supreme Junior Champion was Jersey, Ferdon Tbone Veneer, and Supreme Junior Champion of the show was the Holstein Glenidol Lambda

"I think it’s important for New Zealand breeders that people around the world do see our animals."

Ayrshire action

Brian Behnke had some big decisions to make in the Ayrshire show because the 2023 Supreme Champion had re-calved and returned this year as a third-calved four-year-old. Raetea Rubicom Debbie, owned by Joanna Fowlie, from Matamata, made history in 2023 when she became the first Ayrshire Intermediate Champion and only the second Intermediate Champion to win Supreme Champion of the show.

This year, Debbie moved into the senior show where she met the cow who would push her into second place and out of contention for Champion, Stenvale Burs Jem.

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Ayrshire Senior and Grand Champion and Best Ayrshire Udder, Stenvale Burs Jem

Owned by Jamie Baxter, of Tirau, Jem was judge Behnke’s choice not only for the class, but for Best Udder, Senior Champion, and Grand Champion of the Ayrshire show. 

Brian says the choice was clear to him once Jem got alongside the other cows in the class. He did pull Debbie first and Jem second on the first line-up, but elevated Jem to first in his final decision.

Brian appeared to take some time to make the call but says he was never in any doubt about what he was going to do. He said Jem’s extreme balance was deceptive on the first look, but there was no denying her when he broke her down.

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Judge Brian Behnke with the Intermediate Ayrshire Champions in a neat line and associate judge Neko McDonald

Jem’s breeder and owner, Jamie, 33, who milks 180 cows, says the class "aged him 10 years". Jem had finished fourth in her class last year, but she had continued to develop, and they had high hopes for the cow, whose dam they bought from Brookview Ayrshires.

"She’s so easy to work with and she just does what you want her to do at a show," Jamie says. "She’s a very cool cow, and a lot of fun."

Jamie’s partner, Caitlyn Rawlings, who works on a 400-cow herd, led Jem in only her second show with dairy cows.

Sale animals returning the favour

There were a number of young people excelling with animals they had bought. Arguably the best deal on the showgrounds may have been the Junior Champion Ayrshire, Larkspur
Alfie Chipotle. She was bought by the Powell family, of Rongotea for $1900 from the Fusion Genetics’ Spring Fling Coloured Breeds Dispersal in October 2023.

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Ayrshire Junior Champion, Larkspur Alfie Chipotle

Speaking for the family, Chipotle’s excited and tearful owner, Holly Powell, 20, says the investment looked pretty inexpensive now. Holly is a herd manager for a 450-cow herd. While Holly is well-known in the Holstein world, she’s pushing into other breeds — also winning Reserve Junior Champion in the Combined Breeds show.

"She caught my eye, and I just couldn’t leave her behind," Holly says. "I think a lot of people thought because she was an autumn calf that she was an awkward age, but I loved her."

So did the US judge, Brian Behnke. He noted that the four animals pulled out for the Ayrshire Junior championship all had quality bone, dairyness, and openness of rib.

"She didn’t have a lot of competition in her class, but she puts it all together and she can stand a lot of competition," Brian says. "She’s balanced, clean-cut, and dairy with exceptional legs and feet. She’s just a beautifully balanced calf."

Argyll Lot Alfie sired the Junior, Reserve, and Honourable Mention Junior Ayrshire Champions, while Burdette sired the Senior and Grand Champion and the Reserve Senior Champion.

The Powell family was also active in the Holsteins, winning Honourable Mention Senior Champion and Best Udder of the Holstein show with Radly Meridian Ana-ET, and in the Combined Breeds, winning Reserve Junior Champion with Westell Mont Sandie SOS.

Jersey show had the goods

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Champion Jersey — Ferdon Tbone Veneer

The Jersey show gave Australian judge Simon Tognola the cows he wanted to work with. His four-year-old Senior Champion came out of the Ferdon Genetics team, from Otorohanga. Tbone Veneer is sired by Richies Jace Tbone.

Ferdon Genetics has now won Champion Jersey eight times and Supreme Champion All Breeds at the NZDE four times.

Simon has been coming to the NZDE for more than a decade. Everyone is more used to seeing him in work clothes preparing cows, but this year, he was suited up for an important judging assignment in a strong Jersey show.

"Since I first came to the show, the quality of the mammary systems on these cows have certainly improved," Simon says. "There’s so much more width and texture and height to those mammary systems, and they can certainly hold a lot of milk. I think in general the cows are more dairy now. They are thinner in their hide, and maybe a little nicer in their rumps as well.

"I think — and I don’t mind saying this — for a country that might not grow the nicest hay they do a helluva good job of developing the rib in their cows."

He was impressed with how youthful his choices were.

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Intermediate Champion and Reserve Grand of the Jersey show Ferdon Victorious Shirlee and Jersey Senior Champion and Grand Champion Jersey Ferdon Tbone Veneer

"There weren’t too many cows that looked like they would get old really quickly," Simon says. "For me, the Junior Champion was a pretty easy champion. The intermediate is built right to mature well. She’s not deep in her udder; she’s wide through her chest, with a beautiful openness to her fore and rear rib. She’s hard of her loin, and she is rump down."

Ageing well

The Combined Breeds came down to a rising 12-year-old Milking Shorthorn, Northbrook Wok, showed by Northbrook Enterprises Ltd, just 10 minutes from Palmerston North at Bunnythorpe. The Treeton Pingerly daughter took the show all in her stride and she never missed a beat.

Wok has had an extensive career, winning Best Udder at the NZDE in 2018, which propelled her into the All-World Red Cow photographic competition that year.

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