A group of five young New Zealand Hereford members have been soaking up the atmosphere, learning new skills and making new connections at this year’s Herefords Australia National Youth Expo at Parkes.
NZ Herefords Youth team manager Hannah Gibb is a Hereford breeder from the North Island but now lives in Australia and has been mentoring Joel Steele, Blake Crawford, Georgia Moody, Niamh Barnett, and Hillary Cooper.
“I do as much as I can to stay connected and involved with New Zealand Herefords and particularly youth as I grew up in that world competing at shows. It is quite special to give back and act as camp mum and team manager for this group at Parkes,” Hannah said.
“It is a lifelong dream to get some Herefords back on the ground in New Zealand, hopefully as part of a family operation but for now it’s about making the most of opportunities career wise in Australia.
“All of these youth went through an application process and five were individually hand-picked to compete at the Australian event. There is nothing equivalent like it for the Hereford breed in New Zealand.
“There is one big youth show each year but it is an all breeds steer show so for the youth to be able to come to a specific Hereford heifer show is pretty special. It has been an absolute eye opener for them as it’s a whole new experience.
“NZ Hereford Youth group has grown significantly in the last five years and for this to be the second year NZ Herefords has sent a youth group to this expo reflects that.
“At home they are hosting development weekends and workshops, and that is a testament to the number of youth being recruited.”
The NZ team were allocated heifers at the Expo by Allanae, Kianma, Kirraweena and Barton Fields studs.
Joel Steele, 21, manages a Hereford stud and was impressed with the showing styles. He has his own stud at Taranaki and is breeding an all-round bull suitable for dairy heifers.
He said dairy farmers are turning to Herefords to value add with beef cross calves.
Niamh Barnett, 21, works as a rural graduate manager in finance and comes from a Hereford family.
“I was very excited to come over here – passion feeds off passion. I have picked up lots of skills, particularly trying to better myself around clipping, fitting, washing and handling,” Niamh said.
“The Aussies are so lovely, kind and passionate. Hereford Youth in New Zealand is growing and we want to maintain that, piggy backing off our enthusiasm. We are in this sprint for the long run and want to see the breed future proofed, not just for cows but for members.
“We are grateful for Herefords Australia for welcoming us with open arms and donating the heifers and bulls so a big thanks to the stud owners for allowing us to lead their animals.”
Twenty-year-old Georgia Moody is in her third year of a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University, Christchurch, and is passionate about farm science and crop production.
Georgia is not off a farm but her mother Posy Moody is the general manager of NZ Herefords.
“I have made new friends and caught up with old friends here. I’ve always had a passion for beef animals and meat production – cropping is multi-disciplinary in that we need it to feed our animals and create beef production,” she said.
“We visited Gundamain Feedlot and it was interesting to see the cotton seed used there and thinking behind the scenes on how much goes into growing that side of the production.
“The Hereford breed is going well in New Zealand and is evaluating what we can do to further infiltrate those premium meat markets.
“There is lots of exciting research into reducing methane emission and that is at the forefront of our breeder’s minds going forward.
“Helping young professionals get prepared for the industry is a big part of what NZ Herefords do and it is important for the next gen to play their role.
“We are grateful for the opportunity NZ Herefords, the breeders and everyone who buys things at our youth auction, has given us while Boehringer Ingelheim have been a big help sponsoring our uniforms so we can look as part of the team.”
Blake Crawford, 20, is an apprentice builder and has a small Hereford stud, Opaku, in partnership with his grandfather.
Blake conceded he tried to soak up as much as he could at the expo on structural correctness and showing skills.