Major changes have been made to this year’s New Zealand Dairy Event as organisers look to make it more user friendly for the animals and the public.
The changes are designed to ensure that the NZDE at Manfeild Stadium in Feilding stays in touch with international best practice and ensures cow comfort over the course of the show from January 22-24.
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.
Historically, New Zealand has stood alone in offering a multitude of interbreed age classes that were open to everyone – regardless of where they placed in their respective breed classes.
This extended the schedule, took significant time, and often resulted in different winners because 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.
This year’s NZDE will see it adopt world practice where just one representative of each breed moves forward to compete respectively for Supreme Junior, Supreme Intermediate, Supreme Senior Champion, and ultimately a Supreme Exhibit of the show.
The 2024 NZDE interbreed will adopt this practice for the first time.
NZDE committee member Isaac Kelsen said the change was an important conversation for the 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 home their impressions of the country – 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.”
Another change is that just one ring will be running at a time instead of two.
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.
Three of the five judges are international appointments and include Nico Bons (the Netherlands, Holsteins), Simon Tognola (Australia, Jerseys), Brian Behnke (United States, Ayrshires), Jamie Taylor (Taranaki, Combined Breeds) and Kate Cummings (Southland, Youth Show).
Kelsen said the “stop-start” nature didn’t give the judges’ continuity, which helps in establishing a judging pattern, and it was not 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.”
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 and will be held on January 22.
Headline: 2024 show schedule
Monday, January 22
Breed judging competitions
NZ Dairy Breeds Federation WWS All Breeds Junior Judging Competition
Youth Show Young Handlers
Sale animals on display and a food truck fiesta night
Carrfields Sale of the Century
Tuesday, January 23
From 8.30am: Futurity Classes – calves and yearlings
Youth Show – calves and yearlings (including Junior Champion Youth Show)
Combined Breeds junior show (including Junior Champion Youth Show)
Ayrshires (including Junior Ayrshire Champion)
Jerseys (including Junior Jersey Champion)
Holsteins (including Junior Holstein Champion)
Supreme Junior Champion
Wednesday, January 24
Combined Breeds (including Intermediate, Senior and Grand Champion)
Ayrshires (including Intermediate, Senior and Grand Champion)
Jerseys (including Intermediate, Senior and Grand Champion)
Holsteins (including Intermediate, Senior and Grand Champion)
Intermediate Supreme Champion
Senior Supreme Champion
Supreme Exhibit of the 2024 NZDE