Demonstrating expertise in cleaning, presenting, leading and calming dairy cattle helped Rodney
College student Jennifer Thomas win the Royal Agricultural Show Dairy Parader of the Year.
Jennifer, 18, representing Northern Districts, succeeded against other regional representatives parading at the Hawkes Bay A& P Show in Hastings to take the top award.
She will go on to represent New Zealand at the Royal Adelaide Show next year.
Jennifer says the Hastings show presented several challenges.
Rather than bring their own animals, competitors had just 30 minutes to get to know unfamiliar animals, allocated to them by drawings out of a hat.
Various breeds of cattle were used and although Jennifer typically parades Jersey cows, she suddenly had to cope with larger Ayrshires.
During the competition, the judge asked her to swap animals, obliging her to parade the stroppiest Ayrshire on the field.
She says the secret of calming such animals down is to talk to them and make sure they feel safe. It helps if you remain calm yourself.
In addition to presenting the animals at their best, paraders are also required to present themselves in appropriate and spotless uniforms and look as though they are enjoying themselves.
“I was quite nervous to begin with, but once I got out there I was quite happy,” Jennifer says.
She says she has been interested in showing animals ever since she joined a calf club at the age of 7.
Jennifer lives on her uncle’s farm between Wellsford and Tomarata.
She leaves Rodney College this year and plans to go into primary teaching.
However, she may consider a farming career after that.