Holstein Australia welcomed seven new members to the National Holstein All Australian Judges Panel, following a national judging school held at Colac, Victoria, in March, just prior to the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions.
Congratulations to Patrick Anderson (Vic); Sarah Chant (Vic); Callum McPhee (NSW); Ricky Nelson (Vic); Declan Patton (Vic); Michael Rood (NSW), and; Nicola Templeton (Vic).
Eighteen participants from Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria attended the school, hosted by the Western Districts Sub-branch.
The Breed Development and Conformation Committee (BDCC) is responsible for the school’s content and standards, and has an important role in educating the judges of the future.
BDCC members involved in this year’s school were BDCC chair Jenny Grey (The Pines, South Coast & Tablelands, NSW), and Geoff Horrocks (Foxleigh, Northern Vic).
The school is open to Holstein Australia members who want to learn more about assessing cattle.
“Not everyone attends with the aim of qualifying for the National Judges Panel. The program is structured to allow participants with a range of experience and interests. Qualifying for the panel is generally an extended process of learning that culminates with assessment at the end of the judging school. Very few qualify on their first assessment,” Jenny said.
She was impressed with the standard of this year’s participants. “I’ve been involved with the judging school over a number of years and the standard of this year’s participants was high. Our new panel members are extremely good, and I’m delighted to see young people joining the panel,” she said.
The overjudges hard at work
Down on the farm with Brett Cirillo
The hard working David Johnston relaxing at the end of a long day
Vaughn Johnston said there were a number of other high-calibre candidates. “The selection process is very rigorous, and as Jenny says, it is unusual for candidates who go for assessment to get on the National Judging Panel at the first attempt. We had a number of people this year who I can see, with a little bit more time and development, would be strong candidates for making the grade at the next Judging School,”Vaughn said.
The school started at the Larpent Hall just west of Colac followed by a farm visit and Classifier Leanne Summerville explaining the structure of a cow.
Participants were then put through their paces by overjudges Jade Seiben (Brindabella, North Western Vic), Pat Nicholson (Jugiong, Northern Vic) and Vaughn Johnston (Ewen Pine, Fleurieu & Central SA). The overjudges’ task was made easier by the group being eager to learn and get involved.
Session components included heifer and milking cow assessments, microphone techniques, conformation terminology, judging protocol and etiquette as well as show ring craft.
The group visited herds owned by a number of Western District members to hone their assessment skills including placing animals and verbally supporting their selections.
After each day of herd visits, the budding judges met for dinner followed by more discussion on judging techniques and theory. By way of education, a display of past All Australian competition entrants were presented on screen with each participant in turn asked to judge the class.
Thursday morning was the culmination of the school when the participants were encouraged to present to the overjudges and gathered sub-branch members for the final assessment of lead animals at the Colac Show Grounds; for some a nerve- wracking experience.
The school would not have been a success without the support and effort of local Sub-branch members. Nothing was left to chance – from booking the hall and accommodation, and preparing meals through to driving the bus, scheduling herd visits, getting cows ready for Thursday morning at the showgrounds and making sure the barbecues had gas.
Special thanks to Western Districts members: Dave Weel (Blueprint), Sub- branch President, Brett Cirillo (Ambrewlea), Donna Edge (Wyena Holsteins), David Johnston (Segenhoe Park), Ian McKie (The Points) and Ross and Jacqui Suares (Calderbrae).
This article originally appeared in The Australian Holstein Journal, Winter 2020 issue.