Couple keeps calf-handling day alive

Victoria Kelly (15, left) shows Danielle Kelly (5) the best way to lead. Photos: Ella Stokes
Victoria Kelly (15, left) shows Danielle Kelly (5) the best way to lead. Photos: Ella Stokes
Ashley Wendelgest (12) takes a break with his calf.
Ashley Wendelgest (12) takes a break with his calf.
Michael Monaghan (12) gets to know his calf.
Michael Monaghan (12) gets to know his calf.
Hayden Wendelgest (10) teaches his calf a few tricks.
Hayden Wendelgest (10) teaches his calf a few tricks.
Children at the Youth Calf Handling line up their calves at the end of the day after learning not just how to lead them, but also about show ring etiquette.
Children at the Youth Calf Handling line up their calves at the end of the day after learning not just how to lead them, but also about show ring etiquette.

South Otago A&P Society is taking a different approach to their cattle section this year.

The outbreak of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has meant many cattle competitions and handling days have been cancelled due to the risk of disease spread.

However, in the hopes of keeping the tradition alive, Port Molyneux farmers Tim and Katy Button hosted their own calf handling day last Sunday.

Mr and Mrs Button milk nearly 400 cows of mainly Holstein Friesians but, also have quite a beef breeding interest.

They have been very involved with showing cattle for more than 15 years. After moving to their farm in 2002 they have been competing with their cattle since 2003.

At the handling day, children were able not only to learn how to lead calves but also were taught about the importance of conformation and turnout of the animal.

Outram dairy farmer and dairy cattle judge Denis Aitken and beef cattle breeder Bridget Lowry were there to share some top tips.

Mrs Button said the children were now able to come and practise handling their chosen calves in the lead up to show day.

On show day the calves would be taken to the show for the children to then compete with them.

''They'll be able to get some ribbons and even some prize money.''

Mrs Button said this way children were still able to have a go and there would still be cattle at the show.

''Because we can't have the actual competitive competition with lots of farmers coming together we thought why don't we just have cattle from one farm?''

Mrs Button was incredibly passionate about her cattle and said it was important for children to learn stockmanship.

''Learning how to handle them, learning how to put a halter on properly, you've got to do lots of preparation. . . it's all good stockmanship skills that lead on into farming.''

''We really enjoy our stock and our cows. . . you get to show your stock that you have so it's like promoting your herd.''

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