Young dairy breeder gives a helping hand

Young dairy breeder Megan Thomas is passing on the same opportunities she’s had by running a new...
Young dairy breeder Megan Thomas is passing on the same opportunities she’s had by running a new South Island Next Generation Sale. PHOTO: TIM CRONSHAW
An auction for young breeders to buy stud calves is the brainchild of Waikaia breeder Megan Thomas.

Ten Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire and Dairy Shorthorn lots were auctioned at the South Island Next Generation Sale at Canterbury A&P Show earlier this month.

Miss Thomas, 27, said she wanted other young breeders to have the same springboard she’s had for dairy cow showing and breeding.

She now has six Jersey cows in her Cinderhill stud run alongside the Gilbert family’s herd.

Her mentor is Peter Gilbert, an Ashburton breeder from Glenalla and Snowfed Farm, who is among half a dozen Canterbury breeders who provided sale calves.

Miss Thomas said the sale had given young breeders an opportunity to buy animals for showing and breeding purposes.

The plan was to support the next generation of dairy enthusiasts, she said.

She said the initiative had been a success in Waikato since 2016, and it was high time the South Island had a similar opportunity.

"We want this to be next-generation focused because I had a great opportunity to be mentored and I’m still being mentored now and want to give that opportunity to someone else and just help them get on their feet."

She said the quality pedigree calves were at affordable prices to eventually give a good foundation cow for a young person’s herd.

"At the end of the day it’s not always about showing, it’s about the cows at home which are putting the milk in the vat to give you the ability to be at the show. You want to be able to breed a good cow with longevity and production behind it which will last and this will give them a good start."

The field representative at Federated Farmers travelled to New Zealand from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom about five years ago and now has residency.

Soon after arriving she met Mr Gilbert, who continues to give her a guiding hand.

"He’s really helped to push me towards my cattle judging and every year I help them prepare the cattle at the shows and get out in the show ring with the animals which has been a great experience."

In the United Kingdom she worked in the dairying and animal health industry. She came here to learn more about dairying in Canterbury and the North Island before becoming a dairy herd manager in Southland last year and then taking the Feds role.

"I love farming, I love agriculture and I don’t know what a holiday is — I’ve never taken a holiday in my life as if I do, it’s usually something related to cows or farming."

Anyone could bid on behalf of young breeders for the calves, but the nominated breeders had to be under 21 to exhibit them.

They exhibited their new purchases in a Futurity class after the sale, with the idea they will continue to enter them in the futurity yearling and 2-year-old classes over the next two years.

The hope is this will be a starting point for them to go on to compete in this class at the New Zealand Dairy Event at Feilding.


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