Cows sure to look their best at show

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Olivia Cahill checks on 5-year-old cow Lucy, who she hopes will enjoy some success at the New...
Olivia Cahill checks on 5-year-old cow Lucy, who she hopes will enjoy some success at the New Zealand Agricultural Show. Photos: David Hill
The Sherriff family is busy transitioning cows from grass to dry feed, as the New Zealand Agricultural Show approaches.

The North Canterbury dairy farmers have won supreme champion dairy cow at the Christchurch show for the last three years and have a team of seven cows in training for this year's show.

Olivia Cahill farms with her husband Jared and father Peter Sherriff at Ohoka, near Rangiora, and is in charge of preparing the team of cows for the show, being held at Canterbury Agricultural Park in mid-November.

''We start about four to five weeks out, by bringing them off the grass and putting them in the shed, feeding them hay, putting them on the halter and then returning them to grass.

''A week out from the show they are just on dry feed, replicating what they will get at the show.''

Olivia says the pens at the show are prepared over the weekend, ''so by the time we bring the cows in on Monday they can just walk in, sit down and relax''.

Father and daughter team Peter Sherriff and Olivia Cahill are expecting big things from their cows.
Father and daughter team Peter Sherriff and Olivia Cahill are expecting big things from their cows.
The cows will stick to their normal schedule of morning and evening milkings during show week, except on Thursday, which is judging day.

''We get them full of milk on Thursday. We will work out how much milk to keep on them so the judge can look at how they hold their milk up,'' she says.

''It's about taking what you've bred and showing them off and hopefully doing well.''

Peter says showing cattle is about production attributes, rather than ''a beauty contest''.

Their two-time supreme champion cow, 7-year-old Maria, was recently tested with 48 litres of milk.

''Most farmers would be happy if their cows were producing 20 litres and it doesn't cost twice as much to feed her and you don't need to get her in calf twice as often to get that 48 litres.''

The Sherraine stud cows weigh in at around 600kg each, considered ''too big'' by New Zealand standards; and American genetics are used in their breeding, which means the Sherraine herd has a poor ''breed worth'' rating with Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC).

''We have a minus-187 'breed worth', which is considered one of the poorest herds in New Zealand,'' Peter says.

''But how many cows have produced more than 45,000 litres of milk in their lifetime?''

Carra, now 11, who won supreme champion in 2016, has produced more than 60,000 litres and was the only entrant in the 45,000-plus litres class at last year's show. This year Carra will be joined by Maria in the 45,000-plus litres class, Olivia says.

''Environmental issues are the big thing going forward and these are the New Zealand cows of the future.''

 

 

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