At the tender age of 15, Jacoba Gread has already imagined her future in great detail.
She is astute enough to understand it may be a moveable feast, but there are still a few non-negotiables: showing, judging, caring for and farming Holstein Friesian cattle.
Jacoba lives with her parents, Mark and Kylie Gread, and two younger brothers Elijah (13) and Xavier (10) at Tahuna; Mark and Kylie 50/50 sharemilk 280 cows on 110ha.
Their Holstein Friesian stud, Heavenly Moos, is seeing success in the show ring and remarkable genetic improvements in only one generation – something which only fuels the family’s passion for the Holstein Friesian breed.
Jacoba started out at Calf Club as a child, a passion both her and her mum Kylie shared.
But when she reached 12-years-old and her final stages of Calf Club came to an end her cousin, Sarah Leech, encouraged her to consider showing in the pedigree ring.
“It all happened from there,” Jacoba says.
Now in her third season showing, the Morrinsville College Year 11 student is becoming more involved in the show season and all it entails.
Jacoba mostly attends the large shows – the Easter Show, Waikato A&P Show, Stratford Show and NZ Dairy Event – but also attends a few smaller local shows to help keep them on their feet for years to come.
She attended her first World Wide Sires National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camp in January 2021, in Gore, and also attended the 2022 Youth Camp held earlier this month in the Waikato. Hosted by Holstein Friesian NZ, the youth camp teaches youth aged 10-21 about animal behaviour and care, and attendees take part in a mini show and team building activities.
“You make a lot of new connections there, and that’s what it’s all about,” Jacoba says. “Before I attended the first youth camp I knew a few names, but I hadn’t met a lot of people as I was new to the show ring. The camps are a great way to really get to know people.”
Jacoba says the 2021 Youth Camp was where her mentor-protégé relationship with Holstein Friesian NZ member Annie Gill began.
“Annie nominated herself to be my guardian for the camp, and then hosted me for the Waipa Club Show, which led to many great opportunities such as being asked to help at the Autumn Harvest and Waipiri sale,” Jacoba says.
“She has become a mentor to me, helping me hugely along the way.”
Jacoba also cites Holstein Friesian Treasurer Wendy Harker as a trusted advisor following her first Holstein Friesian NZ Judging School in February 2021.
“I had no idea what I was doing, so I just ended up doing what I thought was right,” Jacoba says.
“Wendy was so helpful, offering tips and advice. I had done the junior judging competition at NZ Dairy Event for Jersey and Ayrshire cattle before going to the judging school but was still very inexperienced.”
Jacoba says judging cattle has always interested her.
“I have wanted to be a Calf Club judge since I was little,” she says.
“Now that I’m older I still want to do judging, but on a more professional level, in the showring.”
While Jacoba is new to judging, she is amazed by how much she learnt in a short time.
“It’s really helpful to watch other people, what they do and the language they use, especially when it comes to saying your final placings in the lineup,” she says.
Jacoba saw several successes at the 2021 Holstein Friesian New Zealand Awards, including winning the 2021 Frank Pfister Award, in conjunction with Neko McDonald.
This award is presented to the highest scoring youth member/s at an official Holstein Friesian NZ Judging School.
She has also seen success with Heavenly Hopes Joy S2F, an animal Jacoba picked as “the one” out of the 84 heifer calves born last year on her farm.
Joy placed second out of 28 entries in the DeLaval HFNZ All NZ Photo Competition – All NZ Heifer Calf Class and placed second in the Holstein Friesian Black & White Youth Photo Competition.
She was also Reserve Champion (first Holstein Friesian heifer calf) and fourth in the All Breeds category at the Te Kauwhata A&P Show, as well as achieving many other placings at local shows.
“Her dam, Heavenly Faiths Hope S1F, was my 2017 calf club calf who did very well – in dairy type especially – and I am very thankful that for the third year in a row Hope has given me a heifer calf, this time sired by Walnutlawn Sidekick,” Jacoba says.
“The improvement shown in this family in just one generation has been amazing and I can’t wait until next season when Joy calves down. Fingers crossed she follows in her mothers’ footsteps and gives me a heap of gorgeous heifer calves.”
When she finishes high school Jacoba wants to study veterinary science at university, so she has included three sciences in her curriculum choices: biology, chemistry and physics.
She is also studying agriculture, as she would like to be a dairy farmer and stay involved in the family farm and stud.
“When I was younger, I had everything planned out –I would marry a dairy farmer, be a judge alongside being a very successful vet, and have a heap of show cows,” Jacoba laughs.
“But we will see how it all evolves.”