A “late” start to cattle showing hasn’t dulled Southland teenager Chloe Thomson’s love for the pastime, and the Holstein Friesian breed; in fact, it has only made it stronger.
Seventeen-year-old Chloe, who lives with her family on a dairy farm, Thomson Dairy Ltd, at Winton, was introduced to showing cattle at age 12 by Julia and Stewart Eden and their family.
“The Eden kids showed cattle, and they suggested I give it a try,” Chloe says.
“The first time I did it, I fell in love. The Edens took me under their wing; they gave me a red Holstein Friesian calf to clip, break in and take to shows. They fostered my love of showing.”
The Thomsons milk 300 cows on a 120ha milking platform, under Empire stud; Chloe’s parents Andrea and Heath, Chloe, and her brothers Hunter and Cooper converted the farm from sheep to dairy in 2014.
After her introductory year of showing, Chloe made sure she had her own calves the following year; at age 13 she and her best friend took two calves out on the show circuit.
While M.bovis caused some disruption to the show schedule, it didn’t dull Chloe’s enthusiasm for her newfound passion. Although the smaller shows in Southland were cancelled, she was able to travel to the North Island to take part in the show circuit there.
Chloe has also attended three National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camps: at Stratford, Wyndham and Waikato.
The first camp she attended was especially exciting, as it ensured she was still able to “halter a calf” despite M.bovis cancelling all shows that year.
“I loved the camp,” Chloe says. “Everyone was so supportive, and they brought in such talented and experienced people to help us. I’ll always remember the leading tips they gave us, and the clipping, which I really enjoy. It’s the perfect environment in which to learn and soak up information, and to have fun.”
Chloe would like to try and attend the next youth camp in January 2023, the last one before she leaves for university.
“Even if I don’t take part to the extent of the younger kids, I can still help Amelia (Griffin, HFNZ Field Officer) behind the scenes,” Chloe says. “It is super cool to meet new friends and see the friends I’ve made over the years.”
Currently in Year 13 at Central Southland College, Chloe had planned to study a Bachelor of Animal Science and become a veterinarian; however, a newfound interest has seen a change of heart.
“I’m now planning on going to Lincoln University to study a Diploma of Agriculture and a Diploma of Farm Management to stay within the dairy industry, hopefully leading into genetics in the future,” she says. “After I complete the degree I’ll be able to take my knowledge and apply it to our own farm business and help Mum and Dad for a bit. And if a great job opportunity arises, I would consider taking it.”
Chloe is already implementing her interest in genetics at home and was pleased to purchase four animals at the recent Okawa Holsteins sale – three calves, and one in-milk seven-year-old cow sired by Okawa Goldwyn T-Rex-ET.
“These animals are a big advance on what I currently have,” Chloe says. “I have been doing small amounts of breeding from my former show calves that are in milk now, but I’ve had some hard luck so far.”
Chloe says there’s a lot to love about the Holstein Friesian breed.
“I admire the sheer strength of the breed, its capacity, and its impressive appearance,” she says. “I like the stature and capacity of the breed a lot; they will always stand out compared to any breed.”
“They are overall strong cows and very dairy, very correct looking cows; no other breed is the same.”
Chloe says she loves a good show cow but understands that a commercial farming business needs something more than a pretty cow.
“At home they need to have condition on them, produce milk, and be healthy and strong,” she says.
Another big focus for the Thomson family is breeding for A2A2, something Chloe is taking forward as she creates her own herd. Andrea has a boutique milk business, selling organically-produced A2A2 milk in reusable glass bottles.
Chloe is active in the industry and enjoys helping studs from all over the country prepare for sales and attend shows.
She attended the 2022 NZ Dairy Event with Okawa Holstein Friesians, and the Stratford Young Stock Show with Waipiri Holsteins. She also attended the Okawa and Tahora sales in April 2022.
“I love helping out at sales and doing sale preparation,” Chloe says. “I love meeting new people, and by watching closely you can learn new skills and get heaps of little tips.”