Second time’s a charm for junior judging star

2023 junior cattle judging superstar Annie Gill didn’t let nerves get in the way of her success at the NZ Dairy Event last week, winning both the Holstein Friesian NZ Junior Judging Competition and the NZ Dairy Breeds Federation World Wide Sires All Breeds Junior Judging Competition.

“To be honest, going into it my teeth were chattering,” Annie said. “But at the end of the day, I know what a good cow is.”

The Waikato dairy farmer, 21, won the 2023 Pitcairn’s Trophy, presented to the winner of the Holstein Friesian section of the Junior Breed Judging Competition, with a near-perfect score of 74 out of 75.

The junior judges judged animals in one class, placing them and explaining their reasoning behind their decisions. A panel of overjudges placed the same class, and points were awarded to the junior judges for the accuracy of their choices, as well as their reasons and ringcraft.

The overjudges of this section were Warren Ferguson (Ōtorohanga), Selwyn Donald (Feilding), and Bradley Parkes (Taranaki).

The first two place-getters from the Holstein Friesian, Ayrshire and Jersey breed competitions then progressed to the NZ Dairy Breeds Federation WWS All Breeds Junior Judging Competition and judged an all-breeds class of animals. Annie took out the WWS All Breeds title on points. The overjudges in the All Breeds competition were Craig Robertson (Canterbury), Selwyn Donald (Feilding) and Andrew Thomson (Waiuku).

Annie says she watched the Ayrshire and Jersey competitions before she competed in the Holstein Friesian competition, which calmed her nerves a little.

“I’m confident I know what a good cow looks like, although it does come down to personal opinion as well,” she says. “All three overjudges spoke to me in the Holstein Friesian ring, and two scored me 75/75 as I had the exact same reasonings behind my decisions as they did.”

Annie credited 2023 International Dairy Week Holstein Friesian judge Warren Ferguson of Ferdon Genetics with giving her valuable guidance, which she carried with her into both competitions.

“I spend a lot of time at Ferdon because my animals are housed there,” she says. “Warren always explains what he is doing and why he is doing it, including his judging decisions.”

Annie came runner up in the NZ Dairy Breeds Federation WWS All Breeds Junior Judging Competition in 2022, and hadn’t planned to enter again; however, some encouragement from Holstein Friesian NZ president Doug Courtman changed her mind.

Annie has seen multiple industry successes in recent years: she came runner up in the 2021 Dairy Trainee of the Year and the 2022 Dairy Industry Awards and won the Waikato region of the New Zealand Young Farmers stock judging competition before moving on to win the national title in 2022. Annie was also the 2023 NZ Dairy Event Young Leader Champion and 2023 NZ Dairy Event Young Handlers 18 Years and Over Champion.

Annie is dairy farming full time, working as a herd manager of 800 cows for Dan Bryce in Otorohanga.

Annie Gill

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