Isaac Kelsen inspects a cow_s udder.

Training an eye for detail at HFNZ judging school

New Zealand’s Holstein Friesian cattle judging community is gearing up for their first series of breed-specific judging schools in two years, after Covid saw the cancellation of the annual event in 2022.

The three events will be held in Manawatu, Canterbury and Waikato this week.

Holstein Friesian NZ Field Officer and Judging School facilitator Amelia Griffin says the judging schools are beneficial for a wide variety of people: those already on the judges list; those wanting to become a judge, and those interested in showing cattle.

“It’s a great day off the farm with plenty of opportunities to learn more about what judges look for when judging cattle,” she says.

Each year, HFNZ aims to hold three judging schools at the end of February/early March, with schools held in Waikato, Canterbury, and alternating between Manawatu and Taranaki.

There is usually a fourth judging school, held in the South Island, however in 2022 HFNZ worked with the other dairy cattle breeds to trial an All Breeds Combined Judging School in Southland.

The schools comprise three classes of cattle: a senior cow class (4+); intermediate class (2-3-year-olds) and junior class (yearlings or calves). Each HFNZ class has four animals.

The animals are paraded for the attendees to place animals in the order they believe they should be and give commentary as to their decisions. Attendees judge all three classes.

On completion of all the classes score cards go to the overjudges, and attendees are asked to explain their choices. The overjudges then judge the attendees on their placements, ringcraft and the relevance of their reasoning. Participants are also judged on microphone skills and speaking ability.

At the end of the day the overjudges provide their placings with reasons and the attendees have the opportunity to ask questions and learn.

To become an Associate judge, the overjudges must deem the attendee competent, either by them achieving a score of 80% or above, or attending several judging schools and gaining experience. To be promoted from Associate to Senior judge, the attendee must to achieve over 80% three times within five years, or over 85% two times in three years.

Once judges are on the Senior Judging list, they must attend a judging school once every two years, scoring over 80% each time to retain their judging ticket. All senior judges must attend this year, due to their being no schools in 2022.

Amelia says there is a need for more judges to ensure that the Association has depth and diversity in its judges list.  Judges are widely used for A&P Shows, breed championships, and for breed competitions such as the Semex On-Farm Competition and HFNZ-DeLaval All NZ Photo Competition.

“Many people are unsure whether sitting their judging ticket is worth it, but there are always plenty of opportunities to judge,” she says. “It is also a great way to see different parts of the country, and even travel overseas.”

Amelia says those who enjoy showing cattle would benefit from attending a judging school, without the commitment of having to hand in a score card.

 “It is helpful to understand what it is a judge looks for at a show, both when choosing an animal and on show day itself,” she says. “There are plenty of opportunities to pick the brains of the senior judges at judging schools.”


2023 Holstein Friesian Judging Schools

Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 10.00am
Landell Holdings Ltd (Karen Fitzgerald)
16 Mount Stewart Halcombe Road, Palmerston North

Thursday, February 23, 2023, 10.00am
Tahora Farm (Dean Geddes and Josh Norton)
203 Gilmours Road, Tai Tapu

Friday, February 24, 2023, 10am
Ferdon Genetics (Warren Ferguson)
333 Ouruwhero Road, Otorohanga

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