“Unreal” is how national dairy handler champion Clinton Keir, Sunshine Coast, Qld, described winning the competition.
Mr Keir first got involved in dairy competitions at high school and has since begun a career in the industry – he even had to fly back shortly after competing to milk cows.
He said these competitions were good ways of encouraging young people into dairy.
“The dairy industry definitely needs youth in it,” he said. “It’s great to have a bit of healthy competition between everyone, and get to know everyone.”
Mr Keir said a positive from winning the competition was the contacts it created.
“When you get gigs with the good stud herds, they’re happy to let you lead their best animals, which is an absolute honour,” he said.
This year Mr Keir also won the Qld junior judging competition and will compete at the nationals competition in Perth next year.
Judge Ben Govett, Dingee, Vic, said Mr Keir showed adaptability and ease when working with his initial heifer, and then when swapped to a new one.
“He impressed me the way he worked with the heifer – he never gave me a bad look with it,” he said.
But Mr Govett said all the entrants had exhibited their animals well.
“I’d be happy to have any lead my cattle in any show in the country,” he said. “These are some of the best young handlers in the country, so they’re all very skilled.”
Mr Govett has judged at the state level of the junior handlers before but said there was a step up to the national level.
He was pleased to see the good interest, even with the state level competition held on the same night.
“It’s great to see so many young kids want to be involved,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for this sort of thing, I wouldn’t have gotten into the industry like I have.”
Mr Govett said competitions like this could help educate and encourage the next generation.
“It’s a good place for people to learn skills, even life skills,” he said.
“And it's a great networking opportunity and a way to form lifelong friendships, really across the world.”