Australia’s biggest dairy competition has never been more needed than this year.
The 16th annual Semex-Holstein Australia On-Farm competition – which wound up early in December – involved close to 3000 Holstein cows and 500 farms across the country.
It celebrates the dairy cows that produce Australia’s milk without fanfare.
Cows were judged for their conformation on-farm without preparation.
The first and second placegetters in each class within Holstein Australia’s 29 sub-branches then moved forward to the state finals – where they were re-assessed by a fresh overjudge to find the state champions.
There is no purer example about the impact of the On-Farm competition than this year’s champion four-year-old from Queensland – Grade 744 Cox.
One of her owners, Brian Cox, from Beaudesert, described her as “just a cow, in a cow competition”.
However, judge Rodney Thomas, from Instyle Holsteins, elevated her to first in the Morton sub-branch, and Bluechip’s Dean Malcolm liked her enough to then make her Queensland’s champion four-year-old. Brian Cox was gobsmacked.
“It’s the first time we’ve entered, and we won a state champion,” Brian Cox, 32, said. “It started as more of a social thing to go along to the dinner and say ‘hi’, to be honest.
“To be placed first by two people involved in the show scene – yep, we’ll take it.”
The On-Farm competition is also strongly about the networking, connecting and re-connecting.
NSW state overjudge Jade Sieben, of Brindabella Holsteins, covered 3500km in eight days to judge NSW’s best cows.
She said after a tough season in Victoria at her home farm at Torumbarry, she relished sharing time with her fellow breeders.
“What was really nice for me was to arrive at the first few farms to find they were leased by young couples, who were having a go,” Mrs Sieben said.
“That was really positive, and it was good for me to see that there’s still young people out there willing to have a go. I think that I really needed that.”
For Western Australian judge Jenny Grey, the competition is about celebrating every day on the farm.
“One of the best things about this competition is seeing farmers get recognition who aren’t able to go to shows," she said.
"It makes people realise that everybody has good cows.
“We see all the good ones at the show. And there’s so many other good cows at people’s places working hard.
“I think that’s the brilliant thing about this competition.”