Michael Barrett of Gurtaleen Herefords in Cork, along with; Sinead Conry, Eoin Lynch & Katie Brady, travelled to New Zealand in March 2020 to represent Ireland and compete in the Young Breeders Competition at the World Hereford Conference against teams from around the World, while being kindly sponsored by Slaney Foods International. Read Michael’s account of the experience below.
“My trip to the World Hereford conference began on the 5th of March 2020 when I set flight from Dublin Airport. A short while later, thirty hours to be precise, I landed in Queenstown New Zealand.
Will Gibson of Foulden Hill Genetics met me at the airport and together we travelled the two hour journey down to Te Anau in the South Island of New Zealand. Along the journey I got a great insight into what the beautiful countryside of New Zealand had to offer. There I met the rest of the Irish team, Eoin, Katie and Sinead. My first night in New Zealand was greeted with drinks and food by a lake side bar in Te Anau. We were given a detailed plan of the busy week ahead and a briefing about the various events in which we were participating in. The night ended with a song and drink with team members from the other participating countries. A couple of hours sleep and off to the modules we went on Sunday morning. These modules took place on the Waiau Hereford stud farm.
These modules included tasks such as animal health, fencing, agribusiness, selecting heifers suitable for breeding, and the most enjoyable of all, the beef cuts module.
We completed the modules in the morning and were then given a tour of the farm in the afternoon. This was a little different from our farm walks back home. We were carried around the 1000 acre farm in a long wheel based jeep while listening to the farm details from the farm manager, through the radio in the jeep. The scale of the operation was an eye opener for us all. Throughout this tour we got to see some of the best polled Hereford cattle that New Zealand had to offer. That evening we participated in an agricultural quiz when we arrived back to Te Anau. This was another great evening where we enjoyed food and a drink with more Hereford enthusiasts from all parts of New Zealand.
Monday the 9th was Stock judging day on the Monymusk herd of Chris, Jayne and Henry Douglas. Within the day’s activities we had to judge a field of bulls, 2 year old heifers and yearling heifers. This was accompanied with the judging of sheep, and sheep fleeces. The breeds of sheep varied between Romney and Suftex lambs. We then gave our reasoning’s for placing the yearling heifers in front of judges and the wider audience on the day.
That night the youth conference joined up with the rest of the World Hereford Conference at a Gala welcome reception in Queenstown. We also met the rest of the Irish representatives – Larry, William and Louise. We were greeted with a great Maori welcome in which the Haka was performed.
On Tuesday we had an early breakfast overlooking the beautiful countryside that Queenstown has before gearing ourselves up for a day of presenting. Each team participating in the youth competition had to give a 10 minute presentation to a group of judges to address the title – ‘If you were in a position of influence, what would you do to bridge the divide in agriculture between rural and urban people’. The remainder of Tuesday we had a small bit of free time to explore Queenstown. Eoin and I decided to show Sinead and Katie how to play a bit of pitch and putt, before we took a Skyline lift up to get an ariel view overlooking Queenstown. That night, the conference took a boat trip out to a gala dinner. The food, craic and comradery that was experienced on the night was one of the highlights of the trip. Thursday we moved up the country to Wanaka to prepare for the show days ahead. On route we stopped in a country village called Arrowtown, experienced a shotover (Speedboat) Jet and visited the horned Hereford herd of Locharburn.
With the cattle arriving that evening we helped out all the different herds with the washing and stalling of cattle.
Thursday brought the clipping competition upon us. We were given two heifers to wash, clip and prepare for show day. We then had to give a presentation on why we clipped the heifer the way we did. For us show people, it was very interesting to see the great variation in the way that the cattle were being presented. That evening we were given our class numbers for show day.
Friday brought with it the Wanaka A and P show. To describe the scene of show day, was like having Tullamore show on the Lakes of Killarney. The handling competition was broken up into four heats in where the top 3 went through to a finals class. The competition was extremely high with 9 participants in each heat. As the show day drew to an end the party moved to a rooftop bar in which we got to have food and drinks with many of the cattle owners. Saturday brought an end to my trip. We departed Wanaka and headed to Queenstown where I embarked on the journey home. Thirty five hours later I was back home in the real capital of Cork. A trip of a lifetime was brought to an end. I would like to thank the Irish Hereford Society for giving me the opportunity to represent them on the World stage. I would like to thank Slaney foods International for sponsoring the competition and making the whole trip possible. I would like to thank Tom Brennan of Balleen Herefords who gave up of his time to help us prepare as a team before New Zealand. I would like to thank all the different Hereford breeders who gave us contributions towards our trip and valuable advice ahead of our trip. I would finally like to thank Boehringer Ingelheim for organising an unbelievable competition which brought like-minded Hereford people together and igniting friendships that will last a lifetime.”