Katie Brady of Waterloo Herefords in Cavan, along with; Michael Barrett, Eoin Lynch & Sinead Conry, 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 Katie’s account of the experience below.
“If you told me this time last year, that I would of be chosen to represent the Irish Hereford society in New Zealand and while I was there the whole world would go into a lockdown due to the covid-19 pandemic, I definitely would of told you that you were mad in the head.
I think the moment I was repacking my suitcase in the car in the M50 traffic from one that I had burst the zip on, an hour before doing last minute packing and having to purchase a new one on-route to the airport I knew it was going to be an experience of a lifetime.
After flying for over 24 hours, we finally landed in Auckland and not even realising my brand new suitcase wheels were broken could not have ruined my pure excitement of being in New Zealand
We soon made are way to the hotel that Eoin had booked, I think if it wasn’t for his great planning skills I would of spent the whole trip running from hotel to hotel last minute looking for a room. The first day was spent getting used to the time difference and in my case, buying another suitcase. Yes case number 3.
We only spent one night in Auckland before heading back to the airport to fly to the Bay of Islands in Northland. it was in the airport we first met some of the Herefords breeders. It was only a 50 minute flight which felt like nothing compared to the one we were after taking a few days earlier.
The Bay of Islands is truly breath-taking, I think it has some of the most stunning views in New Zealand. There was only about 30 of us altogether in that group which meant I got to talk and mix with everyone on the many farm tours and other activities from walking in Kauri Forests to Dolphin watching. Many of the farms were in severe drought and some of the first rain in many weeks came while we were there; it was stated that it was us Irish that bought the rain with us.
After an eventful three days in the Bay of Islands it was time to fly back to Auckland. It was here we met many of the other people attending the conference. The next day many of the breeders went on the tour of the North Island while Eoin, Sinead, Louise and I headed south of Auckland to explore the North island. We spent a few days touring around and stopped at Craigmore Herefords while travelling, where we were treated to great New Zealand hospitality and enjoyable visit of their farm.
We then flew to Queenstown where the main conference was held. It was also in Queenstown where we met all of the other teams of young breeders. First on the agenda was some bonding; go karting was the perfect way to start some friendly team banter and competition.
We then were loaded up onto buses and headed to Te Anau. When we arrived in Te Anau our team was completed with the arrival of Michael. The next morning it was an early start to travel to Waiau Hereford stud for the module day. We got our skills tested in 5 different modules including; fencing, beef cuts, genetics, animal health and agribusiness. Later that night was our quiz night where our general knowledge on agriculture was tested. It was an early start after a late enjoyable night, this time for our stock judging day. We were given the task of not only judging 3 groups of Herefords but also two groups of sheep and a fleece, this was something we were not expecting but we give it our best shot.
It was then time for us to travel back to Queenstown. It was here we had to give a team presentation on how we would solve the divide between urban and rural communities in our country. That night we attended the gala dinner with all the other delegates from around the world – this was truly a night to remember. The next day was the fun; a tourist day for the young members as we enjoyed a day of jet boating & visiting Locharburn horned Hereford stud before moving onto Wanaka in preparation for the next stage of the competition.
Then it was show day, well the day before the show but this was the day for us to meet our heifers for the first time and get used to them before the afternoon’s clipping competition. It was very interesting to see how no two teams clipped their heifer in the same way, every country looked for something different in the animal and this was very clear in their clipping.
The next day was the show day, all of the other members travel from Queenstown to Wanaka so it was good to see some of the people we had met in the last few days again. We also got to show our heifers that day at the show which we had been caring for and grooming. This was also a unique experience to see how all the different countries showing styles differed. This was an enjoyable day but also a sad day as this was the last day with all the other young members that we had become friends with. After one final night together we had to say our good byes. We made new friendships all over the world and we all have one thing in common, Herefords and the love of farming and breeding Herefords.
The next morning we travelled back to Queenstown, it was a weird feeling as the bus was a lot more empty then it had been the previous week as a lot of people had already left to start their journeys home. We then flew up to Christchurch – we stayed there for three days. The main reason for visiting Christchurch was to visit Sliverstream stud so we could see Pute Nascar N13. This is the bull which semen is now available in Ireland to Irish Hereford breeders via the Breed Improvement Scheme. It was well worth the trip as he is a very impressive bull. Again, the hospitality of the families in New Zealand was excellent and we were made to feel at home on these large stud farms .
I don’t think these words give justice to New Zealand and the people of New Zealand and all the other teams from different countries. If I was to write every detail about it I would have a book, I just know that this was a once in a lifetime trip that I will remember and treasure for the rest of my life. I would like to thank the Irish Hereford Breed Society, Slaney foods International and all of the breeders that gave us sponsorship for our travels. To my teammates; Sinead, Eoin and Michael, it was a pleasure and honour to represent the Irish Hereford team 2020 with you and special thanks to Louise for all her guidance and help along the way and all her assistance in making this trip such a special experience.“