A third-generation northern Victorian dairy farmer will represent the state in this year's Agricultural Shows Australia National Young Judges dairy finals, at the Royal Queensland Show next month.
Zoe Hayes, 22, Girgarre, is from a family that runs a 500 cow herd and the Llandovery Illawarra stud.
"I grew up watching my dad and we travelled to New Zealand and England, where he was invited to judge," Ms Hayes said.
"Being around my dad, Tony, and nan, Gloria, seeing and listening to their passion for breeding is something that I have also developed a passion for."
She said she enjoyed sorting the cattle being judged into categories, based on the traits she felt were most desirable for the breed.
"My passion is the Illawarra breed - but a good cow, in any breed, is a good cow," she said.
"With winners, you start to see a pattern."
She said she looked for balance, in both heifers and cows.
"To be a functional cow, she has to be balanced in the show ring and on the farm as well.
"She doesn't have to be the tallest, or biggest, cow."
Agricultural Shows Association South Australian chairman Dr Rob Wilson said the competition was designed to recognise the best new talent in livestock judging and presenting nationwide.
ASA oversees 572 agricultural shows in Australia, which attract six million visitors annually and contribute nearly $1 billion to the national economy.
"It's an extremely prestigious event and positions at the nationals are keenly contested," Dr Wilson said.
"These young people are the future of agricultural show competitions, which are crucial to the continual improvement of Australia's food and fibre.
"The national competition is a coveted opportunity to grow personally and professionally by practising skills against the cream of the crop."
The national competition is held in a different location each year to promote livestock judging, parading and the industry as widely as possible throughout Australia.
This year it will be hosted by Queensland Ag Shows at the 143rd Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane from August 7-9.
Queensland Ag Shows president Kerri Robertson said in a dairy cattle judging competition it was important for the assessor to relate the form of the animal to its function.
"These young judges will be looking for structure, soundness and strong milk production attributes in the dairy cows they are judging," he said.
"Entrants use their skills to adjudicate the placings of the stock and then must articulate their approach."
The dairy cattle paraders' competition is designed to determine who most effectively presents and parades an animal before a competition judge.
"Competitors have one hour to prepare their animal for presentation at judging," Mr Robertson said.
"They have to wash, clip, groom and then finally parade the animal before the judge."
National finalists dairy cattle judges are:
- 18-year-old Tanille Hughes, Harvey, will represent Western Australia.
- 18-year-old Loka Manu, Kandanga, will represent Queensland.
- 24-year-old Brittany Legge, West Nowra, will represent NSW.
- 21-year-old Bridgit Liebelt, Meadows, will represent South Australia.
- 23-year-old Kyle Barker, Flowerdale, will represent Tasmania, and is also the national finalist for the dairy cattle paraders competition.
- Courtney Davies is the successful competitor in New Zealand. She was also the successful competitor for beef cattle judging.
National finalists dairy cattle paraders are:
- 19-year-old Jai Thomas, Perth (who won the national title for dairy cattle judging in 2018) will represent Western Australia.
- 21-year-old Thomas Wade, Mudjimba, will represent Queensland.
- 16-year-old Katelyn Atkins, Tamworth, will represent New South Wales.
- 22-year-old Courtney Afford, Woods Point, will represent South Australia.
- 18-year-old Georgia Sieben, Torrumbarry, will represent Victoria.
- 23-year-old Kyle Barker, Flowerdale, will represent Tasmania, and is also the national finalist for the dairy cattle judges competition.
- 19-year-old Georgia Whitworth, Tuakua, (who won the national title for beef cattle judging in 2019) was the successful competitor for New Zealand.