Competitors ranged in age from eight to 24 years old. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

From being paraded on the hoof to meat scoring on the hook, young people interested in entering the beef industry had their work cut out for them at the 13th Hoof and Hook competition last weekend at the Solway Showgrounds in Masterton.

Organised by Beef and Lamb NZ and Future Beef, the weekend-long event aims to bring more young people into the beef industry and offer learning about cattle handling and showing.

It’s the first time the event has been held in Masterton, with around 75 young farmers – ranging in age from eight to 24 years old – and 50 steers coming from around the country to compete.

Event chairwoman Lauren Cameron, a Gladstone farmer, said it was a great weekend, with a lot of first timers and competitors from non-rural backgrounds.

“It was set up originally by Performance Beef Breeders NZ to try and attract people to the beef industry.

“[This year] we had a lot of first-time competitors who were just happy to give it a go. There was a really positive attitude from the competitors.”

She said programmes like Teen Ag and Young Farmers had built up a culture encouraging young people to give farming a try.

Winner of the Junior Handler Gus McLachlan.

Hoof and Hook was important for showcasing opportunities in the industry as farmers were struggling to find new staff, she said.

“Definitely in Wairarapa we’re seeing a massive shortage of shepherds. [Farmers have] really struggled to get shepherds and to retain staff.

“We are going to see a shortage of youth coming through.”

Participants engage in steer and heifer classes, stock judging, paraders classes, hands-on educational models and compete to earn a spot on the Allflex Beef Ambassador programme.

Pupils from Rathkeale College performed particularly well at Sunday’s Hoof awards.

Callum Woodhouse won the Senior title in the Gallagher Module while his brother Archie won the Intermediate title.

Callum also won the Neogen Senior Knowledge Award and was selected to attend the 2020 World Hereford Conference as part of the Future Beef NZ team.

Fellow pupil Liam Quirke was named the Allflex NZ Intermediate Ambassador and Intermediate Maiden winner in the handler’s competition.

The Rathkeale College team also took out the Generation Angus NZ Education Team Award.

St Matthew’s Sarah Pitney won the Senior Novice title in the Handlers Competition.

The champion lightweight steer title went to No 36 from Bruce Donald while the heavyweight steer was No 13 from JA and AR McWilliam.

The steers are judged on the best finished animal, Cameron said.

“It’s all about building and finishing your cattle so they have the best beef cuts and are carrying the right amount of fat.”

Though precautions were taken there were no concerns about the spread of dreaded cattle disease M.bovis, as the cattle were all sent straight to the works after the competition to be judged for the hook component which was announced on Wednesday.

No 36 from Bruce Donald also took out the champion lightweight steer on the hook title.

The heavyweight and grand champion was named as No 3 from Georgia Whitworth.