Young breeders head to Europe

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The young breeders group heading overseas in August are (from left) Courtney Afford, Andrew Gray, Nathan Hart, Kaitlyn Wishart and Georgia Sieben

Three members of an Australian young dairy breeders team chosen to travel overseas are from northern Victoria.

The five-member team — which will represent Australia in the world dairy youth competition in Belgium — was announced by Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, Jersey Australia and Holstein Australia.

The team members are: Andrew Gray from South Australia, Courtney Afford from South Australia, Georgia Sieben from Torrumbarry, Kaitlyn Wishart from Cohuna and Nathan Hart from Stanhope.

The European Young Breeders School is an annual five-day event run by the Association Wallonne de l'Elevage.

It involves hands-on workshops including bedding, showmanship and clipping, as well as classroom-based sessions such as marketing and herd promotion.

After three days of workshops and practice, participants put their skills to the test in stock judging, showmanship and calf classes.

“The Young Breeders School is the international reference point for training and show preparation, with many countries entering teams year-on-year,” Australian team leader Justin Johnston said.

“It will be a great learning experience for our team members, and a real opportunity to showcase the talent of Australian dairy youth on the world stage.”

Following the European Young Breeders School, the Australian team will travel through the Netherlands on an educational tour visiting several farms, Alta Genetics and Lely in what is regarded as one of the world’s most productive dairy regions.

Georgia Sieben, 19, from Torrumbarry, is studying animal and veterinary science at La Trobe University in Melbourne and has a particular interest in animal nutrition.

Working with her family on their Brindabella stud, she has extensive experience in preparation of dairy cows for showing and long term she hopes to have her own dairy farm.

Her overseas trip with the team will be the first to Europe but she has travelled and worked on show preparation in Canada.

Georgia believes the experience will enhance her skills, which she can apply on her own family farm and for the wider industry.

Kaitlyn Wishart said she had travelled to New Zealand previously but the trip to Europe would be a big event for her.

“I hoped I would get a chance to do it but I wasn’t sure because of the problems with COVID-19,” the 21-year-old said.

Kaitlyn has been working with cows on the family farm at Cohuna as long as she can remember.

“I was born onto the farm,” she said.

“Dad would take us out on the motorbike and we would always be over at the dairy.”

Kaitlyn has been a regular at International Dairy Week — often with her two sisters, Emma-Lea and April.

She is now studying agribusiness at La Trobe University and wants to gain experience working in agriculture before going back to the family business.

Nathan Hart from Stanhope said he hoped to learn and expand his knowledge of fitting and showing cattle, his chosen profession, by working with “some of the greatest youth in our industry, not only from Australia but other countries, too”.

“At the same time, I would like to gain educational knowledge about farming across Europe so I can learn from these different ideas and adapt them to work in to our farming here in Australia,” Nathan said.

The European Young Breeders School takes place in Battice, Belgium, at the end of August.