While most year 11 students have been enjoying their summer holidays, 15-year-old Leo McGrath has been cleaning, preening and preparing his Jersey cows for presentation at agricultural shows.
The Emmanuel College, Warrnambool, Vic, student has been showing cows for four years, but said he had really been putting in an effort over the last two years.
"I can't remember how I got started but dad and I took some heifers to the Port Fairy show and Warrnambool show and it just grew from there," Leo said.
"I had a school friend (Cate Jago) who started helping me and we started taking more.
"After the heifers reach one year old you have to register them so I started my own stud, Wootanga Park Jerseys, and it has grown from there."
He now has five show cows and six heifers registered with the stud, and is getting help from his mother Anne and sister Rachael with the breeding program.
"We are trying to grow our stud, Rachael has just recently bought a heap of registered bulls so now it doesn't matter who the cows get calved to because they are all registered," Leo said.
"So now we are getting better family lines into the herd and we can start to create something."
Leo recently returned from the 2020 International Dairy Week show in Tatura, Vic, where he received the National Jersey Show Exhibitor Encouragement Award, a third place in the all-breed event with his cow Gertie and a fourth place in the Jersey category with his cow Liza.
"I really enjoy putting the effort in and taking them away," he said.
"We took seven animals to Port Fairy, it was busy but we had a bit of fun.
"I try and organise most of the stuff myself, Cate comes and helps with the physical stuff, but I like to go and wash them myself or sit down and do all of the (show) entries myself."
As he prepares to finish high school, and looks towards university, Leo has a clear view of where he wants the Wootanga Park Jersey stud to go.
"I want to keep (the stud) going, go to Dairy Week every year and attend some of the local shows and get a really good family line going," he said.
"I have a friend in Crossley who has their own bulls going into the (stud) catalogues, so I would love to do that one day.
"The Tatura International Dairy Week show is the premier one in Australia, you learn so much from it.
"If you can win there people really know who you are."
For now, he is focused on finishing school and getting Gertie gleaming for the next show.
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