Australia's sharpest young dairy cattle judges and most skilled dairy cattle paraders have been announced by Agricultural Shows of Australia as eligible to compete in the national finalists of the prestigious annual competition.
The competition brings together the best young judges and paraders aged from 15 to 25 in each state to compete at the national championships in April.
Qualification is via success in competitive regional and state competitions.
The national championships are held in a different location each year.
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In 2022, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, in its bicentenary year, will host the 2022 championships including the 2021 finalists who were unable to compete at Ekka, the Royal Queensland Show, due to COVID-19 cancellations.
Jai Thomas, 19, of Perth and Jaxon Micallef, 17, from Yarloop will represent Western Australia in the national dairy cattle parader competition.
"I have lived on the Murdoch University farm since I was two-years-old as my dad is the farm manager," Jai said.
"Through living here, I have been exposed to a huge amount of agricultural experiences that the ordinary person living in Perth wouldn't have been able to.
"I started competing at the age of four by leading around Murdoch University's dairy Illawarras in the show ring with my brother.
"My brother slowly lost interest in showing cattle but my interest kept strong as my dad took me under his wing and taught me everything he could teach me about showing cattle."
Tanille Hughes, 18, of Harvey and Sam Cox, 16, from Stratham will represent the state in the judges competition.
"My two favourite moments from shows include at the Brunswick Agriculture Show, when I was in year 1, I placed first in my handlers class where I was up against two people," Tanille said.
"From there I competed in the grand champion class, which I won, and became the youngest person from Harvey Ag to win this title.
"Another great moment was winning the state title at the Royal Show, it was a chance to redeem myself from my previous show where I failed hard."
Sam grew up and still lives on a small one-acre farm with a few cows.
"It wasn't until I was about nine that I started helping out at a friend's dairy in the calf shed," Sam said.
"From there, I became interested in the dairy industry as a whole and began showing cattle at the local shows."
Jerry English, 20, from Malanda will represent Queensland in both competitions, Thomas Wade, 21, of Mudjimba will represent the state in the national dairy cattle parader competition and Loka Manu, 18, of Kandanga will compete in the the dairy cattle judges competition.
"I had always known dairy has been a great passion of mine," Loka said.
Originally from Taranaki in New Zealand on the west coast of the North Island, Loka was born into the dairy industry.
"I have been in the dairy and milking cows since before I could walk and spent a lot of my childhood on my aunty and uncle's farm," he said.
"These days I'm currently working my way to herd management and in 10 years I'd like to still be dairy farming."
Loka started competing out of pure love and passion for dairy cows.
"I absolutely love cows which made me passionate about competing," he said.
"As a young child I was in and out of foster and family homes which were quite rough. The dairy industry was my therapy. Without it I would have no idea where it would be."
Katelyn Atkins, 16, of Tamworth will be representing NSW in the national dairy cattle parader competition and Brittany Legge, 24, of West Nowra is the representative in the dairy cattle judges competition.
The 2022 finalists to compete in the nationals will be determined at the Sydney Royal Easter Show during the state championships.
Sisters Courtney Afford and Tegan Afford from Woods Point will be representing South Australia in the national dairy cattle parader competition.
Courtney has been going to shows since she was a baby, in fact, she attended her first Adelaide Show at nine-months-old.
"Originally I helped out my uncle and aunt's string at Boldview Farms for many years whilst also showing our own cows," she said.
"Mainly started getting involved through leading some calves at our local Calf Day and Adelaide Show thanks to support from my parents, cousins and grandparents.
"This passion then developed through youth camps and youth focus days, which allowed my sister and I to develop the skills and knowledge to start running our own string of cows at the show."
Sisters Brittany Liebich, 22, and Bridgit Liebich, 21, of Mount McIntyre will be representing SA in the dairy cattle judges competition.
Brittany started competing in this competition a few years ago at the Royal Adelaide Show to try and get out of her comfort zone and try something new.
"My sister Caitlin Hentschke attended the national championships a couple of times of judging and parading a few years ago, and she always liked to push me to try and learn new things," Brittany said.
"She was actually the reason that I started competing at junior judging, she would walk through the cows at home with me and ask me to comment on them."
In 2021, Brittany was contacted by the Ayrshire dairy cattle section at Mount Pleasant Show to judge - that was her first ever judging gig.
"Later in the year the Ayrshire section at Murray Bridge Show contacted me to judge, and as the Royal Adelaide Show was cancelled due to COVID-19 this meant that the state finals competition was being held there."
Jerry English, 20, from Malanda will represent the state both competitions and Kyle Barker, 23, of Flowerdale will be representing Tasmania in the national dairy cattle parader competition and the dairy cattle judges competition.
William Dudfield, 19, from Somerset will be representing Tasmania in the dairy cattle judges competition and Jaxon Gillam, 22, from Burnie will be representing Tasmania in the national dairy cattle parader competition.
Georgia Sieben, 18, of Torrumbarry and Abbie Hanks, 16, from Cobden will represent Victoria in the national dairy cattle parader competition.
"I have always loved the parading side of cattle shows and doing the best I can to make my animals look to the best of their ability," Georgia said.
"This competition allows young leaders like myself to improve and learn more each time they step into the ring, which is why I decided to compete."
Abbie said she would love to do something involving the dairy industry and her main goal is to go overseas and work for breeders to experience showing cattle internationally.
"I have competed in handlers classes ever since I began showing," she said.
"It is my favourite class to go in, I love the enjoyment and thrill I get whilst competing and creating that bond between me and the cow."
Zoe Hayes, 22, of Girgarre and Imogen Steiner of Buln Buln will be representing Victoria in the the dairy cattle judges competition
"Entering the dairy judging competition was something I always wanted to do when growing up, however it's something that takes a lot of confidence," Zoe said.
"My dad is someone I grew up watching as he travelled to NZ and England where he was invited to judge.
"Being around my dad, Tony Hayes and nan Gloria Hayes, seeing and listening to their passion for breeding and looking at good cows is something that I have also developed a passion for, and why we show cows as a family today."
The dairy cattle paraders competition is designed to determine who most effectively presents and parades an animal before a competition judge.
Overall there are nine categories for judging and parading each year under the ASA national competition program: beef cattle, dairy cattle, alpaca, poultry, Merino sheep, meat breed sheep and Merino fleece judging, as well as parading competitions in beef and dairy cattle.
ASA is the peak body overseeing 572 agricultural shows in Australia.
ASA chairman Dr Rob Wilson, said the competition was designed to recognise the best new talent in livestock judging nationwide.
"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."
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