The champion jersey cow at the Levin AP&I Show this year has a twin.

The beautiful five-year-old cow, who was also crowned the North Island champion cow at a Stratford show in November, scored highest in every aspect for her owner Karen Fitzgerald.

Landell Valentino Emes produced 738kg/m/s in milk solids and was the best jersey producer in the herd, while her twin sister, who stayed on the farm, was not far behind. Her mother just happened to be a champion cow in her day, too.

To cap it all off she was award Supreme Champion of the Show across all breeds, while her calf Landell Casino Emesy was also awarded champion junior.

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Riley Taylor, 12, Zara Williams, 12 and Holly Williams, 9, with winning jersey cow Ems Ballyntino at Levin AP&I Show.
Riley Taylor, 12, Zara Williams, 12 and Holly Williams, 9, with winning jersey cow Ems Ballyntino at Levin AP&I Show.

The Mount Stewart farm, near Feilding, bred and milked a variety of pedigree cows in the 200-strong herd, and also produced champion Friesian cow Landell Brokaw Demi, who crowned champion of her breed at the Levin show too.

With udders full, the cows were taken around the corner and milked at the show after the presentation ceremony was over.

It was a real team effort for the farm for Fitzgerald and her partner Selwyn Donald, with children Holly, Paddy and Zara and their friend Riley heavily involved behind the scenes, leading and stropping the cows and even oiling their hooves.

They even brought their own piece of dirt from the farm in case the cows refused to drink the Levin town water supply, and a water sweetener just in case that didn't work.

Donald said often cows refused town supply and a drop of dirt or sweetener could be enough to remind them of home.

Renown cattle judge Selwyn Donald was at the Levin AP&I Show at the weekend, thisw time as an exhibitor.
Renown cattle judge Selwyn Donald was at the Levin AP&I Show at the weekend, thisw time as an exhibitor.

"Getting them to drink is the biggest issue," he said.

For Donald and Fitzgerald it was great to see the children involved. Zara had participated in a youth training camp at Stratford, aimed to teach aspiring young farmers about grading and how to prepare stock for show.

"The kids play a big part," she said.

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The showing of cows was only regaining momentum after the outbreak of M-Bovis in 2017 meant they were cancelled. But now the show circuit is permitted to resume for the first time again this season with strict hygiene measures and guidelines.

Donald said everyone was mindful of biosecurity measures.

It was a team effort in preparing stock for a show, which added prestige and value to a cow, although sometimes results didn't always work out as planned.

"If we win, we win but if we don't...it's like the All Blacks coach. You have to be a gracious winner and a gracious loser," he said.

Donald knew that better than anybody as a world-renown judge of cattle himself. He had judged stock the world over, recently returning from a massive AgriScot show in Scotland late last year.

Major shows he has judged at include NZ Dairy Event 10 Year Celebration Youth Show 2018, and the New Zealand Royal Easter Show (Ayrshire and Holstein Friesian).

He had also judged internationally at Royal Shows in Australia (Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane), at Louisville in the USA and also in South Africa, and England at the Great Yorkshire show, UK Dairy Day and the Royal Ulster Winter Fair.

Selwyn Donald with a fine looking Fresian cow that won an award at the Levin AP&I Show at the weekend.
Selwyn Donald with a fine looking Fresian cow that won an award at the Levin AP&I Show at the weekend.

He said he enjoyed judging internationally and engaging and informing the huge crowd at the overseas shows, many of which were hugely important events steeped in history and attracted thousands of spectators.

In Ireland in particular, there was an all-indoor tiered stadium full of chanting and music at one show, and stock and their owners were clapped.

He used another rugby analogy to describe what is was like to be on the other side of the fence as a judge.

"It's like being a rugby referee. If you don't do a good job you won't be asked back," he said.

Donald had major success with Ayrshire cattle and won Supreme of the Ayrshire Breed at the 2016 NZ Dairy Event, and also won Intermediate Championship in the Holstein, Ayrshire, Jersey and Combined Breeds too.