Mycoplasma bovis may have put a dampener on calf clubs around the country, but it hasn't stopped determined farmers in Pāterangi.

Due to Ministry for Primary Industries recommendations, most schools have barred calves from attending calf days this spring, with some schools banning the rural tradition altogether.

But Pāterangi farmers Wayne and Kate Shaw decided that wouldn't stop them.

They are hosting a private calf club this Saturday on Pāterangi woman Janet Macky's farm.

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Pāterangi's Emily Shaw won't miss out on calf club this year, thanks to a private event held this weekend.
Pāterangi's Emily Shaw won't miss out on calf club this year, thanks to a private event held this weekend.

Janet has given local children the chance to raise calves on her farm for the last 30 years.

Every year during spring a group of children, mostly from Pāterangi School, get off the bus at the farm gate after school and learn how to rear a calf.

Over several weeks they learn everything about calves and practise calf club activities — leading, care and knowledge of the animal etc. — and then go on to compete at their local school pet day.

Every year during spring a group of children, mostly from Pāterangi School, get off the bus at the farm gate after school and learn how to rear a calf.
Every year during spring a group of children, mostly from Pāterangi School, get off the bus at the farm gate after school and learn how to rear a calf.

"The children were very upset when they found out they wouldn't be able to take a calf to calf club this years," Wayne says. "Some of them were even in tears."

"Every year calf club is a favourite school activity — rated right up there with sport. But this year we've found another plan."

The farm is hosting its own event and has printed special-edition ribbons to award the 16 children who have entered.

On the day the children will be split into three groups and will compete in the same set of activities typical of a calf club event. Local MP Barbara Kuriger is one of the judges.

There's no risk of Mycoplasma bovis spreading because the operation is entirely in-house. The calves are born and raised on the Pāterangi farm.

This year the children have also been learning about bio security and must clean their footwear as they arrive on and exit the farm.

The Pāterangi community is invited to attend the event, which includes a free BBQ lunch and a special adult calf-leading competition.

Wayne says raising an animal teaches children important life skills like responsibility, hard work, compassion and respect.

"The most important thing they have learned is that there's always a 'plan B' in life.

"Perseverance and dedication will always bring results."