Real calves weren't on show at the Whangārei Group Calf Club's annual Central Day at Barge Park Showgrounds because of Mycoplasma bovis fears.

Instead, calf rearers among the 100-plus children from 18 schools who took part on Thursday displayed "virtual" calves in photographs and were questioned by the judges about how they raised and trained their animals. Other youngsters showed real lambs and goats.

Club Chairmen Dean Adams said calves couldn't be shown to help prevent he spread of M.bovis, which has now been confirmed on one Northland farm. But, Adams said, the absence of calves didn't deter the enthusiasm of the young breeders.

''The fact we had so many entries into the competition shows that the young people still put a lot of value in this. We still wanted to give them the opportunity to raise their pets and build up their relationship with their pets and give them the opportunity to show how they have reared them and looked after them.''

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Altogether there were 81 lambs, 17 goats and four virtual calves.

Northern Advocate

photographer John Stone went along too.

■ Results and more photos from the day will be in the Country on Thursday.

Maungatapere student Carter Hansen has a swag of ribbons, and a Lamb Leading trophy, thanks to his lamb Tuffy.
Maungatapere student Carter Hansen has a swag of ribbons, and a Lamb Leading trophy, thanks to his lamb Tuffy.