Among the hordes of exhibitors and visitors through the sheep pavilion at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week, there was a familiar face.

Stud stock agent Roger Keach is a well-known figure within the New Zealand stud stock industry and regular show attendee for many years.

This year, he was tasked with judging the Hampshire sheep section and all-breeds wool ram hogget class.

Originally from South Otago, Mr Keach's father had a carrying business but he was not interested in driving trucks and always had an interest in stock.

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He was keen to become a stock agent but when his father approached Dalgetys at the time, it was suggested he work on a farm for a while.

So he worked on one at Clydevale for about 14 years, which had stud Southdown sheep and Angus cattle, and his interest in stud breeding was cemented.

He joined Reid Farmers as a stock agent and just over a year later, a position arose in the stud stock division when Murray Shepherd transferred to the North Island.

After a career spanning 37 years, it was the people and the quality of stock that had kept his interest in the industry, he said.

Dave Robertson, from Oamaru, judges a Southdown class at the show. Photo / Sally Rae
Dave Robertson, from Oamaru, judges a Southdown class at the show. Photo / Sally Rae

He had dealt with breeders throughout New Zealand and also Australia, both with cattle and sheep, and had been involved with sending sheep to the United Kingdom, South America, Australia and Japan.

In his current role with Carrfields, he was responsible for Otago, Southland and South Westland, although he had covered all the South Island during his career.

Judging at shows was something that came with the territory and he had enjoyed his judging role in Christchurch.

While there was only one Hampshire exhibitor, the sheep entered were very good quality. It was a breed that had never lost its "terrific' loin and meat quality, he said.

This weekend, Mr Keach, of Waihola, was heading to the West Otago A&P Show in Tapanui for more judging duties.

"I think it just puts the old brain matter to the test. You're challenging yourself because every show has got different stock ... the biggest challenge is getting it right in your mind."

When it came to the requirements for being a successful stud stock agent, he listed honesty, integrity, trust and passion as being most important.

"It's just the love of doing it. It's more than a job. They are not just clients, they become friends," he said.

He also acknowledged the "great support" of his wife, Lesley, saying without that, it would not have been possible to do his job.