Young farmers from around the country lined up in national competitions earlier this month.

New Zealand Young Farmers hosted national finals in stock-judging and fencing at Templeton, and clay target shooting at the North Canterbury Clay Target Association range at Fernside on Saturday, February 2.

The national debating final between the Dunsandel and Reporoa young farmers clubs was also held in Christchurch the day before to coincide with the AGMARDT New Zealand Young Farmers Conference at the Riccarton Park Function Centre.

Hamish Wills, of Lincoln University, explains his decisions after judging four Merino fleeces.
Hamish Wills, of Lincoln University, explains his decisions after judging four Merino fleeces.

The weekend's events concluded on the Saturday with the annual awards dinner sponsored by New Holland.

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Each region was able to qualify three finalists for the stock-judging and clay target shooting finals, while the fencing final was contested by one team of two from each region.

The PGG Wrightson Fencing Competition was won by West Otago Young Farmers Club members (YFC) Luke Kane and Isaac Johnston, representing the Otago/Southland region.

Lincoln University students Peter O'Connor and Pippi Mee, representing the Tasman region, placed second, while Marton YFC members Lachlan Fee and Sean Taylor, representing the Taranaki/Manawatu region, placed third.

Mr Johnston has worked as a fencer since 2014, working in Kirwee and North Canterbury
He said they faced tough competition, with Mr Fee and Mr Taylor the first to finish.

''Looking across to see that gave us the kick up the bottom we needed to work a bit faster.

Lincoln University student Pippi Mee, of Cannington, South Canterbury, was the sole female competitor in the national fencing competition.
Lincoln University student Pippi Mee, of Cannington, South Canterbury, was the sole female competitor in the national fencing competition.

''But it always pays to take a few extra minutes to ensure your fence is perfect before calling time. Every point counts.''

Mr Johnston moved to Tapanui in June last year, taking over the lease of his grandfather's 80ha farm.

''It's a glorified lifestyle block. But I've always had a passion for the farm and the area.''
He said he ran 600 breeding ewes, 350 replacement ewe lambs and grazed a few cattle on the property.

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The stock-judging finalists judged four Merino fleeces, four Suffolk rams and four alpacas, in place of cattle, due to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

The finalists were then split into groups of four to rotate around the three sections.
Points were gained for appearance, public speaking skills, justifying their decisions and how they compared to the senior judge's placings.

Kaiapoi breeder Kit Johnson, a former Alpacas Association of New Zealand president, provided the alpacas from his Silverstream stud and said he was impressed with the young judges, with several handling an alpaca for the first time.

-David Hill
Central Rural Life