A group of teenagers was delighted when told they had all ranked half a dozen sheep in the correct order of quality and conformation, while their older counterparts had not.

The teenagers were taking part in a New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society (NZRAS) Southern Districts' Junior Judging workshop and competition at the Hall property in Waikaka on March 23.

Modules focused on judging poultry, dairy and beef cattle, maternal and terminal sheep and shorn fleece.

The 13 young people, including two aged 6 and 8, were split into age groups and moved around the different modules.

Advertisement

They were first given advice and tips about judging, and then let loose to make their own assessments.

Peter Christie, shows Emmie (6), and Ollie (8) Paterson, a few tips about judging fleece. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara
Peter Christie, shows Emmie (6), and Ollie (8) Paterson, a few tips about judging fleece. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara

The Champion Junior Judge was Lisa Bonenkamp, of Waikaka, with Julie Skedgewell, of Tuatapere, the reserve champion.

Bonenkamp will represent the Southern Districts at the NZRAS's Young Judges/Parader's competition, against winners from the five other districts, at the Hawke's Bay Royal A&P Show in October.

Romahapa dairy farmer and the Southern District's chairwoman Jackie Kelly, and RAS councillor Graeme Moffat, of Balclutha, were on hand to help treasurer Rob Hall with the event.

Kelly said the Southern Districts was one of the few in the country that ran the workshops.

''The young ones enjoy it and will give some of them the confidence to become judges of something they are interested in later on,'' she said.

Waiting to talk to the beef section convener after judging beef cattle are Julie Skedgwell, (15, left), Estelle Taylor (15), and James Fox. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara
Waiting to talk to the beef section convener after judging beef cattle are Julie Skedgwell, (15, left), Estelle Taylor (15), and James Fox. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara

Hall said it would also give them training for stock and fleece selection, both as a judge and as a farmer.

''They learn about the basic structure of animals and fleece,'' he said.

''A good cow leads to good milk production and a good beef cow leads to good beef production and that is dollars and cents in the pocket.

''If you want to have decent leaders, you have got to start young.''

Moffat said the RAS had a mantra of ''Excellence in agriculture''.

James Mitchell (12) checks the condition of one of the sheep. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara
James Mitchell (12) checks the condition of one of the sheep. Photo / Yvonne O'Hara

''This [judging day] fits in perfectly with that, training young people.''

''If we don't have standards, we don't know how well we are doing.

''We don't want to settle for averages, we want to strive for the best we can.''

The Southern Districts acts as an umbrella for the 18 A&P societies in the region, as well as equestrian and breed societies.

James Fox, of Invercargill, was named the 2018 New Zealand Merino Fleece Young Judge of the Year.

Kelly said they were looking for entrants to the Rural Ambassador Award, with the district competition at the annual meeting in Tapanui this month.

Entry forms are on www.ras.org.nz.