A Taranaki teenager's steady hand with a set of clippers has helped her win a national accolade for showing and handling dairy cattle.
Lara Honeyfield, 16, was awarded the Holstein Friesian NZ Paramount Cup, at the National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camp in Stratford.
The four-day event at the A and P Showgrounds attracted 23 participants from across New Zealand, including five teenagers from Southland.
"Attending the camp was such a rewarding experience. I learned heaps of new skills" said Honeyfield, who's a Year 13 student at Inglewood High School.
Each participant had their own heifer calf which they had to feed, groom, teach to lead on a halter and get show ring ready.
"The older students took turns spending time in the cattle barn overnight feeding and monitoring the heifers. It was lots of fun" she said.
There were workshops on animal health, breeding and showmanship skills, and participants were taught how to use electric clippers to trim the heifer's coat.
The barn resembled a hair dressing salon, with local Holstein Friesian breeders showing students how to use hair dryers to prepare the animal.
"The levels of concentration as people blow dried, then trimmed the hair across their heifer's back was intense" laughed Honeyfield.
"The aim is to get the line as straight as possible. Clipping is a huge skill to master and it helps enhance the animal's appearance".
"I don't have much clipping experience. So, it was great to learn a few tips to make the process quicker and easier for me and the heifer" she said.
Participants learned a raft of show ring techniques to help minimise an animal's flaws, like using the halter to move its head and adjust its stance.
Rain forced a mini show involving the heifers and their handlers indoors.
Chloe Thomson, 15, took out the award for best presented heifer and Jared Rutten, 16, won the Dennis Terry Memorial Trophy for most improved clipper.
Honeyfield received the Paramount Cup for being the top performing Holstein Friesian NZ member at the youth camp.
A highlight of the event was a visit to Mark Rowland's 110-cow Holstein Friesian stud on the outskirts of the Stratford.
The herd is home to the 2019 North Island champion all breeds dairy cow Makuri Goldwyn Hazel EX2.
It was Okato 16-year-old Dylan Beardmore's first time attending the youth camp.
He's been taking part in calf club competitions since he was five.
"It was great to learn about a cow's anatomy and the proper way to prepare an animal for a show" he said.
"I really enjoyed meeting other like-minded young people from across the country. I've made lots of new friends".
Taranaki students Monique Radford, Neko McDonald, Nicole Honeyfield, Jessica Holmes, Paige Taylor, Riley Taylor and Charlotte Stachurski also attended the camp.
It was organised and run by Holstein Friesian NZ. The Taranaki Branch of Holstein Friesian NZ generously donated $2000 to help fund the event.
Its members also ran hands-on training workshops and provided heifers for participants to look after and handle.
Other sponsors included CRV Ambreed, Bell Booth, LIC, Holstein International, Semex, Keith Baker Cartage, Gary and Karen Peters, Mark Rowland, Greenbank Holsteins and Lakeview Holsteins.