‘Alternative’ ag days gears up

Calf club
Taking time out: Fergus Fulton with special friend Treasure providing the back rest.


Plans are underway and looking good for an exciting Whitikahu/Orini Combined School Ag Day.

“We’re excited to be trying something new,” says organising committee member Megan Gaukrodger.

“There will be a evening prize giving, and ribbons and cup/trophies given out for the calves, and winners of the lambs, goats and chickens too. We’re hoping to have spot prizes and raffles and make it a great community event.”

Concerns over Mycoplasma bovis and the movement of cattle during Ag Day meant some schools, including Gordonton and Orini, decided not to have calves on school grounds.

Not long after this decision Megan said a parent got in touch with an alternative – an ‘on-farm’ judging competition.

“Then another parent, who is also a judge, made the same suggestion. Such events are held on a big scale, with 500 to 700 animals involved. There would be no ‘gathering together’ of calves, and therefore no risk to the wider community and it would be a way kids could still rear a calf if they wanted to.”

There will be appropriate biosecurity measures in places for judges and accompanying people who visit each farm.

“We’ve been given a free disinfection kit for judges to travel with, from Jacson3, a Waikato company that specialises in biosecurity products for agricultural businesses.”

Children are also given the opportunity to have a lamb, goat or chicken at the modified Ag Day, as well as a calf if they still want to be part of that day, which is restricted to students from Whitikahu and Orini Schools.

Reaction from parents has been great, she says. “Everyone is so enthusiastic and happy we’re going ahead with it.”

The move was the result of some positive people from both schools prepared to think outside the square to make the traditional event happen by other means.

“Those who have been behind this value the importance of keeping this event alive. We don’t know how long the eradication process is going to take and we may well be in this same situation next year – there was a real worry we might lose this event altogether.”

One parent told her that his love of cattle started thanks to school calf club events and it had given him a career, as a farmer, judge and show competitor.

Megan’s children will both have calves and will also compete in a nationwide online competition, where they will create a portfolio of their calves.

“Calf club is a great way to teach kids about responsibility, persistence and dedication. A huge amount of work goes into preparing a calf, about eight to ten weeks – that’s a long time for young children to keep at it.

“There is nothing that makes me more proud than seeing your children enjoying themselves with their calves, and being proud of their calf no matter what ribbons they may get. When you see that smile on their faces when they know they’ve done well, because they put the work in, it’s so special.”


Hollie Fulton and Glow
Megan’s daughter Hollie is all smiles, as she shows her first ever ag day red ribbon. Glow the calf is also pleased.



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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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