BY: CHEYENNE NICHOLSON
Covid-19 may have cancelled this year’s Hoof and Hook competition but last year’s winner is still eager for more in 2021.
Rathkeale College, Masterton student Liam Quirk won the 2019 Allflex intermediate ambassador title.
Liam, who grew up in the Wairarapa, headed down to the South Island to experience the industry as part of his ambassadorship. He spent four days at Timperlea Angus in Oxford and had the opportunity to visit Hakatere Station and found it spectacular.
The 40,000ha farm had a mix of everything from flats to retired hills. He also went to a Hereford stud nearby and helped break in some heifers.
Liam also visited the Xcell Breeding Centre where he saw how semen straws are manufactured right from selecting worthy bulls to putting the straws in liquid nitrogen.
Liam’s parents have worked in various management roles on farms but his interest in agriculture really started at College when he took up agriculture as a school subject. With encouragement from his agriculture teacher, Coadette Low, he decided to enter the Hoof and Hook competition.
Last year was his first time competing. He was helped and encouraged by Peter and Sue McWilliam alongside Richie and Lauren Cameron.
“Peter and I started breaking steers in late February, which was interesting as I’d never seen anything like it but it was also a really rewarding process.”
Last year Liam was part of the successful Rathkeale College team that took out the Generation Angus NZ Education team award. Historically, many participants have come from stud farms but now the event is seeing a surge in involvement of secondary school students with an interest in the rural sector. The event now has a schools participation programme that allows youth to participate in the modules and get a taste of what the competition is all about without having to lead and present a steer.
“The most challenging part was getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new.”
Liam said this was followed by the most rewarding part – when the cattle were ready to go. “Before the leading we were all nervous about what would happen and whether the steer would get stage fright and either go wild or not do anything.”
Liam said the atmosphere was calmed down by having peers there.
Winning the Intermediate Ambassador title was a bit unexpected, he says. Being his first time in the show ring he was out to have a good time, soak up the atmosphere of the event and put his newly learnt stockmanship skills to the test.
“The best part of the weekend was leading the cattle as that was what we’d been working towards. This year we’ve got a good group of experienced and first timers for the competition, who are all keen to compete and take part in the interviews for this year’s ambassador opportunity.”
The Hook and Hoof competition is run by Future Beef New Zealand (FBNZ) which is a not-for-profit organisation first launched in 2006. It has been created to inspire and encourage youth from all walks of life to discover and learn about the opportunities within the NZ beef industry. Its goal is to foster the talent and celebrate the success of the industry’s future farmers, leaders, and agri-professionals.
Competition is aimed at 8-24 year olds. Organised by FBNZ’s volunteer committee, the competition is focused on educating, developing skills, and passing on knowledge to the competitors. The weekend-long event has competitors involved in paraders classes, stock judging, team building activities, and a wide variety of hands-on educational modules.