Mucking out stalls, clipping the coats of cattle and gluing their tails might not sound like a teenage girl’s dream holiday – unless of course that girl is 13-year-old Tayla Hansen of Taupiri.
Tayla, who spent part of her school holidays grooming and showing Speckle Park cattle at the Melbourne Royal Show, loved every minute of the experience – even shovelling cow poo.
“If you’d offered Tayla a trip to Fiji to lie in the sun or to the Melbourne show where she had to work hard, she’d take the show experience every time,” says Tayla’s mum Brenda who accompanied her daughter to the show.
The opportunity to attend and help handle Speckle Park animals came when Jason Keays of Fish Creek Farm, South Gippsland, Victoria asked Tayla to be the handler for one of his Speckle Park heifers at the show.
He’d learned of Tayla’s talent for handling cattle when she won 2017 Royal Easter Show’s supreme Speckle Park bull trophy with M&M, the young bull she bought from John and Jan Bellamy, owners of Below Sea Level Speckle Park stud at Ruawai in Northland.
The Bellamys have since provided Tayla with a Speckle Park Heifer so she can begin a pure breed programme.
“To all those who were a part of this experience with me I’m forever grateful. This trip was something I’ll never forget,” says Tayla.
“This is just the start of my Australian adventures with this amazing breed that I have grown to love. I wouldn’t of had this experience without John and Jan Bellamy of Below Sea Level having their amazing stock and the belief and trust in me to buy M&M. It was pretty cool to know I am part of a breed with such a promising future in the beef industry.”
Speckle Park was the feature breed at the 2017 Melbourne show with around 90 animals taking part, significantly more than the 10 or so seen at a New Zealand show.
The cattle are a pure British breed which is a combination of Red Roan Shorthorn, Angus and White Park and have several colour patterns, the most distinctive of which include speckled features.
Most New Zealand breeders prepare and parade their animals themselves but Brenda says at the Melbourne show professionals skilled in various aspects of grooming and handling carried out that role.
“Tayla got to work with a number of those people who took the time to show her how they prepare and show animals which was a wonderful opportunity.”
As well as showing a heifer called Victoria’s Secret for Fish Creek Farm, Tayla also helped with animals from AAA Speckle Park stud of New South Wales and Hanging Rock Speckle Park Stud from Victoria.
The cost of Tayla and Brenda’s trip to Melbourne was supported by generous donations including through a Givealittle page – something the family found heartening and for which they are very grateful.
Tayla’s goal of pursuing a career in beef genetics has been reinforced by her Australian experience and she hopes to return to take part in a stock-handling camp in future.