From the Experts

Rural Rumenations: Picture perfect bovine celebrities

By Katie MacAuley

Back in the good old days, there was a plethora of catalogues to read.

Clothes, furniture, cars, holidays. Thick glossy publications with lots of stylishly lit pictures to fawn over. Then along came the internet and everything changed.

No more plastic-wrapped beauties arrived to read over lunch. Instead our email inbox cluttered up with large attachments that wouldn’t load and links to advertising websites.

Even when our internet connection lasts long enough to download the necessary information, I find it hard to flick through internet-based catalogues and make decisions. I like sticky notes, a pen and paper and being able to physically flick from one marked page to another. Besides, my computer screen is unreadable when I sit on the back verandah in the sunshine.

Hence, it was only a matter of time before I developed an interest in flicking through AI sire and pasture catalogues. They have pretty pictures and I can read them on the verandah while Tinkerbell bounces on the trampoline.

I won’t read pasture catalogues outside though. Perusing pictures of luscious knee-high rye-grass while looking at my lawn of distitchum, capeweed and other undesirably hardy green plants is a mood dampener.

Why does my lawn look like a photo shoot for ‘Weeds of Australia’ when just metres away, Hubby has acres of healthy rye-grass and clover? (Perhaps I should include the lawn in the replanting rotation?)

However, the AI sire catalogues are great fun and perfect for a read in the sunshine. Not only do they substitute for a travel brochure — photo backgrounds include snow-covered Scandinavian alps, deciduous European forests, fields of golden canola, beautiful rivers, lakes and mountains, stone walls and floral hedges — it’s like a round-the-world trip without the stress of packing!

The animals themselves bear little resemblance to our herd but that’s okay, because they are the celebrities of the bovine world. Why would they resemble real-life cows any more than I’d expect myself to resemble Miranda Kerr?

For starters, bovine celebrities are spotlessly clean with fluffy poodle tails. While our herd consists of ‘cow-shaped’ animals, bovine celebrities have backs as straight as Lego blocks.
The way catalogue cattle stand is also unique to Bovine Celebrity Land. Cows quietly graze on their chopped grass, back legs splayed and their tails pushed to their left side so their udders are in complete view. Others fully extend their necks and point their noses in the air like golden retrievers who’ve just smelled something good. The size of their paychecks, perhaps?

Once I finish admiring the pretty pictures, it’s time to read the statistics — but the sheer volume of them overwhelms my brain. Couldn’t we just reduce it down to a single parameter — how about the OPI (Offspring Photogenicity Index)?

Because surely in today’s image-obsessed world, it’s not about how you perform in the dairy but how good you look while doing it.