Zoe Hayes’ passion for working with dairy cows has taken her to places she never thought she would go and opened her eyes to things she never thought she would see.
Most recently, she was part of a five-member Australian team who travelled to Belgium to compete at the European Young Breeders School — a five-day event consisting of both team and individual events involving judging and fitting skills, and a handler’s competition.
The event had 163 competitors from 15 countries.
Zoe came third in fitting, second in handlers and seventh overall — a result she was very happy with.
“I was pretty proud and surprised,” Zoe said.
“This is the first time an Australian team has competed and none of us knew what to expect.”
Zoe said competitors were randomly allocated a heifer based on height and they had to do the best with the animal they had.
“We had to show our skills off on how well we prepared her, and it was a lot stricter than I thought it was going to be,” Zoe said.
“There was a lot of emphasis on the health of the heifer and I was lucky I had a pretty good one — she came from a well-known Netherland Stud.”
Zoe said the trip had provided her with connections around the world and she was hoping some of her new-found friends might make the trip over to International Dairy Week in January.
“I got to meet some people I have idolised and to see them in person and how they work was awesome,” she said.
The trip has also inspired Zoe and given her the confidence to travel more in the future.
“Now I have met other like-minded people, I would love to head over to America and the World Dairy Expo, and I would one day like to travel to the Swiss Dairy Expo as well,” she said.
“If you are passionate about dairy then it is definitely worth applying for this trip; you will really grow within yourself and it will ignite your passion even further.”