SHOWING AT International Dairy Week is a family affair for the Rundle family from Ecklin in south-west Victoria.
Dad Will Rundle admits he might not go if it wasn’t for his three children, but their enthusiasm is enough to keep him motivated.
Jake, 12, Matilda, 11 and Caitlin, 6, are keen participants, looking forward each year to leading their heifers and meeting up with friends old and new.
Will has been going to Dairy Week since he was 18, some 25 years ago.
“We missed a couple of years over time depending on milk prices and kids being born but we keep going back,” he said.
“I took cows to Jersey showcase before it amalgamated into Dairy Week.”
His Boggabilla Jersey Stud has had success locally and at IDW over the years, most notably winning intermediate champion and best udder in 1998 with Boggabilla Belle P26, who went on to win senior champion in 2000.
“She was just a nice type cow; we had a lot of success with her,” Will said.
The interest shown by his children has rekindled his interest.
“The kids are keen to do it and it’s a good thing for them,” he said. “They learn things and they do all the work.
“I wouldn’t bother myself these days because it’s hard to get away from the farm, but you’ve got to make the effort for the kids.”
The children started by leading at local shows and wanted to take the next step.
Jake got to lead at Dairy Week for the first time when he was eight; Matilda’s birthday is in November so she had to wait till she was nine; and Caitlin is next in line.
They pick their own heifers to prepare and take to Dairy Week and get to share leading duties.
“It’s a family thing, everyone goes up and enjoys it,” Will said.
One of Jake’s friends, Nash Coverdale, joins the team to help out.
This year the children will have a seven-strong team, about the same as usual, including four Jerseys and three Ayrshires, along with a Brown Swiss they will show on behalf of their aunt Erin Kleisterlee from Chapple Vale.
“They’re all dry so that makes it easier,” Will said.
They will compete in the youth challenge on the Sunday, youth show the following day and then in the Jersey and Ayrshire shows.
The Ayrshires happened by accident.
“We’ve only got about 25 Ayrshires in the herd with about 170 Jerseys,” Will said.
“We only bought them a few years ago to fill in a gap but one of the heifers out of the herd won her class at Dairy Week and won at the local shows so we kept them.
“They were going to come and go but they’re still here.”
The farm has had a good season and the cows are in good shape, though Will doesn’t see any ready-made winners in this year’s team.
“We’re lucky down here; it’s been a good year for rain and it’s still wet and green in December,” he said.
“Unless it gets really hot, hopefully we should be green for most of January.”
The heifers being taken to Dairy Week are in typically good condition but Will isn’t expecting miracles.
“We’ll keep feeding them up, but there’s nothing super special there,” he said.
The children enjoy the challenge of leading their heifers and have had placings in the youth handler’s competition.
For Jake it’s not just about winning; it’s a social thing.
“I like spending time with everyone and leading the cows. It’s good to see people you don’t often see,” he said.
The family usually travels in a truck with a horse box, that also doubles as accommodation, and sometimes takes the heifers in a ute and trailer.
Will still sees benefits.
“It is costly,” he said.
“You don’t go there to make money but you get to see what else is around and what genetics are working for other people.”
The children are keen to continue and are already making plans for the future.
“They’ve got it worked out for the farm,” Will said.
“Jake wants to do all the tractor work; Matilda is going to milk the cows; and Caitlin is going to make the cheese.”
The Jersey stud name Boggabilla was adopted back in the 1960s, reflecting the farm’s soggy nature which was wet enough to bog a billycart anywhere.