Harry is a prince among bull calves
Harry the Hereford-cross, a hungry four-month old bull calf weighing 214kg has beaten his rival hands down in a competition between two DairyNZ research and development farms to raise the heaviest IHC calf.
Harry looked good from the start, arriving early in the season and weighing 50kg at birth. He had the right bloodline to wear the crown. His Dad was a pure bred Hereford and his Mum was a Friesian so he was already set on a winning course, according to Scott Farm Manager Ben Fisher.
“When you cross a beef bull with a Friesian or dairy cow you get what’s known as hybrid vigour,” Ben says. “He’s got very good genes.”
But Harry also has a lot of natural talent for eating – staying on the calfeteria for longer than the other calves and drinking faster. “It was identified that he could drink fast and drink long,” Ben says.
Harry, who is a bit shy and prefers to hang out with his mates in the paddock, has been reared by a Scott Farm’s youngest team – it’s the first time they have reared a calf.
The battle for the heaviest calf has been waged between Scott Farm and Lye Farm for nine years. After three straight years as winners, Scott Farm was decisively beaten last year by Lye Farm with 225kg Kristoff. But the victory was short-lived after Scott Farm identified hungry Harry. Gus from Lye Farm, who was raised by Ashleigh Wenham and Caroline Sinclair this year, weighed in at [176kg]
Lye Farm Manager Bruce Sugar says the trick is in selecting not just the heaviest calf born – Gus weighed 49kg at birth – but one who liked to stay on the calfeteria all the time. “He wasn’t the fantastic feeder we had last year. There’s always next year.”
Each farm chooses two calves every year through IHC’s Calf & Rural Fundraising Scheme and donates the biggest and best to be sold in the IHC Frankton sale – on the first Monday of November each year. The Frankton sale is one of 18 sales where PGG Wrightson will be auctioning IHC calves between now and February.
But the tables were turned when the calves turned up at the Frankton IHC Calf Sale on Monday (6 November). Gus, a black and white calf with the good looks, was sold for $730, while Harry sold for $720. Scott Farm manager Ben Fisher says black and white calves with white faces have the advantage when it comes to the sales because it indicates they have more Friesian in them. Frankton is IHC biggest calf sale in the North Island and up to 600 IHC calves went under the hammer.
DairyNZ has been supporting the Calf Scheme for 16 years and helping farmers raise more than $1 million a year for people with intellectual disabilities.
"In the 33 years the IHC Calf & Rural Scheme has been running, it has raised more than $30 million. Waikato farmers are among our strongest supporters," says Greg Millar, IHC National Fundraising Manager.
Greg says farmers have dug deep this year to donate more than 3200 calves and 500 virtual calves nationwide. Like the farm staff rearing the Lye and Scott calves, many have chosen to give their biggest and best for the benefit of people with disabilities. “Farmers should be proud of the support they provide. Giving a calf is a huge help and a generous donation, and we are very grateful.”
“Now we just need people to come along to the sales and buy all of these fantastic calves.”
You can find your local sale by visiting ihc.org.nz/calf-and-rural-scheme.
Header Caption: Winning IHC calf Harry (214kg) with Lachlan Bishop, 17, Mason Rae, 17 and Sam Wiltshire, 22.
Story Caption: When it came to the Frankton sale on 6 November Gus (left) with Caroline Sinclair and Ashleigh Wenham, was sold for the highest price – $730. Harry, with Lachlan Bishop, 17, Mason Rae, 17 and Sam Wiltshire, 22, was sold for $720.