Hannah, Bridie, Sophie and Eloise Kelly lining up for their handler’s class.

For the Kelly family from Katunga, Victoria, Australia’s International Dairy Week is equally serious and social and, as proud members of Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative, it’s a chance for them to show their best cows.

This year marked Andrea and Chris Kelly’s third International Dairy Week with daughters Hannah, Bridie, Sophie and Eloise, aged between eight and 13. Until moving their Kelisher Holsteins stud to Victoria in 2015, the family attended the Royal Queensland Show each year.

“There is no doubt Dairy Week is the best show in Australia by a fair margin,” Chris said.

“The standard down here is just so strong.”

In the time that they have been showing, the Kellys have noticed the competition grow stronger.

“I think people are bringing their top range of cows as opposed to bringing a mixture of top and mid-range like they used to,” Chris observed.

“The biggest improvement I’ve seen has been in the Jerseys. They’ve fused in more American genetics and they’re getting the frames right. They’ve come leaps and bounds over the last ten years.”

The family shows their cows together, with the girls doing a lot of the leading. For the last two years, the girls have also participated in the Dairy Youth Challenge; a competition for teams of ten, in which participants judge, lead and clip a heifer.

This year, Andrea helped the girls organise their team and meet up to practice in the months leading up to the show. Chris said the size of the competition was impressive.

“There were fifteen teams of ten kids and even a team from New Zealand,” he said.

“Our team had an average age of eleven and we were competing against eighteen-year olds and we didn’t come last, so we did pretty well. The kids have a lot of fun and there have been heaps of young people at the shows. They get up in the morning and you don’t see them again until they’re hungry and want dinner.”

International Dairy Week is Australia’s largest dairy expo and includes exhibitors from all sections of the industry, including trade, machinery, breeding and genetics, technology, environmental management, and more.

International Dairy Week will be held on January 20-24 in 2019.

Bridie Kelly with Kelisher Goldust Victory in the under 12 months class in the all breeds youth show.