Beef Shorthorn cattle are a passion for Cara Doggett and they led her to win Future Beef Senior Beef Ambassador Award. Cheyenne Nicholson reports.

Red, white and roan aren’t just colours to Cara Doggett. They are the colours of her passion. Shorthorns.

The 20-year-old from Wellsford won the Senior Beef Ambassador Award at this year’s Beef +LambNZ Future Beef NZ Hoof and Hook Competition and is studying toward her Bachelor of Science (majoring in animal science) through Massey University.

Her aspiration is to become a bovine specialist, from nutrition through to genetics and says the likes of Future Beef NZ and Young Farmers have played a huge role in helping her to achieve her dreams.

“My aim is to achieve the best performance for either a stud or individual animal, which I have been working to achieve with my own Beef Shorthorn stud ‘Ceejay’ which I started five years ago. I saved up all my money to buy my first registered yearling and started to break her in. From that point my stud got bigger and better. I now have 28 in total with seven calving in autumn.”

She’s been selling registered bulls for three years and fine-tuning her genetics to take her stud to the next level and make sure she’s meeting market demand.

“EBVs are a way for me to step things up a bit. For bulls, I focus on low birthweight and high mature weight to produce the large cows I am wanting. This May I’ll inseminate seven cows with a Canadian bull, to get a new line of genetics to focus on as this bull is structurally very strong.”

Cara grew up on the land. Between her mother’s Brahman stud and her dad being a dairy farmer there haven’t been many days without a cow in sight or a pair of Red Bands on her feet. She got her first taste of showing cattle aged five at the Tomarata Primary School calf club day. She’s since shown cattle all around the country and overseas and grown her passion for the red meat industry.

“Four years ago, I decided to compete at the Future Beef NZ ‘Hoof and hook’ competition for a new experience and to gain further knowledge about other areas of the agricultural industry. I started off borrowing steers to use but in recent years have been able to use my own Shorthorn steers. Future Beef not only promotes networking, but multiple opportunities for youth within the beef industry. It was a huge privilege to join the list of inspiring industry leaders who have won the Beef Ambassador in previous years.”

In November the Marton Young Farmers club member will be jetting off to Canada to expand her networks and experience. She will visit Shorthorn studs and compete at Agribition and helping prepare animals for HH Livestock at their annual stud sale in early December.

“This is an awesome opportunity to see different genetics and different structures of Shorthorns. I am hoping to bring back future genetics from this trip and see how showing is done to improve my technique when parading my cattle as well as grooming and fitting cattle.”

Exhibiting her cattle at shows is a large part of Cara’s life and a way through which she promotes her stock. Mycoplasma bovis has meant many shows closed their gates to livestock showing and many farms label their farms closed to minimise the risk.

“Like many others I’ve closed off my farm, this means that anything that leaves will never come back. This has made trading commercial cattle very difficult as well as the stud cattle. I truly think if most countries overseas can deal with M. bovis, how does New Zealand think we can eradicate it when we can’t even stop cattle movement or produce an accurate test without the animal being slaughtered first? ”

Despite the challenges of M. bovis, Cara is positive about the future of the NZ beef industry and is well on her way to cementing her place as one of its future leaders.

“I’m interested in all aspects of cattle and looking in all fields that are available to me to help me achieve this.”