More than 400 Hereford breeders from around the world have been in Queenstown this week for the World Hereford Conference 2020.
The 18th global conference was hosted by the New Zealand Hereford Association (NZHA), which last hosted the event in 1984. With more than four years of planning since the 2016 conference was held in Uruguay, NZHA president Colin Corney said it was heartening to have so many attend despite political and environmental external influences. In closing the conference on Thursday, with visitors also attending the Wanaka Show on Friday, Corney said their role was to show off New Zealand and challenge the thinking of the local and international breeders.
“We wanted to make sure everyone had a message to take home to their own business in their own country. We presented multi-country reports and discussions. We went out into the field and challenged with science and with data, such as looking into an animal with scanning and deciding what you can do with that information, and presenting choice. Day three was about the environment and soils; being the breed that is looked upon as protecting the environment and the soils while delivering an outstanding product. We heard about using the correct data to show we are walking the talk.”
NZHA manager Posy Moody says the Hereford family has strong connections that are strengthened at the global event.
“Overwhelmingly, while there is a huge transfer of knowledge at the conference, the main theme is the love of networking and getting together with like-minded breeders from all over the world.”
Attendees came from North and South America, Europe, Scandinavia, UK and Ireland, Australia and South Africa. The country reports included one from Kazakhstan, which has only been a member
During this year’s conference, supported overall by Boehringer Ingelheim, eight coachloads of people visited Earnscleugh and Locharburn Stations, hosted by the Campbell and Brown families respectively. They heard from a range of speakers and influencers, including Pablo Gregorini and the Lincoln research team exploring Hereford behaviour on high country, as well as the opportunities surrounding genomic testing from Neogen and Allflex. There were also several social events including the Rabobank welcome reception and a PGG Wrightson gala dinner at Walter Peak Station.
One keynote speaker during the conference was Dr Jason Rowntree from Michigan State University’s AgBioResearch/Lake City Research Center in the United States. He talked about regenerative agriculture and beef cattle, carbon and the environment. Together with other speakers such as Julia Jones and Jacqueline Rowarth, he armed the audience with easy-to-follow science and statistics to help them combat negative feelings towards agriculture, farming cattle and eating beef.
Herefords are the feature breed at the Wanaka Show (Friday March 13). The show also marks the culmination of a Young Breeders competition, with nine teams of four young people from seven countries, that took place alongside the conference.
A pre-conference tour visited seven studs in the North Island as coaches made their way from Auckland to Wellington. The South Island post-conference tour has nine studs on the itinerary as well as two large commercial operations. The tour starts with a boat trip across Lake Wakatipu followed by a drive in 4WD buses through Mount Nicholas Station’s commercial Hereford operation, and ends with a trip to the iconic Erewhon Station and dinner at the Antarctic Centre.