Thirty-five young people from around Australia have passed through a training program at Tatura designed to test man and beast.
They have been part of the National All Breeds Dairy Camp on the site that will be used by International Dairy Week next week.
The participants, aged from 16 to 21, were matched with an equal number of untrained dairy heifers for a week.
They met each other on the first day.
The unkempt heifers, some of them very dirty after their trip to Tatura, had to be cleaned, washed, clipped and trimmed to show perfection by their week-long new masters.
On Saturday they ran their own exhibition show.
Some of the young people use the camp as a preparation for the approaching big event, dairy week, where they will be helping prepare high-value dairy stock for the show ring.
For others, it’s an introduction to livestock.
Echuca Year 11 student Lilli Kelly grew up on a beef farm but has never handled stock as closely as she did last week. She wanted to learn something new.
Lilli is starting an agricultural course this year and her goal is to work on a farm.
A surprise participant was 19-year-old German backpacker Michele Grosser, who was working on a Cobram dairy farm when she was told about the training camp and decided she would like to join up.
She comes from a Sachen dairy farm where they run about 600 Friesian cows.
Youth camp committee chairman Ben Taylor said 35 students attended from Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and South Australia.
The course is managed by National Centre For Dairy Education, which is part of Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE.
Mr Taylor and another six volunteers helped supervise and provide hands-on expertise.
While some students were beginners, other more experienced students learned about teamwork and sometimes helped mentor younger participants.
Farmers donated the use of young heifers for the week.
Mr Taylor said the heifers were deliberately raw (but generally suitable for training) so that students could meet the challenge of learning handling skills.