When December rolls around each year at Dean and Dianna Malcolm’s Zeerust property, it’s a sign that their favourite time of year is near — International Dairy Week.
Having attended dairy week for more than a decade under the banner of Bluechip Genetics, the exhibitors and breeders admit that 2018 could be their final year at the event.
The Malcolms have entered 15 heifers in this year’s competition.
But unlike previous years, which have seen them secure Premium Breeder plaudits in six of the past seven years and a number of Champion ribbons, it’s a more inexperienced team that will take to the ring.
After more than a decade of success at the event, the couple is feeling the strain of the competition.
‘‘This could be our last one,’’ Mrs Malcolm said.
‘‘Our swansong,’’ Mr Malcolm added.
For Mr Malcolm it’s hard to let go of the event — he’s been attending every year since the competition began.
‘‘It’s in our blood. It’s a lot of work with the ongoing preparations and you’re always preparing for next year,’’ he said.
‘‘It takes one to two years of planning to get the animals to where you know they can be. It takes constant work.’’
Following a dispersal sale in October 2016, the Malcolms have just a handful of cows left on the Zeerust property and are hoping this dairy week they can ensure each entrant reaches its potential.
‘‘We just hope they’re healthy and well and are as good as we can make them,’’ Mrs Malcolm said.
‘‘We know what they’re capable of, we’ve done a lot of this so you get an idea of what they can do but a lot is outside of your control.’’
With the international focus that comes with the event, Mr Malcolm said there was a huge opportunity to ensure the hard work paid-off.
‘‘You have to see where it ends up. If we can take an animal and it ends up worth double at the end of it ... then that’s a worthwhile exercise,’’ he said.
‘‘The international exposure for us is amazing. It’s a platform to showcase your animals to the world.’’
Although the lead up to dairy week has been largely unchanged, the Malcolms said there was one new element they were looking forward to — the newly installed airconditioners at Tatura Park.
They said it was a relief for handlers, exhibitors and the cows to receive some respite from the January heat.
‘‘It’s tough out there. It’s got to be the hardest place to lead in the world,’’ Mr Malcolm said.
‘‘It’s frustrating when you’ve done so much work into making them lead and you know they can but with the heat, they just don’t end up looking their best. It can be disappointing.’’