Schoolgirl running her own cattle stud
South Otago schoolgirl Samantha Hall has grown up with cattle and has been showing stock since she was seven or eight years old.
She says she learnt everything she knows from her mother Joy, an artificial insemination technician, dairy farmer and former belted galloway stud cattle breeder, and her uncle Rob Hall, who runs the Lilliesleaf angus and galloway cattle stud at Waikaka, north of Gore.
Samantha has enjoyed plenty of success on the southern show circuit showing cattle for her uncle. She won the Southern Rural Life Herdsperson of the Year title three years running, but lost that title this year in a friendly rivalry with her sister Kim.
A few years ago she bought four charolais breeding cows from a stud sale on line that were already in calf when they arrived from the top of the South Island.
"I like bigger breeds and I just wanted something different," she says.
The white-coated charolais cattle are a bit harder to clean than angus and galloway cattle she has shown in the past, but she is not fazed by the size of this breed.
"I've been around cattle for so long, I'm not intimidated by them," she says. "I got used to handling massive bulls working for Rob Hall's stud.
"I just know how to work with them and how not to annoy them too much. If you fight them they'll fight you back. So if you show them that you're in charge, but just work with them, they won't be as bad."
Samantha has been exhibiting her charolais cattle around the southern show circuit for the last three years and has enjoyed some success already.
"It's hard to select stock from such a small herd with so few animals to choose from, but my calves have been brilliant," she says.
Charolais calf birth weights generally range from 43 to 45kg, but because they are such a big-boned breed, that can cause calving problems, Samantha says.
"I don't want massive calves," she says. "In my herd I'm looking for low birth weights and fast growth rates."
At the Upper Clutha A&P Show in Wanaka last weekend, she won the champion's ribbon for the calf class from a strong field of 17 entries with a heifer calf that has won the majority of her classes around the southern show circuit this season. This calf was fourth overall in the class for best female against some classy competition at Wanaka.
One of her yearling heifers is also doing really well in the show ring, but Samantha says there is a lot more competition in that class.
Samantha is in her final year at South Otago High School and has a clear idea of her career path in future. Her immediate aim is to increase the stud cow numbers of her Leighfield Charolais Stud and she sees her future in agriculture, perhaps as a rural sales representative.
She may get the benefit of free grazing on her family's dairy farm near Kaitangata, but she still has a job after school every day milking cows.