Co-owner of Queen's cows and well known jersey breeder, Don Ferguson, dies

Otorohanga jersey cattle breeder Don Ferguson in 2013 with three-year-old jersey cow, Ferdon Folly's Lulu, one of the ...
Gerald Piddock

Otorohanga jersey cattle breeder Don Ferguson in 2013 with three-year-old jersey cow, Ferdon Folly's Lulu, one of the cows in his herd co-owned by the Queen.

Prominent jersey breeder and cattle showman Don Ferguson died on February 9, aged 81.

The Otorohanga ex-dairy farmer was a mainstay at the Waikato A&P Show for over 70 years as a competitor, judge and most recently, patron.

He also competed at the National Dairy Event at Manfeild, Feilding over the past nine years and won the supreme champion cow ribbon on more than one occasion.

Don Ferguson (left) with son Warren, grandson Josh and great-grandson, Toia at the 2016 Waikato A&P Show in Hamilton ...
DOMINICO ZAPATA/FAIRFAX NZ

Don Ferguson (left) with son Warren, grandson Josh and great-grandson, Toia at the 2016 Waikato A&P Show in Hamilton where he was presented with a letter from Queen Elizabeth II in recognition for his contribution to the show.

Former Event manager Neville Turnbull said Ferguson was a "mellow, giant of a man", who was always there to help people.

"He was a leader in his field. We'll certainly miss him."

Jersey New Zealand president Alison Gibb said Ferguson had done an enormous amount of work in raising the profile of the breed.

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"It was only a fortnight ago that he was at the dairy event and still encouraging people, still having a laugh with members, still enjoying the successes of his family in the show ring. Wild horses wouldn't have kept him away."

Gibb said it was wonderful to see his passion for jerseys being carried on with his son, grandson and great-grandson.

Ferguson was also known for his relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, who part-owned some of the cows in his herd. He was one of a handful of people who was able to call the Queen directly.

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The Queen visited the Ferguson's stud in 1990 and he was subsequently requested to prepare the Queen's Windsor herd at the World Jersey Cattle Bureau Conference. 

He was recognised for his services to cattle breeding and the dairy industry when he received the Insignia of a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2010 Queens Birthday Honours List.

He was an official judge and classifier for Jersey New Zealand and has judged at agricultural shows in Australia, Britain, Kenya, South Africa and the Channel Islands. He was also a life member of Jersey New Zealand.

Waikato A&P Show manager Jim Keyte said Ferguson's contribution to the event over the years was enormous.

"He loved showing, not just for the accolades that he got, but he just loved other people taking part and encouraging other people to take part in it.

"His contribution to the show was marvellous. He's got to be one of the top breeders if not the top breeder in the country in his time and he's had accolades from everywhere."

His 70 years of contributions to the show was recognised at last year's event with a presentation of a letter from the Queen, Keyte said.

"He was looked up to by everybody as a breeder, his contribution to showing and the way he taught young people to show them how to show cattle and encourage them to take part in the shows."

Jersey New Zealand general manager Pam Goodin said Ferguson was a wonderful advocate for the breed in the show ring and as a stud breeder with his Ferdon Stud.

"He knows his cows and he knows the work that goes into preparing a great show cow as well. He had been a very prominent showman over an extraordinary period of time and very successful in the show ring."

He set a standard many others have aspired to achieve. Ferguson was incredibly helpful to other younger breeders who are now considered prominent breeders in jersey cattle.

"They would regard him as a mentor."

He is survived by his wife June and siblings Wayne and Asi, Warren and Michelle, Bryan and Heather, Karen and Danny Corboy, Lindsay and Karen, David and Donna as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

 

 - Stuff

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