Jersey girls strut their stuff at 129th annual show in Stratford
Golden haired Ruby scarcely bats her long eye lashes as a few stray wisps are tidied up by her hairdresser and hairspray is puffed around her neck.
Preparing for a beauty pageant is a big effort, but Ruby takes it all in her stride and enjoys the attention, Nicole Johnson, who was grooming the two-year-old jersey for her show ring outing, said.
Presenting bovine beauty queens at their best involves bathing, clipping and tail brushing, even a touch of cow-coloured spray paint, plus they still need milking, feeding and there's an ever-present bucket on hand to avoid an unexpected cow pat brought on by ringside nerves from ruining the look.
The effort paid off, as Hasty Spring Gov Ruby Red returned from the ring wearing the coveted red ribbon for first place.
Johnson, from Mangatoki, has been helping show her family's cattle since her calf club days and also travels to shows elsewhere.
On Thursday, she was busy preparing some of the Johnsons' jersey herd for the 29th annual Taranaki Purebred Jersey Show, held at the Stratford A and P Showgrounds.
Nicole's Dad, Ross, is the president of the Taranaki Purebred Jersey Club.
He said the show had a smaller field than last year, with about 53 animals entered this year, from calves to 10-year-old cows. All the Taranaki studs were represented as well as some breeders who had travelled from as far away as Auckland.
Show judge Bruce McRobbie, from Morrinsville, said he expected to see Jersey cows as good as anywhere in the country.
"I'm looking for something that walks on a good set of legs, stands up tall with a big capacity and a good udder, good teat placement."
He said the social side of the Jersey show circuit was a huge part of the enjoyment of it, and he had made many friends over the years through their shared interest.
Having recently sold the stud he founded, Claymore Jersey Stud, he was enjoying having more time to travel around the country to help other breeders with their stock.
Two of the younger club members exhibiting at the show were Linda and Ross Morgan, grandchildren of well-known purebred jersey breeder Lindsay Morgan, of Mangatoki.
The two would be vying for the young handler section with their calves as they were the only competitors, their father Craig said.