In November 2018, Tom Brown, Michael Dumbreck and myself along with our chaperone, my mum, Kirsty Westaway, travelled to Toronto, Canada, to visit and compete at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, as part of our prize from the 2018 National Young Stars.
Our first day consisted of the long flight across the Atlantic which was in fact Tom’s first ever flight! Once we landed in Toronto, we were met by Karen Mansfield who dropped us at the hotel and we then did a bit of exploring of the city.
The next morning, we had one of the biggest breakfasts we have ever seen in Kora across the road from our hotel before heading over to Exhibition Place where the show was being held. Tom and I were introduced to the heifers we would be responsible for looking after for the next couple of days and exhibiting in the 4H junior show. Tom’s Hereford heifer was kindly loaned by the Elmhirst family of Elmlodge Herefords and mine, a commercial heifer, from Long Line Limousins of the Rodger Family. We spent the rest of the day washing, blowing and clipping our heifers in preparation for the show the next day with the help of the Wellington county 4H club members and the Elmlodge team. In the evening we were lucky enough to get tickets to the Tim Hicks Get Loud concert to experience a little Canadian country music!
The next day was an early start for show day. After getting our heifers in from tie outs and washing and blowing them we took part in the opening ceremony for the 4H junior show with myself carrying the UK Flag into the arena and Tom giving a speech in front of everyone, while Michael spent the day with a butcher at Paradise Farms due to being too old to compete in the 4H competitions.
The showmanship classes then got under way with me being in the Intermediate section and Tom in the Senior section. The showmanship class was certainly different to at home with there being no white coats or bulldogs and leather halters being held in only one hand. The competition was fierce in our heats with all 4H members having to qualify from their respective counties. I was then lucky enough to be pulled into the semi-final of the Intermediate section.
On the second day of the show there was conformation classes with these being split down into different breeds. We again prepped our heifers for the show rings and both mine and Toms heifers were placed second in their respective classes. In the evening we watched the All breeds sale which was an eye-opening experience due to the different style of auctioneering compared to what we are used to at home, and one breeder selling his entire show string at the show!
On the next day we spent time sightseeing in Toronto going up the CN Tower and visiting Ripley’s aquarium as well as the massive Eaton Centre. Karen then picked us up from our hotel and took us to her farm about an hour North of Toronto where we saw her Angus herd and her Water Buffalos that she sells meat from at local farmers markets, as well as getting to taste a Water Buffalo stew which was delicious!
For the remaining couple of days, we went on several farm tours kindly being driven around by Karen and Jess Lasby. We visited a variety of herds with different breeds as well as a feedlot, the Ontario Veterinary college and a Stabiliser herd. I found the feedlot particularly interesting due to the differences from home with the cattle being housed in barns on slats with a rubber mats and the fact that they can use hormones to increase live weight gain through a hormonal implant in the ear of the cattle which is not allowed within the UK.
On our final day we went to Niagara Falls to admire the sheer spectacle of the two waterfalls before making our way back to the airport and enjoying an amazing steak dinner in the Keg Restaurant before flying home on a night flight.
Overall the week was an amazing experience with us all learning so much about the variation of Canadian showing and cattle preparation as well as Canadian agriculture in general. We can’t thank our sponsors Allflex, Three Counties Show Society, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and National Young stars enough, as well as Karen Mansfield enough for organising everything for us across the pond and for allowing us this once in a lifetime experience.