19 Apr 2024

'She's got everything you want in a cow'

From Country Life, 7:26 pm on 19 April 2024
Sherraine Holsteins

Olivia, her husband Jared, a career firefighter and their children Tom and Isabelle pose with Evie at the 2023 Canterbury Show Photo: Supplied

A 40-litres-of-milk-a-day Friesian called Evie has been Supreme Champion Holstein at the New Zealand A&P Agricultural Show for two years in a row. Cosmo Kentish-Barnes meets the farmer behind the cow.

"I'm a born and bred dairy farmer," says Oliva Cahill who milks 180 cows on the North Canterbury farm her parents bought when she was seven.

She farms there with her dad, Peter Sherriff, who is a third generation dairy farmer.

"I do all the morning milkings and he does all the evenings and we're both on the farm throughout the day," she says.

Sherraine Holsteins

Olivia with her dad Peter outside the milking shed Photo: Supplied

Sherraine Holsteins

Olivia is always out checking on her beloved cows Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

You'll only find one breed of cow on the 152-hectare Ohoka property - big, beautiful, black-and-white Holsteins.

"We use mainly North American genetics, they're all pedigree cows and we're producing about 8000 litres of milk every second day at the moment."  

Olivia also runs the Sherraine Holstein Stud on the farm. She's continuing a long-standing family tradition.  

"It's about 100 years of breeding. My grandfather started breeding Holsteins back in 1923."

Sherraine Holsteins

The cows are naturally inquisitive Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Sherraine Holsteins

Sherraine Solomon Evie doing what she loves Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Sherraine Holsteins

Evie's udders Photo: Supplied

Six-year-old Sherraine Solomon Evie is a prime example of the high-performing herd's genetic calibre.

"She's calm, she's got great bone, she milks well, she's calved every year and she produces a lot of milk."

When Olivia approaches Evie in a paddock she's the last cow to get up.

They've developed a kinship after spending many hours together preparing for shows.

Show cows like Evie are usually taken out of the main herd five or six weeks before a major competition.

"We get them used to being tied up, break them in if they've never been on a halter before, we put them on hay and a show-mix meal, so just getting them into a routine."

Even though the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch will be cancelled this year, Evie will still get the opportunity to make it a three-peat.

Livestock judging and competitions would still be held, without the public crowds, as was the case in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic.

Sherraine Holsteins

Senior Champion Sherraine Solomon Evie (on right) and Reserve Champion Sherraine Gold Charas at the Canterbury Show in 2022 Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Sherraine Holsteins

A calf uses an automatic feeder Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Sherraine Holsteins

A five day old calf Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Sherraine Holsteins

A newborn calf at Sherraine Holsteins Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes