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Showtime: A dairy cow breeder remembers Royal Shows past

Cheryl Liebich can remember dropping fake spiders from the dairy cow shed rafters and pranking punters with fake human legs sticking out from under a bull when she slept over at the Royal Adelaide Show as a kid.

Aug 29, 2023, updated Aug 29, 2023
One of the favourites. Cheryl Liebich and Scott-Braendler with champion Ayshire dairy cow 'Spect'. Photo: Boldview Farms

One of the favourites. Cheryl Liebich and Scott-Braendler with champion Ayshire dairy cow 'Spect'. Photo: Boldview Farms

“We had a few old ladies almost die from heart attacks so we had to stop,” Liebich says with a laugh from the family’s Ayrshire cattle stud in the state’s South East.

Now the Boldview Farms joint owner – whose family has been competing with its cows at the show since 1958 – is packing for another year at the grounds, this time with an extended family that includes her one-year-old grandson.

“The dairy cattle people do have to be there 24/7 with the cows because we have to milk them twice a day and get food for them… we have lockers upstairs in the shed and we sleep in a shed nearby,” Liebich says.

“I was born and bred into it, both my girls have been there since they were babies and they have children now and my grandchild was there last year at just a few months old.

“The years with COVID that stopped the show, we were like ‘wow, what do we do?’. It’s a holiday for us off the farm and it’s family time and everyone in the dairy shed is family.”

Boldview Farms’ cattle are among thousands of animals, cakes, flowers and show rides being readied for the Royal Adelaide Show gates opening this Saturday.

Some 1.5 million people are expected at the Adelaide showground in Wayville from September 2 to September 10, where they can see 10,000 different show classes held across more than 60 competitions.

This year, the popular dog competitions are moving into the new State Basketball Centre on site along with the show’s pet centre and its rabbit, cat, reptile and dog grooming competitions.

Show organisers are promising new events including a Build the Show interactive Lego show by The Brick Builder, along with new competition cookery and another celebrating the top coffee roasters from all over Australia.

Adelaide Show

Gates are opening at the Royal Adelaide Show this weekend. Photo: supplied

Aggie’s Farm is expected to be a highlight and is an example of what the show stands for, a place where children can be “farmers for a day” in the Stirling Angas Hall as they learn about agriculture and the state’s country regions.

However, Boldview Farms’ competitors will be keeping their eyes firmly on the Ayrshire dairy cattle judging next Tuesday and Wednesday.

For Liebich a long schedule of feeding routines and coat clipping will culminate in regular cattle washing and ensuring there are freshly washed uniforms for herself, her brother and her two daughters, who are leading more than 30 cows between them.

Each cattle breed has its own designated ensemble for showing their animals, with the 34 different Ayrshire competitors expected to wear a blue shirt with an Ayrshire logo matched with white pants.

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“White pants are not very good at all, we always curse the person who suggested it when it comes to washing,” Liebich says.

There is a breed dinner after the judging and a BBQ for all cattle competitors and Liebich’s daughters are also lined up to judge junior handler classes.

Skills passed on through the family where “we’ve had a few broken toes and feet, that’s just one of the side things of showing cows, it’s the worst when they stand on your foot and don’t move”.

The event is a tradition that resonates with Liebich. It was her parents Don and Lorraine Braendler who first took her along to the show as a small child after they started their cattle business breeding and milking Jersey cows in the Adelaide Hills.

A switch was later made to the Ayrshire breed that originates in Scotland. Liebich now owns Boldview Farm with her brother Scott Braendler at Mount McIntyre in the South East, where they milk 400 cows in the dairy each day and have another 350 to 400 heifers.

Liebich is hoping to this year match the farm highlight of winning All Breeds Champion Dairy Cow with a favourite ‘Spect’ in 2017.

But most of all she is looking forward to seeing the dairy shed family that has grown stronger each year of the show.

“We have forever friendships with people in the dairy shed, we were all kids together down there at the show and now we all have our kids there becoming friends, it’s just great, it’s one big show family and everyone gets along well,” she says.

“We have a judge coming out from Wales this year so that’s a little bit exciting to have an international judge.

“I’m looking forward to the competition and getting to see everybody, but at the moment I’m really just thinking about all the work that’s got to be done between now and Thursday when we move in.”

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