Champion calf to lifelong pet

Daphine Leech and calf club champ ‘Rosie’, 18 years on.

In February 2001, the cover of Coast & Country News featured a little blond girl and her red-and-white Ayrshire calf ‘Rosie’ draped in numerous ribbons, at the Katikati A&P Show.

Recently Rosie had her 18th birthday – pretty good for a dairy cow – living in glorious retirement on the family farm in Tirau, with Daphine Leech, now 23, still very much part of her beloved pet’s life.

Daphine vividly remembers Rosie’s birth in a pen on the family farm, on July 29, 2000.

“It was a difficult birth and my grandad, Struan Leech, had to pull her out,” says Daphine. “We all thought she was dead, but he shook her and cleared her mouth and she came to life and bit him!”

Five-year-old Daphine knew straight away that this was the calf she wanted for calf club. The name ‘Rosie’ continues the tradition of the farm stud, Aotearoa Ayrshires, for using the same letter as their mother's name for calves.

Daphine and Rosie did very well at the Tirau Primary School calf club in 2000. They won the leading, rearing and grooming, and the dairy type classes, and Rosie was Champion Calf overall.

“We did the rounds of A&P Shows that summer, and I showed her up until she was two years old,” says Daphine. “We won numerous prizes, especially in the Ayrshire section.”

Rosie joined the main milking herd on the farm, and had eight calves over the years. In 2013, she was retired but surprised the family with a bull calf in 2015.

“My dad, Graeme, came in from the farm one day and told us Rosie had sprung,” says Daphine. “To this day we still have no idea how she managed to get with one of the bulls!”

Daphine is now a farm assistant on a neighbouring dairy farm but is still a regular visitor to the family farm and much-loved Rosie.

“She just chills out in the paddock, eating lots and getting spoilt,” says Daphine. “She has a bit of arthritis and we put a coat on her when it’s really cold.”

A few times Daphine has called the vet out, but has been reassured that Rosie is doing well and will let them know when it is “time”.

“She was born on this farm, and she’ll die on this farm,” says Daphine, with a smile. In the meantime Rosie potters about enjoying all the love, attention, and good food.


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