29 September 2023

Michelle's judging giftedness a lesson in collaboration and connection

| Edwina Mason
Start the conversation
Young woman wearing blue printed shirt and glasses

Michelle Fairall says she’s been judging at shows since she was five years old and is now set to represent NSW at the national finals in Launceston next month. Photo: Agricultural Shows Australia.

With properties in Harden, Murrumbateman and Gunning and working full time at Bungendore, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where Michelle Fairall calls home, but in October it’ll definitely be NSW.

Michelle, 24, will join Australia’s most promising young judges announced by Agricultural Shows Australia as eligible to compete in the national finals of the prestigious annual junior judging competitions in Tasmania next month.

To be held during the 2023 Royal Launceston Show from 12-14 October, the nationals are the culmination of junior judging events across 580 shows nationwide and bring together the best young judges and paraders aged from 15 to 25 in each state to compete.

Michelle will be representing NSW in both the young soils judges demonstration event, and the grains, oilseeds and pulses young judges demonstration event, as well as the meat breeds sheep young judges competition.

The National Meat Breeds Sheep Young Judges Championship recognises the best new talent in meat breeds sheep judging.

This may be her first nationals competition but Michelle is a veteran of the shows.

READ ALSO Write at home: Much-loved festival to showcase South Coast’s talented authors

One of the state’s most accomplished young judges, she’s been upskilling since she first entered a showring at age five.

“I was introduced to judging at my local show by a cattle breeder,” she said. “It would’ve probably been Harden or Yass but from that age, the local shows really got my interest.

“I was encouraged to go in all the competitions I possibly could. I made it to state a few times and I’m now using those skills I gained in my role as a science and agriculture teacher.”

Michelle is an all-rounder – her state junior judging titles have included fruit and vegetables, grains and meat breed sheep.

But she has also judged Merino fleeces, Merino sheep, beef cattle “and a little bit of dairy cattle, but it’s not my forte”.

Her Bungendore High School students might be benefiting from her extensive knowledge but for Michelle, the experience of competing in judging competitions is also about connection and collaboration.

“What’s wonderful about the competition is that you get to get in and have a go,” she said.

”It’s a valuable networking opportunity and if you make a mistake you don’t get judged for it, you get pointers on how to improve. I like the collegiality of it.”

Overall, there are nine categories for judging and parading each year under the Agricultural Shows Australia national competition program: beef cattle, dairy cattle, alpaca, poultry, Merino sheep, meat breed sheep and Merino fleece judging, as well as parading competitions in beef and dairy cattle.

Competitors in the meat breeds sheep young judges competition will rank sheep from first to fourth based on several characteristics, form and function.

READ ALSO Murrumbateman Field Days returns to showcase the best the region has to offer

Agricultural Shows Australia chairman Dr Rob Wilson says the competition is designed to recognise the best new talent in livestock judging nationwide.

“It’s an extremely prestigious event and positions at the nationals are keenly contested,” Dr Wilson explains.

“These young people are the future of agricultural show competitions, which are crucial to the continual improvement of Australia’s food and fibre.

“The national competition is a coveted opportunity to grow personally and professionally by practising skills against the cream of the crop.”

The National Meat Breeds Sheep Young Judges Championship will be held at 3:30 pm on Thursday, 12 October.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.