Is the udder firm, are the bones of a high quality? More than 1000 cows are presented to the judges at the cattle show staged at Swiss Expo, the trade fair for agricultural technology. This show is one of the most important competitions in Europe. In an interview, judge Erhard Junker explains how he determines which are the most attractive cows and what parallels there are between animal and human models. The 20th anniversary edition of this agricultural fair is taking place at Expo Beaulieu Lausanne from 14 to 17 January.
Miss Swiss Expo 2015: winning cow, Incas Roxane, and her breeder. (Photo: Swiss Expo)
Mr Junker, you are one of the eight judges who will be selecting the most attractive cows from the different breeds at Swiss Expo 2016 in Lausanne. What makes a cow particularly attractive? What do you look for?
Erhard Junker: I first consider the overall impression, the elegance, the topline and the pelvis. The capacity and openness of the ribs are also very important. When it comes to the foundation, the quality of the bones, the angle of the legs, the movement and the pastern are particularly important. The main feature, however, is the cow's udder, where a very good suspension, texture, veining and medial ligament are required, together with four correct and well-placed teats. Once all the animals have been analysed, they are compared with each other. The judges issue their comments for the five top animals in each category and set out their reasons.
The arena serves as the catwalk for the animals, and it is here that the judges assess them. This is somewhat reminiscent of the casting shows for models on TV. Are there any other parallels between animal and human models?
There are doubtless parallels with top models, because great attention is paid to aura, elegance, presentation and astuteness with cows too.
Do cows also have to engage in fitness training or keep to a diet?
A cow does not need to diet but it must be in top form. This will generally be the case between two and seven months after calving. A cow cannot therefore be presented at beauty contests all year round. To be successful, it is naturally necessary to have the right cow and then prepare it for the contest through the best possible management. That means: walking, training, washing and shearing, while ensuring it is kept, cared for and fed in the optimum manner.
A survey in the Holstein International breeders' magazine ranks Swiss Expo as the best cattle show in Europe and even puts it in third place in an international comparison. Do the Swiss breed the best cattle?
While Switzerland does not hold the lead in terms of cattle breeding, it is certainly one of the countries in Europe where the most attractive cows are to be found. And thanks to Swiss Expo, Switzerland's delightful cows are becoming even more well-known throughout the world, because an enormous number of international guests come to the exhibition. And Swiss Expo is one of the best platforms in Europe for comparing the most beautiful cows with the competition they face.
Erhard Junker is a Holstein breeder and, since 2011, has been one of eleven approved judges for the Holstein Association of Switzerland. He is responsible for the Red Holstein category at Swiss Expo.
>>> Swiss Expo 2016 is the 20th anniversary edition. This landmark exhibition for the agricultural sector is being held from 14 to 17 January at Expo Beaulieu Lausanne. More than 22,000 visitors are expected, together with 130 exhibitors, 400 breeders, and more than 1000 bulls and cows. You will find more information at www.swiss-expo.com