Every state fair or large cattle show I go to I always seem to get the same question time and time again. “Why are all of these cattle tied up here? What are they doing with them?” So I am going to take the opportunity to clear the air on what all of this cattle show business is all about! This weekend I showed at the Alpha Gamma Rho Presidential steer and heifer show here at my home school of South Dakota State. This is a small regional show put on by members of the fraternity that allows youth from the South Dakota and surrounding states to get out and show off their cattle projects. I was fortunate enough to have champion Limousin heifer so all and all it was a good weekend! But let’s get started on the process of what all these 4-Hers and FFA kids do the whole year to get there cattle ready for state fair.
Step 1: Picking a calf.
In this step the up in coming cattle rancher will go visit a ranch (or if fortunate enough their own herd) and pick out there calf for the year. This is typically done in the early fall right before weaning.
Step 2: Getting to know each other.
Once the young 4Her has gone and brought the calf home they need to get to know each other and this takes a lot of time. During this time the calf will calm down and become more comfortable with you. Also during this time you can halter break your calf and teach it to lead.
Step 3: Getting ready for the show.
Once you have your calf trained well it’s time to grab a brush and get to work. To get ready for the show you need to have your calf looking like a winner. To do this you spend a little time every day brushing, blow drying and combing their hair in an upright and forward motion. This makes their hair look all full and fluffy.
Step 4: Going to the show.
This is the step that is most visible to the public and is to me is the most fun. You get a chance to show off the hard day to day work that you have put in with your animal. There are typically contest such as interviews on what you have learned through the years as well as showmanship where they see how well you are able to communicate with your animal and set them up to look the best they can. There is also the actual show where the judge will evaluate your animal as to how close it is to idea. Some of the things they are looking for are how muscular they are, How structurally sound they are as well as in some cases how attractive they are.
This is the simple overview of what all goes into those 4-H projects you may see at your local county or state fairs. But always feel free to ask any of these kids questions they are all very proud of their projects and would be happy to tell you about them!
Cow Calf update #2: Cow and calf are both doing well and enjoying the dry outdoors before this snow storm hits tomorrow. Luckily there is a barn nearby for shelter.