Educating for the Future

Educating kids is one of my greatest passions, and when you can educate them about beef – well, that just makes it all the more special!  From mentoring 4-H projects to going in the classroom, you can certainly count me in!  Did you know that the last real interaction and learning experience most people have with agriculture is in First or Second grade?

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When I went back to Arizona this past month, I organized a Beef Demo Day, in which we had the Sonoita-Elgin Elementary students come to our “Ranch” and learn about cattle.  Grades K-6 were alive with energy and very excited to get to see and touch real, live cattle.  I organized 5 different stations that covered a variety of topics about beef.

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Dressing up as a “Calf”

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At the first station, students talked about how cows are different from kids.  Long tails to swat flies, rough tongues for grabbing grass, and thick hides to protect them from the elements were some of the differences noted.

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The next stations talked in depth about the aspects of showing cattle and the duties of a cowboy or cowgirl and their horse on a cattle ranch!

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Finally, students were able to touch different feedstuffs and learn about why we feed cattle those things before making their own “Cow Chow Snack” to eat.

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Mackenzie Kimbro – AZ Beef Ambassador, Carolyn Wemlinger – Nogales River Cowbelles, Sam Donaldson – Area Rancher Extraordinaire, Tiffany Selchow – Arizona Beef Council, Alicia Smith – National Beef Ambassador, Pat Evans – Elgin-Sonoita Cowbelles

Of course, none of this would have been possible without some amazing, and passionate, volunteers!  A huge thanks to them for sharing my love of beef and making sure we educate our future!

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

The Show Ring

“You do what to those cattle?!”  This is a phrase I’ve often heard when explaining to consumers about the show cattle side of beef production. They are often surprised that we not only bathe cattle, but blow dry, clip, condition and work hair on these animals, let alone put them on a halter and show them!

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My first heifer, Bella, inspired me to keep raising cattle and start my own cattle company

 

Not every producer is involved in showing, but there are some that make a living out of raising show cattle, and others that just want to occasionally showcase the quality of the animals they breed.  Still others are involved through youth programs like 4-H and FFA that teach members about raising these animals and often inspire them to pursue careers within the beef field.

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FFA helped me to develop my own start-up company, Ace Club Calves. We now exhibit our own cattle and have done well.

 

I’ll be very honest when I say that I would not be here if it weren’t for programs like 4-H and FFA.  I am a product of the show industry.  It is where I found my passion for cattle and learned innovative ways to raise them.  Without showing, I know that I would have never taken an interest in beef cattle nor found the passion I have for representing and advocating for this amazing group of people and their livelihoods.

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Making a bond with your calf is an important part of showing. Remmy was a very special calf that I truly enjoyed

 

The show industry is a great program in which youth can be exposed to raising cattle and what it takes to do so, and helps them to earn a little money that they can either save or spend as they please.  It teaches responsibility, commitment, compassion and accountability through having an animal rely on you to care for it.  Success in the show ring only comes if you work hard and do things the best way possible.  You have to ensure that you and your animal have a mutual respect and love for each other if you are going to get anywhere.

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

Beyond the amazing qualities it helps to develop, some of my best friends have been made around the show ring.  There is just something about sitting in the bleachers watching cattle shows, or helping on another to clip or fit an animal that creates an inseparable bond.  Though we are all from different parts of the country, I know that I can rely on my show friends to always be there if I need advice or assistance.

 

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

Fluffy Cows 

Last year pictures of groomed cattle dubbed “fluffy cows” went viral on the Internet and were an overnight success. Many people who aren’t familiar with cattle or perhaps had only seen commercial cattle grazing were interested to see this new type of cow. Growing up around show cattle, I thought the concept was funny to say the least, but it’s definitely a neat segment of the beef industry to take a look at. Here’s a quick overview of the “fluffy cows.”

Fluffy cows are just highly groomed cattle that experience the best of care.

Fluffy cows are just highly groomed cattle that experience the best of care.

Fluffy cows are not a single breed. Contrary to what some comments on pictures and blogs might lead you to believe, fluffy cows are simply cattle that are more groomed than average. Many of them are purebred breeds, such as the recognizable Angus, but many are crossbred between two or more breeds.

OK…so how are they so fluffy? Fluffy cows get their fluff from intense levels of grooming. Many are washed and dried multiple times a day to keep them clean and brushed to provide the best conditions for hair growth. Most are also kept under fans or in air-conditioned rooms called coolers to keep them cool with all that hair. When at shows or other events, hair spray and adhesive may be used to stand the hair up – similar to some older human hairstyles!

Part of the "fluffy" process is frequent baths and blow drying.

Part of the “fluffy” process is frequent baths and blow drying.

Fluffy cows receive the pinnacle of care. Between multiple baths a day, a highly monitored feeding regimen of top notch feeds, spending the day relaxing in an air-conditioned barn and receiving constant grooming and other care, fluffy cows definitely lead a pampered life. While animal welfare is critical on all farming operations, fluffy cows go above and beyond to provide the best possible care for their animals.

So why? With all the work that goes into keeping fluffy cows so fluffy it’s easy to ask, “Why bother?” Fluffy cows are show cattle that spend the first two years of their lives being shown in livestock fairs and exhibitions, often through programs like 4-H and FFA. The project of showing livestock introduces kids to the farm, cattle and helps teach the value of hard work from a young age.

Showing cattle teaches kids valuable life lessons such as the value of hard work and that everything doesn't always go your way.

Showing cattle teaches kids valuable life lessons such as the value of hard work and that everything doesn’t always go your way.

What happens when they are finished showing? When cattle turn two years old, they are generally too old to show in most fairs. Some allow older cattle to show with their calf, but for most fluffy cows after they turn two they are demoted to just cows. They’ll spend the remainder of their life in the field like any other cow and hopefully one of their calves can be a fluffy cow too.

Will Pohlman