4-H’ers learning which cattle stand out in the ring

Author: Kristy


The judge talked about her legs, hips, back and overall frame and femininity.

Isabelle Schultz, 16, of Cairo shakes hands with judge Corey Thomsen upon receiving champion market steer at the Hall County Fair Saturday morning in the Five Points Bank Arena at Fonner Park in Grand Island. Schultz and her steer also received champion bred and fed market steer.

Cory Thomsen’s standards were high while judging the breeding and market heifers in the Hall County Fair 4-H Beef Show Saturday morning. Heifers are female cattle that have not yet birthed calves.

“The key heifer that comes next, she’s got the wow factor to her, no doubt about it,” Thomsen said before announcing the champion breeding heifer. “She’s flat shouldered … she’s extremely good at the ground, she’s extremely sound …”

Thomsen was talking about Sadie, owned, raised, cared for, and shown by 16-year-old Isabelle Schultz of Cairo. Sadie was crowned the grand champion breeding heifer and Schultz took home a purple ribbon, a trophy and a cash prize.

Showing animals is familiar to Schultz. She helps run her family’s operation of about 110 cattle, Rick Schultz Show Cattle. The Hall County Fair 4-H Beef Show was the 13th show she has hauled at least one of her two steers and one heifer to this year.

“I grew up with it and I really enjoy it,” she said. “It’s my passion.”

The time Schultz dedicates to caring for and showing animals is preparing her for her desired future job as a large animal veterinarian.

“In the summer, I wake up early in the morning, put her (Sadie) in the cooler, rinse her, dry her, brush her, comb her,” she said.

Schultz carries out the routine twice a day for Sadie. The treatment helps grow the desired long hair, she said. The process takes about an hour and a half for all four heifers and the steers that Schultz and her brother are responsible for.

Schultz gets attached to the cattle she works so closely with.

“I cry when I have to say goodbye,” she said.

Trenton Holcomb, 19, of Grand Island, took home the reserve champion breeding heifer title and the champion bred and owned breeding heifer title.

He, too, thinks of the cattle as pets more than livestock.

“We spend a lot of time with them,” Holcomb said. “We wash them about every night. We feed and water them in the morning and at night. They take a lot of time. We’re busy with cattle and stuff, so we usually don’t go on vacation.”

But he doesn’t call his heifer by a name and, more specifically, the name the rest of his family likes to call her: Rose.

The family lives on an acreage and travels to his grandfather’s feedlot in Arcadia to choose cattle for show.

“It’s just fun I guess,” Holcomb said. “You get a new calf every year and they have different attitudes. Some of them are nice and some of them are a little bit more wild.”

His two brothers also competed in the beef show.

“It’s a lot of family time and it’s good to know all of the people around,” Holcomb said. “Everybody’s real friendly. It’s kind of a family thing, I guess.”

This is his last year in 4-H and his first year showing a breeding heifer. He has shown market steers since he was about 10.

Holcomb plans to attend the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in the fall and major in diversified agriculture.

Amy Johnson’s hands and arms were full with three trophies and certificates as her children got their photos snapped, put their heifers or steer in the barn for a rest or stood in the ring to compete some more.

Johnson’s daughter, Jacque, took home two grand champion titles in the heifer division — one for market heifer and one for market heifer bred and fed, meaning the calf was born and raised on the family’s ranch.

“They enjoy it,” Johnson said about her children and the beef shows. “At first it’s a lot of work. But you get rewards and sometimes you get disappointed and that is definitely a life skill, being able to take the ups and downs and winning graciously and losing graciously.”

She said the experience also teaches the kids a lot of responsibility, as does the additional and diverse work on the farm, as well as how to be poised and confident in the ring and how to answer the judge’s questions articulately.

“It’s kind of like the Miss America pageant,” Johnson said. “You have to be prepared for a lot of different things. They want to know what their knowledge is of the beef industry in general. They might ask them what the price of cattle are right now. I think one of the kids yesterday said a judge wanted to know what were three aspects that were positive about their calf.”

Like the judges, the kids have to know what to look for when choosing a calf to show, she said.

Awards were also given to the market steers, male cattle that have been castrated and are raised for beef.


Posted in In The Industry |

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