Cattle part of the healing process for King family

Author: Kristy

By Matt Reese

The 2014 Ohio Beef Expo was the place to be for those who love all things cattle, but the event was particularly special for the King family from Logan County.

Madi King, 15, showed the Grand Champion Shorthorn Plus heifer in Friday’s open show and Austin King, 14, had the Grand Champion Shorthorn Heifer in the Best of the Buckeye Shorthorn division of Sunday’s Junior Show. The cattle now offer a source of enjoyment and competition for the entire King family, but the livestock served a more important purpose over the previous several years.

Both Madi and Austin were diagnosed with craniosynostosis and chiari malformation as young children. Craniosynostosis occurs is when the cracks in the skull are fused and it cannot expand while the brain is rapidly growing in children. When the skull does not expand properly, the growing brain is forced to expand through an opening at the base of the skull. This is called chiari malformation. The combination of the two problems made childhood painful for both Madi and Austin, who endured more than 20 surgeries while growing up.

“For a child it is like an adult migraine times 100. We sat in the dark a lot and we could not have a lot of noise,” said Kaci, their mother. “The kids would sit with their ears covered. It was part of every day life.”

The many procedures the children endured, including skull expansion surgeries, put daunting stress on the King family with scars that were slow to heal. Part of the healing process included cattle.

The King family

The King family

“My husband D. Rea and I met showing cattle in 4-H. We wanted cattle, but with the kids and the condition they were in, we had concerns with doing that. Once we got through the surgeries and got our feet on the ground, then we started our own herd at home. Things started clicking after that,” Kaci said. “Madi wanted to show really bad and, then Austin did too. For each of their first years we had bottle babies that were really docile. Now the kids really enjoy the heifer and breeding end of things more. We all really enjoy the cattle. As parents, with everything they have been through, you just want to be supportive of what the kids want to do. This is our sport and the cattle have been a nice distraction from all of this.”

Now that the children are past the age of rapid brain growth, they are able to focus more on the cattle. The King family now has a small Hereford and Shorthorn breeding operation, Windy Hill Farms. In addition to the success at this year’s Beef Expo, Madi had the Reserve Grand Champion Shorthorn Heifer at the 2013 event and won the 2012-2013 Shorthorn heifer BEST program. And, they are, of course, very excited about their success at the 2014 Ohio Beef Expo. For complete sale and show results from the 2014 Ohio Beef Expo, visit For more about the health issues that faced the King family, visit

Austin King's Grand Champion Shorthorn Heifer in the Best of the Buckeye division of Sunday’s Junior Show.


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