Big Cattle Show Wins for the Little Cattle Girl

My Generation

One blue bucket, two blue ribbons, one great day at the cattle show for our kids. Plus, a look at sort-of fluffy cows.

Published on: June 10, 2013

Well. We had our first cattle show of the season last week. It was not terrible.

In fact, it went pretty well, despite the craziness of trying to plant beans in the hours before and after.

Jenna showed her heifer and won her class, which gave her a major boost of confidence. Her steer was up next, and apparently while the rest of us were at the show ring watching my niece, Kaity, show her heifer, the steer got a little, ahem, excited in the chute and my brother-in-law may or may not have wondered if he would tear the thing apart. But he didn't, and he settled down dramatically after that. I guess we all have our moments. He showed very well for Jenna. The good news was he got first; the bad news was he got first. Which meant he'd have to go back for champion, which he didn't have any reasonable shot at winning. But that's what you do because that's the way it works. So they showed for champion and it was a non-event, which was really all we were hoping for.

Concentration. Must watch the judge.
Concentration. Must watch the judge.

Next up: showmanship for 8-10 year olds. It was a remarkably small class for showmanship - just three kids - but she won it. And took home an awesome blue water bucket. As someone who has boxes of '80s and '90s era trophies in the attic, I really like any prize that doesn't involve a trophy or plaque.

A day of cattle showing - and prepping - also made me think about this whole fluffy cow phenomenon. Two weeks ago, someone posted a photo of a club calf owned by Lautner Farms on Reddit, and it ignited a storm of interest in teddy-bear like "fluffy cows." Before long, #fluffycow was trending on Twitter, and the Today show and other media came calling. The question for the cattle industry, of course, is whether personifying "cute" cattle is good for the {meat production} industry? Certainly, the spotlight is being shone on the cattle show industry, as people across the country learn that it actually exists. And I'm also glad to hear that everyone in the cattle industry, from Matt Lautner to Amanda Radke, are trying to figure out how to make the most of the exposure and how to re-direct the conversation back to production agriculture. We can't afford to be "cute" for very long, but we can't forsake the attention either.

Cousins! Best part of any show. Ryan, Kaity and Jenna
Cousins! Best part of any show. Ryan, Kaity and Jenna

But back to our little county 4-H cattle show show, where the cows were only slightly fluffy. In all? It was a pretty great day for our girl, and a much better way to start the show season than last year. For sure.

Pretty fancy water bucket, but Lady and Jenna earned it. Believe it.
Pretty fancy water bucket, but Lady and Jenna earned it. Believe it.

Post Tags: 4-H

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  1. Pat Matthes says:

    Do judges like fluffy cows? I don't know squat about judging cows, but doesn't fluffing out the hair hide the musculature of the animal?

    • Holly Spangler says:

      The "fluff" comes from in part from breeding cattle for good hair qualities (genetics) and part from training, rinsing/blowing and keeping the cattle cool. Technically speaking, a well-sculpted hair coat (well clipped and groomed) will enhance an animal's assets and disguise their flaws. The judge's job is to see past both and choose the best animal. Easier said than done, sometimes.

  2. Carrie Pollard says:

    I'm a personal fan of the orange and blue showstick!

    • Holly Spangler says:

      YES! She won it last year, in her last showmanship class. She got to pick any stick from the catalog. We were pretty proud of her Illini choice!