While raised in rural, small town Iowa, I grew up with an instilled passion for cattle. Whether I was bottle feeding calves in my whitey-tighties or running the tractor and feeding cattle, I had a love that was undeniable. Beginning my first year of 4-H, I showed Dairy bucket/bottle calves and instantly learned to love the process involved in showing cattle. I think what the show cattle industry does best is teaching to our youth and introducing them to a passion for all agriculture. That benefit is evident through walking the barns of each and every fair ground in Iowa. While the strengths of the show ring are obvious, there are also weaknesses that need to be addressed to further highlight the commercial cattlemen. What I mean by that is the show industry is only a small percentage of children and adults involved in cattle production of which needs to change in order to reflect the average cattlemen. The show industry does have weaknesses, but the good often outweighs the bad.
I have been on each side of the spectrum. Initially, when I started to buy cattle, I was on online sales and bought two club calf females. Two years later, they are both long gone, and I have started to buy production cattle that fit my operation. Although I must admit, it was nice having show calves on the farm that were calm and easy to break compared to heifers out of our own pasture. Problems quickly arose when I tried to AI my two heifers, I could not get through the cervix on either of them. I decided to wait and make them fall calvers for a year and soon transition them back to spring. With five bulls in the yard with them, I had no worries, but in the following spring they were still open, and I sold them as market ready animals. It was my first real lesson in the cattle business, and I fell head first into something that did not work in my favor. Although it was a hard lesson learned, I would do it all over again. After my experience with show cattle, I entered into registered Angus cattle business, and my passion for cattle grew even further. I quickly began to understand pedigrees and EPD’s of all bulls and began to select for traits that would be vital to my potential earnings. The following summer, I selected 7 different bulls and bred over 30 of my uncle’s 70 cows to be AIed. I just had my first AIed calf out of SCC Cash three days ago, and my uncle’s cows will begin to calve in a week. Overall, I can not thank the show industry enough for all it did for me whether it was enticing me, worrying me, or helping me become the man I want to be. While being on both sides of the spectrum, I’m glad to have learned what I want to do in the future. Although my lesson may be perceived as a possible weakness of the show industry, there are many advantages to being a part of it.
The biggest benefit of the show industry is informing and involving youth. Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today if I was never informed and involved as a young person showing cattle. Being able to be informed of both the cattle and show industries at a young age was encouraging for me. I always strived to be better and know more than others, and that never really translated to how I did at the fairs. Rather I was more knowledgeable, and in most cases, I knew more about their calf than they did. Being involved with cattle is also another benefit of the show industry. Creating bonds and passions that children will continue to inspire children year after year is a great attribute of the industry. Taking pride in your own work is also a step of encouragement that also continues to entice children each and every year. I believe that the biggest benefits of the show industry are encouraging youth to become informed and involved.
The biggest weakness of the show industry is that it doesn’t consist of the average cattlemen. I believe if more youth that had commercial backgrounds with cattle were a part of the shows, the show industry would not be perceived as fake. I think a way of involving more or these kids is to teach them the satisfaction of what hard work can accomplish. I also believe that kids need to be more accepting of other’s cattle in that not all people are ready to spend big money on show cattle. We can address this issue by holding meetings before fair time like FSQA, but we need to explain how people have to be respectful and be nice to other people. I think it can easily be accomplished and create a good fair environment for all the youth involved.
Although the show industry has weaknesses, its strengths of being a part of it are very special. While being on both sides of the spectrum (commercial and show), I’m glad to have learned what I want to do in the future through being a part of the show industry. I believe that the biggest benefits of the show industry are encouraging youth to become informed and involved. I think a way of involving more of these kids is to teach them the satisfaction of what hard work can accomplish. I also believe that kids need to be more accepting and respectful of other people and their cattle. Overall, I’m very happy to have been a part of something that has evolved into a passion and is what I want to do for the rest of my life.