MITCHELL, Neb. – Before competition, heifers and steers are prepped in what could be called the cow beauty salon. Washing and brushing the animal then dried with a blow dryer. A little dye may be used with a little trim here and there, making the animal as beautiful as a cow can be.
It is 4-H and FFA Beef Showmanship competition at the Scotts Bluff County Fair.
Showing heifers and steers in 4-H and FFA is a huge undertaking. Starting with a calf, the trainer – who may range from the age of 8 to 18 years old in 4-H – has to train the cow to follow and respond the trainer’s gestures and commands.
As the calf grows the more time the trainer will spend with the animal teaching it how to walk with the trainer how to stop and to place its hooves while standing. It is not only the cow that is being judged but the trainer’s professionalism and how the two work together.
Payton Flower, who won the Champion Lightweight Steer market showmanship and placed high in swine showmanship, said she trained with her steer four to six hours a day and worked her regular job eight hours a day, leaving little time for other thing in her life.
“It was a busy summer,” she said.
It is time consuming. But winning the competition can help sell the animal for a higher price.
Flower started 4-H when she was eight years old. She followed her father and older siblings’ footsteps, showing and raising livestock.
“While I was growing up I started working with the livestock,” Flower said. “I fell in love with it.”
Now graduated from high school and entering her final 4-H competition, Flower plans to attend the University Nebraska – Lincoln to major in Agriculture Communications. She is planning to be on the university judging team and will be studying livestock judging part of her degree.