Youth present cattle at finished beef show and sale

Matt
Matt Gardner
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“Don’t have a cow, man.” “Where’s the beef?” Two sentiments rarely heard at the annual 4-H Finished Beef Cattle Show And Sale.

Now in its 84th year, the Prince Albert showcase serves as an opportunity for young 4-H members to show off their prize cattle.

Six different 4-H clubs -- Choiceland, Spruce Home, Weldon, Wild Rose, Canwood and West P.A. -- are taking part in this year’s show, which began on Sunday with the showing of 60 female cattle.

“The turnout for the crowd is great, considering the rain we had early this afternoon,” assistant manager and show co-ordinator Patty Soloducha said.

“Our numbers are down just because there’s less kids in the area participating in the 4-H program -- just with farms reducing and people moving to the city. That comes with the territory.”

4-H is a youth organization targeted at individuals between the ages of six and 21 that seeks to promote life skills and learning in different fields -- in this case, rearing cattle for beef production.

Soloducha, who grew up on a farm and was a 4-H member throughout her youth, noted that one of the new features at this year’s show involved testing members on their knowledge of the field.

“This year, one of our sponsors from Glenmor Equipment … wanted to do a beef industry challenge,” she said. “Basically what that is … is a multiple-choice questionnaire for the members to complete.”

The challenge included questions on topics ranging from the beef industry itself to how animals are fed, as well as their knowledge of 4-H, in order for members to have more information and to get a better idea of why they are raising their cattle.

First place winners won $300, while second place winners received a $200 prize.

Another new feature at this year’s show and sale was a memorial for the late Prince Albert business owner Herschel Davidner, who died last year.

“He’s been such a longtime huge supporter of this show and sale and the Spruce Home Club organized just kind of a memorial in the barn for him,” Soloducha said.

“We have on display all the plaques that the members have given back to him after he’s purchased their steer.”

She estimated the number of plaques on display as more than 160.

On Monday, show organizers will present a guestbook to Davidner’s daughter Leah Towill before the auction sale.

The turnout for the crowd is great, considering the rain we had early this afternoon. Patty Soloducha

Serving as show judge at this year’s sale is Dennis Sherhienko, a veteran cattle breeder who has judged cattle shows throughout North America.

Soloducha noted that judges look for different qualities in steers as opposed to female cattle. For example, fat is considered a more positive quality for steers than it is for heifers.

“A heifer that’s too fat won’t breed for you, and so if you have a heifer that’s not going to breed, you don’t have a calf,” Soloducha noted. “It’s all about money, right? We want calves on those cows.

“So for your cows, you want something that walks good, some longevity in your herd, nice frame, capacity to the animal ... They look at the feet, just because it’s got to walk out in the pasture and you want a cow that’s going to be there for 10 to 15 years. So feet are important on those cows.”

Describing the current state of the beef industry, Soloducha noted that while business has picked up due to rising prices, rising production costs have cancelled out some of the benefits for farmers.

Speaking anecdotally, she estimated that one out of every four 4-H members continue to work on farms as adults.

“I would say we probably have 25 per cent right out of 4-H that stay on the farm,” she said. “But then we also have probably 50 per cent of these kids that yes, they’ll go on to another job or something, but they’re always coming back to the farm.

“You always go back to your roots, so they may get some cattle with their parents or something like that, or maybe they go on to grain farm.”

Additional information on local 4-H clubs is available at www.4-h.sk.ca.

See also:

Steer showcase wraps up milestone year for finished beef show

Organizations: Prince Albert, Spruce Home Club

Geographic location: Wild Rose, Canwood, North America

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