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Offline Limiman12

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County Fair numbers
« on: July 17, 2014, 03:38:51 PM »
I know this topic has been beat to death, and there are a WIDE range of causes from other time commitments on todays kids to price of just a sale barn calf, but I went to our county fair this morning to see only 55 calves (by my count about 28-30 kids and about 15 families)...  down a lot from just 5 years ago, asked around and a neighboring county only had 27 and the sale only had 9...

one thing I think that is effecting it is the kids unwillingness to have "just a project"  I see it in sthletics, the "If I can be the stud why bother"  I wonder if there is a "who cares so-n-so is gonna win it"  attitude that prevents some kids from showing a calf from their herd....  granted the time commitment is real, but I truly believe that the skills learned with a county fair Livestock project of any kind but especially a calf are the very skills that our society is lacking in young adults.   

Any ideas how to turn it back?   at this rate there will be just a handful of kids showing and that is certainly not good for the club calf industry, but bad for the cattle industry as a whole.
Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work as hard.      Tim Tebow

Offline GoWyo

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2014, 04:30:48 PM »
Why bother with cattle when you can show hogs, goats and lambs for a lot less investment in equipment, facilities, feed costs, etc. and make about the same amount of profit at the end of the project?  Most of the kids at our county fair sell their steers for $3000 to $3750.  Grand might bring $4000-5000.  If you bought a common steer last fall for $1250 and then fed him $1000 in feed (mixing your own, not the fancy bagged stuff), you have $2250 invested.  The likely profit margin for all of your work is $850 to $1500 if everything works out.  If you paid $2500 for your steer and didn't win grand, you probably lost money.  The financial incentive isn't there, so you had better just enjoy it.
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Offline Limiman12

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2014, 05:02:47 PM »
pig and sheep numbers are not up thogh either...
Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work as hard.      Tim Tebow

Offline Tallcool1

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2014, 05:45:36 PM »
Our county fair numbers were very similar to last year.  They may have even been up a little.

Quality was absolutely down.  Grand Steer was a cute, hairy little 1250 pound steer.  Reserve was about the same without the hair.

I believe that the all or nothing mentality could be a factor.  I know that it is very dis-heartening to a kid that works really hard and gets left standing. 

This year we bought a couple of "show steers" (one died), and we bought a steer that was a little plain fronted to take the the county fair.  He was raised by a local guy that has raised some really good ones including a Lautner promo bull.  This steer had all of the parts except the front end.  We thought we had a legitimate shot at winning the whole thing.  He weighed 1360, was fat, extremely sound, and had a little hair.  He was a true "County Fair Steer".  We got beat, and beat good. 

I believe PERSONALLY, that it has become too hard for the average family to even have a remote chance at winning even a class much less a division.  I believe that a great deal of this is the result of wishy washy judges that send such a mixed message.  One steer in the no fit division stands second in class and the judge says "this steer is clearly more eye appealing, moves better, and handles better, but at the end of the day...you can't eat hair.  (By the way, the calf had very little hair)  Then he turns around and slaps the hairiest steer in the barn that weighed 1250 pounds, and uses a steer that is 100 pounds shy of being fat for Reserve. 

Two years ago the shaggiest one in the show wins, and he is a really good one.  The Reserve steer is better, but doesn't have much hair.  The judge says the Reserve steer is just plain good, and everyone gathered around this ring today would love to have a feedlot full of steers just like him.  He is eye appealing, and shows pure performance.  If he had the hair that our Champion Steer has, he wins it 9 days out of 10.  Huh?  What does that mean?

What is the message to the "average" local family that just wants a chance?  Bring a 1250 pounder next year?  Slick shear before the fair?  Grow a bunch of hair?  Don't worry about getting them fat?  Remember, this family can't take him home and go to State Fair in 45 days.  What is the message? 

I talked with a club calf producer after the show.  He sells a lot of more expensive show steers every fall, but also sells a lot of county fair type of steers.  He approached one of my kids and told them that they had done a very good job with their steer, and should have easily won the whole thing.  The steer didn't come from him.  He explained that a county fair is a county fair.  They should be judges accordingly.  The county fair show needs to be a closer representation to the commercial cattle business than to the show cattle industry.  This type of judging is destroying the county fairs across the state.  In his words...This is a county fair Market Steer Show.  They have got to be fat and at an acceptable weight before anything else is evaluated.  At the county fair level, getting one fat is the most important lesson. 

In my opinion, your comparison to athletics is a good one.  Why SHOULD I lift weights everyday, go to camps all summer, practice every morning and night, and put up with all of this pressure, and not even enjoy myself?  I am getting better, but I am 5'4", and weigh 125 pounds.  I am not going to play no matter how hard I try.  I don't have a chance.  I think I will just go mow lawns all summer and call it good. 


Offline Olson Family Shorthorns

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2014, 06:03:36 PM »
We don't show at county fairs, except our own 4H show, and it's not really a fair.  We don't take any of our good ones, and we only take as many as we need to fill the breed class.  The reason is simple- too often, the good ones do not do very well.  It's not worth it to us to take a heifer that just won her division at a Jr National, only for her to get beat by an ill structured, sloppy fat, hairless pig of a heifer. 
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Offline kanshow

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2014, 07:45:54 PM »
Quote
e don't show at county fairs, except our own 4H show, and it's not really a fair.  We don't take any of our good ones, and we only take as many as we need to fill the breed class.  The reason is simple- too often, the good ones do not do very well.  It's not worth it to us to take a heifer that just won her division at a Jr National, only for her to get beat by an ill structured, sloppy fat, hairless pig of a heifer.
  That is the truth!   

Offline rackranch

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2014, 08:41:15 PM »
I think your county should focus more attention on picking a judge.

We don't show at county fairs, except our own 4H show, and it's not really a fair.  We don't take any of our good ones, and we only take as many as we need to fill the breed class.  The reason is simple- too often, the good ones do not do very well.  It's not worth it to us to take a heifer that just won her division at a Jr National, only for her to get beat by an ill structured, sloppy fat, hairless pig of a heifer.
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Offline Olson Family Shorthorns

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2014, 08:57:39 PM »
I think your county should focus more attention on picking a judge.

We don't show at county fairs, except our own 4H show, and it's not really a fair.  We don't take any of our good ones, and we only take as many as we need to fill the breed class.  The reason is simple- too often, the good ones do not do very well.  It's not worth it to us to take a heifer that just won her division at a Jr National, only for her to get beat by an ill structured, sloppy fat, hairless pig of a heifer.

Undoubtedly.  Problem is, they won't pay anyone more qualified than a college kid that did two years of judging team at a junior college.  Not that some of those kids aren't knowledgeable, but I've been burned too many times to risk it. 

It seems a bit ridiculous when I'm much more confident in our animals at a show like a Jr National or NAILE, NWSS..any major than I am for them to show at a county fair or state preview.  I may just be out of touch with what can win at those shows, but they make me uneasy.
Shorthorn cattle and genetic opportunities available at all times. (515) 520 1972

Offline DLD

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2014, 09:15:11 PM »
OFS is right, there's no better place to get a good one beat than a county fair.  But the bottom line is if you choose not to participate because you're afraid of getting your good one beat, there's really no difference in you and the folks that didn't even feed one this year because they were afraid they couldn't beat you.  Both of you are liable to look up and wonder what happened to your county fair one of these days.

Just like limiman said, there are an awful lot of people these days that don't care to participate if they don't believe they're going to win.  They think they're just too competitive to lose.  I guess that's okay if it makes 'em happy.

All that aside, cattle numbers are rising steadily in our county.  It cycles up and down over the years, and no matter how hard we try to explain it, there doesn't appear to be much rhyme or reason to it.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 09:16:49 PM by DLD »
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Offline gary89

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2014, 10:36:59 PM »
In my part of the world I would say the lower numbers are directly related to the number of farm kids. As the planters have gotten bigger,  the population has gotten smaller.

Online cbcr

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2014, 11:26:59 PM »
Many of touched on very valid points as to why county fair participation is down.  Certainly it doesn't seem to make much difference where the show is, there is always the parents that can or try to afford an animal that will win which costs money which leaves many kids thinking why try, I know our family can't afford to pay that kind of money for an animal, so why try.

I agree with OFS, I don't think it is that they are afraid of getting beat in a class if another animal is truly better, I don't think anyone would be too upset with that.  But too many times like has been said the quality of judges at the County level certainly leaves a lot to be desired, moreso than at larger fairs and shows.

One thing that hasn't changed over the years is the reasons that judges give for placing animals they way they did.  How many times have you heard a judge talk about the first place animal and how and where they would like to change them only to go down to an animal that is in 3rd to even 5th place or so and they mention that this animal is really an ideal type animal and if that animal was just had a little more frame or whatever he would have been in first place.

I agree that the show ring teaches kids life lessons that are important.  It is certainly understandable that when some of these shows have judges that can't judge and does a lousy job it is very disheartening to a kid that has worked all year long on his project and then he goes in front of a bad judge.  For most the local county fair is it.

Our family used to show hoses and mules.  I remember being at a show that had a judge that wasn't very good.  One of the participants that was also exhibiting and had judged shows himself, got off of the wagon went over and had a nice chat with the judge and told him how lousy a job he was doing.  What ever he said seemed to help and the guy started doing a much better job.


Offline cowpoke

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2014, 07:37:09 AM »
A calf project done correctly takes a lot of time and work. If they only show once at their Co.Fair the 15 minutes or less in the ring compared to at least 200 days of caring for their project seems small but the time spent with their family[ if they help at all ]plus the fun at the fair,  freindships ,memories  can last forever.We seem to lose calves a few every year and at one time their were over 300 head[50 years ago] and this year about 40 but it is still fun . The win at all costs attitude doesn't teach lifes lessons very well.

Offline Muddy Creek Show Cattle

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2014, 09:58:05 AM »
I've been thinking about this thread and trying to compare our fair to the situations I am hearing on hear and from watching neighboring counties. I should start off saying our show is big compared to most of our neighboring counties. These aren't exact numbers, but if I remember right I think we had around 155 beef animals two years ago and last year got near that 200 number (market animals and breeding heifers). One element that we (and most bigger shows) have that I think hurts some of our smaller neighbor counties is we have enough animals to break into good sized breed classes. So yes you are going to have 11ish classes of crossbreds, where about 1/2 the calves are clubby and that's where 99% of the time your Grand Overall Champ comes from. BUT we also have Angus, Red Angus, Simmental, Char, Hereford, Shorthorn, Market Heifer classes....so you give those gives that don't come from clubby show cattle families to bring their Angus steer from their successful Angus herd, for example, and compete for a trophy in that breed. Every breed champ/res champ get a trophy etc....and certain breeds are sponsored by bigger ranches where top 5 or so get extra $$ (not a lot but still a reward). Like I said I don't remember the last time a Crossbred wasn't Grand Overall, however it's not uncommon for a Angus or %Simmental steer to take that Res Grand some years. But at least kids can still compete for that Breed Championship. I am working the ring at a county fair next week that is much smaller and will have I'll say about 50 animals. They don't split breeds up, so I see where it would be discouraging for families to take an average breed steer where you know you will be put in the same class as these crossbreds and likely not stand a chance at much. When I first learned of that set up it really made me think, it's not the counties fault small numbers just make it unreasonable. However with those small numbers they have the perk of being able to sell their animals at the fair auction and take the animal home also (get to sell at sale barn or butcher then too)...where as our large numbers make it to where we sell at the auction and straight onto the semis they go to be shipped.
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Offline vc

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2014, 03:29:21 PM »
All the calves sold at our fair are purchased by the person eating them, a lot of them go to the state plant for processing then get sent on to the custom butcher shop that is doing the cutting. I would honestly say there are probably 4 or 5 people at the fair that even know about Zilmax or even products like it. I know of one or 2 that may have used showflex, but that would be it. In the past 5 years the judges we have had been pretty good, they knock a calf down a place or 2 if they weren't sound. Only the division champions and the grand and reserve champions are tested. We used to pull a card at the scale if you had an X you got tested, some of those sucked up calves and hogs took a while to pee.
This judge at county this year wanted them sound, balanced, and complete, with some wow factor to finish it off. He told the kids what he was going to be looking for at the start of the first class,  then picked them that way all day, to me it was refreshing to see a consistent judge from start to finish.

Offline Tallcool1

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Re: County Fair numbers
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2014, 03:50:12 PM »

This judge at county this year wanted them sound, balanced, and complete, with some wow factor to finish it off. He told the kids what he was going to be looking for at the start of the first class,  then picked them that way all day, to me it was refreshing to see a consistent judge from start to finish.

This is exactly the point I was making.  You got a judge that knew what he was looking for BEFORE he saw it.  He had a predetermined criteria and he then judged and placed the cattle accordingly.  At least that way you walk away from the show KNOWING what you could have done different.

What I can't understand is a judge that doesn't know what he is after until he sees it.  It makes it nearly impossible to learn anything.


 

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