July 22, 2012

Cattle judging is no beauty contest

I went for a ride on the ATV early this morning, still a little dew on the ground and early enough to see the sun rising, the misty fog clearing and a shimmer of sun off the lake. Since we got over an inch of rain last Sunday, the field of sweet corn has grown at least a foot in height. 

The combination of rain and steamy heat has rejuvenated corn and given the pastures a boost. As I approached my herd of beef cows, they began to bellow and move slowly across their hillside pasture towards the gate. After doing a quick head count and confirming that none had gone astray, I opened the gate to the next pasture and watched them stream through and then begin to wander off to graze. A couple of the more curious calves stood watching me before turning and high tailing it back to their mothers.

Idyllic scenes and beautiful sights are an everyday occurrence on the farm. It is sometimes hard to find the time to slow down and see the beauty of our surroundings. While on my ride I began to think of what my day still had in store. As I write this, the Clinton County Fair is in its second day and I am helping out at the 4-H dairy cattle show. I started thinking about the reasons for cattle judging and why farmers would be interested in bringing their cows to the fair for a week while there is so much to do back on the farm.

Cattle showing has evolved since the 1800s. Originally, cattle breeders would bring their cattle to a fair or market as a way to sell their stock or promote their line of breeding. Other farmers would evaluate and judge for themselves the benefits of adding a new line of breeding into their herds.

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