Showing Cattle: A Family Activity

Throughout this past year I’ve heard many comments about kids showing steers, heifers, etc. Some of the comments I’ve heard include:
• The cattle just cost too much
• The feed costs too much
• There isn’t any way for this project to be profitable or even break even
• What is the point, we don’t have a chance to win
• The big boys always win
• This is only for the rich folks
I guess some of these comments may have some validity; however we (my family) chose to show cattle with our kids for different reasons. I’ll try to
explain some of them in the following paragraphs.

Our children are exposed to influence all day every day by the people and events they are surrounded by. We don’t make any money when our kids play football, soccer, baseball, basketball or when they participate in dance, cheerleading, band, etc. We don’t expect to break even or be profitable from these events, so why would we expect a steer or heifer project to be profitable? This isn’t about money; this is about spending time together as a family.

Showing cattle is about spending time together as we raise our calf. Teaching it to lead, to set up, washing it, working hair, etc. It’s about teaching responsibility, and the value of work and commitment to a project on a daily basis. Most importantly it’s about working together with our children. They will be exposed to our values, our morals, our ethics, as we work together. It is a family project, a family activity.

I remember as a teenager on the farm, I decided I wanted to show steers and my parents were supportive of this endeavor of mine. In addition to showing my fat steers, one year I decided to show some pens of feeder steers at the Arizona National Livestock Show. In the fall of 1975 (I think, it was a long time ago) my father took me to Idaho to pick up 24 head of Angus influenced prospect steers to take to the Arizona National Livestock show. These calves came straight off the cows on a large ranch. They were not halter broke, and to say the least, just a little rank. But I was young and full of myself and thought it would not be a problem. Those steers nearly kicked me to death while I was breaking them to tie good enough so we could get them fitted and prepared for the show. This activity provided my father with many hours of laughter and memories we still talk about.

Once we got to the show Dad was helping me get steers from the wash rack to the pens, and as he was tying one of those little steers to the rail to blow them off, that steer somehow kicked him in the ribs. Broke a couple of ribs, but it has provided us with years of laughter. The point of this little story is the many memories I have of working together with my dad and brothers with our steers growing up. None of us remember how much money we made or lost on those steer projects, but we remember working
together, getting kicked, knocked down, laughing at each other, etc. We remember the time our father spent with us. We remember how working with a steer for months and how daily effort and work resulted in a finished project. We learned how sometimes we could do everything right, do our job perfectly with our steer and still things beyond our control could result in disappointment. Dad always told us, “there is only going to be one first place steer today. That does not mean there is only one good steer, but only one gets to be first.” He said, “Be a good sport about it, congratulate the winners. Remember we are friends first, competitors second.” The lessons learned do not have a price tag. My brothers and I are grateful our parents chose to allow us the opportunity to be involved with them. We are grateful our parents were committed to us and did
not put a price tag on spending time with us.

In my opinion showing cattle is about being a family. The experiences and friendships made through these projects will carry through our entire lives

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