Like everyone else, I received my Fall 2006 Miniature Hereford Newsletter the first part of September. I enjoy reading the articles in this publication, along with all the other cattle publications we receive. Certainly, my main joy is reading about the type of cattle that we raise, as well as hearing from fellow Miniature Hereford Breeders. I appreciated the article about why Roy does not show cattle, and I’d like to submit my comments on why I do show cattle. I believe that the advantages of showing your cattle, or at least participating in the Miniature Hereford shows, far outweighs any disadvantages. I believe in this so much that I have “volunteered” to be the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association representative for the Texas shows. When I “volunteered” for this, I knew that the work involved would distract me from my own cattle operation, yet I am convinced that showing cattle will benefit all Miniature Hereford breeders for the following reasons:
Association: the association and friendships that have been developed with other Miniature Hereford breeders through the stock show is the number one advantage that Laura, Jon, and I enjoy. I hear the same thing from other breeders who show. Truly, some of the finest people in this world are raising Miniature Hereford cattle and many of them are showing their cattle. Participation in the stock shows will put you in direct contact with these outstanding people from all over the country. The shows are competitive and the simple fact is that not every breeder will be a winner. I can certainly speak to that fact. Yet even in this competitive environment you will still find your fellow breeders available to help and offer their ideas. A good showman knows that he may be a winner at one show, but the results could be drastically different at another show. Everyone at these shows wants a professionally run show and professional looking show barn, and we all strive hard to accomplish this at every event. A professional image gives the breed credibility, and that, in turn, sells cattle. For the hobby rancher, pet owner or established breeder, there are few better forums to learn more about your cattle than at a show. There are characteristics unique to the Miniature Hereford and the show puts you in contact with some very experienced breeders that can provide some significant insight into the breed. Many of the shows are sponsored by the Miniature Herefords Breeders Association (MHBA). The MHBA has an elected board that represents the membership and is designed to reduce any stress that may be caused by politics. Politics comes into play any time more than two people are involved in any endeavor; it’s the foundation over which our own government operates. It spawns ingenuity, commerce and progress. Politics is not always a bad thing. If I could offer one piece of advice to the new prospective show participant it is this: visit a Miniature Hereford Show first. Producing quality animals through your breeding program is hard enough, don’t complicate matters by pulling that animal out of the pasture and expecting it to do well in the show ring. A breeder, even if successful with sales, will be disappointed and have hard feelings if he attempts to compete without preparation. The cattle arriving at these shows are some of the very best Miniature Herefords in the world. Be prepared to show your cattle with this standard in mind.
Evaluation: One of the most critical decisions that any show breeder must make is to select the cattle they will be taking to the shows. Of course, the very first critical decision occurs months, or even years, before the show. Unless you purchase your show calves, your most critical decision involves the selection of the dam and sire that are going to produce the calf you intend to show. Volumes have been written and countless studies have been conducted surrounding this process and becoming acquainted with some of the research can be valuable to a breeder. I, too, find it difficult to completely evaluate my cattle, I have a small herd and I am able to determine which animals are closest to having most of the traits I feel are important for the breed. The cattle showing those traits are the cattle I select to show. I have my own opinion of what I believe is the ideal “Miniature Hereford.” The judge may or may not agree. I do not plan to alter my breeding program based on what one particular judge or group of judges think. Judges are just people. We all look for different traits. The champion at a given show is just one man’s opinion on that particular day. I don’t believe that the “perfect” Miniature Hereford exists today and recognizing the deficits is the first step to a breeding program designed to improve the quality of a herd. Why is this evaluation so important? Improvement in one’s herd is always important and continual evaluation is required to achieve these objectives. Looking at other cattle helps one to critique his/her own cattle. Listening to other’s opinions of your cattle will help you to see things that you may be overlooking. The more accurate evaluation you are able to perform on your cattle, the better you will be at determining where you need to go genetically in your breeding program. This will lead to increased value in your cattle and optimally increased prices on those you wish to sell. I foresee a time when breeders will be forced to prove the value of their cattle in order to obtain premium prices, no different than what we see in other cattle and livestock businesses now. In fact, it is already occurring in our industry and will become more and more prevalent as the Miniature Hereford breed continues to grow in popularity and more breeders enter the industry. I have no doubt that breeders will continue to be successful in the future, but I do believe that the standards of the breed will be established in the show rings and through the combined efforts of the breeders participating in the Miniature Hereford shows.
History: Let’s take a history lesson into why the Miniature Hereford is with us today. According to Point of Rocks Ranch, it started at the Denver Stock Show in 1970 when the judge in that show placed a class strictly by height.
Marketing: The marketing of the Miniature Hereford is a primary reason a breeder should be participating in the Miniature Hereford shows. The Miniature Hereford is primarily a seed stock business at this particular point. There just aren’t enough animals available to establish a thriving commercial aspect to the industry and therefore the need to work on the promotion of the commercial end of the industry is limited. With that said, the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, will in 2007 have its first Miniature Hereford fat steer show, following up on the prospect steer show that began in 2006. Ultimately, I anticipate that the commercial stocking programs will develop and I understand that some grass fed programs are currently developing that include the Miniature Hereford, I know that the “freezer” beef programs by the individual breeders are very successful. Whether an individual Miniature Hereford owner is a hobby farmer, pet owner or full scale breeder, the animals they own will, in all likelihood, produce calves. There will come a point in every operation where that calf, or some animal, will have to be marketed. While my views about the Miniature Hereford may not be accepted among all breeders that show their cattle, I believe they would all agree that it is the same general mindset to produce the very best animal possible for their customers. The objective of Miniature Hereford shows is to assist the breeders in fulfilling this mission. The national media attention that the miniature Hereford cattle have received is a direct result of the Miniature Hereford shows.
The Youth: Finally, my last comment for why you should show your Miniature Hereford cattle is the youth. They are our future. I am not sure if there is any other activity outside of the shows that will get the kids more involved with the cattle. Of course, the size of these animals is perfect for the younger show persons. I don’t think I can even articulate all of the reward that accompanies the young men and women that are involved in these shows. I am certain that their participation will encourage them into making a career in an agriculture related industry. Having grown up around agriculture then engaging in a different livelihood, I came to cherish the values associated with those who dedicated their lives to agriculture. I have not been disappointed with my associations that have developed from the shows. I am sure that these values are recognized by Jon and the other kids that have participated in the shows with us. I see the competitive and good sportsman spirit in the faces of these young people who attend the shows and I am confident that they will all grow up with a sense of value for the land, the animals, and the food they eat. One thing is for sure; when they are successful in the show ring they certainly know the value of that. They know full well the amount of hard work it takes to be successful. Certainly this is one message that will carry them well as they move through life.
Any breeder interested in participating in any Miniature Hereford Show should feel free to contact any MHBA representative.