WOOSTER, Ohio — While the county fair may be the highlight of most 4-H and FFA projects, how well they do depends on knowledge, time and preparation.
Many exhibitors participate in special clinics throughout the year, designed to teach them the latest tricks in grooming and fitting their show animals, nutrition and overall handling and showing of the animal.
Earlier this summer, Oklahoma cattle rancher and well-known clinic host Kirk Stierwalt presented a professional-grade clinic to about 125 Ohio youth at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster, Ohio.
The event was made possible through a sponsorship by Weaver Leather’s livestock division, and local 4-H clubs and advisers.
Lisa Shearer, who manages the livestock division, said local 4-H advisers do a good job of holding their own clinics. But because Stierwalt specializes in clinics and travels the country giving presentations, his message often goes beyond the local skill level.
Shearer said even parents who exhibited animals themselves often need a refresher, because the industry is changing, and the changes can impact the show.
“He can pretty much answer any question you have,” she said. “He is in this because of the kids.”
Stierwalt helped produce a list for Farm and Dairy of important points livestock exhibitors — especially for beef projects — should consider. Here are his suggestions:
• Learn about proper nutrition, hoof care, hair care and record keeping.
• Understand that each animal has to be managed on an individual basis. Be aware of each animal’s faults, which will affect how you feed, groom and show the animal.
• Treat your project as a business and practice good housekeeping.
• The work happens at home, with at least 100 days required to prepare for the show.
• Learn and practice manners and the difference between an animal that’s broke, and one that’s show broke.
• “Rig-up” your facility to make your life easier and be sure and ask questions of others.
• Stay connected to the industry. Subscribe to at least one publication that you can read from home. Use the Internet for more information, and for discussions with other exhibitors.
• Represent your industry well, as each youth is an ambassadors and someone is always watching. Show respect at all times.
• Be proud of what you do. When you enter the show ring, you represent yourself, your animal, your family, your community, your work ethic and the entire agriculture industry.
Each member who participated in the clinic was awarded a certificate of completion.
For more information about showing cattle or upcoming clinics, visit Stierwalt Cattle & Clinics at www.kirkstierwalt.com