COLUMBUS — Cattlemen and cattlewomen were treated to a three-day weekend full of shows, exhibits and educational seminars March 15-17 at the Ohio Expo Center.
The Beef Expo was packed with the usual breed shows and auctions, but also featured a healthy dose of educational programs for youth.
Staff with Stock Show University explained the basics of fitting and grooming a beef animal for today’s show ring. They showed exhibitors the correct way to put on a show halter, how to wash the animal with soaps that won’t dry out its flesh, and how to use a drying blower.
“You want them clean everywhere,” said Bruce Stertzbach, one of the session’s “professors.”
That includes cleaning under their bellies and some of the hard-to-reach places. Bruce said exhibitors also need to remember to get all the soap out of the animal after washing, or else it diminishes appearance and can clog clipper blades.
Dishwashing soaps may be sufficient on rare occasion — such as for the animal’s first washing, but they should not be used long-term or dry, flaking skin will result.
Despite the animal’s size, their hair and their body are quite sensitive.
“You think they’re a big old, stout animal, but you have to be good to their hair or it’s not going to be good to you in the end,” he said.
Another thing with hair, Stertzbach said, is you have to wash and comb it daily. Even if a cooling unit is installed to promote hair growth, it won’t be enough on its own, if the exhibitor doesn’t comb the animal’s hair out daily.
“Coolers work, but you have to comb regularly to grow hair,” he said.Good breeding. Staff from the Ohio State University Beef Team gave a talk on heterosis — the benefits of producing crossbred cattle for the combined good of the cross.
Although each breed has its own advantages, team members said there’s usually a better advantage when the right breeds are combined.
Attendees also got an update on their Ohio Beef Checkoff program, which collects $1 from every head of beef sold. Fifty cents of that dollar goes to the Ohio Beef Council, and the other half is used for the national checkoff.
Various new programs are being launched to help grow consumer awareness and demand for beef, including a new version of Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner.
Another program is BEEFonomics, which introduces students to the process of raising, processing and preparing beef, with hands-on educational activities.
Emily Griffiths, director of public relations and consumer marketing for the Ohio Beef Council, said it’s been a positive outreach tool.
“It’s really an exciting opportunity for these young people to not only know where beef comes from, but to meet farmers and ranchers who are growing it, and then get to sample and cook the product,” she said.
More than 30,000 people attended the expo over the three-day event. It featured 105 vendors from 15 states. Seven breed sales brought in a large crowd on Saturday, March 17, selling 384 lots with an average price of $2,809 and a gross of nearly $1.08 million.