The Cliff Gila Grant County Fair which begins September 20th will have a new class of livestock this year, Dairy Heifers. At last year’s fair, Robert Burchett and his son Rowan showed a Holstein heifer after the regular steer show in an effort to encourage interest in raising and showing something other than beef steers and heifers. Robert has convinced the Fair Board that this is an opportunity for more 4-H kids to work with animals. He sincerely believes in the program as he showed dairy heifers growing up in Lincoln County. He recently hosted a showmanship class at the family home and shared his years of experience with the kids. Several families with 4-H kids took the challenge by obtaining, feeding and working with their heifers this past year and they are ready to show the attendees of this year’s fair the results of their hard work.
The Dairy Heifer program has several advantages for the families as the initial investment in the animal chosen is considerably less than that typically spent on a beef steer. The young heifer is “rented” from a local dairy, shown at the fair as a yearling and then shown again a second year as a young bred cow. They are judged on femininity and potential milking productivity. After the second fair, the farmer buys the cow back from the family taking into consideration how much she has grown in two years. Thus the family receives back part of their investment which helps them purchase their next heifer and the cow is returned to her herd to become a milk producing member. It is a win-win agreement between the 4-H member and the dairy farmer.
The Burchett family is looking forward to showing in this year’s fair. 10 year old Rowan will show the 2 year old and 7 year old Brennan will show the younger heifer. Their mother, Alida stated that “This is an animal project that is considerably lower maintenance in terms of training, care and initial investment. This program could be a very attractive draw for families whose kids often want to show animals but also want to play team sports, participate in club activities and keep up with demands from schoolwork. Also the heartache of sending your animal to the meat packer is eliminated as the kids can look back on their hard work and know their beloved friend is now happily living out her days at a dairy.”
The Dairy Heifer show is scheduled after the Steer and Beef Heifer shows which start at 4:00 pm Friday the 22nd.