By Scarlett Hagins On October 28, 2016
The barns were bustling with kids and parents readying goats, sheep, hogs and cattle for the show ring. It was the Kansas Junior Livestock Show (KJLS) in Hutchinson and more than 700 youth from across Kansas gathered to exhibit a record 1,515 head of livestock over the three-day event. Although pressure was on as youth prepared to go into the ring, the real preparation started months ago.
Long before the show begins, the youth select animals to exhibit. Depending on the type of animal chosen, the length of care can vary from six weeks to sometimes more than a year. Some of the animals are raised by the youth on their family farm and some are purchased. The experience teaches youth what makes a good animal and how important proper care and nutrition are to the success of the animal’s development.
Feed and care are the two major items that the young exhibitors must tend to. However, many times it’s the little things that can make a difference. For example:
- Keeping the water tanks and feed troughs clean
- Working on grooming and showmanship several months before the show
- Keeping pens clean
- Close observation for signs of sickness and disease
Taking full responsibility of caring for an animal that is wholly reliant on its caregiver can prove to be a confidence builder for youth, all while teaching them responsibility and self-discipline.
Although the animals are the responsibility of the young showmen, livestock showing is a family affair. During KJLS, the bleachers were filled with parents, grandparents, relatives, siblings and close friends of the exhibitors. In the stalls, parents, siblings and 4-H or FFA advisors could be found working with the youth to get the animals ready for the show. When done right, there is no better activity that promotes family time and the opportunity for a family to work side by side on a common goal.
The next time you have an opportunity to attend a livestock show, take advantage of it. You will meet current farmers as well as the next generation. Talk to the young exhibitors and their families about the animals they have raised and cared for over the last several months. If you study the kids instead of the animals, I think you’ll notice there are many winners at the show, not just the ones who receive a blue ribbon.
Check out photos from the 2016 Kansas Junior Livestock Show.