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Livestock Shows—some changes needed

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Horace McQueen ColumnWith over 2,500 steers entered in the Houston Livestock Show just a couple weeks ago it made big news in the media. Both the grand and reserve champion steers sold in the auction for over $500.000 each. Sounds like a great deal, for the winners. But for the 2,100 FFA and 4-H members that got ‘sifted” and were left out of selling their steers at the auction sale, it was a bad experience. Only 400 steers made the sale. Especially tough is the amount of money the youngsters had invested in their animals. Some depended on their parents or other family members to dig deep and pay many thousands of dollars to buy a calf for the steer show. Those kids that did not make the sale came out dollars short. Doing the math, there were 2,586 steers in the show. Only 400 were sold at auction—and left behind over 2,100 unsold animals.

One of the star events at the Houston show is the calf scramble. My wife and I sponsored a calf at the Calf Scramble at Houston for several years. We were gratified to meet those young men and women that showed animals we sponsored. But then a change came along. Till that change only heifers could be bought with donor money. With that rule change showing steers entered the picture. Now scramble winners have a choice of purchasing a steer or heifer for showing the next year. Choosing to purchase a heifer means several choices are available for the owner. Many of the kids sell their heifer back to the ranch owner they bought the animal from. And many of the young men and women keep their scramble heifer to start or add to their cattle herd.

I caught a calf in the Houston Calf Scramble in 1955 and used the money donated by a grocery chain to buy a registered Brahman heifer from the Jacobs ranch at Friendswood, Texas. Her registered name was Lady Estrella DeManso 13th. That doll was shown in several local livestock shows near Houston and then in 1956 was shown at the Houston show. She won her class at every show we entered—including champion Scramble Brahman heifer at Houston.

That same day we won in Houston, a buyer from Argentina came to our stall and offered to buy “Lady”. He bought several purebred Brahman heifers from other exhibitors. In my case, I had been accepted to attend Texas A & M and needed the money. Fast forward twenty or so years later and our son, Dennis, also caught a scramble calf at Houston. He used his scramble certificate to buy a registered Holstein heifer from a local dairy farm. After the Houston Show a year later the dairyman bought the heifer back adding some dollars again to the A&M college fund for our son. That’s –30—This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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