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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Youth Cattle Working Contest: Intense Competition and Great Learning

Livestock Update, May 2009

Drs. Dee Whittier and Mark Wahlberg
Virginia Cooperative Extension, VA Tech

The Virginia Youth Cattleworking Contest had its 2009 culmination at the championship contest held at the Virginia Beef Expo on April 18, 2009. Statewide over 50 teams had competed at regional contests to qualify to compete at the event. Thirteen teams competed in Harrisonburg with the Orange County 4-H team consisting of Kyle McGinnis, Devon McGinnis and Caleb Wilson emerging as the champions.

The second place team was the Rockbridge County 4-H team and consisted of Kaitlyn Smith, Dixon Holland and Luke Strecker. The third place team was the Grayson 4-H team consisting of Jones Baker, Dustin Grubb and Mitchell Grubb. The three top teams had identical scores and so were distinguished based on the score on their processing map and the time that it took them to complete the processing.

Other teams rounding out the top ten were Highland FFA, 4th; Grayson 4-H B, 5th; Pulaski/Fort Chiswell 4-H, 6th; Highland FFA, 7th; Buffalo Gap FFA, 8th; Grayson 4-H A, 9th; and Tazewell FFA, 10th. Additional teams competing in the state contest were Orange 4-H A, Fort Chiswell FFA and Grayson FFA.

Other teams competing in the state competition included two teams from Tazewell, two teams from Fort Chiswell, three additional teams from Grayson County, an additional team from Orange County and a Highland FFA team.

The contest has grown in popularity in the fifteen years since its inception when all competition occurred at the Beef Expo. Regional qualifying competition has become necessary to accommodate the numerous teams desiring to compete. Competitors demonstrate their skills in processing young beef cattle for health and productivity and learn the concepts of Beef Quality Assurance.

Competitors in the event planned and then processed three stocker calves. They first completed a Cattle Processing Plan providing information about the products that were used, how they are used, and where they are administered. This document becomes a permanent health record for this group of cattle. If the cattle are sold, this document would accompany the cattle so the new owner is aware of the details surrounding health products administered to the cattle.

Contestants then processed the calves. Calves received two vaccinations, a dewormer, a growth promotant implant, an insecticide ear tag and had an ear notch sample collected for BVD persistent infection analysis. Scores were given by judges on the correctness of the procedures performed by contestants.

Contestants were also scored on their ability to handle the cattle. Smooth, quiet handling is being sought to minimize potential injury to cattle and people. Points may be deducted for noisy or rough handling and errors in catching heads, moving cattle, etc. Common errors that are made in handling cattle include: missing the head with the catch, failure to use squeeze on the chute, failure to use a bar behind calves, excessive roughness in moving cattle and failure to use the crowd gate in putting cattle into the chute system.

Safety was also scored for the teams that competed. Any action that seemed to put the handlers or cattle at risk resulted in a deduction for safety. Common safety errors include: having the handler’s head too close to the calf’s head during tagging or implanting so the calf can swing their head up and strike the handler, dropping the tail gate on the calf, or attempting to inject in the neck in front of the head catch.

Time for completion of the processing is part of the contest as well. To receive maximum score all calves needed to be processed in six minutes or less. The emphasis is to encourage the efficient processing of calves but not to pressure such fast activity that errors occur and safety is jeopardized.

Judges for the state event were Dr. Bob Hill from Dayton Veterinary Services, Ms. Cynthia Gregg who is the Animal Science Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent from Brunswick County and Mrs. Joi Saville, administrative assistant to Extension programming in Animal and Poultry Sciences.

The contest is administered by Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Beef Expo and the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association.

Special thanks is extended to the following sponsors: the Virginia Cattle Industry Board, Dr. Irene Brown and Novartis Animal Health, Fort Dodge Animal Health, Intervet, Inc., Pfizer Animal Health, Priefert Chute Systems for providing facilities for state contest, Carroll/Grayson Cattle Producers Association for sponsoring teams and Wayne Shiflett for providing cattle.

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