Black Hills Stock Show Commercial Heifer show gives cattlemen a chance to shine
Each year, the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS) kicks off its cattle events with a Pen of 5 Commercial Heifer Show. This year’s event will be held on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012 at 10 a.m. in the warm-up arena at the James Kjerstad Event Center at the Central States Fairgrounds. The show, which is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, has $3,000 in added money, which will be awarded to the winners.
“The show allows commercial cattlemen a chance to showcase their genetics,” explains Kadee Hande, livestock coordinator for the BHSS. “There are many good commercial cattlemen in this area. This is an opportunity for the BHSS to showcase the commercial cattlemen, when the rest of the week is focused on showcasing the purebred cattlemen. It shines the light on the commercial side of the industry.”
Bill Weller of Kadoka, SD, has exhibited in the pen show since it started at the BHSS.
“We used to show pens of 10, and sometimes I wish we could go back to that. It would be more of a challenge to find 10 heifers that are all the same and match,” he explains. “We bring heifers to the show to highlight our breeding program and showcase our genetics. We started showing F1 heifers that were Angus crossed with our Hereford cleanup bulls. It is a popular cross. We also have brought some Red Angus and Red Baldies to the show, which is also a popular cross. Our goal has been to bring heifers with some size and capacity, and still have bone and shape but look feminine.”
Cody Edgar of Edgar Brothers in Rockham, SD, has also brought heifers for the commercial show for several years. Edgar Brothers sell registered Angus cattle by holding a bull sale each spring. They also sell about 400 commercial heifers each year.
“The show has helped our registered business by learning more about the commercial man, and what he wants in his cattle,” Edgar says. “The commercial guys are the ones that make the world go-round for the registered guy, and this show has helped us learn how to improve our genetics just by learning what the commercial producer is after.”
“The cattle industry has changed since we started bringing pens to the show,” Weller says. “We are looking at cattle today that are more efficient and can covert better. With the cost of corn, commercial producers need efficient cattle because it is all about the bottom line, but they still want cattle with some eye appeal.”
During the heifer show, producers bring in pens of five heifers that can be purebred or any cross. The pens are weighed and sorted into light, medium and heavy classes. A panel of three judges evaluate the heifers for structural correctness, femininity, eye appeal and other characteristics. Once the winners are announced, a cattlemen’s luncheon is held before the sale, which begins at 1 p.m. A bred heifer pen sale will follow.
According to Hande, 15-20 pens are expected to compete in this year’s event.
“We have producers from South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota and other states in the Midwest who have competed in this event,” she explains. The only requirement is the cattle meet South Dakota State health requirements, and enter by the Jan. 13 deadline.
Edgar says they select the most feminine heifers showing the strongest maternal traits to bring for the show. “The majority of our cattle are pretty uniform, but we still try to select heifers for this show that are our top end.”
Weller says he selects the heifers he plans to enter for the 2012 show early. “We pick heifers from the middle- to upper-cut of our calves,” he explains. “They aren’t the biggest heifers in the herd, but are more of the kind that represent our herd and the times we are in right now. I like to pick them out fairly early. It seems like if I feed them together and keep them together, they start looking more alike,” he says, laughing. “This year, I plan to bring two pens of my own, and my sons plan to bring two pens of Red Angus. Some of my bull customers have also indicated they plan to bring some pens, so we should have a pretty good offering this year.
“It makes me proud to be represented by heifers produced from our bulls and our program that will be in the commercial heifer show,” he says.
Weller expects to see a large crowd of commercial producers at this year’s show that come because “what you see is what you get.” “There are a lot of people out there who don’t like show ring cattle,” he says. “They don’t feel like those cattle are the real world. This Commercial Heifer Pen Show is about as real as you can get. There is no fitting or extra grooming involved. It is definitely a commercial producer’s show.”
Weller says he does try and provide as much data about the heifers as he can for potential buyers.
“We provide the sire, and sometimes the mother,” he explains. “We also pelvic measure the heifers, and try to provide as much information as we know.”
“This show is an opportunity for the commercial producer to compete and show what he can produce,” Edgar explains. “The show isn’t about halter or registered cattle, it is an opportunity for commercial producers to showcase what the genetics they are using are doing for them.”