Kirk Stierwalt Cattle Clinic held for Jerauld, Buffalo County 4-H members | TSLN.com

Kirk Stierwalt Cattle Clinic held for Jerauld, Buffalo County 4-H members

On February 14-16, 2015 the Kirk Stierwalt Cattle Clinic was held in Jerauld County for 4-H members.

Due to the cold weather the clinic moved to the Gunbarrel Ranch located 15 miles west of Wessington Springs. "The Gunbarrel Ranch's barn and arena is a heated facility and made for a fun environment to learn in for the three day event," said Audra Scheel, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor.

4-H participants and families would like to thank the many sponsors for making this event possible. Sponsors included: Purina Feeds, Dakotaland Feeds, Stans Feeds, Farm Bureau, Jerauld Co. Farm Bureau, Hainy Farms, Farmers & Merchants State Bank, American Bank & Trust, Amkota Farm & Home Center, Chad and Sara Thompson family, SD Wheat Growers, Boehlinger-Ingelheim, Krueger Club Calves, Dave & Nancy Caffee, Accelerated Genetics, Weaver Leather, Sullivans Supply and Gunbarrel Ranch.

Kirk Stierwalt has been teaching and mentoring youth for 24 years in the areas of clipping, fitting, nutrition and showmanship.

From Leedy, Okla., Stierwalt typically works with groups of 15-20 youth. Nineteen 4-H members participated in this event. Youth ranged in age from 8-18 with the majority being from Jerauld and Buffalo Counties; however 4-Hers from Brule, Beadle and Sanborn also joined the fun.

Stierwalt outlined the many key ingredients that make it possible to position youth and their cattle to do well. Many of these elements such as work ethic and responsibility are what youth take away at the end of their 4-H and FFA careers.

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4-H youth each brought their own calf to the clinic which allowed Stierwalt to work one-on-one with the 4-H member and address things needed for that specific animal.

Many 4-H members picked up a set of clippers for the first time. Stierwalt would demo on a calf as to how a particular section should look after it is clipped; each 4-Her then had the opportunity to replicate the demonstration on their own calf as best they could.

"It's a learning process. You don't pick up a basketball and the next day you're a pro. The art of clipping cattle takes time and practice just like anything else," explained Scheel.

Daily care for each animal is important and Stierwalt stressed consistency. "Make sure you feed at the same time each day. If you feed whenever you get to it, your calf turns into a snacker, and won't consume the amount of feed needed to gain weight effectively," he said.

Scheel added that 4-H youth responded to the nutrition portion of the clinic. "According to our survey they made the connection between good nutrition and how cattle perform better in the show ring with good diets," she said.

Each day of the clinic ended with showmanship practice. Stierwalt broke down the dos and don'ts in the show ring and addressed different situations that may arise and how to overcome those problems. "When you enter the show ring, you are representing many people including you, your family, 4-H club, town and agriculture in general," he said. "Showmanship allows you to show off yourself and your abilities. A good showman comes into play in the tough classes especially not just showmanship contests."

Overall, youth indicated they would definitely be more confident in the show ring after participating in this clinic.

The clinic ended with each participant receiving a prize provided by the sponsors. Prizes included: fans, blowers, feed, grooming supplies and clippers. "Having the right equipment and knowledge of how to use it is key to achieving your end goal," Scheel said. "We wanted to make sure all the participants walked away with at least one new tool to aid them with their beef project."

Since 2011, participation in beef projects by 4-H youth in Jerauld-Buffalo Counties is up 47 percent. This event promoted achievement within the 4-H project area and set youth up for future success.

Due to the success of this clinic, Jerauld-Buffalo 4-H has booked Stierwalt for the second weekend in February in 2017.

To learn more about how you can become involved in South Dakota 4-H, visit iGrow.org.

–SDSU Extension