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March 3, 2007

Competition steers Beef Expo

Students from 4-H and FFA programs across north Alabama brushed, cleaned and put on display what could be some of the best cattle in the state Saturday at the North Alabama Junior Beef Exposition.

Winners from the annual event, held at the Cullman County Agricultural Trade Center, advance to the state competition in Montgomery. In overall competition, Morgan County student Austin Parker won an award for Grand Champion Steer in the heavyweight division, while the Reserve Champion Steer winner was Lance Smith, of Cullman who competed in the middleweight division. Smith also won Champion Alabama Bred Steer and Reserve Champion Commercial Heifer.

Vinemont sixth-grader Braxton Heaton, Reserve Grand Champion winner at the state competition in 2006, said extensive practice and cleaning takes place before a show. Heaton, who has competed in cattle shows for three years, showed Simmental heifers Susie Q, Lucy’s Dream, and Influential Queen Saturday. He won third-place with Lucy’s Dream in Class 28, third-place in Class 29 with Influential Queen, and second-place in Class 30 with Susie Q.

Before a show, the hair of halter-broken heifers or steers may be clipped, shampooed, blow-dried and brushed to achieve an optimal appearance. Students also practice walking with their animals.

“You have to wash them, get all the dirty spots clean and put them in the chute,” said West Point fifth-grader Zach Richter, describing how he prepares for an exposition. “Then you have to get them really good and dry.”

Richter placed second with his heifer, Abigail, in All Other Breeds Class 34, and second with another heifer, Snowball, in All Other Breeds Class 36.

Jay Conway, local extension agent for 4-H, said about 60 students participated in the event that included divisions for heifers, steers and a separate showmanship contest. Youths ages 9 through high school compete in the exposition, showing cattle in several categories.

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