4-H'ers show off their dairy steers at the Appalachian Fair

Morgan Short, an Extension Agent I with the local chapter of the 4-H program located in Johnson County, is gearing up for the 4-H Dairy Steer program, which will teach kids who are interested in participating in “how to care for the animal, tagging, weighing, how to prepare for the show, showmanship, and more,” explained Short.

Short continued this program is “great for those interested but know nothing.” If anything, Short added, “this program will help them be successful with the education, content, and resources provided.”

According to Short, “there is no cap on enrollment,” and “kids interested will need to buy a dairy steer either on or off the bottle, keep a record book that includes the starting weight, weight gain, conversion of feed to pounds on the hoof, how often they feed, type of feed, coat, growth compared to others, and any changes made as needed to get the steer ready for the showroom” said Short.

While all of this information may seem intimidating, especially for anyone who is inexperienced in all things cattle, Morgan Short and the staff and volunteers at 4-H are prepared to guide each participant accordingly to alleviate any uncertainty with the education and support needed to achieve a successful outcome for both the 4-H’er and the dairy steer.

Short said, “a local dairy helps kids with a healthy steer, vaccinated, that has received colostrum and the first milk, so the calves come out healthier.”

The beef/dairy percent division is 50 percent beef and 50 percent dairy, such as a Holstein/Angus cross.

“These bovines tend to put on more weight and muscle,” Short explained. “From a production standpoint, 100 percent dairy breeds' goal is to produce milk - this is their form to function,”

Some of the key differences between show steers and commercial-ready steers include: “show steers are heavier muscled, focus on conformation and are typically heavier for show condition. Their function is to go into a show ring,” as per Short. These steers must be “under 900 lbs to show at the Appalachian Fair,” Short added.

Commercial-ready steers are also raised form-to-function, meaning they are raised for the end purpose of consumption.

Fair season runs in June/July. However, registration deadlines aren’t until summer. The Bristol Steer and Heifer show deadline is January 15, 2023.

To participate in the 4-H shows, calves must be tagged. The next meeting will be on January 31, 2023, located at the Ron Ramsey Regional Agricultural Center, 140 Spurgeon Lane, Blountville, TN 37617.

Please reach out to Morgan Short at the extension office in Mountain City for additional details, help with transportation, and any questions about participation and how to obtain a dairy steer. Morgan's email is mshort9@utk.edu. The office is located at 212 College St, Mountain City, TN 37683. Phone number: (423) 727-8161.


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