Raising show cattle can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. It takes hard work, dedication and a little luck. For Tejlor Strope of O’Neil, Neb., the National Junior Shorthorn Show and Conference was her place to shine.
The show was held from June 25-30 at the Nebraska State Fairgrounds in Grand Island, Neb. A total of 526 head of cattle competed in eight different shows: Owned Purebred Females, Bred & Owned Females, Bred & Owned Bulls, Purebred Cow/Calf Pairs, ShorthornPlus Cow/Calf Pairs, Purebred Steers, ShorthornPlus Steers and ShorthornPlus Females. Evaluating the owned shows was father son team, Brad and J.W. McCurry of Kansas and assessing the bred and owned shows was Jirl Buck of Madill, Okla.
Strope came home from the show with the titles of Grand Champion Shorthorn Market Steer, Overall Grand Purebred Steer and Grand Champion Bred and Owned Steer with her steer AT TGS Deeks ET, a 1,006-pound son of AT ROCK N ROLL TRAIN ET.
The steer was one she raised from birth, out of a bull she also bred and owns. The donor cow for the steer was her first show heifer. “My hard work paid off. I especially like steers, so it really meant a lot to me to raise the Champion steer,” she said.
Strope has been showing cattle for many years. “I began showing cattle when I was 4 or 5-years-old. My mom and dad both raised and showed cattle so it was natural for me to be interested in the cattle industry. It has been a passion for me ever since I first set foot in the show ring,” she stated.
She now owns 15 cows, and most of them are her old show heifers or progeny of those heifers. In her breeding program, she utilizes both artificial insemination and embryo transfer. “My goal is to produce quality and functional show calves. I especially strive for producing show steers. I want to produce great show steers and heifers. And of course I want my operation to be profitable and fun and to expand,” Strope said.
Raising these animals is not always easy. “It is a challenge. Show calves are a lot like people. Each has its own personality, and some I like better than others. I love the baby calves though,” she said.
She added, “Raising animals that I like and the judges like as well is also challenging, and being profitable is always a challenge.”
Even though she loves showing the cattle, the real appeal is the people that she meets. “I love showing cattle, but the friendships I have made will last forever. You learn a lot of life lessons with cattle ... some good and some not so good,” she said.
The win at the Junior National Show this year was a memorable one for Strope, but it isn’t her most memorable. “I have many great memories of past championships at both large and small shows. I love the support of my family, especially when my grandpa Loren Tejkl comes to watch me show,” she said.
She continued, “Winning the steer show at Junior Nationals this year was amazing, but my favorite win so far was with my steer Cowboy. He was named the champion shorthorn steer at many shows throughout his career. His finale was being named the Grand Champion Steer at the Shorthorn Futurity in Louisville in 2009. He was also out of my first show heifer.”
Strope plans to continue showing cattle. “I plan to expand the Strope family farm in Nebraska and continue showing cattle as part of the family tradition,” she said.
Another exhibitor from Nebraska who had success was Cale Went from Columbus, Neb., who had the Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Steer, named O’LIL Dude ET.
These juniors not only competed with their animals, but had the opportunity to compete in 13 individual, team, or state contests including: Arts and Crafts, Photography, Promotional Poster, Speech, Quiz Bowl, Livestock Judging, Showmanship, Team Salesmanship, Team Fitting, Beef Cook-Off, State Herdsmanship, State Booth and State Slideshow.
“Besides the exhibition of a great set of Shorthorn cattle by the juniors, this event provides excellent educational and leadership opportunities for members, family, and friends,” explains Dr. Bert Moore, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the American Shorthorn Association (ASA).
Competitors in the Photography Contest captured special moments in time. Youth competed in the four age divisions, Prospector I, Prospector II, Intermediate and Senior. The objective of the contest is to capture the best candid, action or scenic Shorthorn photo. The entries are judged based on quality of the image, positioning, originality and creativity, the emphasis on Shorthorns, as well as the overall appeal. In the prospective I division Radley Eisenhauer of Farnam, Neb., was second.
Showing their skills in the show ring were contestants in the Showmanship Contest. The objective of the contest is to give exhibitors the opportunity to show their talents of exhibiting their animal to the best of their ability. In the Intermediate Showmanship Division, the third place title went to Allee Maronde of York, Neb.
One of the most competitive events of the week is the Team Fitting Contest. The objective of the contest is for each group of three to show their ability to fit and present an animal using teamwork, technique and skills in a 20 minute time limit. Judging criteria is based on both fitting techniques, teamwork and end presentation. In the prospector division, Kane Aegeter of Seward, Neb., was part of the team that won the propector division. Strope was part of the fourth place team in the intermediates.
Having an eye for good quality cattle is a necessity in order to improve your breeding program and better your herd. During the Livestock Judging Contest, juniors sorted through a number of classes and answered a round of questions about the classes following the judging. Strope was second in the prospector II division in this competition.
Not only do the Shorthorn Juniors have to take care of their cattle everyday, but they also practice good Herdsmanship. The kids help sweep the alleys, clean up after the cattle and help with the overall appearance. The creativeness of the stalls was decorated by the juniors by hanging school colors and paraphernalia from the state’s college up in the stalls to promote this year’s theme. The contest was judged on organization of tack, stall card quality, upkeep of stalls and bedding, cooperation and teamwork and care and appearance of cattle. In the category of states with 36 head or more, Nebraska was second overall. ❖
“I love showing cattle, but the friendships I have made will last forever. You learn a lot of life lessons with cattle ... some good and some not so good.”
~ Tejlor Strope