Mini Herefords showcased at first ever junior nationals
They may be small, but miniature Herefords are quickly becoming a favorite among small acreage farmers — as well as with children.
Easy to show, with docile dispositions, these little cattle are great for youth of all ages.
For the first time, a Junior Nationals was held, and the inaugural even took place at the National Western Stock Show complex, and was held in conjunction with the American Hereford Association Regional Expo.
“It went outstanding. The kids had a blast. They got to show their cattle, compete in a speech contest and judging contest, and have fun. The parents also enjoyed themselves. I feel it went off without a hitch,” said Justin Grady, president of the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association.
The association has been around about 15 years, and the time was right to host the Junior Nationals. “We have wanted to for quite some time, but we needed the venue to do it and to share the cost,” Grady explained.
He continued, “Denver (NWSS) is our World Show for everyone, so it made sense to have the first one here at this facility. We plan to move it throughout the country in the future.”
Two juniors from Colorado who attended the show were siblings Lane, 15, and DeAnn, 13, Schaas of Pagosa Springs, Colo.
“It was our first national show that we have ever been to. Our biggest before was the county fair in Pagosa, so it was a very big opening experience,” stated DeAnn Schaas.
Both siblings faired well. “I took third in showmanship. It was my first time showing a miniature Hereford, so I wasn’t sure what to do. I have shown steers before. It was a little different because they are so short,” said Lane Schaas.
He continued, “It was tough for me. Here in Pagosa, I’ve taken first and second in showmanship. I showed a bull for showmanship, so I didn’t know what to do. I’m so tall that it was hard.”
Little sister DeAnn finished fourth behind him. “They are easier to show for me. The way you hold your hands really makes a difference. I got a little stressed out because heifer wasn’t cooperating,” she explained.
She continued, “Afterwards there was a showmanship clinic and I felt a lot better. It was really helpful to learn and that way I could go back and see the mistakes that I made. I like the fact that you can be in the ring with that animals and it’s just you. You are showing off the heifer, but still getting to have a presence. Being combined and showing off each other is what I like best about showmanship.”
In addition to the showmanship contest, both siblings also competed in the speech contest. “I did pretty good from what the guy told me. I was really nervous because I had never talked to anyone miniature Herefords. Once I got in there it was easier,” said Lane Schaas.
DeAnn Schaas was nervous as well. “Walking into the speech we didn’t know what to expect, but they were really nice to us. We walked in and we had to tell him about ourselves and why we like to show miniature Herefords. It was more like a conversation with the guy. I won second place in speech in my age bracket,” she stated.
The show also boasted a judging contest for the youth. “There were four categories of animals; spring heifers, fall heifers, fall steers and three year old steers. We had to rank the four animals. That was a lot of fun,” said Lane Schaas.
He felt he excelled at this contest.
“I’m out here on my granddads ranch all the time, so I knew what to look for in those cattle. I took second. If it would have been a bigger show, we would have had to give reasons,” he said.
He added, “I wasn’t expecting to have to remember details. I could see whose cattle were farther along, and which ones needed more time. It was really fun.”
DeAnn Schaas also enjoyed the judging contest, although it didn’t come as easy to her. “I didn’t know what to look for, but I did the best that I could. After the contest, we were asked five questions on the spring heifers. We had to remember details.” she stated.
She liked the contest because she felt like it prepared her for a career. “I like the fact that it prepares you in judging. I like exploring it now so you know your options later in life. You know what to look for,” she explained.
The final part of the Junior National Show included showing the cattle. “ I was second because my calf was so much younger. They took the first and second place animals for the Grand Drive. That was really cool because I’ve never been in one of those,” Lane Schaas said.
He likes showing miniature Herefords because of their personality. “I like the fact that some of the cattle like to show themselves off. You don’t have to do as much. Miniature Herefords are really flashy and fun, and very gentle,” he stated.
DeAnn Schaas calf was also second in her class. “The person who got first in my class had the Grand. I also got to go in the Grand Drive,” she said. “Miniature Herefords have a natural presence. When showing, it’s all about your heifer. You want to show her off and make sure that the eye of the judge is always on her.”
She loves working with the cattle. “Once you start working with them, it’s hard to stop. They are so gentle. My heifer had been worked with in the show ring, so it was easier to connect with her,” she explained.
The Schaas siblings got into showing miniatures Herefords after meeting a local breeder. “She had taken them to the country fair in the petting zoo, because they are naturally gentle. She explained to us what they were for and what they used them for. I thought that would be fun, so she asked us if we wanted to do it with her. So we started going to her and working with them,” Lane Schaas explained.
“I like the fact that they are very gentle and like people and are fun to work with. I really like showing them, and I want to do it again,” DeAnn Schaas added.
The show was held June 20-24. “My favorite part was watching the kids. There were some kids there that had to give a speech that have never done it. And they showcased their knowledge in showmanship and in judging cattle. I enjoy watching the kids have fun,” said Grady. ❖