NILE Junior Fed Show to be held on Oct. 19

With contestants and livestock that have come from as far away as Alaska, the NILE Junior Fed show is growing year after year. The Junior Fed show is essentially a market show, and includes divisions for beef, lamb, swine and goats.

After the COVID pandemic prevented the NILE from hosting a sale in 2020, (the show was virtual, but no sale was held) the staff and competitors are excited that the kids will once again have the opportunity to sell their animals at this year’s event.

Shelby Shaw, the NILE livestock manager and director of youth education, said the show provides Montana youth who may not traditionally travel out of state, the opportunity compete at a national livestock show. Timing-wise, the show, for some, is the wrap-up to a summer season of showing at county and state fairs. For others it may be the kick-off to a winter season of competing at livestock shows across the country. Either way, the number of livestock entered has grown “exponentially,” in recent years, Shaw said.

The show has hosted competitors from all around the country. In 2015, a contestant from Alaska drove for 27 hours with his family to show a steer and a hog. Shaw said it had always been this young man’s hope to show in a national show, and he was thrilled when his dream came true. “He brought us a gift basket with items from Alaska. He showed us pictures of their shows, which included reindeer or caribou. It was so cool to have an exhibitor from Alaska here in Billings,” Shaw said.

Wade Leachman showed the champion steer in the NILE Junior Fed Show in both 2019 and 2020. He is too old to enter it this year, but he still plans to return to the 2021 NILE, to exhibit in the open Simmental show.

Leachman’s family has a registered Angus ranch in Toston, Mont., where they run 150 registered Angus cows.

Prior to 2015, Leachman helped others prepare for showing at the NILE. Then, in 2015, he decided to try it himself.

Though he had shown elsewhere, competing in the NILE was a major learning experience because of the level of competitors showing there. He learned about the feeding, fitting, and all the other things that make a difference and a champion.

This year Leachman is a 2021 NILE Scholarship winner, which will help him as he attends Casper College, in Casper, Wy., where he is majoring in agricultural business and is on the Livestock Judging Team. He recently competed in a livestock judging contest in Nebraska.

When asked what he would say to someone who was thinking of competing at the NILE, he said he would tell them it is a great experience, it has a good atmosphere and is a learning opportunity because of the high level of people showing.

Leachman would like to share “a great big thank you to everyone involved with the NILE.”


The NILE was started in 1967. It was spearheaded by Patrick Goggins, owner of the Public Auction Yards, the Billings Livestock Commission, Western Livestock in Great Falls, the Vermilion Ranches, the Diamond Ring Ranch in Miles City, and what is now called the Western Ag Reporter. Goggins introduced the Junior Fed Livestock Show and Sale the very first year and was the auctioneer for it for several years. At the time, it was strictly for steers. Sheep and swine were added later, and goats were added in 2014.

“It has slowly grown to be one of the premier shows in the Northwest,” Shaw said. “It’s a smaller scale than some but it has a very special local feel for the kids that compete at the local level, county fair, potentially the state fair here in Montana. Then they are able to show at a national level show, too. For the kids in Montana, it’s an outstanding opportunity right in their home state.” Shaw said that for many regional showmen, the NILE provides them the chance to compete against top-notch livestock from many states.

The NILE board secured a $5,000 bump in payouts, funded in part by sponsorships in recent years. This has helped attract more exhibitors, Shaw said.

Participation in the show grows every year with the exception of 2020 when there was no show due to the pandemic. This year there are more than 300 exhibitors, and as a result of some showing more than one animal, there are more than 550 entries. Of the exhibitors, 60 to 65 percent are returning from past years.

The Junior Fed Sale of Champions, is just that — a sale for the top animals of all four species competing. The sale is limited to 100 animals, eight of which are the Grand Champions and Reserve Grand Champions of each species. Other exhibitors may choose whether or not to sell their animal in the sale. Should buyers be interested in purchasing animals, processors and processing dates are available. The sale will be held, Tuesday, Oct.19 at 2 p.m. MST. Should a buyer not be able to make it in person, the sale will be broadcast LIVE to view or bid through Frontier Live Sale.

Exhibitors that show market animals learn many valuable lessons, including but certainly not limited to:

-Knowledge of selecting competitive livestock

-Understanding a budget

-Following show rules

-Responsibility of caring for the animal

-Finding the balance in their schedule to exercise, prepare a ration, and training of the animal

The Junior Fed Livestock Shows and Sale is open to any youth ages 8–18 years old as of Jan. 1, 2021 and are a FFA or 4H member.


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