The benefits of showing cattle |

The benefits of showing cattle

Story by Robyn Scherer, M.Agr.
Staff Reporter
Children with heifer
Getty Images | liquidlibrary

Showing cattle can be a fun, rewarding experience for people of all ages. However, the most opportunities exist for youth, and the life lessons they learn can be carried throughout their life.

When a child is trusted with the responsibility of raising a market beef, he or she learns responsibility, integrity, dedication and record keeping skills. The animals are usually bought in the fall, and may or may not be halter broken. That is the first step in the journey to showing a calf.

Once that calf is halter broken, it must be worked with on a daily basis. This teaches young adults responsibility and how to keep a schedule, which translates later in life to skills that will be needed while working in a job.

Most of the market projects are brought home in September-November, and the students work with the animal until their main show, which is likely their county or state fair. They are responsible for cleaning, feeding and caring for their animal every day.

For a market beef to perform to its highest potential, the animal will likely need washed and dried with a blower on a daily basis, to train the hair to go the right direction. If the cattle are not worked with, they can become unruly in the ring, which can endanger not just the handler, but the other students as well.

Working with cattle can be hard work, and it teaches youngster about dedication. The animals must be fed and worked with day in and day out, even if the weather is bad or the student isn’t feeling the best.

Teaching students integrity is another life skill they can learn from showing livestock. There are some people out there who will do whatever it takes to win, including cheating. Students who are brought up being taught how to raise a good project through hard work can learn this behavior is unacceptable, and that will likely translate to all other parts of their life.

Record keeping skills will also be important to the student later in life, whether he is keeping a family budget or working in a specialized field. Learning these skills early in life can help a student do better in school as well, because they will have learned time management skills.

Almost any youth that decides to show a calf can find a way to make that happen. The main organizations that are centered about youth in agriculture are 4-H and FFA. Students as young as 8-years-old can show animals through 4-H, and they can show through FFA until they are 21 in many counties.

Through these two organizations students can also participate in other skill building events, such as livestock judging or quiz bowl. Both organizations offer leadership potential, both at the local and state level.

Another organization in Colorado for youth that is specifically focused on beef is the Junior Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. “It was organized in 1950 to provide an opportunity for younger members of the Colorado beef industry to socialize with their peers, learn more about the industry, and become involved in leadership roles,” said Jennifer Tippets, event coordinator for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

JCCA members range from 8-18 years of age, and the cost to join is $5. “The JCCA is completely self-sufficient. All operating funds are raised by the JCCA members themselves through raffles and other organized fund-raising activities,” said Tippets.

The program offers leadership opportunities, and the youth work with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. Members of the program also have the opportunity to apply for the he Oley and Grace Kohlman Scholarship, which is made possible by former CCA President Oley Kohlman and his wife Grace.

“The scholarship program includes a scholarship that is awarded to any JCCA member attending college in Colorado with a major that somehow will impact the agriculture industry. This scholarship has made a difference for many agricultural youth who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to receive a college education,” said Tippets.

For more information on 4-H and to find a local chapter, please visit

To find a local FFA chapter, please visit

For more information on the JCCA please contact Jennifer Tippets at ❖

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