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Show vs reality

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darcelina4

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Sept 1st was our county show. My daughter won many grands with different animals. I am very proud of her. The one animal that she showed is a really stand out individual. However she placed 3rd out of 5 in her commercial heifer class. Her heifer is an 18 month old commercial beefmaster heifer. She was a salebarn calf split off an old toothless starving cow in February. We raised her as a bottle calf. I raise lots of bottle calves. She really bloomed. Last year she was reserve grand commercial heifer beating out many heifers twice her age. She was also grand breeding heifer at our local show in February beating out registered heifers. She is about 3 months bred to a beef shorthorn. So in her county fair class there were two Maine/Angus cross flushmate sisters and two black hairy heifers. The judge started out talking about the "heifer with ear". He said very nice things about her. Length to die for, very good frame, nice feet and legs, tremendous depth and spring of rib. Said she looked like she would live a long time and produce many good calves. Only negative was that she wasn't "fresh enough". That means she wasn't overfat enough. Then he talked about the flushmates. He said they were the kind they are looking for. Nice depth but the rear rib could be deeper. Liked their style. Liked their freshness. Next he talked about the 2 all black heifers. Called them nice heifers but not as nice as the others. He spent more time talking about ours than he spent on the other 4 combined. I know he liked her. I know she wasn't fat enough but she isn't thin either. She is 1000 pounds at 18 months. She is also only getting 6 pounds of grain a day, grass hay, and pasture. The 2 he placed in front of her look like stuffed toys. Their legs are a foot long. If they had a calf they would have to get on a platform for the calf to nurse. They were cute as heck. They just looked so impractical in an actual commercial setting. I'm not trying to sound likes I am complaining as we were happy to get 3rd as I expected to get 5th with how she has slimmed since being bred and being in pasture. My question is as the purpose if raising heifer cattle is to raise heifers that will raise good calves, then why are they placing heifers that are unlikely to raise good calves above heifers that are likely to be productive momma cows? I also understand that I have a cheap bottle calf competing against calves raised by show cattle people. This heifer is a standout heifer. The extremely short legged heifers calves would have a hard time nursing. The heifers had extremely wide shoulders ( looked very unnatural) I would worry that they would have calving difficulty birthing their natural calves who would have very wide shoulders too. Their backend was their nicest part. Very filled out. Had.booties like hogs. Their pins were not particularly wide. These heifers were a few days short of a year and 850-900 pounds and very very short. Which heifers would you rather have?
 

Nesikep

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I don't get it either.. fattening heifers I've always heard was a no-no if they're replacements... Mine get good hay/grass, that's it.

I was at a show and this was for butcher steers.. holy smokes I couldn't believe the amount of fat on them, they could just barely walk, BCS of 9, I wonder if there's any meat left on there after you grill a steak.
 

Muddy

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I'd rather have functional cattle than the show cattle. I used to have one clubby type shorthorn cow, she was bred to be shown but when I brought her from her previous owner and toss her out in the pasture with the herd...she just fall apart, spent all times in the water and she produced tall & leggy calves that doesn't weight much. I sold her at the sale barn since she doesn't make much money..
 

Fire Sweep Ranch

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"not fresh enough" typically means she is over fat and stale. I have never heard a judge call an under finished animal "not fresh enough". Typically, older bred heifers become stale, and do not keep that fresh look. We will throw them out on pasture with NO grain for a good 45 days to freshen them up, then bring them back in and start them on a feeding program again.
 

elkwc

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I would pick your heifer from the sound of it. But what works in the real world has little if any influence in the show arena anymore. At least from what I've seen. We wean our heifers and if we have wheat pasture they will run on it until Mid April. Then on grass and bulls turned in around June 1st. They stay in that pasture until they calve. Just good minerals all summer and maybe 1 lb of cake once a week when we check them. Then in the winter they get the mineral, free choice dry hay usually wheat hay if we have it and caked twice a week unless the ground is covered. After they calve they will either be moved to graze out wheat or to another grass pasture if it is greening up. Depending on the weather we may cake them 3 times a week in a year like this when we had a drought and the grass was late to green up and there wasn't any graze out wheat. Even at that ours are easy fleshing and I worry too fat. Most weigh 1,100-1,200 when they calve at 24-27 months of age. It has worked well for us. Only pulled one calf this year and it was out of mature cow bull that I decided to push the envelope a little on. But again back to the show ring functionality isn't considered many times.
 

5S Cattle

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The bulls are worse than the heifers. I help another ranch at the show at the Houston rodeo and the bulls are so dang fat if I put them on heifers they’d all probably break their back legs lol.
 
OP
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darcelina4

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Fire Sweep she is definitely not overfat. Since June she lost 100 pounds. She has been on minimal feed and her body has changed. Her hooks are more prominent. She had way the biggest frame in the class but was barely the heaviest. In June she was much fatter.
 

gizmom

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Just keep in mind it’s one man’s or women’s opinion on that given day. The important thing is that your satisfied with your heifer and she works for you. There are some excellent judges and there are also book smart judges that have never really raised cattle and haven’t figured out what will or won’t work in the real world. I think show vs reality depends on if you drew a book smart judge or one that has actually raised cattle. Sounds like you drew a book smart judge.

Gizmom
 

Boot Jack Bulls

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I'm with FSSR on this one. In all my years and miles on the show circuit, I've never heard a judge say that they "lacked freshness" and mean they didn't have ENOUGH condition. Usually, it is specifically to point out that an animal has gotten thick in their throatlatch, fat in their brisket and developed pones. As FSSR also said, time on pasture with no grain during off season helps with this a ton.
 

SPH

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I'd rather raise a heifer that is going to be a good functional female in the pasture than a winner in the show ring but a poor performer in the pasture as a cow. Looking back I understand more now than I did when I was a stupid kid why dad hated showing a cow/calf pair. He always said "a cow belongs in the pasture with the bull not under a fan in the barn." He basically said that county fair the first week in July was the latest he would let us show a cow/calf pair to make sure she was out with the bull long enough to keep a good calving interval if she did not stick to an AI service.

Like Nesikep touched on, its sad to see how fat some of these show heifers get. Over conditioning will affect fertility. A female that stays in your herd for at least 10 years is going to be worth more long term than a heifer that wins on the show circuit but has no longevity as a cow. Never take show results personally, like gizmom said it's 1 man's opinion on a given day. The best cow/calf pair I showed was an 8 year old cow with a great bull calf that year. One judge put her middle of the class admitting she had the best calf in the class but basically put her there because she wasn't "carrying the condition" that the mostly 1st and 2nd calving females that made up the class. The next month another judge named her grand champion cow/calf and made a point to tell everyone that the reason was because the cow looked younger than 8 years old and was obviously doing a great job raising that calf while being very physically sound for her age.
 

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