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Cattle show clinic reveals tricks of the trade

Kirk Stierwalt returned to Brandon for a three-day chute clinic March 27-29 
before the start of the annual winter fair cattle show

Young cattle showers were looking to jump-start their skills with a three-day chute clinic March 27-29, before hitting the ring at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.

Shannon Carvey, cattle show committee co-chair, said 2017 was the latest in a line of Brandon winter fairs to host clinician Kirk Stierwalt.

The clinic launched the cattle portion of the fair and sold out well before the gates opened in the last week of March.

“It’s amazing to see the growth of the kids who have maybe been to one or two demos or clinics and whatnot and even the growth in the kids from the first day they started clipping to the second day,” Carvey said. “It’s amazing the confidence that is built and they’re really just learning a tremendous amount of knowledge.”

The owner of Stierwalt Cattle and Clinics in Leedey, Oklahoma, the clinician stopped in Brandon for what will be one of about 40 similar clinics planned throughout Canada and the United States in 2017.

In Brandon, attendees to two public demonstrations heard about the importance of skin care, monitoring for hard water stress on the skin, hair-care solutions such as conditioner or vinegar rinse, and washing and grooming techniques.

Improper parting near the tail can add the illusion of an undesirable hump from a side view, attendees heard, while scrubbing in circles, a technique Stierwalt himself said he was initially taught, may hamper proper rinsing due to the direction of the coat.

“Something as simple as washing and drying a calf, a lot of times, to me, gets overlooked because they either don’t use the right kind of soap, maybe not strong enough. They maybe don’t necessarily scrub them or do what they need to do to get that soap down in there,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s just that little bit of extra time to kind of get something done.”

Clinician Kirk Stierwalt touches on different wash products and shampoos during one of two public cattle-showing demonstrations March 28.
photo: Alexis Stockford

Equipment, types of washing product and breed-specific advice (such as combing the coat flat near the back and letting it air-dry on curly haired breeds to encourage straightening) were also touched on during the public shows.

For full participants of the clinic, topics became more in-depth once the crowds had left. Clipping, hoof trimming, showmanship, feeding (including proper feeding on show day, when the stress of a new environment may put animals off their feed), training and competition day preparation were among areas covered.

“We’re trying to do the good skin care, good hide care, good hair care and stuff like that to benefit the animal, but I think a lot of times we’re also trying to let the calf know what to do — their job,” Stierwalt said. “When you’re working on them a lot and you’re taking care of animals, they just get a little bit smarter and you kind of work together as a team.”

Daily care was placed alongside showmanship and show day techniques in Stierwalt’s lesson plan. It should take about 100 days to prepare an animal to show, he said, time which may also allow an animal to adjust to any change made in their training partway through.

Stierwalt added that the clinics include updated information in an industry that consistently evolves.

For Dylan Frey, it was the first time he has participated in a clinic of this type in his six years of cattle showing.

“I wanted to learn more about clipping so I could clip my own calves instead of my parents,” he said.

Frey’s father, Jason Frey, said he also saw the benefit to the clinic, citing the range and practicality of topics covered.

The young cattle shower from the Alameda 4-H Beef Club was one of many clinic attendees to get their start through 4-H, including Stierwalt himself.

“These kids are awesome and these 4-H families and these 4-H kids and just this whole show program in whole is something that I’m thankful to be a part of,” he said. “I’m just trying to give them some push, give them some help, but I’m a product of that whole system, so it’s important for me to give back.”

The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair cattle show took place after Stierwalt’s clinic, running March 30 to April 1.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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