Developing Rural Youth’s Eye For Stock

Rural youth may be a disappearing breed and the ability to pick superior farm genetics a dying art, but the cattle committee at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair isn’t about to cry uncle just yet.

Organizers of the youth cattle competition teamed up with Vanguard Credit Union to hold an open judging competition for youth at this year’s Royal.

The competition was designed to help young participants expand their knowledge of good stock, whether they are looking at cattle, sheep, equine or seed, co-ordinator Ron Kristjansson said last week.

“What we’re hoping to do is get more mixing between the groups, the kids with cattle, the kids with horses, and kids with sheep,” he said.

“We want to broaden their horizons – all these groups are getting smaller, there are less of us around showing cattle and horses,” he said. “It’s just to give them a broader knowledge of what is going on.”

Kristjansson said that as each generation grows further from its farming roots, it’s getting more difficult to pass along the skills needed to select good genetics over the not so good. And what better way to spark a little interest than setting up a competition with cash prizes?

While sports enthusiasts ponder the pros and cons of competitive sport on kids’ psyche, stock people see it as a healthy part of life, he said.

“Life is about competition,” Kristjansson said. “We encourage healthy competition – you are out there to do as well as you can but not at the expense of someone else.

“You play fair, but you hope things go your way.”

The event attracted 21 competitors who were divided into two age categories. They could attend clinics the day before on how to judge cattle, sheep, horses and seed.

On competition day, they were expected to judge cattle, sheep, horses, seed and a mystery class, which turned out to be forage. The final judge in the forage competition was a sheep brought in to conduct the ultimate palatability test.

The champion and reserve champion in each division went home with $200 and $150 cash prizes. They were also invited to attend the Top of the Crop VIP dinner and given VIP seating for the evening show.

In the junior division for ages 15 and under, Sierra Viola of Russell was champion and Levi Rimke of Oak Lake was reserve.

The senior champ was Rebecca Early of Holland followed by Richard Bramely of Minnedosa. [email protected]

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Weencouragehealthycompetitionyou areouttheretodoaswellasyoucanbut notattheexpenseofsomeoneelse.”

– RON KRISTJANSSON

About the author

Vice-President of Content

Laura Rance

Laura Rance is vice-president of content for Glacier FarmMedia. She can be reached at [email protected]

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