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My interest in the cow/calf industry

Published: Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 12:35 p.m. CST

Hello BCR readers. My name is Kaitlyn Hildebrand, and I am one of the young writers who Larry Magnuson has recommended to the BCR to write about the beef industry.

Mr. Magnuson has decided to retire from writing and has pulled together four young beef enthusiasts to write for the newspaper about beef. I am thrilled for this opportunity and experience to show and express to readers about my enthusiasm for cows and calves.

I am a sophomore at LaMoille High School and involved in basketball, track, FFA and band. Outside of school activities, I am involved in the Dover-Berlin 4-H Club. I have grown up around cattle most of my life. My first encounter was at my grandpa’s cow/calf operation where my grandfather would finish out his own feeder calves to sell to the packing plants.

When my grandfather retired, my dad kept the cow/calf operation but just sells the calves as feeder calves, so someone else can feed them for market. My grandfather’s herd was a “Heinz 57” mix cattle breeds, but when my dad bought the herd, he started to base his herd with the popular Angus breed.

Six years ago, I decided to start my own cow herd and take up showing cattle. My first love of horses resulted in no profit in my dad’s eyes. Like most young exhibitors, I started with the cute little brown-eyed diary calf, which I received from my uncle who feeds out dairy steers. As an 8 year old, I was mighty proud of that little calf when I showed him at the local Bureau County 4-H Fair in the bucket calf class.

When planning for next year’s 4-H, I decided to move up with the big kids and bought my first beef heifer to show. I wanted something calmer than my dad’s high-energetic Angus. We had some Simmental cows from Carlson’s Simmentals on the farm already, and I find them calmer than the Angus. So we went to a Simmental sale, and Dad made me bid on a female calf. Six years later, I now have an eight-cow herd which is mostly Simmental with the occasional Angus heifer added to please Dad.

When I was a little kid I wanted to be a vet, but now I have seen some things that I would not be able to handle — such as dehorning and castration. With having my own herd and showing cattle, I have decided on a major in animal science. The interest in studying animal genetics is a better fit for me. I have also learned from showing cattle that it is not always about winning; sometimes it about the chance to tell the public about the animal itself, their product, their benefits and animal care.

Watching strangers touch a 1,200-pound heifer and see their reaction is unbelievable. Plus they ask some tough questions that I do my best to answer. Once, a family with deaf children asked me to pet my heifer, and their faces lit up with so much joy and amazement that it has touched my heart for years to follow.

From that moment on, I feel it is more important to teach the public than winning the top prize. Showing at county fairs is a wonderful opportunity to interact with the public, be informative and be proud of the beef industry.

Thank you Larry Magnuson for trusting me and the three other young beef producers in representing and sharing our thoughts on the beef industry. I look forward to working with Goldie Currie at the Bureau County Republican in expressing my thoughts about the beef industry. I can’t wait to share more thoughts with you at a later time, and please eat more beef.

Kaitlyn Hildebrand is a sophomore at LaMoille High School and helps out on her family cattle/corn operation in Ohio.

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