If you’re not a farmer, when you think of cattle, what do you think of?
More than likely, you probably think of those black and white milk cows that you see on TV.
Believe it or not, there are more than 120 breeds of cattle around the world. They come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Each breed has something special that they are known for such as meat, milk, mothering ability and heat/cold tolerance.
When I think of cattle, I think of the Hereford breed. They are red with white faces, and they are well known for their good temperament and hardiness.
My name is Lauren McMillan, I am 12 years old, and I live on a small farm near Tiskilwa.
We have 40 acres, raise Hereford cattle and hay. In addition to cows, we also have a horse, two dogs and a lot of cats.
I started showing cattle when I was 7 years old. We mainly show in the summer time because I’m in school during the winter shows. I love going to shows because I love the competition, and it is great seeing my friends from all over the state.
My mom’s name is Jodi, and my dad’s name is Kyle. They are the people who got me started on this great journey. I am an only child, so the three of us work together. Our farm is called Rustic Oaks Farm. We got that name from my grandma and grandpa’s farm, and I hope to carry that name on when I have a farm of my own.
It is a lot of work to take care of cattle. You have to make sure they are not sick, fed right, have fresh water, and in my case with show cattle, washed and brushed regularly. This has to be done every day; it doesn’t matter if I was up late the night before and would prefer to have a lazy day. It has to be done if it is raining, 100 degrees, snowing or like this winter for many days, below zero! My animals depend on me and my family to make sure they are healthy and happy. So our schedules are often planned around chores, calving season and shows.
I love being part of the cattle business. Every year we go to a big show that is attended by people from all over the United States — the Junior National Hereford Expo. It is held in a different state every year, so we get to visit new parts of the United States every summer. It is so cool to meet other people from other states there.
At Junior Nationals you don’t just show cows; there are so many more activities to compete in. There are creative arts contests, speech contests, talent contests, marketing contest, fitting contest, quiz bowl, grill off, photography contest, showmanship and even a bean bag competition. There is something for everyone to participate in whether it is as an individual or a member of a team.
I look forward to sharing my cattle experiences with you throughout the year! I hope you will get to see what it’s like to be a farm kid that is involved in the 4-H and the National Junior Hereford Association, and to learn from my everyday experiences at the farm as well as activities at shows and contests.
Lauren McMillan is seventh-grader at Logan Junior High School and helps out on the family cattle farm in Tiskilwa.