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Heifers enter Ag Expo contest in style

August 06, 1999

LonghornBy GREG SIMMONS / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




Kathleen's hair had been washed and trimmed. Now it was being styled for the show.

Meghan Reid was pampering Kathleen, her short-horned heifer, for the beef heifer showing and fitting contest Thursday at the Washington County Ag Expo.

The 16-year-old from Clear Spring said it's great to win, but it takes a lot of work just to bring a cow to the show.

For one thing, keeping animals clean and trimmed is a chore, she said. "I do this a lot," Reid said as she shoveled manure out of the grooming stall.

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Kathleen's tail hairs were trimmed, and the tailbone hair at the top of her rump spiked up like a small mohawk.

Kathleen's face was trimmed, and her legs were brushed against the grain to make them look fuller.

Stacey Beckley, 15, said the perfect cow should look like a block, with a straight back, stomach and rump.

With the water shortage, the animals aren't getting nearly as many baths as they may be accustomed to.

Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Henry Virts specifically asked county fair operators to curtail water usage, according to a press release this week.

"We're supposed to wash and keep them clean, but you can't wash them five times a day," said Jenny Herbst of Smithsburg.

The 15-year-old said she normally washes her cattle once in the morning. If they get dirty in one area, she'd wash the spot but not the whole animal.

Before heifers ever make it to a show, they must be trained to behave in a ring.

Reid said when she first bought Kathleen, the 1,000-pound bovine bolted from the truck, dragging her mother, Kathy, behind her.

"She ran for about five miles," Reid said.

Breaking some cows is harder than others, but they aren't usually intimidating. "If you're calm, it's like walking a dog," Reid said. However, she said, "Sometimes they never become well-behaved."

Additionally, an animal owner must be aware of even the smallest diet change, Reid said.

Reid said she found out Kathleen is sensitive to corn and hay when she got into some Longhorn feed. She said Kathleen blew up like a balloon.

If cows bloat, they can die, Beckley said.

Even with all the hard work, the expo is worth it for those who participate.

"It's competitive, (but) it's also a social thing," Herbst said.

A final livestock sale will be held at the Ag Expo today beginning at 7 p.m.

Today is the final day of the expo.

The Ag Expo is held at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike, 10 miles south of Hagerstown.

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