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Beauty of the beast

Preparation is key at dairy steer show

Preparation is key at dairy steer show

August 06, 2002|by Liz Boch

lizb@herald-mail.com

For some, Monday began with a long shower, followed by a haircut and style and a brief dress rehearsal and concluded with the announcement of a winner.

It sounds a little like preparation for the Miss America Pageant, but the contestants were dairy steer.

"It's almost like a dairy beauty pageant," said Allen "Whitey" Hess, 17, a steer handler from Smithsburg. "We scrubbed every inch of the steers in the morning."

Hess was one of the 4-H participants who entered animals in the 4-H/FFA Dairy Steer Show at the Washington County Ag Expo.

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Intense preparation goes into readying the steer, Hess said. He washes "Alvin" with laundry detergent the morning of the show and brushes him dry to smooth his coat. The hair on Alvin's head, underbelly and tail is then clipped.

Hess said he cleans out Alvin's ears and picks the mud out of his hooves before walking him around the grounds to simulate the show's animal parade.

Ben Calimer, 16, of Waynesboro, Pa., said he sprays his steer's back with hair spray to get the hair to stand up.

"They don't seem to mind," Calimer said. "They are broke well and comfortable."

Ashley and Matt Rhoderick of Hagerstown said their steer were not handling the heat well and were acting up to voice their discontent.

"They haven't been great," Matt Rhoderick, 14, said. "They won't walk, eat or drink. The show should be interesting because none of them want to cooperate."

Ashley Rhoderick, 15, said if her steer misbehaved in the ring, she would remain calm.

"If they won't walk or they jerk their heads, you have to make the best of it," she said.

Jamie Weddle, 16, said the judges for the fitting and showing competition look for the best kept steer. In the composition contest, held later on during Ag Expo, judges look for a second-year steer that will produce the choicest cuts of meat.

"It's not about makeup," Weddle, of Boonsboro, said. "It's certainly about judging the best body. It's about how nice they look, how well you respond to the judge, how well they walk, all that."

Shannon Uzelac, 18, of Hagerstown said although a tame animal is key, handlers are not always so lucky.

"Handling is important," Uzelac said. "Fitting and showing is 70 percent how the animal looks and how you react to it. My steer's talent is rolling over. In a spring show, he laid down right in the ring and rolled around."

As she finished her story, her steer began a downward move toward the hay in his pen.

"I just cleaned you! No!" Uzelac said as she pushed him upright.

When the applause died down Monday afternoon, the grand prize winning steer belonged to Andrew Herbst while the reserve champion prize was awarded to the steer being shown by Andrew's sister, Kimberly Herbst, Ag Expo spokeswoman Joanna Calimer said.

The Washington County Ag Expo will run until Aug. 9 at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center off Sharpsburg Pike, 11 miles south of Hagerstown.

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