Local farmer takes on national competition

December 30, 2011|By SHADAE PAUL | Special to The Herald-Mail

At almost 1,300 pounds, Red, a hefty 19-month-old, is a sight to see.

A Limousin heifer, this muscular dark golden-red beauty belongs to local farmer Adam Griffith, 20, of Boonsboro.

Griffith has participated in and won many local stock show awards. Red has proven to be stiff competition, but she has yet to win a national gold medal.  

Griffith hopes this year will be different. He hopes Red will be the heifer that brings home the gold medal in the upcoming, week-long, National Western Stock Show held in Denver beginning on Thursday, Jan. 5.

Griffith began competing with Red a year ago. Since then, she was named Grand Champion Female at the 2011 Eastern Regional Junior Show in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and at the Junior Show of the 2011 Keystone International Livestock Exposition in Harrisburg, Pa.

At the 2011 North American International Livestock Exposition, she was the Grand Champion Female in the Junior Show and the Reserve Grand Champion Female in the Open Show.

Griffith has been in-volved with bull and steer competitions since he was 15 years old. He said he has enjoyed farming ever since he was a child. His father, Joe Griffith, used to farm dairy cows.

"I was always interested and would drive with my dad through the farm all the time," Adam Griffith said. "I enjoyed working with the animals."

When he was a student at Boonsboro High School, he participated in 4-H and befriended classmate Lonnie Thomas. Their friendship led to Griffith working with Lonnie's family on Thomas and Son Farms in Boonsboro.

"The Thomas family was already going to the shows when I started, so I picked up with it as they went from local shows to big shows," Griffith said.

Now, Griffith has transitioned from showing bulls and steers to only showing heifers. He is the first one in his family to raise beef cattle and compete with heifers.

"It feels good, and they look up to me as far as asking questions since I'm the first in my family to do this," he said.

Although affectionately named Red by Griffith and the Thomas family, Red's competition moniker is TASF X-Tasy 488X. Griffith named her Red after the favorite color of his 9-year-old brother, Nicolas.

"My brother is my inspiration. He doesn't participate, but he enjoys coming out to support me, so I wanted to name it after his favorite color," Griffith said.

Griffith works daily with the Thomas family on Thomas and Sons Farm. He spends long days working full time with the Thomas and Son excavating company and takes time to tend to the animals before and after their excavating jobs.

When they get close to the date of the shows they stay back late into the evenings to wash and groom the heifers to get them looking their best. Practicing with the heifers is also one of his keys to success.

"When they're younger, calves they don't like standing as much, but they get used to it after working with them," Griffith said.

On show days, there's lots of preparation. Griffith and the Thomases wash the heifers, feed them, water them, then wraps their legs with adhesives for their coat, which pulls their hairs out to make them look fuller.

"Heifers are judged on their structure, how well they can move, and the amount of meat on their bones; basically how beefy they are," among other traits, said Will Nichols in the Agriculture Press Office of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

When the evaluation is complete the judges announce on the arena's microphone the class for each heifer.

The divisions are arranged by age group and the Limousin Associationkeeps track of points as far as shows.

Griffith shows Red in junior shows, which are for trainers ages 21 and younger, and open show, which are for all ages.

Penny Yetter of Clear Spring, a close friend to Griffith and the Thomases, flies to some of Griffith's shows.

"He's a very knowledgeable young man, very hard working, and always helps anyone who needs assistance during the shows," she said.

After a long day of competition, Griffith and other trainers must wait for the results.

"In Louisville (Ky.)," Yetter said, "they started their morning at 3 a.m. and didn't finish showing until almost 10 p.m. at night, so it's a long day."

Competitions present many challenges, aside from time in front of the judges.

"Over the summer, it's harder on the animals. Like, this past year, when we went to Texas, we had to keep fans and misters on them at all times to help keep them cool," he said.

Away from competitions, Griffith faces daily challenges with his animals.

"There are always challenges, like if one gets sick or something unexpected happens. If you can't get them bred in time or it doesn't take, it can get frustrating," he said. "But there's nothing you can really do about it."

However challenging, Griffith hopes to win more shows and hopes the Thomas and Son Farm does well in competitions.

This month's National Western Stock Show in Denver will include a banquet where officials will award gold, silver and bronze medals to bulls and cows for the year. Griffith is excited to hear the results in the big competition and find out where Red places.

"It's rewarding, especially winning the open shows because there are people with bigger farms who have a lot of money and hundreds of cattle when we only have 100 to 150 cattle," Griffith said. "When we're doing just as well with less, it makes you feel like you're doing something right."

Along with a competitive spirit, Griffith takes pride in his animals.

"It's not only show day that you want them to look good. You want them to present well all of the time," he said, adding that in the future, he would like "to win more and do well as far as the Thomas and Son Farm getting gold and being grand champions," he said.

"He is an asset to our farm," said Daniel Thomas of Thomas and Son Farms. "(He's) hard-working, and we always enjoy having him here."

And Griffith is grateful in return.

"I wouldn't be where I am today without the Thomases," he said. "There are other jobs out there, but I'm inspired by what I do, and I enjoy it."

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