Some kids walk the family dog, while others keep gerbils, guinea pigs or mice. The luckiest, might even have a pony to ride
At the Waterloo 4-H dairy club, young people get the chance to bond with cattle while learning about dairy farming.
“The kids have a great time,” said John Drummond, a volunteer with 4-H Ontario. “It’s a great way to learn about farming and how to take care of animals. And the kids can’t wait to get out to the shows and compete.”
The 15th annual dairy show heads to the horse barn at the Grand River Raceway on August 23.
The contest begins at 12:30 p.m., with the showmanship class.
“Showmanship is the art of having your 4-H project (a heifer or a yearling) look her best at all times,” Drummond explained. “Members are judged on how well they can show their animals to their best advantage, how well and how quickly they can follow the judge’s instructions, and how well they move with their animals. A dairy 4-H Member will learn responsibility, patience, self confidence, teamwork, sportsmanship, problem solving and organization skills while they are training and showing their 4-H project.”
The second class is conformation, in which cattle are judged strictly on their strength and appearance.
It’s a contest that developed over the last 100 years, Drummond explained.
“It evolved in the early nineteen hundreds from the agricultural shows that were taking place at the time,” he said. “By the 30s and 40s, people were really starting to take an interest in how their animals looked, and so the shows evolved to include that aspect.”
The dairy club is part of the larger 4-H program, which strives to teach “leadership skills such as public speaking, communication, decision making, parliamentary procedure, meeting management and networking,” Drummond said.
The show at the Grand River Raceway kicks off the livestock show season for the group, who will later compete at the Cambridge, New Hamburg, Rockton and Royal Winter fairs.
More information about the show can be found at 4-Hontario.ca. Prize money ranges from $30 for first-place and $10 for sixth to tenth.