GOWRIE - In a way, the Webster County Fair's 2013 beef show was officially started on Sunday.
4-H'ers and FFA members planning to show cattle at the fair brought their top hopefuls to the annual beef weigh-in held at the Gowrie Livestock Auction.
Beef superintendent for the Webster County Fair Vern Bauer and about a dozen volunteers kept things running smoothly during the process that involves more than just getting the animal's weight.
-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
ALEX ALLIGER and Sharon Fevold get ready to do a retinal scan on Alliger’s calf during the Webster County beef weigh-in held in Gowrie on Jan. 6.
-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Sharon Fevold conducts the retinal scan on a calf during the Webster County beef weigh-in. The scan is a requirement for showing at the Iowa State Fair and helps make a positive ID of the animal.
"Each of them get an ear tag; a retinal scan if they are planning on showing at the Iowa State Fair; and a hair sample is pulled if they are going to show at Ak-Sar-Ben," said Bauer
The retinal scan, Bauer said, is just like a finger print that gives a positive ID of the animal, which is required for showing at the Iowa State Fair.
Ak-Sar-Ben, he said on the other hand, does not accept a retinal scan for identifying the animal, but uses DNA gathered from a hair sample from the calf.
Although there was a continuous line of cattle coming through during the weigh-in, Bauer said they will be fortunate if they can keep the same attendance for the beef show at the Webster County Fair this year.
"We will be lucky if our numbers stay the same," he said. "The cost of feed is high as is the cost of animals."
Bauer said the number of head shown during the fair have been dropping a little each year. Bauer said he expected 60 to 70 head of cattle would be weighed and tagged Sunday. Possibly 30 to 40 of those, he said, will be shown as market animals at the fair with some as breeding animals as well.
Bauer said he was pleased with the help he was receiving at the weigh-in. The dozen or so volunteers ranged from parents, as well as past 4-H members that will assist each year.
New to the cattle showing world is 11-year-old Ethan Anderson, son of Josh and Michelle Anderson, of rural Harcourt.
Anderson, a fifth grader at Southeast Webster Grand School and a member of the Dayton Tigers 4-H Club was excited to bring five head of cattle to be weighed.
The weigh-in, for Anderson, is the beginning to his season of caring for the five head that will eventually be narrowed down to three to be taken to the Webster County Fair in July to show in the feeder pen class.
"I will be feeding and watering them every day," he said.
Anderson said he was right alongside of his father and grandfather when they chose the cattle they were going to bring to the weigh-in.
"We picked them out of our cattle lot and I helped and we just made sure they weren't too big or too small," Anderson said.
Anderson said he was eligible to show at the fair last year, but things didn't work out, so he was even more excited and ready to get to the fair in 2013 and see how his family's cattle will compare to others.
"I wanted to join 4-H and show my dad's cattle," he said.
Since Anderson is showing a feeder pen of three, he won't be required to lead and show the animals, so the training process won't be as intense as some of the others, but he will still work with them to ensure they are ready to be at the fair and be accustomed to being around people.
"I won't be leading them, but I still want them a little trained," Anderson said.
Feeding and watering his animals won't be the only thing Anderson has to do with his cattle. In the feeder pen class, Bauer said, record keeping is a big part of entering the class, so Anderson and his Father will have to be sure to keep track of feed records and other information.
"It is a great learning experience over the other classes with the record keeping," said Bauer.