Calf Scramble: A Year-Long Journey

by | Apr 5, 2021 | RODEOHOUSTON

A Year-long Journey: How Calf Scramble Teaches Students About Raising Livestock

What is typically held under the bright lights of NRG Stadium, the 2021 Calf Scramble will be held as private events April 10-11 and 17-18.

During each event, students grip their halters, pick their target and prepare to wrangle one of only 15 calves. For a moment, everything stands still. Then, at the drop of a cowboy hat, the cattle scatter and the chaos that is Calf Scramble begins.

If you’ve ever been to RODEOHOUSTON®, you’ve seen this event in action. It is one of the most beloved events of the Rodeo performance, with its unpredictability and heartwarming mission.

What Rodeo attendees often don’t get to see, however, is the year-long journey students embark on after they successfully catch and halter a calf in the arena.

After the dust settles, the 15 competitors who caught a calf, plus the winner of the Hard Luck award, are presented with a certificate to purchase either a registered beef heifer or market steer. This is when they’re project truly begins.

Once students purchase their animal, they are responsible for all the tasks required to raise and prepare it for the Calf Scramble Show at the following Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™. Along the way, they must keep record of expenses, teaching them responsibility. Every month, students share their expenses, along with pictures of their animal’s progress, with their donor in a report.

Additionally, students write two essays about their scramble project. The first essay describes the breed of the animal that the student purchased. Students must clearly articulate the rationale behind why they chose their calf’s breed as well as information about the breed itself. In the second essay, students share their full, year-long experience, highlighting the significant events during the process of raising and showing their animal.

Along with the year-end essay, students compile a business plan. In the plan, exhibitors outline their experience through three assessments. The initial assessment displays the beginning expected expenditures before the student started their project. In the monthly assessment, students showcase details monthly. Lastly, the final assessment represents a summary of the entire year.

At the end of the project, students exhibit their livestock at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in either the heifer or steer Scramble Show. While at the show, the Calf Scramble exhibitors are also required to create a unique stall display. This allows students to creatively share their experience with visitors of the Show.

All in all, the Calf Scramble is more than a bunch of kids chasing calves around the arena at the Rodeo. The Calf Scramble allows students to learn how to raise livestock. It is a year-long opportunity that teaches these hardworking young Texans responsibility, dedication and perseverance, skills that will follow them throughout their life.

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