Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ junior livestock exhibitors beamed with pride as they watched bidders’ hands fly during the Junior Commercial Steer Auction, Monday, March 13, 2017.
A component of the Junior Commercial Steer Feeding and Management Contest, the 249 steers sold in the auction graded choice or higher and were selected from more than 350 entries.
The contest is designed to prepare and educate 4-H and FFA members for a practical beef production program, and consists of four components: record book, written test, interview, and meat identification and quiz.
For the past six months, exhibitors Alexis Wilson and Cailtlin Harmon have selected, fed and prepared a pen of three steers to exhibit for evaluation and grading by three judges at the Houston Livestock Show™.
First time participant, Alexis, a 6th grader from Canyon, Texas, selected her three head of steers for the contest from a pen of 300 in September. Since then, Alex has kept a record book of her progress, which accounts for 10 points of her overall score.
Cailtlin, a high school senior, and Top 8 Finalist from Weimar, Texas, returned to the contest for the third time in 2017. For her, keeping her nerves in check is the most challenging part of the contest each year, whereas, her favorite part is the interview, where she shines.
“During the interview, I get to express my knowledge to beef industry leaders,” Caitlin said.
Caitlin’s interviewing skills will come in handy on March 14 as she and the remaining Top 8 Finalists will compete in a second round of interviews to determine their overall placement in the contest.
“The contest is not like any other show,” she said. “Only a percentage is on your cattle.”
In fact, the steers chosen for the contest only account for 30 points of the overall score with points assigned for: steer grades, 15; pen of steers closeout, 9; cost per pound of gain, 2; average daily gain, 2; and feed conversion, 2. The remaining 70 points are assigned based on the exhibitor’s performance on a 25-question written test, panel interview and record book quality and accuracy.
Six months of hard work will come to fruition on Tuesday, March 14, when one lucky exhibitor will be named the Junior Commercial Steer Feeding and Management Contest Champion.
Learn more about the many competitions offered at the world’s largest livestock show, here.