Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday Flashback - Stock Shows --- A Place to Share Ideas

July 1971 American Hereford Journal

I stumbled upon the most interesting article in the July 1971 Edition of the American Hereford Journal.  In it the Jounral had surveryed commercial ranchers about their feelings on livestock shows.    The reason for the article and survey was that "In recent years stock shows have com in for a round of criticism that would have destroyed anything except the most hardy of our argicultural institutions"  .

Here are the findings of the survey

"If you don't take some of your best cattle to the county or local district show you are missing a whale of a chance to promote your herd !"

-Over 73% of respondents attend from 1 to as many as 7 of these type of shows

How about State Fairs ?
Over onehalf (56%) of those surveryed attend from 1 -3 state fairs yearly

What about "major shows" (places like Denver, Ft. Worth --- Farmfair, Agribition in Canada)

-"An amazing 40% of respondents attended -- some up to as many of 3 of these type of shows.  (IMO -- a pretty good result if you think of the time & expense for the rancher to attend these shows)

-"Now you may say you never see them on the show day.  Of those attending these exhibitions 61% say they see the breeding cattle shows."

- Only 18% indicated they did not attend these types of shows

AND --- only 11% of respondents indicated they did not attend any of these types of livestock shows.

Other interesting findings from the survey

- many would like to see a blend of commercial/purebred breeders judging breed shows

-"The amount of finish carried by show cattle continues to come in for considerable discussion by commercial producers   ------- Possibly the best methoud of dispelling this belief (excess condidtion) would be some sort of mechanical and objective measuring device to dertermine fat thicknes combined with public announcements of this info along with performance info." (Interestingly -- we do have that tool now in the form of Ultrasounding)

The article follows up with actual comments from the respondents to the survery

Here are a few key concerns about these type of shows

"Polictics" --- "Overcondition" -- "Inconsistency in judges"  (type of cattle)

Yet -- what is more interesting is that a greater percentage of these commercial cattle ranchers still attend various livestock shows throughout the country.   They still believed that stock shows had a valuable place in agriculture and I think you will find their reasons very thought provoking --

Key points about why we need stock shows

" Competition amongst purebred breeders keeps the quality of cattle high"

-they educate the "urban dweller" on agriculutre and the beef industry

- they provide oppourtunites for our junior livestock breeders

-they allow for our breed to be compared to other breeds that share the marketplace

-they are good adverstising for the purebred breeder

" ---- the cattlemen as well as any business must keep up with the times.   These shows are the quickest way possible to gather these ideas and show them to the public. "

"-- exchange of ideas is absolutely neccessary.  Shows are a demonstration of ideas"

I really believe in that last quote --- that we have livestock shows in place to "share ideas".   We gather at these events to showcase our cattle, our program and our breed.   Of course we could all just have a big meeting about the future of the cattle industry and our breed -- and those types of events are definately important to our cattle industry.   BUT -- the difference is -- at livestock shows you have to be able to demonstrate those ideas in the cattle that are on display at them.   They are the place where we can share how we make those thoughts -- and ideas a reality.

Sometimes we forget about the importance of educating the "urban dweller" about agriculutre.   With an ever growing interest in the how our food is being produced and manufactured -- stock shows are an excellent venue for the producer himself to have an oppourtunity to educate people on the quality and care that goes into raising the food that we eat.    We are afterall dependent upon the consumer if we want the beef industry to survive.   Do you take time to visit with those "urban dwellers" when they walk past your stall ? -- if you don't I challenge you to do so -- I have met so many interesting people this way -- from all walks of life -- and you will be surprised at their affection and interest for the livestock industry

One last point in the article was that those who exhibit cattle at stock shows should remember that their cattle are always being evaluated both inside and outside the ring.     Many cattlemen and women will still find their "type" of cattle at these events -- and they may not be of the same opinion as the judge for these shows.    Basically -- just because you didn't win -- it does not mean that you are still not gaining valuable advertising. networking and marketing oppourtunites.

There is much talk these days about the type of livestock shows we should be having, as well as the presentation of the cattle at them.   Todays article reminded me that within our beef industry their will always be people who like different "styles" --- it really comes as no surprise as we all have our own ideas about what is "best" in life in general.

To put it simply --- some people like Levi's -- and some people like Wranglers --- but at the end of the day -- they all wear Jeans.   I wonder if we shouldn't as a breed spend more time coming together, sharing postive ideas, focusing on the quality of cattle represented, and educating others on the safety and care that goes into producing beef --- and less time worrying about if your neighbor in the show barn is presenting his cattle differently than you --- or wearing Levi's when you like Wranglers. 

Stock shows are not a "one size fits all" event --- but there is something at them that will fit each and everyone of us. 

As we move into the fall show season here in Canada -- I am looking forward to having the oppourtunity to "share ideas" with people from all walks of the beef industry, from the producer -- right down to the consumer. 

Hope you enjoyed our Friday Flashback --- and are enjoying your long weekend !! I will get off my soap box now, and go and tend to those 'show cattle" or I won't be present at any stock shows this fall !


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