XENIA — This year’s Dairy Heifer Showmanship exhibited many changes. The show was on a Monday night versus Tuesday morning and had only 12 participants.
This year there were less participants because there is now only one dairy farm in Greene County. Last year there were three. Family-owned and operated dairy farms are slowly becoming extinct because they are unable to compete with large scale farms.
Senior showmanship included participants who are 14 or older or have previously won a junior showmanship. Participants began by walking their heifers in a circle around the ring. The judge took the time to talk to each participant about their heifer to see how knowledgeable they were. Haley Partee took first place, followed by Katie Heider.
Junior showmanship was a learning experience for some participants. The judge explained to each participant what he wanted to see the next time they participated in showmanship. Gracie Heider took first, followed by Ella Krall. Originally Kyle Polk was in second, but the judge switched Polk and Krall because Krall was determined to control her animal when it acted up. The judge complimented Polk on how knowledgeable he was.
Polk of Centerville received third in showmanship and skill-a-thon. Skill-a-thon is prior to fair where participants share their knowledge on medicines, feeds, and housing of animals. Polk was proud of his placings and is excited for next year.
When asked how he feels being the only boy showing dairy heifers, he said “Doesn’t bother me at all.” He believes dairy heifers are friendlier than other cattle.
Polk is originally from Florida and didn’t have experience with dairy heifers until he came to Ohio. His uncle introduced him to the dairy world by getting him a heifer to start off with. His uncle works for Semex, a company who works with dairy genetics.
The participant keeps his heifers at his uncle’s house and spends his whole summer there. During the school year, he spends every weekend at his uncle’s house working with his animals.
Polk said, “Spending time with my animals makes me calm down after school.”
Overall, fair is a learning experience where participants learn many life lessons. Polk learned what patience was while raising his heifers.
Even though the dairy heifer showmanship lacked participants, there is still hope for next year. Polk is thinking about showing a dairy feeder calf in addition to his dairy heifers.