Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Pair of Champions - British White Steer and His Showman!

British White Steer at 2012 Fort Bend County Fair in Rosenberg, Texas

Grant and British White Steer - Titus - Fort Bend County Fair
September 2012 - Both of these boys are champions. . . .

We all learned recently that the BWCAA board voted to award a monetary premium to kids who show British White animals and win champion in their class.  I have to say I find it a bit of an underwhelming and an ineffectual token effort at supporting or promoting the breed.  The fact is most kids take a huge risk of their time, effort, and money to show a British White heifer or steer.  So far as I'm concerned, these kids who stubbornly stick to their guns with their Ag teachers and parents and 4H advisers who vehemently counsel them NOT to choose a British White -- those kids ought to get an award of financial help from the BWCAA, not just a breed champion winner.  These kids are WINNERS simply by virtue of stepping out of the box and showing a British White animal!

Grant is just such a winner.  Grant took a grassfed steer out of the pasture and turned him in to a beautiful shining example of the breed.  Titus had been long since weaned, probably a good four months, and turned out to winter hay and alfalfa rations.  His counterparts in this steer competition most likely all came from grain backgrounding programs aimed at pushing their growth before they were even off their dams, halter broken at a young age, and made available as show steer possibilities right from the jump.  So that difference in background feeding was an enormous hurdle that Grant and Titus had to overcome and it was quite a challenge.  As for halter breaking - Titus was awesome about that, and Grant was quite happy with the ease of working with him and by all accounts Titus just loved all that attention. 

Titus was an American Fullblood sired by J.West's El Presidente and his dam was J.West's Brigit, a King Cole daughter.  While Titus did not place, the judge couldn't find a criticism to make of him that I could hear - except to say he would be a top contender in the group if he had had 60 more days of finish on him.  The judge did not even acknowledge that Titus was a British White!  Perhaps he did not know.  Hmmm....... Is that lack of breed awareness or respect my and my fellow small breeders' responsibility or fault?  Or is it the Association's lack of support in promoting our breed to the mainstream cattle industry?  If they don't find the cattle worth the monetary risk of supporting and promoting them - who will?

Titus in April 2012 at the School Barn
So far as I know there are no wealthy individual members who can hire a marketing firm for promotion and education or single-handedly orchestrate a steer test or British White show and sale for the benefit of all members and the breed.  And for certain, we small breeders can yak all day long about how awesome we find our British White cattle, put up nice web sites, take good photos, give away meat from our freezers, even practically give away bulls to get someone to try the breed - but that doesn't cut it in the long run because it is not data - real data - on the merits of the breed - and cattle are business - and successful businesses operate on supportable facts - not the fairy dust of words or opinions.  

Below is a video of Grant and Titus' big day at the fair. This was Grant's first effort at raising and showing a steer.  He learned a great deal in the process, and I did as well, as he kept me abreast of the feeding regimen and weight gain as things progressed, as well as shared lots of amusing stories of Titus' good-natured antics.  I was very proud of him and his steer.  Grant didn't get Titus until late in the game, and that no doubt contributed to the lack of finish the judge observed, and I didn't help any by trying to get Titus transitioned to grain from grass a bit too fast.  That was a disaster to say the least, and Titus looked woefully thin and not at all a show contender.  Despite how pathetic Titus looked when Grant picked him up, I think he and I both hung on to the picture of him in our minds of how he was just weeks before and what he could be.    

Youngsters like Grant with a strong passion for the breed who resolve to show them against all odds and advice are the future of this breed - and each one should be applauded and awarded for their efforts.  And no doubt devoted Mom's like Grant's mother, Darlene, would certainly appreciate the acknowledgement of the very special grit and determination of their kids who insist on showing a British White.

Back to this new premium for showing winning registered BWCAA animals - I would also add that most kids will only ever be able to receive the lowest "premium" of $100 that is designated if "breed consists of 1 animal" and they are blue ribbon winners by default, as you will rarely find a show with more than one British White animal.  And further, the fair authorities would have to give you your own breed category!  Of course, if it is one heckuva steer or heifer, perhaps they might when "Champion Other Breeds" - one can always hope.  And also, I noticed it had to be a State Fair.  What's up with that?  Showing starts at the ground up, just like a political race, and it would appear the smaller county fairs that lead up to State Fairs just don't cut the mustard.  Unfathomable....

If the BWCAA can afford to waste about $2K on a useless and wholly unnecessary compilation and review (there is no such thing as a "review audit") and now another $2K? on officer's liability insurance each year - then surely our BWCAA member fees can be allocated a bit more generously to these FEW youngsters across the USA who stubbornly take on the world to show their British White steers and heifers.