For some youth, parting ways with an animal they raised for months, and in many cases becoming a pet, can be a difficult experience.
But not so for Coyote Acres 4-H member Carley Cox, of High Prairie.
While Cox has missed the animals she has raised and sold in 4-H, she knows it is part of being raised in a ranch environment.
“That’s how the cattle industry is,” she says.
“It’s tough. You get used to it.”
She does enjoy the rewards of 4-H. Learning how to care for steers from experienced farmers, plus the cheque at the end when her animal (called a project) is sold.
Cox, 13, is the daughter of Blaine and Leanne Cox, and attends Grade 8 at St. Andrew’s School. She is completing her third year in the 4-H program, taking part in the Market Steer Project each year. Like her steer Herb this year, previous steers named Hoss and Homer were Simmental – Angus cross cattle. She not only receives tips from her parents on raising cattle but from Coyote Acres 4-H Market Steer (Beef Project) leader Blackhurst, an accomplished and well-known rancher north of High Prairie.
Cox’s decision to join 4-H came naturally.
“I always liked cattle,” she says, adding her sister, Kelly, and friend, Gillian Blackhurst, also attracted her to 4-H. Cox served as secretary in 2021-22, and is vice-president this year.
The rewards in 4-H are many. Cox enjoys watching her steer grow under her watchful care. She notes her steers are chosen from the family herd.
“I enjoy learning how to groom and going to shows,” says Cox.
The Peace Prospects Show at Valleyview April 11 was the first show.
“I learned how people care and show and how to judge,” says Cox.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to get the steers on feed, particularly to eat grain as it nears market.
The most difficult part of 4-H; however, is halter training the steer. Each animal has its own personality – some are tame, others bit more wild – so raising a “moody” steer can be a chore.
“This steer (Herb) doesn’t like to be controlled that much,” says Cox, adding he was the most difficult of her three steer projects to raise.
The solution? A lot more time in the pen, especially since Peace Prospects last month, where Cox placed fifth out of approximately 40 steers. The experience was especially valuable to Cox. It was the first time she showed Herb in an arena setting.
“Then you know how he’s going to react,” says Cox, referring to the upcoming Coyote Acres 4-H Show and Sale.
The money Cox makes from selling her steer will go toward her college fund. She hopes to eventually operate a purebred operation of her own.
The Coyote Acres 4-H Beef Achievement Day Show and Sale occurs May 26 at 4 pm. at the High Prairie Agriplex just north of High Prairie.
This year’s club included eight market steers and two breeding heifers. Animals are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Coyote Acres will arrange transport to the meat processor, if required.
by Chris Clegg
May 26, 2023