After months of hard work raising steers and heifers, members of the 4-H Beef Club were ready for their big show and sale Monday, May 4 to Tuesday May 5 at the Calnash Ag Event Centre barn.
On the first day of the event, members were busy with their heifers and cow/calf pairs preparing them for judging and the second day was the big preparation day for the steers with long-time member Tyson Matejka earning the grand champion steer.
This is Matejka’s last year with the 4-H and the last nine years with the club has been a positive experience. “There’s so many things I’ve taken away from 4-H,” he said.
“It’s a combination of values that I’ve learnt,” he added.
Matejka says preparing for the sale requires some responsibility on the part of the member and that has helped him grow over the years.
He suggests young members of the beef club should continue working hard at raising cattle; eventually they will start to understand the best practices to raising them.
He feels his steer was judged highly due to gaining weight well throughout the year. “The biggest challenge is halter breaking. Getting a 1,300 pound steer to follow you, to follow a 150 pound man is kind of difficult.”
He says it is always impressive to see young 4-H members halter-break a steer that is quite a bit larger than they are. He recommends taking the proper time to do that so it is done well.
While it’s not part of the judging it does help quite a bit to keep the animal relaxed when presenting it.
Matejka’s 1,329 pound steer sold for $4.30 per pound and Patrice Stalder, who had the reserve grand champion steer, saw his 1,387 pound steer sell for $3 per pound. Stalder said he had been with 4-H for the last seven years.
He said the judge liked the form and muscle of his steer and to accomplish growing the steer over the past months is a good feeling. “The challenge at first was he (the steer) wasn’t very tame.”
Stalder was able to calm and train the steer to be more comfortable around people.
Sales did well with the average on 31 steers being $3.03 per pound during the live auction on May 5. This year’s charity steer, Bolt, raised $7,290 with money going towards the Ponoka and District Health Foundation.
Keith Kjenner, a member of the 4-H Beef Committee, said they were down only one steer compared to last year.
“We’ve got a lot of kids that have put in a lot of years with 4-H,” said Kjenner.
He says selling the steers is a small part of the club. The biggest lessons come with taking care of the animals and working together to learn about being part of a committee and running meetings.
“So that later in life they end up volunteering at their home school or they end up on the Stampede Association or any other organization,” said Kjenner. “And they’re familiar with how to run an organization.”
He said the other benefit of raising the steers is that it gives members hands on training with the animals as well as exposure with marketing.