MANNINGTON – For more than a year, Meadoe Richards has been raising a steer through her 4-H group.
This will be the last steer she raises for 4-H, and the 1,060 pound animal took a lot of work and responsibility for her to get to peak condition.
“It’s a lot more challenging than showing hogs,” Richards said. “You have to have a lot of dedication and you learn a lot of responsibility.”
The Mannington District Fair held its livestock competition on Wednesday, where Richards and other members of 4-H and the Future Farmers of America presented their sheep, steer, cows and pigs to a judge which could decide their fate in the market in the future.
“The judge will ask them questions about what they feed the animal, how old the animal is,” said Eva Beto, program assistance for WVU Extension. “He’ll ask for the different cuts of the animal they’re showing just to see their knowledge of the species, and then they will go into the judging.”
The work that went into raising the animals for most of the owners spanned months, or years in Richards’ case, and the necessary tasks can sometimes be new endeavors for the competitors.
“Some of them are harder to work with than others,” said Matthew Martin, a member of 4-H and FFA. “You have to feed them twice a day, when their hair grows out you have to clip them to make them look better and you have to break them to lead and all.”
The final process of selling the animals off after months of work can also be emotional, especially for kids in their first few years of raising livestock. Beto, who herself went through 4-H as a kid, commented that the feeling can go in a few directions for the animal trainer.
“It takes a few years, the first couple are always rough,” Beto said. “Sometimes though you’re just ready to get rid of them, depending on how well they’re behaved.”
For Richards, however, the process has helped her grow in more ways than she would have initially thought, and she is happy she got the chance to participate in the livestock competition over the years.
“You learn how to present,” Richards said. “I was very shy when I first started so it really helped me out.”