MIAMI COUNTY — With the majority of show stock breeders hosting their livestock auctions online, 4-H and FFA showmen are exhibiting their skills not in an arena, but at home.
Last week, Cora Moore, 13, of Casstown, had her dairy beef feeder “Stitch” in the cattle chute freshly groomed. With help from her family members, she practiced setting the calf up to take photographs from multiple angles before taping a short video. The photos and video were to submit her entries to the Ohio “Virtual Cattle Battle,” which The Ohio State University Livestock Judging Team will review and provide feedback.
Moore shared that she had never participated in an online cattle show, but with school closed, she and her dad Ryan decided to give it a shot.
Moore submitted her market heifer “Lilo” for the online show as well.
“Never even heard of it,” Cora said about the online show. “I like bonding with the animals and just having fun with them all summer. I like being busy with them.”
Moore, a member of the Elizabeth Livestock 4-H Club, has had her livestock projects since last fall and the beginning of the year, well before 4-H club meetings, livestock sales and other agriculture events were cancelled or held online. The Miami County Fair, set for Aug. 14-20 is still scheduled to take place at this time.
The Moores had planned on participating in the Ohio Beef Expo. Cora also had planned on attending 4-H camp in the summer, which was also cancelled.
“I think it was smart that they did it, but I’m kind of upset I couldn’t go,” she said. Cora said they plan on moving forward as usual even if events are cancelled.
“Whether they have fair or not, we’ll still be here. This is our summer vacation. We don’t go to the boat or to the lake, we don’t go to Florida — this is what we do,” Ryan said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”
Cora said she’s looking forward to the feedback from her first virtual livestock show.
“It’ll be neat to see what they say and what they think,” she said.
Drew Glenn, a club calf breeder in Perry County, came up with the idea of the online livestock show a few weeks ago after the annual Ohio Beef Expo was cancelled due to the coronoavirus and crowd mandates.
Glenn said after seeing 4-H kids and families disappointed at the missed opportunity to show their show animals, he said he felt like he had to come up with some kind of learning opportunity for the kids.
A day of ideas and two whiteboards of rules to set up a “virtual show,” Glenn posted the website on social media to see the response. As of Tuesday, 60 entries had been received, with a surge likely before deadline.
Glenn said virtual shows are now starting to pop up online. Glenn said the two shows he’s leading are different because all the proceeds of the Ohio show are going to the OSU livestock judging team and the subsequent national online show entry fees will go to FFA and 4-H organizations, which the participants vote for.
“Every bit of money is going back to agriculture charities,” Glenn said. The livestock team, which has also been sidelined for the spring season, was eager to participate.
“If we aren’t showing, they aren’t practicing,” Glenn said about the livestock judging team. “They were excited to help out because they are sitting at home, too, with nothing going on.”
The team will review the photos and video footage, chart their scores and provide exhibitors, like Moore, feedback on what they can improve upon for their next exhibition — online or in the show ring.
Glenn said although the traditional show has a hands-on experience, with a judge able to feel the differences in each animal, the purpose is to get kids in the barn, working with their projects and most of all — to have fun.
“At the end of the day, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s an opportunity to work with their calf, donate $20 to a good cause and you might win a banner and you had fun for the day,” Glenn said. Glenn said he’s received a lot of support from the industry including donations of prizes and banners from industry leaders like Weaver. Glenn said families have supported the show, selling out of T-shirts and hoodies which helped promote the event.
Entries to the Ohio show closed this week, but the National Virtual Cattle Battle show remains open through the end of the month. Glenn said he was thankful for the OSU livestock team helping him with this project. Glenn said he also appreciated the help from national livestock judge Ryan Rash, one of the industry’s most entertaining judges known for his colorful, humorous and heartfelt commentary as well as the shower of glitter he sprays upon the show ring winner. Rash also donated his time to judge the national show for Glenn and its online exhibitors.
For more information visit www.virtualcattlebattle.com. For the latest Miami County Fair updates, visit www.miamicountyohiofair.com.