Getting First Pick

{I’m bored and this was sitting in the old draft blog post folder so here you go}

So you don’t have a ton of money to buy a show steer.  What can you do in order to win?  Short of spending the years it takes learn how to consistently identify the green sleeper calves; one of the best ways is getting the first picks from a small operation.

You know who I’m talking about; they’re the local guys that only raise a few steers every year.  They’re not the kind of folks that have 20 babies running around that will win a breed at a major but most will have at least one really good one that’s priced right.

So what do you do to get in there before everybody else?

First, make sure we’re talking about the same guy.  I’m not talking about the guy with stars in his eyes who gushingly talks about run ins with show jocks to impress you.  I’m also not talking about the guy who looks at $10,000 steers and thinks it’s easy to raise them.  The ranchers I’m talking about have a larger emotional attachment to their calves than price they want for them.

Step 1 – Be a respectful young chap.

When you see the breeder of the calves you want a better pick from, say hi and shake hands.  If you explicitly stop running around with the other hellions and take a moment to shake his hand, say hi, and ask about his cattle.  Do it every time.  This will be MUCH more important to your long term success than having the right amount of ‘bling’ on your show stick and/or buckle.

Step 2 – Learn how to feed, implant, and supplement.

The small breeders want their calves to be fed right.  If they can’t help you feed, make sure your county extension agent or ag teacher can.  Make sure the breeder knows that you know what implants and Zilmax are and how they are supposed to be used.

Step 3 – Learn how to show.

Small breeders want their calves to be shown right.  Go to clinics and talk about how serious you take showmanship around them.

Step 4 – Ask if you can help work cattle.

This one is killer.  Tell the breeder you are trying to get first pick from that you want to raise cattle or become a vet when you grow up but that your family doesn’t have cattle.  Tell him you’d like to come help him work cattle some time.

Step 5 – Loyalty

Feed his calves right, show them right, and keep going back to him and eventually you’ll be the first one in his herd every year.