4-H'er builds beef herd with Rolling Hills Heifer Project
READING -- Showing livestock at the fair is a lot of work for 4-H members -- especially for those involved in the beef project.
They have to teach their cattle to lead on a halter, clip their hair before show day and use hair sprays and hoof paint to get their animals looking just right for the judge.
Then there is the behind-the-scenes work of livestock production many fair-goers likely don't realize -- the daily chores, the recordkeeping, building pens for baby calves and developing a breeding program so there's a calf crop the next year.
It is those behind-the-scenes responsibilities that 13-year-old Logan Rogers of rural Reading now experiences as a recent winner in the Rolling Hills Heifer Project.
The program is sponsored by Rolling Hills Bank & Trust, headquartered in Atlantic, Iowa, with offices in 12 communities including Worthington and Brewster.
Each year, the bank purchases 10 bred heifers and selects two winners to receive five bred heifers each.
Rogers was selected one of the winners in 2010 and made the five-hour trek to Atlantic late last December to haul his newly-acquired cattle home.
Calving began in January and, within a span of a few weeks, Rogers' cattle herd grew from five animals to 10.
The calves included two heifers and three bulls -- now steers. One of the heifer calves will be shown by Rogers' younger brother, Landon, in this morning's beef show at the Nobles County Fair in Worthington.
Logan, the oldest in the family, will show three beef animals, though none of them are from his Rolling Hills Heifer Project stock. That may happen in future years.
Logan Rogers has shown cattle in the beef project in Nobles County 4-H since he was in the third grade. He's in his fifth year in the program as a member of the Elk Tip Toppers 4-H Club.
"We've got some little Prospect steers, two breeding heifers and a couple little heifers," he said of the cattle they brought to the fair this year. "I'll be showing a Prospect steer, a big heifer and a little heifer."
Being a Rolling Hills Heifer Project winner, he said, will help him learn more about the beef industry.
"I want to learn more about cattle and get involved so I can be like my Dad when I'm older," said Rogers, the son of Lance Rogers and Tami Rogers.
"I'm going to try and get some calves (from the heifers) and make my own little herd," he added.
The five bred heifers initially stayed at his mom's house, where he could do chores before and after school. That's where the calves were born.
Later on, they were moved to pasture, and most recently were at his Dad's farm, where he could work with his other animals to get them ready for the cattle show.
Through the Heifer Project, Rogers will work to build up his beef herd and, at the end of five years, is required to deliver five bred heifers back to Rolling Hills in Atlantic. Those animals will then likely be awarded to another budding cattle producer.
In June, Rogers had each of the heifers artificially inseminated. The 9-month gestation period means he should expect baby calves again in March.
"I've got to keep records of the calves -- how much they weigh, how much they're eating," he said. Also, if he plans to show any of them in 4-H in the next five years, Rolling Hills Bank & Trust wants to know how they did.
At the same time, Rogers is responsible for paying the bills -- even getting loans to help cover the cost of feed for his stock from the Rolling Hills Heifer Project. It's a lot of responsibility for the soon-to-be eighth grader at Adrian Public School, but he said it is a good program to get kids involved in the beef industry. He also recommends it for others.
Rolling Hills Bank & Trust is now accepting applications for its next round of Heifer Project recipients. Details and a downloadable application may be found online at www.rollinghillsbank.com/heifer_project.htm or by calling the Rolling Hills Bank branch location in Worthington or Brewster.
Students must be in seventh or eighth grade to apply, be interested in agriculture and willing to accept total responsibility for the daily care of the heifers, and promise to maintain accurate records of income and expenditures during the five years.