Jackson County teen finds niche in livestock
JACKSON -- Tanner Post led his rather calm breeding heifer through a busy walkway and onto a patch of grass alongside Olson Pavilion at the Jackson County Fair Thursday morning. All around, people were bustling with grooming equipment and 4-H'ers were lining up to show their beef cattle, but the heifer seemed unphased by the activity.
The heifer's black coat shined and her hair was groomed in all of the appropriate places as Post waited for his chance to return to the show ring for the senior showmanship contest.
Earlier in the morning, the heifer placed fourth in her class for a blue ribbon. While it wasn't good enough for a trip to the Minnesota State Fair, there's always today, when Post will show his four market hogs in the 4-H swine show that begins at 7:30 a.m.
Post, the son of Brian and Melanie Post of rural Lakefield, is in his eighth year of 4-H. As a member of the Lakefield Hunter 4-H Club, he's busy at the Jackson County Fair this week showing his animals and ensuring they look nice for the hundreds of visitors who will walk through the livestock barns in the next few days. The fair in Jackson continues through Sunday.
Post's entry in the beef show Thursday was purchased in a private treaty sale specializing in show stock last fall. After bringing the black beauty home, he had to get the animal used to being around people. As time went on, work progressed to leading it around with a halter and eventually grooming.
The heifer was recently bred to one of the herd bulls owned by the Posts, and the hope is it will have a heifer calf next spring.
"I'm building my herd off the show calves I buy," said Post. He previously purchased two other show heifers, but had little luck growing the herd when one had a bull calf and the other heifer lost her calf. Between those two and the Tyson heifer he exhibited Thursday, Post hopes to have a three-calf crop early next spring.
He said if he's lucky enough to get a heifer calf -- or two or three -- he'll be able to show one at next year's fair as a prospect calf. And, in another three years, Post may be able to rely on that growing beef herd to help fund his college education.
"I want to get a degree in animal science," said the 15-year-old. After college, he hopes to return to Jackson County to farm.
Until then, he will focus on his livestock projects.
This morning, Post will show four market hogs that were raised in his family's farrow to finish operation. He selected his show pigs earlier this spring, and has spent the summer walking them and washing them to get them ready for the show ring.
"Sometimes they can be harder (to train than beef animals)," Post said.
"My favorite is probably the beef (project)," he added. "You get to go out and pick them out yourself, and you get to see how they change -- grow and get tamer."
In addition to exhibiting animals, Post also participates on the county's 4-H general livestock judging team. The team will compete prior to the Minnesota State Fair in August, and then plans a trip to Ak-Sar-Ben in September. Last January, the team traveled to San Antonio, Texas, for competition.
"I just like all the experiences (4-H) gives you," he said.
When the beef show had ended Thursday, it was Post's older brother, Zach, who earned first place in the senior showmanship contest. Post ended up in fourth place. The two boys also have a sister in 4-H, Maggie.