Beef ribbon producer
Hard work ends with grand champion ribbon
Jody Baragary is no stranger to success at the beef show arena but was still surprised to take home what may be the most coveted ribbons at the Leavenworth County Fair.
The Happy Helpers 4-H Club member was grand champion in the market steer show Thursday morning with her 20-month-old steer Willie. It was the second year in a row Jody, who will start her junior year at Tonganoxie High School next week, has won the ribbon. She also claimed the grand champion ribbon in 2008 before watching her brother, Austin, take the prize two years ago.
But Jody didn’t take winning for granted as she eyed the competition that advanced through the different breeds to vie for the market steer final competition late Thursday morning.
“It was a pleasant surprise,” she said. “At a lot of shows I’ve been to the judges have liked him, but I knew this year’s reserve champion was very, very good.
“This was the hardest year I’ve showed, so I’m very satisfied.”
The thick steer that show judge Danny Adams of Maple Hill singled out as the “most complete steer” in the competition wasn’t some steer pulled from the pasture for the county fair. A lot of science, knowledge, and work went into Thursday’s success.
Jody’s father, Bill Baragary, said it started last September when he and Jody visited the South Dakota farm where Willie was born. They selected a cross-bred Angus-Maine-Anjou steer born March 2, 2010.
“We went out together and picked it out,” he said. “After that, it was all her.”
About two months after Willie was on the farm, Jody started training with the animal. She took him to his first show in February, where he weighed 912 pounds, she said. More shows would follow in the spring.
This summer, Jody tended Willie and her other show livestock, spoiling Willie so that he could grow to the lean 1,317 pounds he weighed at the fair.
“I got up at 6 in the morning and out in the barn from 6:30 to 7,” she said. “I try to feed them when it’s cool when they have more appetite. I walk him not quite a quarter mile, then wash him and blow dry him and brush him out. I keep him under a fan to keep him cool and feed him again when it was cool at night.”
It all required a watchful eye as adjustments were made for the heat and an effort was made to bring Willie to his peak at fair time.
“He was on a diet a little this summer,” she said. “We put him on a special mix because he was getting too big.”
As the winner for the market steer competition, Willie was one of the last items in Friday night’s auction, an honor that ended with the words “to the floor” after the winning bid of $3,100. Jody has been through it before and familiar with the joy and sorrow.
The reality of the beef industry is that cattle are raised for the kill floor, but it is also true that success in a 4-H beef show is dependent on spending more time — and developing closer relationships — with animals. Helping with that was a video she watched this spring, which explained the methods of packing plants.
“I learned they’re not scared,” she said. “That was the main thing I worried about.”
“He follows me around in the pasture,” she said. “He’s just a big puppy dog.”