FFA youth cattle handling competition

Published 10:58 am Thursday, April 4, 2019

Future Farmers of America (FFA) teams from schools around the region assembled at the Blackstone Agricultural Research and Extension Center to compete in the Southern Piedmont Regional Youth Cattle Working Competition.

The recent regional competition, sponsored by Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), is just one event in a full calendar of competitions, contests, and exhibitions that young FFA and 4-H members can participate in.

According to an informational flyer released by the VCE, “The youth cattle working contest develops youth skills in animal management and handling. Working as a team, youth efficiently process three stocker calves utilizing Beef Quality Assurance guidelines. The top two teams from each region then compete at the State Youth Cattle Working Contest on April 19 held at the Junior Beef Roundup in Harrisonburg.”

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At the recent competition in Blackstone, teams from Buckingham County High School, Randolph-Henry High school and Central Middle School in Charlotte County, as well as teams from high schools in Dinwiddie County, Bedford County and Botetourt County pitted their skills in cattle processing against one another.

A Buckingham County High School release accurately described what the competition entailed. “The contest was comprised of two different parts; completing a cattle processing plan and working three calves. While preparing for the contest, participants learned about cattle vaccines and how to read the labels of the medicines. Participants also had to ear tag cattle and administer vaccines and dewormer. Safe handling of cattle and proper techniques were a part of the criteria for the contest. This contest is based around contestants learning proper cattle handling practices that is taught through the Beef Quality Assurance Program.”

Jim Pugh, the agricultural teacher at Randolph-Henry High School, spoke on the reality of the competition for the young students; “A lot of folks might not understand that for these kids, these competitions are about as real as it gets. The cattle that the students are working are not trained stock cattle. We go down and move them up straight out of the pasture. It really is about as real as it gets — as close to what they will encounter in real life on the farm.”

After a full day of competition, the team from Randolph-Henry High School in Charlotte County won the competition. The Dinwiddie team placed second and the Buckingham team placed sixth.

Charlotte and Dinwiddie teams will advance to the state level contest in Harrisonburg on April 19.