South Bruce Dairy Club meets at Teeswater Fairgrounds

TEESWATER – The fourth meeting of the South Bruce Dairy Club, joined by the Arran Tara Dairy Club, was held at the Teeswater Fairgrounds on July 23.

The focus of the day was fitting and showing calves. Everyone was invited to bring their calf with them to the meeting. After brief introductions, the clubs gathered around to watch a clipping demonstration given by Jamie Farrell.

Clipping or fitting is when the calves’ hair is trimmed before each show to highlight strengths and minimize weakness they have in their body conformation.

Farrell, who owns a dairy farm in Ripley, has fitted cows and calves in nine Canadian provinces, 14 American states, and several countries across the globe. He explained each of the pieces of equipment he uses when fitting a calf. First, he used a hair blower and topline brush to stand the hair on the calf’s topline (spine) up. Once the calf topline was standing straight and tall, Jamie used his pair of large clippers with a fine blade and started squaring the calf’s top. He levelled the high point over the calf’s rump and trimmed the long hairs under the calf’s belly.

Farrell told the group that he prefers to use the large clippers for toplines, feet and legs because they are more reliable, easier to maintain, and once you get comfortable with the large clipper they are faster to use than the small clippers. Everyone had a chance to practice what they were shown.

The morning finished with a presentation of leather show halters to the first-year members by Jane Lang-Mawhinny on behalf of FCC Walkerton.

At noon the members were treated to a lunch of pizza, milk, and ice cream generously donated by Alta Genetics, The Bruce County Holstein Club, and the Bruce County Dairy Producers.

After lunch it was time to focus on the showing side of the meeting. The showmanship clinic was given by Curtis McNeil.

Curtis McNeil is a Level 3 judge capable of judging 4-H regional shows and county shows. He has judged many shows, including the Lucknow 4-H Dairy Invitational and Ancaster Fair.

McNeil, along with South Bruce Dairy 4-H Club member Molly King and her calf, gave a demonstration of showmanship. McNeil explained what the judge is looking for from the time the competitors first set foot in the ring to the final lineup. One of the things he focused on was how the showman should walk their calf when in the ring. He went over pacing, when to walk forwards or backwards and how much distance to leave between each calf and the outside of the ring.

McNeil also showed the group how they should set their calf’s feet and when to switch the feet as the judge moves around the calf. The object of all this is to show the calf off to its best advantage. When McNeil finished his demonstration the clubs split into two groups. The intermediate and senior members retrieved their calves and entered the showring for a mock show and some one-on-one advice on how to improve their showmanship skills. The first- and second-year members moved to one of the barns for a lesson on hoof care from Dr. Alec Martin.

Dr. Alec Martin shows South Bruce Dairy Club members a dissected hoof. (Submitted photo)

Martin owns a vet clinic in the London area and is also a leader of the South Bruce Dairy Club. Martin brought four hoof and lower leg specimens with him. He had dissected one of them so that the members could see the different bones and muscles that make up the hoof. He used the other specimens to demonstrate proper hoof trimming and to talk about common hoof diseases and injuries that can lead to lameness. These included strawberry hoof rot, laminitis and bacterial infections.

During the afternoon, the clubs had a visit from Lisa Thompson, Huron-Bruce MPP and minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs. She shared some of her experiences from 4-H and talked about how what she learned has stayed with her throughout her life. She encouraged the members to stay in 4-H and get involved with some of the provincial camps and other opportunities that 4-H has to offer.

The clubs finished the day talking about proper showing outfits and the need for safe footwear when working with cattle.

The next meeting of the South Bruce Dairy Club is Aug. 10 and the clubs next show is the Lucknow 4H Dairy Invitational on Aug. 1.

Special congrats

The club would like to congratulate Jason Watke, Micaela Hill and the rest of the Bruce County team from the recent EastGen Challenge.

Hill took third place with her senior heifer, Watke took third place in the senior showman category, and the Bruce County team won Premier County.

Sarah Weber