Taylor Butler – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)-, LRHS senior and Future Farmers of America (FFA) officer, Jessica Bierds has been raising and showing fair animals since the opportunity first presented itself in seventh grade at Carlos E. Haile Middle school.
“I have shown steers chickens and plants,” explained Bierds.
Although fond of other animal projects, Bierds started out showing steers and continued it through the duration of the last six years.
“I usually pay around $2000 for the entire project,” said Bierds. She said that’s on the low side since people will typically spend $4,000 and up.
In a short amount of time, Bierds must help the steer gain at least 300 pounds to eventually weigh between 950-1750 pounds, and have a back fat of .25 inches to meet fair requirements. She does this using special supplements and feeds raising the quality of the meat and muscle mass of the steer as well as the fat.
In addition, Bierds must train her steer away from being a roadside roamer to being able to walk alongside her in an arena, while being surrounded by hundreds of other people in the stands and several other showers and their steers in the arena. “Every day I work nearly two hours teaching him the proper way to stand and how to properly walk,” said Bierds.
While Bierds is in the show arena, she is judged on how the cow walks and handles. She will then again enter the arena another time, this time being judged on how well she can control the half-ton animal.
“Raising an animal takes money, time, and dedication, especially if you want to see results,” explained FFA alumni member Kayla Butler.
Anyone interested in showing an animal can visit FFA advisor Susan Grainger in room 507.