For many rural children, the 4-H experience teaches valuable life skills and provides an outlet for high achievers.
At this year’s 4-H On Parade, Canada’s largest 4-H event, major highlights include the market lamb and steer sale.
The big winners from the steer and sheep events started as preschoolers in the Cleavers program, a pre-4-H program. Both of the winners expressed hopes for a career in ranching.
Lane Woods of Blackie, Alta., a member of the Foothills 4-H Sheep and Multi Club, won the grand champion market lamb at the event held June 3-5 at the Calgary Stampede grounds.
He showed a Southdown-Hampshire cross and while he came into the show hoping to place higher than his friend, he did not expect to win the big award.
At age 14, Woods has been involved in 4-H for 10 years. He attributed that to the influence of his mother, Jennifer Woods. She is an international consultant on animal handling and good welfare practices. She is also a club leader.
“I probably wouldn’t be in 4-H without her,” Woods said.
“I don’t see myself out of 4-H until I can’t do it anymore.”
His mother emphasizes good animal welfare practices be used by club members.
“It is something she drills into our heads,” he said.
At the farm at Blackie, south of Calgary, he has a flock of 10 ewes and 23 lambs of crossbred sheep.
During the auction that wraps up the three-day event, his 136 pound lamb sold for $7.75 a pound.
The reserve champion was shown by John Winkler of the Bow Valley Beef and Multi Club and sold for $7 a pound.
At the end of the sale, a market lamb was auctioned off to support a charity. This year the Bow Valley club raised the lamb and donated the money to the Canadian Lyme Disease Association. The lamb weighing 128 pounds sold for $119.50 per pound.
Kylie Sibbald made family history at the 4-H On Parade show with her Maine Anjou-Angus steer named Thunder. It was named grand champion, an honour Sibbald’s father, Jay Sibbald, received at the same show in 1988, when he was 16. Both are members of the Jumping Pound Beef Club, representing a region west of Calgary.
At age 12, Kylie is a serious show person. She and this steer travelled to eight other shows this year and always made it to the final champion division, said her mother, Kari Sibbald.
The family lives west of Calgary on a multi-generation ranch. Jay and Kari dispersed their purebred Angus herd a few years ago, but Kylie and her two sisters have decided to return to their roots and rebuild a herd of registered cattle.
Kylie started 4-H as a Cleaver and began showing cattle at age nine.
As soon as her champion sold, she planned to shop around for next year’s steer. She also won reserve champion in Calgary last year. Both steers were bought from Don and Chase Martin show cattle.
She makes her own selections but has to explain her reasons to her father before buying.
Maintaining show cattle is a big part of her life. Kylie and her sisters rinse and groom their cattle every day so the animals and girls get to know one another.
Daily workouts with the animals provide confidence so she doesn’t have to worry about a 1,200 lb. animal losing its cool when she goes before the judges.
“It’s all about them knowing you. And, you to stay calm,” she said.
Her time in 4-H is a means to an end for a youngster interested in ranching and raising purebred cattle.
“It gives you a good name and it gives you a chance to win,” she said.
Her 1,326 lb. steer sold for $7.50 a pound.
The reserve champion went to Kyle Groeneveld of the Balzac, Alta., Beef Club. The steer weighed 1,291 pounds and sold for $4.25 a pound.
The Millarville-Stockland Club raised a steer for charity with the proceeds donated to the Shriners Children’s Hospital. It weighed 1,377 pounds and sold for $4.50 a pound.