South Stokes High School’s FFA team finished fifth in the North Carolina High School Cattle Working Competition held at the Upper Mountain Research Station in Laurel Springs, NC. This marks the first year any Stokes County school has competed in the event.
“Saura students first fielded two teams in a regional contest in Sparta, where one of those teams qualified to compete at the state event,” said Stokes County Extension Director Carl Mitchell. “The team exhibited remarkable skill in handling cattle.”
Ten teams qualified at prior regional contest to be eligible to participate. First place honors went to Alleghany Jr. Cattlemen’s, second place Bandy’s FFA Team A, third place Alexander H.S. FFA and fourth Surry Central FFA.
Competitors demonstrated their skills in processing young beef cattle for health and productivity and learned the concepts of Beef Quality Assurance.
Competitors in the event planned and then processed three head of cattle. They first completed a Cattle Processing Plan providing information about the products that were used, how they are used, and where they are administered. This document becomes a permanent health record for this group of cattle. If the cattle are sold, this document would accompany the cattle so the new owner is aware of the details surrounding health products administered to the cattle.
Contestants then processed the calves. Calves received two vaccinations, a dewormer, and weighted. Scores were given by judges on the correctness of the procedures performed by contestants.
Contestants were also scored on their ability to handle the cattle. Smooth, quiet handling is being sought to minimize potential injury to cattle and people. Points may be deducted for noisy or rough handling and errors in catching heads, moving cattle, etc. Common errors that are made in handling cattle include: missing the head with the catch, failure to use squeeze on the chute, failure to use a bar behind calves, excessive roughness in moving cattle and failure to use the crowd gate in putting cattle into the chute system.
Safety was also scored for the teams that competed. Any action that seemed to put the handlers or cattle at risk resulted in a deduction for safety. Common safety errors include: having the handler’s head too close to the calf’s head during tagging or implanting so the calf can swing their head up and strike the handler, dropping the tailgate on the calf, or attempting to inject in the neck in front of the head catch.
Time for completion of the processing is part of the contest as well. To receive maximum score all calves needed to be processed in ten minutes or less. The emphasis is to encourage the efficient processing of cattle but not to pressure such fast activity that errors occur and safety is jeopardized.