A star on the junior livestock circuit
11:12 am May 21st, 2013
Ryan Rogers washed his cow, Dara, at his family’s farm April 26 to get her ready for a showing the next day in Centralia. Rogers, 11, has won the 4-H Grand Champion Steer competition in the Northwest Junior Livestock Show each of the last three years. (Jim Bryant/The Dispatch)
By Pat Jenkins
At the age of 11, Ryan Rogers has built a dynasty in the Northwest Junior Livestock Show and Sale.
For the third year in a row, he and his entry won the 4-H Grand Champion prize in the steer competition in the annual event held last month at the Spring Fair in Puyallup. That made him one of the stars among the school-age participants who prepared and showed their cattle, hogs and sheep for three days, culminating with the auction April 21 that netted $179,995 worth of sold animals. That included $3,780 that Rogers’ 1,200-pound steer fetched from its buyer, Butcher Boys of Puyallup.
The average price per pound for steers was $2.45. Rogers’ champion animal got $3.15.
So what makes this Weyerhaeuser Elementary School fifth-grader so good at all this? He modestly explains that it’s all in the quality of the steer and grooming them into showstoppers.
Rogers’ family, which has a small farm between Eatonville and Graham, buys Ryan’s steers in Oregon. Then he works with them every day for about six months in the buildup for the big livestock show at the fair. They’re fed well, Ryan said. And, he revealed, on days when they’re washed, “I put conditioner in their hair and blow dry them.
Judging criteria for 4-H livestock shows include the care and appearance of animals, as well as the showmanship of their handlers.
Ryan comes from good stock. His parents, Nicole and Mark, raised and showed cattle as 4-H and FFA members when they were growing up, and they continued buying and owning cattle after they were married and started a family.
They introduced Ryan to the activity when he was 7 years old, and he’s been working with steers and registered heifer cows ever since.
“He works hard at it,” said Nicole. And the money he earns through livestock auctions is “a nice addition to his college fund,” she said.
Ryan’s brother, Colby, a third-grader at Weyerhaeuser, shows pigs in 4-H events.
The competitive side of showing animals suits Ryan, who also is a budding athlete. He plays on youth sports teams – baseball as an outfielder, infielder and catcher, soccer as a forward and goalkeeper. He said he enjoys competing.
There isn’t much room for sentimentality with his steers that one day will wind up in a butcher shop. Ryan said he only gets attached to the ones that are “nice.” If they’re “mean,” he isn’t sorry to see them go. His latest prize animal is one of those. “He had an attitude,” Ryan said.
Ryan Rogers washed his cow, Dara, at his family’s farm April 26 to get her ready for a showing the next day in Centralia. Rogers, 11, has won the 4-H Grand Champion Steer competition in the Northwest Junior Livestock Show each of the last three years.
Jim Bryant/The Dispatch