By Vanessa Kahin
Showing dairy heifers is a family affair for the Schaaps; they’re the force behind Southern Draw Dairy as well as the source of this year’s grand champion dairy heifer winner at the Curry County Fair.
The recognition went to Skyler Schaap, 10, of Clovis, and her dairy heifer, Black Beauty, Wednesday afternoon at the Kevin Roberts Show Arena.
This is the second year that Skyler has shown dairy heifers, said her mother, Jacque Schaap.
She said her daughter has been working with dairy heifers all summer. This work involves feeding them twice a day and “breaking” them so that they walk well on a lead.
Diet and good manners also play an important role in raising a good heifer, Skyler said.
“You want to put (dairy heifers) on a diet,” she said. “Don’t let them eat all day. Be nice to them.”
Still, Jacque Schaap said getting a ribbon at the fair for a job well done comes down to just one factor: The judge.
“The day of the show, it’s what the judge says,” she said.
Skyler is one of five siblings who participated in the fair. They all showed dairy heifers. She was joined by her brothers Case, 16, Cole, 14 and sisters Sadie, 12 and Sophie, 7.
Sophie participated as a booster this year, Jacque Schaap said.
The booster category is for children who are not yet old enough to show animals, she said. Working as helpers, being a booster is a way to help a child develop an interest in showing animals as well as to give the child practice in doing so, she said.
Reserve grand champion went to 17-year-old Lynnae Allen from Melrose.
A veteran at showing dairy heifers, Allen said she chose not to name her heifers this year.
Allen did, however, admit to changing her strategy to help boost her odds of winning a title.
She said she won grand champion her first time showing at the Curry County Fair at the age of 9. The following year, she said, she won reserve grand champion.
This year is the first since then that she’s gotten a title.
“We just happened to pick the right one out,” Allen said of her heifer. “We made sure she didn’t get too fat.”
Allen’s advice to children who want to also show animals at the fair: Go for it.
“Do it,” she said. “It is so worth it. … It feels really good to get that honor.
“(Work) at it. You’ll get results.”