FFA youth cattle handling competition

Published 2:41 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Future Farmers of America, (FFA) teams from schools around the region assembled at the Blackstone Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC) to compete in the Southern Piedmont Regional Youth Cattle Working Competition.

The recent regional competition, sponsored by Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), is just one event in a full calendar of competitions, contests and exhibitions that young FFA and 4-H members can participate in.
According to the informational flyer released by the VCE, “The youth cattle working contest develops youth skills in animal management and handling. Working as a team, youth efficiently process three stocker calves utilizing Beef Quality Assurance guidelines. The top two teams from each region then compete at the State Youth Cattle Working Contest on April 19 held at the Junior Beef Roundup in Harrisonburg.”

At the recent competition in Blackstone, teams from Randolph-Henry High school and Central Middle School in Charlotte county, Buckingham County High School, as well as teams from high schools in Dinwiddie County, Bedford County and Botetourt County pitted their skills in cattle processing against one another. 

Cattle processing involves isolating and moving cattle out of a pen and locking it into a chute. The team then inspects and treats the calf for a variety of conditions such as would be encountered during day to day activities on a farm.

Jim Pugh, the agricultural teacher at Randolph-Henry High School, spoke on the reality of the competition for the young students; “A lot of folks might not understand that for these kids, these competitions are about as real as it gets. The cattle that the students are working are not trained stock cattle. We go down and move them up straight out of the pasture. It really is about as real as it gets — as close to what they will encounter in real life on the farm.”

After a full day of competition, the team from Randolph-Henry High School won the competition and the Dinwiddie team placed second. 

Both teams will be advancing to the contest in Harrisonburg on April 19.