Three members of the Surry Central Future Farmers of America (FFA) placed fourth in the State Cattle Working Competition recently.
Members of the team were Lorenzo Acevedo, Shane Hawks, and Bailey Johnson.
Students had to qualify for the state contest at the Regional Cattle Working Contest in March. The FFA advisor is Jessi Thomas, Agriculture Instructor, for Surry Central.
Regional qualifying competition has become necessary to accommodate the numerous teams desiring to compete. Competitors demonstrate their skills in processing young beef cattle for health and productivity and learn 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 had an ear notch inserted and received two vaccinations, and a de-wormer. Judges gave contestants scores on the correctness of the procedures performed.
Contestants also received scores 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.