Cattle Kids program gets positive marks

BLACKFOOT – Organizers of Cattle Kids would like to continue the Cattle Kids program during 2012.
Cattle Kid organizer Neil Anderson, veterinarians David Stanley and Tony Parsons, Bingham County commissioner Ladd Carter, 4-H Extension Educator Scott Nash and Eastern Idaho State Fair manager Brandon Bird met Monday to discuss the 2011 program.
On average, each calf gained about 100 pounds in six weeks.
The top weight gains among the calves follow:
° Zach Later’s calf gained 2.79 pounds per day.
° Taylor Diaz’s calf gained 2.71 pounds each day.
° Allie Cannon’s calf gained 2.63 pounds daily.
° The calves of McKenzie Later and Seth Polatis each gained 2.54 pounds daily.
Recognition for the top pen went to Seth Polatis whose calf gained 2.45 pounds each day.
Cattle Kids sold their calves after showing them at the 4-H Fair. The 47 calves sold for $1.25 per pound. There was one death loss. In three years of caring for 120 calves, this was the first death loss.
"There was nothing the kid did wrong," said veterinarian Dr. Tony Parsons. "Friday night the calf was fine; Saturday morning, he was down."
This summer, 35 kids participated in Cattle Kids, including two FFA members. There were 26 sponsors who each contributed $250 to help support the program.  
“Our goal is to build kids not just raise calves,” said organizer Neil Anderson.  
“The FFA kids were a big help after I got them trained up,” said Dr. Parsons. “Having the kids take the calves’ temperature was a big help. I knew which calves were sick and needed help.”
“We learned a lot about calves’ temperatures,” said Dr. David Stanley. “The temperature of a healthy calf has a wide range.”
This year, to help the vets and the calves, Pfizer Animal Health donated the vaccine Enforce #3 and Bayer Animal Health donated the antibiotic Baytril.
“The third year Cattle Kids were also a lot of help,” said 4-H Extension Educator Scott Nash. "The kids are learning how to work, how to set goals and be responsible."
All organizers are enthusiastic to see the Cattle Kids program continue.
Some of the shortcomings of this year’s program were the occasional shortage of grain and fresh straw.
What would help the grain situation is if an administrator could be appointed who would be over the grain, Stanley said. He/she could also order grain when needed.
Commissioner Ladd Carter, who supplies the hay and straw, inquired if straw could be brought in early.
"Yes—after the [Eastern Idaho State] Fair," said Fair Manager Brandon Bird.
Speaking of the Cattle Kids program, Bird said, “We are happy with the program.”
So were most of the Cattle Kids and their parents. Some of their comments follow:
Justina Campbell, age 14, writes, “I am thankful for everyone who sponsors and supports this program. I would like to let them know that this program made a difference for me and I know it has and will make a difference in the community of Blackfoot.”
“This summer I learned that cows are a lot of work,” writes Seth Leavitt. “You have to get up in the morning, every day, and feed them and walk them. It taught me some responsibility along with discipline and something else that I didn’t expect—teamwork."
“As always for the third year program, [my] great wish is [for] more city kids could understand the importance of our farming and/or cattle production,” writes Gregg Simmons. “It is great to allow repeat kids to stay in their program to keep a mix.”
“This year was a Blast!” writes Courtney Martinez. “I didn’t know what to expect at first. When I got [my calf], he was stubborn; well, he still is. … I would definitely do this again. It was really fun!”
“The thing I liked best about Cattle Kids was it was an opportunity to earn money over this summer,” writes Caleb Adams.
“This is the second year our daughter, Taylor, has participated in the Cattle Kids program. She absolutely loves it! It’s pretty much the only thing she’ll get out of bed early for without complaints,” said Taylor Diaz's mom.
"After seeing how much is donated, whether it be in the form of money, supplies or time, Taylor and I have developed a higher level of appreciation for these people in our small community and how they care for the young people."
Comments included suggestions for better communication and the need of help for the drain at the fairgrounds.

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