Youngsters Build Hereford Herd With Patience, Selection

5/10/2014 7:00 AM
By Carol Ann Gregg Western Pa. Correspondent

COCHRANTON, Pa. — Start them young and watch them grow. That can apply to children or cattle.

On the Dunn farm, the family works together to show the best cattle and produce good beef with its commercial herd. The registered Hereford herd began when Walker was about 7 and old enough to show cattle.

From there, the registered herd has grown to more than 30 with Walker, now 13, owning 24 and his sister Reagan, 9, having 7 or 8 head. The two take great pride in showing the cattle they own and have bred.

At the 2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show, Reagan showed the champion junior market Hereford steer, and Walker showed the reserve champion junior market Hereford steer.

Walker is learning to take it in stride that his sister beat him for champion this year and could be his toughest competition down the road.

“If you are going to lose, lose to an animal that you have sold or lose to your sister,” he said with a grin.

His father, Bill Dunn, said he is proud of how his son handled the situation.

Walker, who is becoming a Farm Show veteran, showed the reserve champion junior Hereford market steer in 2010 and the champion junior market steer in 2013.

This year, the siblings are competing with several females in a number of area shows. Reagan showed the champion female at the Ohio Beef Expo in Columbus in March with WD Shez On Time 0102 ET. She also showed the animal at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Walker said he enjoys working with his dad in making breeding selections to meet their goals. Their program is based on his bull, WD 0101 Karl, who has won champion senior bull at the Keystone International Livestock Exposition in Harrisburg.

Walker also likes to show cow and calf pairs that illustrate how the family’s breeding program is really working in the herd.

This seventh-grader is mature for his years when it comes to cattle. He has an eye on the future for his showing career and the development of his herd.

About three years ago, the family decided it couldn’t continue to have its commercial herd support the children’s showing activities so it sold heifers at the Ohio Beef Expo sale.

That proved to be a good decision. The family received a good price and in the years that followed, the animals have been well received at this sale.

“We are really pleased that we have repeat buyers,” Walker said.

This year is a special one for junior Hereford breeders across the state. Pennsylvania will hold the 2014 VitaFerm Junior National Hereford Expo, “A Sweet Family Tradition.”

It will be the first time that the expo has been in Pennsylvania, and local exhibitors are looking forward to show the rest of the national what a great event they have planned for them.

“The nearest expo was in Indianapolis,” said Bobbi Dunn, Walker and Reagan’s mother. “We have been to Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska three times. We are excited to have the expo in Pennsylvania.”

This year’s event will be July 5-12 in the air-conditioned Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. There are activities planned for each day, including some off-site field trips.

The Pennsylvania Hereford Association is working with its counterparts in New York, New Jersey, West Virginia and Maryland to put on the event.

Walker and Reagan are excited to be participating again at the junior national expo. Walker plans to show two heifers, a cow/calf pair and maybe a bull. Reagan will be showing two heifers and a steer.

The youngsters will be participating in the many other events that are planned for expo week, including Walker in the 3-on-3 basketball and Reagan in the poster contest.

They are also excited to not have to travel so far to get to the national expo this year.

Though cattle are the main focus for these two young people, they also participate in activities at their schools and Reagan rides and participates in horse shows.

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