HARRISBURG, Pa. — To Mikayla Davis, her show heifer is a special animal.
Kirbyville Lady Bird-ET, a yearling Holstein, has her own pen at the farm, a special pelleted show feed, pedicures, and all the hay and water she wants.
That special treatment might have something to do with Lady Bird winning junior champion on Jan. 11 in the open and junior Holstein shows at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Davis, 18, of Leesport, is one of several Berks County women who placed well at the dairy show.
Lady Bird was calm as small groups of people petted or passed by her in an alley at the Farm Show Comples.
During the walk to the wash rack, Davis suggested an approaching dad and toddler touch the side of the animal, not the topline that was sticky with hairspray.
Davis has some experience talking to the public from her role as Pennsylvania Grange youth ambassador.
“There’s so many people to educate. It’s important to educate everyone about dairy,” she said.
Hallie Kunkel also enjoyed talking with Farm Show visitors about her cattle.
“I like getting questions from people as you’re doing your normal thing,” said Kunkel, a sophomore at Kutztown High School.
Kunkel’s family sold its milking cows but kept a few show cows for Hallie and her sisters.
The 4-H project animals live at a neighboring farm.
Compared to her local fairs, the Farm Show competition was intense, with better animals and more of them.
Kunkel was surprised her 4-year-old cow, Sun-Far Jeanette, rose to the top of her pool, claiming grand champion of the junior Ayrshire show.
Lynette Gelsinger of Womelsdorf was also pleasantly surprised by how her cow did.
Claytoncrest Spicy-Red-ET won grand champion Red and White.
The couple also won grand champion Simmental beef bull earlier in the Farm Show week.
Gelsinger grew up on a dairy farm, but she and her husband, Troy, now raise cow-calf pairs, broilers, cash crops and dairy replacement heifers.
Gelsinger also works as an ag banker for Tompkins VIST Bank, but “I am a farmer first and last every day,” she said.
On show days, the couple work as a team. Troy focuses on preparing the cows, while Gelsinger handles them in the ring.
Not everyone was astir in the dairy stalls, however.
Thirteen-year-old Sara Haag was sleeping steadily next to Cloud 9 Colton Cookie, which had just been named the reserve junior champion of the junior Jersey show.
The snooze was understandable. Both Cookie and Sara had had a long morning.
Sara got up at 5 a.m., just as she does every day. At the Farm Show, she used that time to wash her animals and prepare them for the competition, her mom, Alicia, said.
Sara’s show career started when she was 15 months old and participated in an adult-supervised peewee show.
Now Sara goes to the All-American Dairy Show, which is held in September in the Farm Show Complex, and Show Like a Pro in Frederick, Maryland.
She also competes in dairy cattle judging in 4-H.
At home, Sara oversees the milking because her mother works off farm as a construction flagger.
Though she has a few years yet, Sara is already talking about going to Penn State and having a career in dairy nutrition.
“She just has a passion for the cows,” Alicia said.
Following are the top placings from the dairy show.
Grand champion: Marbrae Modem Jasmine, Roy Coale, Newville
Reserve grand champion: Mowry’s Ryder Gollee, Shultz Cattle Co., Dillsburg
Red and White
Grand champion: Claytoncrest Spicy-Red-ET, Lynette Gelsinger, Womelsdorf
Reserve grand champion: JJK-Shultz Dtntr Lizy-Red, Ethan Sterner, Barto
Grand champion: Knapps Ladysman Tigger- ETV, Kelly Johnson, Willow Street
Reserve grand champion: Knapps Copper Tropical, Kelly Johnson, Willow Street
Grand champion: BJ Colors Stanley Nevaeh, Brian Nailor, Mechanicsburg
Reserve grand champion: BJ Colors Stnly Raspberry EXP, Joleigh Nailor
Grand champion: Gajan Carla, owned by Jill Dice and Galen Martin of Fredricksburg, exhibited by Ben Rhodes
Reserve grand champion: D-V-C Atwood Dymond, Delaware Valley University, Doylestown
Grand champion: Heilinger Java Wiggles, Katie Wright, Acme
Reserve grand champion: Northkill Creek Glammer, Hannah Balthaser, Bernvillle
Grand champion: EDN-RU Juno Idelles Iris, Edn-Ru Jerseys, Boalsburg
Reserve grand champion: EDN-RU Tequila Margie Matilda, Edn-Ru Jerseys, Boalsburg
Supreme champion: Gajan Carla, Jill Dice and Galen Martin, Fredericksburg