Saturday night at the Shawano County Fair we got to see a cool juxtaposition of elegance, prescience and pure hard work.
The 11th annual Futurity Show featured magnificent cows and their talented breeders all buffed up for the crowd and, most importantly, for judge Jessica Pralle-Trimner.
All 12 breeders who showed in the futurity category had entered their cows three years prior, when they were calves. They paid the entry fee then, and worked with the cows for the following three years to bring them to their potential.
“As calves we pay $15 for each entry that we think may end up being a good show cow in three years. To determine that the dam (mother) and sire (father) are the biggest factors in that decision,” said Nicolle Wussow, who runs Milk-N-More a 100-cow Dairy Farm with her husband Ron. “Some cows are bred to be “show cows” or the ones that would win a beauty pageant. Other cows are bred to be “milk cows” or to work producing milk. Show cows are fed to stay lean and “pretty”. The milk cows are fed to maximize milk production. They are very different diets and neither one is right nor wrong, it just depends on the goals of the producer for his cows. So, to answer your question if we know if they will be entered when they are born – yes because they are from our best maternal lines for showing.”
Additionally, eight breeders entered cows in the Anniversary Futurity category.
We cheered hardest for our friends from Milk-n-More.
“Show cows are typically washed daily, are exercised, and trained to walk slow with small steps and their heads up, are fed a lot of long dry hay and special grain mixes to give them the special attributes of being a beautiful cow for judging,’ Nicolle said. ” We also have them under fans in the summer to keep them more comfortable and to promote hair growth. Each show cows takes about two hours of specialized grooming to prior to going in the ring which would be like going to hair stylist. They also have their hooves trimmed so their feet look nice – just like pedicures. We even paint the hooves black, so they are shiny. Their ears must be cleaned, and their tails fluffed up as well. They are led with special leather halters and must be in sync with their leadsperson to look the best for their judge. So, there is a lot of walking and training to get a cow to that point.”
Kaila Wussow Tauchen, who showed KCW Applejack Alabama, the Jersey she owns with her brother and cousins in the main Futurity Category, scored a second place ribbon.
Colin Wussow, who showed Socrates Nikita, the Jersey his cousins Addison and Hailey Fischer own, won first place in the Anniversary Futurity category.
“Nikita goes back to the first Jersey we bought in 2004. That heifer would be Nikita’s great, great granddam and her name was Natalie. Natalie was famous in the Jersey showing cow world because she had a wry face. She was also twin to a bull, which in cattle breeding over 90% of the time the female will be sterile because of the hormones from the male during gestation. Somehow, we got lucky enough she was fertile,” Nicolle said. “Natalie won national championship honors, even though she had a wry face. She was very special and had extreme balance and correctness other than that face. She would have won more national honors if it wasn’t for that, one judge dropped her to fourth in the class because of that. It was extreme and some thought it would prevent her from eating and maturing into a productive cow, but she proved them wrong. So, the dam of Nikita was Noreen, then Nora, then Nina, and then Natalie. All of them have won honors locally, and Nora, Nina, and Natalie were shown nationally in Louisville and did very well. The reasoning for their names is this – the first letter of the calf is the first letter of the dam so we can quickly identify the original family. Nikita’s official name is Milk-n-More Socrates Nikita. The Socrates is the name of the sire, and the beginning is our farm name. This makes it easy for others to know the farm the cattle come from and the sire that was used.”
Addison showed Kaila’s Great Impression – ET, the jersey she owns, which was especially impressive because Addison is only 12-years old.
Kaila, Colin, Addison and Hailey are all grandchildren of Roy and Mary Ellen Fischer, who still live on the family farm now run by Kaila and Colin’s parents, Nicolle and Ron Wussow.
We cheered extra for them because we know how hard they work and we’ve seen how well-run their operation is. (Also, they’ve honored some of our family members by naming cows after them and, while they’re still on the property, we have gotten a kick out of visiting Vince, Vinnie and Otto from time to time.)
Of course, we rooted for our friends, but we also enjoyed seeing all the other competitors and hearing about their lives outside the ring. Farmers get the same 24 hours a day that everyone else does, but they seem to cram way more work into theirs. Most of the people showing cows also worked off-the-farm jobs and several were raising families as well. Futurity exhibitor Kelly Holewinski showed a Red and White Holstein alongside the oldest of her five children, Griffith Holewinski, who also showed a Red and White Holstein. The Holewinskis each won a best dressed category.
It always seems appropriate to celebrate Labor Day weekend at the Shawano County Fair because, in a lot of ways, no one works harder than farmers.