Gopher Dairy Camp all about fitting show cattle

Goal is show ring success

By Carol Stender

ST. PAUL -- Most of the youth who attended the recent Gopher Dairy Camp wanted to learn one thing -- how; to properly fit cattle for show.

The camp taught that and much more. Sessions during the three-day camp on the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus included growing bigger show calves, how to apply linear scoring, corrective mating, hands-on fitting demonstrations and show ring preparation.


Brad Heins and Scott Ellinghysen chaired the event, which started as an idea several years ago.

"We just thought it was time to grab the bull by the horns and get going," Heins said.

The youth purchased calves from the university's herd at a mock auction. Those calves were used by the youth throughout their stay and were fitted for show and led during a showmanship demonstration.

"The camp will give them an idea of what to expect in the ring," Heins said.

Heins, a graduate student, has shown dairy cattle for 10 years.

"I want them to have fun with it," he said. "I don't want them to take it so seriously but to have fun and to teach them the fundamentals of what to do during the show. If you know the fundamentals, it can help you. If you get too serious, it might hinder you during the competition."

Seven professional fitters helped fit the animals.

"A lot of the kids who come here are from commercial dairies and they don't have a lot of experience with fitting and showing," Heins said. "Most of them are in sixth through ninth grade. We want to hit them early and hope that they will stay with the dairy project."


Heins and Ellinghysen set a target number of 100 youth, but said they were pleased with the 75 who attended the camp's first year.

Most youth were from Minnesota with a small group from South Dakota and Utah.

The Minnesota 4-H Dairy Committee and the Gopher Dairy Club, the largest student organization at the university, sponsored the event.

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