The following words are not mine. I saw this on facebook and I appreciate what the author is saying. I think it applies to all species of livestock.
“Long-Necked, Freaky-Fronted Females Need Not Apply
In 1971 the Canadian Rock Group, Five Man Electrical Band, released the song “Signs” which popularized the line “Long Haired Freaky People Need Not Apply”. While this song was fighting the “establishment”, I feel the show ring of today is establishing, and ultimately promoting, a type of cattle that are not sustainable as a model for seedstock producers, and ultimately, the commercial cattle producers that we are selling our genetics to.
I am talking about the giraffe-necked, freaky-fronted, finer-boned, narrower-chested, weaker-hearted cattle that seem to be popular in today’s jackpots and fairs. While the best of these cattle can be made to look respectable in a show ring, they must have four inches of hair and be fed like a market steer to achieve that result. In my opinion, a cattle show — especially a breed show — should be about finding the individuals that will someday make the ultimate cow or herdsire for that particular breed. In my experience, the deep-bodied, wide-chested, full-hearted cattle tend to be easier fleshing, more structurally correct, and have some front end while maintaining their femininity. I would argue that a much higher percentage of 2-year-old females are “too pretty”, rather than “too ugly”. Under normal range conditions the sharp-fronted, tight-hearted cattle tend to be too hard on themselves, bring in an inferior calf, and ultimately, a higher percentage come up open.
So where does this leave us as a purebred cattle community? We seem to be encouraging our junior exhibitors to go after a style of cattle that, while are exciting and fun, have a limited place in the cattle industry as a whole. Are we preparing our kids to be “real world cattle breeders”? Or are we teaching them how to find the longest neck, and to heck with evaluating and someday being able to recognize what kind of females and bulls they need to build a herd? I hope my kids will be involved with Junior Shows and 4-H for many years to come. We feel as parents that there is no better environment to teach kids the values of hard work, sportsmanship, and communication skills. The group of parents and kids at these shows are of the best character and an example I would put in front of any group; I just wish we would focus on more functional cattle.
Giraffes have really long, slender necks, but last time I checked they get most of their feed from tall trees and need to be able to see a long distance to get a head start on predators. Last time I checked, beef cattle get most of their feed from ground level and predation isn’t much of an issue. So … if anyone can come up with a reason for a beef animal to have a “freaky front end”, I welcome your comments.”
(My words) Here’s what I know from my personal experiences. Do NOT select a female according to her showring placement. Purebred, crossbred, commercial, whatever. Use sound livestock selection practices, proper breeding management and common sense. If your common sense radar alerts you that there might be a boiled stuffed rabbit in the future, slowly back away. (Remember the movie Fatal Attraction?) Humans included. If they are batt $h!t crazy, then you probably don’t want them to reproduce. Which includes recips. If they are nuts, they will end up hurting a kid or at the very least, teach them to act like bat-crap crazy individual.
Trivia–What band remade the song “Signs”?