The top honor in the Delaware County Junior Fair’s dairy feeder category was awarded to Sydney Stults and her 658-pound steer during Tuesday’s show.
For Stults, a freshman at Buckeye Valley High School and a member of the Brown Bakers and Rakers 4-H club, the winning dairy feeder marks the first champion of her five-year show career.
“It felt really good,” Stults said of winning. “I went in thinking that I had a chance because I could tell, even months before the fair, that he was a nice-looking cow. It really just depended on the competition.”
Stults said the judges were looking for, among other things, the shape and straightness of the back of the cow, along with how well the back legs were set up and the overall shape of the cow. Equally as important as the cow himself was the way in which Stults handled him in the show ring. She said remaining vigilant of the judge while keeping eye contact and a smile, as well as “setting up” the cow in the proper positions, all factored into winning the title of Champion Dairy Feeder.
According to Stults, the judges also prefer heavier cows, which played into her favor with a cow that was not far from the 700-pound weight limit. In fact, it took some work just before the fair to ensure the cow even made weight, she said.
“It was very difficult this year because he was really struggling with his weight. We got him weighed a couple of days before the fair and he was overweight, so we really had to buckle down and get him on a really strict diet,” Stults told The Gazette.
Stults said the steer was in a pasture prior to the weighing, allowing him to eat whenever he pleased. Needing him to cut weight, Stults moved the steer to a smaller stall and fed him one scoop of grain each day. She said limiting the steer’s water was also vital to cutting weight as cows can put on as many as 50 pounds just from the amount of water they drink.
Showing a market champion hasn’t been the only thing Stults has accomplished this week. In addition to winning the dairy feeder division, she was also named a Delaware County Junior Fair princess and is serving on the Junior Fair Board. Stults said her responsibilities of serving on the board include signing up to help out with four different events around the fair.
Asked why she decided to take on the additional tasks involved with being on the Junior Fair Board, Stults said she mainly wanted to help out the fair she’s been a part of for so many years.
As for what she enjoys the most about showing animals, Stults pointed to the relationships she’s been able to develop with many of the same faces at the fair through the years.
“It’s just really fun seeing little kids grow up because I’ve been working with, basically, the same people in the barn since I first started. I’ve gained so many new friends just from the fair alone,” Stults said.