A heifer describes a young (female) cow that ranges in age from a sexually immature newborn up to a cow that has had her first calf (hence, “first calf heifer”). Show heifers are big business in the cattle industry.
In the opinion of many, showing heifers is one of the more productive beef exhibition competitions available. Here’s why: A cattle exhibitor can purchase a heifer, show her, and return her to the farm herd to produce calves. Whereas with the steer project, a steer is purchased, shown, and sold for slaughter.
As an agriculture teacher, I have seen many scenarios that have paid big dividends for students showing heifers. One scenario I participated in myself. My own high school agriculture teacher, Mr. Doyle Roberts, loaned me a purebred limousin heifer from his own herd to show. I kept her for a year, fed her good feed, trained her – which gentled her down (she was high-spirited), and then returned her to Mr. Roberts at the end of the year. I have seen similar situations where a breeder would cover some or all of the expenses of keeping the heifer.
Another good situation I have seen is where a student’s father bought her a first calf heifer-cow calf pair, as an investment in her cattle project. The next year, she exhibited a steer calf from that heifer (now a cow). This heifer-calf pair served as the foundation for a herd that she and younger brother exhibited cattle from for nine years.
Perhaps the ultimate gift that kept on giving was another heifer-calf pair. A farmer bought his daughter a heifer-calf pair. The steer calf was the first of 13 steer calves from that heifer. All 13 calves from that heifer were exhibited in our local Valdosta Area Beef Show over the years. That is a record in itself.