When it came to showmanship, Lincoln May’s black Angus steer was right on the money — and with a name like Dollar, May expected no less.
Dollar earned May a grand champion ribbon in the livestock showmanship category at the Northwest Montana Fair in Kalispell two weeks ago.
“Basically, you walk him around in the show ring, and the judges pick out who handles their steer the best, and they look at how the steer looks,” said May, who lives in Ferndale and is a member of the Swan River 4-H Club.
His steer also won blue ribbons in the market competition, which according to May is based on “how good the meat looks.”
Although he has been involved in 4-H for the last three years, this was May’s first time competing in the steer category. He spent his first two years as a 4-H participant raising pigs.
May said the main difference between steers and pigs is the time commitment. While most 4-H kids get their pigs at the beginning of spring, those raising steers get their animals in the fall.
“With a steer, you have to start way earlier,” May said. “I got him (Dollar) in late October, early November.”
Dollar was the second-heaviest steer at this year’s fair, tipping the scales at 1,388 pounds.
To get his animal up to that weight, May had to spend about $1,500 on feed.
“You have to feed them a lot,” May said.
In addition to frequent feedings, Dollar required a lot of training for the show ring.
“You have to teach them to keep their head up when they’re walking around,” May said. “I should have put more time into it. Next year I’m going to spend a lot more time walking (my steer) around.”
At the end of the week, many 4-H participants are rewarded for their hard work with a sizeable check at the livestock sale.
Last year, May made around $850 on his pig, and the year before that he went home with a check for almost $1,400 — not bad considering that he spent only about $140 in feed.
This year he is hoping to get about $3.50 per pound for his steer, which adds up to around $4,900.
Those are big dollar amounts for a soon-to-be eighth-grader, but according to May, it’s not the money that keeps him coming back each year.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” May said. “I come (to the fair) every year with my family, and we stay the whole week in our camper. I work at the rodeo and get autographs from some of the big guys. It’s just a fun time.”
Over in the pig category, 9-year-old Shelton Woll of Bigfork made his fair debut in this year’s livestock competition.
Woll’s pig, named Porky, earned two blue ribbons from the judges — one for market and one for showmanship.
This was Woll’s first year as a member of the Swan River 4-H Club, but he received lots of valuable advice from his older brother, Colton, who has a few years of experience under his belt.
“He helped push me,” Woll said. “I kind of learned to be a big, tough, stubborn pig farmer from him.”
Although Woll has spent a lot of time feeding and caring for his pig over the last few months, he hasn’t grown too emotionally attached to the animal.
“When you raise a pig, you learn just how stubborn they are, and you want to sell them,” Woll said.
Woll plans to save the money he makes on Porky for a truck, which he would like to purchase once he gets his driver’s license.
“I thought it would be smart to save now so I can buy later,” Woll said.