Kodi Henderson tickles the nose of her 1,105-pound steer Quick Silver. The baby-powder white animal raises his enormous head, extending his tongue to lick the blue towel soaked with an aloe solution that Kodi is using to clean his face.
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Quick Silver is big for his age. At 13-months, he is just entering the window that makes him marketable, and in a few minutes, the 14-year-old 4-H’er will lead him from the beef barn across the Elbert County Fairgrounds in Kiowa to the Open Pavilion, where the 82nd Annual Junior Market Sale is wrapping up the auction for Market Swine.
Kodi has known this day has been coming since Quick Silver’s birth on her family’s ranch outside Elbert in July 2015.
“It’s hard to give them up,” Kodi said, “but they age quickly.”
By next year’s county fair, Quick Silver will be too old for market. And in less than a week, he will yield approximately 170 pounds of ground beef, 78 pounds of round roasts and steaks, 83 pounds of chuck roasts and steaks, 73 pounds of rib and loin steaks and 46 pounds of other cuts, such as brisket, flank, short ribs or skirt steak.
This is Kodi’s sixth year showing animals at the county fair, and she prefers to raise the steers from her family’s stock rather than purchase them. Quick Silver was born to a cow purchased by Kodi last year.
Over the past year, Kodi has looked after Quick Silver, feeding him protein-rich grains that gave him an average weight gain of 2.23 pounds per day between the 4-H weigh-in on Feb. 27 and the Market Beef weigh-in on Aug. 4.
“We feed them mostly grain because grain has a lot of protein, and I give him exercise each day,” Kodi said.
In Quick Silver’s case, exercise consisted of a 200-meter walk each day.
Quick Silver’s history is logged in Kodi’s 4-H Project notebook, and though it is not scored in the competition, a complete notebook must be included with each entry. Notebooks include the contestant’s 4-H goals, financial records of projects, a general project record and a leadership journal chronicling community service.
Market Beef entries are awarded ribbons based on showmanship (the ability to show the animal), Market Beef (the animal’s condition), and ultrasound, which is a combination of the animal’s ribeye marbling, the average weight gained per day between weigh ins, and the score from the Market Beef judging.
Quick Silver, though large for his age, did not place at this year’s fair, but Kodi scored high enough in Showmanship to earn a second-place ribbon.
The animal and 4-H’er receiving the highest combined score is awarded Grand Champion.
In addition to competing, each participant is allowed to enter one animal in the junior auction, and bidders are generous with their support.
The Aug. 6 buyback price for beef is $1.17 per pound, but buyer No. 89 bids Quick Silver’s price to $3.50 per pound, and the $3,867.50 earned from his sale will be directed into Kodi’s college fund.
“When my kids go off to college, the professors and (their) employers know which kids are in 4-H,” said Kodi’s mom, Suzy Henderson. “They do the work and follow through on projects.”
Kodi leads Quick Silver back to the beef barn. She will need to care for him for one more night before he, along with the other animals sold at auction, are loaded on trucks for processing, and Kodi returns to the ranch to begin the cycle again.
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