VALDOSTA -- Thirteen young exhibitors from the surrounding area saw the results of their labor during the Valdosta Area Beef Show at the Lowndes County Civic Center on Tuesday.

They came from Brooks, Lanier and Lowndes Counties to show 13 steers and two heifers, said James Corbett, agriculture teacher at Lowndes High School. Some of the exhibitors have had their calves since last April, and a majority of the cattle are about 18 months old, he said.

The exhibitors were also judged on showmanship in two categories. The junior category ranged from ninth graders and below, and the senior category consisted of 10th to 12th grades. The cattle were divided into the heifer class and steer class. The heifer class was judged for being able to produce the best stock.

The steer classes were broken down into four weight categories. Class I was for the 1,000 pound range, Class II was for the 1,100 range, Class III for the 1,200 range and Class IV was for 1,300 pounds and above, Corbett said.

Another category was for Area Raised Classes. Nine of the cattle fit into this category. Calves that came out of this area used to be called '"Homegrown," but now so few children live on the farms the category was changed to Area Raised, Corbett said. "Now the kids can support the local beef farmers," he added.

Corbett stressed that most people don't realize the scope of the individual projects these young people go through. "If they were to buy one off the market -- they'd probably spend around $500 to buy the calf," he said. "But, if they purchase a prize calf they could spend up to $1,000 or more. Their feed bills average about $700 a year, and they can average $1,000-$2000 in the calves."

Often to break even, an exhibitor's calf's weight has to be around 1,200 and sell for at least $1.50 per pound. There's also the time the exhibitors spend with their animals.

"Some of the kids spend hundreds of hours with their calves," Corbett said. "A good thing about this project is that when it's done right -- it makes for a lot of good family time."

Corbett explained that another part of the project for the exhibitors is to talk with perspective buyers about the beef show process, and convince them to come out and bid on their calves.

Brandon Smith, 17, from Ray City is in his second year of showing cattle. Smith entered his steer in the Senior Showmanship as Class I at 1,055 pounds. Smith works on a farm and has always wanted to be a farmer. He sees the show as a means to meet people in the beef business. He plans to start his own herd. He has two heifers now and hopes to add two more next year.

Besides learning how to care for his cattle, he learned about teamwork by working with his fellow exhibitors in such areas as grooming. Smith's steer has placed second in every show and was the Grand Champion in the Waycross show, he said.

Jordan Taylor, 15, is from Lowndes County and this is his first year of showing. He brought one steer and one heifer to the show. He admitted he felt a little pressure, but this was his eighth show. His steer has placed third in one show and fourth in a couple of other shows, he said.

Taylor has gotten to know his fellow exhibitors and said he has learned more about the cattle from them. "My granddad is a farmer, and he got me started into wanting to become a farmer."

Smith spoke on behalf of the whole Lowndes show team by thanking their advisors: Andy Harrison, Dr. James Corbett and Claudea Paul.

To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.

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