Cattle events at the Watertown Winter Farm Show promote quality genetics, community involvement

2018 Watertown Winter Farm Show Supreme Champion Bull, a Maine Anjou by Travis Hofer of Bridgewater. Photo by Jodi Weber

By Katie Berndt
Dakota Media Group Correspondent

The Charolais, Red Angus and Simmental shows held at the Watertown Winter Farm Show on Feb. 7 were a popular attraction for cattle producers and spectators alike.

The shows featured three of the seven cattle breeds exhibited this week. While the number of entries was lower than in previous years, the quality of the cattle remains the same. Top animals shown on Feb. 7 were selected for Supreme Row and will return to compete for Supreme Champion Heifer and Supreme Champion Bull on Feb. 9.

Grand Champion Charolais Heifer and Grand Champion Charolais Bull were awarded to Wells Charolais from Conde and Keppen Charolais from Volga. Hanson’s Red Angus from Hazel won both Grand Champion Red Angus Heifer and Grand Champion Red Angus Bull. Grand Champion Purebred Simmental Bull and Heifer went to Thyen Simmentals from Hayti.

For cattle producers, this show and others like it serve as an opportunity to promote their farm’s reputation and their cattle’s genetics. Jason and Nina Jo Wells add to that by using it as a platform to promote the Charolais breed.

“We come here every year,” Nina Jo said. “It’s fun to be able to come and see all the friendly faces that we know, and this gives us an opportunity to be able to bring something to somebody else and then they can see what we have to offer.”

With both Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Charolais heifers, Wells Charolais credits their herd genetics and breeding program for their high-quality females. One of the less common breeds in the area, Charolais cattle are known for their large size and high growth rate.

“We’re going to be able to mass produce quickly and be able to feed more people more rapidly using a Charolais bull,” Nina Jo said.

The cattle show also serves as an economic benefit and a learning opportunity for the Watertown community. Spectators can hear experts like livestock judges Jeff VanderWal and Ethan Johnson weigh the pros and cons of each animal. Other workshops during the Farm Show offer educational seminars, but even attending the cattle shows provides a snapshot of the livestock industry.

“It’s very good for the city,” livestock committee member Jeff Heesch said. “It brings a lot of people to town. It’s just an all-around good event and is well attended.”

The Winter Farm Show’s cattle exhibitions draw spectators from South Dakota and the surrounding area. Sisters Mary Pinard and Sue Anderson, originally from Minneapolis, said their family ties and the atmosphere of the show attracts them to the event.

“My son-in-law is showing,” Pinard said. “He won Supreme Champion last year. My sister is so nice enough to come every year. She’s always been a big supporter of what he’s doing and it’s fun to watch him.”

Anderson, who still lives in Minneapolis, said she always heard about the cattle show from family members and traveled to Watertown for the event for the first time last year.

“It kind of just felt like something I wanted to check out,” Anderson said. “I’m a city person, so I don’t get into a lot of this kind of stuff but it’s fun because it’s exciting to see him build his business.”

The Watertown Winter Farm Show holds an emotional connection for people in the livestock industry. Like many others at the show, livestock Judge Ethan Johnson began his career by participating in similar events while he was growing up.

“I started judging when I was very young, in 4-H,” Johnson said. “Then I went to SDSU and was on the livestock judging team there, and have been judging a few shows here and there ever since.”

The Winter Farm Show is organized by a team of volunteers who work toward the continued success of the event. Farm Show committee member Jeff Heesch said that no one person ensures the success of the event, but that it is a group effort by volunteers who devote their free time to the show.

“I just want to thank everyone for coming,” Heesch said. “We’ve had a great turnout, the weather’s been good, it’s been a good thing for the city, so hopefully it keeps on going.”

South Dakota Angus Association Show & Sale Results

Champion & Top Selling Bull, Lot 38

• Consigned by Kwasniewski Angus, Clear Lake

• Bought by Homan Farms, Inc., Gary, for $7,000

Reserve Champion Bull, Lot 25

• Consigned by Mike Thyen, Hayti

• Bought by Lyle Tschakert, Florence, for $5,000

22 Bulls Grossed $74,250 with an average of $3,375

Champion & Top Selling Heifer, Lot 5

• Consigned by Dandy Acres Angus, Pipestone, Minn.

• Bought by Jon Albrecht, Arlington, for $3,500

Reserve Champion Heifer, Lot 7

• Consigned by Mike Thyen, Hayti

• Bought by John Albrecht, Arlington, for $1,800

Six heifers grossed $11,200 with an average of $1,866.

South Dakota Hereford Association Show & Sale Results

Champion & Top Selling Bull, Lot 23

• Consigned by Fawcett’s Elm Creek Ranch, Ree Heights, S.D./Ryan Ollerich

• Bought by Klages Herefords, Jeff and Mary Klages, Ortonville, Minn., for $7,500

Reserve Champion Bull, Lot 11

• Consigned by Hanson’s Polled Herefords, Conde, S.D.

• Bought by Bottum Brothers for $4,000

19 bulls grossed $59,600 with an average of $3,136

Champion Heifer, Lot 1X

• Consigned by Weeping Fox Ranch, Hartley, Iowa

• Bought by Jon Albrecht for $3,300

Reserve Champion & Top Selling Heifer, Lot 3

• Consigned by Begalka Livestock, Castlewood,

• Bought by Christopher VerHoeck for $5,300

Two heifers grossed $8,600 with an average of $4,300.