Lyman County, SD, youth wins breeding heifer
HURON, S.D. — During the 2020 Western Junior Livestock Show, Keeleigh Elwood became the recipient of a show heifer through South Dakota Farmers Union’s Build Your Own Herd contest.
“Raising and showing livestock through 4-H, develops youth who are responsible and are comfortable leading. Through this contest, Farmers Union is able to support tomorrow’s agriculture leaders,” said Doug Sombke, president of South Dakota Farmers Union.
A panel of judges selected Elwood from a pool of candidates based on her application essay. Elwood is a member of the Lyman Longhorns 4-H Club. She was motivated to fill out the application because she was hoping for the opportunity to begin building a show herd.
“I am in love with showing,” the 15-year-old Chamberlain high school sophomore said. “I am a competitive person, so I love the competitive side of showing, all the people I get to meet and all the friends and memories I’ve made.”
For as long as she can remember, Elwood has been involved with her family’s Reliance, S.D., ranch. And when she turned 5, her grandparents, David and Brenda Reis helped her start her own herd.
“At age 5, they take us out into the herd and let us pick a heifer calf. It is our College Calf. As it grows up and becomes a cow, whatever money comes from its calves goes into a college fund they set up for us,” Elwood explains.
Like ranching, 4-H is also a family tradition explained Elwood. “My mom showed in 4-H when she was younger and 4-H was something she continued with us.”
Over the last seven years, Elwood said in addition to 4-H being a fun activity, she’s gained life skills from showing livestock in 4-H. “I learned that what you put into life is what you get out of it. If I put a lot of time and effort into animals and work with them every day, I will get better results in the show ring than if I only work with them once in a while.”
Elwood named her Maine-Chianina heifer Babs. Babs was purchased by Farmers Union from the Beare family of Ree Heights, S.D. Shortly after receiving Babs, Elwood competed with her at the Springs Showdown in Wessington Springs, S.D. Elwood and Babs received fourth place in her breed class.