As I mentioned in May, we went to the AGM in Harrisonburg, VA in June. As always, it was a wonderful time with Dexter friends, renewing previous connections and making new ones too. Unlike the previous two AGM’s we attended, this time I took some animals to show, so I experienced things from a different angle this year. There are several success stories from the weekend that I would like to share.
The show Friday was rather small, with not so many people making the trip across the mountains with animals, so a bit disappointing. But it was a great first-time-ever showing experience for me. I had simple goals….to have fun, to see if my training method had worked, and to learn how some of the best animals in my herd compare to others from some of the top breeders in the nation.
The first goal was definitely accomplished! In spite of being worried & doing a fair bit of fretting the evening & morning before the show, I DID have a lot of fun getting out there in the ring with my animals.
The second goal is a big part of the reason I had fun in the ring. My training absolutely worked, and if I must say so myself, my animals were the best behaved ones there! In each class I was in, my animals were surrounded by other animals who were balking, dancing & spinning around and at times bumping into my animal, and some just in general acting like total fools. I was SO proud that in each case, my animal remained calm, focused on what I was asking them to do and stood quietly to be presented to the judge. Even though it was their first time ever in a show ring, with scary new objects, voices over the loudspeakers & lots of strange people, they did not freak out or become obstinate. This is the way it should be!
The third goal was also a success. I wasn’t really expecting my animals to place in their classes. My bull calf, Charlie, and my steer calf, Porter, each were in a class consisting of three animals. They both placed third in their class. Jammy, my junior yearling heifer, was #8 in a class of nine. She had a lot of tough competition. Tundra, my senior yearling heifer, took the third place ribbon in her class of four. That all may not sound like much of a success, but my goal was not to win. I accomplished my goal of learning what traits I need to work on in my breeding, by seeing how my animals compared to the others.
I am so glad I decided to do this! It was an incredibly valuable learning experience, and I would strongly encourage others to take advantage of the showing opportunities you may have.
The Photo Contest
This is perhaps not a huge part of the AGM, but it is such a neat way for anybody to participate, even if you can’t attend. There were a lot of excellent entries in the photo contest and it was fun to see everybody’s pictures of their animals. I was pleased to come home with two ribbons from the contest, a third place & a first. With all the stiff competition, that feels like a success.
The Annual Meeting
After the cattle sale Saturday morning, there was a lecture given by Dr. Phillip Sponenberg about breed conservancy & genetics. It was quite informative, with good questions & discussion from the members in attendance, and he addressed a lot of the genetic “issues” facing Dexter breeders. Dr. Sponenberg made repeated comments like “you need to agree to disagree”, “treat each other with respect”, “be civil!” and “work together”, indicating that we need to accept all the differences within the breed and that to continue squabbling over things will only hurt the breed.
His lecture was a great lead-in to the Annual Meeting, which happened shortly afterwards, with the vote on the female genotyping proposal on the agenda. The floor was open for comment & discussion before the vote, and amazingly enough, everybody took Dr. Sponenberg’s urging to heart. The discussion remained civil & respectful. THAT was a huge success indeed! And of course, the biggest success of all, in my opinion, is that the genotyping proposal was approved. The membership of the ADCA has made their voice heard, with a large majority being in favor of moving our breed forward in this manner. I definitely feel like celebrating!