Judge Jerry Paul (of Brazil Creek Boer Goats in Indian Springs) talks to paticipants in goat showing competition during this year's Texas County Fair. The Texas County Fair Board has announced that participants in sheep and goat showing must now be 5-years-old.

In an effort to allow more kids to show and sell cows, the Texas County Fair Board has added “dairy feeder steer” as a category.

Participants in the new category must be age 8 or older, and animals entered must be born between Dec. 1, 2015 and Jan. 31, 2016, and weigh at least 350 pounds at the fair. Fair board member Tony Bieller said there are a couple of reasons behind the move.

“This will be an exciting class,” Bieller said.

“There’s such a big jump in price from the hog to the steer class, and it’s hard at today’s prices for a kid to be able to afford to buy and feed a 700-to-800 pound full-grown steer. This class will make it so they can buy a bottle calf and raise it out to where it might weigh 450 to 550 at the sale and they can get a pretty good premium for it at the fair.

“It also allows a kid who wants to show a steer to get involved who might be intimidated walking around a 1,200-pound steer.”

In 2014 and again this year, only five or six steer were shown.

“We’re hoping to get our cattle numbers back up,” Bieller said, “and I think this class will help a lot. I don’t know, this might blow up and we’ll have 20 steers out there, but we’ll deal with it.”

The fair board has also introduced a change to the market class goat and sheep categories: participants must now be at least 5 years old by Jan. 1 of that year’s fair. Participants in non-market class showing can still be as young as 2.

Participants in hog and steer showing (including the new dairy feeder category) must be at least age 8, the same as before.

The fair board has set weigh-in dates for next year:

•Steers – Feb. 21 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

•Hogs, sheep and goats – Sunday, April 17 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

A “community clean-up” day at the fairgrounds’ livestock showing arena and barns is set for 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3.

“Everyone is welcome,” Bieller said. “It’s mowing, raking and manicuring in any way needed, so any help is welcome. Bring you weed-eater, your rake or anything else that might help, and there’s no wrong age or gender – there will be a job for everybody.”

Bieller urges prospective livestock showing participants to stay informed about rule changes or other issues by checking the fair board’s website, attending board meetings (usually on the third Tuesday of each month), or by calling board members.

“It should be stressed that all the changes we make are designed to give buyers the best possible animals for what they’re doing to support these kids,” Bieller said. “We want to have good, finished-out animals, and the buyers deserve the best they can get.”

For more information call fair board chairman Darren Ice at 417-260-0471, or board members Russell Gaither at 417-217-0894, Bambi Merrifield at 573-729-2234 or Bieller at 417-763-5568. Call Ice to be added to a fair board meeting information text message list.

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