A day in the life: Raising a steer for show

What does it take to become a Junior Steer exhibitor at Rodeo Houston? For Sarah Heimeyer of Lake Jackson, it means hard work from sunup to sundown!

Video Transcript

SARAH HEIMEYER: You learn real quick when you go into livestock that no day is the same.

Good morning, sunshine.

My name is Sarah Heimeyer. I go to Brazosport Christian School. I'm in 10th grade. And my sister's name is Scooby. I'm here every day, morning, and evening. I got involved when I started showing longhorns. I decided that I wanted to do something that's a little more involved with the youth side of things and really just get more involved in livestock.

Scooby, he is a Simbrah Red Angus steer. And he is a super goofy, fun, just awesome calf to work with. I've had a lot of fun with him this year. He has been one of my favorite steers to work with. He's a close second to my longhorn steer. We get along well, taking selfies, the whole sorts of things like that. So that's been a lot of fun.

And then just being able to work with him-- the more you work with him, the stronger the bond is going to get. They're going to open up to you, and you're going to open up to them. There's been times I've laid in the stall with him and snuggled up. So you get close to them because you're there every day with them.


So when I got him, actually, there was something about the calf that I just really liked. There was-- he had extension. His mom and dad were pretty. And then you just have a gut feeling sometimes that something's going to work out. So that's what kind of happened with this steer. Ad I've seen the potential in him, and we're really getting there. He has the body condition that he needs.

We're still working on the hind end a little bit. We got to get some muscling in there. But other than that, I'm hoping we place really good this year. With COVID and everything, some shows were canceled, so we had to work through that. But we've been able to go to the scramble show. We didn't place how we liked, but we had a lot of fun, and we learned a lot.

For the most part, I wake up at around 6 o'clock, get to the bar at 6:15, and then I take Scooby out. I tie him up, and then I clean his stall. And then we go out to the arena. We work a little bit. I work on setting up so we're ready for the show ring. And then we go back. I feed him, I unhalter him, and I go to school.

Around 4:30 each day, I get back out here. It's a little more tedious in the evenings, but we go ahead and we set up and everything. And then we wash him, dry him, do some more setting up and walking. And then he gets fed, and I go see my own longhorns. I currently have two longhorns. I have a steer and a heifer. One is three years old, and one just turned one in January. So it's been a lot of fun, and we've had a great experience with them. I've been showing them for three years, so it's been a great time.

Some people, it's not the thing for them. But if you-- like I am, if you're willing to put in the hard work and get dedicated to it, there's so much you can learn. And I don't think I've bitten off more than I can chew, so it's been a lot of fun. I have two study halls, thank goodness, so I'm able to get most of my homework finished there where I can focus on the cattle a lot more during the evenings.

I'm very excited to show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and get back in the arena. I'm very excited for the judge and that we actually are getting to show this year. So it's going to be a great experience. Getting to work with the heifers and the steers and the females that we got to work with was a lot of fun. And it was a crazy experience at first because everything's happening so rapidly. But once you get the hang of it, it's a lot of fun.

Every judge is different in their own opinion on what they're looking for. But one of the things that I've learned from livestock judging just overall-- in market steers, they're looking for overall body condition, which is their fatness or their finish. They're looking for muscling throughout and the hind quarter and nice, clean neck and extension of the neck as well. So just a nice, clean animal that's put together well.

Working with the animal and knowing what the judge is looking for is something that really helps you out. So if they're lacking in their hindquarter a little bit, there's not as much muscling as you want, maybe there's a supplement that can help or something that I can do to help the animal out. And so just knowing your animal.

I've been to the rodeo two other times with my longhorns, but this will be my first time with a market animal. So it's going to be different. And they have protocols set up this year. We have to wear masks in the arena. We can only have two wristbands, one for the exhibitor and one for a parent or guardian. Keeping everybody safe, wash stations, separating when we get in, all sorts of stuff like that. So safety and health is a big concern for us.

We know that it takes hard work, but I think just the hard work that you have to do and what you get out of it is something that I really love. Getting that grand champion slap is the best feeling that you'll ever have in your life. And to know that you've worked with that animal and that you've picked that animal out and you made that animal succeed is something that's been a lot of fun for me to get to do. And that's why I love it, you know? It's a lot of fun.