Show ring holds both lessons and ribbons for Torrington’s Miller Family
Torrington — A Torrington youth was the reserve champion overall Premier Beef Exhibitor during the recent National Western Stock Show (NWSS). Twelve-year-old PD Miller exhibited in the youth market beef show at NWSS this year for the first time.
As reserve champion, Miller received a banner and a $1,000 scholarship. He was also named the Champion Junior Premier Beef Exhibitor, which is for competitors under age 13. Miller said he is very proud of the honors and the fact that he and his family raised the Maine Anjou Chianina crossbred, “Smokin Joe,” from a baby calf.
After placing third out of 15 steers in his junior market beef class with the 1,310-pound steer, Miller was eligible to participate for the Premier Beef Exhibitor award.
The contest is open to junior exhibitors nine to 19 years of age who qualified to sell in the Junior Livestock Champions auction at NWSS. Individuals from all over the United States traveled to Denver to compete in the event. The Premier Beef Exhibitor Champion was Claire Galley, 18, of DeQuincy, La.
Miller explains that the premier beef exhibitor contest is divided into five categories of competition and the individual with the highest total score wins the event. The categories were: live and carcass placings of the beef, a quiz containing general questions about the cattle industry, a prepared speech and a personal interview.
Miller says after he placed third with Smokin Joe he attended the exhibitors’ meeting that afternoon, during which he took his quiz and was given his speech topic. The next morning at 8 a.m., Miller gave a two-minute presentation on, “Do you think the show cattle industry is a good representation of the beef industry as a whole and what is your role as an exhibitor?”
The speech was followed by an interview with a judge about his quiz and the beef industry as a whole. Miller scored an 80 percent on his quiz, which was the second highest score of the 30 youth competing in the contest. Miller says the 25-question multiple choice quiz was a challenge. “The hardest part of the contest was the quiz,” Miller says. “You have to have cows and be around them to know the answers to a lot of the questions.”
“A lot of the questions on the quiz I knew from participating in meat and livestock judging in 4-H,” he says. Miller also has cows of his own and helps his family with their feedlot, which he says helped him with the contest. “The premier exhibitor contest is based on knowledge and ability and being able to speak,” he adds.
After Smokin Joe was sold in the NWSS Junior Livestock Sale of Champions, carcass data was collected and tabulated with the rest of the scores. The steer tied for third in the carcass value portion of the contest. Miller’s mother, Christine, says, “The judge said the two steers that placed above Smokin Joe (in the live contest) were prettier, but he thought Smokin Joe would probably have better carcass value. I guess he was right.”
After all the scores were tabulated, Miller’s total score was only .08 of a point below the overall champion. Next year, Miller says he hopes he can qualify to compete in the event again. His goal is to eventually win the contest. “I hope to compete again if I do well enough with my steer,” he says.
Although he competed for the first time in the youth market beef show this year, Miller is no stranger to the NWSS show ring. For the past five years he has competed in the open breeding heifer show and the prospect heifer show. At Denver he did well in those areas as well.
His heifer, Izzy, was the champion prospect market heifer and his two breeding prospect heifers, Lila and Nikko, both finished first in their classes. Miller is also very proud of how his heifers performed at the show. “I would like to keep showing Izzy in the market heifer division at shows, but I hope to add her to my cow herd,” he says.
When the Torrington Middle School student isn’t busy with his cattle, he also enjoys playing on the traveling basketball and football teams. He is a five-year member of the Prairie Center 4-H Club and participates in the swine and beef projects. But cattle seem to be his true passion. “My goal is to own 50 cows by the time I go to college,” he says. “I want to win the livestock judging events at the shows in Denver, Kansas City and Louisville.”
Cattle are truly a family affair in the Miller household. In addition to PD, Paul Jr. and Christine have two other children, Skyler, 10, and Paige, 7.
The cattle are a chore the entire family enjoys. Christine says her children have grown up helping with the cow-calf operation, the show cattle and the feedlot. “Our boys grew up with it,” she explains. “They started halter breaking calves when they were three. We couldn’t keep them out of the pen.”
“The show cattle are a hobby, but it is also a family business,” Christine says. “We buy and sell show cattle. They help pay the bills.”
To be successful at it, the family travels around the country to various shows and sales throughout the year. “We travel as a family and we show cattle as a family,” she says. “We push our kids a lot. We push them to do it right the first time and to keep doing things right,” she says. “In our family, we have a rule. At the big national shows, if it is their animal, they show it. Sometimes, they have been the youngest exhibitor in the ring in the open shows, but they are out there with the best and it teaches them a lot.”
Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup.