With electric clippers in hand, Ashley Woods ’16 buzzes the winter coat from Tacoma—the eight-month old Holstein calf she’s been caring for at the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center. An Animal Science major in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire, Woods is preparing Tacoma for the Little Royal Livestock Show this weekend.
Woods runs her hand over Tacoma’s clipped hair, which feels like velvet, to check for uniformity. No stranger to handling cows, Woods grew up in West Berkshire, VT, helping her grandparents with the family farm. When she was only eight-years-old, Woods purchased her own calf, and raised it to breed. She kept on breeding until she had a herd of six milking cows.
Even though tomorrow will be Woods’ first time showing a calf in the Little Royal Livestock Show, she feels prepared through her childhood experience showing cows with the 4-H program. Tacoma’s newly cropped coat gleams in the sunshine as Woods pats her down admiringly. “I’d like to own my own dairy farm,” she says, “and produce cheese and ice cream.”
Wood’s friend, Jacqueline Keef ‘17, also showed cows through the 4-H program. The Massachusetts-native is training her ten-month-old Holstein calf, Topper, to be lead by a halter. This is the first time Topper’s worn the leather strapping and she tries to throw it off, sidestepping around Keef. But Keef is unruffled and calms the calf, effectively reassuring her with a firm grasp on the leather and a hand on her withers. A Dairy Management major at the Thompson School within the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, Keef has been enjoying the hands-on experiences in the Dairy Selection course. “Drew Conroy has been a great teacher and mentor through this process,” she says of the Professor of Applied Animal Science at the Thompson School.
Each spring, students in the two- and four-year Animal Science programs at the University of New Hampshire compete in the Little Royal Livestock Show. Every competitor is assigned to a division based on his or her previous experience, and works with his or her own calf for several months before the event to grow a healthy and beautiful animal ready for show. The Little Royal Livestock Show, held at the University’s equine facility, is free and open to the public. The dairy event takes place in the afternoon, following the equine segment.
- Victoria Forester Courtland