For those planning to participate, it's already time to think about the 2013 Holmes County Fair.
Beef and dairy steer weigh-in and tagging for participation in the fair is scheduled for Dec. 15 from 9 a.m.-noon at the Holmes County fairgrounds.
The weigh-in is mandatory in order to enter a steer project into the Holmes County Fair and Ohio State Fair.
All steers should either be banded or castrated when brought to the weigh-in.
"It's the date you tag the steer in, declare the weight and the ownership of that steer," said Steer Committee Chairman Lee Miller. Each member has the ability to tag in as many as two steers and make their final selection by June 1. "We also make a distinction between county-bred steers and calves purchased outside the county, because the county-bred steers are eligible for a separate show."
The steers are weighed and tagged eight months in advance in order to give participants adequate time to prepare for the fair.
The steer's rate of gain is based off of this initial weigh-in.
"By and large, most steer calf projects start in the fall when they are 700 pounds, give or take a few. If you don't start at that age, you can't handle the calf," said Lee Miller.
In the steer project, steers are killed at 16-17 months old. In December, these steers are 7-8 months old.
However, a lot happens between December and August.
"Selection is the first step, whether it's one you raised or one you buy you still have to select the calf," said Steer Committee Member Rob Smith. Next, the steer must have its vaccinations and undergo other health-related activities. A feed program must also be decided upon.
"It's deciding how you want to feed them, what feeds they might need -- different steers require different rations," said Smith.
As part of the steer project, the steers that are shown at the county fair must be also shown throughout the winter at a show or a clinic to get the steer accustomed to being in the ring.
"The primary reason for that is for the calf to learn how to be out and be shown," said Lee Miller.
Other important details that steer project participants have to work out is the steer's housing situation, which involves finding clean housing with enough space and clean water. Not only do participants practice a feed program, they must also shovel plenty of manure to keep the steer clean and healthy, explained Steer Committee member Dale McKee.
On weigh-in day, participants will line up in the driveway to unload the steer to be weighed-in and tagged. A hoof trimmer will also be on-site.
"Typically at the weigh-in a lot of calves aren't broken in, there is a little bit of rodeo action going on," said Steer Committee member Dale Miller. "Some of them are easy, you put a halter on, you tie it to the wall and when you come back you can lead them. I haven't had many of those. It takes time, patience and repetition."
To get calves accustomed to unexpected noise, those doing steer projects typically place radios with their calf in the barn.
Each year, about 35 participants do the project, which is one of the more expensive projects for the fair.
To learn more about the steer project or to receive the registration card, contact Kate Shumaker at the Ohio State University Extension Office at 330-674-3015.
Reporter Kelley Mohr can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.