August 23, 2022
Editor’s note: This is the first in the series “State Fair Stories,” where we visited with youth exhibitors at the Missouri State Fair from Aug. 11 to 21 about their projects and experience. Look for six more stories like this one over the next few weeks.
Paden Gilbert grew up surrounded by Angus cattle on the family farm outside of Oldfield, Mo. For the most part, the operation consists of raising and selling purebred Angus cattle. But Gilbert has his own side project of incorporating genetics into the herd to produce show heifers.
“We actually want our cattle to have slick hair on the farm,” the 19-year-old Chadwick FFA member says. “Those type of cattle can handle the heat better. It is what buyers at the sale barn are looking for.”
It is a stark contrast in appearance from the Angus show heifers settled into the Missouri State Fair cattle barn.
Thick black hair stands up along the top, leg and side. Gilbert selects bulls to breed to a few cows that will increase the amount of hair on his show cattle. Then he goes about the work of stimulating hair growth on the animal.
“They have their own special place in the barn,” he says. “I wash them, blow them out, and keep them cool with sprinklers and fans, all to promote hair growth.”
In the show cattle industry, it is all about making the animal appear bigger boned, and hair helps. Over the years, through genetics and breeding, Gilbert increased the amount of hair on his Angus calves.
The first generation to show at the Missouri State Fair, this is Gilbert’s ninth year exhibiting Angus cattle.
Unlike other kids at the fair, he doesn’t show steers — just heifers. He likes forging a bond with his cows, one that starts early yet endures.
“It is a different between with them and the other cattle at home,” he explains. “I’m with these heifers a lot, not only feeding and watering twice a day, but caring for them and getting them ready to show. You really get to know their personalities.”
Paden Gilbert poses with his Angus heifer in the Coliseum at the Missouri State Fair. It is his ninth year showing in the youth cattle shows.
After the show, both will return to the family farm in southwest Missouri.
Gilbert graduated Chadwick High School and continues to help on the family farm. But his dad taught him more than how to raise cattle. He also taught Gilbert to weld.
Today, he also works for his father at Gilbert Industries. The company custom designs and fabricates tanks ranging in sizes from 10 gallons to 40,000 gallons for shop-fabricated tanks, and up to 2 million gallons for on-site tanks. Gilbert says these products are used by the wine and biofuels industries.
“They are massive,” he says. “It is a lot of fun to work on these types of projects. And it is great to work back home in the family business.”
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