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Be informed, entertained at Dr. Joe’s cattle demos

The veterinarian will narrate demonstrations of the latest chutes and technology daily at Husker Harvest Days.

Curt Arens

August 29, 2019

2 Min Read
Nebraska’s own Dr. Joe Jeffrey (far left) wears his iconic white cowboy hat during cattle demonstrations at HHD
CHUTING STRAIGHT: Nebraska’s own Dr. Joe Jeffrey (far left) wears his iconic white cowboy hat during cattle demonstrations at HHD.

During the first 10 years of Husker Harvest Days, cattle handling equipment and livestock chutes were exhibited at different locations across the show grounds. But if you are a livestock producer searching for the right chute for your operation, it helps to see them operate side by side to compare each chute.

That’s why Lexington veterinarian “Dr. Joe” Jeffrey and buddy Tim Talbott proposed a new way of doing things at HHD.

They had the idea of live cattle handling demonstrations and side-by-side chute comparisons for the 1988 show. The rest is history. Audiences over the past 30 years look forward to seeing the latest chutes and technology demonstrated, and hearing the humor and stories of longtime demo narrator Dr. Joe.

Jeffrey has narrated every cattle demonstration at HHD since the beginning. Over that time, things haven’t always gone as planned, just like real life on the farm, Jeffrey recalls.

Recent history is no exception, when a calf occasionally scampers through a chute before it can be caught in the headgate during demonstrations.

That’s just par for the course, according to Jeffrey. But bringing the equipment and cattle together, so producers can compare chute features, is a practical way to help HHD visitors see the chutes in action.

“We tell a few stories and have some fun, too,” says Jeffrey, who uses humor to engage and inform the audiences.

“It has been a lot of fun,” says Jeffrey, who enjoys teasing some of the chute operators. But he is quick to admit that the real stars of the show are the chute workers who make the demonstrations successful year after year, and the equipment itself.

“It is much more successful than I would have anticipated. The chutes have really improved over the years,” he says. “The greatest changes have been how strong the chutes are built today, and that they are much safer for the livestock and the handlers.”

The demonstrations at Lot 860 in the Livestock Industry Building at the corner of Eighth Street and West Avenue take place each day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. They are situated in a prime spot among livestock exhibits, breed association displays, and beef and livestock equipment and machinery.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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