Casper cousins prepare livestock for Central Wyoming FairWritten by Christy Martinez
The three Robertson kids, Maegan, Morgan and James, along with their cousin Nathan Hamilton, who lives nearby, leave the house at six o’clock each morning to care for their steers and lambs, which will be entered in both market and breeding classes at the county fair.
James, the youngest of the Robertsons, says his sisters are his role models, and that they help him learn how to raise and manage his projects.
“They help me if I don’t get it right, like teaching me how to tie my steer onto a fence, how to brush and clean him up for shows, and how to use sprays on him,” says James, who is in his second year with a steer project.
Nathan has a sheep project, and he says he gets up every morning to feed and walk his lambs before the day gets too hot.
“I walk them up the road and back in the morning, and in the evening I feed them and run them around their pen so they get a little muscle,” he says. “I enjoy that I get to makes friends for the summer, so I don’t get bored, and I get to learn about agriculture.”
Nathan’s lambs come from LJ Livestock, which is run by the Robertson family, and he also buys lambs from Brody Allen of Casper.
“The most challenging part of getting lambs ready for fair is getting them used to people touching them,” says Nathan of what he’s working on in the weeks leading up to county fair.
Training and preparing
Morgan, the second oldest Robertson, is in her third year with 4-H and has two steers and a lamb this summer.
“Last year I didn’t really want to do sheep, but my sister talked me into doing it, and I’m glad I did,” she says of her first year with a lamb project.
“I like showing the steers and getting them all ready for the show,” says Morgan of her favorite part of raising steers. “We wash their hair and get it moisturized every day, and we blow it and comb it and we might use spray.”
Morgan says she and her siblings walk their lambs morning and night before they’re fed.
“We walk them up the road, and as we walk them we brace them and get them used to the halter,” she explains.
Of spending time at county fair, Morgan says, “I like how there are a lot more steers and other animals at county fair for mine to make buddies with, and I enjoy showing and spending the week there.”
In 2011 Morgan took her steer to the Wyoming State Fair and claimed reserve champion honors.
“This year I’m in intermediate, so I just hope to do well my first year in that group,” she adds, noting that she’s showing one of her own heifer’s calves this year. “I had breeding animals last year, but this year I just wanted to work with my steers.”
Maegan, the oldest of the group of three, participates in market lambs, breeding sheep, market steers and breeding beef.
“I’ve been in 4-H for nine years, and FFA for five, and I started off with market sheep before deciding I wanted to start raising them with my mom’s help,” she says. “I started raising them, and now I’ve had one of my breeding ewes for nine years.”
Maegan says she started with a market beef project about five years ago, and then she decided she wanted to start raising beef, as well.
“I started going with breeding beef, and two years ago I won overall breeding heifer at the county fair,” she says of her accomplishments, adding that taking livestock judging helped her learn how to select her breeding animals. “I found out what the judges were looking for. When you’re looking at market beef, you want market-ready animals, and in breeding beef you want feminine beef that are good breeding material.”
As luck would have it, Maegan has lost a handful of breeding ewes and a market beef this spring, but she says she will still keep plenty busy during county fair week to get her animals ready to go.
Speaking of working together as a group with her brother and sister, Maegan says, “We become closer, and learn more about each other, and learn to work as a team.”
As an example, Morgan adds, “I was trying to walk my steer, and Maegan was blowing her steer. Mine wouldn’t walk, so she stopped blowing and came to help me. We work as a team.”
Looking into the future, Maegan says she plans to expand her livestock projects, and Morgan says she would like to get into showing pigs next year.