Logan Steed, 16, of Carlton talks to her early senior heifer calf prior to being judged during the 11-12th grade livestock show class at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville on Monday. Steed placed third.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Logan Steed has been showing livestock since she was in the fourth grade. Now a junior in high school, the 16-year-old has become dedicated to her cattle and traveling to different shows for prizes.
"People say it will start out as a hobby and turns into a lifestyle because it's all you do," she said. "I wake up early to feed them in the morning, go to school, come home and it's cows."
She and her family, who live in Carrollton, Ga., venture to at least 18 shows a year showing their calves while competing for ribbons, plaques and cash prizes.
"We're big into the Angus, so that's why we show them," Steed said. "Some people go to two or three shows (a year), but we try to go to as many as possible. We've gone as far as Oklahoma before. We're looking into going to Kentucky this year."
On Monday night, Steed showed her early senior heifer calf in the Angus show along with several other children and teens.
Landis Seagraves, 14, drove to Gwinnett from Nicholson, Ga. to show one Chi-Influence heifer and one Angus heifer. She has been working with the two cows since the summer and treat them like pets -- but with a little more elbow grease.
"It's not quite like watering your dog and you're out the door. It's a little more time consuming than that," she said. "Every morning and every night you need to feed them, hay them and water them."
And practice often for the arena. The teens train the livestock how to stand, walk and hold their heads.
"It's just like having a dog," Seagraves said. "You teach it tricks over and over again."
There are several people who come to Lawrenceville to show multiple animals, like Kim Chastain of Danielsville, Ga. She travels with three nephews and a friend and they compete in 20 to 25 shows a year around the country.
"The cattle are housed at my place and they come over to train the cattle. All I'm responsible for is feeding them," she said. "(We continue showing to) keep the kids out of trouble. It's either pay the feed bill or pay to get the kids out of trouble."
During the fair, the Chastain's group has shown a Simmental, a Charolais and a Hereford, and will compete for first prize with their Gelbvieh on Thursday before packing up for another competition in Watkinsville, GA on Saturday.
As Gwinnett County grows commercially and residentially, it's agricultural lifestyle has dwindled, so the cows, lambs, hogs and other livestock in the competition are usually from outside metro Atlanta and out of state.
That doesn't stop the fair from hosting the event.
"I think it's important for what we do for the kids. Every kid that comes up here with livestock, they look after it themselves and you won't ever see a kid that does this that is ever in trouble," said Bill Atkinson, who is part of the livestock board at the fair. "It's about 99.99 percent of them that finish school and they end up really adding a lot to the community. They turn out good."
During this year's competitions, approximately 1,700 livestock will be shown with around 1,300 kids handling the animals.
"When you do that, you're helping a lot of people," Atkinson said. "We wouldn't put in this much time in (to host the event) if it weren't for the kids."
The livestock shows occur daily during the Gwinnett County Fair and are held under the pavilion at the Davis Road entrance.