A young stockman with big dreams of being part of Wisconsin's beef industry has been named to one of the top five spots in a national contest to win a beef heifer.
Logan Wagner, 10, has been showing beef cows since he was seven, says his proud mother Heidi. He started out at the county fair and has since added other shows to his list of activities.
"He's a very conscientious kid. He does the work himself," she told Wisconsin State Farmer by telephone Friday. "We're trying to raise respectful children and he takes a lot of pride in his work."
Even at the tender age of 10, she said, all his projects for school revolve around writing about or drawing pictures of his beef cattle. He tells his teachers and anyone else who will listen that his goal is to be the largest beef farmer in Wisconsin.
"If the assignment is to write a poem, he writes it about his beef cattle."
She explains that Logan got his start in cattle through the dairy end of it. When he joined 4-H as a kindergartener his local leader happened to be a dairy farmer who gave him the opportunity to show dairy cattle.
His mom says Logan loved it so much that going to the farm each day to wash and work with his dairy animals was the high point of his year. Eventually he wanted to have cattle of his own.
Heidi and her husband Cory bought her grandparent's former dairy farm and had the place for cattle, but didn't want to re-invent themselves as dairy farmers, especially since the milking infrastructure had been removed from the barn. So they began researching beef breeds with an eye to getting their son involved in that branch of agriculture.
They settled on Herefords as a breed known for its docile temperament and its ability to turn low-value feeds into substantial gains. After doing that research they joined the Wisconsin Hereford Association and took part in a tour of several southeast Wisconsin farms.
It was there that the family saw two purebred Hereford heifers that happened to be for sale. "It was all Logan could talk about on his way home - how much he loved those heifers and how pretty they were and how much he wanted them."
The tour was in August and by October those girls were weaned and hauled home to the Wagner's place near Pine River.
It was also by Logan's hard work that he had the money to buy those first animals. He had worked for several years with his grandfather planting and selling pumpkins and gourds. After the expenses of this enterprise were taken out, Heidi said the rest went into Logan's fund and eventually that money was there for him to buy his heifers.
After he sold his steer at the county fair his grandmother asked him if he was planning to put the money into his college fund. "Grandma, I'm going to build my herd first and then I'll worry about college," he told her, Heidi recalls with a laugh.
His herd now includes three Hereford cows - those first two heifers and another that he added last year. His next plans are for doing embryo transfer work, she says almost incredulously.
It isn't as if he's piggybacking on an enterprise his family is involved in. The family's entire beef operation is Logan's three cows she said.
They heard about a Sullivan Ranch contest that would give Logan a chance to win a crossbred heifer from the Texas ranch through an online contest. But they never dreamed they would be selected in the top five.
The contest is affiliated with "Stockshow Confidential", a program on the RFD cable channel. "We don't have cable, but we heard about it on Facebook," she said.
After looking at the videos that were submitted as part of last year's contest they felt they could give it a shot and were thrilled to learn they were in the top five.
The winning entrant will have to attend three shows within a calendar year of getting the heifer and submit a written monthly report about their project. Winners are asked to devise their own method of record keeping and make their monthly reports in the form of a letter.
Heidi said they had to submit a four-minute video and the finalists were chosen by a panel of judges.
But the winner is determined by votes.
She's asking all her friends and anyone interested in seeing Logan win the contest to visit the website: www.stockshowconfidential.com to take a look at the videos and place a vote - hopefully for Logan.
"We'd like people to vote for Logan but if people don't feel he deserves their vote, no worries."
The Wagners got the word Thursday (Nov. 21) that Logan was a finalist and started getting the word out to their friends and acquaintances the next day. Voting was set to begin online Nov. 22 and it closes Dec. 6.
People can vote once a day.