Showmanship success the Juckem family's goal at county fair

Genetic excellence an accompanying venture

Ray Mueller


Following in the footsteps of their older brother and sister, Karissa and Peyton Juckem are among the 18 youth exhibitors preparing their market beef steers for the judging and followup sale on September 2 and 4 respectively at the 2016 Calumet County Fair on Labor Day weekend.

For the Juckems, raising registered Simmental cattle and showing them at competitive events in Wisconsin and well beyond has been a family project since 2004. The family members are Jay and Denise Juckem and their children Travis, Ashley, Karissa, and Peyton.

Peyton Juckem will be taking part in the Calumet County Fair market sale for the first time with his Simmental steer.
With her crossbred steer, Karissa Juckem hopes to win in both the market animal class and showmanship at the 2016 Calumet County Fair.

At Forest Brook Farms north of Chilton, the Juckems are raising about 40 head of beef cattle, including the two steers that Karissa and Peyton will take to the 2016 county fair. When operated by Jay's father Joseph and his late wife Ida, the farm was the home of registered Holstein dairy cattle which were housed in a barn that was moved there in 1941 from near the airport in Oshkosh.

Emphasis on showmanship

While they don't dismiss winning in the judging classes at the fair and in higher venues, the Juckems focus on excellence at showmanship. At the Calumet County Fair, that means winning the Dave Carnahan Memorial trophy, which is named in the honor of the late beef breeder and promoter who was also a strong supporter of the county fair.

The Carnahan showmanship trophy is awarded to a 4-H club member who has a beef animal entry at the fair. The Juckem children are members of the Pine Creek 4-H Club.

Based on their age brackets for the showmanship competition, three Juckems – Travis, Ashley, and Karissa – were once competing against one another for the Carnahan trophy. All three of them have claimed that trophy – Ashley twice and Travis and Karissa once each.

Ashley showed one grand champion and one reserve champion steer at the county fair. She also showed the grand champion female at the Wisconsin State Fair in 2011. Karissa has had two grand champion steers and one reserve champion at the county fair while Travis showed a reserve champion once.

Learning the Basics

The fundamentals of good showmanship are keeping the animal's head up, turning the animal in the right direction in the ring, and allowing the judge to see the animal at all times, Peyton points out. Having the judge always being able to see the animal is the most important part of the right way to show an animal, Karissa adds.

In addition to what they have learned from their father Jay, the Juckem children absorbed many tips on showmanship from Trent Templeton, a herdsman who worked at Forest Brook Farms for nearly three years before returning to Missouri. After he left, the Juckems have reduced their herd numbers somewhat.

Karissa, who has been showing for seven years and who will be a sophomore at Chilton High School, also credits Jeremy Smith, who is an area show helper and fitter who has worked with the Juckem family. One of Karissa's major achievements was winning the national judging contest against about 300 competitors at the Simmental junior nationals show at Louisville in 2014.

Peyton, who will starting 4th grade, is showing a market animal at the county fair for the first time. He previously showed in the open class, which is available to youngsters before they reach 4-H eligibility at age 9.

Animal selection

The Juckems do not take animals from their home Simmental herd as the project steers for showing at the county fair and the subsequent market animal sale. Selecting the next animals for the market animal project is a family effort for the Juckems.

What are commonly known as “club calves” are purchased from other breeders, usually in Wisconsin, during September in the year before the next county fair. They then have their first weigh-in at the county fairgrounds on a Saturday in December.

Karissa's steer for the 2016 fair and market animal sale is a beef crossbreed (red skinned). For Peyton, a major criterion for selecting his steer (a Simmental) was that it be tame and easy to handle in the show ring.

Daily chores

As the time for the fair and market animal sale approach, the goal is to have the steer at the desired weight – 1,300 to 1,350 pounds, Jay points out. That means providing a ration that allows the steer to “finish at the right time and look the part at show time,” he explains. This requires ration ingredients that fill the animal but do not make it too fat, he notes.

As is expected of the exhibitors, the Juckem children spend between 1 and 2 hours per day in the weeks heading into the fair washing and blow drying their steers and feeding them. On hot days, they provide fans and perhaps an extra wash rinse. “I'm not working with them now,” Jay indicates.

Forest Brook genetics

After several years of experience at the county fair more than a decade ago, the Juckems' Forest Brook Farms began to develop its Simmental enterprise as a commercial business with the purchase of high quality females and embryos in 2008.

Fruits of that effort became evident by 2011 with very high placings in several shows around the country. That success continues today with the ownership of the FBF1 sire Combustible, which is in the top 10 for semen unit sales for Simmental sires in the United States. Combustible was the reserve champion at the Western National Stock Show at Denver in 2013.

Other notable achievements have been the breeding of the sires FBF1/SF Ignition and FBF1 Absolute, both of which have been supreme champions at the World Beef Expo held at West Allis. Forest Brook Farms also bred a reserve champion at the Louisville show held in 2011 and is a co-owner of FBF1 Supremacy, who is another Simmental sire producing top quality offspring.

For more information, check the website, send an e-mail to, or call 920-378-3698.