ADCA 2020 Chris Odom – Senior: Makenna Hoover

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Chris Odom Award Winner
Senior Division
Makenna Hoover

I was introduced to the Dexter breed when I was very little and my grandparents made the purchase of three Dexter cows, Coco, Shadow, and Sunshine. That was 15 years ago so I don’t remember much of Coco or Shadow, but I do remember Sunshine because she is still with us and is part of the foundation of our herd. She recently celebrated her 17th birthday and has retired. She is now living out her life as our weanling babysitter. I started showing in 2017 and started with the granddaughter of Sunshine, Pumpkin. I have been showing every year since at the AGM, MDBA, and Tulsa State Fair. I have shown in heifer, bull calf, cow calf, and mature cow classes but so far my favorite age to show is a mature cow.

One of the most important reasons we parent verify and genotype is for the health and safety of the mother and the calf. Unknowingly breeding two chondro or two pha carriers could lead to the death of the mother due to the birth defect of the calf causing it to grow too large to pass through the birth canal properly. There is also concern that a bull calf could accidentally breed his mother or another cow in the herd and if the resulting calf is not tested there could be inbreeding or the passing of bad lines in the future. It is important to us to know the lineage of our Dexters before making choices on future breedings. We want to make the best pairings we can to get the best calf we can.

When a female is in the process calving and there is only a single leg presenting one of two things needs to be done. If you are experienced with birthing complications and feel comfortable going in to assist you will need to restrain the cow, then put on an OB glove and go in to feel for another leg or a head. If neither can be felt a vet should be called immediately. If you can feel another leg but it feels like it is turned back gently try and push the calf back far enough until you can feel a foot. If you feel just a head and no leg, you should try to follow the head back until you can find a shoulder and the leg. When pulling it is advised to use a soft rope or calving chains to pull and hold while the cow contracts. Once the baby is out the mother should be let out and left alone to bond with her calf. If you do not feel comfortable with assisting you should keep the cow calm and quiet until a vet can get there to assist.

In our herd, we do some procedures ourselves but for some more invasive procedures we have our vet or neighbor come out. Regular vaccines and overall wellness checks on our established herds are done by us. Dehorning and castrations on our calves are generally done by our vet or by our amazing neighbor Mr. Ryan Parker. Unlike many operations, we do not preg. check but we watch our cattle to see when the bull is showing interest in one specific female then we write down the expected due date of calving. We calve in the fall and spring. For the fall calvers we have six horned cows and they calve in September through October generally. For the spring calvers we have 13 that calve in April through May. We have only had four incidents during calving and only lost two calves in 16 years. In a medical emergency, we will call out our vet.

My involvement in the Dexter community has changed my life in many different ways. For starters I have learned to be more patient and to focus on the little improvements and not dwell on the bad. I have also learned to see things through others perspectives and realize how some things appear scary to them but to me they are normal. When they spook it took patience to help them get over their fear which was another learning curve for me. They have made me cry, they have made me laugh, they have made me experience every emotion in the matter of an hour, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I have made many new friends and have met so many amazing new people. I wish I would have gotten more involved when I was little but back then I only saw the cattle once a month if that, back when my grandparents lived in Sedan KS. Now that they have moved, and only live 25 minutes from me I drive over quite often to work with my calves. I truly love them and all of their unique little personalities.

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