Supreme Breeding Heifer winner, Derek Cosper, 17, poses with his prize heifer Zaylee at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair Thursday. (Amy Vogelsang Photo)
Not all that glitters is gold and vice versa: Sometimes gold doesn’t actually glitter. In this case, breeding heifers didn’t look like clipped, spotted beauties the way dairy heifers did, but under the thick hair were well-toned animals ready to start bearing calves.
Of course, it did take a well-trained eye to find these differences, such as girth, wide-set hips and strong legs.
After all was said and done and every class had been judged, the Supreme Breeding Heifer award was given to Derek Cosper, 17, and his 15-month-old heifer Zaylee at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair Thursday morning.
Covered in black hair, Zaylee looked like a cuddly stuffed-animal, but she had a “don’t mess with me” attitude that would probably make her a strong and protective mother.
Cosper said he has been showing since age 9, and this is not his first rodeo, so to speak. He has shown pigs and steers as well and, admittedly, he prefers steers because they are a “little tougher,” he said.
Although waking up at 5 a.m. every day during the summer to clean and feed animals was challenging, it was all quality family time, said his mother, Eileen.
She was in FFA and 4-H growing up, and then her city husband, Jerry, was brought into the FFA family.
“He gets to live his childhood through the kids,” Eileen said.
There were four kids to go through, so they have been in it for the long run. Derek is the youngest and now that he is a senior at Valencia High, their time in 4-H and FFA is almost over.
But they do everything as a family, Eileen said, from cleaning the barn to preparing the animals for a show. Jerry is a veterinarian, so animals really are a primary focus in the Cosper household.
Cosper plans to study at New Mexico State University next year and hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a veterinarian.