Heifer is the first longhorn at Stutsman County Fair
By most counts, Debbie is a beautiful girl, with dark eyes, a black-and-white coat and -- her most distinctive feature -- a pair of foot-long horns.
The yearling heifer is the first Texas longhorn to be exhibited at the Stutsman County Fair, said Kali Carlson, 13, of the Bustling Beavers 4-H club.
"Most beef breeds are laid back and easy to maneuver. Longhorns are made to survive," Carlson said. "It was a little harder getting her trained because she wanted to do her own thing."
Born last year on Mother's Day, Debbie is named after Carlson's mother, Debra.
The breed's hardiness, strength, speed and independence make Texas longhorns ideal for use as rodeo roping cattle -- which is how Carlson's parents, Debra and Greg Carlson, use their longhorn herd.
Longhorns aren't considered a good beef breed, because they gain weight much slower than other breeds. As they age, their growth slows, partly because they don't eat very much.
Carlson tried to help Debbie grow a bit before the fair to compare better with the other cattle animals in the competition, but she is still somewhat petite compared to others her age.
She does, however, fit her breed's standards, with a rectangular frame, a dish-shaped face and legs with a medium length -- not too long and not too short.
During competition, Carlson will set Debbie up so judges can see her entire body, and judge her based on that.
"She likes to do her own thing, but she can be very loveable," Carlson said. "My little sister likes to lead her around."
Carlson plans to continue entering Debbie in shows, and intends to enter her as part of a cow-calf pair in two years, as her family typically breeds longhorns at three years.
Exactly how long could Debbie's horns get? Carlson wasn't sure, but a full-grown cow's horns can spread more than 6 feet from tip to tip.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org