Rand Rose, a sixth-grader at Ola Middle School, said he has learned a valuable lesson by taking care of his 843-pound calf for the last year.
"It's kind of like having a kid," the youngster said. "You have to make sure you feed them, and water them."
The 12-year-old McDonough youth recently emerged victorious in a calf show at the Perry Fair, in Perry, Ga.
"The calf won his class, which was medium-weight steers," said Frank Hancock, agriculture and natural resource agent for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office in Henry County. "It's a big deal. Henry County is not who you expect to show up with a winning calf in the whole state of Georgia, but he did it," Hancock said. "Rand also had another calf that placed third in a different division at the same calf show."
The unnamed calf's first-place win came about a week after the Henry County Fair, in McDonough, in which Rose also participated. The 4-H'er said he did not expect to win in Perry.
"I didn't think he was going to place that well," he said. "I was surprised."
Rand is the grandson of Marvin Rose, president of the Henry County Cattelmen's Association. The youngster's father, Jack Rose, of McDonough, said his son became interested in caring for calves about five years ago, and has competed in other calf shows.
"We've won before," said Jack Rose, 48. "We've had good ones, and we've had bad ones. When he won first place in his class, it was a little shocking, because he had placed lower in a previous show."
The father said Rand has learned a great deal about responsibility, and "the rewards of working," through caring for a pair of calves in recent years.
"He spends about an hour in the afternoons, three days a week, walking them," said Jack Rose. "He's got to feed them every morning and afternoon, and groom them."
The 4-H calf program has existed in Henry County for years. Hancock said taking care of a young cow, or bull, is not an easy task, but teaches participants in the county's 4-H program about responsibility, grooming, and showmanship.
"It's a lot of work," Hancock said. "You feed him, and take care of him, and halter-break him. Not everyone that gets a calf gets in a calf show. It's more of a youth-development proposition."
Rand Rose is considering a statewide calf show again next year. For now, though, his first-place blue ribbon has a prominent location in his home.
"My grandma put it on the mantle above the fireplace," he said.
For more information, call the Henry extension office at (770) 288-8421.