Livestock show the last for Perry High senior

awoolen@macon.comFebruary 27, 2013 

PERRY -- For some high school seniors, last week’s Georgia National Junior Livestock Show was the last they will compete in.

Katie Royal, a senior at Perry High School, wrapped up her FFA season with a Georgia championship ribbon for her group’s heifer. Royal and her classmates, Sara Lauman, Tori Tucker, Jacob Collins and Anna Collins, won the ribbon in the “group of five” class.

“We won it last year, and it’s the second time we’ve won it,” said Perry High agriculture teacher Phillip Gentry.

Gentry brought 40 students who were showing cattle and 30 who were showing pigs.

In total at the show, there were more than 3,300 entries with about 2,000 students showing, said Michele Treptow, director of communications at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, where the event was being held in conjunction with the Georgia National Rodeo. Hogs accounted for more than half of the entries.

For Royal though, the livestock season doesn’t end with her show career.

Gayanna Royal, her mother, said the family plans on having a new livestock breeding operation for cattle at their farm once Katie Royal is done showing.

“It’s a family thing,” Gayanna Royal said of the past several years of showing cattle.

Katie Royal has been showing since she was in fourth grade and said her mother has been her biggest supporter. She plans on becoming an agriculture teacher and will start her core classes at Middle Georgia State College.

When she started showing, her mother said she had to give up playing sports and dedicate herself to the livestock. The animals must be fed and worked daily to perform well in the show ring.

Most of the classes are judged on the animals’ conformation, but some classes are judged on how well the students handle their particular animal.

At the Georgia National Junior Livestock show, Katie Royal had four head of cattle to show, including her favorite steer.

With the first place ribbon received Thursday, mom was proud of what her daughter accomplished.

“It was just recognition of all of these years she has put into it,” Gayanna Royal said.

Katie Royal spends at least 30 minutes per day with each of her animals. She practices with her showmanship steer for at least an hour, her mother said.

The senior spends time teaching the cattle how to lead with a halter and stand for a showmanship class.

Some of the cattle are worth upward of $10,000, and it is the groomer and students showing who help the cow receive the recognition.

“This taught her a lot about commitment,” Gayanna Royal said.

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