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Winning honors by handling dairy cows

Lead Summary

Her love of handling dairy cattle has earned Blooming Prairie High School junior Kalyn Naatz a second place finish in the state for her Dairy Handling CDE at the FFA State Convention.
“This meant a lot,” Naatz said. “The whole day I was nervous.”
She found out she had placed in the top five and felt that was a huge accomplishment right there. “It didn’t matter what place I got there,” Naatz said. “When they started calling from fifth it was a big honor.”
Naatz, daughter of Doug and Holli Naatz, found her love for the dairy cattle on her grandparents milking farm. She spent a majority of her time on the farm. Dairy cattle and rabbits were the first thing she started hosting in 4-H.
“I always stuck with dairy, because that is what I knew best,” she said. “It made my grandparents happy.”
Dairy handling is showmanship and is not based on how an animal looks or how it acts. “You are showing the animal and how you can handle it if it does act up,” Naatz said.
She has been showing dairy cattle since she was a 5-year-old Clover Bud in 4-H. “It was perfect for me,” she said. “Showmanship is what I can take pride in. I can show my talents.”
During the competition at the University of Minnesota, Naatz did not know what animal she would be getting. She started with a calf, then had a heifer and finished with a 4-year-old cow in her call back class.
“I’m used to handling all types,” Naatz said. “The last round call back I had a pretty crazy cow to work with.”
In general, Naatz said dairy animals are easy to understand. “You just have to understand how to handle them and what to do and what not to do,” she added. “You have to stay calm.”
The major challenge was trying to get them set up, which Naatz said is a matter of changing positions quickly. “It is hard if you don’t know what kind of animal you are handling,” she said.
When handling dairy cattle, Naatz said it feels like you are on top of the world. “Dairy handling is based on you. You are in charge of that animal,” she said.
Naatz said this award will definitely push her to never give up. “I’ve always made it to state every year for dairy handling. This coming year I hope to place first,” she said. “You always want to improve and there is room for improvement. I have one more year to reach my goal.”

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