Livestock builds confidence, changes lives of young people

(02/23/21) GONZALES, La. — For some young people, even the thought of taking control of a large animal is beyond belief.

But for two south Louisiana youth, getting started early has been the key to their success in livestock shows.

That’s not to say that their experience has been smooth. Their hard work was on display during the recent combined LSU AgCenter Southeast and South-Central District Livestock Show at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in Livingston Parish Mikala Davenport said Levi Lockhart, a seventh grader at North Corbin Junior High School, has been serious about his 4-H projects from the beginning.

“The spirit that Levi brings to all of his 4-H activities also shows in the work he does with his animals," she said.

Levi said being around livestock when he was younger gave him a unique start in the livestock show business.

“One time, when I was 9, I went to a parish fair and I saw this pre-K kid showing, and I thought, ‘It might not be too hard. I want to try it,’ ” he said.

It takes some extra planning for a preteen to juggle school and caring for a show animal, he said.

“It takes me about an hour a day for three cows,” he said.

Levi said he started his livestock show career showing a Brangus heifer, but now he is a Santa Gertrudis man.

At the recent district show, Levi won reserve champion and Louisiana-bred reserve champion for his Star 5 Santa Gertrudis heifer.

Levi said he hasn’t made his mind up yet on what he wants to be when he grows up, but he’s pretty sure it will involve agriculture.

AgCenter 4-H agent Xavier Bell said his student, Ashley Pugh, a junior at Slaughter Community Charter School in East Feliciana Parish, also started showing early and has continued to bring home the awards for her Brahman herd.

“Ashley lives with her grandparents, who are in the cattle business and help her to prepare her animals,” he said.

Ashley said she got interested in showing at an early age and has stayed with the Brahman breed the whole time.

“I started around fourth grade when I was 9,” she said. “I learned early that you have to try to become one with your animal, but you have to let them know who’s the boss.”

Ashley’s grandfather, Lamar Pugh, is very supportive of her showing and helped her get the first cow that she could call her own. Now she has 19 head of cattle.

“My Paw Paw wants me to be a large animal vet, but I’m not yet sure,” she said. “I guess I could because I’ve been around them for so long.”

At the recent district show, Ashley took home her share of awards. She won:

— First place, 16-year-old showmanship.

— First place, summer bull calf.

— First place, late junior bull calf.

— First place, early junior bull calf

— Champion, gray Brahman bull.

— Reserve champion, Louisiana-bred gray Brahman bull.

— First place, early summer yearling heifer.

— Champion, gray Brahman heifer.

— Champion, Louisiana-bred gray Brahman heifer.

Girl with cow.

Ashley Pugh, a junior at Slaughter Community Charter School, prepares her 2-year-old heifer for the show ring. She started showing cattle in the fourth grade and has continued to bring home the awards for her Brahman herd. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

Boy showing a cow.

Levi Lockhart, a seventh grader at North Corbin Junior High School in Livingston Parish, shows one of his prize-winning heifers at the recent district livestock show at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. Levi started showing when he was 9 years old. Photo provided

2/24/2021 2:32:02 AM
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