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Montana Ag Network: family finds success raising club calves

Club Calves at 2021 NILE
Posted at 12:17 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 19:20:50-04

BILLINGS — When it comes to finding success in the livestock show ring at livestock events like the NILE Stock Show in Billings, half the battle is just selecting the right animal.

Since the 1970s, the Vanek family has been helping both young and old do exactly that.

“A club calf can be a lot of different breeds put into one,” said Dan Vanek, Vanek Cattle Services from Silesia in Carbon County. “A lot of them are Maine-Anjou based backed with Simmental, Angus and even Red Angus. You'll even find a lot of shorthorns based into it. There are no registration papers which a lot of people enjoy because they don't have to belong to an association. But we are getting people that are registering club calves as percentages or pluses into other breeds. We get the best of both worlds by combining breeds.”

He says club calves are especially popular with young people.

“A lot of what the youth like about club calves are the bone, muscle and hair,” said Vanek. “I know the showing isn't all about the hair, but when you're going to work with an animal every day, a kid enjoys washing and blowing the animal's hair. We have a daily routine which includes a schedule of working these cattle every day.”

He explains why livestock shows like the NILE are so important to our youth who share the same passion in raising and showing cattle like club calves.

“The reason kids do sports is because sporting events are always in front of them,” said Vanek. “We as kids growing up showed livestock. We had Simmentals to start with and then we would breed them back to the club calves for our show steers. If you show a kid what you want them to do, give them somebody to idolize and give them some hope and future and dream, you'll allow them to expand into agriculture, which we need to do. And club calves can be for kids without a lot of money and a lot of acreage to be able to be in the cattle industry and be able to feel like they are a part of a big part of the industry.”

For over 50 years, the NILE has been providing a venue for the Vaneks and other families to do exactly that.

The NILE Stock Show and Rodeo runs thru October 23rd. For a complete schedule of events, click here to visit the website.