Fort Worth

Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo Junior Dairy Cattle Competition Puts Spotlight on the Future

The junior competitors who show dairy cows at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo face an increasingly difficult future in dairy farms

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As the cattle were led into the arena at the Fort Worth Stock Show Cattle 2 barn, some of the competitors were barely taller than their cows.

"My granddaughter is a petite little thing," Sharon Yarborough said. "But she's in charge."

Gemma Yarborough threw all her body weight into the side of "Jackpot" to keep the cow on course.

"Her little heifer is a little bit ornery," Sharon Yarborough said.

The competition might be as close to dairy farming as Yarborough's grandchildren get, despite coming from a family of dairy farmers.

"Economically, it's just not feasible," Guy McNutt said. McNutt is Gemma's grandfather on her mother's side. "I don't see that small family farms will continue to exist."

McNutt and his brother opened McNutt Brothers Dairy 43 years ago. They sold it nearly two years ago.

"I miss the cows," McNutt said, with tears running down his face. "You know, it's been my whole life."

Since 1992, family dairy farms have been closing at the rate of 10 a day. A drop in milk prices and decreased demand for dairy have made it tough for family dairy farmers, but they aren't alone.

In November, the largest commercial producer, Dean Foods, filed for bankruptcy. In early January, Texas-based Borden followed suit.

"I would like to have a ranch and have a lot of cows," McNutt's other granddaughter, Kylie Yarborough, said. "Maybe a dairy, but I'm not really sure."

"It's very difficult to get into the dairy business now," McNutt said. "Very difficult."

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