Perry student wins national, state awards with her calf

Allison Ullmann - Staff
Macy Killmer, a freshman at Perry High School, poses for a photo with her calf, Susan. The pair have recently won awards at the state and national level. PHOTO BY ALLISON ULLMANN/THE PERRY CHIEF

Macy Killmer just laughed as her calf tried to lick her face.

“Oh Susan,” she said with a sigh.

Her mom, Holly, echoed the sentiment as Susan refused to walk while Macy was leading her around their yard in rural Perry. Soon Susan spotted Macy’s dad, Kevin, and they quickly walked up to greet him.

“She loves my dad,” Macy said of her calf.

While her calf’s name is Susan, her nickname is Lazy Susan, Macy said, “because she’s a puppy dog.”

“She loves attention and she loves being a show calf,” Macy said.

Macy, 14, is a freshman at Perry High School and is a member of the Adel Junior Farmers 4-H club. She has shown Susan in multiple shows throughout the summer and recently had a lot of success at both national and state shows.

Macy’s calf Susan was most recently named Reserve Champion Breeding Heifer in the open class during the Iowa State Fair. Macy also was the Reserve Grand Champion in the showmanship class during the fair.

Earlier this summer, Macy showed Susan during the American Junior Simmental Association National Classic in St. Paul. There were 238 heifers in Macy’s division and Susan placed eighth overall.

“I knew she looked good, but I didn’t expect to do anything because there are a whole lot of calves and a whole lot of people who know what they’re doing,” Macy said.

She was one of them as she was also the champion junior showman. Showmanship is not about the calf, Macy said, it’s about how you present the calf.

She added that the judge likes to see the exhibitor keep their eyes on the judge while making a big circle around the ring, staying near the rail. The judge also wants to see how the exhibitors work with their animals.

“We work well together, especially in showmanship,” Macy said said of Susan. “She is the best calf I have had to show because she just goes out there and she knows she’s pretty. She just puts her head up and walks around and sets herself up.”

“But she’s worked hard to get her to that point,” Holly quickly pointed out.

Macy started working with Susan right after they got her in February. When they get new calves, Macy said they start by taking them to the barn. They then talk to them and wash them. The next step is putting a halter on the calf before they start leading them.

“And slowly they just build confidence in you so when you take them to a show they’re not scared of everyone else and they know they can trust you,” Macy said.

Macy worked with Susan a lot over the spring and summer months to build that level of trust. Macy feeds and rinses Susan every morning. She is then put into an air conditioned barn during the day under fans. At night, Macy leads her for 30 minutes before giving her another bath.

“She is definitely spoiled and she knows it,” Macy said of Susan. “She loves going to shows. As soon as you open door and she goes out to the trailer, she runs out of there and runs to the trailer.”

Susan isn’t the only one who enjoys going to the shows.

“I love it. It’s one my favorite things to do,” Macy said. “I would pick it over any sport any day.”

Though she added that getting cattle ready for the shows is more work than any sport she has ever played. Especially, Macy said, as she can’t take any days off.

Her mom said Macy is up before the rest of the family to take care of Susan. Recently, the family got home at midnight but Susan still had to be fed and put out.

Still, Macy doesn’t mind the extra work that goes into showing cattle.

“It’s pretty much my hobby and I don’t ever want to stop showing,” she said.

She also enjoys the everyday work of getting her calf ready for those shows.

“Being in the barn everyday with your animal and bonding with them is really fun and I enjoy it,” Macy said. “I enjoy going out there knowing that what you put in is what you get out. If you work hard, good things come.”

That has been especially true this year with Macy racking up the wins with Susan at local, regional, state and national shows. She hopes to show Susan at a few major shows later this fall, including Kansas City, Louisville and Denver.

“I love my calf. She’s so great, it’s so fun to show her,” Macy said of Susan. “She knows what she’s doing and she acts like a professional and she’s kind of got a little sass like me.”