An Emma ranch raked in numerous awards in the Wagyu cattle judging at the National Western Stock Show in Denver last week.
Emma Farms had the supreme grand champion bull and supreme grand champion female. The ranch also won first- and second-place awards for bulls born on or after Nov. 1, 2010, in both the junior and senior classes. One of those bulls was crowned reserve supreme grand champion bull for that class.
In the cow competition for full bloods born no later than Aug. 31, 2010, Emma Farms had the grand champion and reserve grand champion. Among purebred Wagyu purebloods born on or after Aug. 31, 2010, Emma Farms had the grand champion.
In the heifer competition, Emma Farms placed first, second and third among full bloods born after Sept. 1, 2010. In the pureblood classification for heifers of that age, Emma Farms had the reserve champion and reserve grand champion.
In the "Get of Sire" category, where there is a single sire for four cows, heifers or bulls, a bull named Shigestigetani from Emma Farms took first place and grand champion.
Wagyu are a special breed of cattle originally from Japan. Tom Waldeck started breeding them after buying Buddy Cerise's cattle ranch in 2003. He's built the herd up to 300 head, about 50 of which are at Emma Farms in rural Pitkin County. Waldeck recently sold Emma Farms Cattle Co. to Blue Goose Capital and Blue Goose USA Inc., headquartered in Toronto. The company is a major producer of organic meats. The ranch land wasn't part of the deal.
Fallon Flick, of Delta, one of the handlers on the Emma Farms team, received the Showman of the Year Award for her abilities in the show ring.
Waldeck, who remains president and CEO of Emma Farms Cattle Co., and Christina Hall, vice president and director of cattle operations, surveyed their herd in early October for contestants for the National Western Stock Show. They selected four bulls, five cows, two yearling heifers and five younger, weaned heifers.
Waldeck said the animals were put through a rigorous training program over the next three months. They were trained to halter lead, to stand correctly, to follow instructions and to trust their handlers. One heifer proved to be "impossible" and was cut from the team, Waldeck said.
Starting at the beginning of January, the cattle were regularly washed and dried, clipped and polished. The cattle were taken to Denver 10 days before the National Western Stock Show and housed at the Adams County Fair Grounds before moving to the stockyards at the show two days before the competitions. A crew of eight from Emma Farms pampered the cattle up through the competition.