For Madelyn Hartrim-Lowe, 4-H is much more than just showing at the Clark County Fair or milking cows. It has provided her with opportunities and educational adventures as she raises her cows, goats and alpacas. Madelyn originally wanted to use her cows to make her own ice cream and milk. Pursuing that interest eventually led her to want to be a large animal veterinarian. At 17-years-old, her time spent in 4-H has shaped her future.
“My long-term goals with 4-H are to continue to live out the 4-H motto of making the best better, this includes myself and my animals,” Madelyn says. “I would also like to continue to pursue representation and leadership opportunities in Clark County and beyond.”
The tenacity involved in raising livestock and then showing them is the type of hard work and dedication that is going to help Madelyn get through veterinary school. “The first step in the process of raising livestock is doing adequate research regarding food needs, housing needs, and specific care requirements, before acquiring an animal,” she explains. “It is also helpful to have mentors who raise the same type animal. After that, there is a lot of joy but also ‘blood, sweat, and tears’ that go into the animal’s health and safety as it passes through all the seasons of its life.”
Preparing them for the show is even more blood, sweat and tears she says “It is quite a bit of work to prepare a cow for the Clark County Fair,” Madelyn shares. “It begins with walking the cow on a halter every day to get it used to people, novel stimuli and walking around a show ring. About a week before the Fair, I give my cow a bath and clip her so she looks sleek and clean. Every day at the Fair, I bathe my cow and scrub her hooves so that they are also clean and shiny. On show day, I spray her with a special conditioner to make her coat shine and put her show halter on before I enter the ring.”
The process is similar with her goats that she shows. “To prepare a dairy goat for the fair it is very similar to preparing a dairy cow but on a smaller scale,” she continues. “I start by giving my goat a bath and then clipping her. The night before show day, I clip her udder with a surgical blade and razor her udder so that the judge can fully see the quality of her mammary system. On show day, I clean my goat’s hooves, spray her with a special conditioner, and then put her show collar on before I enter the ring.”
A Life Long Love Affair with Animals
Madelyn’s family is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. ?”My primary interest in animals began when I received an animal encyclopedia for Christmas when I was in second grade,” says Madelyn. “Since then, I have always desired an outlet for my animal passion and 4-H has provided me with that outlet in a way that is also beneficial to the community. I raise my cows for dairy. I really enjoyed watching the calves grow up and each have their first calf. It is a very rewarding experience to be a part of their life and to develop a connection and bond with them.”
Her only experiences with livestock in New Mexico were goats she had purchased from family friends. When her family moved to Clark County in 2015, Madelyn wanted to get more involved with animals. Her family was not into raising livestock, but Madelyn, the oldest of seven children, took an interest in raising cattle and some of her younger siblings have as well. “I was 13-years-old at the time and the majority of our first animals were my birthday present that year,” she says. “We started with two dairy calves and four dairy goats. We quickly added three alpacas and several more goats.”
She was the first in her family to join 4-H, and has since created a new family tradition. “My mom is my backyard vet (she knows how to work the Google search best), the credit card at the feed store and quality control at the barn,” shares Madelyn. “My dad enjoys the animals as lawn ornaments and is great for all of my fencing and animal shelter projects.”
Her dedication to 4-H has taught her a lot about veterinary care and how to work hard to get what she wants.