With 11 years of showing under his belt, this 4-H’er shares tips on handling Holsteins 

By Sarah Sakurazawa and Rowan Westwood

Jan. 12, 2023

This story was written as part of an agriculture-reporting internship with the Whatcom County Dairy Women supported by a grant from the Dairy Farmers of Washington.

We caught up with 17-year-old Lane Oostra on a hectic day showing three Holsteins at the 2022 Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden, Wash. An 11-year-veteran of 4-H, Oostra beamed after his 2-year-old Holstein Callie took grand champion for the 4-H Holstein show for type. (In type competition, animals are assessed for their structure and breeding.) “I’m proud of how they did when I showed them,” he said of the cows. “They were very cooperative.”  

Here he offers suggestions for anyone exhibiting animals for the first time — and talks about who taught him the most about cow competition. 

  • Name: Lane Oostra
  • Age: 17
  • Hometown: Ferndale, Wash.
  • School: Senior at Ferndale High School in fall 2022
  • 4-H club: Barnyard Kids 4-H Club  

Starting out: Competed in 4-H since age 6. 

Learning curve: Oostra picked up details of animal husbandry from his mom, Heather Oostra, and his grandmother, Joanne Odens, who grew up on the DeWaard Dairy on Wiser Lake Road in Lynden, Wash., and still works feeding calves at Ronelee Farms. 

Bovine bennies: Oostra says he loves working with cows because they are friendly and fun to practice with – plus he just likes all animals in general.  

Tip for showing cows: Lane’s mom, Heather Oostra, says it’s important to coordinate your movements with your cow. “If she takes a step, he takes a step. It just looks more in synch…you’re working together as a pair.” 

Overcoming obstacles:  When Ooostra first showed in 4-H as a young kid, it was hard to get the cows to follow his lead at times. “You get a cow to cooperate by practicing,” he says. 

How to handle a hyper Holstein: To help his cows chill out before and during showing Oostra walks them around the show-ring barnyard. He makes sure to feed them lots of food so they “focus on other stuff. Just calm them down.” 

Favorite fair memory: ”Every day is pretty fun! When I’m not showing I like to go on rides or hang out with friends.”

Best advice: “Practice.” 

Suggestions for a newbie: “If you really want to do it, then you keep on working on it. If you love it, just keep on working.”

In this audio Fair Share, Lane Oostra talks about showing cows at the 2022 Northwest Washington Fair and who taught him the most.

Produced by Sarah Sakurazawa / Blue Ribbon Stories

Music “Turning” by Blue Dot Sessions from FreeMusicArchive.com