Rodgers shows Grand Champion Market Steer at NAILE

Rhylee Rodgers is overcome with emotion after her crossbred steer Chompers gets the slap on the back from Judge Jirl Buck as the Grand Champion Market Steer at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Kentucky last month. 

Since the young age of six years old, Rhylee Rodgers, seventh-grade daughter of Wade and Kaylene Rodgers of rural Searsboro, has made the work of leading 1,000-plus-pound steers around the show ring look easy. For nearly a decade now, 6 a.m. alarms, long hours spent in the barns, and countless livestock rinses have been the norm. Less than one month ago, all of Rodgers’ hard work and devotion – and that of her family – paid off when she showed the Grand Champion Market Steer at the 2022 North American International Livestock Exposition (NAILE) in Louisville, Kentucky. Chompers, as the crossbred steer is named, got the coveted slap from Judge Jirl Buck on Nov. 13 in a field of approximately 150 other champion-caliber market steers.

The thrill of winning was bittersweet, and Rodgers’ emotions were immediately evident as soon as Chompers was selected as champ. Weaved into the excitement of such a prized win were heartfelt tears since Rodgers had to bid farewell to Chompers, an animal she’s grown so close to, after earning the title. Her mother explains, “The emotion is very hard to explain – she was so excited to win and have all of her hard work pay off, but also very sad because she has to say good-bye to him. They create a very special bond with all the work they put in. She would get up at 6 a.m. every morning starting the middle of June to put him in the cooler and to feed him. He would then be rinsed twice a day and practice setting up every night.”

This isn’t the first time Rodgers has shown the champ at NAILE – she did so in 2020, and she has award-winning ribbons, banners, and accolades from countless other shows on her resume. The NAILE title won’t be the last either given Rodgers is already working with a steer that will be shown in Denver in January. She is also working with a couple of prospects she will soon start taking to prospect shows.

Raising champion livestock and the show life is truly a family affair for the Rodgers family. In addition to Rhylee, Wade and Kaylene’s daughter, Shay, is also working with a steer she will soon show. Their youngest child Layton, a kindergartner, tags along and will start showing as soon as he is old enough to compete. “It’s fun to watch their relationships grow in the barn together,” said Kaylene.

Winning shows is great but the livestock show life provides so much more than prized titles. Responsibility, discipline, patience, teamwork, showmanship, and developing a strong work ethic are qualities that grow right alongside the strong bond between the Rodgers family and their animals.

Comments are closed.