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Behemoth beef, portly porcines and robust rams claim titles at Iowa State Fair

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 09/11/2013 10:41 AM

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DES MOINES — A Charolais named Squirt tipped the scale at 3,032 pounds in the Iowa State Fair Super Bull event. The behemoth beef, owned by Berns Miner Farms of Postville, had a long trip to the fair.

The operation consists of Dick Berns, his son-in-law Cory, his brother Chuck and their families, said Cindy Berns, Dick's wife.

Cindy, Cory and Cory's wife, Stacy, who is Cindy and Dick's daughter, brought Squirt down to the fair.

"We bought some Charolais bulls to cross with our Red Angus cattle," Cindy said. "Squirt was born in 2008."

"Dad thought he was pretty big and thought he might have a chance," Stacy said.

"It's a long ways down here," Cindy said. "But it is fun to see the people look at Squirt and comment about him."

Squirt will return to the Postville farm and continue his sire duties.

Berns Miner Farms has 275 beef cows and a cropping operation of corn, soybeans and hay.

"Squirt doesn't eat anything special," Cindy said. "He just eats a lot."

Cindy said fair officials told her that Al Roker and the Today Show are coming to the fair on Friday and the show hopes to have Squirt be part of the visit.

Craig, Haley and Garrett Stalcup of Prescott took second with their Charolais bull, Chubs, who weighed in at 2,652 pounds.

Otis, a 4 1/2-year-old Hampshire crossbred boar, was awarded the Big Boar title once he could be convinced to step on the scale. It took about 10 minutes to get the job done. The portly porcine weighed 1,103 pounds.

Otis is owned by Meinders Stock Farms operated by Jake, 20, and Zach, 22, Meinders. They farm with their parents Gary and Sherill Meinders at Buffalo Center.

"Otis was a little slow in getting to the scale," said Zach. "It took an hour to get him in the trailer to come down here."

Otis eats 20 pounds of feed per day with a little water on it so it's more like oatmeal.

"He eats the same thing the sows get, only more," Zach said. " He loves bread, especially doughnuts and he'll eat a dozen at a time if we can get them. We get day old doughnuts for him when we can find them."

The Meinders raised Otis and used him for heat detection on their sows.

"We realized he was getting pretty big," Zach said. "We weighed him one day and decided to bring him down here. We didn't expect to win. We were just doing it for fun."

Meinders Stock Farms consists of a 120-sow farrow-to-finish operation, 250 to 300 beef cows, 500 head of steers that they finish and some chickens.

"We like to mess around with stuff and show," Zach said. "We work together but we all have separate stuff too."

Otis will be on display through the fair and then he'll go to market.

"This is pretty cool," Zach said. "I was surprised at all the people who came to watch."

Laurie Farm's entry, Willie, claimed second place at 1,067 pounds. The Lauries are from Indianola.

Happy Slappy, owned by Steve Queck and Colton Goode of Truro, claimed third place at 988 pounds.

A fair record nine rams from three states competed for the crown in the Big Ram competition.First place was claimed by the four-year-old ram owned by Robert Travaille of Sibley. Second place was earned by the five-year-old Lincoln ram owned by Joe Andera of Alta Vista. The third place ram was owned by Susan Hammen of Clarion. Travaille's ram weighed 392.5 pounds, Andera's ram was 385.5 pounds and Hammen's ram, 380.5 pounds.

Travaille's ram, as well as the Big Boar and Super Bull, will be on display at the Iowa State Fair in the Sheep, Swine and Cattle Barns respectively through Aug. 18.