TJ Wingert leads his Ayrshire fall yearling heifer that he will be showing at fairs this year. Last year as a fall calf, the Ayrshire female won the reserve supreme award at the Stevenson County Fair. The junior exhibitor will travel to several county fairs, the Illinois State Fair and the World Dairy Expo to compete in shows with his dairy cattle this year.
TJ Wingert leads his Ayrshire fall yearling heifer that he will be showing at fairs this year. Last year as a fall calf, the Ayrshire female won the reserve supreme award at the Stevenson County Fair. The junior exhibitor will travel to several county fairs, the Illinois State Fair and the World Dairy Expo to compete in shows with his dairy cattle this year.

KENT, Ill. — For TJ Wingert, showing dairy cattle at fairs and the World Dairy Expo is a family event.

“Dad got me started with dairy cattle when I was 8 years old for my 4-H project,” he said. “I started with one cow and carried on from there.”

The 16-year-old dairyman now has seven cows and eight heifers.

“I started with Ayrshires because that’s what dad had, and I also have two Guernsey cows because I wanted to try something different,” said the son of Trent Wingert and Desiree Ewinger.

He exhibits cattle at several county fairs, the Illinois State Fair and the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.

“I would also like to go the North American show in Louisville,” he added.

“I like to show because I meet new people, make friends and make a little money,” he said. “And it’s a fun hobby because I’m around family a lot.”

A couple months before show season starts, Wingert begins to prepare his dairy animals by tying them up every day, washing them every other day and brushing them. “TJ spends a lot of time by the stock trailer, clipping and washing cattle,” his dad noted.

“On the day of the show, the dairy animals get a special feed and oat hay, which helps show their capacity,” the young dairyman said.

“We wash them starting at 5 a.m. when the show starts at 8 a.m. The tail gets puffed up, and my sister does that for me.”

“TJ helps me get my cows ready, too. We’re a good team,” added Jazmin Wingert, who will be entering eighth grade this fall.

“And their older sister, Janine, helps when she can,” Trent Wingert said.

Last year, the family members won the Junior All American Senior Three Year Old class at the World Dairy Expo. And, in 2006, they showed the Junior All American Two Year Old.

The junior showman travels to events with his uncle, Terry Wingert.

“With my uncle, we took 19 head of cattle to the show,” the youth said. “And I also took 15 pigs to the county fair.”

Wingert also enjoys competing in showmanship, and he was the top male Ayrshire showman at the Illinois State Fair last year.

“And last year I showed the Reserve Supreme Ayrshire heifer at the Stevenson County Fair,” he added.

For his swine project, Wingert raises Duroc, Chester White and crossbred pigs, and he currently has seven sows and their litters.

“I show the hogs at county fairs, Illinois State Fair, the World Pork Expo and jackpot shows in Wisconsin,” he said.

“I showed the champion barrow at the Stevenson County Fair last year, and I’ve won the swine showmanship class at the country fair for several years,” he added.

Wingert markets about half of his pigs at the sale barn in Dakota as feeder pigs and the rest at the sale barn when they reach market weight.

Competing with both dairy cattle and pigs is quite a commitment for the Wingert family.

“Last year for the Illinois State Fair, we were there from Tuesday through Saturday with the pigs,” Trent Wingert recalled. “We came home for a couple of days and reloaded the trailer with the dairy cows and went right back down to show.”

This fall, TJ Wingert will be a junior at Pearl City High School, where he is very active in the FFA chapter.

During his freshman year, he won the section dairy judging contest, and the Pearl City team placed first. In addition, Wingert placed fourth in the section FFA livestock judging contest.

He also is a member of the Pearl City Hornets 4-H Club and currently is the club’s treasurer.

“I am the leader at our 4-H club for getting a 4-H dairy judging team started,” he said.

In addition to his family, Wingert stressed there are several mentors who have assisted him with his livestock projects and livestock judging skills.

“Zach Damrow is like my big brother,” he said. “He taught me how to show, and he comes here and helps us with our cattle.”

Kurt Wolfe is another important mentor for Wingert.

“He taught me some of the finer points of getting cattle ready for the show ring,” the youth said. “Lots of people have helped me.”

“TJ is blessed to have good mentors to teach him about livestock, but he also searches out this type of person,” his dad noted. “Last year, he helped a photographer taking cattle pictures at the state fair.”