Chartier boys looking forward to showing cattle at the Emo Fair

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer

Rustin Chartier’s year-and-a-half-old steer Melvin will be up for auction this weekend at the Emo Fall Fair. Coming in around 1,350 lbs, Melvin is a testament to the hard work of Chartier’s whole family.

Rustin, 12, and his brother Ryker, 8, have been helping raise the pure-bred Charolais since their grandpa’s cow birthed it last February. Many other hands have helped bottle feed Melvin as well, which is more work than one might expect.

“Everybody chips in around here,” says Jodi Caul, the boys’ grandma who lives next door. “It’s a busy place.”

Rustin began doing 4-H last year, but has been showing cattle at the fair since he was five. This Saturday at 4 p.m. will be the first time he’ll have a steer that goes to auction at the fair.

He says the steers are judged on a number of things — appearance being one of them. If the steers have a divot in their back, Rustin says he’ll try to fluff it up to make it look smooth. The cattle also get their tails clipped, and owners will try to cut their back hair as flat as possible.

The hair cutting is usually done about a month in advance, just so that it doesn’t look as fresh.

Aaron Bujold, who has been helping out the younger 4-H kids, says he brushes and blows his cattle every day.

Because of this intel, Rustin has been doing so twice a day, and now that his cattle’s hair is improving, he’s gone down to once a day.

“Aaron’s a god for all the kids because he’s been helping show them how to raise them,” says Caul. “It’s quite an art form, isn’t it?”

Rustin uses a roto-brush for their legs — he says it’s very helpful in getting poop stains off their knees.

Day of the auction, there will also be a lot of work that will go into prepping Melvin. Rustin estimates he’ll take two hours in the morning to clean the stall, and to feed and groom him.

The strategic feeding began at the start of the year, when Rustin started giving Melvin 14 per cent — a protein beef ration.

Though he tried switching to 12 per cent earlier in July, Melvin didn’t take to it.

“He’s one of those animals you can’t switch over their food,” he says. “So I just left him on the 14 per cent, he was happy with that.”

About a month ago, Rustin also added beet pulp to the diet.

“I started him off slow,” he says. “Now he’s on about four big handfuls of that in his feed (three times a day).”

The pulp is used to help shine up Melvin’s coat, and if wet down, it can add moisture to his system as well.

“There’s a big thing about grass-fed beef,” says Caul. “But you don’t get the marbling, and that’s where you get your flavour for the meat.

She says “grass-fed” is usually understood as “hormone-free,” which is impossible since cattle produce their own hormones.

And Melvin isn’t the only Chartier cow headed to the fair this weekend. Ryker’s twin calves — Anna and Belle — are also going to be taken to the fair, but Ryker says it might just be Belle, since Anna is partially blind.

To prepare the cattle for the hustle and bustle of the fair, the boys have a radio constantly playing in the barn.

Both Rustin and Ryker are horse lovers as well. The pair of them were at the Borderland Quarter Horse Association show earlier this month with their horses Leo and Lily.

Come see their cattle at the fair on Saturday morning, with the steer auction going at 4 p.m.