Raising a Champion

Bailee Benke with Powerhouse
Bailee Benke with Powerhouse

Bailee Behnke, 11, with her 175-pound Suffolk-Texel Crossbreed ram and Grand Champion Powerhouse.

What does it take to bring home a Grand Champion ribbon at the Campbell County Fair? Bailee Behnke knows.

Bailee, the 11-year-old daughter of Josh and Diana Behnke, lives between Gillette and Wright and attends Cottonwood Elementary School in Wright. She’s been raising animals since she was big enough to help out on their ranch. Her typical day, she says, starts before sunrise and ends after dark.

At this year’s fair, Bailee has three different animals entered in different divisions. On Thursday, she showed Powerhouse, a 175-pound Suffolk-Texel Crossbreed ram. She beamed with pride when asked how she and Powerhouse did and pointed to a purple ribbon hanging on the stall. Powerhouse brought home the grand championship.

She’s raised Powerhouse from a baby, she said. At 7-months old, the heavily muscled ram stands over half her height. When watching Bailee in the stall, though, it’s clear she’s not intimidated. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she lifted his entire front end off the stall floor to put him where she wanted him. Bailee Behnke is strong.

-- Advertisement – Story Continues Below --
Bailee Behnke with Johnny Cash, a 1,454 pound market steer
Bailee Behnke with Johnny Cash, a 1,454 pound market steer.

When asked how she knows which lambs have potential to be winners, she’s quick with an answer.

“You’ve got to look at their muscles,” she explained. “Look here at his butt muscles. Also, you don’t want them too tall. A nice straight back is important.”

She manipulated the ram so that he stood in the best position to show off his physique. This is called bracing, she explained. In this position the judges can fully appreciate the ram for the physical specimen he is.

After the fair, Bailee said Powerhouse will be brought back to the ranch to live out his days as a breeding ram. Not all of her sheep are so lucky though. Some, she says, wind up in somebody’s freezer.

-- Advertisement – Story Continues Below --

On Friday she showed Johnny Cash, a 1,454 pound Black Angus yearling, in the Market Beef division. Johnny took fourth place. She will show a pig Saturday morning in the Youth Swine division.

“The steers are more work,” Bailee said. “You have them longer, and of course they’re bigger.”

No matter how things work out for Bailee and her pig at this year’s fair, she says it’s been a great experience and she’s proud of how she did. Bailee Behnke knows a thing or two about raising a champion. It’s pretty clear her parents do too.

To learn more about CCF and the Youth Livestock Sale Sunday, visit ccgov.net/fair.