Best in Stock: Sophie Leach wins it all


Written by: Emily Long, Assistant Editor

This year, junior Sophie Leach took her cattle and competed at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky. The competition was held from November 2-11, and Leach won first place in each of her categories. 


 “In order to prepare for shows, my family and I will start by putting our cows on a specific diet for each individual. They also must be broken to the halter so that they are easy to lead when showing. The better your animal leads, the better they look. We also wash our cows frequently to keep their skin and hair healthy. The hair will be clipped off at the show to give them a more clean and polished look. Preparing for a show can take months for each animal. You want them to be in the best shape possible,” said Leach. 


According to Leach, dairy exhibitions, or shows, are when someone takes their animal that they’ve been working with to compete against others. The competition is based on the appearance and overall structure of the animal. 


“I’ve been in the dairy industry since I was a kid. My parents were both dairy farmers when they were young and fell in love with it,” said Leach. 


Competing hasn’t always looked like this for Sophie before, but given the circumstances, she is working hard to balance a busy schedule of taking care of her livestock alongside adjusting to online school. 


“It is hard work. Being a student at BLHS is also very important to me. Balancing cow shows and school isn’t easy. When you are at a show, you spend a lot of time keeping the animals clean and fed. I try to let my teachers know in advance that I will be traveling for these expositions and might be absent from online school. It is not easy, but I love what I do,” said Leach. 


On top of Leach’s most recent awards, she has won many shows throughout her career. She has earned titles like Supreme Champion of the Jr. Grand National Holstein Show 2015, Jersey Jug Futurity Winner 2019, Reserve Supreme Champion of the Jr. All American Jersey Show 2020, Grand Champion of the Jr. All American Jersey Show 2020, Reserve Junior Champion of the Jr. All American Jersey Show 2020, Honorable Mention Intermediate Champion of the Jr. National Holstein Show 2020, Intermediate Champion of the Southern National Jr. Jersey Show 2020, Reserve Intermediate Champion of the Jr. All American Jersey Show 2018, along with many more.  


“For my family and me, winning isn’t just a title or reason to brag, it is a sense of accomplishment. We spend a lot of our time taking care of our animals. We fully believe that you get what you put in. Seeing our cattle compete with the best in the nation means a lot to us, considering we are a small farm that experienced the Linwood tornado of 2019. Winning isn’t only ribbons and banners, it is knowing that all our hard work paid off,” said Leach. 


During a “normal” year, Leach would usually compete at 5 shows. They are the Spring Southern National, the Kansas State Fair, the Illinois State Fair, World Dairy Expo, and the North American Livestock Exposition. Due to COVID-19, competing looks a little different for Leach than it normally would. 


“I can’t imagine not going to shows in the future. It has become a big part of my life, has taught me many valuable lessons, and has allowed me to connect with people all over the nation,” said Leach. 


Although competing this year looks different, Leach hopes that she can compete in her next show, which would be the Spring Southern National in April.