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Leading the Way: Work hard, play hard – share your talent

Katie Coyne for Progressive Dairy Published on 30 April 2021
Kimball family

Jayden and Kennedy Kimball of Windham, Maine, are a force to be reckoned with on the softball field and in the show ring.

These young dairy exhibitors are intense and dedicated with an incredible work ethic that is taking them to the national stage in both cattle showing and softball.

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The two sisters, with the assistance of their parents, Chris and Jamie, have 20 All-American nominations that they have bred, owned and developed. Jayden and Kennedy entered the national spotlight of the dairy show industry in 2017 when Jayden exhibited a picture-perfect fall calf at the World Dairy Expo. Ms AOL Diamondback Raspberry Red-ET won her class and was named the Junior Champion of the Junior Show and Reserve Junior Champion of the Open Show. In 2018, after calving in as a fall yearling, Raspberry went on to be named Intermediate Champion of the Junior Show at the most competitive show in North America. That same year, Jayden’s ownership was expanded to include her sister Kennedy and their cousins, Caroline and Andrew.

Kendall and Jayden Kimball

While Raspberry may have been the heifer that propelled them to the spotlight on a big stage, these two sisters have been, and continue to be, dedicated to the pursuit of winning. Jayden, 15, and Kennedy, 14, have caught the attention of elite breeders from both the U.S. and Canada. These dairy producers are anxious to get their show heifers in capable hands, and that’s where the Kimball sisters come in.

Each year in March, once the snow begins to melt in rural Maine, several breeders from the nearby province of Quebec contact the girls and invite them to select a few heifers for the show season. You may be asking yourself: Why would top breeders send their heifers to Maine for the show season? It’s because they know their heifers will be in excellent hands. From March until late fall, here is a typical day in the barn for these sisters:

  • Training begins with heads tied up, brushing and washing. The girls believe it is important to “desensitize” heifers by introducing them to all kinds of sights and sounds.

  • As heifers begin to acclimate to their training, they are walked 10 minutes with their heads up and at a “show pace” – not too slow and not too fast.

  • Once heifers are well broke, they are walked 20 minutes morning and evening. This teaches the heifers they are expected to keep their heads up, set up when stopped and there will be times when they will be in a show ring for at least 20 minutes. Jayden adds that both she and Kennedy want the most out of their heifers whenever they step foot in the ring. It’s time to be serious and look for the win.

  • The girls do twice-daily rinses, conditioning and keep their heifers clipped off so that topline and belly hair are in great shape all summer.

  • One point both Jayden and Kennedy wanted to make to other youth is to remember that yearlings need work too. Even though those animals may be broke to lead, they are not necessarily ready for the show ring. In other words, the girls recommend spending as much time with those “veteran” campaigners as they need to be retrained to walk with their heads up and to set up quickly.

  • Once at the show and the animals have been washed and settled in, the girls take their heifers in the show ring to acclimate them to the new surroundings. While Jayden and Kennedy have had the privilege of having high-type animals, they are dedicated to showmanship as well and want to give both themselves and their heifers as many advantages as they can. They feel that showmanship is key to success in type classes, as well as being a top showman is the best way to get a heifer to look her best. A few laps around the show ring prior to show day are key to a calm heifer in class.

Jayden and Kennedy show at the 4-H and junior breed shows in Maine, the New England Summer Show, the Big E and the Northeast Fall National, the Eastern National in Harrisburg, the World Dairy Expo and at the Grand National Junior Show in Louisville. In 2017 and 2018, they also exhibited Raspberry at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. There are not many youth from the U.S. that can claim they have had that privilege. Not only did Jayden lead her calf, but Raspberry and Jayden were named the Junior Champion after winning their class – a huge accomplishment for a young show person. In 2018, Raspberry and Jayden teamed up again to win the fall yearling in milk class in Toronto as well.

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When I caught up with these busy young ladies at the 2020 New England Summer Show, they had their neighbours, Lydia, Aliza and Levi Hill with them at the show. The Hill family is part of the Kimball show family, as the girls are all good friends. Sharing a show string with non-farm youth adds an element of responsibility to the process. The Kimball girls spend time teaching Lydia, Aliza and their younger brother, Levi, all they know about being successful in the show ring. Kennedy shared that she and Jayden have learned a lot just by looking at things through someone else’s viewpoint. When teaching, the girls have learned that if you teach a “why,” it is easier to explain and to learn. To an unknowing onlooker, it would be hard to tell that the Hill children weren’t from a farm – a testament to their dedication to learn and the Kimball girls’ dedication to teaching all they know so that others can succeed.

So what do the Kimball sisters do when not with their heifers? Kennedy is an All-American pitcher and Jayden is the catcher on their outstanding U14 softball team. The team traveled to the national championship in 2020, with the girls competing against the very best from around the country.

Excelling on the softball field goes hand in hand with excelling in the show ring. Hours of practice each day and giving it their very best each and every time they hit the show ring, or the softball diamond, has propelled Jayden and Kennedy to success on a national stage.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Sisters Kennedy and Jayden Kimball have shared their love for showing cattle with their non-farm friends, siblings Lydia, Aliza and Levi.

PHOTO 2: Kendall and Jayden Kimball collected many banners from the most prestigious shows in North America in 2017 and 2018 with Ms AOL Diamondback Raspberry Red-ET. Courtesy photos.

Katie Coyne
  • Katie Coyne

  • Owner
  • Mill Wheel Dairy Show Clinics
  • Email Katie Coyne

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