Jacob Hinshaw (left) won the 2013 IBA Junior Points Program and received the use of a Featherlite trailer, an award sponsored by Gateway Featherlite Trailer Sales of Pana, Ill. James Shiels (center), owner of Gateway, and Eli Fry, Gateway salesman, congratulate Hinshaw on winning the 2014 aluminum gooseneck trailer.
Jacob Hinshaw (left) won the 2013 IBA Junior Points Program and received the use of a Featherlite trailer, an award sponsored by Gateway Featherlite Trailer Sales of Pana, Ill. James Shiels (center), owner of Gateway, and Eli Fry, Gateway salesman, congratulate Hinshaw on winning the 2014 aluminum gooseneck trailer.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Hinshaw family works as a team when it comes to showing cattle.

“It’s our whole family — we all have to come together to make it work,” Jacob Hinshaw said.

During the 2013 showing season, the family traveled to several jackpot shows, county fairs and the Illinois State Fair. At the end of the season, Hinshaw accumulated the most points and won the Illinois Beef Association Junior Points Program.

As the junior winner, he receives a one-year lease of a Featherlite livestock trailer, sponsored by James Shiels, owner of Gateway Featherlite Trailer Sales.

“Jacob is getting a 2014 20-foot Featherlite aluminum gooseneck trailer, and it will have tie rails and other features,” Shiels said. “It will give them an opportunity to go to two shows at once now that they have a second trailer.”

Hinshaw, together with his brothers, Jared and Levi, showed six steers during 2013, including Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn and crossbreds. Levi also placed in the top 10 of the junior points program.

Winning the points program was a surprise to the 16-year-old showman.

“We always try to finish as high as we can, and we had a goal to win the trailer, but we never thought we could achieve it,” said Jacob, the son of Dan and Judy Hinshaw.

At the Illinois State Fair last year, Hinshaw exhibited the reserve AOB steer of the junior show, he won a class with his Angus steer and his crossbred steer was third in the class.

“Over the summer, we won six shows with that AOB steer, and my crossbred steer was reserve overall about four times,” the junior exhibitor recalled.

Several years ago, Hinshaw won a pair of clippers as a top 10 exhibitor for the junior points program.

“I saw the kid receive a big trailer, and I didn’t think I’d ever win one,” he said. “But now that it has happened, that’s really cool.”

Hinshaw travels to many locations in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois searching for just the right steers to purchase for his project.

“Last year, we went to from 30 to 40 places and looked at over 1,000 animals,” he recalled.

“That’s probably my favorite thing — trying to pick out the ones that look like they have the right maturity and muscle pattern,” he said.

“My dad helps me, and he has lots of tips he has taught me,” he added. “Things like looking at their cannon bones, which indicates how tall they might get, and looking at their head because you don’t want it too short or too narrow.”

Hinshaw works with his cattle daily during the summer to prepare them for the show ring.

“We bring the steers in the barn every day to work their hair and keep them as cool as possible so they keep growing their hair,” he explained. “We try to be early and get them in the barn before the sun comes up.”

Feeding the steers appropriately also is important.

“We are usually shooting for state fair for them to look their best,” Hinshaw said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s fun, too.”

The junior exhibitor enjoys competing in the show ring and working with his cattle.

“You pick them out when they’re little, work on them and then they come together toward summer,” he said. “It’s fun when you realize you picked out a good one and now it looks good at the fair.”

Hinshaw is a junior at El Paso Gridley High School, where he is a member of the FFA chapter, and he also is a member of the Hudson Ag 4-H club, serving as the club’s treasurer.

For his FFA chapter, Hinshaw has been a member of the meat and soil judging team. However, he enjoys livestock judging the most.

After high school, he plans to continue his education, although he is uncertain if that will be at a junior college or a university.

“I’m interested in biology, microbiology and bioengineering,” he said.

“I would like to be involved with improving things by working with genes,” he noted. “That might be in an agricultural field like improving a soybean plant, but I’m not sure at this point which major I will study.”

This year, Hinshaw and his brothers plan to show four steers and a crossbred heifer.

“We raised the Angus steer that they are going to show this year,” Dan Hinshaw said.

The Hinshaws own a small cowherd on their farm near Secor.

“Almost all of the cows are females that the boys have shown,” the cattleman said.