Last year at this time, they were viral stars.
“Someone on the internet called them ‘Fluffy Cows’ and it took off!” says Matt Lautner.
A cute, cuddly… cow?
The Today Show called. The beef industry worried. The public wondered if Lautner Farms in Adel had discovered a way to cross an Angus with a teddy bear.
But hold on. The Lautner bulls are just regular beef cattle, who’ve come under the care of groomer, Kirk Stierwalt.
“I mean, the longest I’ve ever clipped on one animal is probably two weeks,” says the groomer, who’s made a special trip up from Oklahoma.
Yep, he’s a bovine beautician. He took the Lautner’s show cattle and primped them for the judges.
“They’re always looking for that special one.”
Phil Lautner and is family breeds weren’t wild about the term “fluffy.” After all, they also breed for short stocky bodies and good personalities.
“I don’t know whether you’d call them pets, but they all get names,” Phil says.
There’s General Lee, Monopoly and legendary champion, Heat Wave. They’ll be groomed every day between now and this weekend.
“They get better treatment than most people!” laughs Dax Lautner.
If someone happens to like the look of War Eagle at the show in Denver, they can order up an exact replica. Many show cattle these days are cloned, and cloning a steer has its advantages.
“Heat Wave ended up dying and we had clones of him,” Phil says, “so we still had the same genetics through cloning.”
Cloning prices start around $20,000 but a prize, fluffy show bull can bring $100,000.
Those that don’t win go back to being regular beef cattle, and then, “Then they become hamburger,” Dax smiles.
Maybe being called cuddly isn’t so bad after all.