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Leading the Way: A special space for show heifers leads to success for the Noble kids

Katie Coyne for Progressive Dairy Published on 24 May 2021
Ainsley and macie Noble

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series.

When we were kids, we added a few holes to a sheep feeder and tied heifers up to it. In the evening, they went out to a dirt lot. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.



In our next two articles, we are going to highlight two families who have decided they are ready to invest more time and money into their show animals, so they have built a barn specifically for show cattle.

Drew, Ainsley and Macie Noble of Lancaster, Wisconsin, have been a force in the show ring for years. They have had four head nominated for Junior All American and achieved extensive success in 2020, even in the midst of the pandemic. Drew is a student at Southwest Tech studying ag mechanics with a goal of returning to the Noble farm, which includes 400 head of milk cows, a beef facility and an extensive crop operation.

Ainsley is completing her junior year of high school. She was recently elected to the Wisconsin Holstein Association’s Junior Activities Committee (her father, Troy, also served in this role as a young Holstein Association member) and is the breeder of a show-winning group of Red and White Holsteins. Ainsley is a keen cattle exhibitor and has won numerous awards at the local, state and national level in showmanship competition. She and her siblings regularly show their string at the Grant County Fair, the District 3 Holstein Show, the Wisconsin Championship show, the Youth Dairy Classic in Iowa and the World Dairy Expo. One of their favorite shows is the Youth Dairy Classic, as it is attended by youth from all over the Midwest and is very exhibitor-friendly.

Macie will be entering high school in the fall and shares a love of the show ring with her sister. She has bred and owned several state and national show winners that have gone on to nominations as well. A fierce showmanship competitor, Macie has placed in the top three in almost every show in which she has competed. Ainsley and Macie share their love of showing with six other youth in their county and provide leadership to those youth as well. As this “neighborhood” show string has grown, as well as the show heifer group getting large, the family decided last year to build a barn specifically for show cattle. Caring for these animals became part of the girls’ list of daily chores.

Facility design

The show barn design includes a bedded pack with drive-through scrape alley


As planning began, it was decided that the old chicken coop would be torn down, and a pack barn with a drive-through scrape alley and an indoor feed aisle would be built. Half of the headgates in each pen are lockups for ease of catching animals. Ainsley requested an indoor wash rack, but her parents, Troy and Jamie, thought an outdoor wash rack would be acceptable.

Packs of a shavings/straw mix are picked several times a day, and manure aisles are scraped daily. The sidewalls are curtains and fans were added this spring. There are gates that separate groups of calves and heifers. Animals that are too thin are moved down to a smaller group of calves to catch up, while heifers that are getting too much feed are moved up to a pen of larger animals to reduce their feed intake. The gates easily swing for locking heifers in for cleaning and can be used to change pen size.


Calves move directly from the hutch to the show barn and are fed a 22% calf grain until they are well adjusted. After that initial orientation to the show barn and group housing, show heifers are fed a 40% protein pellet with long stem hay that is both home-grown and purchased. Hay is fed several times a day to get heifers up and eating, which develops more depth of rib and capacity.

Clipping and grooming

Nobland Addison Dixie-Red Jr.

Paying close attention to weather forecasts, the heifers are clipped off throughout the winter. Ainsley and Macie watch for a few days of predicted warm weather before full body clipping. They are flexible with clipping in the winter months in order to optimize growth, as they are aware that heifers will use energy to stay warm rather than grow if it is cold for a long period of time after clipping off winter hair growth.

Ainsley has been developing an outstanding group of heifers that are primarily white, so keeping packs clean and hair short keeps those heifers white year-round. The Nobles were happy to see winter melt away as they look forward to continuing the building project with an outdoor area for exercise and toning. Heifers will be able to be outside in the evenings after a rinse.


Ainsley and Macie are excited to utilize their new show barn this coming show season as they continue their leadership with local youth and their winning ways in the show ring. As they add to their list of junior champions and All-American nominations, they are excited to utilize this new facility. end mark

PHOTO 1: Sisters Ainsley (left) and Macie (right) Noble take on the daily chores of caring for the heifers in their newly built barn, a dedicated space for preparing their animals for competition.

PHOTO 2: The show barn design includes a bedded pack with a drive-through scrape alley and indoor feed aisle. Half of the headgates in each pen are lockups for ease of catching animals. Photos by Katie Coyne.

PHOTO 3: Nobland Addison Dixie-Red, Jr All WI WInter Calf 2020, Junior Champion at the Delco Classic, Iowa. Photo courtesy of Noble family.

Katie Coyne
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