Growing up in the rural South, I thought I knew a little bit about cattle. But I got a real education when I visited a fellow in Barbour County who's made quite a name for himself. Joe Young owns one of the biggest cows you'll ever see.
Walking up to him in the back corner of the pasture it was hard to tell just how big he really is. But up close there was no doubt. Big Red is 6 feet 5 inches tall, 11 feet long, and tips the scale during his off season at about 3,000 pounds.
His owner Joe Young calls red the Shaquille O'Neal of cows...and that's no bull....because Red is actually a steer. "Well, his out of a Chianita bull and a Brown Swiss heifer," Joe told me. "He's about three times the average animal. A number one steer at the market is about 900 pounds.
His hoofs are the size of small melons – about as big as a regulation volley ball. You might think an animal this big might be a little temperamental...or even dangerous...but not this one. Joe says, "he's just a big ole baby."
Soon Joe will load Red in a trailer and head west for the first of a dozen or so state fairs, exhibitions and rodeos. "Red is the easiest thing I have to load," says Joe. "All I have to do is walk him up to the trailer and he gets on. Everything else we have to put on."
Red also likes to eat...a lot. "He'll average a bag of feed (50 pounds) and a bale of hay a day...when we're on the road," Joe said. He'd eat two bags if I'd let him...but then he'd weigh 4,000 pounds instead of 3,000. He can also drink 60 gallons of water – 480 pounds – on a hot summer day. In fact, Joe says he can start filling up a five gallon bucket and Big Red can drink it faster than he can fill it up with a garden hose!
Soon Big Red will be back in the spotlight, his coat trimmed and shiny...thrilling folks who will never forget that giant steer from Alabama .