Austin Bockrath
Austin Bockrath

VAN WERT – Van Wert eighth-grader, Austin Bockrath, decided that, going into his fifth year in 4-H, he was going to increase his project load.

For the first four years, Bockrath was immersed in caring for and showing rabbits as his primary 4-H project.

Bockrath noted that working for fair projects has been a generational thing in his family.

“My dad was in it, his dad was in it, it has been something that has gone down our family line,” said Bockrath. “My little brother is almost there, and I have had rabbits since the first grade.”

Bockrath said that he has been interacting and breeding rabbits. During his career with rabbits, he has shown them at the Ohio State Fair, conventions and rabbit shows in Ohio and Indiana.

“Rabbits can be way different,” said Bockrath. “Some can be easy to work with, and others can be hard to work with. If you are going for the top prize, you have to work hard and keep them clean.”

Over the years, Bockrath has primarily worked with two types of rabbits, tan and Florida white. The tan rabbits are more athletic and are considered to be, “running rabbits,” Bockrath said. The Florida white rabbits are small and solid white.

This year, Bockrath decided that he wanted to have both a small and large animal to raise for the fair, so he decided to raise and exhibit red Holsteins. He described the cows as similar to regular Holsteins except what would normally be black spots are more of a reddish color.

“I wanted a different species to go through the sale,” said Bockrath. “A larger animal such as a cow would get more money out of the auction. At first, I wanted to do some kind of poultry, but the cows would bring in more money.”

Bockrath said that one problem with having a larger animal would be where to keep it since he lives in Van Wert.

“My dad has a friend in the country who said that I could store my cow in his barn, so that took care of that,” said Bockrath.

“There’s quite a difference between caring for rabbits and cows,” continued Bockrath. “You just feed and water the rabbits each day. In the case of the cow, you also have to walk them every day.”

Bockrath, the son of Matt and Missy Bockrath, has named his two cows Congo and Red.