By Charlie Denison
“Now that’s a big steer,” a man sitting on a stool inside Glendive Livestock said.
“Sure is,” said another.
Jack, a seven-year-old steer belonging to Don and Vera Kuehn, was hauled to Glendive Livestock Exchange last month by relatives of his owners.
When Jack got out of the trailer, jaws dropped. Even Glendive Livestock owner Gerald Hoffer, who has owned the place since 1997, couldn’t believe it.
“We had a 2,700 pounder one time,” he said. “But this has got to be the biggest.”
Although Vera didn’t go to Glendive Livestock Wednesday morning, she could imagine the faces, the reactions from spectators and bystanders. All Jack’s life, she saw it all.
“When he was in the pasture, people would have to take a second look,” she said. “We got a lot of pleasure out of that.”
At 69 inches tall, 119 inches long and weighing a massive 3,015 pounds, Jack is a freak of a steer.
“Biggest one I’ve ever seen,” Vera said. “It’d be interesting to know if there’s another steer out there as big.”
Since birth, Jack was special. When he was born, he weighed 175 pounds. Sadly, his mother did not survive the labor.
Vera took Jack under her wing, feeding him herself, making him a “bucket calf.”
Jack quickly became a family favorite, she said. When the grandchildren came over, they’d take pictures with him.
“He was very gentle,” Vera said. “Sometimes the grandkids would even get their pictures with him (while they were) sitting on his back.”
Vera said the Kuehn family felt having Jack was like having a dog.
“He was that gentle,” she said. “I guess the whole family had a special place for him. He was unusual.”
In the last six months, Jack developed arthritis, making it increasingly difficult for him to get around each day. Vera said he especially had trouble with his hind legs, and she didn’t like seeing him suffer.
“It’s very hard to lose him,” she said. “But we don’t want to see him go downhill and get worse than what he is. We just figure now is the best time to do it.”
For a steer, Jack is old. While he grew and grew, he became part of the Kuehn family, Vera said, and they just weren’t ready to lose him.
At the age of four, Jack weighed in at his highest measured weight of 3150 pounds and, although many would give him up at the time, the Kuehns held onto him.
“Most people don’t keep steers this long,” Vera said. “But he was like a pet for us.”
Vera was so attached to Jack she couldn’t bring him into town. Instead, Don’s cousin Larry Morast and grandnephew Tanner Gritten took the cow for his final trip.
Jack was slaughtered by Triple T Specialty Meats.
As far as how Jack got that big, no one knows.
“Can’t really explain how he got as big as he did,” Vera said. “He had the right genes, I guess.”
July 14, 2010