Adam Coats, of North Stonington, trains Mike and Brock, a pair of Chianina oxen, for competitive weight pulling at fairs and agricultural events in the New England region. Mike and Brock, who are 6 years old and participated in competitions for the first time in the summer of 2009, are a combined weight of more than 5,100 pounds.
The Chianina breed originated in Italy and is one of the oldest breeds in the world, according to the American Chianina Association.
Coats is committed to training and caring for the oxen despite the expenses, daily feeding, and required frequent training sessions. "Putting $10,000 in and getting $10 back - it's really not worth it for some people," said Coats.
Coats and his oxen team placed sixth in the North Stonington Agricultural Fair. Since then, Mike and Brock have improved and won two competitive pulls. The team exceeded Coats' goal for the season of pulling 9,000 pounds by pulling more than 10,000 pounds in competition.