If you expect to simply arrive at a stock show with your animal and walk away with the top prize, you’re in for a shock. Being successful at showing cattle takes a lot of time and commitment, which begins well before you register for a show. Here are eight essential cattle show tips that can help you prepare your animal and score some favorable results.
1. Know Your Animal
Not all cattle are the same. Animals have personalities, and some may need more work in some areas than others. If you have the same training regimen for all of your cattle, you would be doing them a disservice. Look at each calf from a judge’s point of view to determine which flaws need correcting.
2. Earn the Animal’s Trust
When you show a calf, the animal needs to follow your directions in front of a judge. This means that you need to establish a level of trust with your calf. Trust takes time and patience and will only come with consistent effort.
3. Have a Consistent Feeding Routine
Your calf should be fed at the same time every day. Cattle thrive on consistency, and without it there’s a good chance that they will fail to develop. Young calves also tend to eat better in a group setting, so putting several calves nose-to-nose at mealtime could have positive results.
4. Consult a Veterinarian
Before your animal even arrives at your farm, it’s a good idea to speak to a veterinarian about its care. You’re going to need all the necessary vaccinations and health checkups. Also, get a health history of the animal for your file from the previou owner
5. Properly Time Old Hair Removal
Calf hair grows in 90-day cycles, so timing is everything when it comes to making sure that your calf’s hair is the right length when your show date arrives. For example, if your show date is in June, you may want to remove all old hair by the middle of March.
6. Hoof Trimming
Hoof trimming is something that you want to have done by an expert. A mistake in trimming or cleaning your calf’s hooves could turn into a serious medical issue. Ask around your area or network with other show exhibitors to find a good hoof trimmer in your area.
7. Walk Into a Staggered Position
When you show your animal, you want to minimize the amount of show stick use involved for such things as feet placement. You can accomplish this by teaching your calf to walk in a staggered position. As you practice at home, take a few steps backward as you look at the calf’s back feet and then walk them into a staggered position. You should then only have to adjust a front foot instead of wasting time shuffling several feet with a show stick.
8. Keep the Animal Calm During Exhibition
By working with your calf at home, you are setting them up to take your cues and remain calm in a show situation. Always arrive early so that you can get into position without being rushed. Walk slowly and calmly at all times and use the show stick to gently scratch your calf’s belly while standing still to keep it calm. When the judge walks away, have a comb in your pocket that you can pull out to brush your calf.
The hard work and dedication that you put into preparing your cattle for a show can help you win competitions, but the rewards are much greater. You will have a stronger bond with your animal by taking these steps as well as learn some valuable skills and lessons that will continue to serve you in everyday life.