Raising and showing cattle is a satisfying and enlightening occurrence. Before you run out to purchase your prize winning cattle, you need to sit down and map out a few ideas. If you are looking for a market steer, look up what breeds of cattle are best for meat production. After you have found your breed of cattle, look at what beef is selling for in your area. If you are in the market for a brood cow, be sure to research which breed is best for you. When picking out your cattle, make sure you list out health and temperament as the two defining factors.
Once your goals are in place and your cattle has been purchased, you will want to begin looking for cattle shows in your area. The time you show will depend on if you have a steer or heifer. Steers are only in the show ring for one season, while heifers can be shown for two seasons. If you are younger, you will likely find help from your local FFA or 4-H chapters. If you are older, you will participate in the open show classes. To find out more information, check with a cattle association or extension office. Both of these resources will give you information on shows in your district.
When you are thinking of what to feed your prized cattle, look for feed that promotes a healthy coat. You will want to start out with feed that is good for growth, since your calf is still developing. A good feed to start with is Calf-Mana, by Mana Pro. This feed is for all stages and helps promote proper digestion, optimal bone structure, and excellent coat quality.
Training your cattle for show begins when you get your calf. To start, get your calf used to having a halter on him. Persistence is key when it comes to halter introduction. Let your calf walk around with it on and get use to the feeling. Once your calf is use to the halter, introduce the lead and tie him up for 20 minute intervals each day. Over time, the impression of the halter and lead will become first nature to your calf.
When it comes to leading your calf around the show ring, practice with your calf in a small corral or fenced in area. If your calf doesn’t budge, apply force to the rope and he will begin to follow. With each small step, patience is key. If the calf moves even the slightest bit, reward your calf with their favorite treat. A good treat to try is alfalfa cubes. Once your calf has dominated the corral, lead him into larger spaces.
In the ring, judges ask for your cattle to stand correctly. A tool that is used to help teach your cattle to stand properly is a show stick. The show stick should be introduced gently into your training sessions. Let the calf get use to the stick, by placing it near and on him. Once he is use to it, gently put slight pressure on the center of each hoof to get him to line up properly. It will take about a week or more for your calf to get use to the stick and stand properly.
When preparing your cattle for the show ring, be sure to get the right comb. You will want your cattle to have a “fluffy” appearance in the show ring. The more you brush your calf, the more they will be used to being brushed. When in the show ring, the comb will act as a soothing tool for your cattle.
Remember, cattle are each different and introduction times may vary. Make the experience rewarding for yourself and the cattle. Never make a negative impression on your cattle when you are working with them. When you use a calm demeanor and carry a pocket full of treats, your cattle will bring home the blue ribbon!