Showing Beef or Dairy Cattle This is written primarily for folk who are venturing into the show ring for the first time and who maybe do not have the benefit of a "guardian angel" in the form of an experienced showman or women to advise on the items needed to get you into the ring and suitably "decked out" for judgment! .
Cattle showing can be divided into two categories: -
Beef or Dairy
There are summer shows and autumn dairy events followed by the winter Fatstock shows, which finalise with the famous Smithfield event. Both bovine categories compete in classes in most of the summer and Fatstock shows.
Cattle need to be the subject to a period of training before the event/show and much of the early preparation is done back on the farm. The final preparation work often being done the day before at the show, or at the crack of dawn if you are attending a local one-day show!
Successful cattle showing embraces a collection (purchases) of equipment, all of which is best kept in a sizable box or trunk known affectionately as the "show box." Ideally this should be of a size or weight you can just about manage to carry, but not the size anyone can tuck under their arm and walk off with. (You would be amazed at how much kit is stolen at shows!)
The show box is ideal for some artistic artwork advertising of both you and your stock. Wander round the cattle lines and you will quickly see what other folk produce and then be able to formulate your own ideas! A trip up the cattle line at the Royal Show will enlighten you to the talents of the "cattle marketing folk"
Back on the farm remember to load with the cattle their hard tack (feed) adequate hay, feed buckets and good-sized water buckets. Make sure you have all necessary paperwork; veterinary forms if necessary, entry tickets and all the other bits of paper the Show Societies love to demand. Don't forget the showing equipment, - not least a clean white coat, and the all essential "wet weather gear" One the way out raid your "piggy bank" - if you win you may need to buy the "bar!"
In order to exhibit your fine beast or collection of beasts you need certain items known as the showing kit! Products you need in order to get you and your exhibits ready for the off!
Long gone are the days when you could amble round the show ring with "it" on a length of binder twine, and you clad in your month old milking parlour brown jacket, or brightly colour tractor overalls advertising Massey Furguson!
Whether you start with a few items or bit the bullet and go for broke is for you to decide. Either way if you take up showing cattle in a serious way you will end up buying it all!
SECURITY at the SHOW!
Securing your animals in the stalls requires you have certain items.
Cotton or poly for tying up in the show stalls.
On to these you fasten your necktie rope.
Usually poly, fasten from the neck strap "D" ring to the stall fixings.
PRODUCTS for PREPARATION & BEAUTIFICATION!
Unless you are at a one-day event, once you have unloaded and got everybody settled in the stalls and dumped your gear, "bath time" is the next job. Most show grounds provide the water, and you provide the shampoo! You will now spend the next two or three hours immersed in soap suds and water!
In order to perform the bath time ritual - assuming you have brought buckets, you need a washing brush. A water scraper is a good investment also.
Having washed your guys now you have to think about drying them. Towels are "sad" and your bull would look dead naff with a towel wrapped round it - you need the fast drying effects of a dryer/blower. Not cheap, but very necessary for the bovines which do the circuit! Buy one that has the power, not the least expensive! (The wife's hair dryer is no good either, but can be used when she is not around for your dairy cows "top lines" - most blow up with continual use, but it does solve the Christmas present difficulty.)
Grooming combs & Slickas
One or two will be needed for grooming purposes, and for use with applications of coat dressing, or the fun business of "soaping up" (applying handful of soap gel to the coat to make it stand up! Bit like an 18 year old with a punk hairstyle - all the rage with some bulls!)
Products, which assist in the "stuck up hair" look. Often applied to legs and tails. Can be used on dairy cow teats! Opportunities for artistic talent!
Liquid products, which give your bull or cow that seductive sleek shimmering, shine which will bedazzle the judge on judgement day! (You hope!!) Best applied with a trigger spray bottle - so you need one of these also!
Now you may be unlucky and have one of you prize exhibits that finds the hype of the showground and the mixing with other bovines all a bit too exciting!
If it starts to dismantle the stall row, or threatens to provide its own "show spectacular" in the ring, you may quickly observe that the Livestock Steward starts displaying less friendly vibes towards you, and of course you are also unlikely to the "flavour of the month" with other exhibitors who at this stage may be desperately trying to prevent a mass stampede from the ring! The public on the other hand will think you are great and cheer you on! (but they don't count!)
The best part of the Burke Trophy at the Royal Show each year is seeing how many stockpersons can fly on the end of a lead rein as their exhibits gallop round the ring!
Stockpersons with experience of such situations know the value of Stress Relaxants. Always consider carrying these, or if you have a "known" freak out merchant try administering some several days before hand in with the daily feed. They really work, and do not result in your prize entry laying down and nodding off in the ring!
Again one of those products which hopefully you won't need, but if your animal successfully adorns itself in manure or some other powerful stain, this is a product you will greatly value! Saves washing and drying the traditional way! Have a clean towel handy to wipe off the foam. Every year some bovine has the mistaken idea that this is the way to add beautification!
SHOW DAY GEAR!
Mandatory, many use the American type - bit more showy!
Remember with US type select - Bronze for Beef - Alloy for Dairy - tradition!
You also may need a lead rein to attach to it. (fingers get dis-jointed easily after the first few tugs !)
Cotton type usually 16mm for most bulls and cows, 12 mm for calves. Must be deluxe brilliant white. Off white suggest you forgot to wash it the week before! Keep it only for showing, not for farm use keeping the barn door open!
Leather type - preferred and considered more "professional" by many. More expensive - naturally! Try thinking "I'm worth it" (the bovine - not you! and you will feel better as you pay for it!)
Of course once you have a leather halter you will need the matching leather lead reins, naturally they are extra, but who cares - what's money! Hey we're on the "cutting edge" of becoming famous!
Essential. There you are in the ring with your "hope and expectations" standing there beside you looking a million dollars. All round the ring are the heron like critics watching your every move - like vultures! You have just succeeded in manoeuvred your exhibit into a perfect stance, after a frustrating 10 minutes during which it showed no desire to co-operate. Now as it stands there displaying its finest features for the advancing judge, then - just at the critical moment as his gaze closes in, it decides to relax, hang its head and shift its legs so that its all important straight back bears a strong resemblance to a alpine ski slop!
As the judge's critical gaze falls upon you and your animal, you instinctively know it is hardly the best time to nip off round the back end of the animal and start tugging the off side leg into position.
In such a situation the show stick enables you to reach the offend leg and prod it into place whilst still maintaining the animals head in the required position - affectionally gazing at the judge and not looking down at his boots! Sticks are also useful for scratching tummies, which makes the animal alert! (You often see stockperson "fiddling" away to their hearts content like famous violin players deep in some major Mozart work!)
After the animal it's your turn! You won't need a shampoo or blow dry, but you will need a white exhibitors show coat. Most "non - you" to be seen in overalls and wellies or you best brown milking parlour jacket! Get one size up from normal - not all summers are hot and sunny and you may well want and overcoat on underneath.
One other point, whatever your views on the state of the nation, the economy, or the current farming incomes this is not the time to become engrossed in a chatty conversation with the guy standing next to you. This is the time for dedicated concentration on the standing position of your animal, and remember you need to be facing the judge at all times. Speak when spoken to - this is not the time to suggest a free night in the bar if he should favour your beast!
If your "exhibit" decides to make a major move forward or backwards - rather than attempting a "tug of war" exhibition, which you will probably lose, just make a tight circular turn and come back on station! Looks much more professional than battling away with brute force!
All that now remains is to await the judge's decision, try to look thrilled if you come last and when congratulating the winner make it sound convincing. If you take first prize - well done, enjoy your success and don't forget to pose with your champion for the cameras!
Finally a special word for all the hundreds of cattle folk - both young and old who travel round the shows each year. Well done all those who get out there and have a go, you are the "future" of the summer agricultural showing tradition and as such are worthy of all the assistance available. Generally the livestock showing community are a very decent lot, helpful, and always ready with a bit of good advice. For many "showing" becomes an annual ritual. Keep the tradition going!
Agricultural Shows large or small with all their fancy shopping arcades, food stalls, and motorcar showrooms are nothing without the animals!