Fluffy Cows 

Last year pictures of groomed cattle dubbed “fluffy cows” went viral on the Internet and were an overnight success. Many people who aren’t familiar with cattle or perhaps had only seen commercial cattle grazing were interested to see this new type of cow. Growing up around show cattle, I thought the concept was funny to say the least, but it’s definitely a neat segment of the beef industry to take a look at. Here’s a quick overview of the “fluffy cows.”

Fluffy cows are just highly groomed cattle that experience the best of care.

Fluffy cows are just highly groomed cattle that experience the best of care.

Fluffy cows are not a single breed. Contrary to what some comments on pictures and blogs might lead you to believe, fluffy cows are simply cattle that are more groomed than average. Many of them are purebred breeds, such as the recognizable Angus, but many are crossbred between two or more breeds.

OK…so how are they so fluffy? Fluffy cows get their fluff from intense levels of grooming. Many are washed and dried multiple times a day to keep them clean and brushed to provide the best conditions for hair growth. Most are also kept under fans or in air-conditioned rooms called coolers to keep them cool with all that hair. When at shows or other events, hair spray and adhesive may be used to stand the hair up – similar to some older human hairstyles!

Part of the "fluffy" process is frequent baths and blow drying.

Part of the “fluffy” process is frequent baths and blow drying.

Fluffy cows receive the pinnacle of care. Between multiple baths a day, a highly monitored feeding regimen of top notch feeds, spending the day relaxing in an air-conditioned barn and receiving constant grooming and other care, fluffy cows definitely lead a pampered life. While animal welfare is critical on all farming operations, fluffy cows go above and beyond to provide the best possible care for their animals.

So why? With all the work that goes into keeping fluffy cows so fluffy it’s easy to ask, “Why bother?” Fluffy cows are show cattle that spend the first two years of their lives being shown in livestock fairs and exhibitions, often through programs like 4-H and FFA. The project of showing livestock introduces kids to the farm, cattle and helps teach the value of hard work from a young age.

Showing cattle teaches kids valuable life lessons such as the value of hard work and that everything doesn't always go your way.

Showing cattle teaches kids valuable life lessons such as the value of hard work and that everything doesn’t always go your way.

What happens when they are finished showing? When cattle turn two years old, they are generally too old to show in most fairs. Some allow older cattle to show with their calf, but for most fluffy cows after they turn two they are demoted to just cows. They’ll spend the remainder of their life in the field like any other cow and hopefully one of their calves can be a fluffy cow too.

Will Pohlman

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