Show stock Lessons

When I was in 4-H, my parents always told me that showing livestock was a family affair. Although the animals were my project, working together as a family and receiving help from my parents throughout the summer show season was important.

While I was at the Ohio State Fair these past two weeks, I took a second to stop and look around at the families working together. I truly believe in the saying, “those that work together stay together.” Showing cattle was always more to me than just winning a purple ribbon or shiny trophy. Showing livestock teaches lifelong values and characteristics to the youth that they will always live by. Now that I am out of 4-H and have the chance to stand back and watch the up and coming generation of showman, I cannot help but reflect on the lessons showing livestock taught me, as well as watch these characteristics showcase in other youth.

  1. Hard work- the countless hours, days and night that are put forth to care for our livestock are unmeasurable. Eight a.m. show days come early in the morning when move in to the fair was finished up at midnight. Showing livestock teaches youth how to work hard with their project for success.

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    Showing beef cattle requires youth to spend time in the barn washing and drying their animal. Patience, time, and practice are three motivational goals learned through working hard.

  2. Dedication- showing livestock requires dedication to not only feed and water the animals every day, but also work with and clean them daily. Livestock youth are dedicated to the well-being of their animals all hours of the day, in all types of weather.

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    Spending the time with ones project is important to teach it how to walk, set up, and get use to a change in surroundings. Youth must be dedicated to work with their project multiple days a week to get it ‘show ready.’

  3. Manners- Working together as a family taught me that “please” and “thank-you” go a long way. Although some days can be more stressful than others or the days that parents seem to be doing everything backwards from planned, being a part of the show stock industry teaches youth to thank their parents, siblings, other youth, 4-H and FFA advisors, and the judge for their help and hard work.
  4. Tears- Everyone always has the hope of walking out of the show ring being the champion, but like so many things, there can only be one winner. Showing livestock teaches youth how to win with dignity and loose with grace. More times than not tears have been shed because an animal misbehaved or I wanted to place higher in a class than I did, but through the tears, I learned to be grateful for what I did have and shake the hand of the winner.
  5. Love- showing livestock is about loving what you do and doing it because you love it. My last two years in 4-H, I found my happy place in the barn washing and blow-drying my projects. Spending so much time with the same animal allows you to learn their personality and become best friends. Showing livestock teaches you to not only love your animals, but love your family for being there with you every step of the way.

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    Spending so much time with an animal throughout all weather conditions and throughout the highs and lows of every show allows you to become best friends. Learning the personality of your show animals and connecting with them in and outside of the ring can bring so much joy and happiness to youths’ life.

I could never express how truly grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to grow up on a farm and show livestock for numerous years. When I look back and reflect on the entirety of the years, the ribbons and banners won mean a lot, but the valuable lessons through experiences are treasures that have helped shape me into who I am today. I hope that as I begin to help the next generation of youth, as well as watch the youth working together with family and friends, they find value in the lessons showing their livestock will give, as I did throughout my years as a show stock kid.

Show cattle and smiles!
~Demi~

Stop, Watch, and Listen

When it comes to being a part of the beef industry, there are multiple facets that one can be a part of; the beef producer, the advocate, and the shower. Most youth would agree that the best part of showing cattle is not the colorful rope halters or show sticks, the daily washing and blow drying, or the sparkles on the jeans as a part of the wardrobe, (although all fun pieces of showing) but the facet of showing the animal that so much time and dedication is put in to. There is no better feeling than walking into the ring and having your steer or heifer behave and do everything you have practiced at home; and taking home a ribbon, trophy, or banner always adds an extra sparkle and rewarding memory to the experience. However, there is more to beef cattle than just showing. One must take the time to watch and listen to effectively learn and improve upon their skills and tactics.

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Sparkles, fancy boots, and added color are just fun extras of showing cattle, the real fun is showing off the daily hard work once you walk into the show ring.

This past week and upcoming week are filled with days spent at the Ohio State Fair working a putt putt course that helps to give scholarships to college students, as well as watching beef cattle shows and talking to fair goers and youth about the beef industry.

As I walked into senior showmanship the other morning, I could not help but notice the array of younger kids standing ringside or sitting in the bleachers watching their older peers and the judge as they battled for the top showman position. I have learned throughout my years of showing that you can learn just as much outside the ring than you can standing in it.

From the point of view of looking at the situation of each individual showman from an outward appearance, you have the ability to watch others and nitpick on their showmanship tactics and skills and learn what you yourself should do or try to help make your show animal look better for the judge. By standing or sitting back, you also have the ability to see multiple showers and animals and watch and compare, as well as learn what the particular judge judging the show likes and does not like. It is important as you watch, listen, take notes, and learn to keep open perspective of how others show. All animals entering the show ring have different personalities and were raised in different environments, and the same goes for the showers. Some showman learned different tactics than others and while watching a show it is most important to simply study how other showman work around the space in the ring and keep their animal calm to show their best to the judge.

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Youth of the beef industry taking the time to attend a show clinic to learn some tips and tricks prior to showing their animals.

Taking the time to watch, at whatever age of shower, parent, or spectator you might be, allows you to BE THE JUDGE. This is one of the most important parts of watching a show. You have the ability to watch the same show as the judge and formulate your own reasons and opinions for placing the way you choose, and by doing this you learn what is most important to you while showing and then as a shower yourself you can start implementing that piece. It is also important to really take the time to listen to the judges’ reasons for placing the way he did because you learn what he is and is not looking for in the showers.

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Youth of all ages can engage in shows and learn from watching others and listening to the judge give reasons for his placements. Taking the time to stop, watch, and listen can really pay off in the end!

The best way to learn is to watch and listen multiple times, as well as learn to be the judge yourself. It is amazing how much one can learn by taking the time to step away from the halter and take the time to stand ringside.

 

Happy Tuesday!

Demi

 

The Show Ring

“You do what to those cattle?!”  This is a phrase I’ve often heard when explaining to consumers about the show cattle side of beef production. They are often surprised that we not only bathe cattle, but blow dry, clip, condition and work hair on these animals, let alone put them on a halter and show them!

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My first heifer, Bella, inspired me to keep raising cattle and start my own cattle company

 

Not every producer is involved in showing, but there are some that make a living out of raising show cattle, and others that just want to occasionally showcase the quality of the animals they breed.  Still others are involved through youth programs like 4-H and FFA that teach members about raising these animals and often inspire them to pursue careers within the beef field.

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FFA helped me to develop my own start-up company, Ace Club Calves. We now exhibit our own cattle and have done well.

 

I’ll be very honest when I say that I would not be here if it weren’t for programs like 4-H and FFA.  I am a product of the show industry.  It is where I found my passion for cattle and learned innovative ways to raise them.  Without showing, I know that I would have never taken an interest in beef cattle nor found the passion I have for representing and advocating for this amazing group of people and their livelihoods.

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Making a bond with your calf is an important part of showing. Remmy was a very special calf that I truly enjoyed

 

The show industry is a great program in which youth can be exposed to raising cattle and what it takes to do so, and helps them to earn a little money that they can either save or spend as they please.  It teaches responsibility, commitment, compassion and accountability through having an animal rely on you to care for it.  Success in the show ring only comes if you work hard and do things the best way possible.  You have to ensure that you and your animal have a mutual respect and love for each other if you are going to get anywhere.

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

Beyond the amazing qualities it helps to develop, some of my best friends have been made around the show ring.  There is just something about sitting in the bleachers watching cattle shows, or helping on another to clip or fit an animal that creates an inseparable bond.  Though we are all from different parts of the country, I know that I can rely on my show friends to always be there if I need advice or assistance.

 

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

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