Youth Livestock Showing Tips
Showing livestock can be a magical experience for youth. There is nothing quite like eating, sleeping and living with your show animal and then putting everything you have practiced into play when you step into that arena. Whether you are a seasoned showman or a beginner, there are certain things you may need to consider before you go to the show, while you are at the show and when you come home from the show.
There are several key factors that you need to accomplish before you even think about leaving for the show. First and foremost, your animal needs to be trained to lead. The key here is practice, practice, practice! If your animal is not trained to lead they will be a danger to you, a danger to others and a danger to themselves.
You also need to study up! Take a look at the show rules, each show has different rules and for showmanship, you need to know all about your animal including anatomy and how to properly set that animal up, each species is different.
Next, you may need to obtain proper registration papers, health papers, or ear tags for your animal, these can be obtained by your veterinarian, the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services or your animal’s breed association. These papers may take several weeks to get processed so plan ahead.
Along those same lines consider the health of your animal. Before going to the show they need to be vaccinated. Vaccination timing is very important, typically, animals should be vaccinated two weeks before they leave the farm. If the vaccine you are using needs a booster then you might need to back up the date of the first shot so that the final shot is given two weeks prior to leaving. Vaccines help strengthen your animal’s immune system so that their body can fight any pathogens they might come in contact with.
Lastly, before going to the show, make sure to pack the proper supplies for both yourself and your animal. You need to makes sure to pack several changes of clothes because you will get dirty, pack your show clothes, snack food and plenty of water. When it comes to your animal, make sure to pack enough feed, hay, and bedding to get your animal comfortably through the show. Bring your show halters and/or sticks, shampoo, a water hose, clippers, brushes, feed bucket, water bucket, and a pitchfork. Make sure your halters are cleaned up and shiny and that your clippers work! Now you’re ready to go to the show!
Consider arriving to the show in enough time to get the animals settled in, animals take more time to get used to a new location than we do. Until they get adjusted you might notice them not eating as much as they normally do and acting restless. Feed them consistently during their stay, this will get them in a pattern and animals like patterns. It may be a good idea to feed your animal a little before showtime so that they have something in their belly which will make them happy. Feeding them a little before showtime will also fill them out and make them look better. Don’t forget to change into your show clothes before going into the ring. Typically that is a collared shirt, nice pair of jeans, and clean boots (be aware that color and style of clothes differ across species). When in the arena remember to always keep your eye on the judge, maintain control of your animal, set them up in a way that makes them look the best and lastly, smile, you’re having fun right?
Maintaining the health of your animal while at a livestock show is very important. Try to decrease the amount of contact that your animal has with other animals while at the show. Possible ways to do that are; use a solid barrier like plywood in your pen to separate contact with animals in adjoining pens or you can place your tack stall in between where your animal is tied and other animals. Never allow nose-to-nose contact between your animal and other animals. Also, make sure that all feed pans, water buckets, and show supplies have been thoroughly cleaned before initial use and never share them with other people’s animals. If you absolutely have to lend or borrow something that comes in direct contact with your animal then give enough notice so that those items can be properly disinfected. If by chance your animal starts to display signs of sickness, most shows have a veterinarian on standby who should be called over to examine your animal and recommend treatment if needed.
Once the show is over and you have returned home, you should quarantine your animal for at least 2 weeks, 4 weeks if possible. This will allow your animal to recover from any virus they may have come in contact with at the show and prevent them from spreading it to any other animals on your farm. This also allows your animal to get re-acclimated to their environment and nutrition plan. Next, you should make sure that all feed pans, water buckets, and show supplies have been thoroughly cleaned with some type of disinfectant, like bleach. Finally, properly store all of your show supplies in an orderly way that will protect them and keep them ready to go for your next show!
By following these simple tips, you can increase the chance of success not only for you and your show animal but of your fellow showmen, other animals that are at the show and even your show animal’s herdmates back home.