If you are a first time participant in showing a market animal and have not had extensive experience with large animals, a good first time project would be broilers or rabbits. If you are interested in a barn project, then a good first time project would be to either show a hog, a goat, or a lamb. This will allow you to acquire useful show ring and management experience with a market animal less inclined to cause physical injury.
Whichever animal you choose, showing an animal can be a rewarding and memorable experience, especially if you have worked hard and are prepared. Thomas Paine said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: ‘Tis dearness only that gives everything its value.” As you show, be considerate to others in the ring. Allow them to have as pleasant of an experience as you hope to have. Above all, have fun, enjoy the experience, and you will learn some valuable life lessons along the way.
General Information for all projects
The project can only produce to its potential if you do your part. You will have a pretty good investment, money wise, in any of these projects, so it’s up to you to do your part. In relation to feed, you normally get what you pay for, most show feed is a little more expensive, but you need to remember, you are feeding show animals and these feeds are formulated for show animals. Although you can have control over things such as feeding and exercise, you cannot alter the genetics of the animal. Show animals, bred by producers familiar with show animals are where purchases need to be made. They are usually aware of current trends and try to produce animals that fir the trends. You can buy animals a lot cheaper from commercial producers, but, they usually do not have the genetics to develop into a “show” quality animal.
Do not neglect the little things such as making sure clean water is available at all times. A good rule is, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t make the animals drink it. Make sure the animals are fed correctly, don’t over fed or under feed. The large animals (steers, heifers, lambs, goats, and hogs) need to be wormed around once a month during the feeding period. Keep an eye out for abnormal skin conditions that may indicate lice, mites, or ringworm. It is a good idea to keep a bottle of all-purpose antibiotic and syringes available if you have large animals because they will usually need it sometime during the feeding period. Be sure to follow label directions for withdrawal period for meat animals. A certain number of market animals may tested each year at the county show for unapproved substances. An exhibitor with an animal that tests positive will be disqualified and may forfeit the right to show at future county shows. Keep pens and surrounding areas as clean and free from manure and standing water as possible. This will reduce odor and keep down on flies and other insects. Work with and train you animals as needed. A little bit of work every day is usually better than a lot of work once a week. It is very easy to tell who is working and who isn’t. Be sure to spend time with your animals and make sure you are observant. If you notice something that doesn’t look right, look closer. Weather conditions, clipping, shearing, hauling, or other conditions the animal is not accustomed to have a lot to do with feed consumption and the amount of feed needed. If the animal appears to be too thin although you are feeding the correct amount, let me know and I will come look.
I know many of you have been raising and showing animals quite a while and we will gladly give you any help we can, stay out of the way, or anywhere in between, just let us know.
There are many good feed additives and supplements on the market today for show animals. These additives can be protein supplements, mineral supplements, trace minerals, microorganism stimulators, etc… The main ideas behind these products are to aid in getting the animal in top show condition. Most of these products will show some result if you use them daily according to directions. They are usually expensive and must be used continuously for results to occur.
The 6 “C”s for Success!
1. CORRECT SELECTION
Select an animal not only with good conformation but with a personality you can work with.
There are no shortcuts to success. A consistent program encompassing regular workouts will accomplish more than a last minute flurry of activity two weeks before the show.
Set calendar deadlines with ration changes, halter breaking, clipping and grooming, and practice shows. Maintain a regular daily schedule of feeding, handling, and grooming your animal. Two weeks before the show is not the time to start training your show animal.
Learn what your animal’s conformational strengths and weaknesses are so as to successfully emphasize the positive and downplay faults. Similarly, if the show animal has a personality flaw that will make showing difficult, plan ahead and compensate for this in the show ring.
Show with confidence. Adequate preparation will allow you to show with a smile on your face. Be throughly familiar with rations, average daily gain, current weight, purchase weight, age, and breed of animal so you can answer questions from the judge. It is also important to be able to identify the different parts of the animal and the associated retail and whole sale cuts. You can help “psych” yourself up by rehearsing the show in your mind with good and bad things that could happen and how you would handle them. Performing in a practice show with members of your club or family acting as a judge and announcer and ring steward is helpful.
Demonstrate impeccable ethics in the preparation preceding the show and during the show itself. Be courteous to all other exhibitors, parents and leaders. The livestock show is the culmination of the project year for many livestock participants and the community. Youth livestock exhibitors represent the livestock industry at fairs and shows to the public. A little courtesy (as well as a lot of honesty) goes a long way in relations with the public.
Dairy heifers / cows can be almost any age. They are shown by breeds. The following breeds are usually exhibited: Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, For the county show they can be Registered or Grade.
Facilities: They need some type of shed or barn and a pen. They will need to be fed a growing ration (around 12% protein) along with plenty of hay. Some students have a tendency to over feed dairy heifers and they become fat. A dairy heifer should appear to be “skinny”. The student also needs to train the animal to lead and show. The cost for these animals can range from around market price up to $1500 or more, depending if the animal is registered or grade and the quality of the animal. A good range would be $1000 - $2000. For the Johnson County Show they may be grade or registered. Major shows are for registered dairy animals only.
Most of the market animals discussed in the previous page are produced for meat purposes. Some prefer showing breeding animals such as beef heifers, breeding sheep, or breeding rabbits. These are excellent projects for someone interested in a year-round, continuous project. The ages and breed vary for show purposes. Most of the cattle that are exhibited are less than two years of age. The thing to keep in mind is that it usually takes several years to see any type on return money wise on your investment. Show animals must be registered with their respective breed association in the exhibitors’ name. The cost for registered, show quality females can range from around $400 and up in sheep and $1000 and up for cattle. To be realistic, cattle will usually start around $2500 and go up.
The age requirements for the market goats are about the same as lambs. They need to be around a year old at show time. They must be a minimum of 50 lbs. to show. The market goats show by weight classification so there is not a specific breed that is required although some breeds tend to be meatier than others. Some of the meatier type goats are usually crossbreeds of the following breeds: Boer or Cashmere crossed with Nubian or Spanish. The meat goats may be wethers (castrated males) or does (females) for the county show. They may be dehorned but they must at least have horns tipped. All goats must be validated in order to show.
Facilities: The goats need a dry barn or shed with access to outside area. Now there are a number of good quality show goat feeds on the market. Generally the pelleted feed works better for goats than the textured feed. Goats will do much better if you feed two animals together. Most people feed the goats as much as they will eat unless they start showing signs of being over finished (fat). The goats need to be trained to lead with a collar (like a dog collar) by hand or with a short goat lead. They will need to be trained to stand and show properly and get plenty of exercise to be in show condition. The cost for a show quality meat goat is usually $300 - $500.
The market lambs need to be around 12 months old at show time. Most people will buy lambs that were born from late January to April. The lambs are classified and shown in 4 different classes in the Johnson County show. These are Fine wool (Ramboulliet, Delaine, Merino, and crosses within these breeds), Fine wool Cross (must be ½ fine wool breed, these are usually “speckled face” lambs), Medium Wool (Suffolk, Hampshire, and other “black faced” breeds as well as some “white face” medium wools like Dorsets), and Southdown (purebred Southdown). They may be wethers (castrated males) or ewes for Johnson County, major show lambs must be wethers only. Most people begin their lamb projects in September. There is a state and county validation in October for lambs that may be exhibited at major shows and Johnson County, if you have a state validated wether lamb, you could possibly show it at county and Houston since our county show is now a premium sale.
NOTE: Houston and San Antonio shows are terminal. This means the lamb does not come home!
Facilities: Lambs need a dry barn, shed, or stall with access to outside pen. They should be fed a good quality show lamb feed (15% - 18% protein) at about 3% of body weight daily, NO PASTURE as this will contribute to a “pot belly”. A small amount of good quality hay can be given but limit it to a “handful” or two a day. The lambs need to be trained to lead with a halter and without a halter. One of the common problems in feeding lambs is over feeding and lack of exercise. This causes the lambs to be fat and not in show condition. They also need to be trained to “push” while “set up” for show. Cost for show lambs may range from $250 to $1000 or more. Usually good quality lambs can be purchased for $300 - $500 for county. Major show quality lambs will tend to be higher
Market hogs need to be around 6 - 7 months old at show time (born July through August) and the minimum weight for the Johnson County show is 200 pounds. There is a maximum weight of 280 pounds. Johnson County shows the pigs by breeds. The breeds will be Duroc, Hampshire, Yorkshire, White OPB (other purebred) , Dark OPB, and crossbreds. ANIMALS THAT WEIGH LESS THAN 220 OR MORE THAN 280 WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO SHOW OR MAKE THE SALE! The current trend is to have good, modern, meaty, and lean hogs. The hogs may be barrows (castrated males) or gilts (young females) for the county show. Barrows only may be shown at major shows. Be advised that the major shows are TERMINAL, meaning the pig does not come home, you either sell at auction or will receive market price. All swine must be validated in order to show.
Facilities: The pig will need a barn or shed so they can stay dry in bad weather and access to an outside area. You need to try to keep the pen as clean and dry as possible. Muddy pens are very bad when it comes time to weigh, and check their progress. Mud caked on the pig will make the hair extremely rough and really hurt their appearance in the show ring. A pen with DEEP sand is very good. Ideally, pens should be designed with easy access to a gate with a level area in front of gate to assist in leveling the crate-type portable scales used to weigh the pigs. Pigs should be started on an 18% or more pig starter feed and depending on rate of growth and condition the protein level may need to be lowered or raised. It is recommended to use one of the feeds formulated especially for show pigs to get maximum growth with less fat being deposited. Show pigs are usually put on self-feeders up to about 150 lbs. or more depending on the feeding time remaining, then hand fed a specific amount until show time. Some type of automatic watering system is the most desirable for pigs. These can be connected to a water line or to a barrel. Pigs will need to be walked and worked regularly beginning about 45 days before the show. The cost for a good quality show pig can range from $125 - $500 plus. Most students will spend on an average of $300 to $500 to purchase a county pig. Major show pigs will tend to be higher.
Market steers should be about 18 months old and weigh around 1200 pounds at show time. This is an average; animals younger or a little older would work. Size and weight would vary with age, predominant breed and frame size. This would mean that a steer for the county show should be born in August to October of the year prior to the show. In other words if you want a steer for the 2018 Livestock Show, it should have been born around August – October of 2016 (again just an average Nov, Dec, and Jan, calves have worked well.) Most people start their steers in late spring or early summer; exhibitors for the county show have until early September to get their steers. Steers must be validated to show. The steers are broken into three divisions in our county. These are the American (breeds and crosses that exhibit Brahman characteristics), British or English (Hereford, Polled Hereford, Angus, Shorthorn), and European (Chianina, Maine-Anjou, Charolais, Limousin, Simmental and crosses of these breeds).
Facilities: They need some type of shed or barn and a pen. Many people also have a small area that they can turn the steer out at night. Many people also use fans and misters inside their barn to aid in keeping the calf comfortable. Steers should be fed a growing ration of 12% - 15 % protein. A general rule is to feed about 3 % of the animal’s body weight per day. (EX. 700 pounds steer should be eating around 20 pounds of feed a day) Be sure to increase the feed as the steer grows. They will utilize their feed best if fed twice a day. (Ex. 10 pounds in the morning and 10 pounds in the evening) Generally a steer will need to be fed a little different toward the end of the feeding period to get the proper amount of finish (fat) on the animal. The steers will need to be trained to lead and to show properly with a show stick. Cost from market steers can range from market price to several thousand dollars. A range for a county steer would be around $1000 - $3000 purchase price.
The broilers (meat-type chickens) for Johnson County Show are usually ordered in November and a student gets the day old chicks in January. All broilers for the Johnson County Show MUST be ordered at the same time through the Johnson County Extension Office. Most broiler exhibitors 25 chicks and feed until show time to select their best three for the show pen. You can feed more as long as you order in multiples of 25. Cost has been around $1 per bird.
Facilities: Need dry, solid floor pen with 6” – 8: of wood shavings with self-feeders and waters. They need a minimum of 2 square feet per bird floor space, 3 or 4 feet would be better. They need to stay in the light 24 hours a day, so the pen needs access to electricity so you can leave a light on at night. After about 4 weeks, they need a lot of ventilation as they have a tendency to overheat and this causes them to consume less feed. There are a number of good show broiler starters – finisher feeds available. I have a suggested program from a major feed company that has been successful.
This division consists of three young rabbits (usually around 70 days old) weighing less than 5 pounds.(This is the maximum weight for Johnson County). The exhibitor may own the doe (female rabbit) at the time she has the litter or they may purchase the meat pen as babies from a breeder. Most rabbit exhibitors try to have at least two does and one buck and breed the does in early December (100 days prior to show) to have litters that will be the correct age or they purchase at least 4 to 5 babies the correct age at weaning time. Then they care for all the young rabbits until close to show date and then select the best 3 for show. The rabbits must be purebred to show and weigh a minimum of 3 pounds and a maximum of 5 pounds each. The breeds that consistently win the market rabbit shows are New Zealand – White and Californian. All rabbits must be validated in order to show.
Facilities: Each adult needs a separate pen, usually around 24” X 36” total wire cage. The cages need to be off the ground and in an area that is dry and free from drafts in the winter. The bottom of the cages needs to be at least ½” square mesh to allow the droppings to fall through. Rabbits need a good commercial feed fed at the rate of 4 – 6 ounces per rabbit per day for an adult. A common problem is over feeding and getting the females fat. A doe that is too fat will often not become pregnant even though she appears to have been bred. There does not need to be anything in the cage except feed and water. They do not need a box until about 3 days prior to when the litter is due (gestation period is 31 days, put box in on day 29 after breeding). Once the litter is born, gradually increase feed for doe until she is on full feed, this will help milk production. When bunnies start getting out of nest box, make sure they have access to full feed. Cost for quality breeding rabbits will range from $25 - $100 per head. Around $35 - $75 or more per adult rabbit is common. Prices for a meat pen may vary from around $120 - $200 depending on the quality and availability. Good quality show rabbits have been in short supply the last couple of years. I will assist you in ordering and securing rabbits if needed.