It is a big commitment in wanting to show your livestock in a competition. You will need to allocate plenty of time and possibly some money towards getting ready for a show, but the end result, especially if you win a prize, will most certainly be worth it.

We have put together an easy to follow checklist that will help to get you started in your road to livestock showing stardom!

Plan ahead

  • Do your research for which show you will be able to enter. You will need to make sure that you can get your livestock to the venue easily and that you will be able to house them properly if you should need to stay the night, particularly if you are showing cattle.
  • Once you have found your preferred show, check the entry conditions with the relevant breed society. There may be rules concerning the colour, size and type of livestock that can be entered, so you need to be sure that your animal fits the criteria. 
  • Check when you need to enter the competition by. Some shows will require entrants to apply months in advance, so you want to be sure that you don’t miss your opportunity. 

How to prepare for a livestock show

  • Once you have selected the animals you want to work with, start washing and brushing them a month in advance. This will allow the coat to recover and settle. 
  • Build a relationship with the animal you have chosen to show. This will help it to trust you and it will cooperate more willingly when you make it to the show ring.
  • Arrange to have their feet professionally trimmed. This will help the overall appearance of the animal, and good hoof care will help them to walk better.
  • Know your animal in every way that you can. The judges will most likely ask you questions about their background and their breed, as well as maintenance and welfare. 
  • Have some training in how to lead your animal around the ring. Practice in using a halter, allowing both you and your livestock to adjust to the new way of walking. A judge will pay close attention to the way that an animal walks, so basically, practice makes perfect!
  • Feed the animal a consistent diet for the months leading up to the event. Don’t make drastic changes to their food or supplements just before the show, as this may cause tummy upsets and will hinder their performance. They need to be in good condition weight wise, not too big and not skinny as to look malnourished.
  • Any long hair from the belly should be trimmed, this needs to be in a straight line parallel to the top of the animal.
  • Before clipping the coat, add some shaving foam to give it some hold. This will allow you to be more precise when shaping. Clipping when the hair is lying down is much more difficult.
  • Carefully clip the top half of the tail, taking any long ends off of the side.

On the day

  • Don’t be late! Be there as early as you are allowed, ready to give your animal a final spruce and tidy. You will kick yourself if you are running late and don’t have time to give them a brush. Factor in plenty of time to avoid traffic, to go through the check in process and to fully prepare once on the field.
  • As a handler you will also need to be well presented. A smart pair of trousers, clean wellies and a long white coat are traditionally worn when showing livestock.
  • Once you have settled into your preparation area, have a final brush through of the body and tail. Spray with a coat dressing to make sure it stays in place and to give it a little extra shine. Rub some oil on the feet and hooves to give them a shine also.
  • Attach your competitor numbers securely to both yourself and the animal.  
  • Remember your show ring etiquette. Don’t tailgate the person walking in front of you, leave a reasonable gap. Do not overtake them if they are moving slowly, judges will take note if the handler is rude or impatient. 

Remember to take with you

  • Your cow passport if required.
  • Any exhibitor badges that you have been sent in advance for both you and your livestock.
  • A set of brushes and style sprays.
  • Animal food, straw and a bucket for water.
  • A muck fork so that you can keep your preparation area as clean as possible.

Putting in time and effort will pay off on the day. Planning and preparation is the key, for both you and the animal. Give it your all on the day and hopefully you will return to your farm or smallholding with a winners ribbon that you will be able to display proudly.


Post By Kimberley Roderick