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When it comes to showing, knowledge and ability, everyone starts out equally at zero. How far you go from there is entirely up to you. Winning is what you make of it.
ITâ€™S SHOWTIME: Students compete in the Grand Champion Market Lamb contest at this yearâ€™s Eastern Oregon Livestock Show. Among those showing were J.T. Batty and Brittany Leithner. - Submitted photo
As we say good bye to another Eastern Oregon Livestock Show and direct our focus to the last few weeks preparing for the Union County Fair, the journey begins again, with a new animal, a new set of challenges and a whole new adventure.
Most of us watching only see the finished product, when all the work and practice and feeding and training have reached their final destination — the show ring. What it takes to get there is a long and sometimes nerve-racking journey.
The journey starts months before the show, when you select your market animal. Whether you choose beef, sheep or swine, structural correctness and adequate bone along with heavy muscling and a strong top are of utmost importance. Having eye appeal will make a good first impression on the judge as you enter the show ring. The age and weight of the animal as well as the show date all need to be considered.
The successful exhibitor is not the one that wins every time but rather the one who competes at a high level by continually learning and showing with integrity. There is only one grand champion, but all exhibitors who manage and exhibit their animal at a high level with great integrity are winners. There is no replacement for honest, hard work.
Management is critical to any successful livestock project. The degree to which you manage your animal is related to the success and enjoyment of your livestock project.
Provide adequate shelter, free from drafts and clean bedding for your animal. Clean your pen on a regular basis. This is especially important with sheep as they can get foot scald or even worse, foot rot. This year due to excessive wet and cold weather it has been an increasing risk.
Provide plenty of clean water. Water is the most important nutrient for any species of livestock project. Water cools or heats the animal’s body depending on the season and also aids in transporting nutrients to the site of metabolism.
Feed the highest quality complete show feed for your animal. Remember, sheep and cattle are ruminants and require long stem roughage to maintain a healthy rumen and digestive tract. The amount fed per day will depend upon the weight, condition, amount of exercise and desired show weight.
The weather can also affect the amount of daily gain so attention needs to be paid to the time of year it is. The fluctuation of temperatures can change the eating habits of your animal and you may need to adjust the amount you feed. Weighing your animal several times before the show will give you an idea of his body condition and where he needs to be in terms of finish.
It is very important to make sure your animal has the necessary vaccinations and is dewormed. Consult your leader or FFA advisor, veterinarian or breeder for details and recommendations
Exercise is one of the most important aspects of show animal management. A regular exercise program will develop muscle, teach your animal to lead and allow you to control the desired amount of condition on your show animal.
Hooves will need trimming on a regular basis, depending on how long you have the animal and the growth rate of the hooves of each individual animal. Properly trimmed hooves enable the animal to stand and walk soundly.
Showmanship is simple. It is won at home. All the time and hard work you put into your animal will be evident on show day. Practice at home. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask your 4-H leader, FFA adviser, breeder or someone experienced in showing your species to help you.
Groom your animal so that is appears in the show ring at its very best. Shearing, clipping and fitting an animal for show is labor intensive and worth every minute you spend. Each species has their own criteria for fitting that animal. Consult your advisor or breeder for details on how to properly fit your animal.
Walk in the ring with confidence, dressed nicely or in official FFA dress. Exhibit your animal with confidence and keep your eye on the judge. Move smoothly, keeping your animal between you and the judge. When not setting your animal you should have your eyes fixed intently on the judges eyes. Show hard and present your animal in the best possible way that highlights your animal’s best features. Focus on the judge as you enter and do not let up until you exit the show ring.
Smile and have fun! Success is never final.