Pedigree & Show Cattle resource booklet

Page 1



Health and Safety


Show and Sales Preparation - Clipping - Grooming - Showmanship

Nutrition Veterinary


General Advice to Improve Profitability


Selecting Cattle for Showing: Considerations


General Principles for Feeding Pedigree & Show Cattle


GAIN Animal Nutrition & Feeding Programme for Pedigree/Show Cattle


Herd Health Planning for Key Production Limiting Diseases


Halter Breaking, Clipping & Grooming




Health & Safety for Handling & Showing Livestock


General Management Tips & Advice

BACKGROUND Today, there are many breeders and breeds of quality show cattle. The standards are exceptionally high and turning out Champions is the result of a dream, a desire, a plan and painstaking dedication. Producing and Showing cattle successfully, is an art as well as a science. It is a little bit like recipes, buying all the best ingredients does not make you a good cook. 2

The purpose of this booklet is to act as a reference resource to guide and support you in realising your dreams and help you get a return on your investment.

Show Champions are rarely freaks or indeed mistakes. They tend to be the result of careful planning, well-planned breeding, well-managed feeding, good health/disease prevention, intensive training, professional grooming and showmanship.




The primary drivers of profitability in a beef suckling operation are, grassland management, herd fertility, age at first calving, herd health, management/husbandry and silage quality deserves special mention. Rather than explore each of these in depth we will use critical pointers and costs to support the messages. Grass management has the greatest potential to increase the profitability for all beef production systems. In suckler beef, improving daily liveweight gain by 0.1 kgs/day returns €3,120 on a 100 acre farm. Growing and using an extra ton of grass dry matter per hectare is worth €4,200 on a 100 acre farm. Ref: Teagasc Grange

Select animals that are the right age, size and weight for their class. The first thing to look for is structural correctness and functional soundness. Show stock should have straight legs whether you look at them from the side, the rear or the front. They should neither be post like or sickled. If legs are not correct at the start of a feeding programme 9 times out of 10 they will deteriorate due to the increasing weight of the animal.

Management and husbandry have a big influence on the number of calves weaned, the weight of calves weaned and their live weight performance. All are crucial components of output in pedigree or commercial herds. Silage quality is a major driver of over wintering costs. A drop of 5% in Dry Matter Digestibility (DMD) will increase concentrate requirement by 2kgs per head per day at 550kgs live weight. A 10% drop in DMD will increase the cost per kilogram of daily live weight gain by circa 40 cent when feeding moderate levels of concentrate.

Fertility; Every day lost (after March 1st in spring calving herds) per cow costs €2.20 and a 5% improvement in conception is worth €2,160 in a 100 acre Suckler Beef system. Ref: Teagasc Grange. Calving at 2 years compared with calving at 3 years is worth €4,480/100 acre (suckler beef farm). This approach reduces the number of replacements being carried and allows for carrying more cows. Ref: Teagasc Grange.

A long, straight top line that does not droop is important and everything else hangs from there. Show cattle need to be long of body, clean fronted, up-headed and possess style and balance. Look for correct muscling, appropriate for the breed and females should be less rounded than males. There is a strong correlation between excess muscling and dystocia.

Management of condition score (of cows) is a critical success factor, especially around calving. See guide below. Cows should not be forced to shed condition prior to calving, as it has a severe negative impact on return to oestrus and increases calving to conception interval.

Select for quality as well as thickness of bone and most breeds will require a medium level rather than an excess of bone. Very light bone may not support weight adequately and tends to be accompanied with poorer functionality. crops



Milk Yield & Fertility Compromised




Optimal for Production & Reproduction



Milk Fever & Ketosis, etc.






forehead face








shoulder vein dewlap



rear flank


sheath/ foreflank navel last rib cannon dewclaw

shoulder brisket elbow

knee fetlock pastern coffin

Cattle need to be the appropriate size for the breed and the market. The length of the canon bone is a good indicator of growth potential. Colour, disposition and hair are factors to be considered also. Some judges are prejudiced to colour and hair. Good quality hair that has been worked, trained and well clipped can hide a multitude of weaknesses. Disposition is very important and the exhibitor will have a much more relaxing experience when the disposition of the beast is right. Consider the animal in the context of its’ class. The youngest and lightest may leave you at a disadvantage. It is equally critical to know if you have minimum weight targets or maximum weight limits. Familiarise yourself with the anatomy of cattle. See the diagram to the left.



GAIN ANIMAL NUTRITION: “QUALITY & SCIENCE IN ACTION” At GAIN Animal Nutrition we are proud of our tradition and success. As Ireland’s largest Animal Nutrition Company we work closely with grain growers and cattle producers to ensure quality is delivered right through the supply chain. Our technical experts are abreast of scientific developments that will enhance performance and profitability. We embrace science based research and work closely with reputable institutions in Ireland and Europe. All our feeds in the “Champions Choice” range are scientifically formulated to meet the requirements of the highest performing stock.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES: FEEDING PEDIGREE & SHOW CATTLE GAIN Animal Nutrition’s Champion Choice feed range, includes the best technologies available to help you get top performance from your cattle. Our policy is “animals first - productivity always”. Nevertheless bad feeding practices can negate the achievement of top performance and could cause digestive and metabolic issues such as bloat, acidosis and laminitis. The following are a list of absolute must do’s when feeding cattle for Shows & Sales. It also applies when feeding any cattle relatively high levels of feed. Do everything gradually and consistently, increase volumes slowly, feed at similar times every day, change feeds slowly (over 3-5 days) and at the end of the show season reduce the feeding levels slowly and steadily. Never exceed 2% of body weight in the form of concentrate and always have available at least 1% of body weight as forage dry matter. Example; If feeding a young bull (700 Kg) never exceed 14 kgs of concentrate feed and 7 Kgs of forage dry matter (that could be 8 Kgs of good hay or 23 Kgs of a 30% dry matter silage). Quality is paramount to achieving intake but some long fibre is critical to keeping the rumen functioning properly. Wet


acidic pit silage is not an ideal complement to high concentrate intakes. Water is an absolute essential nutrient. It must be clean, fresh and freely available. For every kilogram of dry matter the animal needs it will require to drink 4.5 to 5 litres of water (weather and forage dry matter will have some influence). Water is also essential for young calves from about 4 days of age. Follow the GAIN Beef Nutrition feeding recommendations for each product. Use GAIN Startacalf from 4 days of age. Beef Calves can be switched to GAIN Weanling Crunch from 6-8 weeks of age.

Introduce the GAIN Beef Nutrition “Champion’s Choice” range at least 12 weeks prior to your big day (Show or Sale). Start by feeding “Champion’s Choice” Accelerator for the first 4 weeks and then switch males over to “Champion’s Choice” Full Throttle. When your stock have reached near adequate condition (especially if you still have some weeks or months left in your showing season) switch them over to “Champion’s Choice” Cruiser. Cruiser is a cooler feed with some long forage fibre and quality rolled oats added to maintain rumen and intestinal health/coat bloom for longer. Build your feeding rates slowly (increasing by no more than 1 kilogram every three days). Once you are feeding more than 3 kilograms, split the allocation and feed twice per day. When you are feeding at high rates/peak the more often they are fed the better but maintain consistency.

Do everything gradually and consistently. Introduce slowly, change gradually and reduce gradually.




All products under the “Champion’s Choice” brand contains. Yea-Sacc®: Yea-Sacc® is a yeast culture based on Alltech’s proprietary strain of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, a yeast strain specifically selected for its influence on animal performance. Yea-Sacc® has been shown to stabilise the rumen environment and increase dry matter intake resulting in increased daily live weight gains in trial work in Ireland, the United Kingdom and worldwide. Protected Minerals: The protected minerals are very readily absorbed, stored and utilized by the animal, and thus are able to meet the higher nutrient needs of modern livestock for rapid growth, maximum reproductive performance and animal health. These minerals are in addition to the regular inclusions of the macro elements and other trace elements. Both SEL-PLEX® and MIN-PLEX® are included. SEL-PLEX® is Alltech’s proprietary organic form of selenium, manufactured to mimic “Mother Nature”, and is better absorbed, stored and utilized by the animal than inorganic selenium. Selenium plays an essential role in metabolism, orchestrating normal growth, launching reproductive efforts, neutralising free radicals and supporting the body’s normal defence mechanism against infection. Sel-Plex® is supported by more than 18 years of research. Other protected elements used include Copper, Zinc and Manganese.

Carneo Boost: CARNEO® BOOST developed in France by Techna, optimises and controls rumen fermentation by reducing lactate production and increasing propionate production. This reduces the risk of acidosis and related problems and the propionate is particularly favourable to muscle development in fleshing cattle. Its’ effectiveness has been proven in numerous field trials across breeds and diet types. CARNEO® BOOST gives an improvement in daily live weight gain of 5-10% and delivers better feed conversion efficiency. Note: As we find scientifically sound and proven ways to further enhance the quality and performance potential of our products we will without reservation incorporate them.

GAIN Startacalf Muesli is a high quality, very palatable, cooked starter muesli for young calves. It has 18% Crude Protein, to optimise growth and development. It is mineralised to the highest standards based on current knowledge and the important trace elements are supplied in a highly available form. It has a complete range of Vitamins added, including Vitamin A, D3, E and a large range of B Vitamins. Yea-Sacc® is included to support digestion, calf performance and rumen development. This product can be introduced from 4 days of age. It can be fed for the first 2-3 months of life and then calves can be transferred onto GAIN Weanling Crunch.

GAIN Weanling Crunch

Weaning time is harvest time on Suckler farms. It is one of the opportunities that producers have to optimise output. The objectives are to avoid stress, a nutritional shock and a performance drop. Creep feeding animals pre-weaning is vital. Calves only use their abomasum to digest milk but when they consume solid food it is digested in the rumen. The objective of the weaning process is to reduce and eliminate the dependency on the abomasum, so that there is neither a nutritional or performance shock to the system at weaning. The morning after weaning, the abomasum is redundant and the rumen must be capable of processing all of the weanling’s intake and requirements. Creep feeding enables this adjustment to take place. Creep feeding at the recommended levels and especially when combined with good grazing managements will optimise performance without substituting grass. Following recommended practices will minimise stress induced problems such as respiratory disease.


Benefits of GAIN Weanling Crunch It is a highly palatable feed which will increase live weight gain profitability and will improve animal welfare. Introduce GAIN Weanling Crunch 8 weeks prior to weaning with Commercial stock and 10 weeks prior for pedigree stock. Feeding Rate Considerations Supply and quality of grass Milk production of the dams Growth potential of calves Sex of calves Age of calf at weaning Length of creep feeding period Season of birth of calf Intended market


Economic Return At 6 - 9 months, weanlings are exceptional converters of food. They can convert 4kg of concentrate into 1kg of live weight gain (first 2 Kilograms of feed/day). Features of GAIN Weanling Crunch GAIN Weanling Crunch is a palatable, sweet smelling, muesli textured 16% protein coarse ration containing optimum levels of cereals, specially blended with high quality proteins to supply the needs of rapidly growing weanlings. Includes a high level of flaked and cooked ingredients such as toasted flaked barley and micronized maize flakes. High quality protein sources included such as soya, full fat soya, field beans and includes a high level of digestible fibre i.e. sugar beet pulp and soya hulls. It contains a generous inclusion of minerals and particularly trace elements that supports the animal’s immune system. If the immune system is compromised, they are more prone to infection and the response to vaccines will be compromised.

Note It is a stressful time for the cow, the calf, the farmer and may be the neighbours. Do not have other stressful events concur with weaning, such as vaccination and especially not dehorning. Creep feeding reduces stress at weaning.


Two Step Weaning is Recommended In the ideal world, adopt a two-step weaning process. When there is a single step weaning process with the calves being removed from the cows, it has been shown that they could walk 40 kilometres in the first 48 hours. Using a two-step process has been shown to reduce the walking down to circa 15 Kilometres. Always remove cows from calves, leaving the calf in familiar surrounds. Do it gradually, moving just some of the cows each week reduces stress. Better still if they can be left at the other side of a fence wire (ground conditions permitting), it will further lower stress.


GAIN CHAMPIONS CHOICE PRODUCT DETAILS The GAIN Animal Nutrition, Pedigree and Show Cattle Feed Range represents radical innovation and major technological advancements in ruminant livestock nutrition.

Product Details ACCELERATOR

This is the ideal formulation to start your pedigree/show animal feeding programme (for animals over 8 months). It is a 14% Crude Protein product, formulated to give the animal a gentle start and minimise the risk of laminitis or acidosis. Nevertheless, you are advised to introduce slowly and build up to the target intake. Ensure the animals have access to forage and water. After 4 weeks of feeding this product, animals of traditional breeds should be transferred to “CRUISER” and continental breeds should be transferred to “FULL THROTTLE”. Mix the products for 3-4 days during the change-over.


This is a 16% Muesli textured blend, formulated to deliver the animal’s genetic potential for weight gain. It is power packed formulation and will deliver fleshing very quickly. It can be fed to all breeds but will be particularly helpful in adding flesh cover to more muscular stock, especially males. Do not exceed a feeding rate of 2% of bodyweight daily and ensure good quality forage and water is also available. Prolonged feeding of this formulation to females may result in excess flesh.


Is a 15% Muesli textured blend designed to be fed to cattle that are easily fleshed (Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn) or those near their peak fleshing target. It is designed to be rumen friendly for cattle that are on feed for prolonged periods (such as summer showing). It can be fed to all breeds and genders. Limit the feed offered to a maximum of 2% of body weight and offer at least 1% of bodyweight in the form of highly palatable forage. This formulation contains both quality rolled oats and chopped lucerne to optimise rumen health.


For further information please contact 1890 321 321


All the products within the range are fully fortified with Minerals, Vitamins, organic minerals, and natural feed additives that support rumen function, reduce gas production, bolstering health and immunity.




Full Throttle


Post Final Event

MALES: Limousin/ Charolais/Simmental/ Belgian Blue/Aubrac/ Piedmontese/Parthenaise Blonde D’Aquitane Males & Commercials.

Introduce at 0.4% of Body weight and build up to 2% of bodyweight over 4 weeks.

After 4 weeks on Accellerator feed Full Throttle at 2% of Bodyweight until desired fleshing level is achieved and change to Cruiser.

Feed at 1.5-2% of Body weight until the end of show season or sale day.

Phase out feeding over a 4 week period. Do not cut off feed abruptly.

FEMALES: Limousin/ Charolais/Simmental/ Belgian Blue/Aubrac/ Piedmontese/Parthenaise/ Blonde D’Aquitane Females & Commercials.

Introduce at 0.4% of Body weight and build up to 2% of bodyweight over 4 weeks Then change to Full Throttle or Cruiser.

If the animals is a lean type with strong muscle expression feed for 4 weeks at 2% of bodyweight before changing to Cruiser.

Feed at 2% of Body weight until desired fleshing level is achieved.

Phase out feeding over a 4 week period. Do not cut off feed abruptly.

MALES: Hereford/Angus/ Shorthorn/Saler/Irish Moiled Males.

Introduce at 0.4% of Body weight and build up to 2% of bodyweight over 4 weeks and change to Cruiser.

This step should not be necessary unless the animals was in poor condition.

From 4 weeks stage feed at 2% of Body weight until desired fleshing level is achieved.

Phase out feeding over a 4 week period. Do not cut off feed abruptly.

FEMALES: Hereford/Angus/ Shorthorn/Saler/Irish Moiled Females.

Introduce at 0.4% of Body weight and build up to 2% of bodyweight over 4 weeks and change to Cruiser.

From 4 weeks stage feed at 2% of Body weight until desired fleshing level is achieved.

Phase out feeding over a 4 week period. Do not cut off feed abruptly.

All Show & Sale Cattle.

Offer good quality forage ad-libitum at all times. When animals are eating 2% of their body weight as concentrate, it is recommended that they have good quality hay or haylage available at 1% of body weight. It is difficult to get adequate intakes of straw and the feed value is too low.

Water a critical nutrient.

All stock should have access to fresh, clean, potable water. For every kilogram of feed dry matter consumed, cattle need 4.5-5 litres of water. Manage the faeces for shows partially through forage to concentrate ratio, rather than excess water restriction.


HERD HEALTH PLANNING FOR KEY PRODUCTION LIMITING DISEASES Health status can significantly impact on the productivity and profitability of suckler farms. All farms are different but many of the disease threats they face ar common. Developing a plan with your veterinary surgeon that tackles each of these challenges in a proactive way to prevent both the unseen losses of subclinical infection and prevent outbreaks of clinical disease. This article considers some of the major disease challenges faced on suckler farms and discusses possible approaches to control.

Calf Pneumonia

Calf pneumonia is the major cause of disease and death in calves between one month and 1 year of age, and has been identified as a key health concern by suckler farmers in Ireland. A good pneumonia management plan will heavily reduce the impact of sub-clinical and clinical disease, but due to the complex nature of this condition, cases of disease may still occur. It is a complex disease, which results from the interaction between a range of viruses and bacteria, management practices, environmental conditions, and calf factors. Effective control relies on assessing and addressing each of these components to minimise the risk. Vaccination against the bacteria and viruses that cause calf pneumonia provides enhanced immunity. A wide spectrum of agents can cause disease and vaccines are not available to protect against all of these, as shown in Table 1. Typically vaccines that include multiple key disease causing agents are used, and choice should be influenced knowledge of the pathogens causing disease on the farm and by disease history. Ensuring young cattle receive a full primary course ahead of high risk events such as weaning, housing, marketing and transport is key. This will more effectively control disease than if vaccination is delayed and optimise subsequent performance. 16


Vaccine Available

Parainfluenza - 3 Viruses Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus Bovine Herpes Virus - 1 (IBR) Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus Bovine Coronavirus


Mannheimia Haemolytica

(formerly Pasteurella Haemolytica)

Pasteurella Multocida Histophilus Somni Mycoplasma Bovis

Vaccination against parainfluenza - 3 (PI-3) and bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) is considered core to protection. These viruses are widespread and commonly cause the initial lung damage that allows secondary infection to take hold. The inclusion of additional bacterial and viral agents can broaden immunity with demonstrated effects. In a large study assessing risk factors for calf pneumonia in multi-sourced weaned calves, vaccination against Mannheimia haemolytica and Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) before housing were found to be significant factors in reducing the incidence of disease. Whilst often overlooked as respiratory pathogen, transient infection with BVD virus can play an important role both by supressing the immune system and through a synergistic effect with other disease causing agents, increasing the damage caused to the lungs. Having strategies in place for early detection and treatment is critical to maximise treatment success and prevent long term losses in productivity. Abattoir surveys have shown that around 40% of cattle found to have lung damage at slaughter never identified as clinical cases and treated, highlighting the scale of potentially recoverable production losses resulting from poor disease detection.

Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) Bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1) status should also be assessed as part of a health plan. In addition to causing the respiratory disease Infectious

Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), uncontrolled infection can also lead to abortion and impaired fertility. Control measures are founded on surveillance, biosecurity and where appropriate vaccination. Neither infected nor vaccinated animals are permitted to enter semen collection centres, which may limit the options for control on farms producing breeding bulls. Biosecurity ti ensure the virus is kept out is paramount in disease free herds that do not vaccinate.

caused by toxin producing bacteria present in the environment, particularly in soil. Infection occurs following a wound or tissue damage; muscle damage from fighting in young bulls can give risk to outbreaks of blackleg, whilst acute fluke infection may lead to black disease. Disease progression is rapid and cattle may simply be found dead. Vaccination using a product that contains multiple strains of clostridial bacteria is an effective way to prevent disease.

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)

Parasitic Disease

BVD causes a broad range of clinical signs and has a considerable impact on herd health. Persistently infected (PI) animals carry the virus from birth and will continue to shed virus throughout their lives, maintaining infection within the herd. Control is based on identifying PI animals, and removing them from the herd without delay, biosecurity, monitoring for evidence of active infection and vaccination.

Clostridial Disease

Clostridial infections are responsible for a spectrum of often fatal diseases including tetanus, botulism, blackleg and black disease, and are

Liver Fluke Control There are two main periods of fluke infection, both post turnout when the overwintered infective stage are present on the pasture and during the late summer/autumn. Acute fluke is rarely an issue in cattle and the adult stage of the parasite causes the greatest impact on performance. Preventing these chronic infections, which are present from 10-12 weeks post infection will optimise productivity, and prevent further pasture contamination. Different active ingredients target different stages and it’s important to understand this to effectively target treatment.


Gutworm and Lungworm Control Uncontrolled gutworm infections impact on the health and productivity of growing cattle, reducing daily live-weight gain. Cattle develop immunity with exposure, so the risk of disease decreases with age in grazing cattle. Spring-born calves will not be exposed to a high challenge until they increase their intake of grass towards weaning, and should be monitored from mid-summer onwards. Autumn born calves will be susceptible to disease when turned out in spring and this should be addressed from turnout. Strategic timed wormer treatments remain widely used but there is an increasing move towards regular weighing of calves to identify those not achieving target growth rates and likely to be carrying a heavy worm burden. This can reduce cost of treatment and selection for resistance without compromising performance. Yearling cattle, that may not be fully immune also benefit from this approach. Treatment of all cattle at housing removes residual burdens and optimises performance over the

winter period. Using a product that is effective against all stages of gutworm will prevent winter scours.

planning, biosecurity should never be overlooked. Buy high health status cattle from known sources where possible, and put quarantine procedures in place that are consistently applied to all animals brought on to a farm to minimise the risk of bringing in diseases and parasites not previously present on the farm.

Where this approach is taken cattle should be monitored for any signs of lungworm infection throughout the grazing period and the whole group treated if infection is confirmed. External Parasites Louse and mange mite numbers increase during the winter housing period. Heavy infestations can cause significant irritation resulting in self trauma and reduced feed intake. Treating all animals at housing can control this problem. Using a topical macrocyclic lactone or synthetic pyrethroid will provide the best control of both surface parasites and those that penetrate deeper into the skin.

The following is an example of a control plan for a spring calving suckler herd, identifying the major risk periods for disease and potential intervention points. Speak to your vet or animal health advisor to determine what is right for your farm.

Work with your vet and animal health advisors to develop and implement targeted, herd-specific strategies to reduce the risk and impact of infectious disease on your herd. In addition to proactively managing the challenge of these diseases through risk assessment and forward



Calf Pneumonia

Preweaning vaccination - boost before housing

Clostridial Disease

Vaccination of calves and yearlings


Vaccination of cows/calves/yearlings prehousing and mid-season


Vaccination of cows pre-breeding

Liver Fluke

Mid-season treatment of post-turnout infections

Merial Recommendation













Treatment of all cattle at housing Assess and retreat 8-12 weeks post-housing if fluke burden Gutworm & Lungworm

Monitor calves post-weaning for gutworm Monitor yearling cattle for gutworm from turnout Monitor all cattle for lungworm from June Treat all cattle at housing

External Parasites 18

Treat all cattle including calves, for external parasites at housing 19

HALTER BREAKING, CLIPPING & GROOMING Halter Breaking Think safety first and read our section on safety later in the booklet. The advice there is a critically important part of the job. Halter breaking is really about mentally convincing the animal that it cannot get away when haltered and that being haltered can have positive associations such as being groomed, scratched or even fed. The younger you start the easier it will be. The objective must be to have the animal entirely happy with being tied and fully socialised before leading starts. Use wall rings in the manner described under “Health & Safety”. Bed the animals with straw when tied, using the opportunity for getting them accustomed to people contact, combing and brushing. The first tying session should be no more than an hour and increase the duration over 3-5 sessions. The correct size and fitting of the halter is crucial and is a significant factor in controlling the animal and having power over it. The nose band is the main variable between halters and it should be matched to the animal’s size. A nylon halter will be normally used for training. The thickness should match the size and strength of the animal. Personally I use 12mm for animals under 1 year, 14 mm for animals 1-2 years and 16 mm for animals over 2 years. Everything you do during this process is about creating trust between you and the animal. It is not a time for surprises or brisk manoeuvres but contact (verbal/physical) is all important. Untie the lead from the ring and begin trying to lead the calf. Even with young calves you may have a fight on your hands, so be prepared. Always lead your calf within the pen initially, not outside in open space. You shouldn’t try to lead the animal in an open area until you are confident he won’t try to get away from you. Take the lead in your hand and shorten it. Take several lengths of rope into your hand (do not wind the rope around your hand) until your hand is inches from the muzzle of the animal. Start walking forward, pulling the lead as you do to encourage the calf to move with you. Always walk on the left side of the animal. Make sure you are not walking behind the head or shoulders of the animal. You must be in lead. Avoid letting the animal to get ahead of you. Do not simply drag the animal as you go along. Encourage it to walk with you by pulling first, then releasing when the calf begins to move, and repeating until you have the animal starting to walk beside you. This will take many attempts to get, and you won’t get an animal walking with you on the first session. Watch for signs of wanting to get away or turn on you. If your calf bolts and starts to run, be ready to wrap the rope on an upright or other immovable object. Do not let it get away, because if you do it will learn that it can get away from you whenever it wants. It’s all mental - if they don’t know that they can get away, they won’t try! End each session on your own terms. You are the leader and the boss so it’s up to you and you alone when and how the training session should end. Practice, practice, practice!


Visit Glanbia Connect to see a video on halter making



The first step in getting show ready is hair clipping. Before clipping, clean hair is an essential prerequisite and will improve the quality of clipping and save the clipper blades. It is not possible to explain on paper how best to clip as every animal will require a different clip. Becoming smooth and skilful with clippers is only accomplished with practice and I would recommend not starting with your prize show beast. Create a mental picture of what you want the animal to look like and then remove hair that is outside the outline of that picture and note it is possible to make animal look bigger whilst cutting off hair in certain areas. Evaluate the strong and weak points of your animal compared to the mental picture of your ideal animal and clip to make the weak points as good as possible and accentuate the good points.

Caution: You cannot put hair back on, once you have taken it off. There are big differences in hair types, even within breeds. Grooming heifers and bulls is also different. Some breeds want the cattle shown without combing and brushing. The time of year, the genetics, and the management have a big impact on what hair will be available. There are two basic head types used on the clippers, a flat head for cutting close to the skin (like clipping the heads on Angus or Commercial cattle) and a sheep head for clipping body and leg hair. Either can be used under belly depending on how tight you wish to clip. When clipping around the head animals can easy become agitated and a low noise clippers is desirable. The objectives will vary by beast, breed, custom & practice and may be even who is judging.


Showing just like sport is driven by achievement and satisfaction. Grooming is about giving you every chance of achieving your goals. That means dressing your beast in its Sunday best. Be aware of what is allowed for hair fixing. Some events/breed societies do not permit the use of glues, adhesives and/or colorants. Before you start grooming, the animal should be clean and dry. Make sure the animal is well washed/rinsed (head, ears, legs and under belly included) and fully dry. When drying, do so systematically. Dry the entire hair coat completely and be consistent in the direction you blow the hair. Upwards and forwards (45 degrees) is recommended and do the same when combing. Hold the dryer nozzle against the animal’s body to maximise the removal of water.

will look like and practice at home. Have a look at the product catalogues and chat with other exhibitors of similar stock. There are specific products (soaps, adhesives, oils) for almost every breed. Practice is the best approach. If you are a new entrant spend a couple of show days with the professionals. Remember the primary motive is to hide the faults and accentuate the positives. After the show, wash and remove all the cosmetics from the animal’s hair. Not doing so will lead to hair loss, dandruff and possible skin reactions. Adhesives and glues can be removed by spraying with oil (coconut oil is commonly used).

There is a huge array of products and equipment available but there are no simple rules. Just like clipping you should have a mental construct of what the finished article 22


SHOWMANSHIP Showmanship is about presenting your animal to its full potential. It is equally about how well you and your animal work and look together. It is about your ability to present and handle the animal. Practice makes perfect and use different environments. You need cattle literally bomb proof going to the show. While practicing, get your beast used to someone walking up to them and around them. How you look is important. Familiarise yourself with acceptable attire as it may vary by breed and region.

DO’S Present Yourself Clean and Tidy Wear a Button-Down or Recommended Shirt Wear nice CLEAN jeans, steel toe cap safety boots, and a belt (no baggy pants or builder’s bottoms) Tuck Your Shirt In Wash and DRY Your Steer/Heifer Be Early to Your Class Keep Your Ropes Tidy

DON’TS Show Up Late to Your Class Wear a T-Shirt, Fitting Pants, or Hoodies Wear Tennis Shoes or Flip flops Come in with dirty or wet cattle Have the halter on upside down or on the wrong side Turn right on entering the ring Stand your beast down-hill if you can avoid it Be dis-courteous to other exhibitors 24

In the Ring

Walk into the Ring and make IMMEDIATE eye contact with the judge with a confident/ happy/content look on your face. Pull into place by backing into position slowly, stopping animal with front feet in position. Using your show stick, calmly move back feet into position with appropriate width, length, and stagger (This should be determined while practicing at home). Scratch the animal slowly and calmly, keeping eye contact with the judge, yet keeping the animal’s feet in the proper position. When asked to move back to the rail, back up and begin setting up again until it is your turn to walk. Learn the appropriate pattern to walk in the ring, you’ll always keep your beast between you and the judge, using as much of the arena as possible Pull into head-to-tail position again by backing in with enough room between each for the judge to walk if possible.

When participating in a young stockperson competition, the judge may ask you questions. Things you should know include; sire and dam, birth date, weight, anatomy of the animal, general cattle Information (market value), feeding and nutrition, good vs. bad physical attributes of your animal and current industry issues. Comb the animal when the judge is going away from you, put the comb back in your pocket, teeth pointing in. When the judge calls you to your placing, it is polite to acknowledge what the judge said, then pull into place. Once placed, do not give up. Often classes are re-placed or switched around. Correct Feet Placement

Front feet should be placed directly below shoulder, together or slightly staggered Back feet should be staggered, judge side directly below tail-head, showman side pulled up about 6 inches (just like camera positioning). Correct width of back feet for a calf is about 6-8 inches, but should look natural for the calf’s base width and overall size and mass. Top line should be as level as possible from shoulder to rump. 25

HEALTH & SAFETY: HANDLING & SHOWING LIVESTOCK A large proportion of all fatal workplace accidents occur in agriculture, even though a small proportion of the workforce is employed in farming. The level of farm accidents is not decreasing. Similar accidents occur each year. Similar statistics apply to injuries and it is everyone’s responsibility to themselves, their families, their colleagues and the public to make agriculture a safer place. Health & Safety Authority statistics show that around 13% of farm fatalities are attributed to livestock. The production, showing and sale of “Pedigree and Show” stock requires infinitely greater levels of handling than commercial stock and therefore a high level of vigilance is required. Below we have prepared a set of pointers and reminders under 3 headings, on the farm, in transit and shows/sales. We urge you to keep them in mind and make them part of your daily routine when working with your livestock.

1. On the Farm

Ensure that your handling facility, crush and clipping crate(s) are fit for purpose. Understand how a halter is correctly fitted. The nose band is the variable and should be long enough to go around 60% of the circumference of the animal’s snout at the half way point between the eye and the nose. Always ensure it is tightening behind the chin with the leading rope on the animals left side. At home is the place to have animals become accustomed to a nose snaffe, noise and surprises. When halter breaking, animals should not be tied to gates or crush bars as they pose high risk for self-injury and access for release can be poor. The best place is to use a ring in a wall at a height of circa 2 foot off the ground and the rope length after tying should be just enough for the animal to lie down and get up. Straw bed the lying area and leave training to lead until the animal is happy to lie down when tied. Keep a safe space between animals to avoid potential entanglement between stock/handler.

Only start training to lead when animals are broken. Initially use a small space to reduce the ability for the animal to bolt. Using a trained animal (ideally a larger/older one) to lead the younger stock can give good results. Choose a safe length of rope to avoid entanglement and never wrap ropes around your hand in a way that impedes a quick release if necessary. When starting to wash animals it is preferable to use low pressure initially and be careful around the head and ears (these are the most sensitive). Everything with cattle training is about building trust. When washing, clipping or drying cattle, do not take risks with electricity and ensure all cables are fit for purpose and in good condition. When reeling out, place the cable in a safe place to prevent animals contact, entanglement, or it becoming a trip hazard.

2. In Transit

Check that your insurance policy covers animals in transit. Loading and transit can be stressful for livestock, especially if transported alone. Check that all tyres are in good safe condition

3. At the Show

Make sure you have public liability insurance that covers you for showing livestock. If animals are not accustomed to power washing, do not start at a show. Use a bucket wash instead. Patience, time and gentle manoeuvres are highly recommended. They will be many hazards they will not be acquainted with, such as gazebos, dogs, horses, generators, blow dryers, helium balloons, banners, bunting and people with no awareness or experience of livestock that see them just like furry bears. Take extra care with electricity, cables and dryers etc. Do not leave cables where livestock can walk on them or you, colleagues or the public can trip.


and uniformly inflated (including the spare wheel). For the Initial trip always have your show prospect accompanied by another animal, even if it is just an idle trip. The last thing you want is to have an animal take flight on Show Day. It is recommended that heavier animals are loaded on the right of the trailer as road quality is poorer and tyre damage is more likely on the left. Ensure that the flooring is comfortable on the feet. Some breeders line the floor with rubber mats to increase comfort for heavier animals. Tying is critical and there are a few simple rules: - Consider what happens if the animal lies down - Make sure the tying height is safe if they do lie down (they will after a long show day, especially when they are accustomed to travelling) - Make sure all tie knots are running and can be easily opened - Do not leave ropes hanging in a manner that they can get rapped on a turning wheel On arrival at the show, pick a safe unloading position. Avoid open country. Remember cattle can become spooked in transit and particularly when seeing colourful displays and a lot of activity when the trailer door opens.

NB: The carrying capacity of cables should be observed and their condition checked regularly. Do not leave extension leads in a coil as they will over heat whilst in use and could start a fire or cause electrocution. Make sure you have all halters fitted correctly and in a manner that gives you maximum control. Be careful when changing into your show halter that the animal does not get an opportunity to alight. When heading to the ring, have a colleague clear the way ahead of you especially be careful of children, buggies and objects that can spook animals including dogs. Vigilance is required at all times.



Dry cow management has a significant impact on many other issues, such as calving, reproduction, metabolic problems, immunity and early colostrum yield. Restricting intake in the month before calving has negative implications for calving ability, milk production, immunity, calf vigour and future reproduction and has little or no impact on calf size. Unfortunately the cow prioritises the foetus in utero at her own expense. Restricting protein intake prior to calving exacerbates the problems. The objective pre-calving is maintenance and body condition management should take place prior to weaning or during the early stages of the dry period. Feed a good quality dry cow mineral for circa 6 weeks prior to calving. We strongly recommend “Superchoice Pre-calver Gold” with protected (organic) trace elements. Heavy continental cows can have a high demand for calcium in the days around calving and if the calving process slows it may be necessary to administer calcium or introduce the post calving mineral (Superchoice Post Calver Gold) when calving is imminent. Exercise also helps the calving process.


kgs/Day (750-800kg cow)

Silage NB: DM Basis

10 kgs Dry Matter

Straw (or Hay)

3 kgs

Rolled Oats

1.0 kgs

Soya Bean Meal (45-47% Protein)

0.5 kgs

Pre-calving Mineral

120-150 Grams

Take cognizance of cow size This is considered to be an ideal pre-calving diet for Pedigree Beef cows 3-4 weeks before calving.


New Born Calf

The three most important requirements of a new born calf are: Hygiene (The calving environment needs to be clean and dry. This is the best way of reducing the potential for bacterial and viral infections. If your knees get wet when you kneel down, the bed is too wet.) Hygiene is critical in avoiding naval infections and preventing the induction of diseases like cryptosporidia. Spray or dip the naval with iodine or other suitable product. Humidity is a big factor in the spread of both viruses and bacterial infections. Consider pre-calving vaccinations. Adequate air space and ventilation above the height of the calf are essential.

Nutrition and minerals (minerals whose deficiencies are commonly connected with hair health concerns are copper (Cu) cobalt (Co), phosphorus (P), iodine (I), selenium (Se), and zinc (Zn). The weather, age and time of year (cattle start to shed coats after winter housing, in late Spring, and particularly once they are 14-15 months at that time of year). Rapidly fermentable feeds accelerate hair loss (wheat and beet should be avoided in the diets of Show & Sale stock).

Colostrum (Use the 3, 2, 1, rule, 3 litres within 2 hours from 1st milking). Shelter (heavy rain and cold weather can cause hypothermia, especially if the calf does not get on its feet and fed quickly).

Rearing & Sales Preparation

Have a well-planned rearing programme and carry out tasks such as tagging, registration, dehorning and vaccinations in a timely manner. Be mindful of performance and daily live weight gain targets. Grass quality, regular parasite control, good nutrition and recommended weaning practices are all important.

Halter training, the insertion of nose rings (bulls) and hoof paring should all be complete many weeks before an event.

During the “Show or Sales Preparation” period take particular attentions to lice and/or mange and treat accordingly. See section on “Animal Health”. The biggest nutritional risk is acidosis and laminitis induced by acidosis. We cannot over emphasise the importance of good quality appetising forage (hay/haylage). Offering large quantities of inedible material will do nothing for the animal. Hair growth and condition are worth real money in this business. Hair length, thickness and condition give you the opportunity to carve out your ideal beast. It gives you the opportunity to dress them in their Sunday best. Hair growth and quality is influenced by the following factors: Genetics (within and between breeds) Skin stimulation (wash and comb frequently) 29




Lo-call number

1890 321 321


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