With Spring-like temperatures sweeping across much of the country, it is time to make sure you are already working with your show cattle to get rid of their winter hair coat, and make sure that a new healthy hair coat is growing and will be ready for late spring and summer shows.
Exhibitors should get rid of the old winter coat and be prepared to start the process of promoting new hair growth 100-120 days prior to the show that is the animal’s end-point or targeted show, whether that is a state fair, county fair or breed junior nationals. There are two basic alternatives to ridding your calf of the old, dead hair.
First, and perhaps the more common method is to shear your animal. Clip your calf in a downward direction or with the grain of its hair using a plucking blade or beveled comb or blade. Typically this is done starting on their topline and in a downward stroke all the way to their bellyline. At that point begin blending to leave hair from the bottom of their quarter down their hindleg, on their underline and from their forearm down on their front leg. In many geographic regions, this might already be done, and is many times started around the first of March but most will have clipped their calf slick by the end of April, depending on their show season.
The second option is to use a shedding devise like a shedding comb or brush. This is a more time consuming method, but helps ensure that the new, healthy hair that is starting its growth isn’t lost. Remember the earlier you can get the old dead winter hair removed the faster you can get new growth started.
Once you are rid of the old growth, you need to promote growing a new, healthy hair coat that will be show ring ready. Rinsing animals at least daily and using a conditioner will encourage hair growth and keep their hair and skin healthy. Washing your animal with soap twice a week is ideal to keep its hide clean. The best way to dry your animal while initially starting the hair growing process is to brush them dry with a rice root brush or clean, plastic wash brush while being tied with their head up in front of fans. Blow drying isn’t necessary when their hair is so short. Once they are dry applying a sheen or light oil and working it in with a brush/comb and a blower will help restore oils that are stripped from the hair when being rinsed, and provide for healthy hide and hair.
The next step in growing a healthy hair coat is to make sure you are following a good nutrition program. Make sure your animals are getting a good vitamin or mineral supplement like Sure Champ®, which does help promote the skin and hair quality of your animals. Many livestock exhibitors also offer melatonin in their feed, which also helps the hair grow.
Finally, remember hair growth is all related to the mind and body working together with the animal’s mind thinking it is preparing its body for winter. With longer, brighter days in the spring and summer, it is important to keep your animals safely tied into a darker, cooler area so their minds will trigger their body to grow hair. Make sure your cattle get tied into coolers or under fans early in the morning before the sun is bright. Then, the cattle should be turned out after dark when the temperatures are cooling off.
Get rid of that winter hair coat. Rinse. Condition. Brush. Feed Sure Champ. Grow healthy hair.