As a former exhibitor of Hereford cattle, I have many fond (or not so fond) memories of my dad coaching me on “washing white.” And as a 10-year-old girl, what I thought was white enough never was quite good enough for Dad. No matter what species you show, keeping show animals white and bright is a challenge. But nothing looks quite as impressive as a white animal shined up in the show ring.
We asked our followers on social media for some of their best tools and tips to keep show animals white, and we got nearly 80 suggestions from livestock enthusiasts who show cattle, hogs, sheep, goats and poultry. And with that many recommendations, surely there is one that can help you get your show project white and keep it white.
“It’s a lot of work but I wouldn’t trade my Charolais heifers for anything,” exclaimed one young lady on Facebook.
Although it might seem obvious, one of the best ways to keep your white animals – or any show stock – clean is to start with a clean environment. Make sure the building you are stalling in or tying into is clean. Provide fresh, absorbent bedding, and be sure to pick the bedding regularly throughout the day to keep the it as clean as possible. Once you have a clean place to keep your animals, focus on getting them white using one of many suggested products and techniques.
“Find a product you like and that works for you and then get after it. Keep pens clean with a lot of (clean) bedding and be washing and rinsing A LOT,” wrote Stefanie Meek, whose 12-year-old daughter shows cattle and sheep in Montana. “I only use products either made for the animals or products gentle enough for my skin. No Woolite or detergents that I wouldn’t bathe in. Also, when she’s rinsing, I teach her to rinse thoroughly – think how it would feel if she didn’t rinse herself well.”
There are many cleansers specifically formulated for getting livestock looking their whitest and brightest. Some of them include Sullivan’s Bright Lights Whitening Shampoo, Mane N Tail, Vetrolin White N Brite, Sullivan’s Champion’s Choice, Orvus, Cowboy Magic Shine-In Yellowout, and Weaver Livestock’s Brightener Whitening Livestock Shampoo.
Many of these can be used on multiple species. But as always, read and follow the directions on the label. As several of our Facebook and Instagram followers stated, washing your animals every day will dry out their skin. Washing them 2-3 times a week is adequate, and follow washing with a conditioner like Kleen Sheen for cattle, that will condition their hair and skin and help them stay clean. For lambs and goats, if you are close to show day, tube or blanket your animals to help them stay clean.
One show enthusiast on Instagram commented, “Using soap every day weakens hair follicles and dries out the hide. Don’t do to white calves what you wouldn’t do to black calves.”
Human Health & Beauty
Many of the products you have in your own bathroom, might just do the trick to help your animals stay clean and white too.
Some of the products our social followers recommend include baby shampoo, TRESemme or Volumax Shampoo and whitening toothpaste. One person was even as specific as to say they mix Strawberry Suave Shampoo with Mane N Tail.
And of course, on show day, you don’t want to be without ample supply of baby powder, which can be used on cattle, sheep and goats.
As generations of livestock exhibitors have experimented over time, it’s no surprise that several of the suggestions that we received were for basic household products. Although, because your animals could have sensitive skin, just like a human, be sure to test these products on a small area at home, well in advance of a big jackpot or major show. It’s no fun to have an animal with a skin condition or a blue lamb that is supposed to be white.
Perhaps some of the most popular household recommendations came from the laundry room. The most popular is Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing. Exhibitors mix this bright blue product with Joy dish soap or simply dilute it with water. Just be sure to not leave it on too long or your animal will turn blue.
“I use Mrs. Stewart’s 3 days before I leave for a show and mix it with Joy dish soap. It will get them cotton-white,” said one Instagram responder.
Other laundry items that have been used include Wintex White Brite, Woolite, Resolve stain stick and anything with Oxyclean in it.
You might also raid the kitchen for a few items to get your animals white. One person said they put mayo on their pigs to get them white. Another uses lemon juice as a whitener. And a third person said they use ketchup to get stains off the knees. That exhibitor said to put the ketchup on dry, let it set for 10 minutes and then wash it out. Some people also said they use white vinegar – both as a whitening agent and to get the urine smell out of their bucks.
Other suggestions to get your animals their whitest include Hydrogen Peroxide or Murphys’ Oil Soap.
If you know you have a show approaching, and rain is in the forecast, consider moving your animal inside out of the mud.
One pig exhibitor offered this advice: “Brush their coat daily and feed Sure Champ® Pig Pellets to optimize the health of their hair/skin because healthy hair/skin is easier to keep clean.”
Or, you can do the following: avoid white cows, use extra elbow grease and pray to God that they decide not to get dirty.
Whatever you do, remember going the extra mile to get and keep your animals white will help them look their best as you #preptowin.