How to Care for Your Show Animals 

show animals

Show Animals

Showing livestock is a fun and exciting way to raise your family, teach young people responsibility, and, most of all, make lasting memories with family and friends. Regardless of which species you show, animals require a lot of effort to maximize their genetic potential. You want to make sure they look their best by their required endpoint show—no matter what level you are competing at.  

Summer is a busy time for livestock shows of all sizes—jackpots, county and state fairs and junior nationals. At Sure Champ®, our goal is to help young people #PreptoWin, both in the show ring and in life. We designed this blog as a guide to help you know how to care for your show animals. We know that champions are made at home. 

To get to the backdrop, a lot of effort goes into daily care. Everything from monitoring nutrition, skin, and hair to, of course, showmanship preparation and hauling them to shows. 

Look to an Expert 

You’ve purchased your animal, or maybe this year you were able to raise your show animal as offspring from a former show heifer, doe, gilt, or ewe. No matter how you acquire your animal, it is time to get it ready to become a show animal. Most breeders will give you advice. Some FFA advisors or 4-H leaders are also good resources, but if you don’t have that, we want to help you out. 

Meet Brad Gohr. 

For many families, raising show animals and kids goes hand in hand. That can be said for Brad and Dawn Gohr of Madras, Oregon. Both grew up showing cattle. Dawn showed Angus, and Brad exhibited Simmentals. Today, they raise elite Angus, Hereford and Simmental show cattle with their children Fallon and Gunnar. Not only does the Gohr family raise cattle, but they have also exhibited numerous champions across the country. Brad has also judged shows from coast to coast. 

Brad recently shared his advice on how his family prepares their show cattle, especially through the summer. 

How To Care for Your Show Animals

1. Start with Good Nutrition 

There are lots of great feeds out there for your show animal. However, it is of the utmost importance to ensure your animal has a complete vitamin and mineral package and a balanced ration. Brad also reminds families to keep the animals’ body condition score and the target end date of the show they are preparing for in mind.  

“A fat heifer is not happy in the summer heat. Additionally, we want to show them leaner in the summer, so they are on point for the winter shows we go to. Their overall health and conception rates and the ability to lead a fresh heifer out in the winter are our big priorities,” Brad said. “We just hope when we get to junior national, we have a judge who appreciates a lean and fresh heifer over a big, fleshy one or we will probably be in trouble.” 

Since summer heat can cause unnecessary stress on all species, Brad said he said keeping his family’s show cattle leaner isn’t a huge issue since they typically consume less. That is one thing he appreciates about the BioZyme family of brands. 

“Our cattle are eating less feed during the heat. However, I know they are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need in the nutrient-dense Sure Champ® Cattle pellets. We also use the Sure Champ® Cattle Drench, and have the Stress Tubs in every run,” he said. 

Ultimately, show heifers do need to contribute to the herd and become breeding females. That is true of any female show animal, and it is just another reason to keep your females in a mid-range body condition score. 

The Amaferm Difference 

The significance of every product Brad mentioned is that all 3 are powered by AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility. With increased digestibility, animals stay cool from the inside out. Heat is a major summer stressor, so by already keeping them cool internally, Amaferm is helping cool them externally.

Additionally, as Brad said, his cattle eat less, and Amaferm ensures that they are getting the most nutrient value from what they are consuming. 

Let’s explore each of the products he discussed. 

Sure Champ Cattle 

Sure Champ Cattle is a pelleted, daily supplement with protein, vitamins and minerals for show livestock designed to support performance. It contains Amaferm, stimulates consistent appetite, and ensures that cattle receive adequate vitamins and minerals. 

Sure Champ Cattle Drench 

Sure Champ Cattle Drench is a drench for cattle designed to support digestive health before, during and after challenges. Formerly known as Vita Charge Cattle Drench, it contains enzymes that generate a more rapid digestive response. It also contains Amaferm and MOS (mannan oligosaccharides), which help normalize gut microflora and support the immune system. 

VitaFerm® Stress Tub 

VitaFerm Stress Tub is a tub for cattle designed to support digestive health and intake. Formerly known as Vita Charge Stress Tub, it contains Amaferm and MOS a probiotic to help restore the gut microbiome. 

2. Mitigating Heat Stress 

Managing heat stress in cattle and all show animals can be a chore, but only if you let get out of control. Take proactive measures before heat stress wreaks havoc on any show animal. It is imperative to keep them cool if you want to keep them cool and performing.  

The Gohr family has the advantage of living in the high desert of Oregon where humidity isn’t a challenge, and it typically cools off during the night. However, they still deal with soaring daytime temperatures and humidity anytime they travel. 

“We keep our cattle under a shade with fans blowing on them during the day. We aren’t big believers in coolers for heifers because any benefit of a cooler for growing hair will be lost within the week on the road to junior nationals. Our barn is open with good ventilation, and that is a big benefit, too,” Brad said. 

In addition to shade and air movement, make sure your animals have plenty of fresh, clean water throughout the day. Water not only helps with hydration and keeping your animals cool, but water and feed intake work synergistically. If they are not drinking, they likely won’t eat either. 

Products like Sure Champ® Liquid Boost® and Sure Champ® Appetite Plus Gel will help promote both feed and water intake.  

3. Managing Hair & Skin Care 

Every exhibitor and their family will have a slightly different view of the ideal skin and hair care routine for their show animals. Even the Gohr family treats different breeds within their barn differently.  

“The Herefords with their thick hair generally get rinsed daily, more out of heat management. We don’t rinse or wash the Angus daily but let them build up their natural oils on their skin, which helps ensure a healthy hair coat. When you start with and keep them on a good plane of nutrition, the fewer products you add to them, the better,” Brad said. 

Lambs typically won’t get washed or rinsed as often but will be blanketed to help build the lanolin back into their wool. This helps give them a fresher appearance.  

When it comes to pigs, some families wash daily, some rinse daily and others alternate days. Some use a soft brush, others a rice root brush. It’s also important to pay attention to hair appearance. Keeping your pig’s hair looking nice can require specific conditioners and soaps, depending on your goals. If you are unsure what you want to do, talk to a trusted adviser and find the routine that works best for your family.

No matter the breed or species, the most important thing about skin and hair care is that it all ties back to nutrition and hydration. A healthy, hydrated animal will have a good skin and hair coat.  

4. Making the Long Haul 

Part of the best memories made while showing livestock involve the trips with family and friends who become family. However, traveling with show animals can take its toll on both the animals and the humans. 

Hauling show animals during the summer heat needs to be strategic if you are traveling any distance in high heat and humidity, especially if you don’t have an air-conditioned trailer. 

The Gohr family, which has competed in numerous junior nationals, knows all too well about the stress of hauling cattle across the country. All those shows require them to cross at least two time zones and the Rocky Mountains. For example, it is over 2,200 miles for them to get to Louisville, Kentucky, one popular show destination.  

Brad says they usually leave a week to 10 days before check-in day at the show. They try to arrive at a farm location 3 to 4 days before to get the cattle acclimated to their new environment. Their travels include several layovers at various other breeder locations en route. At these stops, the cattle eat, drink, exercise, and rest for 10 to 12 hours before loading up for another 12-to-15-hour drive. 

“We couldn’t do what we do without all the amazing people in our industry. We’ve spent a lot of Fourth of Julys at some friends’ family picnics. They always welcome us, help us unload, and greet us with a homecooked meal. The only downside is that where we live, we don’t have the opportunity to give back to them,” he said.  

5. Mitigating Travel Stress 

In addition to intermittent stops, there are other ways to mitigate stress in your show animals while traveling. 


Make sure all your vents are open. If you have plexiglass in the sides, take that out before leaving home to help the air move through. Keep the air flowing through your trailer so the animals on the trailer are getting fresh air as you are moving down the highway. 


Stop frequently to water your show animals and keep them hydrated. Take water with you on your trip so it is readily available and keep your water buckets easily accessible.   

Don’t Overcrowd 

Although the Gohrs have a large trailer, Brad said they don’t overload it. He knows those heifers are putting off their own body heat making a hot trailer even hotter, so they will usually take fewer animals to let them have more room.  

6. Use Sure Champ® Climate Control Gel 

Sure Champ Climate Control Gel is a gel for all livestock designed to support digestive health and recovery when temperatures are above 70 degrees. Formerly known as Vita Charge Climate Control, this gel contains Amaferm and HEAT technology, a combination of essential oils, to support animals when heat is a challenge. It promotes appetite and water intake. 

Brad said he likes to start using Climate Control Gel on cattle traveling long distances about three days prior to the trip and while they are traveling. He sees a difference in their willingness to eat and drink in different climates and environments. 

Final Advice: Showmanship, Showmanship, Showmanship 

“Showmanship is like a dance, and both partners have to be in sync. The only way to do that is to practice repetitively at home,” Brad said. 

Although his kids are older now, he said showmanship has always been a priority. He and Dawn want the cattle and the kids to be in sync so that Fallon and Gunnar can show them at the biggest national shows they attend and know the satisfaction of “sticking a national champion.”  

Daily practice is the best way for young exhibitors to refine their skills and learn what it takes to make each show animal look its best for the judge. Sometimes a trailer ride to a fairgrounds or neighbor’s house for practice will help an animal adjust to new surroundings, an added value of attending jackpot or preview shows. 

The Gohr family will invite others in their area to bring their cattle to their house. This gives young people the opportunity to get their cattle around other cattle in a new environment and around different sounds – all good lessons before going to a show. 

When practicing showmanship, be sure to think about different scenarios. Have a parent, friend or sibling serve as the judge so you can practice movement around your animal. For small ruminants like sheep and goats, some even advise a full-size mirror to practice in front of. 

Sure Champ Offers Other Resources 

Although this piece has provided expert advice from a great cattle producer and judge, most of it also applies to all show animals. However, we also have several blogs about selection, feeding, show prep and supplies for each species that we think you will find valuable. 

More Sure Champ Products 

We’ve mentioned just a few of the Sure Champ products that the Gohr family uses. But we have several more that we know will help you in your mission to #PreptoWin. Here are a few of our other popular products: 

Sure Champ® Extreme with ClariFly®  

Sure Champ Extreme with ClariFly is a pelleted, daily supplement for show livestock with Clarifly designed to support hoof health, hair coat and performance when temperatures are above 70 degrees. Designed for all species, it contains Amaferm and MOS to help normalize gut microflora and support the immune system. It also contains HEAT technology, a combination of essential oils and garlic, as well as ClariFly to support animals when heat and insects are a challenge. 

Sure Champ® Liquid Boost® 

Sure Champ Liquid Boost is a liquid for all livestock designed to provide immediate support to the animal’s digestive and immune systems. Formerly known as Vita Charge Liquid Boost, it contains both Amaferm and MOS, and it contains flavoring to help drive the intake of feed or water. 

Sure Champ® Clench Gel 

Sure Champ Clench Gel is a gel for all livestock designed to support normal digestive function during occasional diarrhea/scours. Formerly known as Vita Charge Clench Gel, it includes Amaferm and MOS, and it contains electrolytes to support rehydration. 

Sure Champ® Joint Juice 

Sure Champ Joint Juice is a liquid product for livestock designed to support joint health utilizing patented technology. Joint Juice contains MHB3®, a patented high-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid. It lubricates joints and supports mobility and soundness. 

Make your Champions at Home 

It is never too early to start working on your show animals. From proper nutrition to skin and hair care to mitigating heat stress and traveling comfortably, there are plenty of daily tasks.  

You can get your Sure Champ products as easily as ordering online today.  

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