Getting your livestock show-ready can be challenging enough on a good year. Throw in the uncertainties of COVID-19, and the challenges and opportunities have seemed to multiply. Will the shows you targeted even happen? Will you be allowed to have help at the show? Fit or no fit? What about social distancing? Agriculture is a resilient field and those involved typically have a work ethic second to none. Let’s explore some ways to make sure you can continue to get your livestock show-ready and #preptowin during a pandemic.
Daily Care Routine
Regardless of the species or the show, your daily care starts at home and should focus on three key areas: appetite and nutrition; skin and hair health and exercise and showmanship. If you devote time each day to each of these key areas, your animals will look and act show ring ready.
Did you know that 70% of an animal’s immune response lives in its digestive system? Therefore, if you start your project out on a healthy diet and keep it eating and drinking, it should remain healthy. Using an appetite supplement like Sure Champ® with the Amaferm® advantage will help promote feed intake while improving digestive health. The new Sure Champ Joint Juice will also help keep your livestock feeling comfortable while keeping their joints and soft tissue structurally sound.
Once you get them eating and feeling good on the inside, make sure they are looking their best on the outside by working their hair and conditioning their skin. Seasonal changes can add to the challenges of skin and hair care, but making the effort pays off in the end.
Whitney Walker, one livestock enthusiast from Prairie Grove, Arkansas, said that when Oklahoma State University, where she attends school, closed it campus down this past spring, it actually allowed her more time in the barn to work with her cattle. She knows and values the efforts of working hard every day.
“For us to have our livestock look like we want, we can’t give up on the gas pedal and give in to the coronavirus,” Walker said.
Finally, the extra time at home with limited extracurricular activities should also allow exhibitors and their families more time to focus on animal exercise and showmanship practice. Exercise is key to building lean muscle shape. And working on your showmanship skills will allow your animals to grow familiar with you and become comfortable with what is expected of them once they enter the show ring.
Oliva Shike and her siblings of Sadorus, Illinois, are three exhibitors who took full advantage of the cancellation of spring sports and other school-related activities to work with their pigs and invest more time in their daily care.
“We walked them every day, kept their pens extra clean, worked on their skin and hair, and spent a lot of time just observing the pigs and noticing things we might have missed if we had been hurrying through our work. I think this really helped us in the show ring this year because our pigs were more broke, healthier and able to look their best. We were able to get our pigs broke much sooner and were able to get our pigs to move smoother and look better doing it, come show time. Having more time to study the pigs helped us notice when one was starting to get sick, going off feed, or needed a feed change; which in the long run helped us keep our pigs healthier and helped them to look their best on the show day. We had a great year in the show ring and even though we didn’t get to do a lot of the shows we normally do, our hard work during lockdown still paid off,” Shike said.
Preparing for the Show
It’s always best to be over prepared rather than under prepared. Make sure if your show has a pre-entry deadline that you have met it and have a copy of the rules or exhibitor premium book and read them thoroughly. Have current copies of your health and registration papers (if applicable) with you at all times and have your show box packed with everything you need on show day.
Not only does Sure Champ make some great digestive health supplements, it also creates some practical supply check lists for each species that you will want to have handy to help reduce your pre-show stress. Speaking of stress, two things you should always have in your show box when getting ready to pack for a show include Vita Charge® Liquid Boost® and Vita Charge Gel, to help mitigate the stress of your show livestock while hauling them and at the show, and helping keep them on feed and water. These rapid-response products support digestive health while promoting feed and water intake during times of stress and recovery.
“This summer, my little sister, Kenidey, and I decided to try something a little different. We both showed a couple steers throughout the summer both in South Dakota and at junior nationals. With these steers coming out of the cooler, we’ve had to pay extra close attention to them to make sure they’re not too hot. [Vita Charge] Climate Control Gel has been extremely helpful with these steers to help regulate their body temperature and ensure that their food and water consumption stays up while we’re at these hot summer shows. Along with that, we drench the steers with Liquid Boost to keep them drinking at shows,” said Chesney Effling, Highmore, South Dakota.
Preparing at the Show
Shows have definitely taken on a new look during this pandemic. Wearing masks is the new norm. Wrist bands are an indicator of who can be in the line up or make ready area with the exhibitor, and spectators are sparse at the request of the show management to keep social distancing in place. Other changes have made fitting and show day prep more challenging for exhibitors.
“The biggest thing I have learned for preparing my animals at shows since the coronavirus has hit is that you have to be flexible and adaptable. There have been a few instances where we’ve had some help lined up for a show and last minute they can’t make it because they’ve either tested positive with coronavirus or they’ve been instructed to quarantine or simply because they don’t feel comfortable coming to a large gathering. These instances have taught me to step up and help out wherever is needed and to take it one thing at a time,” Effling said.
Some shows have shortened their duration, making the transition time you are at the show more important than ever. These shortened events are a great time to have Vita Charge in your show box to keep your livestock eating and drinking while at the show.
Be sure to allow plenty of time to get your animal prepared for its class and give yourself time to get to the show ring, especially as many shows have distanced and are showing from multiple barns or even off the trailers.
Lastly, don’t forget to thank the show management and sponsors for putting forth the effort. In a year of uncertainty and enhanced regulations, cancelling would have been an easier option, but many people have gone above and beyond to make sure exhibitors get to show their animals.
Surely the craziness of a pandemic will come to an end in our future. Until then, continue to focus on your livestock with proper daily care, feed Sure Champ EVERY. DAY. and make the most of your extra time to #preptowin at your next show.