By Josh Brockman, Brockman Farms
Livestock projects are many things: fun, exciting, addicting and an enjoyable a family event. Like most any other opportunity in life they are also hard work, expensive, time consuming and competitive. Showing cattle is unique to other species because of the time they spend on feed. Whether it is heifers or steers, an exhibitor typically has this project on feed for a minimum of 10 months before reaching their end point show, and longer if it is a breeding heifer. There is nothing more frustrating than fighting battles at home for nearly a year, doing all that work hanging out on the end of a blower hose, in the wash rack and under a fan, and then getting to the show and animals not cooperating to eat and/or drink.
Due to the stress of hauling, and a change in climate and atmosphere, waiting to boost your cattle’s appetite or fight the battle of stress until you arrive at the show can, more often than not, leave you one step behind. These are our tips that will “Keep Your Cattle on the Go at a Show.”
- It all starts at home. Waiting until arriving at the show to start thinking about keeping cattle on feed leaves you a step behind. We recommend administering a Vita Charge product at least three consecutive days prior to loading up for a show. Vita Charge is a great tool for keeping your cattle’s appetite and consumption steady and helps battle the stress from hauling. One dose of Vita Charge a day is recommended for preventative use, and two doses a day if your animal is already off feed. Your animal should also be used to drinking out a water bucket and eating out of a feed pan.
- Have a plan when you arrive. Trailer rides are stressful enough, and now you are unloading your heifer or steer into a brand new environment. Even though a parent may help you unload, make sure you are close by. Your project has a bond with you and will relax knowing that you are with them. Give another dose of Vita Charge as soon as your project has settled into their stall or tie outs to keep digestion stimulated. However, it is extremely important to read and know the rules of each show. Some shows do not allow drenching or even inserting a tube of gel into the mouth unless it is done under veterinarian supervision.
- Keeping them hydrated. Cattle not wanting to drink is probably one of the most common frustrations. City water can smell and taste a lot different than the water at your house. A water purifier can help with this issue. Many people will also recommend adding a flavoring agent to the water. Vita Charge Liquid Boost has a strong berry flavor that can help mask the odor and taste. It is also going to stimulate the digestive system so intake of water increases. Using Vita Charge Liquid Boost in a water bucket is also an alternative option when the show has rules against drenching. If this is something you are thinking about trying, we recommend getting your cattle used to drinking Liquid Boost water at home prior to trying it at the show.
- Consistency is Key. Although this tip is very basic, it is extremely important. Always remember to feed the same supplements and feed that you were using at home because your cattle become accustomed to a routine. Also, you should have tested any fill products or other show day supplements at home to gage the effect they will have and their palatability.