What is livestock showmanship?

Showmanship starts at home.

Blaine Pish, showing pigs

Blaine Pish, showing pigs

Our family just completed a week of showing animals at our local county fair. During that time my oldest son showed three species of animals; starter calves, pigs and dairy cattle. During each of the shows there are two classes; showmanship and market/ breed. What is the difference?

Showmanship: is the ability to show your animal to its best ability. Showmanship starts at home. Weeks prior to the fair. Children need to spend time walking and preparing their animals to behave and walk. This is where family time comes into play. Everyone can be involved in helping to train animals for the county fair. Mom and/ or dad can be the “judge” so that the child can practice like it’s the real show. Brother or sister can also walk other animals or walk their own and have a pretend show. Working together as a family and spending time together is key to a successful showman. This part of the show it doesn’t matter if you have a prize winning calf it is all about how you present yourself and the animal. There are three key things to showmanship: human attire, clean animal and the way an animal shows.

  1. Dress the part. Come into the show ring with a clean pair of jeans, a solid color button up or polo shirt, belt and boots. Have your hair out of your face and do not tuck your pants into your boots.
  2. Clean animal. This again should start at home. But be sure your animal is clipped the way it is supposed to be clipped. Wash away all of the dirty spots and be sure to clean the animals ears.
  3. Presentation of the animal. In the show ring show your animal to the best of its ability. If you have a calf and he looks better with his feet not stretched out. Then do what makes your animal look the best for him.

Winning a competitive showmanship class is one of the best feelings in the world. You know that you won based on your ability to show that animal.

Market or breed classes: this is the class where the animal is judged according to the animals breed/ industry standards.

If you or your family member needs more information regarding showing of any specie of livestock contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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