It's SHOW TIME!... at Northlands Farmfair International
While I have never been to Farmfair before, I have spent a few days in a cattle show ring in my day and all of the hype of this event has made me reminisce about my show days. I scrounged up a few old photos below from when I showed cattle in 4-H as a youngin', so have a look and enjoy a good laugh on me!
While I giggled with my husband about my fashion choices, my mind wandered to the popular clubby calf photo that has been going around the internet discussing blow drying cows. While it is true (cattle showers do wash their animals, and dry them!) I thought it might be fun to discuss how and why cattle exhibitors get their animals ready for showing, and maybe how you might get ready for Farmfair too!
Why Show Cattle?
These shows give livestock producers the opportunity to see a tiny piece of many farms in a one stop shop. While I joke about showing off and bragging about your own cattle, shows like Farmfair International do allow producers to share ideas, learn from each other and discuss production methods that would otherwise never be possible. The 'international' part of Farmfair International truly is just that. People from around the world are invited to and attend Farmfair!
How Do You Blow Dry A Cow?
The how is a lot more complicated than the why. The first step to becoming a cattle shower is halter breaking the animal. This isn't near as scary as it sounds. It's just spending time with your animal, gaining their trust and working with them until you can lead them with a halter. Halters are made of rope, nylon or leather and comfortably fit around their nose and behind their ears. This allows the shower to have control of the animal but without harming them. Halter breaking often takes weeks or months, and involves a lot of one on one time. When I showed 4-H animals, I would start the process in September with my first show in January.
The final step to preparing your show animal for the big day is using hair products. Yes I said it, hair products, just like a gal with her hairspray! While similar to hairspray, we use products approved and safe for animals. This can include hairspray-like products, mouse, hoof polish and hair sheen, to name a few. Everyone has their own tricks of the trade. Charolais showers may use baby powder to make their white cows shine extra white. Black Angus showers sometimes use paintbrush hairs to add extra hair volume (yes, for real!). After the show, these products are removed with yet another bath and blow dry session. The best part is when your show animals show you affection and appreciation for all the attention you give them. Yes, they really do enjoy this process!
The third step is the funnest step in my opinion. It's bath time! Usually right before the show animals are washed with warm soapy water. This can be done in various ways. If you happen to have the facilities, you can use a wash rack- a building designed for animal washing with warm water supplies, drains and adequate heating. This is necessary during winter shows. Just like people, you wouldn't want to be wet and out in the cold! In the summer time you can wash your animals outside.
Next is the blow drying. Yes, we do blow dry cows. As said above, you wouldn't want to be wet and cold, and neither would a cow! There are large, powerful blow dryers called "blowers" that are used to dry animals. And just like girls know to blow dry their hair the way they want it to lay, we do the same with the cows. We blow all the hair forward, near their head. This gives the illusion of a longer body, and smooth conformation. It also keeps the animals warm and healthy after baths during the cold winter shows.