Preparing Market Livestock: How to Get Ready for Show Season

April 30, 2022

It is never too early to start preparing for livestock fair competition. From late spring to early fall, fairs and shows are in full swing. It’s the time when young and old can pet their favorite farm animals, buy market-ready livestock, visit educational exhibits, and see an animal show.

Becoming an exhibitor at a livestock show takes a passion and love for animals and a lot of training to get your animal show-ready. If you are serious about becoming a livestock show exhibitor, we have the best tips and tricks to get you started on the right hoof!


Stock show cow

Selecting an Animal

Determine your end goals to find a show cattle that corresponds with your desired age, size, and weight. Look for structural correctness such as straight legs, robust square feet, and a straight topline even when in a relaxed position.

Look for hip and hind leg flexibility to ensure they can make for a successful show project. Large joints may indicate structural problems. Always look for show cattle with smooth joints over big and swollen ones. Beef cattle should be balanced, long-bodied, up-headed, and clean-front.

Feed, Supplements, and Finishing

The right feed depends on the cattle’s growth rate, body condition, frame, shape, and rib shape. Honor Show Full Range complete feed is excellent for adding belly or condition or maintaining rib shape. It can also complement High Octane Power Fuel to improve condition and rib shape.

Add growth to your stocky or short cattle with a high-protein ration. Feed Honor Show Fitter’s Edge to small-frame steers up until the day of the show. Is your show cattle looking too skinny? Feed your cattle Honor Show Finishing Touch feed to add fat and condition.

While your feeding program should focus on growth and maturity, you can use High Octane Ultra Full and High Octane Depth Charge for short-term, deep belly goals that can show results within 30-60 days.

Looking to slow growth or maintain it? Honor Show Full Control helps you keep your show cattle in just the right condition. Complement Honor Show Full Control with Honor Show Fitter’s Edge or Honor Show Full Range to slow down growth.


If you are going to be showing cattle, invest in the essentials such as a show box, hose, water buckets, feed pans, show stick, fans, blower, and pitchfork. Bring along your show harness, show halters, neck ropes, brushes, combs, soap, adhesives, and paints.

Conditioning and Training

Halter breaking takes time and patience to build a close bond with your animal and earn their trust. Start off in a small pen and scratch them with your show stick to keep them relaxed. At first, they may run but will eventually get used to working with you.

When haltering, start by scratching your calf and slowly get closer to their head with the halter. Slowly put the halter on them, putting it over the ears and then the nose. When most of the halter is on, hold the end of the lead and make sure it has a tight fit. Be sure to have plenty of lead in your hand to be ready for pushback from your animal.

When teaching your animal to lead, stand on the left side and use subtle pressure to train your animal to respond by gently pulling on the halter. When your animal moves, you can release the pressure. Gradually increase the distance you lead your animal based on their comfort level.


For show days, you need your cattle to be washed, trimmed, and blow-dried. Above all, be sure to show off the best qualities of your cattle. Soft brushes can help get rid of dead hair and train hair to go where you want.

Scotch combs can be used to groom body hair and used with adhesives on the tail head and leg hair. Bring along a gentle soap to wash your animal before and after the show. Hair conditioner can be used to give hair a good shine.


Practicing cues with your show cattle is the best way to make the most of the few minutes you have to impress the judges. Practice indoors and outdoors, alone and with a group, in a quiet and noisy space, The idea is to prepare your animal to remain calm in different situations.

Practice walking your show cattle in a staggered position to reduce show stick visibility during foot placement. At home, practice walking into a staggered position by walking backward the last few steps, looking at the back feet, and walking them into the staggered position. You may just have to move the left front foot for an easy and smooth setup.

While eye contact with the judges is important, do not forget to maintain the presentation of your animal. Keep an eye on your animal to ensure they maintain their position. Pay attention to cues from the judges all while staying aware of your animal’s presentation.


Stock show pig

Selecting an Animal

Start by determining your target show goals (age and maturity). Be sure that the pig has firm and wide toes pointing forward, sturdy legs, fluid joint movement, depth of body, clear and bright eyes, and healthy skin and hair. Pigs should be level-made with equal shoulder and hip heights.

Feed, Supplements, and Finishing

What you feed your show pig depends on various factors, including its health, age, gender, and environment. If you plan on buying a pig from a pig sale, consider medicating your animal for at least 14 days after buying it.

Look for feeds with Carbadox or Denagard, great for receiving young pigs. Injectable antibiotics or water-soluble medications may also be used. Consult with your veterinarian for expert guidance). Honor Show First Wean 319 or 519 have 35 grams/ton Denegard, which is used to promote optimal respiratory and gut immune health.

If the pig you purchased has light or moderate muscle, consider feeding it a 20% crude protein such as Honor Show First Wean 519 until they reach at least 75 pounds. If it is too muscled, consider feeding it a lower crude protein feed, such as Honor Show Muscle & FIll 719 or Muscle Cover 819.

A proper level of energy must be fed to your show pig to achieve optimal metabolic processes, including skin, hair, bone, and lean tissue growth. Ensure your pig has the right amount of energy through a complete feed or with an energy supplement such as High Octane Heavy Weight.

Here are a few more tips and tricks to get your show pig ready for the big day:

  • To improve muscling, feed your pig a high protein feed or topdress, such as High Octane Champion Drive.
  • To improve cover or body condition, feed a high-energy feed or supplement (High Octane Heavy Weight)
  • To help with rib and fill, feed High Octane Depth Charge.
  • To optimize muscle, help with leanness, and clean up front ends, feed High Octane Fitter 35 or High Octane Fitter 52.
  • To improve appetite, add calories, or optimize fat cover, give your pig High Octane Heavy Weight.
  • For improvements in the flank area and bottom area of the body cavity, feed High Octane Ultra Full.


What goes inside your showbox? Bring along your show stick (whip or pipe), brushes, shampoo, belt clip or safety pins to attach exhibitor number, small water hose, first aid kit, paper towels, and small towels, spray bottle, and/or pump, feeders, waterers, and manure pick.

Conditioning and Training

Training any show animal, including show pigs, starts by building trust. Start by feeding, washing, and brushing them to create positive associations. When training, use the same driving tool you plan to use in the show ring.

While training regularly is important, make sure to mix up your exercise routine to prevent your animal from falling into a rut. When you have a good handle on controlling your animal with a driving tool, incorporate obstacles for your animal to walk around.

Practice in a large and grassy location, so they can walk in big circles, improve their stamina, and take long strides. Practicing in small or confined spaces can make their pace choppy.


Brush your pig’s hair in its natural direction for at least one month and a half before show day. When washing, oil-based conditioners can attract dirt and can block pores in hot weather. However, some oil-based conditioners have citronella, a fly and mosquito deterrent.

When washing them, avoid getting water in their ears, since it can disturb their equilibrium. Trim their hooves a couple of weeks before the show. Trim their hair a few days before the show to give its coat enough time to adjust and smooth out.


On show day, dress neatly and bring boots or leather shoes to protect yourself from your animal’s foot. Bring clean and pressed jeans or slack and a button-down or collared shirt to look presentable.

In the show ring, maintain strong eye contact with the judge while occasionally checking on your pig. Maintain a distance of 10 to 15 feet between your pig and the judge. Be sure to keep your show pig between you and the judge at all times.


Stock show sheep

Selecting an Animal

When selecting your show project, ensure your lamb is level hipped and smooth-shouldered. Make sure their feet and legs sit right. Their legs should not hock in or out. In terms of muscling, look for a groove running down the lamb’s back and the size and shape of its forearm.

Feed, Supplements, and Finishing

Show lambs should be fed a double handful of high-quality alfalfa hay every day for optimal rib shape, base width, and deep fore rib. Low or moderate-quality roughage can add a belly on lambs.

Feed your show lamb at least 1 ½ to 2 inches of fiber length. Alfalfa pellets or ground hay do not have the neutral detergent fiber (NDF) needed for optimal rumen health. Consider using a medicated feed for lambs. All Honor Show Showlamb feeds have Deccox to prevent and treat coccidiosis.

Consider feeding a show lamb about 18 percent crude protein, such as Honor Show Showlamb Grower DX at least for the first 45 or 60 days of the feeding period. High-protein supplements such as High Octane Champion Drive can be helpful in reducing body condition or improving muscling. High Octane Fitter 35 is used to optimize leanness and muscle.


For a successful showing, bring your sheep trimming stand, blower, degreasing shampoo, conditioner, polish spray, slicker brush, pocket brush, show halter, show blanket, and electric clippers.

Conditioning and Training

Some people use a track and a sheepdog to run the lambs or a treadmill in a barn. A hard and fast training regimen over a long-distance walk is preferred to build stamina and get your show lambs ready for the big day. Halter training is an excellent way to train your animal to handling. When handling your lamb, handle its legs and practice leading with your hand.


Grooming practices depend on if you are showing a breeding sheep or meat lamb. Consider your show rules when fitting your lamb. Some shows require animals to not have been shorn in over a month.

Before shearing your lamb, wash it to prevent clogging up your clippers with dirt. When shearing, do it slowly and carefully and place a blanket over your animal to keep them clean for the big show.

For showing breeding sheep, you will be blocking their wool instead of shearing them. You will card and trim your animal to create a uniform look to the wool. Trim their hooves regularly to get them used to the process.


When entering the show ring, lead the lamb from the left-hand side. Small exhibitors can use a halter, while seasoned ones can lead them with their left hand under the chin and right one behind the ears.

Keep a couple of feet between you and the next animal to give judges a better view. In the rearview, stand next to the lamb that was in front of you. For a side view, the lambs are lined directly behind one another. When setting your animal, set the legs closest to the judges first.


Goats getting ready for a stock show

Selecting an Animal

Consider the differences between selecting market goats and breeding goats. When selecting a meat goat, you must consider muscling, appearance, growth potential, and structural correctness.

Visually inspect the goat and keep your eye out for kids that have a large rib cage and are wide and square. Handling the goats allows you to get a better sense of its muscle and growth potential.

Market goats should have a long and level topline, clean breast, long and clean neck that sits high on the shoulders, and a smooth shoulder blending appropriately from the neck to the forerib.

Feed, Supplements, and Finishing

To create lower fill, feed your goat High Octane Ultra Full Supplement. Give them High Octane Heavy Weight Supplement to improve feed intake, fat cover, and growth rate.

For normal growth, the type of feed depends on their starting and end weight. For instance, Commotion Goat DX is fed with a start weight of 50 pounds and an end weight of 130.


To remain competitive, you need a goat show halter, goat collar and lead, foot trimmers, goat blanket, and brushes.

Conditioning and Training

Train goats by teaching them to lead with a collar and halter. Start them on a halter to reduce the risk of choking the animal and give yourself about 4 to 6 inches of slack in the lead rope to allow your goat to stand with its head parallel to the ground. Do not give yourself enough slack to allow the goat to put its head down or step over the lead rope.


Look up whether your show requires dehorning. Consult with your local veterinarian about dehorning your goat if necessary and do it early to give your animal plenty of time to heal before the show.

Trim your goat’s hooves about one week before the show to give them time to heal. Trim the hooves flat and give the toes a cloven shape. Wash and brush them about a week before the show. Blow the goat dry by directing the hair in its natural direction.

To give your goat the best look for show day, pay attention to the goat’s leg hair. Wash, condition, and blow-dry, and use a rotor brush on a drill to pull the hair in an upward fashion.


For the best showmanship, watch the first couple of classes to identify judges and patterns used to evaluate the goats. Upon entering the ring, immediately locate the judge and make eye contact. Walk your goat with its head held high. Move at a slow and comfortable pace and identify where you need to stop to give the judges a great view.

Get Ready for Your First Livestock Fair with Wilco Farm Stores

Ready to be a part of your first livestock show experience? Get all your livestock show supplies and equipment at Wilco Farm Stores. We can help you prepare for show season by providing you with the tools you need to win first place.