By Joshua Lucero
It’s almost time for the fair and local youths and their families are getting their animals ready for show.
Show participants spend their summer caring for and preparing their animals for judging at county and state fairs.
4-H and Future Farmers of America members along with Janelle Duffey, the Curry County Extension agent for 4-H, explained what it takes to raise a livestock animal for show.
Here are five things to know about showing livestock.
• Each animal has a different personality.
Sheep, pigs, goats, steer, and heifers all have a unique personality and learning to work with each animal is part of the challenge.
Some animals are skittish while others may be defiant or arrogant. It’s the student’s job to learn how to work with each animals personality in order to produce the best specimen for show.
Ty Mitchell, who will be showing sheep at the 2014 Curry County Fair, said, “I like getting to know their personalities. Each sheep has a different one and it can be hard to let go of them after you’ve gotten to know them.”
• Taking care of a show animal is a daily activity.
Show animals require a lot of attention and work to be in top shape come show time.
Students must visit and work with their animal at least two to three hours a day for exercise, feeding and training.
Each animal must be shown how to walk, stand, and behave the way judges expect them to, according to Chance Mitchell, 15.
• Deciding on an animal for show can be the most difficult part of the process.
Some animals, like heifers, must be chosen for show when they are bought.
Students who buy a heifer to show must choose a cow that has the traits judges are looking for from the start and raise the animal in a way that brings out the desired results.
Animals such as sheep are chosen for each show after they have been trained and conditioned.
The sheep are chosen depending on the preference of the show’s judge. “Showing is a lot of fun, I like the competition” said Kyan Huysman, 10.
• Preparing an animal is like training an athlete.
Show animals are exercised regularly to show the best traits of their species.
The type of feed the animals are given is changed depending on the desired effect.
“Judges are looking to make sure they (cows) have good feet and legs and they look at the length and depth of the cow.” said Kansas Huysman, 16.
• Competitors see how hard they worked the day of the show.
Judges are looking for animals that are market ready.
Judges examine the quality of animal and how well the animal behaves.
Judges look at muscle, fat, cleanliness and structure to determine the animal’s market readiness.
Chance Mitchell said, “Picking an animal for judges can be difficult. Some judges like muscle and others are looking for structure.”