Selecting a Beef Show Calf

There are many factors that go into winning in the cow show experience. (Just a note for those new to the cattle showing business - a cow show is not like a football game – in a football game you stand a 50% chance of both losing or winning – in a state level cattle show, your odds of winning could be as low as 1%). Selection is the beginning of a number of factors that come together for a calf to win a show. Therefore, selection is important.100_1694bbb

First, there are differences to consider in selection of the sex of the animal for the cow show. When selecting a steer, it is more desirable to look for heavier muscle and bone, along with certain male traits. In a heifer, more feminity is desired. In both heifers and steers, good confirmation and movement of joints/walking is a necessity.

Next, the breed may be important to some exhibitors. Follows is a quick list of some of the traits that some beef breeds bring to their offspring:

  • Angus – carcass quality, mothering
  • Hereford – mothering and range feeding
  • Limousin – increased percentage of beef cutability
  • Chianina – frame and size
  • Charolais – size
  • Simmental – milking and beef production
  • Gelbveih – carcass quality
  • Brahman – insect and heat resistance
  • Shorthorn – carcass quality and hair growth

Some exhibitors are interested in representing certain breeders in cows show. It is the best interest of the breeder to have calves do well in shows. Winning shows creates free marketing and increases the value of the breeder’s stock.

Another factor that may be important to exhibitors is the temperament of the animal. Cattle are curious creatures. I have personally seen very docile cattle moved from one farm to another and after the move, become very aggressive. In the words of one farmer, “That cow used to be easy to get along with, now she will try to outrun the word of God.” The age and experience of the exhibitor can indicate the size and temperament of the calf. For example, a very tall exhibitor looks awkward with a very short calf. Also, an older exhibitor can more easily work with a less docile animal.