Rayner Reckons

Mar 28

What can you learn from the show ring?

Posted on Friday, March 28, 2014

How do you benchmark your livestock against other people?  Seedstock producers are fortunate to have Breedplan which provides breeders with a way of measuring and comparing the genetic potential of their animals through EBVs.  Without doubt EBVs provide a chance to assess genetic potential for the commercial traits essential to improving a beef enterprise.

So where does the show ring fit in todays commercial world?  As someone who has been involved in agricultural shows for over 25 years as an exhibitor, steward, judge and organiser, I think about this question a lot!

I reckon the show ring still provides plenty of learning for producers, either in showing their cattle or just from watching the events.  

Observing animals closely, as they walk around a ring, and as they stand still for judging, lets you get up close and personal to observe the physical characteristics which the animal has.  Questions like the shape and angle of feet and legs, the size of testicles, the placement of teats on the udder.  These physical features are as important as the genetic potential of the animal.  

Comparing animals of the same age and breed against each other gives you a chance to see how the animal has expressed their genetic potential when they receive the nutrition they require.  

Being able to compare your animals in an environment where you will be exposed to an outside opinion does challenge you!  But any challenge is also an opportunity.  It is a chance to see what your breed is doing, and to see if there is much variation in the breed type, as well as what your animals look like at the same age and weight as animals of other breeds.  

Its important not to underestimate the importance of networking with other breeders, and producers at a show.  The show ring remains an important publicity tool for your program and for the type of cattle you are seeking to breed.  Many producers are looking to make contact with breeders and to see how animals compare against each other.  Its part of the information gathering process many people undertake when they are looking for new genetics.

I find producers enjoy supporting their bull breeders at local, regional and state shows.  There is a degree of pride in seeing the breeder who supplies you with genetics, being prepared to display their animals and compete for recognition in a public arena.  

To me it, by exhibiting your livestock you are saying you are proud of your animals and are prepared to showcase them publicly which we all know can be challenging as you are exposed to public praise and public critique.

Generally most people will remember seeing you in the ring and remember the chats they have with you in the cattle sheds more than they will remember where you placed in the class.  This recognition and awareness can underpin your sale in coming months.

Judges at shows should be able to offer you an independent observation on your animals compared to their peers in a class.  True it is a subjective opinion.  But don't forget, people who haven't seen your animals before may notice something which you haven't really noticed, or because you see it so often, you take it for granted.  Most judges will be happy to chat after the event, so take the time to meet the judge and discuss their comments.  Its often the outside view that can help you piece together an idea which really benefits you in the long run.  

For me, the show, be it the local show or the Royal, is a chance to spend some time with people who are enthusiastic about breeding cattle and who have a vision for their business.  I look forward to being around passionate and enthusiastic people and I draw a lot of energy from them.

The show ring does give you a chance to showcase your animals, to benchmark their performance, and most importantly, it lets you mix with people who will share ideas and passions which you can use to boost yourself towards new goals.


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