Stock Show Industry

Has the show industry drifted too far from the commercial industry? Is there too little emphasis on meat product and quality? 4H and FFA have more benefits to youth than one can name. Responsibility and leadership to name a few. These kids are also the livestock industry’s future. Fact is, for those kids that want to be producers, the carcass contest is reality, but all too often it seems to be taking a backseat. In the commercial industry, feedlots/large scale operations could care less how great an animal looks on the hoof. The source of income and what feeds America, is quality meat. This is not to discount the market show or showmanship or any part of the project for that matter. The market project is not truly complete until carcass results are in. Every year I used to attend the viewing and go through all the carcasses on the rail to see the ultimate product of all the hard work all summer long. From this I learned grades and quality of meat and what qualities on the hoof led to those characteristics. I would go into the next year armed and dangerous with more information to select my next animal.  To this day I use that knowledge and I am shocked by the amount of people who have no idea what marbling is or how to select quality cuts of meat.

The live show is indicative of one judge’s opinion, on one day. An animal can look completely different from one day to the next. Presentation is huge. An experienced showman can make all the difference in how an animal presents and places. Once again, this is absolutely not to discredit the live show, but have the industries drifted too far apart? My dad used to say that a show steer could be any steer, just dressed up in “his Sunday clothes.” A show animal should have the structure to be able to go into a breeding program and throw progeny that are sound enough to withstand any program. Cattle need to be sound enough to go to pasture in the hills, to hold up in the feedlot, and to keep veterinary costs down.  As I said I spent many years living and breathing cattle and hog shows, but that does not change the fact that the live show is opinion, yet the carcass contest is science. Are our show hogs getting too lean and not marketable? How much is too much?

Remember, these kids are our future. Working hair, fitting, feeding high dollar feeds are all part of the game. Competition is great and teaches some incredible lessons, but let us not forget the big picture. Take pride in your animals and your work. The show industry should be the best representation of the commercial industry. There will always be differences, but if the show industry does not keep some functionality and realism involved, then it is failing.

By guest blogger, Shelbi Perkins

My name is Shelbi Perkins. I grew up in Montana showing steers and hogs. Much to my mother’s dismay we raised hogs for about ten years as well. I currently live in Washington state and my ten-year plan includes cows and goats. My family is still largely involved in agriculture and it will always be my first love.

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