It’s show time again. And once again we are not prepared. We are ahead of previous years I think and Morley has definitely got her game face on to win some ribbons this year.
Here is a great bit of info Mo just emailed me on getting ready to show your cattle. Better go Morley needs me to do some work with our little Bull Chip.
The Art of Grooming Show Cattle
by Tony Bruguiere
Fort Collins, Colorado
Cattle grooming ó is it an art or science? Well, it is probably a little of both, but it is
more art than you would think. Just about anybody can wash cattle, blow them dry, and
take a pair of clippers to them. But, does the result show off the best attributes of the
animal or hide its flaws? Probably not, and this is where the art of grooming show cattle
Walk through the yards or the bottom floor of the Hall of Education at the National
Western Stock Show and you will be bombarded by the whine of blowers and the hum of
clippers. There is grooming going on everywhere. It is a constant process and the goal is
to make a bull or cow that looks like any other you would see on the other side of the
fence into a fluffy rock star.
Some ranchers groom their own stock and some hire the professional groomers that are
always on hand at big stock shows like the NWSS. However the grooming is done, it is
very labor intensive. Chuck Downey of Douthit Herefords in St. Francis, Kansas, says,
ìWe usually do the rough cut back at the ranch and let the groomers finish up when we
get here. It costs about $100 per animal for the whole job.î
Amie Sertzbach of Lewisville, Ohio, is a professional groomer and she and her husband
have been raising prize Angus cattle for 19 years. Last year they had the Reserve
Champion Angus Female at the National Western Stock Show. Amie was kind enough to
share some of the techniques of professional cattle grooming.
The overall objective when grooming cattle, according to Stertzbach is, ìYou want to
give the animal the best overall conformation that you possibly can. You want to hide any
flaws that they might have and you want to emphasize all of the good points that the
animal has. For instance, if they are extremely elongated up through the neck, or they are
big hipped, stout legged, or have lots of bone, you want to groom so that you show that
off. Whatever good qualities that animal has, you want to display it to the best of its
As most show animals are sold to ranchers who use them for breeding, characteristics
that imply that the animals would do that are emphasized. As Amie puts it, ìYou want the
females to look feminine, soft, and ëladyí looking after grooming. You want the bulls to
be heavier boned and masculine.î
After the rough cut, the animalís hair is washed, conditioned, and blown dry, prior to the
final grooming. ìWhat we do is try our best to get the hair coat as shiny, as soft, and as
long as possible. The more hair you have, the more flaws you can hide.î Amie said. The variety of tools and products used for grooming is amazing. Out in the yards, there is
a trailer that sells anything you could possibly need to groom an animal. They have seven
different types of combs, an ergonomically shaped squeegee to remove excess water after
washing, a powered ëRoto Flufferí to remove guard hairs, high velocity blowers for
drying, chutes especially designed to hold the cattle during grooming, huge turbo fans to
keep a constant flow of air moving through the animals hair and more clipper and blade
combinations than you can count. There is even a special neoprene neck wrap that is used
in combination with a ësweating lotioní to make the neck skin tighter on females and give
them a more ëfeminineí look.
There is a dazzling array of chemical products such as shampoos, conditioners, adhesives
including a special one just for the tail, mousse, oil, dyes, paints in six different shades,
hair builder, hair polish, sun screen, and removal products to get all this stuff off the hair.
Stertzbach is quick to point out that, while all of these products are available, it is rare
that all of them are used. Most work that is done uses only shampoo, conditioner, oil,
adhesive, and clippers.
On the use of adhesives Amie says, ìSometimes hair may not lay just right. You want it
smooth in all areas. Itís almost like hair spray for women. It gets all the hair in the right
spot and covers any holes. Itís a lot like doing your own hair.î
In the yards and stalls you will notice that there are large fans blowing on the animals all
the time and owners using a blower on animals that are not wet. Amie shed some light on
that, ìThe more air that is moved through an animalís hair, the cleaner the hide and the
more the hair will grow. We also use hair conditioner and put a lot of oil in their hair to
make it shine and look its best.
This may seem like a lot of work, but when you consider that in 2009, the Grand
Champion Steer at the Junior Livestock Auction sold for $50,000 and $75,000 was the
sale price for the 2009 high selling Angus Bull lot, it is definitely worth the effort for
these animals to look their very best.
Animals are washed and then they are blow dried prior to the final shaping and cutting of