The countdown is on to your county and state fair! It’s time to dial in your show feed program.

If you’re not on a show feed program yet, it is time to consider it.  There are show feeds and show supplements that will provide results almost immediately, while others may take 6 to 8 weeks before you will see results.  If you want to grow more hair on your beef animal or breeding goat, it will take approximately 90 days from the time you start the animal on the show supplement before you have that full and luscious hair coat.  Developmental programming starts at conception, so when the goal is to have your animal show ready by county fair, state fair, Beef Expo or the National Western Stock Show in January, it’s not too early to start feeding for the animal’s full potential.  No matter when you start your animals on a show feeding program, never skimp on protein, energy, vitamins or minerals if you want them to reach their full genetic potential, even if you’re just fine tuning things with a minimal amount of time before the big show.

When deciding which show feed or show supplement your animal needs, you should to decide what you want to achieve.  Does you animal need more depth, more or less fat, or more lean muscle definition? Every judge has different features that they favor over others and their opinion may change from one show to the next, so at the end of the show, you need to be happy with your animal and how you presented it.

What are your goals?

Be specific when setting your goals.  Know your end point in terms of dates, weight, condition, and how you want to place.  For starters, are your goals realistic and attainable? 

To set these goals, create a road map by asking yourself the following questions:

– Where are you starting?  

– Where are you going?  

– How are you going to get there?  

– What’s the age and weight of your animal?  

– What does he or she need to gain per day?  

– How much feed and what type of feed does he or she have to eat to gain that amount of weight?  

No matter what species you show, you must create a road map and design a plan to get to the end point.  For example, let’s say you have a beef steer that weighs 900 pounds on June 1st and you want it to weigh 1250 pounds on August 10th.  This goal of gaining 350 pounds in 70 days means the animal would have to gain an average of 5 pounds per day, which isn’t very realistic.  This animal could probably attain this goal in 100 days with the right genetics, health, environment and management.  In a case like this, I’ll do what I can to help but would suggest starting earlier next year with your road map.

Playing catch up is never easy and care must be taken to not over feed and cause your animal to go off feed, get sick, or even die.  For your animal’s safety, always remember when making major changes to a diet to do so gradually over about 14 to 28 days. 

Some important rules of thumb:

1)      Water is your most important nutrient. The more your animal drinks, the more it will eat. Water intake will also help keep your show animal cool in the summertime.  Always offer fresh, clean.

2)      Salt is your most important mineral.  Always have salt available.  Salt intake will stimulate water intake, and water intake will stimulate feed intake. 

3)      Consistency in feeding is the key to consistent intake and therefore performance.  Cattle should be fed at the same time of day every day. Increases in volume of grain should be gradual – no more than half pound per day.   Dividing daily intake over 2 or 3 feedings per day will benefit not only the animal, but also your pocketbook due to less waste.

4)      Rate of gain is predictable.  It is scientifically proven that we can control how much weight an animal will gain when we take their size and age into consideration and then provide the right amount of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals to meet their nutritional requirements.  No doubt, we are still learning and will continue to do so every day, but one thing is for sure, animals (like people) are individuals and things don’t always go according to plan.  We know performance can and will vary based on the genetic potential of the animal and the environment.

5)      Weigh your animal and weight their feed.  Growing cattle will eat approximately 2.5% to 3% of their body weight per day in combined grain and feed consumption. For example, a 1,000-pound steer can eat close to 30 pounds per day.  Eyeballing or using the same scoop for different kinds of feeds doesn’t necessarily mean you’re providing the correct amount of feed to your animal.  Different feeds have different densities.  For example, using the same scoop, a scoop-full of Precon may weigh 2.5 pounds, where as a scoop-full of show finisher will weigh 3 pounds or more, depending on how full you fill your scoop.  Also, different scoops and pails can be different sizes and can vary more than a few pounds.  One given pail of feed could vary more than 5 pound of feed morning to night just by having a different person filling it.  Inconsistencies like this will throw animals off.  Ideally, you should weigh your feed so you know they are getting the correct amount based on their body weight and desired rate of gain.

6)      Always offer good quality grass hay free choice to beef bred cattle. Dairy steers usually have adequate roughage included in their grain mix.

7)      You can enhance the look of your show animals by what you feed them and how you manage them over a given period.  

Here at Ag Partners, we have the resources and products to assist you in your show animal goals.   We have knowledgeable and helpful staff as well as a long list of show feeds and supplements to help you reach and achieve your goals.  Floor stock items will vary from location to location. With one week (or sometimes even a few days) notice, we can have products moved to the location of your choice.

Categories of show feeds include:

  • Feeds for long term growth and maintenance, including our AGP Show Grower, AGP Show Finisher, and AGP Show Heifer Developer.
  • Fill products to achieve more center body, volume, depth and dimension.
  • Fat supplements for added calories and energy for condition, cover, finish, and growth.
  • Protein supplements to promote muscle mass or burn fat to maintain and promote a fresh look.
  • Probiotics and prebiotics to stimulate gut health and promote intake to achieve maximum development and proper fill.

Best of luck with your projects this year and we look forward to seeing you at the fair!

By LeeAnn Waugh

Beef & Lifestyle Specialist

Ag Partners & Western Wisconsin Nutrition

If any of us can be of help to you in achieving your goals, please feel to contact us.  We have experts in multiple species. 

Beef:  LeeAnn Waugh  (507) 298-0820    

Sheep & Goat:  Joel Friedrich – Pine Island  (507) 356-8313

Show Swine:  Jay Voth Goodhue  (651) 923-6001

Please contact one of us for a list of show feeds and show supplements that we carry.  Availability may vary by location.