While it may not directly garner points from the judges, animal hair quality can help make a good impression in the show ring.
A couple of Ozarks cattlemen with plenty of experience in showing and judging offered a few tips for growing better show hair.
Good hair begins with good nutrition, said Jim Pipkin of Clearwater Farm in Greene County. Jim started showing when he was 4 years old and now travels extensively as a judge for most of the major shows across the country, including Denver, Colo., Louisville, Ky., Fort Worth, Texas and Kansas City, Mo.
“Good animal hair that is healthy and shiny starts with the nutrition package,” Jim said.
Opinions on exactly what that should be are as varied as the individuals who show, said Clint Hunter, a Polk County Angus producer who has been showing cattle since 1992.
“We use a feed we have designed,” he said. “But everyone has their own opinions. You just need good, balanced rations that meet the needs of the animal and the goals of where you want that animal to be.”
Jim suggested a ration with protein levels of about 12.5 to 13.5 percent, but one that is not too “hot.” That is especially important in the summer, when hot weather and higher body temperatures cause animals to shed when your goal is a thicker coat that shows better. Jim said he uses a ration with less corn – a gain that cranks up the digestive process and raises body temperature – and more easily digestible components such as oats and soybean pellets.
Both men stressed the importance of keeping cattle cool during hot weather.
“All cattle will grow hair in the winter,” Jim said. “In the summer, spring and fall, we try to provide fans and misters to keep environmental and body temperatures down.”
However, Jim cautioned against keeping animals in too-cool conditions in the summer.
“Those kept in a cooler will shuck hair pretty fast (when taken out in the heat),” he said.
Clint keeps his show cattle in a barn and keeps them cool with fans to promote hair growth.
Clint and Jim agreed that daily attention to cleanliness and grooming are essential.
“A good hair coat sure can make those cattle look better, but you gotta know how to work with it and how to clip it,” Jim said.
During the warmer months, that means a rinse every day. In the winter, rinsings should be as frequent as the weather allows, Clint said.
Once or twice a week, the rinsing can include soap or shampoo, and using a conditioner will help keep the hair more manageable, said Clint.
The next step is to apply the brush, regularly and vigorously, which promotes hair growth and trains the hair to go the way you want it to, he said. “It gets everything going in one direction,” he said, adding that brushing forward will make hair appear fuller and the cattle look more well-proportioned.
“Lots of brushing,” Clint said. “Brushing, in my opinion, would be key.”
Judges often have a limited time to examine and evaluate – and a healthy, clean, lush, show-quality coat can help give a good first impression that leads to a second look.


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