Welcome

Welcome to The Blue Ribbon - Youth Livestock Projects blog. The purpose of this blog is to provide information, advice and suggestions for improving youth livestock projects from multiple sources. The information, advice and suggestions in this blog come from professional agricultural educators who have multiple years of experience working with youth and their livestock projects. If you ever have a question or a particular subject you would like addressed, please feel free to contact Scott Stinnett via email, or leave a comment and we will do our best to assist or address the subject. Should the question or subject be more technical, we will help direct you to an appropriate resource for the best possible answer.

Thank you,

Scott Stinnett and The Blue Ribbon Contributors



Thursday, June 15, 2017

What's in My Showbox - Lambs

     Showing lambs seems like it should be pretty simple. They are shown slick sheared and without any kind of tack. The reality is, to be ready to show a lamb, a lot of effort and grooming goes into making them presentable and show ready. There are a few things that are necessary and used every show day.

     Here is my packing list of items to take to the show for one lamb and the reason why I take them.

Halters and Tack
  • 1 Rope Halter - This is the one used everyday to walk and exercise your lamb. I like the ones that have a snap hook on the end so I can quickly hook and unhook them to a fence.
  • Lamb Tubes - These stretchy body tubes help keep a lamb warm since they have been sheared. Pack several to either layer on your sheep if it is cold, or to trade out if the tubes become dirty or snagged and ripped on fencing.
  • Lamb Blanket - A blanket can be used as a warm layer, but the best reason is to keep dust from settling on your clean sheep.
  • Muzzle - If allowed at a show, a muzzle is used to prevent nervous or bored sheep from eating shavings or chewing on wood. Make sure the muzzle will allow them to drink water through the muzzle.
  • Drench Gun - This tool is used to help sheep drink liquid if they are becoming dehydrated. Some shows do not allow them, so check first before you drench a lamb.
  • Feed Pans - Always bring your own feed pan. The ones that clip or hang from the fence are best.
  • Water Bucket - Always bring your own water bucket. A clean water bucket will encourage your sheep to drink at the show.
  • 4 Safety Pins - Some larger shows make exhibitors wear a large paper number on your body so they can more easily keep track of who is showing. Keep safety pins in the showbox just in case you have to where a number.
Washing Supplies
  • 1 Mild Soap - You do not need multiple shampoos, and conditioners at a show. One good mild soap that can remove dirt is all you need. The most convenient ones are the foaming soaps, but they also require a special applicator that goes on the end of a hose.
  • Whitening Shampoo - Most sheep shown are white bodied. A whitening shampoo or soap helps to brighten the white color and makes them appear cleaner than with soap alone.
  • 1 Water Hose - You need a hose that is long enough to go all the way around your lamb. Some shows supply hoses in their wash racks, but not all. The hose can also be used to fill water buckets as well.
  • 1 Spray Nozzle - I like a nozzle I can shut off while you scrub your lamb and the water stream can be adjusted from a gentle shower to rinse with, to a narrow stream for powering dirt off the hooves.
  • Bath Towels - Sheared sheep get cold quickly when being washed. Have several bath towels ready to dry your sheep off quickly. When they feel dry to the touch, cover them with a dry towel as you leave the wash racks to absorb that last bit of moisture and help them retain some body heat.
  • Plastic Brush - Sheep breeds with wool in the legs may require a little scrubbing to get out some caked on dirt and manure. Brushes with large bristles, sometimes called message brushes, allow you to get the caked dirt out without pulling out leg hairs. 
  • Fungus Wash or Treatment - Wool fungus is the most common problem that can be picked up at a show. Use a fungus wash or treatment after the show is over, before you load lambs back in the trailer to take home (also put on clean lamb tubes). This can help prevent taking wool fungus back to your barn.
Grooming and Fitting Supplies
  • Lamb Stand - Lambs are relatively short and a lamb stand lifts them up to a height that is easier for an exhibitor to groom their lamb. Steal or aluminum is up to you and your budget.
  • Hoof Trimmers - Most show sheep live in a environment that is not rocky enough to keep their hooves worn down. Use hoof trimmers to remove excess toe and sidewall of the hoof. Trimming hooves will also prevent the possibility of lameness from setting in due to extra long hooves.
  • Large Clippers - To shear sheep for the show, large "sheep head" clippers do the best and fastest job. Most exhibitors use "surgical" combs and blades with their clippers to remove as much wool as possible.
  • Small Clippers - These can be used for two reason. First to do touch up clipping on the body. Second to clip and trim wool on the legs into a desirable shape that give the appearance of larger cannon bone.
  • Wool Card or Comb - This is used to puff out and tease wool on the legs, making it easier to clip and trim into shape.
  • Hand Shears or Scissors - If you need to clip a little bit of leg wool or hair, and do not want or cannot plug in clippers, these are a quick and quiet way to get it done.
  • Coat Conditioner - When wool is sheared and washed, it loses its natural oil called lanolin. Conditioners put an oily finish back on the sheep's wool and body.
     This is the basic set of supplies I would recommend keeping in a showbox. These supplies and equipment will fit in a showbox that is relatively small. It is okay to take extra supplies and equipment, but these are the things I know will be used at every show.


Scott Stinnett
Extension Associate
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Importance of Saying Thank You

     This post is not directly helpful to raising an animal, but is more about the importance of being thankful and how to show it. I do not know a youth who has been able to successfully complete all the task and chores of a livestock project without the help of someone else. This help may come from a sibling, parent, adult volunteer, sponsor, extension agent or FFA advisor.

     Simply saying thank you is the easiest way to start showing appreciation. Make sure the person you are thanking knows why you appreciate them. I encourage youth to start with an in person thank you. Look the person in the eye, shake their hand and tell the "Thank you for ...", and thank them for what they did for you. If you know the person well, like a family member or close family friend, a hug might even be appropriate and well received.

     Thank you cards are the next best way to show appreciation. This is a little more formal and takes a little more effort, but for the price of a card, a stamp and a few minutes of your time, a thank you card can go a long way. You might send a thank you card to someone you might not have the opportunity to meet, such as a person or business that sponsored an award at a livestock show or contest. A thank you card would be appropriate to send to someone who has been helpful over a long period of time. I have known of youth who even write thank you cards to their parents for the years of support and encouragement.

     A gift might be appropriate for someone who has gone above and beyond in support of a you. Gifts do not need to be expensive or even store bought. Homemade and handmade gifts are always well appreciated. Think about saying thank you with a card and some homemade cookies or other sweets. A framed picture of the you and your project, or you and the person being thanked helps mark the time spent together and can be a great reminder of the your appreciation of them. Some youth even "retire" or give special items from their livestock projects to show their appreciation. Maybe it is the first halter from the first calf they had shown, an award banner or buckle from a show where the person's help was a great part of the success.


Thank you cards are a simple, yet formal way to let someone
know how much they are appreciated.

    The main point is to make that extra effort to say thank you to someone who has made an extra effort to help you. Learn to shake hands and say thank you. Learn to write a thank you card. These two simple things can become great habits for you to learn and carry over into adult life.



Scott Stinnett
Extension Associate
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension

Friday, May 12, 2017

What's in My Show Box - Pigs

   It is overwhelming the amount of supplies available to show a pig. Some products have very specific purposes, and some are more trendy than useful. Some items are great to have at home for grooming and working with your pig, but there is no need to load the whole barn to go to a pig show.

     Here is a packing list of items to take to a pig show and the reasons why you should take them.

Feeding and Nutrition
  • Feed - Bring all the feed you are feeding at home. Pre-measure the amounts and bring enough to feed for the duration of the show plus a little extra. This will keep you from bringing full bags and containers of feeds.
  • Supplements - If you supplement at home, supplement at the show. Pigs can be very sensitive to diet changes. Removing a supplement for a show, may cause some problems by being missing in your pigs diet or when you get home and re-introduce it.
  • Feed measuring cup - You need to know how much your pig is eating. Bringing your measuring cup from home will keep you from guessing and accidentally feeding too much or too little.
  • Feeder - Bring your own feeder. Sharing or borrowing a feeder is a bad way to expose your pig to a new illness. Be sure and clean the feeder after you leave the show as well.
  • Waterer - Bringing a water bucket or a tube style waterer is just as important as a feeder. Do not share or borrow one and clean it after you leave the show.
  • Beet pulp and Oats - These feeds are great for a pig with an upset stomach. If a pig gets a little stressed at the show and goes off feed, wet oats and beet pulp are a great solution to settle your pig's stomach.
Bedding
  • Shavings - Shavings would be the best bedding for swine, especially if the show is held on a hard floor like concrete. Bring at least 2 bags per pig, per day. If you are staying several days, bring plenty or find out if shavings can be purchased at the show. Shavings should be cleaned or replaced regularly to remove manure or urine.
  • Straw  - Straw is great bedding when it is cold, but is not always allowed since it is hard to sweep up. One half of a bale per pig is great to let them burrow into to stay warm. Straw should be clean and free of any seeds or weeds. Those can cause skin irritation.
Washing and Grooming Supplies
  • Short water hose - Not every wash rack provides a hose. Bring one for washing and filling water.
  • Spray nozzle - This will help you control water flow and not blast you pig with high pressure. You can also turn the water off while scrubbing in soap and conditioners.
  • Shampoo - Shampoo is for cleaning the body. Use a shampoo that is labeled for pigs. Pigs have sensitive skin so using something else may cause an irritation.
  • Large towels - After washing and rinsing, pigs need to be dried, especially if the show barn is a little chilly. Dry is warmer than wet. Get them dry quickly and then a dry towel can be used to keep the drafts and dust off of them while going back to the pens or trailer.
  • Waterless shampoo - If wash racks are not available or you need to do a quick spot cleaning, a waterless shampoo works great.
  • Small towels and wash cloths - These are great for a quick wiping off of skin conditioners like baby oil or wiping away, mud, manure or other things that get on your pig.
  • Baby oil - Pigs get dry skin especially in the wintertime or after a bath. Baby oil can help to put moisture back into their skin.
  • Skin and hair conditioners - These products give your pig a shine or sheen and help make the skin and hair healthier.
  • Grill brick - Use this like a pumice block to gently remove dry, scaly skin. Remember the key, gently. Don't scrub too hard with it.
Show Tack
  • Show whip or pipe - These are used to help guide or drive your pig in the show ring. Find one that is the right length to fit you (should allow you to reach you pig's head when you stand behind them). Be sure to use the same type you practiced showmanship at home.
  • Brushes - Brushes are used to clean off what can get on your pig in the show ring. Brushes can either be small enough to hold in your hand while showing or have a handle to slide in your jean's pocket.
  • Safety pins or belt clip - If the show requires a showman number, safety pins or a belt clip are great for holding your paper number.
Paperwork
     Depending on the show you are going to and where it is located, these pieces of paperwork may be needed.
  • Health papers - Many states require a set of health papers before pigs can be gathered together at a show. Be sure to check with the show and with your veterinarian to get the right health papers before you head out.
  • Ownership papers/Registration papers - Keep original copies of sales receipts and registration papers with you at the show. Since swine can look very similar and have the same ear notches, papers to prove ownership are the best way to prevent any question about ownership.
     I hope this list helps you put together the tack and equipment you might need at your first few shows. There may be some things you may want to add or delete from this list as you start going to shows.

      I want to thank my friend Jeff Spake, agricultural education teacher and FFA Advisor in Arnett, Oklahoma, for helping put this blog together. Jeff has been involved with showing and raising swine projects since he was a 4-H member and continues to help his FFA members and local 4-H youth with their swine projects.

Scott Stinnett
Extension Associate
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension

Monday, March 13, 2017

What's In My Showbox - Beef Cattle

     Many first time beef cattle exhibitors get overwhelmed by the amount of tack and supplies available. There are so many products with very specific purposes, and some items that are more trendy than useful. Some items are great to have at home for grooming and working with your calf, but there is no need to load the whole barn into the trailer. There are really a few things that are necessary and used every show day.

     Here is my packing list of items to take to the show for one calf and the reason why I take them.

Halters and Show Tack
  • 1 Rope Halter - This is the one used everyday to walk and work with your calf.
  • 1 Rope Neck Tie - Use this when cattle are being bedded down as a back up in case your rope halter comes untied.
  • 1 Show Halter - Get an adjustable leather halter with a chain chin piece on the lead. Halters come in different sizes and colors. Check the fit at home and adjust it before packing it for the show. Choose a color that matches your calf. Black halters for black calves, brown or reddish brown for red calves and white for solid white calves.
  • 1 Show Stick - Bring a show stick that is the right length for you and is in the best condition. I do not recommend some of the fancy painted or rhinestone covered ones I have seen. A straight stick that is a solid color that complements your calf is my choice to pack in the showbox.
  • 4 Safety Pins - Some larger shows make exhibitors wear a large paper number on you body so they can more easily keep track of who is showing. Keep safety pins in the showbox just in case you have to where a number.
Washing Supplies
  • 1 Adhesive Remover - After a full fitting, getting adhesives and paint to wash out is tough. Adhesive removers help break down the sticky stuff to make it easier to wash out. Use it before soap and water.
  • 1 Mild Soap - You do not need multiple shampoos, conditioners and detanglers at a show. One good mild soap that can remove dirt, adhesives and touch up paint is all you need. A good liquid dish soap is my favorite for its ability to remove everything we can put in a calf's hair.
  • 1 Water Hose - You need a hose that is long enough to go all the way around your calf and still reach the hydrant. Some shows supply hoses in their wash racks, but not all. The hose can also be used to fill water buckets as well.
  • 1 Spray Nozzle - I like a nozzle I can shut off while you scrub your calf and the water stream can be adjusted from a gentle shower to rinse with, to a narrow stream for powering dirt off the hooves.
Grooming and Fitting Supplies
  • 1 Regular Comb - The regular comb is used to pull up every hair and remove loose hair, especially right after a bath. I also take it into the wash rack and use the smooth back side as a water scraper to remove excess water.
  • 1 Fluffer Comb - The fluffer comb is used for just that, to fluff hair dry hair.
  • 1 Blow Dryer - Wet calf hair likes to stay laying down. Getting it dry and fluffed up is important after a trip to the wash rack. The blower can also quickly remove dust and shavings when calves have been laying down.
  • 1 Foam or Mousse - Foam or Mousse is used on the body hair to help it stay fluffed up and not lay down as easy.
  • 1 Light Adhesive - Light adhesive allows hair on the legs and tailhead to be combed into place.
  • 1 Adhesive for Leg Hair - Leg hair adhesive holds these hairs very stiff. It dries hard and allows for trimming and shaping with clippers or scissors. When dry it usually appears lighter color than most dark calves' hair.
  • 1 Touch Up Paint - Touch up paint is used to bring the right color back to areas of the body where adhesives have dried. Choose the correct color to match your calf. DO NOT use regular spray paint from the hardware store! Use a paint formulated for livestock.
  • 1 Light Oil or Sheen - These products give calf hair a shiny, healthy look. They also return some moisture to hair after a soapy wash.
  • 1 Large Clippers - Calves should have the majority of their haircut done at home, but for touching up large areas, like the ribs, belly or even the legs, they make it easier.
  • 1 Small Clippers - Small clippers are for the detail trimming where the big clippers are harder to handle. Touch up clipping on the neck, tailhead or legs can be quick and easy with small clippers.
     This is the basic set of supplies I would recommend keeping in a beef cattle showbox. These supplies and equipment will fit in a showbox that is relatively small compared to what you may see at a state fair, or national show. Outside of the blow dryer, everything could fit into two, 5-gallon buckets. It is okay to take extra supplies and equipment, but these are the things I know will be used at every show.


Scott Stinnett
Extension Associate
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension