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

Friday, July 21, 2017

How Cool Are Your Animals?!

     It is 4 days until our county fair starts and we are in the midst of some high daily temperatures ranging from 95°F to 100°F. Too say the least, it is a little uncomfortable working around the fairgrounds, doing some preparations for the fair.

     The livestock also are feeling the heat, too. The responsibility of the youth taking care of animals in this heat is to try and provide an environment that keeps them as cool and comfortable as possible. The best situation is to provide a place where the animals can get some access to water and shade. Why? Water and shade are the only ways that livestock can effectively cool themselves.
     Here is an example of the possible cooling effects of shade along with ground cover. I went out on to our fairgrounds at 3 P.M on a 96°F day and took surface temperature readings of the ground on 4 different areas.


    Top Left: 139°F bare ground gravel parking lot,
Top Right: 96°F grass without shade (same as air temperature),
Bottom Left: 90°F bare ground under a shed,
Bottom Right: 80°F grass under a shade tree 

      If you could choose to lay yourself down on 80°F grass in the shade or the middle of a 139° parking lot, where would you lay down? I think that is a pretty easy answer for any of us. So where do your livestock get to lay down during the day?
     Any available shade blocks the heating effects of the sun and allows the ground to stay much cooler than being in direct sunlight. Laying on the cooler ground, helps animals to cool off.  Along with fresh water, an animal can maintain their body temperature to within a few tenths of a degree of their normal.

   Most good livestock managers understand the importance of water. It is the most important nutrient and can be a limiting factor for many body functions when an animal does not get enough to drink. But how much water does an animal need on a hot day?

     Here is a great resource form NDSU Extension, Livestock Water Requirements. From it we can use an example. A 1000 lbs. finishing steer, getting ready for the summer fair, will need a little more than 12 gallons of water on a 70°F day. When the temperature rises to 80°F, the steer needs a little more than 14 gallons. But when the temps get above 90°F, more than 20 gallons of water is needed. That is a 60% increase in water intake!

     And what is the best water? The answer is always FRESH. Fresh, clean, cool water should always be available to livestock. There should be enough water available to exceed their daily needs. It should also be changed out frequently. When you do your daily checks of your animals, and/or every time you feed, change their water and clean out their water bucket or tank.

     Let's make this simple, livestock need shade and water when it gets hot, period. As a youth, do not ignore these two things for your livestock. You are responsible for their care not matter what the weather.

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sportsmanship for the Show Ring

     In every competitive youth activity, there is an unspoken code of conduct we call sportsmanship. This includes the livestock show ring. So what if you are new to the show ring? What are some of these unspoken rules?

Personal Actions

     How a youth acts in the show ring is just as important as how well they exhibit their animal. Actions their fellow exhibitors, the judge and the public will notice need to be positive ones. I have been asked to judge a few youth shows and have been an interested party at several in my career. Here is what I remind youth to think about in the show ring:
  • Be Pleasant - You do not have to be overly happy but do not be grumpy. Act like you want to be in the show ring.
  • Be Polite - Use basic manners with the people around you. Say "yes sir," "yes ma'am," "no sir," "no ma'am," "excuse me," "thank you" and "I'm sorry."
  • Be Helpful - Take care of yourself and your animal, but if another exhibitor needs some help, offer it and help out.
  • Be Honest - when showing or during showmanship, if you do not know the answer to a question asked by a judge, say "I do not know." Making up an answer, especially one that the judge will know is wrong, is not going to help you.
  • Be a Good Winner - When you win or place high in your class, be a good winner. You can show you are excited, but don't show out.
  • Be a Good Loser - If things do not go your way, it is okay to show some disappointment, but do not blame, do not throw a fit, and do not take it out on your animal or the people who help you.
  • Shake Hands - Win or lose, shaking hands shows you are respectful. Shake hands with the judge as you leave the show ring. Shake hands with your fellow exhibitors, especially the winners.

Exhibiting Fairly

     In the show ring, how you exhibit also follows a code of conduct. The idea is to be competitive, and still be fair with your fellow exhibitors. Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Take Care of Your Animal- If you think you need to do something for a fellow exhibitor don't. In the show ring, each exhibitor is responsible for their animal. Even if that exhibitor is your sibling, friend or fellow club member, helping may be viewed as "team work". Team work is not fair in the show ring.
  • Do Not Touch Another Animal- It is tempting to move another exhibitors animal to either help them or to get them out of your way, but it is not the right thing to do in the show ring. The exception would be things like an escaped sheep, goat, calf or fighting pigs. But be careful. Helping and losing control of your animal may make it worse.
  • Do Not Take Someone's Place In Line - If you want to be the first in the ring, then get to the gate early. If you want to be last, hang back. If you want to go in with a fellow exhibitor, then stay together.
  • Follow Directions - If a judge or ring steward asks you to do something, then follow the direction. You may not know why they want you to do it, but it may be for your benefit.

Be Ethical

     The hardest thing for a youth exhibitor to face is standing up to unethical show ring practices. No matter what the unethical action is, or how severely unethical it is, the youth will be the one held responsible. Unethical actions are cheating.

     When an adult, like a parent, breeder or volunteer tells a youth to go ahead and do something unethical, it is the responsibility of the youth to say no. This is hard for a youth. They are taught to hopefully listen to adults in authority, but this is part of the growth that goes with exhibiting.

     A youth should feel empowered to say, "I don't want to show that way." "It is cheating." "It is not fair." If they need someone to back them up, that's great. A youth should go find an adult or maybe even an older exhibitor to be their moral support when they confront the unethical person. Win or lose, unethical actions have no place in youth livestock shows.

     For our area, the county fairs are about to begin. I hope your experience at the show is a good one, and you have success with your projects.  Just remember to be ethical, be competitive but most of all have fun.

     Youth exhibitors are the face and the future of the livestock industry in the United States. Thank you for all your hard work and commitment to your livestock projects.

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

Friday, July 7, 2017

Show Ring Style - Making a Good Impression

     I will not profess to being a style guru, but as someone who has judged in the show ring and stood along the fence at many more shows, I can say the first impression counts. In an ideal world, the attire of an exhibitor would be completely ignored and the animals would be judged on their merits and presentation alone. But let's face it, the animal and the exhibitor are a pair. The way the exhibitor presents themselves can have an influence on the judge. It may also affect the exhibitor's ability to present the animal. Without getting into specifics of fashion, there are some things that exhibitors should keep in mind to help present themselves and their animals.

     There are a few livestock shows that have a required dress code to try and level the playing field when it comes to attire. These dress codes try to prevent unintentionally influencing judges by having exhibitors appear in as similar attire as possible. Some provide a shirt, require some type of official dress, or certain colors of clothing to be worn. This can help, but other accessories and personal style choices can still cause a judge to be swayed. Why? As people, we are drawn to things that are familiar to us, like style of clothing. If the exhibitor dresses in a manner the judge sees as familiar, it can be a positive for the exhibitor. Styles that seem unfamiliar or even odd to the judge can make a negative impression.

     How should an exhibitor dress? Here are basic guidelines of styles for young ladies and men that would not create a bad impression.

Young Ladies:
  • Top - The preferred top would be a long sleeve button up shirt. It is sometimes a little harder to find these for young ladies, so shop early or online. These shirts need to be pressed and wrinkle free. Tops with straps, exposed shoulders, off the shoulders, too loose, too tight or too flowing would be distracting. I would further suggest any extras, like fringe and sequence, be limited. They can be distracting to your animal. For example, I have seen goats and lambs chewing on shirt fringe!
  • Pants - For most shows, a clean, wrinkle free pair of dark color jeans in new condition is best. No holes, rips or excessively faded ones. They should fit appropriately, not too tight, not baggy either. 
  • Shoes - Closed toed, leather shoes like boots, chukkas or other sturdy footwear are best. Mainly it provides safety from livestock stepping on your toes, but also provides proper traction while walking in the show ring. Now they do not have to be plain, but they must be clean and in good condition.
  • Accessories - Belts, jewelry and other accessories may be included in your personal style. Be sure that these items do not cause added distraction or cause problems when showing.
  • Hair - Up, out of the face with hairpins, clips, pony tails, ribbons or headbands. Young ladies who are constantly having to move hair out of their face are distracting, especially those who like to flip their hair by hand, or by flipping their head. Hair up can also be cooler to the exhibitor as the stress and work of exhibiting in the show ring tends to make you feel hot.
  • Cosmetics - This is a very personal choice, but the point I will make is be sure makeup or other cosmetics are not distracting.
Young Men:
  • Top - The preferred is a full button up, long sleeve shirt. Make sure they are pressed and wrinkle free. In certain situations it could be a golf style shirt with a collar, but No T-shirts Ever!
  • Pants - Clean, wrinkle free pair of dark color jeans, without any holes, rips or excessive wear are the best. Fit should also be appropriate. No extra tight or extra baggy jeans.
  • Shoes - Closed toed, leather shoes like boots, chukkas or other sturdy footwear are best. Again they provided safety from livestock stepping on your toes, and proper traction in the show ring. Make sure they are clean and in good condition.
  • Accessories - Belts, jewelry and other accessories may also be included in your personal style. Hat, ball cap, or cowboy hat, should not be part of a youth exhibitors style. Hats can cover the face similar to the way hair in the face can.
  • Hair - Keep it neat and out of the face as well. Young men are not as particular sometimes about hair, but hat hair is not the best either. Take time to groom, brush, comb or whatever is necessary to look presentable. For older exhibitors, this also includes grooming facial hair.
         Another thing to remember is keeping those show clothes clean. A basic hanging garment bag is a great piece of luggage to have at the show. It helps keep show clothes, clean and hanging wrinkle free in the sometimes dirty, wet and windy show barn.

     If you wonder what styles are being worn in the show ring, take time to look through a livestock show magazine or watch a youth livestock show online. No matter where in the country you show, styles will be similar. Take note on what you like and make it work for you. Just make sure it is appropriate, clean and not distracting. The best source for style tips might be the top senior showmanship girls and guys in your community. You do not need to perfectly copy their style, but they can show you what they wear and give some good peer to peer advice.

     Thanks to JoLynn Midcap, Extension Associate in Yuma County, Colorado and Kindra Plumb, Extension Associate in Philips County, Colorado for their input on this post as 4-H leaders and show moms.

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