Archive for June 2018

Does Your Dairy Barn Have A Glass Ceiling?

Glass ceilings for women in business can be a sensitive topic.  That it is a topic at all is the biggest confirmation that gender bias exists. When I approached the idea of glass ceilings in the dairy barn, I had to be prepared to discern what is historical, what is 2018 trendy and what, if anything is true? The biggest problem, as I see it, is that in today’s instant social media world, Information is making headlines that may have little or nothing to do with real life situations. How many of the self-proclaimed authorities on women in agriculture have actual personal experience to back up their rants. How does gender bias limit dairy success? Who is responsible? Where does gender bias begin?

“What is Blatant Gender Bias? What is Unconscious Gender Bias?”

Blatant Gender Bias occurs when there is no attempt to be politically correct. Unconscious Gender Bias puts up many of the same hurdles, however it refers to the stereotypes, both negative and positive, that exist in our subconscious and affect our behavior, without us being fully aware of it.

Here are 4 examples:

  • Blatant: “Men should make all the decisions on the dairy farm.” Unconscious: “Farm women are better suited for desk work. Women are also good at looking after calves.”
  • Blatant: “Farming is a man’s world. Women haven’t got what it takes to handle cows.” Unconscious: “Dairy jobs have nothing to do with bias. They arise from safety issues.”
  • Blatant: “Women today are constantly shaking up the status quo. What’s next? Will they demand pink tractors and trucks?” Unconscious Bias: “The 24/7 nature of dairy decision making, is too dirty and too stressful for women.”
  • Blatant: “Women are not welcome in the rough world of dairy farming. I shouldn’t be forced to tone it down just because women are present.”             Unconscious Bias: “The hearty backslapping and banter that are normal among men on the farm are not suitable for women.”

“Dairy Wives Are Dairy Partners”

That phrase sounds empowering at face value. Furthermore, it’s fair to say that most 24/7 dairy managers, when asked if women can do the same jobs that men do would quickly answer, “Absolutely!” However, when I posed that question to my partner at The Bullvine his answer was. “Well, behind the scenes, the answer might be closer to, ‘No’.” I huffed, “Seriously? On any given day what jobs on a dairy farm can’t a woman do?” Then began the explanations. “I know where you’re coming from but you can’t change people overnight!” Apparently fifty years won’t change some people either. Please note that every time I typed farmer in this article, it had to be changed because it only referenced men!! It’s quite likely that stereotypes go both ways.

“Is the Dairy Door Closed to Women?”

When a new consultant, veterinarian or cold calling ag supplier comes to the door it’s not likely that you hear, “Hi. I’m here to speak to your wife.” When you ask “Why?” do they reply, “I’m looking to talk with the decision maker.” With the wife changed to husband and “Hello” to “Goodbye” this is a regular door-closing experience at some stuck-in-the- past dairy business exchanges. Phone calling is even worse? When I try to answer problems, I am often not even trusted to deliver a message.  Questioners that don’t recognize teamwork, partnerships or, at the very least, gatekeepers don’t get the opportunity to join the team, make a sale or share a business relationship. 

“It’s Time for a Gender Reality Check”

Having a good working staff is key to dairy profitability. In actual fact, gender doesn’t influence the ability to do good work.  Three people doing the same job may have distinctly different outcomes. Not all of them will share the same level of success. This could be due to training, work ethic, decision-making or time management. It’s the input that determines success.  Bad outcomes and poor decisions can happen, regardless of gender.

“Does Gender Progress Mean Makeover Or Takeover?”

It’s undeniable that the size, management and future viability of North American dairy farms is being challenged and many may not make a successful transition into the future.  To do so will require that we keep open minds when it comes to technology, genetics, nutrition and, yes, leadership.  There isn’t any room for fear of change based on stereotypical male-female roles. A look at progressive and thriving dairy operations is a clear way to observe that university graduates are still passionate about farming and still coming home after their exposure to modern farm education.  From where I sit right now, the dairy operation next door is growing and thriving under the management of one of the sisters. What was once an unusual choice, is easily recognized as the one that works. Next generation farming can’t afford to bypass 50% of the farm-raised gene pool. Our biases need a makeover to recognize that it’s more important that farmers are focused on the challenging and engaging nature of the work.  Dedication to production will take any dairy much further than passive-aggressive gender discrimination can.

“Male-Female Progress Also Needs Technology-Automation Progress”

If we are talking about biases we can’t ignore the public bias against larger farms, dairy technology and 21st century animal breeding practices. Once again, the shrinking demographic of farmers is being affected by the biases of a consuming public that is two or more generations from an actual connection to the farm.  It seems ironic that the farmers who are idolized in historical reference and romantic family memories are the same ones who are vilified for working to provide food. The contradiction of wanting to avoid “large” and at the same time “provide enough” is not seen as the challenge it really is. Being met with consumers who doubt and challenge can be crushing and it too rises from biases.  The farmer doesn’t “take a husband” in the nursery rhymes and Old Macdonald didn’t have robotic milkers.

“What Does Gender Equality Look Like?”

Nothing is either black or white.  There is no prescription for dairying that makes decision-making clear cut.  It doesn’t only change from year to year it changes on a daily basis. Having said that, there are many out-of-date discriminatory practices that are holding farm success back. How many of these questions get a “Yes!” on your progressive dairy operation?

  1. Are women in the family expected to do work for free doing what would be a paid position for a hired man?
  2. Is there quid pro quo? If there is a crisis in the daycare side of the dairy, does the husband pitch in indoors?
  3. If there are free tickets to a seminar, symposium or training session, is it always the man who goes?
    For many families in the dairy business, it is not simply finances and cattle rearing at stake.  It is the livelihood and legacy of the family.  The industry has changed.  Social interaction has changed.  However mutual respect and planning for the future demands equality in more than name only.
  4. Is your answer “Yes! That’s how we operate!”

“Name Calling.  How Important is it on Dairy Farms?”

In business, we learn much about the respect for the position from the name that it is given. “The wife” dishonors all the contributions made in the same way that “the girl” does, when applied to office workers.  When did you last hear an office authority figure say, “I’ll get my boy to look after that for you~? And, when some farm service, supply or consultant vehicle drives in the farm lane have you ever remarked, “Oh.  He has a girl with him.”  It’s a judgment made solely on gender. Whether it’s an office in a high rise, or a team in the milk house, it’s always better to have the best people doing their best work.  This goes beyond gender. After all, an all-male team can be overwhelmed by bad weather, health issues or equipment breakdowns and we don’t resort to,” I knew a man couldn’t handle that.”

“Women’s Days Are Numbered”

A simple way to know if there is a glass ceiling in the dairy barn is just to do a headcount.  Dairy farmers are quite comfortable working with an all-woman bovine production crew.  But when it comes to female team members the numbers are still counted on one or two hands.  We have one female dairy nutritionist.  Our A.I. company has two women.  We have a female breed association President.  Now what are the male numbers associated with those positions?

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Glass ceilings whether they are in the barn, the business or the board room automatically limit the full potential for success.  No one is perfect because of their gender.  No one fails for that reason either. There is no doubt that we rise by lifting others and when we work together, we get the best of both worlds. We should always inspire the best to rise to the top. 




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Milk Producers Want To Know: “What Drives People To Drink?”

There was a time when milk producers confidently positioned themselves as producers of the healthiest beverage on the planet. Milk producers didn’t fight battles defending the production or the breakdown of components. However, today, trends in fat consumption and diet fads have significantly impacted consumer choices. Today the fight is on to determine what motivates people to quench their thirst.

The battle for The Beverage Bottle

A recent article discussed the idea that water has now become milk’s biggest competitor. Michael Dykes, CEO of International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), reported water consumption as follows: “The North American bottled water market was expected to reach 391 billion litres by 2017” To put that into perspective, consider that, in 2007, single-serve water consumption was recorded at 212 billion litres. As these numbers became a reality, it has also become common to see people with bottled water in hand everywhere you go. Public speakers, church pastors, business leaders and club members have water within reach at all times.  Although many of our food choices are driven by price, the beverage industry points out that consumers are choosing the expensive bottled water over the water they could drink directly from the taps in their homes: “It is calculated by drinking two litres a day from the tap would cost $1.50 a year compared to more than $2800 to do the same with single-served bottle water.”

Conscientious Consumers Are Drinking to Their Health

Whether it’s water, milk or the latest speciality drink, there is probably a health component that is luring consumers to choose one over the other.  Flip through a magazine or recall the latest TV commercial and you can probably repeat the “punch line” or picture that celebrates milk products that now contain a health-desired ingredient.  New market demographics are being reached by milk products that promote ultra-filtered milk that has extra protein. That is the case with Fairlife (a product marketed through Coke Cola partnership) in the USA. 

Where Does Milk Fit into The Beverage Game Of Choice?

Dairy producers work hard 24/7 to produce healthy nutritious dairy foods.  Having said that, once milk leaves the farm, the beverage industry takes over, and milk becomes just one of many players competing in the high stakes game of consumer choices.

Before you read any further, get yourself something to drink. What did you choose?  What options are in your refrigerator? In your pantry? Besides your favourite chair? How many of us are holding milk or a dairy drink in our hands?

How Old Are Milk Drinkers?

There was a time when milk drinkers were automatically categorized as predominantly babies and growing children. Now there are target markets in all age groups.  One of the largest group is the Millennials, who are seen as the functional food group consumers. Athletes and exercisers are also finding that milk is the new sports drink. The massive market of Baby Boomers who have entered the Seniors category is being encouraged to look to milk for their health and wellness needs. Depending on the demographic, there has been massive growth in energy drinks and ready to drink beverages. For Millennials the energy sector has seen 56% growth between 2009 and 2014and the ready to drink market has had an astounding 166% growth since 2009. 

A Day in the Life of Millennials and Milk

As a Baby Boomer, I have a fascination with labels put on the generations that precede and follow my own.  Currently, Millennials are often profiled by groups whom we seek to understand them better for consumer, political or employability reasons.  In the area of beverage consumption, statistics show that Millennials are a drinking crowd. They choose beverages for managing stress, combating fatigue, and for improving weight loss. Given their extreme use of digital tools they also look to beverages to assist in maintaining eye health. Savvy milk marketers promote the strong nutritional profiles of milk beverages as a way for Millennials to meet these goals. Milk energy drinks and milk-enhanced smoothies are becoming a well-recognized way to start a nutritious day. We have also learned from Millennials that the right beverage can help us to survive that mid-afternoon slump or a long night of computer research and study.

Milk Moves into First Place In Thirst Quenching

A study from August 2011 suggested that milk is superior to water and sports drinks at replenishing fluids following exercise. The study author was, Dr Brian Timmons, an assistant professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario Canada.

“Milk is better than either a sports drink or water because it is a source of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, calcium and electrolytes,” He explained, “Milk has a high salt concentration which helps the body retain fluid better and replaces sodium that’s lost through sweating.” Results of the peer-reviewed findings were presented in Cornwall England at a conference on children and exercise. A simplified summary of the methodology explains, “McMaster researchers had 14 eight to 10-year-olds exercise on a stationary bike for 40 minutes, then gave them either skim milk, water, or a sports drink to measure hydration. After a two-hour recovery period, 75 per cent of the skim milk was retained in the milk drinkers, compared with 60 per cent from the sports drink, and 50 per cent from the water. Water drinkers also produced twice as much urine than milk drinkers.”

Packaging Also Impacts Consumer Choices

There are many considerations affecting consumer choices.  On the one hand, the science proving health benefits reaches more audiences but, at the most basic level, clever advertising also has an impact. Probably the most significant change in the beverage marketing relates to how beverages are packaged.  There are many new and innovative ways to drink milk.  Wax milk cartons and the iconic Canadian bags of milk are now sharing shelf space with square bottles, round bottles, bottles with flip lids and containers with screw lids. Large and small bottles are competing to be seen as the handy and convenient option for consumers on the go who are looking for a quick meal replacement or satisfying hunger or thirst.

Is the Milk Industry Finding Ways to Be in The Right Place at The Right Time?

While it helps to educate the consumer about milk benefits, at the end of the day, the challenge boils down to making sure that milk beverages are available in the places where people are most likely consuming them. Milk marketers need to get milk into school lunch programs and office building lunchrooms. Milk needs to be at sporting events.  Milk needs to sponsor health programs, senior’s activities and other public events for which milk benefits are recognized. The celebrity aspect of drinking milk is also a way to raise milk’s beverage profile.  I read recently that the day could be coming soon when sports events, such as baseball and football, end their biggest finals at the end of the year by dumping a few gallons of milk on the coach!

Move Milk from The BUCKET LIST to The MILK-IT List

Perhaps it’s time to get milk moments onto our Dairy Bucket List? At the very least, we need to promote the MILK-IT list. We need to be able to talk fluently about the benefits of milk in today’s meal planning. Once we are comfortable sharing the benefits, we need to work socially, politically and on the home front to make sure milk is part of sports, social and business venues. We also can raise the profile of milk as part of a contribution to world economies and for those populations who face poor health due to environmental, economic or political issues.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Whether you do your own personal household beverage survey, or you do research on the Beverage Industry in your province or state, the fact remains that today we have many more choices than ever before, when it comes to what we drink. If our dairy industry is to remain viable, we must take an active and involved interest. What drives you to drink milk?



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The Future Value of Genomic Testing

Is it likely that genomic testing will be more valued by North American, European and Oceana Holstein breeders, in ten years’ time? Looking ahead and planning is a good start to achieving profitable genetic goals for a herd and population. Let’s explore some thoughts and ideas about the future use of genomic testing in dairy cattle for herds focused on productivity and profit.

Current Scenario

The Annual Reports from the breeds show 6% (2017) of Canadian and 30% (2016) and 40% (20170of American Holsteins identified were genomically tested. Given those percentages, it shows that the majority of breeders with Holsteins do not value the information. For the other breeds the percentages are lower and, in some cases, almost non-existent. Given that the majority of American dairy animals are not identified with breed societies the use of genomic testing is very low.

If you or your family plan to be in the dairy business in a decade and proactively improving more than others do, when it comes to breeding superior cattle, will be a leg up. Moreover, when your children come home from college they will have the latest facts on genes and the DNA composition for the herd. With a herd genomically tested those children will be ready to hit the ground running when applying their knowledge to their chosen breeding program.

Currently There Are Seven BAD Reasons for Not Choosing Genomic Testing

This article does not plan to dwell on the past and the negatives however some positions are important to correct.

  1. Yes, the $38 to $45 seems costly but that only equates to three weeks raising cost for a heifer. Culling 5% of the heifers, the lowest ones, at 3 months of age will save twice the costs of testing. Culling the lowest 10% will save four times the cost.
  2. There is not the demand for surplus heifers that existed twenty years ago. Sexed semen, much improved heifer rearing and the rearing cost of $2,500 per heifer means that herd replacement programs, which are 15%-20% of total costs on dairy farms, are important to achieving a successful bottom line.
  3. It is true that, on average, the results of genomic testing may not differ greatly from parent average for total genetic merit (TPI, LPI, NM$, Pro$, JPI,..etc.). However, for 90% of the animals tested there be two, if not more, traits that are significantly different and that information will be very useful when making heifer mating decisions.
  4. It is true that when breeding for show ring type, genomically testing may not be of great help. But, when breeding for correct conformation, genomically testing is relatively (60-70%) accurate. Remember that less than 0.1% of heifers ever see the show ring in their lifetime.
  5. Although genomic testing results are most often quoted or promoted for heifers based on their total merit indexes (i.e. TPI or NM$), it is the component traits of the total merit indexes that are important when making breeding decisions. Component traits include yields, health, fertility, longevity, conformation and functional traits. The use and awareness of genomic indexes for all economically important traits would, today, be greatly enhanced, if breeds were to monthly provide top animal lists for all traits not just for TPI, LPI or JPI.
  6. Genomic indexes have been accepted for males as 70% of sires used have genomic but not proven sire indexes. Yet the female side of a mating is equally important to the male side so genomic testing of females should be equally important. Holstein USA is congratulated for initiating and providing genomic testing service programs in cooperation with its partners that are gaining in acceptance but they have yet to reach 40% usage by members.
  7. Breeders often mention that genomic testing is only for elite herds. However, that is just not true. For herds of average genetic merit, the opportunity to dramatically shift the herd average upwards is a definite possibility.

Which Is It – Cost or Benefit?

Most often genomic testing is regarded by breeders as an added cost. But what about the opportunity for added benefits that become available from having added information?

Here are some suggestions on how the $45 charge could be allocated to opportunities for benefits:

  • 100% Parent Verification                                                                      $5
  • Culling or Using as Recips the Lowest 10% of Indexed Heifers                 $20
  • Improved Accuracy for All Matings in a Female’s Lifetime                      $15
  • Building Larger, More Accurate Female Population Data Base                $5

Viewed that way the $45 presents valuable opportunities. The benefit approach is a return on investment. If the testing could be done for $25 it would be a giant step forward.

Nine Future Opportunities from Genomic Testing

The following list is by no means all-inclusive, but it is a start to some of the areas where genomic testing will most likely be used in the future. Our previously published article on epigenetics and nutrigenetics delved into some areas also (Read more: Forget Genomics – Epigenomics & Nutrigenomics are the Future and Epigenetics will be a Driver for Future Successful Dairying).

  1. Milk Products: Differences between animals in the fats and proteins they produce are sure to increase or decrease the value of the milk a cow produces. A2 milk has already caught consumer’s attention.
  2. Longer Animal Lifetimes: The surface has just been scratched on identifying animals that live longer and, thereby, produce higher lifetime profits.
  3. Disease Resistance: Animal diseases will be with the world for all time, so animals with immunity or that are capable of resisting diseases will be in demand.
  4. Feed Conversion: read our recent article on feed efficiency (Read more: The Genetics of Feed Efficiency in Dairy – Where are we at?,Should You Breed for Feed Efficiency?, and A Guide to Understanding How to Breed For Feed Efficiency and Fertility)
  5. Environmental Issues: Our dairy cows are temperate climate animals yet they are raised in hot humid areas and with global warming, animals will need the slickgeneor be able to live and produce in increasingly warmer climates.
  6. Less Labor and Automation: With less individual care and with more cow-machine interactions our dairy cattle will need to be able to operate effectively with machines.
  7. Herd Replacements: 15-18% of total herd costs are associated with rearing replacements. Yet few herds capture complete heifer data that can be used for determining the genetic traits on heifers. Through genomic testing it should be able to know more about calf disease resistance/immunity, growth, feed conversion, age at first heat and many more traits.
  8. Animal Mobility: Lack of mobility and lameness are major on-farm and animal welfare issues. By genomic testing and animal monitoring, it should be possible to identify the most mobile animals.
  9. Cow Fertility: The corner has been turned through analyzing farm reproduction data and associating it with genomic results. Great advances in cow fertility have been made in the past decade. Expect more improvement from further use of genomic information, especially as it relates to animals under stress.

Genomic evaluations are now going global. On June 1stInterbull, on June 1st, announced the launch of GenoEx-PSE as a service to internationally rate animals, based on genomic information. As well, we may see new breeds being developed that take the best genes from various breeds, as determined by genomic results. This could lead to developing animals that meet specific needs, environments, agriculture practices and response to new diseases. Breeders themselves or A.I. breeding companies will use genomic results to breed the best dairy cattle for the future. Genomic testing will be a must do in the same way that feed ingredient balancing, vaccination, continual animal monitoring and customer milk product guarantees are.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

If a breeder has not been genomically testing their herd, the time to start is now.  Every breed society can advise on the services available. Genomic testing needs to be viewed as an investment rather than a cost.

One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up instead of what they have to gain. (Rick Godwin)



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10 Secrets To Show Winning Showmanship

Unlike type classes, it’s not the conformation of your animal that’s under scrutiny; it’s you. Being a great showman is not easy.  Showmanship is a tough contest, but an important one. The better showman you are, the better you can present your animal when it counts.  Everyone wants to be that person who is leading a class winner at World Dairy Expo, The Royal or Swiss Expo. In order to make it at that level, you need to prove that you have what it takes to make the animal you are leading show at their very best every time you grab the strap and walk onto the tanbark trail.  With that in mind, we have compiled these 10 secrets to help take your showmanship from good to great.

  1. Showmanship is won at home
    It all starts with the preparation you do before the show. You can not expect to just walk into the ring and have your animal lead perfectly.  I can remember as a child we had to lead our calves for at least 2 hours every week.  In doing so, we learned what tendencies our 4-H projects had and how to diminish their flaws and exhibit their strengths.  We also learned what signs they showed when they were about to act up and how to recognize when they were going to start walking sideways on you. 
  2. It’s not about you it’s about the animal
    Too many show people get too worried about how they look and do not focus enough on how their animal looks. They spend too much time staring at the judge and not enough time focusing on their animal.  Eye contact with the judge is important but make sure the animal is lined up first and foremost and then start looking at the judge. Awareness in the ring is key, so ensure that your animal is looking their best and then focus on the judge.  Nothing can be more detrimental to your showmanship results than you staring straight at the judge, them looking straight back at you and your animal looking terrible.  Even with great eye contact, the first reaction of the judge is going to be recognizing how badly your animal is presented.  Get your animal looking their best then focus on the judge.
  3. Don’t Fidget
    I cannot tell you how many times some of the best showmanship judges in the world told me their favourite thing to do was to make the kids earn it. While some showman thought that meant they had to keep “working” their animal, I learned what they meant was who could stay calm, cool and collected.  Knowing when their animal was spot on and not fidgeting all the time.  Nothing highlights your animal’s flaws more than you constantly touching them and showing the judge exactly where their weaknesses are.  Often the constant fidgeting can lead to your animal getting restless and acting up and looking even worse than if you had just kept your cool.
  4. Know your animal’s strengths and weaknesses
    When I am judging showmanship one of the first questions I will ask the participants is, “What are your animals flaws?” Top showpeople know precisely where the animal they are showing is the weakest and work at minimizing those weaknesses in order to best display their animals.
  5. Stand out from the crowd
    Show rings can be very crowded. Helping your animal to stand out from the crowd is the job of a top Some think that means either standing 10 feet closer to the judge than the rest of the animals in the ring or it means leaving 30 feet between you and the animal ahead of you. That is just not possible at the top shows.  It’s more about proper space management.  Always leave enough room between you and the animal ahead of you that if you had to stop and then adjust feet you have enough room to do so.  You need to leave yourself room to operate.  I can always remember the late Bill Edelstein, when he was the ring steward, yelling at me telling me “Hunt” move forward during the 4-H show at the Royal.  While I never left over 10 feet between me and the animal, I always left enough room to operate and be able to best display my animal.  It was that difference maker that lead to me placing top 10 for 11 years straight in that show.  You do have to stand out, but you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. 
  6. Know the ring you are showing in
    Every show ring is different. Some have good lighting some have badly lit spots, some have the high ground, and some have holes.  I can still remember when showing at one of my achievement days I had been pulled in 1st over an animal I knew was actually better than the one I was leading.  One of the most significant differences between the animal I was leading and the one in 2nd was that mine stood downhill significantly in her front end, and the one in 2nd was more upstanding.  When they pulled us into line, I could see that they were pulling us into a spot where there was a hole.  So as the judge was walking around the outside of the ring pulling in the remainder of the class, I took that time and opportunity to build a little pile of shavings to elevate the front end of my calf.  When the 2nd animal was standing beside me, it appears that they were, about the same height in the front end.  We went on to win the class, and I can still remember the father of the showperson in 2nd coming to me and laughing about how it was more the showmanship of the animal than the actual animal that had defeated theirs on that day.  The 2nd place animal did go on to be nominated All-Canadian that year, and I am sure the showperson learned a valuable lesson that day.
  7. Keep it all natural
    Every animal looks their best with their head at a different Some that have a weaker or flatter loin look worse when their head is held too high.  Most young show people learn that they have to keep their calf’s head as high as possible.  There is a fine line between having your animal’s head up and holding it uncomfortably high. Outside the acceptable range makes them move awkwardly or causes them to strain, which counters the way we set feet and drive them, to begin with.  One of my other biggest pet peeves with most show people is that they are so concerned about being able to reach their calves tail head that they stand with their calves head twisted towards the outside of the ring.  This happens with even some of the top show people in the biggest of classes.  Talk about the way to make your animal look as short and non-dairy.  When the animals head is pointed outside the ring their neck bunches, and the judge cannot see the full length of the animal.  It is better to have your animal’s head at about a 10-degrees toward the inside of the ring.  Remember that the ring is a big circle, so you always need to have your animal’s head slightly toward the inside of the ring in order to lead them in the correct direction.  This will not only help show the animal off to the best of their ability but it will also help the animal see exactly where they are heading.
  8. It not about the tricks it’s about the animal
    From switching the feet to touching the top line, it’s not about showing the judge that you know how to do it. It’s about showing the judge you know what is needed at that very moment to make your animal look their best.  Everyone thinks you have to instantly switch the feet of their animal when the judge goes to the outside of the ring.  While often that is the case there are times when that can actually be detrimental.  You need to know your animal well enough to know what pace works best for them, how well they switch their feet and how they look when you do so.  Knowing this information means that you can control your animal and show them off to their maximum potential.   The same goes for touching the tail head or top line.  If the animal does not need it, don’t do it.  Don’t make work for the sake of being active.  The best showman makes it look like they are doing almost nothing at all.
  9. Learn from the best
    It has never been easier to see how the best get the job done. From live streams to video recordings, there are plenty of opportunities to see just how the best in the business have honed their craft. Watch the more experienced showmen and pay attention to the little things that they may do that separate them from the crowd, the better your showmanship will be.  You don’t need to be a copycat as the animal they are showing may have some different flaws than the one you are leading, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a TON by watching the best and those who are more experienced than you are. Also don’t be afraid to ask them to show you how they do something. That will help you even more than simply viewing their skill from the ringside.  Remember they started out just like you are and most are great about helping the next generation.
  10. Remember: Showmanship is subjective.
    I used to think that I had to win every time I entered the show ring and that if I didn’t, I had done something wrong. What I learned as I matured is that showmanship judging is subjective. It’s based on that judge’s perspectives and ideals. Often that meant we had to get “the book” on a judge to learn what they liked.  How do they like the head carriage of the animal, are they more about being calm or being active.  Learning these little things can be the difference between being Grand Champion or being 3rd. So learn from the best.  Improve on the past and strive to be better in the future.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Showmanship is not easy. It takes lots of practice.  However, if you actively put these ten tips into practice, you’ll be on your way to winning your next showmanship competition!

To learn more check out this Showmanship Judging Video – Your Guide To Judging Dairy Showmanship as well as 6 Tips to Becoming a Great Showperson!



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