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Send an email to if you have a question about showing cattle - feeding, fitting, health, etc... We will try and find an answer for you.

Q: What is a good feed for feeder calves? Our county fair is the third week of August.

MCF's Reply:

If you are purchasing a calf, find out what and how much feed was being fed prior to you owning the calf, and mix that feed with your new feed over a three or four day period. Feeder calves are ruminants and require forages as well so hay and/or pasture are essential to maintain a healthy, growing calf. Typically if they are on fresh green grass they won't eat as much feed as they would if they are on grass that is going dormant or grass hay so remember that when you are trying to make them go to creep or to actually eat there feed.  In our area we have noticed that during the middle of summer when our native is green and lush that the calves hardly go to creep at all but as the grass becomes less nutritious in the later months of summer they will start going to feed. Water is very critical so make sure to provide fresh water daily and have available at all times. 

To answer your question as to what type of feed should the calves get there are many answers. There are many sources of excellent formulated feed rations that can be purchased from feed dealers, coops, and supply stores.  Depending on how much money you are willing to spend will determine the different feeds to feed.  If your calf is still on the cow a basic creep ration from your coop will suffice.  Once weaned you can purchase a developer/grower ration from your local coop that comes in bulk or bag that would be sufficient and not as expensive as a show feed.  If you want more bloom and them to get fatter quicker and it be more palatable, a sweeter feed like Showmaster, Showrite, Purina or High Noon are common in our area, just make sure to buy the grower formula.  However when you look into a bigger name brand feed there is more expense per bag and your project can become pretty costly. Just remember that they willl bloom up faster on a blended feed rather than a basic coop ration. 

When determining how much grain to feed them typically a full feed type situation works best as long as you can monitor how much they are eating and it is not too hot of a ration.   If you want to monitor how much they eat then for instance a 300-400 lb calf would need a ration that is 15-20% Crude Protein and to expect 3 to 4 lbs of gain a day they need to be eating 3% of there body weight in feed on a dry matter basis.  You can expect more gain when they eat more.   I hope this clears up any question you may have.

Hi my name is Ashley. I really want to raise steers for the fair. but I don't know what the judges are looking for.  Do you know?   How much do they eat a day?  What techniques do you haave for showing your steers?     Please E-mail me back   it would really mean a lot

MCF's Reply

Dear Ashley,

   Coming from a young man that judges several different levels of shows all across the nation there are several different things that judges look for and not many judges are exactly the same.  Typically at a county fair they look for compositionally correct steers that have the right combination of muscle and fat.  Heavier muscled steers are better than light muscled steers and in terms of fat they just want enough to make sure they can grade choice (between .3 and .6 back-fat is a range i like to see).  They also want cattle that balance up and look nice from the profile and when you put them in motion they walk relaxed and there back feet move into the same hole there front foot left from or close to it. If you put all those pieces together and add a little hair and fine tuning then you have a nice steer.  They typically eat anywhere from 15#'s in the beginning to up to 40#'s a day depending on how much there appetite can handle and how much gain you want to get out of them.  A good endpoint on a market steer for me would be from 1240-1340.  There is really only one way to show the steer; A show halter, show stick  and a comb in the back pocket.  If you Google "beef showmanship" there are several links on the how toos of showing and a couple videos you can watch to help improve showing your steer.

Thanks Brigham Stewart

How do start a new calf on feed?

MCF's Reply

The first few weeks when your new calf arrives are typically the most crucial to giving it a good start.  We always make sure they have fresh water and a good hay source all the time.  Find a good grower or developer ration whether you are using a show type feed or a complete feed from the local coop.  It is nice to know how the calf was fed prior to you receiving them so that you can try to match a similar feed so that it doesn't have too much inconsistency with what they were getting fed.  It is always good to play it safe so we recommend feeding them in small portions in the first day or so and just keep building up the amount of feed you give the calf over a 10 day to 2 week period so that you don't founder, bloat, or hurt the calf in any way.  Feeding smaller portions at first also keeps them more aggressive to coming to feed and gets them used to you hand feeding them which will help you in the long run.  Keep a close eye on health on your new calf and make sure he doesn't overeat.

Can you use ultra saber on show calves or will it take out the hair?

MCF's Reply

You can use Ultra Saber fly spray on show cattle but I would recommend putting it in an area where if it mildly burns them it won't affect them too much. Much like any pour-on a side affect is skin irritation and can slightly burn the hide so we recommend 24 hours after you pour them to shampoo and wash the area you poured them because the longer it stays on the hide the higher chance you will burn there skin.

Q: A good friend of ours has suggested we feed our show steer one time a day instead of 2. We are 2 months away from the major. He had no real explanation. Our first show steer; is this a common practice?

Thank you so much

MCF's Reply:

This is a tough question to answer because there are several different variables that can go into it.

If you keep the calf on full feed it doesn't matter whether you feed once or twice a day.  One advantage of feeding once a day is it saves time and you don't spend as much time because you only have to feed them once.  If you decide to only feed once a day then we would recommend feeding at night because the calf will typically eat until its full in the evening and leave the rest and when the sun starts to come up they will go back to the bunk that morning. 

We prefer to feed twice a day because you can manage intake a little better, they stay more aggressive at the bunk, and typically will intake a little more feed as well, which for us is an advantage because we are wanting to maximize gain.  This is also an advantage because it teaches your calf to expect feed twice a day so that when you go to the show they stay on the same regimen and stay full and on feed prior to hitting the show ring.  A lot of our steer customers will get a weight on their calf once a week to figure how much they are gaining.  It helps them to target that calf to their endpoint; know if the feed they are using is working; and whether or not they should step them up on feed or back them down to get them to the right weight in the end.

As a whole we use both methods when feeding our show cattle and get along with both.  However, most of the time we try to keep them on full feed and feed them twice a day if possible.

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