Let’s talk about dairy cows and what you need to know about getting ready for the upcoming shows.
Cow halter breaking and bathing should be done long before you go to a show. Some heifers (a female that hasn’t given birth and is usually under 2 years of age) take longer to properly halter break, while others are easier. A rope halter should be put on your heifer and she should be tied up for a few hours each day. This allows her to get comfortable while tied. When you go to a livestock show, all cattle are tied for as long as you are there, from a few hours to a few days.
Here is a picture of our girls all tied up for their weekly bath.
Another important detail that should be taken care of before show season is hoof trimming. Dairy cattle tend to grow longer hooves than beef cattle and will need to be trimmed once or twice yearly. We load our girls up and take them to my veterinary friend that has a hydraulic chute. Cows don’t typically pick their feet up for you to trim like a horse.
Here is a picture of one of the heifers up on her side getting her pedicure. I prefer to put cows up on their right side. Their rumen is on the left side and lying on the right side allows the rumen to expand without putting pressure on the lungs.
Cows feel safe when confined in a tight space (as opposed to horses that are quite claustrophobic), so this doesn’t bother them. You can see the floor drops out, and the feet are tied individually so they can be trimmed.
The proper tool, in this case, is an electric grinder. In the hands of a skilled person, it makes beautifully trimmed hooves.
After the trim is complete, strong iodine is applied to each hoof to ensure no bacteria enter the newly trimmed hooves.
It is best not to trim right before a show, as they can be a little tender footed directly after a trim. You should allow a minimum of 2-4 weeks between a trim and a show.
Next, we will talk about clipping hair for the show. I’m off to sharpen the clipper blades!