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Offline forbes family farms

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What do people look for in show calves
« on: November 05, 2009, 12:56:08 PM »
Wondering what people look for in a show calf.  :)
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Offline Olson Family Shorthorns

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2009, 01:29:20 PM »
We show mostly breeding stock, but this goes for steers and heifers alike for the most part.

Start at the ground- you don't want one with bad or small feet. One of Garybob's pet peeves on here is heel depth, and with good reason. The sandier/rockier the area you are in, the deeper the heel needs to be on the calf you choose.

Then you go to the legs- you want one with a good amount of bone (no toothpicks, but probably no telephone poles either...remember I'm talking mostly heifers), with some set, but not too much. If you have to err on one side, don't go with the straigher calf, they always end up with mobility issues later on even if they walk well as a 4 month old calf.

Overall structure of the calf- long, extended, loose made. You don't want a short coupled or bunched up calf. Depth of rib is also important, but make sure you don't get crazy and go with one that looks potbellied. This is where base width starts to come into play as well. You don't want a calf that stands with their back feet touching, you want them to stand square on all four legs, with some daylight between them. Calves like this usually end up being easy feeders and can really pack on the pounds later on and remain sound.

Eye Appeal-  You want a pretty calf to show right? A nice feminine head (heifers), long neck (usually goes with a loose and extended skeleton), beautiful stride, and overall flash. These are things that come naturally to most calves if they meet the structural criteria. 

Muscling- MODERATION is key here. Get one with too much muscle, and they won't be able to walk...too little though, and you'll be playing catch up all year.

HAIR- I think it's important if you're going to be showing at a high level to choose a calf with a nice hair coat, and a shiny and soft coat is a good indicator of a healthy calf.  I'm all for the shaggy calves, but not every good one is shaggy, and not every shaggy one is good.

It's better to get a calf that has nothing wrong structurally with it and lacks a little hair and style, than it is to have a calf with one really really good point and a few other traits that are left to be desired.

Hope this helps some.
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Offline Dero

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2009, 02:20:10 PM »
Can't go wrong with this rule of thumb,   ground up, then butt front and hope everything balances out

Offline TJ

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2009, 02:51:24 PM »
One like OFS's avatar.   ;)
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Offline Jill

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2009, 02:53:42 PM »
OFS pretty much nailed it.
If you you're going to play the major steer game, a name behind your calf doesn't hurt either. <beer>

Offline OH Breeder

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2009, 04:16:16 PM »
When I look for steers I look for few different things than heifers. OFS has it on target.

 With steers we try to pick one that you can see as a fat steer.That may not make much sense but some calves just look like minature fat steers. Look at the calves condition shape as a young calf as it usually indicates shape as a mature fat.
The slope of the shoulder in relationship to front legs and feet is also very important. Neck extension and how the neck is tied into the shoulder.
Head Shape is overlooked many times but is a good  indicator (for us) sometimes how a fat is going to finish. Smaller rounder head the easier feeding they tend to be. Long narrow heads tend to be just like that long and harder feeding.
Size and length of cannon bone is also a good indicative of size. Usually the smaller and shorter the smaller and shorter stature the animal will be.
Some feet issues can be trimmed out and improved but you must have a good feet guy.

This is my humble opinion.
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Offline forbes family farms

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2009, 06:08:45 PM »
Thanks keep the comments coming
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Offline SKF

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2009, 06:13:27 PM »
Don't forget look for a good disposition. There's nothing worse then have a great looking animal and its crazy!!! 

Offline garybob

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2009, 07:47:34 PM »
We show mostly breeding stock, but this goes for steers and heifers alike for the most part.

Start at the ground- you don't want one with bad or small feet. One of Garybob's pet peeves on here is heel depth, and with good reason. The sandier/rockier the area you are in, the deeper the heel needs to be on the calf you choose.

Then you go to the legs- you want one with a good amount of bone (no toothpicks, but probably no telephone poles either...remember I'm talking mostly heifers), with some set, but not too much. If you have to err on one side, don't go with the straigher calf, they always end up with mobility issues later on even if they walk well as a 4 month old calf.

Overall structure of the calf- long, extended, loose made. You don't want a short coupled or bunched up calf. Depth of rib is also important, but make sure you don't get crazy and go with one that looks potbellied. This is where base width starts to come into play as well. You don't want a calf that stands with their back feet touching, you want them to stand square on all four legs, with some daylight between them. Calves like this usually end up being easy feeders and can really pack on the pounds later on and remain sound.

Eye Appeal-  You want a pretty calf to show right? A nice feminine head (heifers), long neck (usually goes with a loose and extended skeleton), beautiful stride, and overall flash. These are things that come naturally to most calves if they meet the structural criteria. 

Muscling- MODERATION is key here. Get one with too much muscle, and they won't be able to walk...too little though, and you'll be playing catch up all year.

HAIR- I think it's important if you're going to be showing at a high level to choose a calf with a nice hair coat, and a shiny and soft coat is a good indicator of a healthy calf.  I'm all for the shaggy calves, but not every good one is shaggy, and not every shaggy one is good.

It's better to get a calf that has nothing wrong structurally with it and lacks a little hair and style, than it is to have a calf with one really really good point and a few other traits that are left to be desired.

Hope this helps some.
[/quote Good feet help in the midwest, too. Gary Kaper is in an area with no rocks, and he watches feet harder than I would.

GB

Offline Olson Family Shorthorns

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2009, 11:52:22 PM »
GB, Gary Kaper lives about 20 minutes from me, and the last time I went up there, he had some of the best footed and sound cows around. Just not what is accepted in the show ring, but Gary doesn't care, he has good cows year in and year out.
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Offline ghostrider

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Re: What do people look for in show calves
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2009, 12:51:37 PM »
Lots of good stuff here.  Just a couple of things to add...

Others have mentioned mobility.  More specifically, you need to look for a long stride with the back feet setting down in the tracks of the front ones.  Watch them from the sides and make sure all the joints in the legs flex, and do so freely, without popping.  Watch them walk from in front and behind and make sure that the legs track true, not swinging out (or in) before they set down.  Look at their base width (the distance between the two front legs or the two back legs) - width is certainly necessary but it needs to be somewhat uniform from front to back. We see alot of cattle these days that are wider in the front than the back - they'll almost always end up being a little straighter fronted and paddling (swinging their front legs out) as they get older. 

Another thing to try to avoid are cattle that are too tight in their heart girth, not only in their fore flank, but behind the shoulders all the way around their body.  Tight hearted cattle are pretty much always hard doing cattle. 
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