Holding out for the fall

September 2020

Tips and tricks on how to hold your animal for the fall shows while keeping them fresh and youthful.

Are you trying to keep your state fair or county projects together for the fall and winter? Are you unsure of what or how much to feed in order to accomplish this? Well, you can stop stressing, because Show-Rite is here to give you advice on projects in any situation so that you can be successful.


Cooper Newcomb, Show-Rite sheep specialist

When you think about bringing mature sheep home and what to do next when your target show is still months away, there are lots of ways to hold them, but very few are successful. Some suggestions you might hear are to get your lamb skinny, to restart or completely stop exercising them, or maybe to let them chill for a bit. I will tell you that those tips are far from the way I see it. When you have worked so hard exercising that lamb and spent the money on the highest-quality high-protein supplements, why in the world would you let all of that go and start over?

If you’ve been through the holding phase before and have found yourself left with an average-handling, plain- profiling lamb, it’s likely because they weren’t fed enough protein or exercised hard enough, so that fat settled right where you didn’t want it to. Or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, your lamb may have gotten too skinny and ended up raw. A huge misconception during holding is that it’s okay to just let the lambs get skinny or to decrease their feed so much that they get skinny. When lambs get skinny, they don’t quit growing; instead, they start growing vertically, since they are not developing muscle. That’s how you end up with so many tall, pretty lambs that seem to have lost the muscle tone they had exhibited only a few months previous. We find ourselves trying to lower lambs’ feed to limit them from growing, but then we just get them thin, and they still grow too much in the wrong direction.

What I will tell you is that a successfully held animal is one that is kept in top-notch shape. Success in a holding situation is the result of being very particular about what they eat and having a very disciplined exercise routine. With that being said, I would recommend exercising your lamb a little harder and increasing the protein a little more while decreasing their Newco Lamb Feed to a pound or less per feeding. I leave them on Rite Tyme nearly all the way through holding, while also adding half a pound of Star Shine and half a pound of Sculpt per day. With all of these high-protein supplements, you may risk getting them a little too lean, but at least they look athletic. If they do get too skinny, go back to Muscle-In-Motion, with its higher fat content, and feed up to half a pound per day. If you’ve used Muscle-In-Motion before, then you know how fresh that will make your lamb look and feel.

Star Shine is one of my favorite products for holding; it allows them to freshen up without losing all that you put in over the last 30 to 90 days. Then use Sculpt to harden the muscle and keep them from developing internal fat in that chest and breastbone.

As your Show-Rite sheep specialist, I am always available for one-on-one consulting regarding your project. Don’t be afraid to reach out!


If you show pigs long enough, you will run into the situation where one gets too big or is gaining too fast. Proper management is key to avoid these situations, and the first step to correcting the problem is to keep a chart of the pigs’ weight gain throughout the season or growing stages to try to prevent things from getting out of hand toward the end. This chart should show what weight your project should be along the way, from start to finish.

Many times, you can start regulating their gains early in the season to avoid this situation. If you notice that your project is gaining too fast for your target show, you can start supplementing their feed with Depth ‘N’ Dimension at around 150 pounds to slow down their weight gain. What I recommend, for example, is if you are feeding 3 pounds twice a day, switch to 2 pounds of feed and half a pound of Depth ‘N’ Dimension to moderate their gains.

If you run into a situation where you really need to stop your pig from gaining because of a show being moved or just because it is getting too big, we can help. The idea is to hold your pig and then incorporate more feed and protein for the last 10 to 14 days pre-show to freshen them up. So, to start, feed 1 pound of feed with 2 pounds of Depth ‘N’ Dimension. Many will hold at that weight with no signs of gain, but some will start to look a little stale after a week. If that happens, adjust by adding half a pound of more feed per day, along with 4 ounces of Fat-N-Fluffy to provide more calories and additional fat or energy.

Throughout all of this, exercising and weighing frequently are very important. This helps pigs maintain a toned muscle appearance while also burning calories to help keep their weight down. Weighing frequently and watching their weight closely allows you to know exactly where you are with your project. Once you know where its weight is, you know if you need to keep holding, hold tighter or if you could stand to add more feed. As your show date approaches, hopefully you’ve held sufficiently so that you have some room to increase their feed or to add Muscle- N-Motion at half to 1 pound per feeding for the last 10 to 14 days to give their muscle that extra “pop.”

If you have a unique situation where these tips may not work, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Show-Rite specialists, who will be happy to help you achieve your goals.


There are many trains of thought when it comes to stretching livestock to a particular endpoint or even “holding” them and trying to make another show in the future.

Goats are relatively fragile, in my opinion. My experience lies mainly with show wethers and how to get them fit and show-ready. Our Show-Rite Advancer Plus feed, when utilized throughout the project, allows your wethers to become muscle-mature without adding extra internal fat. As you approach show time, or as you try to stretch toward another show, you can increase the energy in your project by utilizing products that blend complex sugars into the diet. Texas Tea and Glu Coat both work to promote an increased energy profile and bloom while limiting feed. Our go-to feed replacement technique to keep fresh back-shape and to limit weight gain is to add 2 to 3 ounces of Gold Dust to the diet daily. This allows you to reduce the total feed volume over time. Always continue to exercise, as flesh and muscle shape depend on it.

Regarding show does, our approach is very similar to wethers: we utilize added energy and exercise to manage flesh and weight. It is important to remember that both the legs and bodies of all show goats need to be washed and conditioned regularly to achieve the optimal show ring look.

As I’ve said for 20 years, God makes market livestock a perfect mature size, weight and condition. If you manage their nutritional intake and exercise, that weight and fitness-athlete look will be attainable.


Picture the following scenarios:

  • You walk into the barn one morning to feed and think, “Oh my! This thing looks too ”
  • A buddy stops by to check your calf “He looks awesome — just looks really big,” your buddy says. “What’s he weigh?”
  • The calf doesn’t look too big, but you put him on a scale and — oh no!
  • One day, crossing the lot, that ol’ heifer looks like someone pumped fat all over

It’s okay to laugh! We’ve all found ourselves in these scenarios — and if you haven’t yet, it’s just a matter of time! Ideally, I would recommend holding cattle early and pushing later while going into a show. Some of you may have the opposite opinion, and some may have a different way of holding. But as you’re coming into the fall, if you do have one that just keeps growing, that can still be remedied. There’s enough time yet — but it has to happen NOW.

I get asked a lot about what to do with a big steer or a heifer that’s either plenty big or too fat. Regardless of the animal’s sex, it’s about cattle that may have reached their potential a bit too early.

First, think feed

All species can be changed the quickest based on the general amount feed you put in front of them. How much or how little is the big question, as is whether there is a feed you can use to help hold. I personally love using our feed called HF. In the instance that a calf is too big or too fat, this high-fiber, complete feed doesn’t have much corn in it at all, and I like that because with corn comes energy, and, of course, with energy comes growth. So, HF is my go-to base.

Next, think supplements

Rite Fiber is a corncob-based preconditioner that we use a lot to help hold weight and condition on cattle. I use this when I pull feed out, and I replace that feed with Rite Fiber. It’s fully fortified, so the animal keeps getting all of the appropriate vitamins and minerals they need to feel right, even when you pull feed away.

Stretch is a pellet designed to expand when water hits it, giving your calf a full and fresh-bodied appearance. And best of all, they feel full. It works rapidly, so as soon as I know one is too big or too fat, this is my go-to, no matter what I’m feeding as a base.

Muscle-In-Motion is a pellet designed to enhance muscle and bulk in all species. I absolutely love “MNM,” as we call it! To me, it’s the perfect addition when you start to feed HF or when you’re backing feed down to continue to enhance — or at least maintain — muscle and freshness of top while you’re holding.

Sculpt is your saving grace if you’ve crossed the line of acceptability for condition. Sculpt is the ultimate fat burner and will correct the mistakes you’ve made as a feeder and in your management program. Utilize Sculpt to carve out the chest and front-end of cattle, melting fat away from unwanted places but leaving their flank and rib shape!

Swell is a show prep product. I use it as directed, but this really comes in handy when you’ve been holding and need to freshen one up. Trust me, when you’re fighting weight or want to add that full-bellied look to your calf, there is nothing better than Swell to work in a short period of time.

I know what you’re thinking: “Okay, Miles, I see these products, but how much do I give of each? How do I know which product is right for me?” It depends on the calf you’re feeding. Don’t know how to read them and figure out what products to use? No worries! Call a Show-Rite specialist, like myself — that’s what we’re here for! Just know that these products will help with the exact things you’re trying to do when it comes to holding or feeding mature cattle. Whether you’ve got a big steer or a too-fat heifer, we’ve got the product portfolio to manage that!

If you’d like to learn more, please visit www.showrite.com or contact one of our Show-Rite representatives.