How nutrition and daily routine make a difference in the skin and hair quality of show cattle

By: Hirchell LeClair

April 2019

It’s simple: nutrition and daily routine make all the difference in the world for the skin and hair of your show calf. Providing a high-quality food source helps to feed the skin and hair internally while, in turn, the daily hair care regimen you provide works to stimulate hair growth and condition the skin externally. Just like a winning racecar needs the highest-quality octane fuel to feed its engine and the best pit crew to take care of its external needs, your project can’t be expected to reach maximum potential on low-quality food sources or a careless daily routine.


Consistency is key. Whether you feed once, twice or three times per day, pick a feeding program, schedule specific feeding times and stick with it. Your animals depend on you! Unlike us, they don’t have the luxury of opening the fridge or running to town for a Happy Meal when they’re in need of a snack.

Consistency plays a huge role in keeping your animal’s digestive system running smoothly, so it’s important that you feed at the same time each day.

It’s also essential that what you’re feeding your animals is fully fortified with vitamins and minerals. Did you know that zinc assists in cell division, tissue growth, wound healing and the synthesis of both protein and DNA? Or that copper is necessary to produce the melanin that gives pigment to skin and hair?

These are just two examples of why it’s important for your calf’s feed to be fully fortified. Going a step further, did you know that some minerals are more easily available to and absorbed by the animal than others? Trace minerals can come in several forms, which are broadly classified into two categories: organic trace minerals and inorganic trace minerals. Zinc sulfate and zinc oxide are examples of inorganic trace minerals that, when fed at the appropriate levels, can help livestock overcome their deficiencies — but they are less bioavailable to the animal than organic forms when it comes to digestion and processing. Show-Rite® utilizes Total Replacement Technology™ (TRT) in our line of cattle feeds, meaning that we replace all inorganic minerals with chelated organic minerals. Through TRT, our mineral profile is more highly available to the calf, more easily absorbed and more readily metabolized — ultimately helping your project get the most from its feed.

Finally, it’s important to keep your project free of internal and external parasites. Internal worms or external lice can be hugely detrimental to your animals’ skin and hair. I recommend working with your local veterinarian to develop a parasite control program. After all, if your cattle are clean on the inside, they’ll look good on the outside!

Daily care

Daily care makes or breaks a project — period. The effort and dedication you put in every day leading up to your target show will ultimately determine whether you end up in third place or first. A clean environment and a clean calf are essential; animals can’t be expected to grow hair and perform at the highest level when they are dirty and live in an unkept environment. Some exhibitors might say that they don’t have the facilities for washing and rinsing, but that’s just an excuse. You don’t need to have the fanciest set-up to achieve maximum results, because what it all comes down to is hard work and sticking to a routine. There are a million different ways to accomplish good hair through an established daily routine. For example:

  1. Feed
  2. Rinse (e.g., we soap on Monday and Friday and rinse on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.)
  3. Work hair and blow dry
  4. Tie up (for around three hours or so)
  5. Tie down
  6. Feed
  7. Kick out

For too many people, the highest priority is clipping and fitting, and while those are important for success, there won’t be much to fit or clip if the calf isn’t correctly fed and cared for.

If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to improve your nutrition and daily routine, please visit or contact one of our Show-Rite representatives.