"We need to be thinking about the results we want," says Chad Zehnder, Ph.D., cattle consultant, Purina Animal Nutrition LLC.
"What does the steer weigh currently?
What do we want him to weigh on show day?
With heifers it's not much different, but you may have multiple target dates to keep in mind."
recommends a multi-step approach for developing a nutrition program:
"Not every animal is going to have the same program," says Zehnder
emphasizes the importance of highly palatable feeds and access to clean, fresh water.
"We need to be able to keep cattle
on feed consistently whether that's at home
or at the show.
You can have the best feeding program in the world, but if your animals won't eat it, it's not doing you any good," says Zehnder
"Palatability is a must have in a nutrition program."
"We also can't underestimate the importance of water.
Water drives intake, so we need to make sure calves have access to clean, fresh water," adds Zehnder
4. Avoid taking drastic measures
While a feeding program can be developed on paper, it is of critical importance to monitor the appearance of your animal on a regular basis.
"Condition and weight should be monitored at least monthly when you're more than 3 months away from the show, and as you close in on your show date we need to be monitoring appearance and weights on a bi-weekly or weekly basis," says Zehnder
"We need to know how much those animals are actually gaining, so we can adjust their feed program accordingly without having to take drastic measures."
It takes approximately 45-60 days for nutrition to make a true change in appearance on an animal according to Zehnder
adds that if you're trying to make a change in less than 30 days, it will be a struggle.
encourages cattle exhibitors to evaluate their show nutrition program regularly, especially if you're not seeing the results you want in the show ring.