How to Handle your Show Stock in Summer Heat

Summer heat can be tough on show livestock – or any livestock for that matter. Heat stress causes increased respiration rate, suppressed appetite, fatigue and dehydration, all signs of a lowered immune response. When we think about these traits and the way they impact production, it becomes very evident that the strenuous expectations we put on show livestock to perform at the highest level and look exceptional while doing so clearly becomes a challenge.

We typically think about heat stress in extreme temperatures; however, the reality is that anytime the temperature exceeds 70 degrees livestock are adversely affected. It is imperative to follow best practices and implement some simple, but important steps to ensure fewer setbacks due to heat stress and in turn, experience greater success with our show livestock projects.

Be proactive. Watch the weather and make wise decisions. It is a lot harder to bring down livestock’s body temperature once they are hot than it is to manage it before it rises.

Manage your facility to make sure it is comfortable for your animals. Be sure your animals can get to shade. Whether your facility at home has fans, misters, or even an elaborate cooler, controlling airflow is crucial. Keeping bedding wet down and misting water in the air will also help cool the air that fans push through your facility.

Modify your feeding program to accommodate cooler periods. Just like humans, livestock don’t want to eat when it is extremely hot. Feed earlier in the mornings so they have a chance to eat and be moved into the barn before it gets hot. Also pay attention to the location of their water supply. Smaller troughs provide more water flow and result in cooler water. Make sure lines that serve as water sources are not exposed to sun and heat resulting in the water in the lines to get extremely hot.

Rinse animals with cool water to help drop their core temperature. When rinsing, focus on cooling their underline and head as it will help cool them faster. Don’t just get them wet but allow cool water to run over them a while to help drop their body temperature. In extreme heat, rinse multiple times daily.

Plan ahead. It doesn’t take long for livestock to feel the impact of heat stress when they are removed from the comforts of a temperature-controlled environment. It is essential to think about this prior to leaving for a show. For cattle that have been kept in a cooler it is very important to raise the temperature of the cooler a week to 10 days ahead, every day slowly increasing the thermostat to help them acclimate. Taking them straight from a cooler to a hot show will cause extreme stress which will ruin your opportunity for success.

Use Supplements. Sure Champ® has developed products to help your animals regulate their body temperatures, naturally. Sure Champ Extreme with Climate Control is a daily top-dress supplement that is formulated for cattle, hogs, sheep and goats and designed to help eliminate heat stress in the animals due to increased temperatures, high humidity or extreme shifts in temperatures or climate. In addition to Amaferm®, a natural prebiotic that helps maximize the nutritional value of feed, it contains plant extracts that support the animal’s ability to maintain normal body temperatures. Extreme also contains garlic, a natural insect repellent.

Sure Champ Climate Control Paste helps all show livestock species handle heat stress by lowering the animal’s body temperature in a safe, fast and natural way. We suggest starting the paste a week to 10 days before a show and keeping livestock on the paste through the show to keep them more relaxed, cool and comfortable, resulting in better appetite and higher energy levels allowing them to look their best on show day.

Strategically plan when you haul to shows. Hauling at night is the most ideal to help reduce the time they will be exposed to the heat of a trailer. Make sure you have adjusted ventilation on trailer to allow for adequate air flow while traveling.

Once you arrive to the show it’s critical to maintain the same schedule of caring for your stock. Continue to feed early and maintain body temperature by keeping animals rinsed regularly and under fans. Heat stress can be a challenge at shows but can be turned into an advantage for those who prepare properly. Stay positive, stay cool and prep to win!

Why Appetite Is Important To Your Livestock

Management is key to your success with show animals. But management refers to more than just skin and hair care or having the latest and greatest in equipment and products. The heart of good management starts with a sound nutrition program and feeding your animals correctly to maximize their look.

“If your animal’s appetite is out of whack, they won’t gain as efficiently as their genetics would lead you to believe they should,” said Britney Creamer, BioZyme® Inc., Area Sales Manager. “This will result in not only lower average daily gains than you desire, but a dull look to their hair and skin, dull look to their eyes and even a more lethargic acting animal.”

Appetite goes beyond your animal cleaning up at the feeder; it is the core to your animal’s success. At Sure Champ, BioZyme’s show livestock brand, we say this about show animals, “if they aren’t eating, you aren’t winning.” There is a lot of truth to that, as livestock, regardless of species, need to get a proper amount of feed and water to maximize performance – growth, soundness, muscling, and have the proper show ring “look.”

One of the best ways to keep your show animals eating and drinking is to start with a sound nutrition program that focuses on a fortified feed and keeps their gut health in check. Most nationally-branded show feed lines do a great job providing quality, fortified feed options. Additionally, there are many additives out there for every enhancement possible – muscle growth, soundness, hair quality, leanness, freshness – however, if their gut isn’t working properly and absorbing nutrients, and/or they aren’t eating, none of those other additives really matter. Another important part of their diet is to keep it consistent, and not change their feed or add something new to it each day.

“We need to focus on the fact that if an animal’s gut isn’t working properly feeding all the additional additives is just like rolling down the window on the interstate and throwing money out! In order for feed and additives to do as they are designed to do, the gut of your animal must have the ability to digest and absorb those products and feeds effectively. One way to insure this is happening is by adding Amaferm® through a product such as Sure Champ® Cattle or Sure Champ Spark®,” Creamer said.

Sure Champ Cattle includes Amaferm, a natural prebiotic designed to maximize the nutritional value of feed. It is research-proven to increase water and feed intake, both in grain and forage-based diets. In addition, research shows that Amaferm decreases body temperature in heat-stressed animals. Sure Champ Cattle is a pelleted, daily vitamin and mineral supplement that can be top-dressed or mixed into any feed ration.

Another product available and ideal for small species including sheep, goats and pigs is Sure Champ Spark. Spark is a pelleted, daily supplement that will enhance the nutritional value of your feed ration by increasing absorption and keeping the animal healthy. In addition to Amaferm, it includes MOS to trap bad bacteria, limiting their ability to do harm to digestive health and intake.

“These Sure Champ products work to keep your animal healthy, and a healthy animal is one that won’t shy away from the feed bunk, water trough or bucket,” Creamer said.

Manage, Reduce Stress in Show Stock with Proper Nutrition

Stress is one of the biggest culprits our animals face. In typical production agriculture, we wean our livestock from their mamas and transition them to a feeding program. We poke and prod our animals as part of a vaccination program, and we sometimes totally change their environment while expecting them to gain weight and muscle or reproduce under those stressful situations.

Combine the above mentioned stressors with daily exercise and hair and skin conditioning while hauling animals to a weekly show, and all that stress is likely to equal an animal that goes off feed, looks and acts dehydrated and doesn’t always act or look show ring ready.

Nutritional capabilities play a huge role in keeping your animals healthy and reducing the stress in their lives. It is vital to not overlook your animals’ nutritional needs because a lot of their stress symptoms are triggered in their gut. A healthy gut will help your animal stay healthy and also plays a role in keeping their immune system strong and functioning.

Another challenge that show animals encounter is looking the part of a show animal once they hit the show ring. Since muscle is 70-percent water, and so many animals shrink up or lose their fill when they are hauled, it is so important to keep them hydrated when they go to the show. That is where Amaferm® plays a big role in boosting the animal’s appetite while increasing their desire to drink.

Blaine Rodgers, Show Livestock Business Development & Field Support, offers suggestions on reducing stress in show livestock while using BioZyme® products.

Sure Champ® and Sure Champ® Spark
These products are available for all species and should be included in the animal diet daily. They both will help boost appetite, making sure the animal is eating and gaining.

Vita Charge® Liquid Boost®
Rodgers suggests introducing this into your animals’ water 2-5 days prior to leaving for a show, and then continuing to include it in their water while at the show. Liquid Boost has a flavoring to it the animals like, and will often mask the chlorine taste of city water that is found at most fairgrounds. Rodgers also said it is a good way to teach your animals to drink out of a bucket before you go to a show since most animals are used to a water tank or trough, or pigs would be accustomed to a watering system. Introducing the water bucket to them at home is just one more way to reduce stress once you’ve arrived at the show.

Vita Charge Paste
Since it is so important for your animals to have a good show ring appearance, the Vita Charge Paste is another way to add Amaferm to their diets and help boost the animal’s desire to eat and drink. Rodgers said that the more water animals drink, the more their metabolism will increase, encouraging their appetites. The water also adds to their muscle shape and overall mass, giving the appearance exhibitors are looking for in the show ring.

Sure Champ Climate Control Paste
The newest product to the Sure Champ line up is the most important in combatting heat stress. The paste contains Capsaicin, which naturally lowers body heat. This product will be extra helpful for those animals used to a climate-controlled barn that might have to haul a long distance or that will be housed in a non-climate controlled facility for a week, like at a junior nationals. Rodgers suggests giving this daily just prior to and while at a show.

Getting the Word Out
As the summer show season approaches, it is good for dealers and their staff to brush up on the information about the products designed specifically for show animals. Make a display of the products close to the cash register to help strike up a conversation and help make a sale.

It is important to remind your customers how each of the products work together, and that some products are designed for daily use while others are used to combat extra stress at the shows. Perhaps you want to offer a promotion where you couple the products; buy so much Sure Champ and get a discount on a tube of Climate Control or Vita Charge Paste.

Finally, if your younger customers show primarily at the local shows, you might want to work with the BioZyme Marketing Team to create a post card to send to your customers promoting that our products are the safe way to increase appetites and maximize gains.

From the time your animals hit the ground from their mothers’ womb, they start experiencing stress. But as a show animal, you can help alleviate some of that unnecessary stress by making sure their nutritional needs are met. The Amaferm advantage is a great way to maximize the nutritional value of their feed, while keeping them healthy.