When showing your steer or heifer, beef showmanship questions are something you will want to take some time to consider in advance.  During a showmanship competition, you will be asked questions by the judge as he or she evaluates your knowledge of the beef industry. What questions might a judge ask during showmanship?  In order to help you prepare, we here at the Silver Barn compiled a list of the top ten questions that are often asked.  Be sure to practice answering these!


#1:  Tell me about your animal (i.e. name, breed, dam and sire, and birth date)

This is information that is important for all cattlemen to know for keeping accurate breeding and health records. If you know the calf’s pedigree, you can make appropriate breeding decisions. Knowing the age of your calf is critical for making vaccination and breeding decisions, as well.


#2:  Has your animal ever been sick? What did you do to take care of it? If your calf has always been healthy, name a common disease that affects cattle.

As the primary caretaker for your calf, you should know if it has had bouts of coccidiosis, bovine viral diarrhea, or foot rot. Articulate all the steps you took to care for the animal. These may include the following: Asking a veterinarian for a diagnosis and medication, daily administration of medication, and any prevention of the disease from returning or spreading.

If your calf has never been sick, it’s still a good idea to brush up on some common diseases and parasites. It might even help to know zoonotic diseases, such as pink eye. These are diseases that can spread from animals to humans or from humans to animals.


#3:  What would you treat your animal with if it had a viral infection?

The key word in this question is “viral” because viruses aren’t treated with antibiotics. Treatment of viral infections is limited to supportive medications that make the animal more comfortable. On the other hand, animals with bacterial infections may receive antibiotics, such as penicillin, for treatment.


Photo courtesy of Beef Magazine.

#4:  Tell me about your feeding program for your animal, including your average daily gain (ADG).

Make sure you can explain the following to the judge:

  • How much feed you give your calf per day, including hay.
  • What the feed you give your calf is called and how much protein and fat are in it. It helps if you can read and understand the feed label.
  • Know the average daily gain (ADG) of your calf. This is calculated by taking the weight between weigh-ins and dividing by the number of days. Typical ADGs are in the range of 2.95-3.15 pounds per day.

#5:  What is the typical daily water intake for your calf?

The answer to this question may differ depending on the time of year and age of your calf. A good rule of thumb is to calculate one gallon of water per hundred weight during the winter and twice that during the summer.


#6: Identify various anatomy or cut locations with your showstick.

Practice using your showstick to point out the major organs and beef cuts. Good resources to study from can be found here and here.


#7:  Tell me about a challenge or threat to the beef industry.

This is a great time to share your passion for the beef industry. You can also show that you are a future contributor to the industry. Some example topics may include the following: international trade, biosecurity, public perception, and lab-grown meat. Share with the judge the facts of the current situation and its impact on the beef industry.


#8:  What is the biggest strength of the calf you are showing? What is a weakness?

This question allows you to demonstrate your livestock judging skills and your knowledge of your animal. An example response may be: “My calf is big-boned, but it is also heavy-fronted.”

Good showmen manage their cattle in the show ring to minimize flaws and make them look their absolute best. In order to be a good showman, you should position your calf in a way that accentuates their strengths.


#9:  What is the breeding plan for your heifer?

If you’re showing a breeding heifer, expect to tell the judge her breeding information. Know if she’s bred, when you plan to breed her, the sire you will use, and the length of gestation.


#10:  List carcass grades in order.

Carcass grades are prime, choice, select, and standard. More information on the grades and how they are determined can be found here.


Your answers to a judge’s questions can make the difference between finishing at the top of the beef showmanship class or near the bottom. It’s important to practice at home so you are prepared when you enter the ring.

For more showmanship tips, download our guide “Step into the Show Ring: A Beginner’s Guide to Showmanship.”


Click HERE to get a PDF copy of this post for future reference!

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