Daily hair care is a large part of owning cattle and a key factor in taking your calves to the next level. When you first begin, growing hair may seem like a large and complicated task. But don’t worry! These basic rules will help you build a daily hair care regimen. If you follow these guidelines, your calves will have healthy hair every show season.
Rule #1: Maintain the Right Environment for Hair Growth
Environment and temperature is a key factor in the hair growth of show cattle. Cold temperatures affect cattle and stimulate hair growth to protect their bodies. Unfortunately, we are unable to control the climate and temperature. Yet we can create this “colder weather” in a variety of ways.
Fans and misters are one way to create a colder environment for your calf. They allow cold air to circulate within the barn and cool your animal. Remember, to maximize airflow, place in a way that allows for air to move through and out of the barn. Fans and misters are particularly useful tools if you live in a warmer climate.
Another way you can cool your calf and stimulate colder weather is by rinsing. Each time you rinse, your calf should feel cool to the touch when you finish. If possible, you should strive to rinse your calf two to three times a day, especially during the summer.
Temperature isn’t the only way to stimulate hair growth. You can also create winter conditions by manipulating the amount of light in your barn. You can do this by finding a naturally shady spot in your barn and minimizing the amount of light in that area. Shade cloth is a great way to do this, as it darkens the area with less of an effect on airflow. From there, you should bring your cattle in earlier in the morning and turn them out later at night. Your calf’s body will notice that it is getting dark earlier and staying dark later . It will think that winter is still here or has arrived. This, like cooler temperatures, will stimulate hair growth.
Creating this environment is a large part of growing hair. With these factors in mind, examine your barn and determine what will be right for you.
Rule #2: Increase Blood Flow
Why is it so important to grab that rice root brush and work the hair? The key here is stimulation and blood flow. Each time we work our calf’s hair we stimulate the hair follicles and improve blood flow. It doesn’t matter if it’s by rinsing, combing, brushing, or blow-drying. This leads to better hair growth and hide health. It also contributes to the workability of your calf’s hair. Even if you don’t have the time to rinse or blow dry your calf, you should brush or comb your calf. Tools like rice root brushes, roto-brushes, and wide-range brushes are all designed to help you better stimulate the hide.
It’s important to brush or comb your calf every step of the way, whether to dispel water, work in soap or conditioner, or train the hair. These fifteen minutes make a big difference when it comes to hair growth.
Watch Jon Gevelinger’s tutorial on how to properly use a roto brush:
Rule #3: Care for Your Calf’s Skin
All this blow-drying, rinsing, and combing can strip the hair and hide of its natural oils. This can be damaging for your calf’s skin and counterproductive to our goal of hair growth. Flaking or peeling skin can be warning signs that your calf’s hide is too dry. Many factors, including weather and overwashing, can cause this dry hide.
The best way to solve this problem is by conditioning your calf’s hair and hide. There are many different products out there with varying degrees of effectiveness. Some are “light” conditioning products. These are designed to be left in the hair and are best for daily usage. Use these products after or while blow-drying your calf to replenish the natural oils lost to rinsing and combing.
Other “deep” conditioning products are designed to be rinsed out soon after use. These products are more effective, but they are also heavier and can weigh the hair down. But beware: In warmer weather, they can hold heat in and make your calves hot. Use these products at least once a week to deep condition the hide and replenish natural oils. These can also help heal any “trouble spots” where you notice dandruff or flaky skin. Remember to follow the directions when you use these conditioners.
You should also be mindful of how often you shampoo your calf and the impact it has on your calf’s hide. Overwashing or leaving shampoo in can cause dry skin. It is important to limit washing to once or twice a week. Make sure to rinse all the soap out, and condition the calf afterward.
Conditioning and caring for your calf’s hide is a large part of the hair-growth process. A healthy hide leads to healthy hair.
Rule #4: Understand the Hair Cycle of Your Calf
The hair cycle of a calf will typically range from 90 to 120 days. At the end of your calf’s hair cycle, your calf will begin to naturally shed its old hair and begin growing new hair. It’s important to keep this hair cycle in mind when planning your show season and hair care regimen.
Once your calf begins to shed, it’s important to remove the old, dead hair so that you can make room for the new hair. You can do this by either down-clipping your calf or by using a shedding comb. Both of these methods will remove the dead hair and help you to restart your calf’s hair cycle. Which you use will depend on your own personal preference or situation.
After removing the old hair, you can focus on growing the new, healthy hair. Give the hair a jump start by brushing the calf . This will promote the blood flow and stimulation we just learned about. You should also be sure to deep-condition and care for the hair and hide, especially if you’ve down-clipped.
Understanding your calf’s hair cycle is a great way to prepare for your show season. This also ensures that your calf’s hair stays healthy throughout the year.
Watch this video from Weaver on how to use a shedding comb:
These basic rules can help you build a daily hair care routine that works best for you and your cattle. Well-kept, healthy hair shows the work and commitment you put into your cattle every day. This also helps your calf look its best on show day. For more information about daily hair care, check out our blog post Show Cattle Daily Hair Care Tips and Techniques.
There are many factors you can’t control in the stock show world.
The quality of your calf’s hair isn’t one of them.
Do you have any rules of daily hair care that you would like to share? Please comment below.