Showmen are well versed in the responsibility required to care for livestock. Feeding, pen cleaning, animal health…it is all part of it, every day.
What we don’t often think about is the power that youth involved in livestock showing hold. Not only are they the future of the livestock industry, but they are also the face of it. Showing livestock is fun and teaches youth valuable lessons. But one of the most critical outcomes is the positive representation of the industry.
But with great power comes responsibility.
Think about how often youth interact with the public at livestock shows. State fairs, county fairs, major livestock shows, junior livestock shows. These are occasions where people of all ages get an inside look into the livestock barn. People are often unable to connect with farmer to understand how their food is raised. This makes every touch point with the public that much more important. What if the only encounter these people have with the livestock industry is a negative one?
Representing the industry to the public doesn’t have to be a scary experience. The key is to be aware of what you are doing and how it looks to the public. Think of it this way: Let’s say someone videotaped you as you work with your livestock. That video is shared on social media.
How do people react?
There may be common actions that, to an unknowing eye, might seem like poor treatment of an animal.
For example, maybe you have a heifer that is refusing to walk to the wash bay after a long day in the show ring. It’s not unusual to twist her tail or prod at her topline or hindquarter to make her move. What if you’re someone who has no livestock experience and see these actions? Is there a better way to get the heifer to move without taking an action that could be viewed negatively? Sometimes a harmless routine action can cause someone unfamiliar with the industry to rush to a negative conclusion. (To brush up on your technique, check out the video below that shows the correct way to twist a tail in order to get cattle to move forward.)
Showmen and their families also represent the industry by their availability at shows. Don’t be afraid to answer questions if folks walk by while you are in the stall by your livestock at shows. There are no stupid questions, especially from people who don’t know the industry. Respond with respect and take this as a great opportunity to share your knowledge. Respond to differences or concerns by finding common ground. Ultimately, each of you has the best interest of your cattle in mind.
You never know what positive impact you may have on someone by being kind and sharing your interests. However, be careful when allowing people to pet your livestock. Remember you may be liable for any injuries that occur.
Check out HeartBrand Ranch’s article “5 Ways to Be an Advocate for the Beef Industry” to learn more tips.
Be smart about how you represent yourself and your industry when you are at major shows or fairs.
Think about the way your actions and words can impact those who see and hear them. Remember to always act in an appropriate and respectful way. It’s not only your livestock on display. You are, too. Use the power that you hold for good and be a positive advocate of the livestock industry.
Have you been a livestock industry advocate at a show?
We would love to hear any tips on how you help promote the livestock industry in the comments below.