Can a virtual livestock show replace a real show? 

Well, yes and no. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.  

Without a doubt, a virtual show can’t replace the camaraderie and interaction that goes along with a real show.  It’s an awesome sight to see kids jumping in to work together while prepping livestock for the show ring. And you can’t replace that feeling of gathering around the crockpot in the tack area to share a few meatballs and some great stories.

But what a virtual show CAN do is keep kids involved with their projects. 

It’s hard to be motivated for daily chores and animal care when you don’t have any shows on your radar.  A virtual show gives kids a reason to continue practicing showmanship and daily hide and hair care on their livestock.  It gives them opportunities to set goals, and it gives them activities that could be listed in their record books. It’s pretty neat that they still have the opportunity to show off their hard work.

COVID-19 may be keeping us all close to home, but it’s not keeping us from doing our best with our livestock projects.  In fact, we probably have more time than ever to spend in the barn.

Today I’ve invited Payton Ramsey, an animal science major at Texas A & M, club calf producer, and former beef showman, to the Silver Barn Cattle blog. Payton will discuss available virtual show opportunities, how to choose the best virtual show to participate in, and how to best present your animal for a virtual show.

How do I choose the right virtual show to enter?

With so many virtual livestock show opportunities and virtual livestock show platforms emerging, it can be hard to know which shows to enter. The shows you choose to participate in may depend on the entry deadline, entry fees, and eligibility requirements. For example, some virtual livestock shows are only open to specific counties and states, which can impact eligibility. 

You may also want to verify the show’s credibility, especially before paying entry fees. Some questions you can ask to help verify a show’s credibility may include the following: Who is judging the show? Is the host of the virtual show reliable? Where will entry fees go? Typically, shows that are held in association with an established platform are more likely to be credible. For example, Livestock Show Online: Kansas Show is being coordinated in association with the Silver Barn Cattle Blog.

Before entering a virtual livestock show, remember to read all rules and guidelines. This will ensure you are familiar with the show’s deadline, rules for entering, and process for placing and awarding exhibitors.

How should I present my animal in a virtual show? 

Just like in any livestock show, presenting your animal to the best of your ability gives you the best chance for success. When preparing to enter your animal in a virtual show, remember to prepare just as you would for a traditional livestock show. This process looks different for everyone, but it may mean conditioning your calf’s hair to make sure it “pops” or using some whitening shampoo for an extra-clean look. You’ll also want to consider using your show halter in place of a rope halter and wearing your usual show attire, especially if you are also submitting your video for a showmanship contest. Just like a traditional show, this will allow you to look more professional and respectful toward the show and its judges.

You’ll also want to put the same level of effort into showing your animal as you would if it were a traditional livestock show. Although the judge is seeing your animal through a camera instead of through their own eyes, it’s still important to give them the best possible view of your animal. You give yourself the best chance for success by working hard to prepare your animal for the show ring and giving your best effort when presenting them.

How do I picture or video my animal for a virtual show? 

The most important aspect of any virtual show entry is the video or image you submit of your animal. It’s important that you present your animal to the best of your ability in the entry you submit. You should keep in mind that most virtual shows have guidelines for the videos or images that are entered. This may be a time limit on the video, a requirement that it be a cellphone video, or specific directions on which views of your animal to provide. Always consult the directions or guidelines that the show provides. Beyond those rules, here are some other simple tips you can follow to ensure your video best represents your animal:

1. When videoing, hold your phone horizontally rather than vertically. This will ensure that the video is in “landscape”, and allow the judges to see more of your animal. Additionally, if you start videoing in that orientation, remember to continue filming that way for the duration of the video.

2. Show all views and angles of your animal in your video. Just like in a traditional show, the judge can better assess your animal if they can see them from all angles. Unless the guidelines provided by the show say otherwise, include a front view, rear view, side view, and a walk in your video. If you’re showing a market animal, you might also include a view of their top. If rules instruct you to include photos, be sure you get a shot of every angle.

3. Watch and listen to your video before submitting. By watching your video in its entirety before submitting, you can verify it’s something you’re happy with. If the rules state “no audio” on your video, or if there’s a lot of wind noise, be sure to hit the mute button on your video before you submit or upload it.

4. Take more than one video or picture. By taking more than one picture or video, you’re able to pick the one that you’re happiest with that gives the judge the best view of your animal. You can also take videos of varying lengths that can be used for virtual livestock shows with different video guidelines.

Virtual Show Opportunities

Now that we’ve discussed how to best present your animal in a virtual livestock show, where can you go to enter? Listed below are some virtual livestock show opportunities you can check out:

Livestock Show Online: Kansas Show

This show is being hosted and coordinated by the Mills Family and Silver Barn Cattle. Entries are open to all current Kansas FFA and 4H exhibitors, and the show is open to beef, sheep, swine, and goats. For more information, including show deadlines, check out www.livestockshowonline.com or www.facebook.com/events/267715357768105/.

They now have the platform set up to be able to host shows for other states as well, so contact them if you are interested in setting something up for your state.

The American 

This show is presented by Virtual Stock Show. Entries for cattle and sheep will be open April 27th through 28th, and entries for goats will be open May 4th through 5th. For more information, follow the link and check out their Facebook page. 

Virtual Cattle Battle

Virtual Cattle Battle will be hosting a national show, featuring cattle judge Ryan Rash. Entries opened April 16th and will close on April 30th. For more information, check out Virtual Cattle Battle and follow the links to their website. 

Corona Kicker Livestock Show

This is a national show for all market species, including market females. Registration and payment are due May 15th and videos are due June 10th. More information can be found on their Facebook page Corona Kicker Livestock Show

The virtual livestock show opportunities listed above are just some of many that can be found by scrolling through Facebook or other livestock media platforms. We hope you stay active and stay involved with your livestock project.  Good luck with your first (or next) virtual show!

Payton Ramsey
Texas A & M Animal Science major

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