The livestock show season is just about here, and people in leadership have decisions to make regarding holding or cancelling shows.
With a creative can-do spirit, livestock shows can be held while still maintaining social distancing and keeping people safe.
We can’t meet in the livestock barns or in the show ring, but a trailer show is one method for keeping people safe at in-person livestock shows.
Youth and their families would still train their livestock at home. Animals would be fit at home. On the day of the show, everyone could drive their trucks and trailers to a central location.
We trust that livestock owners would keep their distance by staying in their trucks.
A judge could walk from trailer-to-trailer to examine and rank the animals. Connecting via cell phone during the event could add excitement for families and individuals. Showmanship would take place online. Youth could also write papers to share the knowledge they’ve gained.
We’d like to see 4-H, FFA and Open Class leadership cooperate to hold at least a few livestock shows this summer.
It’s important to make decisions now about what shows can be held in order for families to purchase pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and chickens. Cattle purchases have likely already been made.
For most families, a livestock project through 4-H or FFA represents a good way for tweens and teenagers to relate to their parents or guardians. Generations work together to complete good animal husbandry, as well as to develop feeding plans for livestock. Exercising and training livestock for showing takes a lot of work and time that youth have right now. Studying meat and breeding-type livestock can take a youth’s mind off of COVID-19 or other concerns. It is a healthy distraction from what is going on in the world.
We know that trailer shows are successful.
When the swine industry was fighting pseudorabies, trailer shows were held for hogs that youth wanted to take back home. A great success occurred in the United States in 2003 when no commercial total confinement production herd was found to be infected with pseudorabies.
We also know that online livestock sales are successful. The livestock industry has worked with online sales for well over five years. Online sales are an excellent way to spread good genetics when it’s been too far/too expensive to drive to the sale. In addition, online sales are safer because livestock are not spooked by large crowds. We never forget that cattle and sheep can charge and hurt someone.
4-H and FFA educators, as well as livestock breeders, have received questions about purchasing market livestock this year. If the finances make it possible, why not go ahead and make the purchase?
Farming and the ag industry is a critical and essential industry under the COVID-19 shelter-in-place rules. Youth livestock projects serve as an important method for training the next generation of livestock producers.
We don’t want to lose this year of livestock showing due to a lack of creativity. Trailer and online shows as well as written/photography/video documentation can serve as proxies until the we can meet in the show ring, in the livestock barns and in the show stands in the future.