Feeding Show Winners

With the weather warming up and school just about to finish, so many youth are thinking about their animals that they will take to the fair. At AgVenture, we have products that will help to accomplish the goals you may have during the show season. Here are some tips on how to feed your animals this show season.

An important start in any feed ration is to make sure that there is access to fresh and clean water at all times. Water is important to make sure feed intake is adequate and also so that the animal is healthy and active.


  • Grains and Concentrates: An animal that is gaining weight at a moderate rate (two to three lbs. per head per day) needs about 1.5 percent of their body weight in grains and concentrates per day to provide the required energy to support those gains. Rapidly growing cattle (3 lbs +), such as steers and bulls can be safely fed up to 2.0-2.25 percent of their weight in grain and concentrate mixes. Very high grain diets (over 2.75 percent of body weight) can be detrimental for hair growth and can cause digestive upsets if not very carefully monitored. Corn, oats, barley, and sometimes milo and wheat are the main energy sources. Corn and oats are the most widely used in show diets and are normally processed in some way. Corn is normally cracked, crimped or steam rolled. Oats are normally crimped or steam rolled but can be fed whole. Oats are thought to be very useful because they carry a combination of protein, energy (from starch) and fiber. They provide for excellent animal growth with out the deposition excessive amounts of fat. Barley is similar to oats in that it also carries a combination of protein, energy and fiber but WILL tend to deposit fat more readily.

  • Proteins: Soybean meal and cottonseed meal are the most commonly used protein sources. Other protein sources include corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal, linseed meal, canola meal and sunflower meal. Alfalfa meal or alfalfa pellets are also commonly used sources of protein in show cattle feeds. Commercial protein supplements are also common in commercial feeds and will typically carry minerals, vitamins and possibly medications or other additives. In most cases, natural protein sources are preferred over those containing non-protein nitrogen such as urea or biuret for show cattle mixes although these ingredients are fine if used carefully.

  • Minerals: The minerals needed include calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Show steers rarely need phosphorus but an added calcium source should be considered. A suitable calcium source is feed-grade limestone. Remember that a minimum calcium to phosphorus ratio is 1.2:1 but 2:1 or 3:1 are preferable. The higher ratios might be needed when feeding fat sources such as vegetable oil (fat can interfere with calcium absorption). Trace minerals need to be added to balance this portion of the ration and organic sources are often quite useful.

  • Vitamins: The major vitamin requirement in the feed is for Vitamin A. Normally vitamin supplements are provided in a vitamin A-D-E complex. Using high quality feeds can reduce some of the concern about the other vitamins. Make sure that cattle receive 20,000 to 30,000 international units (IU) of vitamin A per head daily. Vitamin D is not a critical since cattle which are exposed to sunlight manufacture most of the needed Vitamin D in their skin. Vitamin E is becoming more popular since it appears to have significant benefits on hair coat quality and overall animal health. Finally, it is often beneficial to add B-Vitamins to show cattle feeds especially when feeding of grains is at a very high level and roughage intake is minimized to promote rapid gains.

  • Molasses and other additives: Many rations will contain molasses. Molasses or a molasses blend added at 6 to 10 percent of the feed may be added to increase the palatability of a ration and reduce dust problems.


  • Find a feed that helps to add muscling, leaness, and weight to your animal


  • The most important parts of a ration include protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. It is important to make sure that your animal is on the correct ration, so make sure you work with a nutritionist to ensure the best results.

  • Give each goat a “softball” sized amount of a mixed alfalfa-grass hay per day (make sure it is soft and not stemmy). Goats are a ruminant animal, so they need some long-stem fiber/roughage in their diet. More market goats are ruined by feeding too much hay than almost any other condition. Too much hay will give them a “hay belly”. Do not let your goats eat pasture or grass in the yard! Giving pasture or grass to a market goats is the same as too much hay.


  • It is of upmost importance to maintain rumen health and function. Feeding grain- based diets without providing sufficient roughage in the lamb’s diet can lead to unintended consequences.

  • At minimum, each lamb should receive a double handful, or about ¼ lbs. (4 ounces) of a good-quality alfalfa hay per day. Although progressive judges are selecting lambs with more base width, rib shape, and deeper fore rib, we still want lambs that are relatively tubular in their design. That means a lamb with an excessive middle usually will not be placed high in class.

  • It is also important to feed a quality alfalfa with a minimum 1 ½ to 2 inches of fiber length. Feeding alfalfa pellets or ground hay does not have the effective neutral detergent fiber (NDF) needed for rumen health.

At AgVenture, we carry Show Day Feeds available from Form-A-Feed and Show-Rite feed available from Hubbard. Stop by our store to learn more about these products and how you can feed your animal for the show!

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