O’Rourke: Know Before You Show

As families start preparing for spring cattle exhibitions and county fair projects, there are some things to know before you show.

Extension Livestock Specialist Bernie O’Rourke wears a few hats during fair season. With Extension, she works with families involved in youth animal projects. At home, she’s a sheep producer and a mom to avid showmen.

She walks us through a few reminders ahead of the fair season from proper identification to meeting auction requirements:

O’Rourke says no matter the species you bring into the ring, having a relationship with a veterinarian is a must. The VCPR – Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship – is critical and required. It means the vet has checked over the farm, especially if you’re raising animals for the first time, and giving advice for preventing any health issues.

If you need a vet prescription, they won’t write one unless they know you. Swine projects require Certificates of Veterinary Inspection or CVIs. 

Guidance from a veterinarian also teaches you new skills. O’Rourke’s son had learned how to do a C-section with the vet when their ewe had trouble lambing.

She reminds families to read through the fair book — not just first-time exhibitors but seasoned showmen as well because it might be updated. Fair books cover weigh-in dates, vaccines/castration protocols, auction rules, animal identification, and education requirements.

Finally, O’Rourke encourages families to maintain a positive attitude during the whole process. The point of the project is to learn. Not everyone gets this type of opportunity to be involved with livestock or the fair community.