Cattle at the Tennessee Junior Livestock Expo

The Ag Swag every exhibitor is looking for

Last week was a busy one for the cattle show folks here in Tennessee. We were in Murfreesboro, TN all week for the first week of the 41st annual Tennessee Junior Livestock Exposition (web, Facebook). Week 1 is all about the cattle. Week 2 is all about the sheep.

It was a busy week for those of us with the University Animal Science Department, preparing the entries, paperwork, arena, and awards. The best way to describe my feelings come Wednesday evening was “show week tired.” Those of you who have been there know exactly what I mean.

Monday was all about preparation and entries. Market steers and commercial heifers had to be weighed-in so the divisions could be divided into even classes of similar weight. Steers were also ultrasounded for ribeye area and fat thickness for the carcass competition (steer with the best measurements for potential carcass performance including weight, muscle and fat). Each day there was also a skill-a-thon for exhibitors, but I’ll share more on that later.

Tuesday everyone geared up for the steer and commercial heifer shows and showmanship competitions. Wednesday was full of registered heifer show and showmanship. In this show, each breed of cattle shows together, divided into classes based on the animal’s age. The showmanship competitions are a great opportunity for the exhibitors to be judged on their ability to show an animal in front of the judge. This sometimes includes swapping animals with another exhibitor in the ring.Everything wrapped up quickly and no one was injured.

The judges were from Texas and Kansas, both really thorough in their comments on each class. As we ran two rings, each judge had to share the mic between each class. It turned into a battle of the coaches and the guy from Kansas won out in control of the mic. But I think the judge from Texas really didn’t mind just talking one-on-one with each exhibitor.

It’s great to see so many youth involved in 4-H and FFA programs and competing in livestock competitions at the state level. As the judge from Kansas was explaining one of the cattle classes as the show wrapped up, he made some great comments that got my wheels turning.

Showing cattle is a great opportunity for youth to learn not only how to win, but also how to lose. These are vital life skills that many people miss out on if they don’t have to earn anything. Let the kids work. They’ll be better people for the experience.

Breakfast of champions at a cattle show and a regular occurrence for grad school students. Did someone say food?
1 of 3 tables of ribbons and plaques I had to plow through on show day
Champion Steer
Clean shavings

This week I’m at the TJLE lamb show in Cookeville, TN. I’m sharing photos and updates on my Social Media profiles. Be sure to follow along on Twitter using the #TNAg hashtag.

What is your favorite part of cattle shows?

Did you learn any valuable life lessons from showing livestock?

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1 Comment

  1. My daughter Madison won the Supreme Overall Heifer at Expo and reserve grand champion showman. I actually went home early to take care of the rest of the animals that did not venture out to the show, so I missed it!! It was a fantastic day. She works soo hard in all aspects of our farming operation. It is hard for me to watch other children who don’t work with their cattle at home win. I agree with your thoughts on losing and she has had many, many disappointments in her time. It is important to remember that the experiences and relationships are what really matter. I tell her all the time to realize that her value does not decrease based on someone elses inability to see her worth. Madison and her grandfather show together as he did with my husband. The relationship and bond that they share is wonderful and I would have loved to have been there to see the look on his face when she won at Expo. Madison writes a blog to promote the farming life and beef cattle. You can see her blog at

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