March 2017
Feeding Facts

It’s Stock Show and Rodeo Time

We have spent a lot of time lately discussing the challenges associated with the drought. In fact, I have driven the subject into the ground. Most areas in Alabama have seen rain and some winter annuals are beginning to grow. Hopefully, with continued rain and proper fertilization, pastures can catch up and everyone can proceed with business as usual.

With that said, I would like to focus on a subject that is more light-hearted. This time of year, my thoughts always migrate back to my youth and showing livestock. The Alabama Junior Beef Exposition will be held in conjunction with the Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo. The events take place March 16-18 in Montgomery. They are filled with livestock shows, youth and adult rodeos, barrel racing, team roping and a livestock judging contest. I have participated in some of these events. For anyone involved in the livestock industry, there are events anyone would enjoy.

The youth livestock show is a culmination of months of hard work for these cattle exhibitors. This is the grand finale for their steer project and many of the older heifers will end their show careers and be put out to pasture to hopefully raise another champion. These events take hard work if the exhibitor is going to be successful. Much knowledge is gained about feeding and caring for their projects.

Animal selection, feeding, watering and grooming are all involved in steer and heifer projects. These same chores are required of many of the rodeo contestants unless you are a rough-stock contestant, but even then countless hours of training are required to be successful. Most of the contestants are from livestock backgrounds and are involved in caring for animals. Early morning work and long hours accompany those participating in the events of the livestock expo.

The livestock judging competitions are also events laden with work. Viewing countless classes of livestock, evaluating and placing each class, takes skill and precision. Many days when we traveled preparing for a contest, we could evaluate 40-50 classes in a day and give reasons on those classes well into the early morning of the next day. The reasons room is the place that makes a livestock evaluator. The concentration required to present a placing of a class of livestock to a professional is unimaginable. The reasons room is a place that will teach you to organize your thoughts, to be confident, to justify your thoughts and think on your feet.

The underlying thought here is that it takes hard work to be successful in any of these endeavors. If you’re willing to put in the work, then it only makes sense to not shortchange yourself on the quality of tools needed for your event. Livestock exhibitors, as well as those using horses in the rodeo events, should always provide the proper nutrition and supplements their animals need. Oh, and stock contractors should definitely provide the proper nutrition for their animal athletes.

It takes many pieces and parts to come together to exhibit a champion animal or have a winning barrel time. Most of the art of putting these pieces together is done behind the scenes and at home. Years of knowledge and work are the glue binding all of the parts and pieces together. If one of these events happens to be your passion, find a person with experience who can help you be successful. Most of them are more than willing to help; in fact, it will probably make their day.

I spent some time last year and wrote about this same subject. It’s an activity that is near and dear to my heart. These livestock events tend to be filled with people of character – the kind of people who make our country great. The events are those that help train children and adults about the art of taking care of God’s animals that provide us food and fiber for our sustenance.

They are all great events that most can enjoy. They are events offering education on nearly every level. If you can, try to attend some of these events. All of the performers love to see a crowd. It makes them feel appreciated and rewards their hard work. If you can, head to Montgomery’s Garret Coliseum and enjoy some of the events of the Southeastern Livestock Exposition.


Stephen Donaldson is AFC’s animal nutritionist. If I can help any of you, please get in touch with me and let’s succeed together. You can reach me at 256-476-5272 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..