How do I Show Sheep?

I. Ong

To show sheep generally means to display sheep in a competition where categories are based on the different classes and breeds of sheep. Market lambs and sheep raised for breeding usually will be judged according to their physical fitness, tameness, looks, and the measurement of some body parts. Dairy ewes, which are prized for the milk they provide, are typically judged by their anatomical structure, the size of the udder, and the volume and quality of milk it stores. Wool ewes, raised to provide fine wool, are generally judged according to the quality of their coat and their overall appearance. To get ready to show sheep, you will typically need to select which category to compete in, prepare your sheep by grooming and practicing, and find a competition in which to compete.

Properly feeding and exercising sheep will help prepare them for show.
Properly feeding and exercising sheep will help prepare them for show.

There generally are three steps in preparing to show sheep. The first is to feed the sheep and, in some cases, exercise it properly according to the competition’s requirements. Market lambs, which can be judged on the quality of their meat, will typically need a high-protein diet and will need to run on a track and jump hurdles each day. Breeding animals typically need to be fed a balanced diet to give them a healthy, attractive appearance, as well as to fuel their activities. Dairy ewes usually require a diet rich in carbohydrates, as this is essential to their production of milk.

Dairy ewes are prized for the milk they produce.
Dairy ewes are prized for the milk they produce.

The second step in preparing your sheep is to train it for the physical portion of the showing. Sheep must be trained to accept the standard activities in a competition, such as having its teeth inspected, being led, having its head held or pulled, and being flipped over. A sheep generally is trained by repetitive performance of these activities so that it becomes a normal occurrence for it.

Bathing and grooming your sheep is the third and final step. After the sheep is washed, the wool must be trimmed and then smoothed out for better results. Occasionally, paint is used to emphasize the color of the animal's limbs or fleece.

Once your sheep is ready for showing, you can take it to a competition. It is not a complicated process to show sheep, although it can take a physical toll on you due to having to kneel for most of the competition. Typically, you must always keep the sheep between you and the judge so as to keep the animal in sight at all times.

As the judge walks around behind your sheep, you typically need to turn the sheep's head and kneel behind its shoulder. Make sure that the sheep's front legs are planted firmly beneath its shoulders. Its back legs are similarly set behind so as to draw attention to the length of its legs.

When the judge examines the legs, loins, and musculature of the sheep, hold the sheep's head to your stomach while facing the judge in order to present the animal's hindquarters with ease. Place a knee in the sheep's chest while gently pulling its head toward you. This will make the animal tense up, which makes the leg and loin appear firmer as the judge is examining them.

Even young lambs may be shown in competition.
Even young lambs may be shown in competition.

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