Livestock show

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Merino ewes being judged in New South Wales

A livestock show is an event where livestock are exhibited and judged on certain phenotypical breed traits as specified by their respective breed standard. Species of livestock that may be shown include pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, horses, llamas and alpacas.[1] Poultry such as chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys and pigeons are also shown competitively.[2] A livestock show may be part of an agricultural show.

Showing criteria[edit]

The phenotypical traits that are evaluated with all species of livestock are muscle, structural correctness, frame size, style and balance. These certain traits will vary with certain species as well as if the animal is shown for market or for breeding stock. For meat animals, muscling is an important trait. There are several indicators of muscle, mainly being on the top line and rear of the animal. For dairy animals, qualities that improve milk production are vital. For poultry, feathers are important, and traits such as broken or cut feathers are a disqualification. Structural correctness is another trait refers to how well the animals skeleton is put together, more specifically their bone structure.

A cow at the Dutchess County (NY) Fair

The animal needs to move with ease and smoothness. Animals should also have proper angles to their pasterns and flex in their joints, should as their hock, knee, and shoulder. Frame is another trait that is looked at when judging livestock. Frame should be decided on whether the animal is long-bodied, tall fronted, and have some internal capacity. An animal that has style and balance is one that holds its head up high when it walks, and is smooth in its overall appearance. The animal should be free of excess fat and should stand with a wide base.

In the unique case of horses, horse shows include not only the conformation judging common to all livestock, but also add performance classes where the animals are either ridden or shown in harness to display their training and underlying athletic ability, manners and temperament.


The show livestock industry has become such a popular thing, that many young people are going to junior colleges and universities to be on the livestock judging teams. Being part of a livestock judging team is helpful with people's about to judge livestock and communicate with others. Many junior colleges and universities are helping students on the livestock judging teams pay for all or part of their education tuition.

Many livestock shows are for 4-H and FFA youth projects.

United States[edit]

There are many different livestock shows all over the United States. Some of the more prestigious livestock shows are; the North American International Livestock Exposition held in Louisville, Kentucky, the American Royal held in Kansas City, Missouri, the National Western Stock Show held in Denver, Colorado, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo held in Houston, Texas and the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo held in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition numerous livestock breeds hold shows for junior exhibitors annually.


  1. ^ Ekarius, Carol (2008). Storey's Illustrated Breed Guide to Sheep, Goats, Cattle and Pigs. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60342-036-5. 
  2. ^ Ekarius, Carol (2007). Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58017-667-5.