Spring is springing all around the country and youth exhibitors are now wondering, “What do I do with this hair on my calf?” I live with three very talented fitters who have a lot of experience caring for cattle, so I asked them some questions that were asked of me. I figured we’d segment this into a series over the next few weeks. We’re showing now, still calving and my town job has me hopping right now. Quite honestly, I only have time to answer a few questions at a time. So, here we go.
Question #1 – How do I get hair to “pop”? What does that even mean? Getting hair to pop simply means getting it to have body and not lie flat against your calf. Some breeds are more likely to have hair that will pop than others. The most important this is to work with your calf and its hair DAILY. Wash the calf once a week (we use Joy), blow dry the calf and use a brush or roto brush on the legs.
NEVER assume you don’t need to dry the legs and belly. Those are the parts that take the most beating when your calf is out in the lot and need some extra attention. Use a sheen or light oil to keep the calf’s hide from drying out and to continue to help that hair to pop. With the warmer temps, you’ll also notice your calf is beginning to shuck hair. Keep brushing. Brush, brush and brush some more. Getting all the dead hair out of your calf is important and the brushing also stimulates new hair growth. Brush the hair up and forward. Keep the calf’s head clipped as this will help keep it cooler (think of how much better you feel with a hair cut). On the days you’re not washing you can either blow on the calf and brush on it or rinse and blow it out. Either way, keep adding a little sheen every day to keep that hide healthy. Brushing and blowing are the two biggies, if you hadn’t picked up on that yet.
That’s it for today. A clean calf who’s being worked with will usually respond better to you, too. That calf is learning to trust you. Keep at it. It will pay off. Tomorrow I’ll talk to you about skin issues, specifically ring worm and warts.