Dairy “livestock” judging shows are used to promote the dairy industry and gain public trust. The 4-H and FFA members who show cows at the State Fair previously placed at county fairs with these same cows.
Dairy cows must look clean for shows and be able to walk around the arena with ease; this training begins at the farm where they are often isolated from the rest of the herd. These “contestant” cows are groomed, handled, and led around daily to become halter broken months before the show starts. They are tied up for hours on end to become used to standing up nonstop to avoid dirtying their body at the fair.
When show time comes, many handlers have a difficult time getting their cow to walk with them cooperatively around the arena in front of the judges. Excessive force is often used to make a scared and reluctant animal perform in this unnatural way. Some handlers dig their fingers and nails into the cow’s sensitive septum or slap them repeatedly in the face. These cows are forced to go an entire day without being milked to give their udders the largest appearance possible because more milk means more money.