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Showmanship Resources

Showmanship is arguably one of the best parts of showing because it gives anyone, regardless of heifer conformation a chance to place. You’ve fed, watered, hayed, washed, blow-dried, clipped, and cleaned up your heifer. You’ve trained almost daily on teaching your heifer to walk and set up properly. It’s time to enter the showmanship class. Here are a few resources that will help you understand and succeed in this class.

The PDCA, known for holding the official breakdown of cow and breed-specific conformation, also has the PDCA Showmanship Evaluation Card. It is the industry standard filtering down from the World Dairy Expo to state shows. Sometimes, especially for local shows, the scoring system may not be specified in the rules. You are welcome to email the show chairman in advance or speak with them at the show for clarification. It’s smart to listen to the judge’s reasons on previous classes to gain information on their style and use the PDCA card for the rest. Listening to the judge's reasons can help you better understand what they're looking for. The PDCA offers further guidelines here.

The PDCA also offers a Show Ring Code of Ethics. While this is a starting point, every state 4-H and FFA has their own specific rules. It’s recommended to read those specific rules in depth at the state level or for any local show you are entering. Not knowing the rules doesn’t excuse one if they break a rule. Always read the rules and code of ethics for any specific show you are entering as they will not exactly match the PDCA version or even different versions of other shows.

In addition to the PDCA, the Holstein Foundation offers a wealth of knowledge about the dairy industry, showmanship, and beyond. They’ve created multiple workbooks on multiple topics from cattle nutrition, to genetics, to dairy judging, showmanship, and more. It is well worth the time to check out these dairy materials for whatever niche you are interested in. All workbooks are presented here. Dairy Judging, Working with Dairy Cattle, and Showring Ready are three most relevant to showing a dairy heifer or cow, and again well worth the read.

Further, they have created multiple video clips on how to show. To view all videos and a clipping demonstration, visit

A few articles to check out include:

These are all great resources to have. Sometimes remember that what applies to registered showing, may not transfer directly over to commercial or to individual judge’s preferences. You might have learned a different way, have been told by a judge something different, or watched other exhibitors exhibit differently. In these cases talk with your coach about what advice follows the rules and what is most right for you and your particular heifer that season.

Put all advice into context and talk with your coach about what should and shouldn’t be adopted. If you need help, reach out to another coach, even from other counties, so you can improve your showmanship game. If you need some more help or someone to get you in contact with another, reach out to GDYF through this site or social media.

Showmanship is one of the best parts of showing. It helps to have as much information as possible, and then put it into practice what works for you and your particular heifer.


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