Showing Dairy Cattle

The Purebred Dairy Cattle Association (PDCA) has created recommendations for both showmanship and show ring ethics.  You can download these materials by clicking the links directly below or by reading the materials further below.

PDCA Showmanship Evaluation Card
PDCA Showring Code of Ethics

PDCA Showmanship Evaluation Card
It is important that participants in showmanship ensure that their animal is in proper body condition and growth based on the age of the animal. Horns are to be removed at an appropriate age to provide a safer environment for the leadsperson. Feet should be property trimmed to promote ease of movement for the animal.  These practices will show good husbandry skills of the participant as well as a positive image for the dairy industry.

PDCA recommends the following levels of discrimination in the judging of showmanship competitions:

Slight Discriminations
• Inappropriate halter.
• Lead strap tightly looped.
• Walks slowly backward into the ring.
• Sidesteps when leading calf.
• Has stiff outstretched arm.
• Has poor posture – either overly stiff or slumped, sloppy.
• Improper head carriage, animal’s nose too high.
• Calf’s head is not turned slightly toward judge when hide is felt.
• Stepping on or kicking at tl1e animal’s front feet. (Note that a slight touch to move animal’s front feet is allowed and should not be discriminated against).

• Minor instances of animal not handling well.
• Is not alert.
• Muzzle is not wiped clean.
• Switch is not brushed and fluffed.
• Clipping lines not properly blended.*

Moderate Discriminations
• Not wearing white clothing or show-approved professional attire.
• Inappropriate or unprofessional attire that draws attention to the exhibitor.
• Wearing clothing with farm or commercial advertising/logos.
• Does not know birth date, fresh date, breeding date, due date.
• Unable to recognize type faults of the animal.*
• Halter not fitting or put together properly.
• Holding the lead strap too far from the halter.
• Has fingers in ring of the halter.
• Failure to hold throat when needed.
• Improper head carriage, animal’s head held too low.
• Unable to show animal to best advantage.
• Slow response to judge or ring official.
• Inattentiveness.
• Watching the judge too intently.
• Over-showing.
• Leading too slowly.
• Has elbow or hands up.
• Is too far outside or inside of ring.
• Incorrect spacing to the animal in front when on parade.
• Failure to switch rear legs when the judge moves around the animal (heifers, rear leg nearest the judge back; milking and dry cows, rear leg nearest the judge forward).
• Doesn’t walk quickly into line.
• Crowding or bumping other animals when pulled in line.
• Leaving extra space in line.
• Failure to maintain a straight lineup.
• Moves excessively in line.
• Unable to back up animal.
• Legs incorrectly posed.
• Does not keep animal straight from head to tail.
• Chewing gum.

• Legs not clipped.
• Dirt/ dust in hair coat.
• Dirt/ wax in ears.
• Feet not cleaned.
• Excessive use of hair sprays, powder and other fitting products.
• Clipping too early; hair appears too long.
• Incomplete clipping.
• Excessive clipping.

Serious Discriminations
• Lead strap looped and fastened.
• Striking the animal.
• Positioning animal’s rear feet by stepping on rear feet.
• Fusses witf1 or moves calf to the extreme.
• Minor instances of unsportsmanlike conduct.
• Is late to class.
• Wearing inappropriate shoes.
• Chewing tobacco.
• Carries or talks on a cell phone.

• Animal causing disturbances to others.

Recommendation for evaluation of topline:
• Violations of PDCA Show Ring Code of Ethics.
• Unsportsmanlike conduct.
• Repeated striking of the animal.
• Topline is groomed, doesn’t distract from the animal’s overall appearance, and conforms to the guidelines of the PDCA Show Ring Code of ethic*
*Expectations should be age appropriate and at some shows, these fitting criteria may be significantly downplayed at the discretion of show management and with appropriate communication to exhibitors.

The Purebred Dairy Cattle Association Show Ring Code of Ethics
Adopted April 3, 2004

The showing of registered dairy cattle stimulates and sustains interest in the breeding of registered dairy cattle. It is also an important part of the promotion, merchandising and breeding program of many breeders. For these reasons, the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association (PDCA) believes that it is in the best interest of all breeders of registered dairy cattle to maintain a reputation of integrity in dairy cattle shows and to present a wholesome and progressive image of dairy cattle in the show ring.

PDCA endorses this Show Ring Code of Ethics for all dairy breed shows and pledges its full cooperative support for its enforcement to show management, show judges, and the national breed associations.

The application of this Code of Ethics provides for absolute responsibility for an animal’s condition by an owner, exhibitor, fitter or participant whether or not he or she was actually instrumental in or had actual knowledge of the treatment of the animal in contravention of this Code of Ethics. Dairy cattle exhibitors shall, at all times, deport themselves with honesty and good sportsmanship.

It is recognized that there are certain practices in the proper care and management of dairy cattle that are necessary in the course of moving dairy cattle to and between shows that are advisable to keep them in a sound, healthy state so they might be presented in the show ring in a natural, normal condition. At all times, exhibition livestock shall be treated in a humane manner and in accordance with dairy quality assurance practices so as to protect the health, safety and welfare of the livestock and the consuming public. No person shall present for exhibition or exhibit an animal which he or she knows, or has reason to suspect, is affected with or has been exposed to a dangerously contagious or infectious disease, or illegal or non-approved use of drugs, medication and/or prohibited substance, or residue.

The position of the Purebred Dairy Cattle Association is that all animals presented for exhibition shall be in their natural conformation and structure, free of any alteration or modification by injection or internal or external administration of any substance or by any involvement in unethical fitting.

Grooming and Preparation
Dairy cattle exhibitions are conducted under standards for evaluating conformation established by the PDCA Unified Score Card (2009), with specific breed characteristics taken into consideration by the show judge. In this connection, animals will be groomed and prepared for the judge’s evaluation in order to display the animal’s natural contour, conformation, performance and mobility. Specifically:

  1. External applications of cosmetics that affect only appearance may be used, including by way of example hoof polishes and false switches.
  2. The maximum allowable length of naturally growing hair anywhere on the topline is not to exceed 1”. Exhibitors will be required to comply with this rule before the animal is allowed to enter the ring.
  3. Addition of foreign objects, including but not limited to hair or hair substitutes, cloth or fiber, to change the natural contour or appearance of the animal’s body is prohibited.
  4. Externally sealing the teat end with a preparation that does not harm the animal’s skin is permissible. Natural teat placement will be given preference over artificially positioned teats.

Violations: False, Deceptive or Unacceptable Practices
These practices are violations of the Code of Ethics and will be reported to show management and may be reported to the respective national breed associations:

  1. Misrepresenting the age and/or milking status of the animal for the class in which it is shown.
  2. Treating the animal, particularly the udder, internally or externally:
    a. with an irritant or counter-irritant,
    b. using a device to artificially create or enhance the udder crease,
    c. using other substances as detected by testing that causes changes in the udder to artificially improve the conformation.
    d. plugging of teat canal with foreign substances.
  3. Surgical or unethical insertion of any matter under the skin or into body cavities, performed to change the natural contour or appearance of the animal’s body (e.g., administration of fluid via a stomach tube or other similar apparatus to fill the rumen), though not to preclude practices required or involved in normal management.
  4. Criticizing or interfering with the judge, show management or other exhibitors while in the show ring or other conduct detrimental to the breed or the show.
  5. Challenging, threatening or interfering with an ethics committee appointed by show management to monitor the animals on exhibit on the show grounds.
    Exhibitor Responsibility

Exhibitor Responsibility
The act of entering an animal in a livestock show is the giving of consent by the owner, exhibitor, fitter and/or absolutely responsible person (hereinafter referred to as “Exhibitor”) for show management to obtain any specimens of urine, saliva, blood, milk, or other substances from the animal to be used in testing. Materials may also be collected by ultrasound and photographic methods and by direct examination of animal.

The act of entering an animal is the giving of consent by the owner, exhibitor, fitter and/or absolutely responsible person (the “Exhibitor”) to have disciplinary action for violation of this Show Ring Code of Ethics taken by show management, the state in which the show occurs, and/or the national dairy breed association without recourse.

Show Ethics Committee
Each show should have an Ethics Committee. The make-up of this committee should include official breed representatives, representative(s) of show management (e.g., dairy cattle show superintendent, General Manager), the official show veterinarian, and Extension representative.
The Ethics Committee will be responsible for monitoring violations of the Show Ring Code of Ethics. The Ethics Committee will investigate the report of any violation and determine the accuracy of the allegation. The Ethics Committee will have the authority to inspect animals and related material to determine if violations have occurred.

Violations: Reporting and Investigation
Complaints of alleged violations can be reported to the breed superintendent, the show superintendent, show management, and/or the Ethics Committee.

Before An Animal is Shown
If the Ethics Committee suspects that a violation of the Show Ring Code of Ethics will occur if the animal is shown, and that violation is reasonably well established before the animal is shown, the Ethics Committee will submit a report to show management.
Show management will discuss the violation with the Exhibitor:

  1. If, at the Exhibitor’s discretion, the animal in question is not shown, no violation will have occurred.
  2. If the Exhibitor wishes to challenge that a violation occurred, he/she/they will have opportunity to appeal to the Ethics Committee. If its decision is not changed, the Exhibitor will be denied opportunity to exhibit the animal in question.

During and After An Animal is Shown
All animals are subject to examination during judging. The judge and Ethics Committee are instructed to examine the top five (5) animals in each class closely for violations of the Show Ring Code of Ethics. When a violation may have occurred, a milkout may be called for. This call may be by breed association rule, or by request of an authorized representative of the national breed association, the judge, the Ethics Committee, or show management.

If an animal is exhibited and a violation of the Show Ring Code of Ethics is subsequently suspected, investigated, and determined to have occurred, the violation will be reported to the Ethics Committee and show management for action. The Exhibitor will be notified of the violation and the supporting evidence and invited to defend or explain the allegations.

Violations are subject to the disciplinary provisions of show management, the state in which the show occurs, and the national dairy breed association. Sanctions may include any one, or combination of the following:
· forfeiture or return of awards, prizes, premiums or proceeds;
· written letter of reprimand to the owner, exhibitor, fitter and/or absolutely responsible person (the “Exhibitor”);
· disqualification of the exhibition livestock from an exhibition;
· disqualification of the Exhibitor from the show;
· publication of offense.
Disqualification may include any or all shows and classes and may be for any number of years.

History: Adopted by PDCA in March 1969, revised March 1971, February 1977, February 1981, February 1986, February 1988, February 1989, February 1992, February 1993, November 1995, April 2002; April 2004.