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Want to make your cow pretty for the fair? Try hair spray.

August 23, 2011 | 12:01 pm

You may not put lipstick on a pig, but what about hair spray on a cow?


In the highly competitive world of livestock contests and state fair competitions, beautifying a steer before the judges take a peek takes time, skill and a whole lot of grooming products. That’s where the roll of cattle fitters, or “show jocks” in circuit slang, come in. They are the beauticians to the bovine set, and they are charged with gussying up their clients to their championship best.

There are scores of these fitters on the circuit. Some are 4-H kids, learning how to care for their animals, or college students eager to put their years in Future Farmers of America to use. Others are ranchers who primp their own cattle and occasionally handle other people’s animals for $100 a day and all the fair food they can stomach.

Their beauty kits hold an array of tools, from industrial-strength hair dryers and hair oils that smell like roses to jugs of Clear Choice, billed as “the ultimate in livestock shampoos!”

But some products are off-limits. Using black paint was once a staple in show jocks’ beauty kits for primping Black Angus cattle. The American Angus Assn., however, in 2004 banned the practice of using the paint on the breed. Why? The paint, officials said, helped show jocks hide tricks that were not allowed, such as using a chemical sprays to create –- no joke -– cattle hair extensions.

To read more about two cattle fitters and their show ring star, click here.


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-- P.J. Huffstutter

Photo: Elizabeth Vietheer, 10, uses a show stick to gently scratch the belly of her Black Angus cow and calm the animal before she is groomed at the California State Fair Livestock Pavilion. Credit: PJ Huffstutter / Los Angeles Times