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Best Tips on How to Clip a Show Steer

Show steer in rack getting clipped

Preparing your steer for a show involves more than just feeding and training to get them looking their best. Clipping and grooming are crucial steps when it comes to showcasing your animal’s features to the judges.

Before you begin make sure to know where your animal’s strong points are and where they struggle with their shape more as your fitting will change based on that. If you are new to showing or need a refresher, here are some tips to help clip your show steer.



Having the right tools is one of the most important steps! There are different tools that are used for fitting before a show and fitting at a show. Here are some that are I’ve used before the show.


Clippers with different blades

There are a ton of clippers on the market for competitors. It’s best to get a clippers with several interchangeable heads for clipping different parts of the body with different lengths of hair. Different blades are used as some parts are shaved down more while others are left longer.

Some common clippers that are used are a flat head, sheep heads and small clippers. Flat head clippers are good for beginners as they can be used all over the body and will do minimal damage. Small clippers are good for doing some of the more detailed areas and can be used with a variety of different blades.


Some blades that are commonly used in small clippers are 10 blades (heads and tail heads) and blending blade (detail work). In sheep heads, there are also a variety of blades that can be used but some common ones are beveled blades (heads and front ends) and blocking blades.

Do your research and ask around for what the best clippers are. I like to use the Andis brand with blocking, blending and T-84 blades for short hair cattle. I use blocking and blending blades on their body and T-84 on their head and tail. For fuzzy haired cattle, I like to use X-Block clippers.


Comb and brushes

Combs and brushes are great for training the hair to grow in the direction you want it too. They also help to remove any dead hair and make the hair healthier.

For combs use a scotch comb (regular or fluffer combs). Gently run the regular scotch comb in a forward and upward direction to avoid scratching the cattle, as the comb’s points can be very sharp.

Regular Scotch Comb
Regular Scotch Comb

Most exhibitors prefer having two scotch combs: one for grooming body hair and another for using with adhesives on the leg and tail head hair. A fluffer comb, similar to a scotch comb but with teeth set further apart, helps to fluff the hair, making it pop as you comb through it.

Fluffer Scotch Comb 6"
Fluffer Scotch Comb


Scissors can be useful when it comes to fine tuning the hair. They can also be used to do the final touches on show day after you’ve applied all of the products and adhesives. Make sure you invest in scissors that are sharp and capable of cutting through those products once they’re in the hair.


Cattle Scissors/Shears
Cattle Scissors

Blow Dryer

A good quality blow dryer can help remove all of the dust or any leftover water from the hair before you clip it.

Cattle Blower
Cattle Blower



I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to practice clipping well in advance of the show. It requires a lot of practice and preparation! Don’t go into show day expecting to clip your steer perfectly.

To start, its important to make sure the steer is clean and dry. Once you begin clipping make sure you are clipping against the natural contour of the hair to create a smooth finish. You will want to clip around a week before the actual show and then do touch up work closer to the show. Start by using your blower and blowing the hair in a forward direction which will make it easier to clip.



When clipping the head, you will want to use a smaller set of clippers as it can be easier to maneuver around. Some smaller sets are also quieter which can be helpful to keep the animal calmer. Clip the hair off the head and the face, but leave the hair on the poll (the top of the head) of the steer as well as the ears. Then blend the hair down the cheeks.

Parts of a Show Steer Chart
Parts of a Show Steer


Clipping this area can be challenging, but you want to blend the hair to provide a smooth look to the front end of the animal and make it appear longer necked. You will also want to blend the hair on the shoulder of the animal to help make its transitions appear smoother. When blending the topline into the neck, you want to work up towards the poll. Trim the hair off the sheath and then move towards the front legs. Clip around a clipper’s width between the front legs and move up towards the dewlap and throat area. Clip the hair off smooth here to give the animal a better side profile.


Tail and Topline

Start towards the center portion of the tail above the twist and clip in an upward motion clipping the front, sides, and back of the tail. Stop clipping around 6 inches below where the tail head begins to round. Then begin to blend both sides of the tail head to create the desired fin shape. When clipping the topline, first pull the hair up using a comb and start at the hip working backwards towards the tail head to create a level look. Square up the backside of the tail head making it come to a point. Blend both sides of the tail head from where the tail was clipped. When clipping the hip, you want to make the angle match the angle the tail head is at. You want to create a wide, flat hip structure that ties into a strong topline. You also want to help make them level from hip to shoulder.



Clipping the legs on steers can differ from one to another. Start with the front legs and clip the hair off the front of the legs and blend the hair into the shoulder. Then clip the hair off the knee down to create a slight curved shape to make the leg look more flexible. On the backside of the front legs, clip the hair in a straight line. Lastly on the front legs, clean up any long hairs on the inside of the knee.


On the back legs start with combing the hair up. From a side view, start at the top of the leg and work down creating a slight curve to the leg and not a straight line. Then create a straighter angle on the backside leaving as much hair down towards the pastern as possible. From a hind view, clip the hair off the hock joint both on the inside and outside of the leg. You will also clip the hair off the pastern to make it look like the animal has more bone structure. Lastly, blend the hair from the hock to the lower stifle in an outward motion to keep the edges soft. Be careful not to make the animal look fake.



When clipping the underline of the belly, remember you are trying to add depth and balance to the steer. You don’t want to clip the hair in a straight line, but you also do not want to give the appearance of the steer having a pot belly. Start from the fore rib and progressively get deeper as you reach the flank. You also want to add a swoop from the navel to the flank to create more rib shape. Lastly, clip off any extra long hairs to help give it more of a smooth appearance.

Step-By-Step Show Clipping Guide


  1. Wash and Dry the Steer: Start with a clean steer. Wash your steer thoroughly with soap and water. Rinse well and dry the steer using a blower. Make sure the steer is completely dry before you start clipping.

  2. Secure the Steer: Place the steer in a blocking chute to keep it steady. Ensure the chute is secure and comfortable for the steer.

  3. Brush the Hair: Brush the steer’s hair in the direction it grows to remove any tangles and to get the hair standing up. This will make clipping easier and more precise.

Clipping Process:

  1. Start with the Body: Use large clippers to clip the body. I like to use the Andis clipper with the blocking and blending blades for the body. Clip in the direction of the hair growth, usually starting from the top of the steer and move down. Focus on getting an even cut.

  2. Clipping the Topline: The topline is crucial for a good show appearance. Use the clippers to trim the hair along the back, making it straight and level. Take your time to ensure it’s even.

  3. Blend the Shoulders and Neck: Use smaller clippers or adjust the blade to a finer setting to blend the shoulders and neck into the body. Clipping against the direction of hair growth can help create a smooth transition.

  4. Clipping the Head: Carefully clip the head, starting from the top and moving towards the muzzle. Be gentle around the eyes, ears and nose. Use scissors or small shears for precision around these sensitive areas. I like to use the Andis clippers with the T-84 blade for the head and tail.

  5. Clip the Legs: Clip the legs evenly, ensuring to blend them smoothly with the body. The hair on the legs can be left slightly longer to give the appearance of more muscle.

  6. Detail Work: Pay attention to any uneven spots and blend them carefully with your blending blade. Use smaller clippers and scissors for detailed areas and ensure everything is symmetrical.

  7. Finish with the Tail: Trim the tail to a manageable length, typically leaving a tuft at the end. This tuft can be shaped nicely to complete the look.

Final Touches:

  1. Blow and Brush Again: After clipping, use the blower to remove any loose hair and brush the steer once more to check for evenness.

  2. Apply Sheen or Oil: Spray a light coat of sheen or oil to make the coat shine. This helps the steer look its best under the show ring lights.


Clipping a steer can help add to your steer and bring out some of its stronger characteristics. Be careful and patient when clipping to ensure you are doing your best and go slow! You’ve got this!



Delaney Barber


The Journey to the Ring

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