It's been a long day for Tricia Wilgenbusch.

At 5 a.m. Friday, she started bringing in her purebred Charolais cattle from the stables, getting them ready for a day of blowdrying and clipping before they hit the show ring at Regina's Canadian Western Agribition, billed as the largest livestock show in Canada.

"They smell good, they look good," said Wilgenbusch. "They probably look better than we do."

While spending hours washing and combing cows may sound slightly … odd to city slickers, shows like Agribition are a major event for cattle breeders. Purebred cows and bulls can sell for tens of thousands of dollars to other ranchers looking to improve their herds.

"Presentation is extremely important," she said. "You want them looking their best. You've got a lot of customers looking and watching your show and paying attention to your breeding."

Preparing for cattle shows isn't a one-day affair, either. Wilgenbusch and her family started getting their cattle ready in August, training them to wear a halter and fattening them up for the ring.

"Every day we go out to the barn to quiet them down," she said. "We put time into it."

Young blood

While show day is important for established cattle producers, it's also important for kids getting into the business.

Preteen Eric Fettes has three of his cattle for sale this year.

"The one I already sold is called Racer," he said. "His half-brother is Rusty and the cow I brought is called Little Red." 

eric fettes

Eric Fettes has three cattle from his herd for sale this year. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News)

Eric and his dad, Scott, have been busy all day, shampooing and backcombing to make his cattle look their best.

"I'm very proud," said Scott. "Especially considering the week he's had. He's put some money in the bank and we've got a college fund getting started."

Even though he loves his herd, Eric has few illusions about where they'll eventually end up.

"They're good to eat," he said.

Agribition runs at the Brandt Centre until Saturday.

With files from Alec Salloum