DES MOINES, Iowa – It’s a big deal to show livestock at the Iowa State Fair and it takes a lot of work. Getting the cows ready to show is a lot like a beauty pageant.

“Girls go through a lot of different things that are extensive in terms of pedicures and manicures and all that. These cattle do a lot of the same things,” Tate Carey, a cattle fitter explains. “We trim their hooves, we clip them up, and we get them looking the best we can to look the part for that day.”

The kids showing them do a lot of the work, but having a fitter helps.

“Beautician or whatever you wanna call it,” Carey said.

Carey is hired by families, like the Burns, to get their cattle ready for show. His job started as a hobby.

“So, at 10-, 11-years-old at the county fair level we started showing cattle, that was the first step and worked into pigs,” Carey said. “And just your love and passion for what you do just blows up and you chase it as hard as you want to.”

Carey is working with six different families at the Iowa State Fairgrounds this week, but the job takes him across the country. Along with the cows, Carey works with kids.

“When you show up at their house once or twice a week, you just get to know them and watch them grow up,” Carey said, “and they change before your eyes and it’s a fun experience to watch that happen.”

Working with livestock inevitably teaches life lessons including: “getting up in the morning, choring them, patience, teamwork.”

It also builds relationships.

“The amount of love and everything that goes into your animal and the bond you have with your animal is huge,” Halli Hershberger said. “I don’t think people understand that. They’re part of your family.”

“The cattle are just the icing on the cake,” Carey said. “They do a lot of the hard work and we just get to have fun while doing it.”

Carey said the Burns’ cattle earned purple ribbons at the Iowa State Fair.