KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Last week it was barbeque. This week it’s the start of the American Royal Livestock Show.

About 7,000 animals will come through the American Royal Complex in Kansas City during the next three weeks. Thursday was the first round of move-ins — no pun intended.

The fresh mulch is down, and most of the arriving cows are freshly shampooed. Farms from more than 30 states are represented during the competition, which is taken seriously from a young age.

On Thursday, 8-year-old Morgan Pattimore from Paola, Kansas, prepped her cow, a miniature Hereford named Skittles.

“So she’s full grown. She probably only going to get this big. That’s why she’s called a mini-Hereford,” Pattimore said.

“Her personality is… not kids. She hates them,” Pattimore said.

“When I first got her,” she said, interrupted by a moo. “When I first got her, she kicked me a lot.”

Morgan’s mom, Colleen Pattimore, said her daughter started showing cattle around the same time she and her husband did when they were little.

“The work happens at home, and you just get the reward at the show. She can’t just show up today and expect to be able to show him. She spends hours in the barns,” Colleen Pattimore said.

“We have like this whitening shampoo, so we’ll put it on her face and everything,” Morgan Pattimore said.

But there are growing challenges for people who raise cattle.

“A bag of feed for these guys has almost doubled in price since last year,” Colleen Pattimore said.

“The corn that is for human consumption, there’s less of that, which makes all corn higher,” said Taylor Phillips, a 20-year-old from New Boston, Missouri.

She also said the effort to raise show cows is, on its own, a huge commitment.

“There’s certain breeds that are really bad about having a baby and then going off and leaving it. And these cattle, especially the ones that are out in Montana and out in the West, will fight bears and stuff like that and stay with their babies,” Phillips said of her Salers Cattle.

But Phillips finds comfort in her herd.

“I like go hide in the barn to deal with all of my problems because they’re always quiet and they’re very literal to what you do. They respond to how you’re acting. And they don’t understand like if you’re mad about something else and you come in and they’re just mad about it. They’re like, ‘Whoa, what is your issue today?'” Phillips said.

Ultimately, Morgan Pattimore said a lot of her focus is on what happens in the ring.

“In showmanship they’re looking for how you treat the cow,” Morgan Pattimore said.

“Because if you do not treat them the way they want you to treat them, they will treat you bad too,” she said with Skittles, nudging into her personal space.

“Fine! Just calm down! Please!” she said to Skittles.

Find more information on the American Royal Livestock show here and a full schedule of events here.