In the right place

Here’s my catch up post from last week! From June 19-21, I had the opportunity and privilege to help with the University of Missouri’s Livestock Judging Camp. I joined a few students my age with livestock judging experience, along with the current MU Livestock Judging Team and Coach Chip Kemp, in putting on a workshop to help a few high school teams improve and revamp their judging skills.

To a “non-aggie,” livestock judging consists of the evaluation of a group (usually 4) of animals (whether it be cattle, pigs, sheep, meat goats…) and then consecutively making a decision how to place them by comparing them to the other animals in the class and by determining the standards of the particular class. After recording their placings, the participating team (made of usually 3 or 4 members) has each individual on the team give a set of oral reasons describing why they placed each animal in that consecutive order. Reasons allow each individual to get into details of each individual animal and are expected to deliver those with good tone and diction. From each class placing and each set of oral reasons, the individuals are given a score of one to 50. The team scores are combined and compared with other team scores for the final placings.

Livestock Judging not only teaches you how to correctly evaluate livestock, but it also helps improve your public speaking, self-confidence, and decision making skills. Perhaps my favorite part of livestock judging is the people you meet along the way the quality of animals you have the opportunity to see.

I joined my FFA chapter’s livestock judging team my freshman year and I quickly learned I had a keen interest for the contest. My team qualified and competed at state but we fell short of our goal of placing in the top 10. I had taken a break from livestock judging until the summer after my senior year of high school where I was asked to be on a 4-H livestock judging team with a few other people from my 4-H district. In September 2011, I joined my team-Will and Zech Moore of Belle, and Tara Fountain of Centralia-in judging at the state contest against many other competitive teams. To our surprise, we pulled away with first place medals and a trip to Louisville, KY to compete at the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest held during the North American International Livestock Exposition.

After a lot of practice and reasons, our team took about a week off of school later that year in November to travel to different farms in the Louisville area and surrounding states to look at some of the best livestock in the country. It truly was one of the best experiences in my life, along with the actual contest. We we ended up placing 4th nationally- only one place away from having the chance to travel abroad and judge internationally, but it was still an incredible experience. As for my team members and others I met through 4-H and FFA contests such as this one, they are irreplaceable.

I hope the students who attended MU’s Judging Camp created stronger bonds with their team and made new friends, just as I did. You don’t find many opportunities  that allow you to compete and make friends at the same time, along with finding a source of preparation and confidence for your future. A chance where I get to “place” is one of my favorite places because there is aways someone to meet and something to learn.

From Left: Coach Nathan Martin, Centralia; Zech Moore, Belle; Shannon Yokley, Jefferson City; Will Moore, Belle; (Not Pictured) Tara Fountain, CentraliaThe official Livestock Judging Team Picture at Nationals.
From Left: Coach Nathan Martin, Centralia; Zech Moore, Belle; Shannon Yokley, Jefferson City; Will Moore, Belle (Not Pictured) Tara Fountain, Centralia

The “unofficial” team picture.

Thanks for reading! Can’t wait for Ag Fact Friday!


“Judging animal shows is an honor. Judges have the opportunity to teach, help develop young people, showcase animal agriculture, and even provide a social and entertaining event to those in the crowd.”- Ken Geuns, Michigan State University Extension Specialist and Livestock Judge

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”-Masanobu Fukuoka


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