August 18, 2022
Livestock judging isn’t just about livestock. It’s about the teamwork, knowledge, and the leadership it takes to make quick decisions while placing four similar animals in a class from top to bottom.
During a livestock judging contest, youth compete as a team of four individuals. Each individual is responsible for making their own decisions in the analysis of animals while measuring them against the ideal standard for that species, and finally, comparing them against their peers in the class. Participants receive an individual score based on their individual placings against the “official placings,” and the entire team receives a team score based on individual contributions.
Judgers not only have to place the livestock, but they also develop a keen sense of judgment and confidence as they defend their placings during a set of oral reasons. Participants recite the reasoning behind their placings to a specific class to an official judge. The ability to give reasons successfully is based on organizational skills, and the judger’s ability to be organized, accurate, and confident in their placings.
Youth who wish to compete successfully in livestock judging contests should be familiar with industry standards for each species (typically cattle, swine, sheep, and goats). They should also be familiar with market traits, conformation, and breed characteristics of the animals that they will be evaluating.
FFA, 4-H, and even many universities offer judging contests. For more information, be sure to reach out to your local 4-H or FFA advisors.