Livestock judging contest teaches youth what judges look for

| October 4, 2017

A group of youth is pictured examining hogs during the livestock judging contest at the Coshocton County Fair on Tuesday, Oct. 3. Teams competed to list the animals in the same order of first through fourth as the contest official did. Jen Jones | Beacon

COSHOCTON – On Tuesday, Oct. 3, a unique contest was held at Hunter Arena during the Coshocton County Fair.  The 4-H Livestock Judging Contest brought youth from all over the county to learn what judges are looking for during the livestock shows many of them compete in.

There are six classes of animals to be judged, including market and breeding for swine, beef and sheep. All of the livestock used belong to youth that showed at the fair. The participants were divided into junior (under 13) and senior teams (13-18).  Ten teams of seniors and four teams of juniors competed to be named the best judges.

In the first round, the youth were divided into three groups. Each group was assigned a group of four animals (pigs, sheep or cows) to start with and they had 12 minutes to decide which animal deserved first through fourth place. During the first round, the participants had a card with questions to consider as they looked over the animals. Once they listed their choices, they gave their cards to their adult leader and waited to move to the next animal. No talking was allowed in the arena as they judged.

During the second round, the youth looked at a different set of livestock and didn’t have cards to guide them on their choices. They had to remember what they had learned during the first round and again, list their choices from first through fourth place. The teams were striving to be the ones with the closest score to match the animals the official chose.

Lydia Ulry, from Johnstown, was the official for the event. She looked over every animal before the youth arrived and listed her choices from first through fourth and her reasons why she chose as she did. This is the second year that Ulry has helped with the contest at the fair. She was a member of the 2014 Ohio State judging team and did very well. “Sometimes, there is a clear winner or loser in a group, but other times, the animals are all close and it can be hard to choose a clear winner,” said Ulry. When that happens, she tries to explain to the youth why she chose as she did.

Emily Adams, from the OSU extension office, organized the livestock judging contest. “We’ve been doing this class for decades, but it was always on Saturday afternoon. We decided to try Tuesday, since it’s not as busy a day for shows.” She explained that everyone interested in being in the contest met at the dairy barn to register and have their questions answered. “Some of these kids don’t show any of these animals. They may have a poultry or rabbit project and just do this for fun and to learn. We even have a few that don’t have any type of animal project.”  Adams said this is a great way for the youth to learn about other animals and that they give away cool prizes after the contest.

“I just really appreciate all of the help with this contest. From the adult volunteers to the youth who let us ‘borrow’ their animals.  It takes a lot of help to do this.”

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