4-H General Livestock Judging Contest
All rules, formats and schedules will be published in the current year Minnesota 4-H State Fair Premium Book.
New in 2017
Contact your local extension staff if you're not able to access the online form.
Registration is due Aug. 5.
To be able to effectively evaluate breeding and market animals is highly important in the animal industry. Livestock producers and breeders evaluate livestock on their potential to produce high quality, efficient breeding animals as well as saleable offspring. Order buyers, feeders and packers evaluate livestock on their ability to convert feedstuffs into red meat for the consumer. These groups of people are trying to relate the "form" of the animal with the "function" for which it is intended to serve. One can readily see the economic importance of this activity. Thus, when we judge livestock we differentiate among "superior," "average," and "inferior" livestock. We are looking for the most desirable animals to fit our particular needs.
While the modern breeder combines performance records with live judging when selecting breeding animals, the same traits that indicate high merit in slaughter animals are also important in the selection of breeding stock. The evaluation of animal structure and breeding soundness is necessary in selecting breeding animals.
Livestock judging is an art developed through patient study and long practice. To be a good livestock judge you must:
- Know the parts of the animal and their location.
- Know which parts are most important for meat and breeding stock production and the most desirable conformation for each part.
- Visualize the ideal animal.
- Make keen observations and compare them to the ideal.
- Weigh the good and bad points of each animal.
- Develop a system of analyzing and examining animals so important points are not overlooked.
- Determine which animal fulfills a particular need and selection priority.
- Combine performance records with visual appraisal.
A class of livestock
A class of livestock generally consists of four animals. In breeding classes they usually are of one particular breed, sex, and age group. In market classes, however, there may be a combination of breeds and sexes. A livestock judging contest is simply a collection of various classes of livestock. A case where more than four animals are used is when a student is judging a cull/keep class. Eight animals are used and a student would need to decide on which animals they would like to keep or cull. As you approach a class of livestock, you will probably be told to turn your back toward the class and to label your placing card. Do not begin judging until you are told to start. Once "time is in" on the class, you will probably have 10 to 15 minutes to judge the class. With 2 to 3 minutes remaining in a class, you can mark your placing card. Always double check your placing on your card before turning it in to the group leader.
General livestock judging rules
- See "General Rules for Judging Contests" section of the premium book for information and rules applying to all contests.
- Judging team coaches must register online. (Contact your local extension staff if you're not able to access the online form).
- Quota: Unlimited.
- Each county or multi-county delegation will determine how youth will be arranged between teams, as well as individuals.
- Only one national trip can be accepted per county, and that must be the highest place trip of the two.
- Teams will judge eight classes of livestock consisting of three classes of beef, two classes of sheep, and three classes of swine.
- Performance data may be included in the evaluation of breeding classes for each species
- Oral reasons will be given on one class in each of the three species.
- Classes with performance data can be reasons classes.
- Reasons may be given on either market or breeding classes.
- One class in each specie will be a question class.
- The first eligible team will represent Minnesota at the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest held at the North American International Livestock Exposition held in Louisville, Kentucky. 4-Hers must have passed their 14th but not their 19th birthday on Jan. 1 of the current year. 4-Hers may judge in this contest only once. Entry form and registration information.
- The second eligible team may select to represent Minnesota at either the American Royal (Kansas City, MO) or at the National Western Stock Show (Denver, CO).
- The third eligible team will be awarded the remaining trip.
- Information about the American Royal (Kansas City, Missouri) - All 4-Hers must have passed their 14th birthday, but not their 19th birthday on Jan. 1 of the current year. 4-Hers may judge in this contest only once. 4-Hers who have previously judged in the National 4-H Judging Contest in Louisville, Kentucky are not eligible. Entry form and registration information.
- Information about the National Western Invitational 4-H Livestock Judging Contest (Denver, Colorado) -
All 4-Hers must have passed their 14th birthday, but not their 19th birthday on Jan. 1 of the current
year. 4-Hers may judge in this contest only once. 4-Hers who have previously judged in the National 4-H
Judging Contest (Louisville, Kentucky) are not eligible. Entry forms and registration information.