Skip to Main navigation Skip to Left navigation Skip to Main content Skip to Footer

University of Minnesota Extension

Extension > Youth Development > Minnesota 4-H > 4-H Events > 4-H Animal Judging Contests > 4-H General Livestock Judging Contest

4-H General Livestock Judging Contest

General livestock judging project resources can be found on the beef, sheep and swine project pages.

All rules, formats and schedules will be published in the current year Minnesota 4-H State Fair Premium Book.

New in 2017

Judging team coaches must register online at

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:

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


National trips


  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy