10/06/05 — Showmen try their hands at begin judges in the ring

View Archive

Showmen try their hands at begin judges in the ring

By Turner Walston
Published in News on October 6, 2005 1:51 PM

Before Wednesday's livestock judging contest at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, 11-year-old Jesse Grady was out for redemption.

"Last year, my little sister beat me," he said. "That just doesn't seem possible."

After a week of presenting their livestock at shows and answering judges' questions, local 4-H and FFA participants from across eastern North Carolina got a chance Wednesday to put themselves on the other side of the judge's pad.

About 80 children gathered in the livestock arena, pencils in hand, to take part in the livestock judging contest. They would place animals in four categories.

"If the No. 4 hog is the best hog, you put him in the first category," said Rex Price, a ninth-grader at Spring Creek High School.

Rex said he likes judging because of the freedom, a different experience from his usual livestock showing.

"You get to place them the way you want," he said.

"It's fun to be the judge," Jesse said. "It makes you nervous, but in the end, you're glad you did it."

The first animals to be judged were stock mares. As the handlers set up the horses in the ring, the students scrambled for a better look. The animals were studied from all sides and then were walked and trotted around the ring. The judges wrote down their preferences and turned in their index cards.

When all selections were in, Eileen Coite, livestock agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, explained how she judged the mares. This was the standard the students would be judged against. Sighs of both relief and disappointment echoed throughout the arena.

The process continued with geldings, goats and market hogs.

Not the showing type, the hogs were marked with pieces of tape, then allowed to roam the arena floor.

Although the chance to win up to $30 provided pressure, the event was an opportunity for the students to understand what judges experience.

"You get to judge it the way that you want to. You don't get judged by anyone else," said Virginia Grady, 10. "When you're judging, you have to decide on your own."

Jesse said structure is a common quality to look for across all the animals.

"You don't want them to be fatty," he said. "You want them to have structural correctness."

"In horses, you like muscle," Virginia said. "In the meat goat, you need meat, not fat. It's not jiggly, you know."

This year, another younger sister edged Jesse out. Virginia finished 12th, while Jesse placed 13th. With all the qualities to look for, Virginia offered a simpler approach in the end.

"I kind of just did what was prettier," she said.