Ten Michigan 4-H members compete at Keystone International Livestock Judging Contest

Michigan youth have success on the national stage in livestock judging while increasing animal selection skills and improving confidence.

Ten Michigan 4-H members compete at Keystone International Livestock Judging Contest

Ten Michigan 4-H members recently returned from the Keystone International Livestock Exposition in Harrisburg, PA were they competed in the livestock judging contest. These youth were from seven counties including Cass, Clinton, Kent, St. Joseph, Monroe, Ogemaw and Washtenaw. For the contest, contestants evaluated 12 classes consisting of four individuals in each class. There were five classes of beef cattle, three classes of sheep and four classes of swine. Contestants then delivered four sets of reasons and answered two sets of questions each on a specific class.

Washtenaw County member Amanda Breuninger reflected on her experience stating, “I have been able to incorporate the things that I have learned in livestock judging to everyday life. It has helped me become more confident in public speaking and decision making. Judging is a great way to meet new people, learn more about livestock and be able to understand why judges place a class in a certain way.”

Each year, youth from across the state practice the art of animal evaluation in the form of livestock judging. By participating in the livestock judging contest, contestants enhance their livestock evaluation and selection skills, as well as improve their communication and decision-making skills. When asked about the skills they learned, Monroe County member Brad Chapman said, “During my judging experience, I learned the most about communication and how to always portray confidence.”

These youth were excited about the opportunity to participate on behalf of Michigan through competitive livestock judging. The talented individuals from across the state were selected as a result of their placing at the Michigan 4-H/FFA Livestock Judging Contest held in conjunction with the Michigan Livestock Expo in July. Youth also participated in numerous practices this summer and fall to be selected to compete in the national contests. Clinton County member Victoria Olger stated, “This experience has been very beneficial to me. It has given me more knowledge and understanding of what a quality animal should possess along with making me more comfortable speaking in front of people.”

Recent changes have been made to allow cross-county state representative teams to compete to represent Michigan 4-H in national livestock judging competitions. The goal of the change is to allow talented individuals, who may not otherwise have the opportunity, the chance to compete on national teams. In the revised program, individuals from any county are combined with individuals from other counties to compete at two national contests. In regards to this new opportunity for Michigan 4-H members, St. Joseph County member Loren King stated, “This program is perfect for developing knowledge of livestock, learning public speaking and making new friends.”

Being recognized individually for their accomplishments in the contest, were Brad Chapman (6th in Sheep), Logan Denby (7th in Beef, 3rd in Sheep, 6th in Reasons and 7th Overall) and Victoria Olger (9th in Beef, 9th in Reasons and 9th Overall). Individual totals from the contest are combined to create a team score. Placing seventh overall as a team were members Amanda Breuninger, Brad Chapman, Loren King and Victoria Olger. Placing eighth was the team that represented Michigan FFA consisting of Logan Denby, Erin Fritz, Taylor Fritz and Andrea Urbach from Ogemaw County. Cameron Hayden and Alexandria Schut also completed as individuals in the contest in preparation for the North American International Livestock Exposition Contest that will be held November 18.

Interested in trying your hand at livestock judging? Individual 4-H or FFA members or teams of four can compete in the state contest. The Michigan 4-H/FFA Livestock Judging Contest is a collaborative effort between Michigan 4-H and Michigan FFA. Contestants judge eight classes including beef cattle, Boer goats, sheep and swine. Each contestant then answers one set of questions and either give three sets of oral reasons or answer three additional sets of questions. New in 2015, the contest will feature a 4-H Cloverbud division. The contest will be held Thursday, July 16, 2015 with regular entry fees due by July 1, 2015. Click here for contest rules and registration.

This trip would not have been possible without support of the program including the following donors: Alvin J. Thelen Memorial donations; The Andersons, Inc.; Robert and Shirley Chapman; Fifth Third Michigan State Fair; JBS United; Kent County 4-H; Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee; Michigan Youth Livestock Scholarship Fund; Ogemaw County 4-H; Reaume Hog Farms; L.C. and Jackie Scramlin; Steve and Nancy Thelen; and the Breuninger, Chapman and King Families.

For additional information, visit the Michigan 4-H Animal Evaluation page or the Michigan State University Extension website for animal science content.

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