4-H livestock judging opportunities abound

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By Cathy Toole

4-H livestock judging is a great way for young people to learn more about the animals they love and learn valuable life skills, such as decision making and critical thinking, in the process.

One of the great things about livestock judging is you only need to have an interest in livestock to participate. Owning livestock or coming from an agricultural background are not participation requirements.

In livestock judging, young people learn about the various traits of breeding and market livestock, including hogs, beef cattle, sheep and meat goats. They see several animals and rank them based on how closely they meet the ideal traits and then give oral reasons for why they placed the animals in that order.

At the beginning of each calendar year, counties form livestock judging teams of interested 4-H’ers. Leaders group teams by age from junior to senior 4-H’ers. Teams train and learn within their county and regional clinics with either a 4-H youth development agent or a certified livestock volunteer.

In June, Kentucky hosts the State 4-H Livestock Judging Contest. The top senior level 4-H’ers at this contest are invited to attend Top 12 week in July. For a month, this group goes through intensive training about livestock judging in Kentucky and Indiana. From this group, eight are chosen to represent Kentucky as the 4-H All-Star Livestock Judging Team. Members of the 2012 team included Travis Drumm and Jacob Embry of Clark County, Renee Laurent of Caldwell County, Allison Tarvin of Bracken County, Jacob Barnes of Harrison County, Audree Harper of Calloway County and Adam Miller and Taylor Ray of Shelby County.

This team travels and competes in 4-H Livestock Judging contests around the nation on the weekends in late summer. Top finishes this year included first place team finishes in the swine division of the Ak-sar-ben 4-H Livestock Exposition in Nebraska and in the sheep division at the Keystone International Livestock Exposition in Pennsylvania. Drumm was the top overall individual in the sheep division, and Embry was the top overall individual in the beef cattle division at the Pennsylvania competition.

The top four members of the all-star team are selected as the Kentucky 4-H Livestock Judging Gold Team and represent Kentucky at the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest held each November in Louisville during the North American International Livestock Exposition. Drumm, Embry, Laurent and Tarvin were members of the 2012 team.

Henry County has joined forces with the Shelby County Livestock Club so that they have enough participants in each age group to form a team.  While Taylor Ray is a resident of Henry County and attends school here she competes as a member of the Shelby County team, so we want to congratulate her on her success this year.  If you would like more information on livestock judging opportunities that are available please call the Henry  Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.


Upcoming 4-H Opportunities

Dec. 14 — Scrapbooking Club at the Henry County Extension Service office, 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Dec. 17 — Horse Club at the Henry County Extension Service office, 6 p.m.

Dec. 18 — Beginning Cooking Club (4th and 5th graders) at the Henry County Extension Service, 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Dec. 19 — Advanced Cooking Club at the Henry County Extension Service, 3:30 to 5 p.m.