Rowan County livestock judging and Skillathon contest

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 2, 2015

Rowan County Cooperative Extension, partnered with the Rowan County Cattlemens Association, held their first annual Livestock Judging and Skillathon Contest on March 7.

Youth from across the state came to the Rowan County Fairgrounds to judge cattle, pigs, and sheep, and to also test their knowledge in the Skillathon.

The Livestock Skillathon is composed of several parts.

First, there is a general knowledge section that tests the competitors’ overall knowledge of livestock production. The second part contains a multitude of identification tests; competitors must correctly identify livestock feed, tools of the farm, breeds and even meat. Understanding the various components in livestock production is the key to doing well in the Skillathon. Then, competitors moved on to livestock judging.

They evaluated Angus Heifers, Angus Steers, Market Guilt, Breeding Katahdin Ewes and Breeding Wool Ewes. When judging, competitors must rank four animals in the order that they believe them to be placed from best to worst. To determine this, competitors must evaluate the positive and negative traits of the animal. They must take into account the animal and its purpose and then evaluate body size, shape, feet, condition and a variety of other things to make their decisions.

After judging all five classes, the competitors had to give the judges the reason why they placed the animals the way they did.

Ed Birdsell, who works for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Sherilee Deal, a beef producer and agriculture teacher, listened to the reasons and evaluated how correctly the individuals spoke about the placing of the animals.

After competition, the Rowan County Cattlemens Association fed the competitors and volunteers lunch. Following lunch, Birdsell and Deal went around with the youth and explained to them how the different classes of animals were placed and how to evaluate animals in future competitions.

The Skillathon provided an educational opportunity for youth to get a first-hand look at animal agriculture, while giving them the opportunity to gain experience in livestock judging.

For more information, call Thomas Cobb with Rowan Cooperative Extension at 704-216-8970.