GREENFIELD — A blend of newcomers and more experienced youth at livestock judging represented the Nodaway Valley FFA chapter in placing fifth out of 37 teams recently in the FFA division of a livestock judging contest held at the 2021 Iowa Beef Expo in Des Moines.
NV’s team was comprised of Genevieve Livingston, Makinley Edwards, Dax Kintigh and Ben Breheny.
According to FFA advisor Taylor Brittan, the idea behind livestock judging is to foster a working knowledge of what makes a good market animal. Teams were given four cattle to evaluate and they had to place them in order from best to least quality. Usually teams would be required to share with a judge oral reasons for placing the cattle in the order they did, however due to COVID-19 concerns, reasons were conveyed through answering questions on paper.
Out of Nodaway Valley’s four, all came in with practice, having gone over several scenarios together rating various groupings of cattle. Livingston said her best knowledge going into the contest this year was of a management nature, however she and others learned that there are sometimes a different set of standards that make a cow stand out during a livestock judging contest.
“It’s a lot more based on the appearance,” Livingston said. “You start to notice patterns between what it looks like and how the meat turns out. I feel like finishing fifth was good for us, especially having kids with not as much experience.”
Edwards also came in with experience in livestock judging and has her own preferences of what she likes to see in a set of cows. She said she is learning, however, that in order to be successful in livestock judging it’s important to meld your own preferences with more broad standards of the industry that a judge may be more apt to be looking for.
“It’s what the judge likes that day. Any other day you could get judged differently.”
Kintigh said that after he competed as part of a team as an eighth-grader last year he felt more at ease going into this year’s contest at the Beef Expo.
“I feel I’ve learned more reasons about cows and what to look for in them,” Kintigh said. “For reasons, you start out with your best cow and give reasons why you placed it first. Then you go second, third and fourth. I’d say reasons are pretty hard. It makes you prove what you’ve decided.”
As the most veteran member of the team, Breheny was proud of how the group performed.
“I am most proud that we improved our placing from the previous year and enhanced our knowledge in cattle evaluation,” Breheny said.