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Livestock judging teaches decision-making to youths (w/video, gallery)

By Sara Sneath
March 2, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated March 2, 2014 at 9:03 p.m.

Ben Shupak, 15, of Bellville, feels the market goats in the market goat class of the Victoria Livestock Judging Contest. Shupak competed in the judging competition for his sixth year.

About 280 kids from all over Texas competed in the livestock judging contest Sunday night.

The Victoria contest is a way for competitors to hone their skills for future contests and careers in agriculture, said Jeremy Krester, who supervised the setup of the pens and animals for the contest Sunday.

"Anybody that wants to have their own ranch or become an ag teacher or USDA meat grader needs these skills," Krester said.

Youths from 8 to 18 years old ranked market steers, market hogs, market lambs, market goats, breeding gilt and breeding cattle by quality. Those scores were compared with the score of an officially qualified livestock judge. Points were deducted from contestants for the wrong placement of the animals.

"It's really fun," said Erynn Studlar of Longhorn 4-H in Live Oak County.

Studlar said she finds goats and lambs the easiest to judge because those also are the animals she shows.

Both Studlar and her teammate, Isabella Garza, 10, said they wanted to judge livestock in college.

"I make sure that they're able to walk and that they have good structure and power," said Ben Shupak, 15, of Bellville FFA in Austin County.

Shupak said he has been judging livestock for six years and, although he doesn't know what he wants to major in at college, he would like to be on a collegiate livestock judging team.

"It's a pretty intense competition," said Jeremy Wamsley, the livestock judging chairman.

He said the Victoria livestock judging contest continues to grow, and he expects it to be even bigger next year.

"We've tried to offer better prizes. I think that's probably a lot of the draw," Wamsley said. "And it's right before the Houston contest. So, a lot of teams use it for a practice before Houston."

Livestock judging gives youths the skills to pick quality livestock animals for themselves and can serve as a source for money during college, he said. But, most importantly, judging livestock helps youths become responsible young adults, he said.

"There are times in life when you have to make a decision, and right, wrong or indifferent, you have to stand by it and justify it," Wamsley said.



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