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Show smarts

Posted by: tdt -

By Nathan French

    What has 230 Exhibitors, 250 Hogs, 20 Lambs, 54 Goats, 15 Steers, 8 Heifers, and 75 Rabbits?  You may be still be pondering upon what kind of event would have such a varied attendance. The time is nearing for the 2010 Bi-County Livestock Show with the show beginning on Wednesday, January 20th and continuing through Saturday, January 23rd.  

    I have always attended livestock shows but have never been personally involved with one.  Every time I go, I put on my “smart face” so I appear to have a complete understanding and great knowledge of what is going on.  Well the game is up; in all honesty, I am not really sure what is going on most of the time or how winners are chosen.  For that reason my attendance has usually ended up with me being centrally located around the food vending area since that is something I am much more knowledgeable about.  

    However, this year my quest is to actually know what is going on and actually to understand the happenings of the livestock show.  My biggest question has always been, “Just how are those animals judged?” I always assumed on general prettiness and how good their “moo” or “oink” is.  Well I was WRONG!

    The phonotypical traits that are evaluated with all species of livestock are muscle, structural correctness, frame size, style and balance. These certain traits will vary with certain species, as well as if the animal is shown for market or for breeding stock.

    For meat animals, muscling is an important trait. There are several indicators of muscle, mainly being on the top line and rear of the animal. For dairy animals, qualities that improve milk production are vital. For poultry, feathers are important, and traits such as broken or cut feathers are a disqualification. Structural correctness is another trait which refers to how well the animal’s skeleton is put together, more specifically, their bone structure.

    The animal also needs to move with ease and smoothness. Frame is another trait that is looked at when judging livestock. Frame should be decided on whether the animal is long-bodied, tall-fronted, or has some internal capacity. An animal that has style and balance is one that holds its head up high when it walks, and is smooth in its overall appearance. The animal should be free of excess fat and should stand with a wide base.

    So, now that I have better knowledge of how an animal is actually judged, I might venture away from the vending area and manage to observe the show ring without having to employ my “smart face.”  On behalf of the Texan, we wish luck to all entrants in the Bi-County Livestock Show. Look for more information on the show and a schedule of events in upcoming issues of the Texan.