By Mason Poepperling / Staff writer
Hutchinson Community College has a proud history of campus clubs and organizations. It seems like there’s a club for anyone. One of the more popular organizations in recent history is the Livestock Judging team.
But what exactly goes into livestock judging?
“Each contest is 12 classes (of livestock) and we give eight sets of ‘oral reasons’. The 12 classes involve cattle, swine, sheep and goats,” said Lindsey Lehman, a Mount Vernon, Ill., sophomore on the Livestock Judging team. “Each class is four animals of the same species, and we evaluate them from best to worst. With the eight sets of oral reasons that we give, we are defending our placement and why we say the class the way we did and why we think it gets placed the way we placed it. We place off of the 12 classes into the eight sets, we’ll write down a set of reasons in our notes, we don’t know how the classes got placed until the end, so we go in and give our reasons and weather we got it right or wrong we go in and tell them confidently how we felt about the class.”
Of course to many outsiders, they might judge livestock by how good the meat they make is. What really makes good livestock in the context of livestock judging?
“It depends,” Lehman said. “With females, the first thing we focus on is structure. If they look feminine and smooth and like a lady. Then, if we’re evaluating males, we want them to be masculine and powerful and add muscle, and we also want them to be sound because they’re breeding stock, and they’re going to be replicating their features in their offspring. In Market Livestock, especially at this time of year, our first priority is cutability, meaning they’re fresh and they have muscle but we still want them to look like a high quality animal.”
As is with all clubs when competition is involved, it’s not all sunshine and roses, and livestock Judging is no different, and Lindsey is more than willing to point out its shortcomings.
“There has been a rapid increase of cheating,” Lehman said. “We go to six major contests a year, so five people from each team go out on the floor and compete each day. Coaches aren’t out there, you don’t talk with them, you do your own work. It seems like there’s been a lot of looking off notebooks and talking to teammates.
“In Denver, back in January, there were two teammates in the same group, which never happens at most of the majors because there’s only five teammates on the floor, and there was a picture of a teammate looking off of another teammates book and the photographer put it on their website, which was ironic because it was the first time that had ever been caught, and every time the officials are like ‘if you’re caught cheating we’re gonna kick you out’, and that never happens.
Despite these shortcomings, however, Lehman and the other team members look forward to livestock judging every chance they get to do it. The club travels all over the country, from South Dakota to Mississippi to Texas, and many other places.