Members of 4-H from across the state came to the University of Illinois Stock Pavilion on Monday, June 18 for the Illinois 4-H Livestock Judging Contest.
Participants judged eight classes of livestock, including three beef cattle classes, three swine classes, a sheep class and a boar goat class. Animals are judged based on performance data and visual appraisal, including the animals' structural correctness, balance, volume and muscle.
"This is an excellent opportunity for participants to develop communication, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, as they learn how to analyze data," says Dan Jennings, Extension specialist in 4-H Youth Development, animal systems. "Junior participants are just beginning to develop these skills, so we do questions with them, but they're not required to do oral reasons. Hopefully, they're working on that, because when they get to the senior level, we expect that of them."
The top 10 individuals in the junior division ages 8 to 14 were Adrian Austin of Marion County, 1st; Carson Welsh of McDonough County, 2nd; Alexa Harrison of Marion County, 3rd; Gabrielle Torrance of McDonough County, 4th; Justin Fox of Livingston County, 5th; Derek Richie of Kankakee County, 6th; Case Hennenfent of Knox County, 7th; Sydney Killey of Warren County, 8th: Andy Williams of Knox County, 9th; and Katelyn Engel of Knox County, 10th.
Marion County won the junior division with team members Adrian Austin, Alexa Harrison, and Bailey Sigrist. Knox County and McDonough County took second and third places, respectively.
"The competition in the senior division is a little more intense. Participants have to prepare oral reasons in three classes – cattle, swine, and sheep or goats – and defend their placings in those classes," said Jennings.
"It can be kind of intimidating, but it's probably the best thing we do in the contest," Jennings notes. "They learn great communication skills, and they really have to develop a photographic memory."
The top ten individuals in the senior division ages 14 to 19 were Caitlyn Bowyer of Marion County, 1st; Brenan Diesen of Madison County, 2nd; Matthew Hahn of Marshall/Putnam counties, 3rd; Tyson Schulte of Rock Island County, 4th; Elizabeth Heaton of Henry/Stark counties, 5th; Miranda Shafer of Jefferson County, 6th; Rob Johnson of Sangamon County, 7th; Kane Austin of Marion County, 8th; Tyler Gradert of Henry/Stark counties, 9th; and Jennifer Livermore of Henderson County, 10th.
The top individuals will go on to compete at a second livestock judging competition. The next round will determine the top individuals who will compete at the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest during the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, KY.
The team from Henry/Stark counties, Tyler Verbeck, Blake Roseile, Tyler Gradert and Elizabeth Heaton, finished first in the senior division. They will go on to compete at the American Royal Livestock Judging Contest in Kansas City. The teams from Rock Island County and Marion County finished second and third, respectively.