Stock judging tips for beginners

It’s showtime – quite literally. With Honiton Agricultural Show just weeks away, now is a great time to brush up on your stock judging skills.

If you want to claim one of those coveted rosettes next year, you will need to assess your own stock – just like a judge – before deciding which animals to enter. These tips will help you understand how the judging system works – so you can be primed to enter with confidence in 2020.

There are plenty of free resources available to get you started. We have got some of them ready for you to access from this page. If you are not a member of a Young Farmers’ Club or need some extra support as you prepare, you are in the right place.

Stock judging skills require more than creative flair; they demand a sound understanding of an animal’s physique. They help you identify traits such as True Type Models for cows.

It is not a beauty contest. Your animal will be judged on functionality, health and long-term benefits.

The marking system for stock can be complex, but most competitions follow the same routine. By knowing how a judge will approach assessments, you can determine which stock to enter and when.

In the case of dairy cows, for example, a judge will be looking at the head, neck, topline, body capacity, hindquarter, legs, feet, and udder. A detailed explanation of what will impress a judge can be found here. It includes advice for finished beef, beef carcase, market requirements, breeding ewes, finished lamb, pigs, and more.

An example of a good feature in a dairy cow is a finely set neck with an angular shoulder.

Entries for this year’s classes at Honiton Agricultural Show have closed. However, you can study the full schedule here and visit the show on August 1 to get a taste of what to expect when you one day step into the ring. This guide includes helpful information including competition rules.


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