Young Farmers dairy stock judging

I have been quite successful this year with my Young Farmers dairy stock judging at county level, including winning the senior dairy stockjudging competition at Devon county show.

Due to my success, I qualified to represent Devon at the nationals competition at the Great Yorkshire Show, which I went up to in July.
Because I’m now a senior (depresses me every time I say that!) my class involves linear scoring 4 cows, placing them in an order and then giving my reasons all in 30 minutes! The ring of animals to judge were Dairy Shorthorn milking heifers so all a bit new to me. To make it even harder, half the class were milked out and the others weren’t – quite a challenge.

It was a class of 1 very angular white heifer and 3 animals stronger in the body. I placed them in the order of what I thought was the most lasting animal who would make the farmer money… how we have been taught in Tarka group. So I favoured the stronger animals whereas the judge preferred the white heifer. Unfortunately with stockjudging it is always down to the judge’s preference, one day you will agree on the order and another day you won’t.

The linear scoring is very similar to classification, which involves scoring the traits of the animal on a 1-9 scale. With regard to body depth, chest width and central ligament strength 9 is the top score, but then with teat placement, foot and leg set, and teat length 5 is the best score, with 1 and 9 being extremes on the scale.

We then, in a 2 minute speech, had to give our reasons to the judge on why we had placed them in the particular order. The judge scored us on accuracy, comparisons, and style. With dairy stockjudging you must always speak positively about the animal and must never put her down. When it comes to speaking about the last animal, you must still pick out her best bits, which is generally easy when you are judging show animals.

At the end of the day, I came 9th out of 30 competitors which I am happy with considering I have never before done linear assessment or judged dairy shorthorns. It was a fantastic experience and what a brilliant show Great Yorkshire is.

Jenny Ashton