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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

4H Livestock, Stockmens, and Meats Teams in National Competitions

Livestock Update, December 2006

Mark L. Wahlberg, Extension Animal Scientist, Virginia Tech..

Three different national competitions occur in the fall of the year in livestock-related contests.  Virginia participated in all 3 of these events.

Meats Judging - The Washington County 4H team won the state contest held in Blacksburg in March, thus qualifying them for the national contest.  Kansas State University hosts this contest in mid-October each year.  Sixteen teams, represented by 61 contestants, participated in this event.  The contest consisted of judging beef carcasses and short loins, pork carcasses and hams, Porterhouse steaks and Blade Boston roasts.  Oral reasons were delivered on 3 of these classes.  In addition, contestants had to identify 30 different retail cuts as to the species of origin, wholesale cut, retail cut name, and method of cooking.

Texas was the winning team, and the high individual came from Wyoming.  The Virginia team finished 9th overall.  Within the divisions Virginia was 4th in pork judging, 4th in retail cut judging, 7th in beef judging, and 6th in oral reasons.  Individual honors went to Katie Blevins (9th in oral reasons and 12th overall), and to Bradley Copenhaver (7th in retail cut judging, 8th in beef, and 10th in pork).  Garrett Cook was the 3rd member of the team, which was coached by Phil Blevins, Agriculture Extension Agent.  The Virginia Beef Industry Council provides financial support for Virginia's 4H Meats Judging program.

Livestock Judging - Virginia's 4H livestock judging team consists of high-ranking individuals from the state contest, held in Blacksburg in June.  The National contest is held annually in Louisville, KY as part of the North American International Livestock Exposition.  The 2006 contest included teams from 32 states, represented by 125 individuals.

The contest includes judging 10 classes of beef cattle, sheep, and swine, with market classes and breeding animals within each species.  Detailed performance data is available on all breeding animals.  Members also provide oral reasons and answer questions about certain classes.

The winning team came from California, with their team members finishing first, second, and third as individuals.  The Virginia team finished 12th overall.  Within the species Virginia was 6th in sheep, 10th in swine, 7th in cattle, and 6th in oral reasons.  Josh McCann was 14th in sheep, 7th in cattle performance, and 12th in oral reasons.  Brad Bennett was 20th in swine, 2nd in cattle (lost the tiebreaker to a California member), 6th in cattle performance, and 6th in oral reasons.  Clara Nelson of Rockbridge and Will Earhart of Augusta rounded out the team.  The team is coached by Dr. Mark Wahlberg, Extension Animal Scientist at Virginia Tech.  The team is supported by the Virginia Pork Industry Board and the Virginia 4H Livestock Endowment.

Skillathon - The Skillathon contest is a broad-based competition involving applied knowledge of livestock management.  The National contest is held annually in Louisville, KY as part of the North American International Livestock Exposition.  The winning 4H team at the State Fair Stockmens Contest, held in Richmond in early October, comprises Virginia's entry in this competition.  The 2006 team came from Augusta County.

In the Skillathon contest members are asked to identify feeds, breeds, retail meats cuts, and livestock equipment.  They judge hay, wool, and meats, and take a general-knowledge quiz.  Team activities included grading and pricing beef carcasses (from photos), determining marketing methods for pens of feedlot cattle, completing a keep/cull exercise on a group of meat goat does, and demonstrating handling and medication procedures on lambs.

Seventeen state teams competed in 3 general categories in addition to Total Score, those being Identification, Evaluation, and Quality Assurance.  Brad Bennett was 4th in Identification, 3rd in Evaluation, and 2nd place individual overall, just 3 points short of the winning individual who was from Wisconsin.  Stephanie Willis placed 4th in Evaluation and 5th overall.  In team competition the Virginia group was 4th in both Identification and Quality Assurance, 2nd in Evaluation, and 2nd overall, just 10 points behind the winning team from North Carolina.  Brandon Reeves and Danielle McPherson were the other team members, who were coached by Eric Stogdale, volunteer 4H leader and Vocational Agriculture teacher at Riverheads High School.  The Skillathon team is supported by various local sources and the Virginia 4H Livestock Endowment.

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