Jacob Schmeidler, a senior at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, is one of four Kansas high school students that qualified for the 2018 National Livestock Judging on Nov. 10 to 14 in Louisville, Ky. Livestock judging is the evaluation of an animal’s attributes and making a comparison to other animals and the optimal standard of that particular class. After appraising each animal individually, a rank is established and assigned to each class. A typical contest class consists of four animals, these animals are to be numbered one through four. A committee of professionals will judge each class or group of four, beforehand. In order for the student judges to place well, their ranked numbers one through four must closely, if not match perfectly, with the committees. The majority of livestock judging competitions consist of classes from the following: breeding and market cattle, breeding and market sheep, breeding and market hogs, breeding and market goats.
To be successful, a judge must understand the anatomy of each particular animal and be able to apply that to the animals intended function. Once the judge has numbered the animals in a particular class from one to four, he/she must defend their decision during oral reasons. When asked how to tell the difference between breeding and market animals "With breeding animals you look for volume and structure, while market animals are all about the muscle and the finish,” Schmeidler said.
Livestock judging is truly an art refined through patient study and long hard hours of practice, in order to learn which parts are most pertinent for meat and breeding stock production.
Schmeidler was only 6 years old when he judged his first class and he placed sixth at that event.
"I remember being 10 years old when I gave my first set of reasons," Schmeidler said.
Set of reasons is an oral presentation given by the student judge on why they ranked a certain animal a certain way. Typically, students are 12 years old when they start this process. Schmeidler now enjoys teaching others how to judge and one of those people is his little sister.
Schmeidler has been training for the national competition with the Kansas State University livestock judging team in order to gain more experience.
"I want to judge in college. I enjoy the challenge it brings. I will more than likely attend a junior college in order to get another year of eligibility," said Schmeidler.
Eligibility in livestock judging is limited to only one year at a four-year university. Students usually use up their eligibility from their junior spring semester to their senior fall semester. However, if a student attends a junior college they are allowed another year.