April 05, 2010

Department of Agriculture Announces Winners in Annual Livestock Grading Competition

More than 500 participants from around the state descended on the Trowbridge Livestock Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia in March to test their skills sizing up cattle, swine, sheep and goats. After all the grading cards were turned in, top honors in the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Youth Livestock Grading and Judging Contest went to Tara Fountain of the Centralia FFA chapter, the overall individual winner, and a team from Troy FFA.

One of the largest events of its kind in the nation, the day-long contest and workshop teaches youth and adults to evaluate livestock using USDA grade standards for feeder and slaughter cattle. Participants also learn criteria for deciding whether to keep or cull cattle, swine and sheep. Traditional livestock judging rounds out the competition.

"This is a great event that combines competition and a valuable educational experience," said Department of Agriculture Director Dr. Jon Hagler. "To see so many young people turn out to learn about grading and judging livestock is really exciting. The skills they develop at this workshop will serve them well as they continue to participate in livestock events and, hopefully, move into careers in agriculture."

Top overall team honors went to the Troy FFA team of Erin Mennemeyer, Travis Meyers, Jake Zorn and Katie Young. Troy-based teams also brought home first place trophies in the slaughter cattle grading contest and the keep/cull competition. A Jackson FFA team took first in feeder cattle, while Salisbury FFA fielded the top team in the traditional judging contest.

First place winners in the individual competition were Spencer Scotten of Nevada FFA for slaughter cattle, Kyle Thornsberry of Crocker FFA in the feeder cattle competition and Micayla Gray of Jackson FFA for keep/cull. Overall individual winner Tara Fountain of Centralia FFA also bested the field in the traditional judging contest. The top overall adult competitor was Matt McCrory of Troy FFA.

In addition to the grading and judging competitions, the event featured an educational workshop for students in grades nine and lower. Brandon Satterfield, a member of the Mountain Grove Junior High 4-H club, took top honors in the workshop, based on the accuracy of his scoring. The event also provides a way for experienced adults to become certified judges at fairs and other livestock events. Individuals who score 80 percent or better grading cattle or sheep are eligible to be included on a suggested list of certified livestock judges, which is updated annually.

This year's event included 522 competitors and workshop participants. The contest included 66 teams, 365 individual youth and 43 adults. The workshop attracted 114 youth and adults.

The Missouri Youth Livestock Grading and Judging Contest and Workshop was sponsored this year by the Agriculture Business Development Division of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, University of Missouri-Columbia Animal Sciences Department, University Extension, USDA Livestock and Grain Market News, FCS Financial of Missouri and the Missouri Sheep Merchandising Council. Central Missouri livestock producers and a University of Missouri research farm provided the animals used in the contest and workshop.

For a complete listing of the contest results, contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Business Development Division, at (573) 751-5618 or visit our Web site at mda.mo.gov/connect/youth/livestockgrading.php.