February 03, 2011

Annual Livestock Contest & Workshop Offers Youth, Adults Experience with USDA Grade Standards

Register now for the March 12 event

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is working to help Missouri producers improve their operations by teaching both youth and adults to better evaluate livestock. The Missouri Livestock Grading and Judging Contest and Workshop will be held Sat. March 12 at the University of Missouri's Trowbridge Livestock Center in Columbia. The 2011 event marks the 22nd year for the program.

"It is important for producers to understand livestock grading and evaluation as they work to remain competitive in today's marketplace," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "This event offers an educational opportunity for all ages to better understand the federal grade standards and sharpen their skills in evaluating livestock."

The workshop, open to grades nine or lower, provides youth involved in 4-H and FFA programs an educational opportunity to learn the process and technique of grading livestock. The workshop is available to the first 275 youth registrants.

The contest, open to all ages, is an opportunity to apply national grading standards and to receive feedback on an individual level. Traditional cattle, hog, sheep and goat judging will complete the competition, with trophies being awarded to participants excelling in specific skill and species contests.

"Livestock is a critical component of Missouri's agriculture industry, and it is important that we provide opportunities for learning in a live-animal evaluation setting," Hagler said. "This program offers a unique, hands-on environment designed to assist participants in making the best on-farm production decisions."

A uniform system of grading slaughter cattle by USDA standardizes the production, marketing and distribution of livestock and meats. The Missouri Livestock and Grading Workshop and Contest will help participants apply those standards on grading feeder and slaughter cattle.

Participants ages 21 and older will have the opportunity to qualify as a certified livestock judge, which may lead to opportunities to judge future livestock competitions. The certified livestock judges list will be made available to livestock show officials, activity organizers and the Missouri Association of Fairs and Festivals.

Registration for the livestock contest or workshop is $6 per person. Registrations must be postmarked no later than February 11, 2011. More information and registration forms are available by visiting mda.mo.gov or by calling (573) 751-5618.