BLACKFOOT — In preparation for the 4-H National Livestock Judging Competition, Extension Educator and livestock coach Scott Nash takes his team "to as many farms and ranches as possible, to find as many good animals as we can." Thursday, team members Jake Johnson from Blackfoot and Katie Isom from Snake River, along with Nash, were heading to Burley. Other team members are Carsey Kofford and Colter Carter. Both attend Snake River High School.
In this competition, four-person teams judge market and breeding animals. They will judge market steers, breeding heifers and bulls, market lambs and breeding ewes, market hogs and breeding gilts, market goats and breeding does.
Each 4-H qualifier for nationals can only compete one time during his or her high school career.
"They attend judging camp and practice for several years," Nash said.
"I compete in livestock judging to help me in my hog operation," Johnson said. "I can more readily identify a good animal."
"A good hog has nice balance," Johnson said. "It has a deep body, is wide across the top and has deep tracking. It's structurally sound."
Team members examine four animals in each category—beef, sheep, hog and goat. Without consulting with one another, they will rank the four in order, beginning with the animal each thinks is the best.
Each competitor must then explain to the judges why he/she ranked the animal. Each competitor must verbally justify his/her rationale.
"Public speaking helps because you must state your mind," Isom said.
"This competition helps them make decisions quickly," Nash said. "Their decisions are based on market standards."
There is both an individual competition as well as a team competition at nationals.
"We train as a team," Katie said.
The 2011 Idaho State 4-H Livestock Judging Contest was on Sept. 10 at the Eastern Idaho State Fair. Twenty-one teams from all over the state competed.
The participants judged nine classes of livestock and gave three sets of oral reasons. The Bingham County team edged Canyon County by 10 points and Ada County by 13 points.
Kofford was the overall high individual judge in the contest as well as placing first in oral reasons.
Carter was fifth high individual and fifth in oral reasons while Johnson placed third in oral reasons.
This will be the sixth team from Blackfoot that Nash has taken to nationals. The other teams qualified in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2008 for this prestigious event.
The Western National 4-H Roundup will be in Jan. 5—8, 2012, in Denver, Colo.
To help team members get to nationals, a "Turkey Shoot" is scheduled.
The kickoff starts at 4-H Achievement Night on Oct. 24. Team members will sell chances on a turkey board so people can win a turkey. Cost is $2 per change. There will be at least eight winners.
Winners will be contacted on Nov. 14. (No turkey will be harmed in this activity.)
Contact Nash at 785-8060 or any member of the judging team to participate in the "Turkey Shoot."