220 students learning the fine art of livestock judging

When you think of judging livestock, you usually think of county fairs ... or even a state fair.

But there's another side to the livestock judging world and 220 high school students got that introduction at the Orr Ag Center near Perry, Illinois.

Those students got a detailed lesson on what to look for when you start judging livestock.

The students were from Illinois and Missouri and during the morning, the students judged cattle, hogs and sheep.

After several stations of judging, the students were able to compare their notes with the professionals who were also on hand.

One of the ag alumni advisors at John Wood Community College said they do this to teach the young adults what to look for when they go out and start buying animals for their family farm.

"As they select their breeding stock or their breeding animals, this is an opportunity for them to hone those skills as far as learning structural correctness or which is best and most appropriate body type," Jeff Galle, a retired instructor from JWCC, said.

This was the first time 14-year-old Preston Pitchford attended this event. He sais there is plenty of work that goes into picking cattle and hogs for their farm. One mistake can cost a producer plenty.

"It's real difficult. You just kind of got to manage your time. You have to look, you have to know what you're doing. If you don't know what you're doing, then it's really hard," Pitchford said.

The students had eight minutes to look over the livestock at each of the stations. That compares to about what producers have when they attend livestock sales and are making decisions for their family farm. So the training starts early to give them the education they'll need when they're out on their own.