quick guide toAlpaca Judging
Where to start
Form and function
What to look for
How judging works
Young Judging speech
Where to start
There are two different breeds of alpaca in Australia, Huacaya and Suri. The Huacaya is most common and its fibre is crimpy and grows outwards from its body, similar to a Merino sheep. It is also identifiable by a fluffy bob or bonnet on its forehead and mutton chops on its cheeks. The Suri fleece is much more silky and soft, draping over the body. Alpacas originated in South America and so males are referred to as “machos” and females “hembras”.
The competition is divided into four classes, the animals’ conformation for Huacaya or Suri and their fleeces. While the animal’s form is important for reproduction purposes and improving the herd, alpacas are predominately kept for their fleece and breeders will give strong emphasis to the quality of an animal’s fleece for its breeding program as a higher quality fleece fetches a higher price. This emphasis on the fleece is represented in the competition’s point allocation.
TOP TIP: Don’t get stuck on the detail of the different breeds. Cattle in each class should be of a similar breed and they should be judged against what makes a good beef type rather than specific breed characteristics.
A comprehensive overview of the two breeds: www.agshowsaustralia.org.au/educational-resources/further-reading
What to look for
You will need to get to know the different parts of the animal and be able to name these correctly, as these will be the judging points. Remember these will differ between the animal’s purpose. For example, a bull and steer are both males, but they have differences in their appearance as a bull is bred for reproducing and has reproductive organs and different muscular structure, while a steer is bred only for the meat market and the muscle will need to be carefully inspected as this affects the cuts of meat, particularly along the forearm, shoulder and hindquarter.
TOP TIP: Start from the feet and work your way up.
For a comprehensive visual guide to all the judging points, what an ideal animal looks like and the correct terminology: https://agshowsaustralia.org.au/member-resources/national-competitions-guidelines/
Young Judging speech
Competitors in the oral section are scored on their accuracy of observation, their ability to compare animals and fleeces, speaking skills and their own presentation.
Have a start, middle and end: begin with an introduction (for example, acknowledging those involved and provide a short overview of characteristics an ideal animal would have in that class), then go into the comparisons of pairs, and finish with a conclusion (thank people for listening). The speech only goes for two minutes, so keep to the point. There is no penalty for not speaking for the full two minutes.
The main goal is to explain to the judge why you have placed the animals in the order you have chosen by comparing the animals in pairs – first place with second, second against third, and finally third against fourth. Rather than describing each animal individually, competitors draw comparisons against the attributes of each pair. For example, “In the top pair, I placed animal numbered [eg four] ahead of [eg one] because … [highlight the strengths then weaknesses, if any are present].” Remember to prioritise the most important reasons first and pick only two or three differences.
It’s not all about the animals – a competitor’s appearance is also important and judges can mark down for poor presentation. Competitors must wear closed in shoes and a long-sleeved shirt or jacket. Long hair must be tied back, and only minimal jewellery is allowed. Male competitors must wear a tie and long pants. Female competitors may consider wearing a tie or neck scarf or necklace. Chewing gum and shorts are definitely not permitted.
- Speak clearly and concisely – show you believe in what you are saying and pack a punch with your words.
- Deliver your speech to the championship judge – remember eye contact.
- Don’t call the final animal “last”, as this can be insulting to the owner. Instead refer to it being fourth placed.
- Get to know the terminology and don’t be afraid to implement it – the judges will be looking out for it.
- Choose one end of the animal to begin speaking on and move to the other end, from front to rear or vice versa. This will help organise your presentation and make it easier for people to follow what you are saying.
- Be as descriptive and explanatory as possible. For example, use gender terms rather than “it” and go beyond saying one characteristic is “better” when comparing a pair by highlighting why the characteristic is superior.
For a comprehensive comparison of what characteristics to look for and the faults:
This educational content has been developed as part of the Project: Education of Sustainable Agri-Food Production Program. This project is jointly funded through Agricultural Shows Australia and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program