quick guide toDairy Cattle Judging
Where to start
Form and function
What to look for
How judging works
Young Judging speech
Where to start
There are many breeds of dairy cattle in Australia, but the most common are Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey and Aussie Red.
It is important to learn about the different breeds of livestock as their characteristics can vary significantly between breeds. For example, Holstein are the most popular breed in Australia and are recognised by their distinctive black and white colouring, large frames and producing great volumes of milk. This compares to Jersey cattle which are smaller, caramel coloured and their milk is creamy, making it ideal for butter, while the Aussie Red is a medium-sized, red and white coloured animal that produces high protein milk.
TOP TIP: Don’t get stuck on the detail of the different breeds. Cattle in each class should be the same breed and they should be judged against what makes a good dairy cow rather than specific breed characteristics.
An overview of dairy cattle breeds in Australia can be found here: 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. As a cow’s main function is milk production, it is important to look for a well-structured udder, if she is fertile and can walk and feed well. Important characteristics are a well-balanced udder with large, prominent milk veins, four even teats that are wide apart and squarely placed, prominent and wide hips, well sprung and widely spaced ribs, and a fine, long face with a broad muzzle.
Heifers will be similar to cows, except their udder won’t be as developed.
TOP TIP: Start from the feet and work your way up.
For a comprehensive visual guide to all the judging points and what an ideal animal looks like: https://agshowsaustralia.org.au/member-resources/national-competitions-guidelines/
For an example of a dairy cow being judged watch this video: www.agshowsaustralia.org.au/educational-resources/further-reading
Young Judging speech
Competitors in the oral section are scored on their accuracy of observation, their ability to compare animals, 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.
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 [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.
Judging is subjective, while there are characteristics about an animal to look for, what the judges will be paying close attention to is how clearly competitors express their decision and how they validate it.
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 list of cattle terminology check out https://agshowsaustralia.org.au/educational-resources/further-reading
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