ASU Resurrecting Livestock Judging Program
Angelo State University’s Livestock Judging Team is getting a do-over.
Flush from the success of its Wool Judging and Meats Judging Teams, the ASU Agriculture Department is re-starting the Livestock Judging Team that used to be equally as successful before declining in the late 1990s and folding in 2004.
“All reputable animal science programs have a livestock judging team,” said Dr. Gil Engdahl, Agriculture Department head. “It receives more attention than a wool judging team or a meats judging team. We’ve been trying to hire someone fulltime to teach at the master’s level and also be in charge of the judging program.”
The person hired for those duties is Kris Ede. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and will complete his ASU master’s degree in May. He was also an active member of the Aggies’ livestock judging program when it was winning national championships.
Already hard at work, Ede will be the focal point of all the university’s judging teams when he officially joins the ASU faculty this fall. He will assume duties that have previously been parceled out to various graduate students, and give the judging program more consistency.
“When you have one person who is always here, it makes recruiting a lot easier,” Ede said. “Prospective students who have been judging their whole lives and want to go somewhere and compete for a national championship, if they don’t know who the coach is or who is always going to be there, they have a hard time going to a place like that.”
Livestock judging is just what it sounds like – evaluating and grading different classes of cattle, sheep, goats and hogs. The kicker is, competitors also have to defend their decisions to a panel of judges, and that is where many of the most valuable lessons are learned. In addition to providing hands-on training for students who plan to be livestock buyers or work at feedlots, judging contests indirectly prepare students for whatever careers they may choose.
“In most contests, we judge 12 classes of animals,” Ede said. “Then, in the afternoon we have to give eight sets of oral reasons to people we don’t know telling them why we graded the animals that way. We are very particular about the words we use and spend a lot of time on grammar and diction. That will also help the students during the interview process for any job.”
As with the wool and meats teams, ASU’s Livestock Judging Team will also compete in Division I against schools like Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Kansas State, New Mexico State, South Dakota State and Colorado State. The wool and meats teams have a proud tradition of faring well against the larger schools, something Ede predicts will continue with the livestock team once the program has a chance to mature.
“It is work ethic, for the most part,” Ede said. “Most of the kids we get here have a blue collar, hard-nosed, ‘we are going to do whatever we need to do’ type of attitude. The support of the faculty here is also outstanding.”
Much like its athletic teams, the judging teams bring ASU regional and national recognition as they compete in cities across Texas and in Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Nebraska. The Livestock Judging Team in particular is expected to bring in students who would not otherwise have considered ASU.
“It’s all about students and it’s all about having a well-rounded program,” Engdahl said. “That is the reason we are pursuing this, to not only have a more all-around program, but also as a recruiting tool. You’ve got to have what students want.”
Incoming or current ASU students interested in joining the Livestock Judging Team should notify the Agriculture Department and register for the fall course Animal Science 3241: Livestock, Meat and Wool Evaluation. The team will begin practicing this fall, will compete in practice contests in December, and will compete in its first official contest over the New Year’s weekend in Phoenix.
For more information on any of the ASU judging teams, contact Ede at (325) 942-2027 or go online.