It all starts with Extension area qualifying events in April. Then the top teams there compete at the state level. Only the best from state livestock judging competition compete at the national FFA livestock judging contest, recently held during the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. When all the scores were tallied, Eastern Hancock FFA, Charlottesville, stood atop the heap, winning the 2011 title.
The team consisted of Sarah Mueller, Kale Hensley, Breanna Lawyer and Jacob Mueller. The coach is Scott Jacobs, featured on the cover of Indiana Prairie Farmer earlier this year. Individually, Sarah Mueller won the contest. Hensley was second, lawyer was fourth and Jacob Mueller was ninth. In terms of competition, that's a dominating performance.
The contest today includes evaluating classes of live animals, including beef, sheep, swine and goats. There are oral reasons on four classes, plus a written exam on livestock production at this level of competition. The emphasis at the national level is on a team's ability to select breeding livestock that would work well in someone's herd to improve the breed and the industry.
The first qualifying contest may have been in April, but livestock judging is nearly a year-around proposition for top teams like Eastern Hancock. They participate in invitational contests, some of which are held in the fall, getting teams ready primarily for spring competition.
They also take advantage of other opportunities to evaluate livestock. Jacobs was asked to judge the annual livestock judging contest for 4-H and FFA members at the Johnson County Fair in July. He brought his judging team, and the team, not just Jacobs, placed the classes, set the scoring marks, and talked the classes to the more than 30 participants in the contest.
Eastern Hancock backs up to I-70 between Knightstown and Greenfield. There is no exit there, but if you've passed that sight, you've likely also seen their livestock barn. It's of value for training teams, but it also allows them to raise hogs for shows, such as the NAILE show in Louisville. If you want to congratulate them this weekend, head to NAILE in Louisville. Members who might not get to show otherwise but who can keep pigs on the school farm will be exhibiting livestock, both for animal placings and in showmanship.Congratulations again to Eastern Hancock FFA.