This article was contributed by Baylee Brown, reporter for the Mulhall-Orlando FFA Chapter.
Mulhall-Orlando FFA members have been living out the FFA motto this summer as they have spent time working hard to improve on their knowledge and skills with livestock evaluations. During the Livestock Evaluation Career Development Event, students work within teams to rank breeding and market classes of beef, sheep, and swine, and give oral reasons to back up their decisions.
The Livestock Evaluation CDE helps students understand the value of animals to the producers, packers, and consumers. Being involved in livestock evaluation teaches valuable lessons in decision making, giving oral reasons to support those decisions, and prioritizing desirable qualities in market and breeding livestock.
The Mulhall-Orlando FFA members prepared for the judging competitions by practicing at school to learn how to read performance data on livestock. They also went to Mark Johnson’s farm and judged 3 classes of heifers. Mark Johnson is an associate professor of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University. He has served as the supervisor of the OSU Purebred Cattle Center since 1992. He coached the OSU livestock judging team from 1992-2013, and he is also the owner and operator of J&J Cattle Company. He discussed the animals and talked over the placings with the students.
In June, four members of the chapter, Baylee Brown, KayLea Taylor, Charley Johnson, and Sydney Johnson, attended the OSU Livestock Judging Camp. This camp was held in two sessions from June 10 to 12 and June 13 to 15 and was put on by the OSU Livestock Judging Team and members of the Animal Science Department faculty. During each session of the camp they evaluated classes of sheep, goats, cattle, and hogs. They then went over the class placings and prepared oral reasons for each class.
The members learned a lot about preparing and presenting oral reasons on a class of livestock, as well as how to improve on their judging skills. Sydney Johnson shared what she learned at the OSU Livestock Judging Camp. Sydney said, “I learned to memorize the livestock, not your notes.”
To help prepare for OSU Big Three Field Days, Mulhall-Orlando FFA members members gathered to have a work-out in July. Mark Johnson provided the members with three classes of heifers to evaluate and discuss.
After practicing, the Mulhall-Orlando FFA members put their skills to the test when they attended the NOC Sheep field day in Tonkawa. The Junior FFA team consisting of Baylee Brown, Callen Oldenburg, KayLea Taylor, and Hanna Schmidt. The team placed first in the competition. Callen Oldenburg was first individual and Baylee Brown was sixth individual.
In addition to the NOC Sheep field day, Mulhall-Orlando FFA members attended OSU Big 3 Field Days in Stillwater at the Totusek Arena. They evaluated sheep, cattle, and hogs. Throughout the contest the Junior FFA team was 7th on sheep and cattle, and 5th on swine day. They ended the contest placing as the Overall Reserve Champion Jr. FFA Team out of 233 teams competing. The Senior FFA Team that attended was made up of Paige Day, Karlie Thomason, Ashlyn Larman, Kaylee Shenold, and Lane Blankinship. Casyn Larman also competed in the Junior FFA Division.
The Mulhall-Orlando FFA members had a great learning experience this summer working on livestock judging. The knowledge and skills they have gained will benefit them when they attend livestock judging competitions throughout the upcoming school year.