Livestock eval team reclaims title

Miranda Malo

Miranda Malo

When it comes to evaluating cattle, sheep and pigs – alive or in the cooler – SDSU students are champions.

SDSU’s 11-member livestock evaluation team placed first in the National Meat Animal Evaluation Contest in Brookings March 24-26. Last year’s team also placed on top, making this the first consecutive win by a Jackrabbit team since the competition began in the 1960s.

The SDSU Animal and Range Science Department hosted nine teams from across the United States, including the University of Florida, Texas A & M and Colorado State University.

The majority of the students on this year’s eval team are part the general livestock judging team, and all of them are in the one-credit advanced livestock evaluation class.

The annual contest consists of four parts: meats, market livestock, breeding livestock and communication.

“You look at finished animals and estimate back fat, rib eye area … things like that,” said Jared Knock, a junior animal science major from Willow Lake and member of the winning team.

The meats section had students estimating yield and quality grades, like prime and choice. They “placed classes of carcasses and retail product,” said Knock.

“There is a keep/cull class. You have to pick four animals to keep (for breeding) and four to cull (send to market),” he said, describing the breeding livestock section.

While the students’ individual scores are tallied to make up the team total in the first three areas, communication is completely a group effort.

“Your whole team has to come up with a 12-minute presentation about a topic in the meat industry,” said Knock.

The topics are given out the morning of the contest.

The SDSU students didn’t win the competition by mere chance.

“All in all we did have good livestock kids. Our students are pretty well prepared,” said Tyler Monroe, one of three coaches for the eval team.

Practicing two nights per week and most weekends, the team saw many head of cattle, pigs, and sheep.

“I think we have a lot of experience. We get a really good base of seeing the best and worst of the industry,” said Knock.

The team traveled to the Sioux Falls Stockyards and area farms for practice.

“The producers in the area are pretty cooperative,” said Melroe.

This experience will help the students in their future careers.

“It’s got a huge amount of the practical element. It’s performing the function of a livestock buyer. Say you’re a buyer, you can look at [the livestock] and price them accordingly,” said Knock.

If a student is going back to the farm it helps “to know what to improve on with your livestock,” he said.

Melroe agreed.

“The evaluation skills they learn helps them with marketing their livestock,” he said.

He said it illustrates the concepts that the students learn in their classes. It helps “to reinforce their classes. It’s almost sort of a capstone class,” said Melroe.

Next year’s 43rd annual National Meat Animal Evaluation Contest will be held in Oklaoma City.

#1.885166:3634486898.jpg:ag winners.jpg:Members of the SDSU livestock evaluation team beat out schools like Texas A & M to take first place.: