Shows & Judges

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It should always be borne in mind, wherever or whenever you officiate as a judge of any breed, that you are filling the ethical role of an ambassador of the breed being judged and that your judging is to a great extent an educational and instructive task. Spectators and exhibitors expect to be convinced by your placings and simultaneous discussions that the desired animals are placed on merit in accordance with the Standard of Excellence and breeding aim.

It is essential that you as a judge should continually endeavour to widen your knowledge of cattle in general, and specifically the Simbra (or Simmentaler). You must therefore possess the maximum knowledge for your task and continually strive to brush up and modify your knowledge since the standard and objectives of our breeds are constantly modified according to the demands of the industry.

In order to judge objectively and successfully, you must in the first place be able to form a mental image of the desirable Simbra. To develop your power of judgement further, you must study the photos of superior purebred animals and particularly live animals and endeavour to memorise every detail. To be ethical and successful in your judgement, you must at all times be impartial and only the actual qualities of an animal should play a role in your evaluation. Your final placings must always be based on concrete and convincing facts and where applicable, aided by available means such as Simbradex. Functional and economical properties must receive priority throughout your appraisal.

You must be diplomatic and positive in your discussion of placings. Do not over-emphasise faults and imperfections, rather attribute particular importance to the superior and excellent qualities and always discuss it first. Be positive in your approach concerning inferior qualities, e.g. rather than referring to "poor" or "bad", make use of the terminology "it could be slightly better".

Unfortunately not all prospective candidates are destined to be a proficient judge, since it truly is a "gift", a natural talent and you can only become skilled through wide experience. Theoretical knowledge and intensive scrutiny of the Standard of Excellence is not an accepted guarantee for effective and successful judging.

Method of Judging

To avoid confusing the spectator and cattle leader, always endeavour to follow a standard pattern of judging throughout. Train yourself to remember individual animals to prevent the same animals from being changed around in subsequent classes.

Section A

Always allow the animals to move from left to right, preferably according to age. When the animals enter the ring stand in a position where each animal may be viewed without interference of the sun. First view the animals from a distance of approximately 10 metres in order to gain a general impression and remember that first impressions are often lasting.

Next, observe the animals walking. It is of vital importance under our environmental conditions. An animal which does not walk properly and comfortably is not placed. Stand in a position where you can view each animal individually walking towards you and then away from you. Depending on the position of the sun - always attempt to stand in the furthest corner of the ring - on the way back to the gate. Animals normally move more freely walking towards the exit gate. Try to gain a general impression at this stage, where you have the animals parading around the ring and note the following:

    ■  Animals with any disqualifying or discriminatory features in terms of the Standard of Excellence and (at prominent shows) cows with inferior reproduction qualities may
        already be eliminated at this stage.
    ■  The basic variations which may be observed between the animals in the class. Make an effort to remember this, since it is going to be useful in your motivations for your
        placings.
    ■  Compare the basic variations between the animals and you will already have an indication of how you are going to place the animals.

What should you pay attention to?

General Appearance: Which includes conformation. Observe length, width, depth, balance, capacity, symmetry, quality and type - all the qualities which have a major influence on first impressions, and to a great extent is permanent.

Functional Efficiency: Since you are judging breeding animals, it is required that the animals reveal distinct sex characteristics. One must be able to clearly differentiate between a bull, a cow or a heifer. In the female you should pay attention to features such as steer-like appearance, poorly developed genital organs and/or any indication of infertility as well as poorly developed udder and teats. In bulls one should pay attention to sex characteristics, under-developed and/or defective genital organs. At large shows the reproduction records of cows are put to the disposal of the judge by means of the ringcard. It stands to reason that functional efficiency includes walking ability previously referred to.

Productive characteristics: The most important feature of a bull and cow is REPRODUCTION mentioned earlier. Always bear the following in mind in your assessment: "Reproduction is 5 times more important than growth rate and 10 times more important than carcass qualities". Observe the other characteristics which are related to production and do not loose sight of the fact that you are judging a dual-purpose animal. In the cow one should observe the udder, teats, lacteal veins and in the heifer, udder and teat development is of great importance. Strong muscling is desired, particularly in the bull. Walking ability is very important since it is closely related to production.

Next, group the best animals together according to your initial judgement, allow them to walk and compare them once again in a standing position.

Section B

Line up the animals next to one another in order of preference. Endeavour not to let the animals stand on a decline. Place the animals from left to right, as seen by the spectator, for each individual class.

Having positioned the animals as such, walk past the animals facing you and observe the following:  Head, mouth, width, prominent shoulder, stance of forelegs, pasterns and hooves.

Thereafter, walk past the rear of the animals and note the following: shape of rump and length, udder and genital organs, thigh muscling, width, stance of hindlegs, hocks, pasterns, hooves and width between pinbones. If necessary you may again pull out one or more animals and allow them to walk in order to make sure about the stride.

You are now ready to finalise and motivate the placings. This, in brief, is the procedure of judging.

What do the skills of a judge embrace

The efficient ability of a judge depends on:

    ■  The required knowledge.
    ■  The ability to observe and remember variations, draw comparisons between such variations (evaluation) and base your placings on such variations without permitting
        anything or anybody to influence your decisions. To summarise:
          ■  You should look and perceive what you are looking at.
          ■  You should observe what you see.
          ■  You should understand what you observe.
          ■  You should know what you understand.
          ■  You may then base your decision on what you know.
          ■  Or even better: You must know what you are doing.

To accomplish all this one should possess the required knowledge of a bovine, especially the Simmentaler.

    ■  You must know and understand the composition of an animal.
    ■  You must be acquainted with, and use the correct anatomical terms.
    ■  You must know what the different parts of the body of an animal conforming to the standards, look like.
    ■  You must know the faults of an animal as well as the appropriate technical terms thereof.
    ■  You must know what is of major or minor importance, in other words evaluation is of vital importance.

You might think that this requires tremendous knowledge which has to be put into practise. However, rest assured that the more you know, the easier it becomes to be a proficient judge.

The above mentioned five points are briefly analysed as follows:

1.  Composition of the bovine

Skeleton - The skeleton is of great importance and is already well-developed at the time of birth. It is the foundation to which ligaments and muscle are attached. We do not wish to elaborate on this, but as a judge, you must endeavour to study and understand it. (Refer illustration of skeleton).
Purpose of the skeleton:
    ■  Protects the vital organs.
    ■  Provides the animal with its specific conformation.
    ■  Affords mobility to the animal.

Muscling of animal - Purpose of muscles:
    ■  Contributes to the conformation of the animal.
    ■  Causes mobility.
    ■  Forms part of all organs.
    ■  Of economic importance viz. the consumer value thereof.

Fat - The depositing of fat is influenced by age, sex, feed and rate of maturity (early or late). Purpose of fat:
    ■  A storage medium of excessive energy, reserved for re-use at any time.
    ■  Influences the palatability of the meat.

Skin and hair - The skin or hide and hair are of great importance in the total mechanism of the animal for adaptation to its environment. The hide is not only the largest single part of the body, however, is decidedly also one of the most important since hide and hair are good indicators of an animal's adaptability. A thick hide is generally more beneficial than a thin hide. Purpose of skin and hide:
    ■  Affords protection to tissue.
    ■  Affords protection against heat and cold.
    ■  Serves as medium to get rid of excessive heat.
    ■  The hair colour affords one of the most distinctive characteristics to each cattle breed.

2.  Correct anatomical terms

It is essential that you as prospective judge is familiar with and always use the correct terms, since you can simply not refer to "hock" when you mean "knee" when motivating your placings. Study the "Anatomical terms" below.

3.  Correct anatomical parts and body in general

This is described in the Standard of Excellence.

4.  Faults and correct terminology thereof:

Refer to the Discriminations and Disqualifications contained in the Standard of Excellence.

    ■  General:  Too fine or too coarse; off type/purity, lack of character, poorly-balanced, no definate sex character; flat or narrow throughout; temperament; woolly or frizzy coat;
        weak or excessive muscling.
    ■  Head:  Undershot or overshot lower jaw; skew or crooked nasal bone; narrow muzzle; protruding eyes; fleshy cheeks; underdeveloped eye-brows - particularly in bulls.
    ■  Fore Quarter:  Loose shoulders; straight shoulder, prominent shoulder; prominent brisket; narrow chest floor; prominent chine; excessive hump development; short, flat
        or too round neck.
    ■  Centre piece and loin:  Devils grip; (constricted); hollow back; arched back; insufficient spring of rib; weak loin; insufficient or too much depth.
    ■  Hindquarter:  Flat, short, droopy or roofy rump; narrow pinbones; prominent tail-head; wry tail setting; short, round muscling.   
    ■
  Legs:  Too coarse; too fine; outward turning; knock-kneed; bow-legged; short cannon bone.
    ■  Hocks:  Cow sickle; straight; spastic; puffy or narrow.
    ■  Hooves and Pasterns:  Small-, shallow-, cloven-, uneven or roll-hoof-, straight-, weak or tread through pastern.
    ■  Udder and teats:  Pendulous-, underdeveloped, unbalanced or too quartered udder or udder pulled up in front. Bulbuous, splayed, too short, too long and thin teats.
    ■  Genital organs:  Underdeveloped or small (refer minimum circumference in Standard of Excellence); hypoplastic, bisexual, twisted testes strings, excessive sheath skin,
        prolapse of the sheath and in the female underdeveloped vagina.
    ■  Rangy and lack of depth:  Such animals normally have a poor productive and reproductive ability, are poor feed convertors and normally have a low resistance.
    ■  Size:  Due to several reasons which were at issue at the last two judges' symposiums, it was decided that in as far as size and ADA are concerned, the middle-of-the-
        road policy should be adopted. However, sufficient variation to adapt to the environment should be provided. Discriminate against too large or too coarse.
    ■  Pony Type:  Pony characteristics are detrimental to both milk and high weight gains.

5.  What is important

Everything is important, and you must consequently acquire as much knowledge as possible.

    ■  When judging, you must be fully conversant with the Standard of Excellence and you must apply your knowledge.
    ■  It is very important that you know for what purpose the breed is bred, in other words, the purpose of the breed, in order that you may ascertain whether an animal serves its
        purpose. We therefore repeat:  The Simbra is a dual purpose breed which must be functionally efficient.

Apart from production related aspects, already dealt with, the following must be emphasised:

    ■  Fertility:  In terms of the Constitution of the Simbra Cattle Breeders' Society one of the objects is "to see to it that the calving records of cows are put at the disposal of
        judges at as many shows as possible to be evaluated in their judging". The ICP system has already since 1977 been in operation at major shows and the "Simdex
        system" was introduced in 1987. Also refer to "Functional efficiency". Reproduction and everything related thereto must receive the highest priority.
    ■  Structural faults in respect of legs and hooves:  For economical production, proper mobility in an animal is imperative in South Africa, the stance and stride of an animal
        must therefore be considered as vitally important.
    ■  Framework:  Discriminate against (i) extremities in size - keep to the middle-of-the-road; (ii) animals which lack depth or are rangy, (iii) animals with insufficient spring of
        rib. Shoulder and/or height of hip, which are not affected by condition, indicate the size of an animal.
    ■  Growth rate:  When judging young animals, special attention must be paid to weight for age. However, discriminate against extremities in ADA. In junior classes animals
        should preferably walk according to age.
    ■  Muscle development:  Pay attention to weak or excessive muscling. The muscling on the forearm is a good indication of muscling throughout.
    ■  Length:  Pay attention to proper length of body and length of rump, i.e. measurement from hip to pinbone.
    ■  Width and Capacity:  Good width and capacity throughout. Good width between forelegs, thurls and good width of body.
    ■  Overfat animals:  Discriminate against overfat animals, since we are in the process of judging breeding animals and not slaughter animals.
    ■  Temperament:  This feature cannot be measured. However, the animal should be easy to handle yet alert and high-spirited.
    ■  Variation in conformation at different ages:  It is common knowledge that an eight-month old calf does not have the same conformation as a three-year old animal.

Conclusion
In order to become a judge one must study since you must possess knowledge.  learn from books, learn from fellow breeders and judges, learn at shows and above all, attend Simbra Judges' Courses.  Then, on the basis of your knowledge, learn to observe the variations in animals.  To evaluate these variations, then make your final selections in order of your priorities.

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Correct Interpretation of important animal science terms

Constitution
The appearance of an animal in terms of how well (or poorly) it is doing and producing in the environment where it is kept. (A smooth, moulted and fertile animal in a good feeding condition will for instance signify a good constitution).

Hardiness
The reaction of an animal to environmental stress such as heat, drought, long distance walking, high parasite infestation and high humidity (e.g. a hardy animal against drought). "Constitution" is a good indication of hardiness.

Adaptability
The ability of an animal to adjust and thrive in a new environment or production system. Such an adaptation is measured by condition, growth and reproduction. We prefer to refer to "adaptability" to a production system (feedlot) and "hardiness" against adverse conditions.

Conformation
Is synonymous for "structure", i.e. to what extent legs, balance, muscling, masculinity, udder etc. conform to the norms (standard). An animal with for instance straight hocks has a poor conformation.

Functional Efficiency
The biological efficiency of an animal to comply with a specific function.

Traditionally it was merely ascertained whether the structure or conformation of an animal was such that it could perform its function and efficiency was not measured. Good walking ability, genital organs and purity would for instance contribute to the efficiency of the animal, while shape of horns, length of tail, certain colour markings etc. (fancy points) were not at all associated with the efficiency or productivity of an animal.

The modern viewpoint with regard to functional efficiency is aimed at the evaluation of an animal for (i) functionally important conformation qualities plus (ii) the measuring of production records such a Simbradex, retention of progeny and milk production (weaning index of calves) in the female, and qualities such as semen, service proficiency and growth rate in the bull.

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Ten commandments for the judge  (CP Massmann)

    ■  Aspects which are important to the consumer, in other words the commercial beef producer, must also receive the highest priority in the judging ring - the consumer is
        king.
    ■  Always bear in mind that "nature does not tolerate extremes".
    ■  Merit appraisal is of vital importance - pay special attention to preference characteristics as determined by council from time to time.
    ■  Bear in mind that fat animals belong to the slaughter stock showring and not in the ring of breeding animals.
    ■  Never loose sight of the fact that you are judging a dual-purpose breed.
    ■  There are no friends in the showring.
    ■  Do not permit animals with "reputable names" to influence your decision.
    ■  Be independent - previous placings of judges with "reputable names" should not necessarily be followed.
    ■  Do not concern yourself about the spectators' opinion of your placings - it is impossible to please everybody.
    ■  Motivate your placings, place as many animals as possible and do not discredit animals in your motivation.

"Our Breed Society holds the view that stud breeders should be encouraged to compete at shows provided that functional efficiency and reproduction (Simdex) plays a major role in the final placing". (CPM)

 

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