Young cattle producers learn judging ropes in the ring

EDMONTON — It was like bring your kid to work day when two teenagers were invited to join seasoned purebred cattle judges to shadow them for the day at Farmfair International.

Thomas Wildman, 16, from Towaw Angus joined his father, Kirk Wildman, in judging the All Breeds Show, while David Vikse invited Travis Edwards to evaluate Shorthorns.

Both have learned judging of multiple species through 4-H, but this was a first for the young men, who shadowed the senior judges and discussed decisions. While they did not always agree on different class winners, when it came time to slap the grand champions they had reached a consensus.

Thomas Wildman has assessed sheep, goats, horses, dairy and beef cattle through 4-H.

“Market sheep are easy to judge, but I would judge 100 classes of beef classes before I did five classes of horses,” he said.

Evaluating a mixture of breeds that did not have enough numbers for separate shows was a challenge. It also gave him a taste of different aspects of the beef business and increased his confidence in facing the public.

Public speaking is his favourite project among the 4-H programs.

“Giving reasons is a challenge, but I feel confident talking,” he said.

He hopes to turn that ability into a career and plans to go to television and radio broadcast school after graduation.

He is also a seasoned showman, and his female entry was named grand champion at the Lloydminster Stockade Roundup and reserve champion at Farmfair. During the Supreme show on Nov. 10, his winning cow-calf pair made the top five out of 21 females on display.

Edwards, who is a partner in the family cattle business, SMRT Livestock, near of Carbon, Alta., admitted some stage fright at the Shorthorn show. Vikse is a flamboyant and entertaining judge, but for Travis’s first time holding a microphone, his reasons for selecting winners were somewhat more conservative.

Edwards has worked with the Vikse family to prepare and show their Charolais, and when he was asked to consider Farmfair, he agreed.

His family raises percentage and purebred Simmentals, so evaluating another breed was an education for him as he thought about which cows would work well in his own herd.

The Edwards family are active show people, and while Travis liked judging, he likes showing more.

“It is our family get-together and celebration. We all enjoy it,” he said.

“I enjoy the competitiveness of showing a bit more than the judging portion. but I enjoyed the whole thing.”

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