By Tom Collins
TORONTO — When it comes to heifers, size doesn’t matter for the judge of the Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic at this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Nov. 3-12.
“Some people put a little more emphasis on size and structure,” said Brian Carscadden, a sire analyst with Semex. “I always say they need to be good before they can be big. I won’t penalize one that’s big, but she needs to have all the parts that are as good as the smaller ones.”
Since the mammary system makes up 42 per cent of a scorecard for a cow, heifer judges need to look at other parts of the animals.
“I want animals that, if they put on a good udder down the road, they’re going to have all the parts to be a good productive female once they’re in milk,” he said. “When you’re dealing with young animals, you consider balance, style and blending of parts that make that animal more attractive in the ring.”
Four judges share what they will be thinking when they are in the Royal ring.
Name: Brian Carscadden, Guelph, Ont.
Judging: Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic
Years judging: 20
Previous years judging at the Royal: 4
What do you look for in a winning heifer? “Heifers that have balance, feet and legs they move very comfortably on, proper rump structure and an adequate amount of strength and size and balance.”
What’s one thing that can lose the competition? “I don’t like heifers that are narrow muzzle, narrow chested, that don’t have enough capacity or spring to their barrel. That suggests to me that they’re weak, that potentially down the road they won’t have the strength to compete, to perform.”
If two heifers were evenly matched, what would be the deciding factor? “Rump structure and foot and leg in a heifer are really important. If you have a heifer that isn’t properly structured in either of those areas, she’s going to have difficulty when she’s in milk. If the rump structure’s not correct, the reproduction won’t be where you want it to be. If the foot and leg is not sound, then she’s not going to be as mobile as you need her to be.”
Name: Pierre Boulet, Montmagny, Que.
Years judging: 15
Previous years judging at the Royal: 0
What do you look for in a winning cow? “I always look for good feet and legs, good udder and a dairy cow. She needs to have angularity in the front end. A good udder needs to have a really good forward attachment, and a really good back attachment.”
What’s one thing that can lose the competition for a cow? “You talk about the teat placement, you talk about the forward attachment, the rear attachment when she’s way too low and the udder is not square.”
If two cows were evenly matched, what would be the deciding factor? “Which one is the best cow to send to (dairy farms) and easy to take care of. She really needs good feet and legs and a really good udder. That’s the two best parts of the cow. After that, you talk about rump structure. You want to think, if every day you milk the cow and she’s easy to work with, which one is the best to do that?”
Name: Jon Fox, Lloydminster, Sask.
Years judging: 34
Previous years judging at the Royal: 0
What do you look for in a winning cow? “I like to evaluate the cattle as if I was standing in my own pen at home when I’m sorting my better cattle from average cattle. I want a cow that is very sound on her feet and legs. In our country here out west, it’s very important that these cattle can travel for miles in the pasture and be able to keep themselves in relatively good condition body-type wise as well as feed their calf outside.
Their udder development. If they’re heifer calves, I want to see proper teat spacing. Then I get to critiquing the size and the shape and the levelness of the udder. I like to see a nice level udder with four teats.”
What’s one thing that can lose the competition for a cow? “If they can’t walk around the ring in a proper fashion. I’m very critical if they’re stiff moving. You don’t want to see that in a cow in a show ring. Sometimes that’s just a cow having a bad day, but as a judge, you’re judging them at that moment.”
Name: Bruce Mode, Vankleek Hill, Ont.
Judging: Red and White Holsteins
Years judging: 39
Previous years judging at the Royal: 3
What’s one thing that can lose the competition for a cow? “If they don’t walk properly on their legs or if they have a bad set to their legs. The legs are really important because if they don’t have good legs, they won’t last.”
If two cows were evenly matched, what would be the deciding factor? “One of the most important things we look for is the mammary system. If everything else is pretty equal, the one with the best udder would be the one you would lean towards. We’re looking for dairy animals and cows that look like they can produce a lot of milk and are going to last a long time. We’re looking for the shape of the udder, how’s it’s attached to the body of the cow. You want an udder that’s extremely well attached. You’re looking for teats that are not too long, not too short and placed properly on the udder. It all affects the longevity of the cow.”