Judging Cattle Shows

Jim Pipkin is a registered angus breeder near Springfield, Missouri. He lives on a farm that’s been in the family since 1857 and his family has been in the Angus business since 1933. He knows a bit about the Angus breed and has been judging cattle shows for several decades. Over that time Pipkin says he’s seen cattle get bigger and cattle get smaller, but the end goal is a product that meets consumer demands.

I showed cattle in 4-H, and I always wondered when you’re looking at hundreds of black cattle, how a judge keeps them all straight. Pipkin admits he gets “barn blind”.

"You do a big show when there’s 300 in a day and you will miss one. You try to keep an ideal in mind, where you want to be, what you want to find, so you just have to keep saying that to yourself. I think it’s like a professional ball player," he says. "They get in a zone. If you don’t find yourself in a comfort zone you’re not going to do a very good job. And if I can’t have fun out here, I don’t want to be doing it."

He’s had a number of show ring calamities including being kicked by animals and run over by a little girl and her steer. Pipkin says at the end of the day he makes one new friend -  and several enemies he didn’t know he had!  But his enjoyment of the process still comes from working with the people.

"There’s not a better set of people in the world than kids being raised in agriculture. It’s more of a way of life, it’s a neat place to raise kids. They learn a lot of respect, they learn a lot of work ethic," says Pipkin. "And if we don’t have that next generation having the ability to make a living in agriculture, we might as well just throw our hands up."

Have you thought about becoming a cattle show judge? Click here to learn what it takes.