Collegiate livestock judging is equivalent to Sunday night football for stockmen and women, and the National Barrow Show (NBS) is the swine enthusiast’s Super Bowl. Will Taylor of Western Illinois University (WIU) just had the honor of topping the reasons division at NBS. The Showpig.com team caught up with Will, and he was kind enough to offer us these tips to help you rock the reasons room.
Be Confident – This is easily the most important part of having a successful day in the reasons room. You have to believe in what you say and sell it to the best of your ability. My coaches at WIU, Dr. Mark Hoge and Hayden Wilder, always tell us the goal of reasons is to get the listener to hand you their checkbook and allow you to pick out their livestock. This means you must make the listener believe you are knowledgeable and capable of being a stockman right beside them.
Be Brief – Brevity will be your ultimate friend. Remember, a listener will have the opportunity to listen to hundreds of sets throughout the day. Strive to be the person that cleanly tells the listener what they saw. It is cool to have long, extravagant phrases that your coach told you to say, but if they do not fit, they simply will not score. Find phrases that you are comfortable with and can say in a quick and well-sold fashion. This will allow you to score well no matter the situation.
Be Accurate – Accuracy is easily the most important aspect of describing livestock. There are a number of ways to establish accuracy.
- Use IDs – IDs show the listener that you saw the class in a high level of detail. IDs can be colors, sexes (these are very important; DO NOT call Barrows and Gilts incorrectly), and ear notches (also important to ensure they are correct before you call them out). IDs will also help to guide the listener through the set of reasons and allow them to maintain attention and picture the livestock as you describe them.
- Every livestock has a label – Labels are huge for accurately capturing the essence of a livestock. A label is the big picture that allows you to remember that particular livestock. For example, labels can range from skinny and good built to stout and poor built. Apply a label during the class and base your individual description off of that label. If you labeled one as skinny and good built then describe their advantages in look, flexibility, range of motion and athleticism, but criticize their lack of muscularity, genuine width and boldness of skeleton.
Actually Describe Livestock – This may seem very obvious, but the main thing that I’ve heard from listeners is they want contestants to actually tell them about livestock. Reasons are about painting a picture the listener can agree with. I have found painting a picture takes meticulous organization. You need to focus on describing livestock in a general direction. What this means is use views to take the listener through what you saw during the class. Make sure to use the terms, driving at you, driving underneath you, from the side, and driving away as you describe things you saw from these angles. This style will allow the listener to picture the class as you talk.
Whether you are preparing for your first contest or your last, these are all things that we as reason givers need to keep in mind. Remember these tips, and above all, have fun and be competitive!