Enhance your ability to think, reason, and communicate when you join one of our Department of Animal Sciences’ judging teams. Our tradition of success is not only evident by our trophy case, but more importantly by our former judging team members who have gone on to obtain leadership roles in the livestock, dairy, horse, and meat industries.

Students involved in dairy, horse, meats, or livestock judging have the opportunity to travel and visit operations that are leading the industry. You will meet and interact with the owners and managers of these successful operations, providing a better understanding of animal agriculture and giving you the opportunity to develop strong ties with its leaders.

Judging team members also have the opportunity to compete against universities across the United States in contests held in conjunction with major industry events such as the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, the American Royal, and the North American International Livestock Exposition.

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Dairy cattle inside a facility

Dairy Judging Team

In dairy cattle judging, students rank groups of four animals in a class and, for some classes, provide a short verbal explanation of that ranking. There are usually 10-12 classes in a contest. The University of Illinois Dairy Cattle Judging Team competes in five or six contests in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Kentucky during the fall semester. Team members are generally juniors or seniors. Anyone practicing with the team as a junior or senior will have the opportunity to compete in at least one or two contests.

For those that have little or no Dairy Judging Experience and want to learn more, please consider taking ANSC 215 Section C. ANSC 215 introduces students to the basics of dairy cattle evaluation and dairy judging. Throughout the course, students will learn how to evaluate the phenotypic traits of dairy cattle for longevity in dairy herds.

If you would like to support the Dairy Judging Team, you may make your gift by visiting the giving section of our website. Please be sure to select “Dairy Judging Coach & Dairy Science Programs Coordinator Endowed Fund” from the dropdown box, to be sure your donation is going to the correct group. As you consider your gift, we also remind you that many of you work for companies that provide matching gift programs, and we encourage you to take advantage of potential matching programs to increase the impact of your gift.  If your life situation permits it, please consider making a planned gift. Another option is a short-term, multi-year pledge that can be paid annually, quarterly, or monthly.

Raising funds in this uncertain economy won’t be easy. But we are confident that together we can do it. We owe our support to the future generations of dairy judging team, dairy challenge team, and Illini Dairy Club members. For more specific information on gift options feel free to contact Derek Nolan or Phil Cardoso, or contact Allison Winters in the College of ACES Office of Advancement at 217-333-9355.

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Advised by: Dr. Derek Nolan

Horses running in a field

Horse Judging Team

As a member of the horse judging team, you will have the opportunity to view some of the world's best horses at national judging competitions and improve your decision-making skills and self-confidence through systematic evaluation of classes. The judging team practices and competes in the fall semester, and members are encouraged to take ANSCI 313 before joining the team.

Advised by: Debra Hagstrom

Livestock Judging Team with award

Livestock Judging Team

The livestock judging team is open to all undergraduate students at the University of Illinois, although most members of the team have a strong interest in animal agriculture and its related industries. If you are interested, enroll in ANSCI 211 (Breeding Animal Evaluation) in the spring semester of your junior year to compete at the National Western Stock Show, Denver, CO; Sioux Empire, Sioux Falls, SD; Iowa Beef Expo, Des Moines, IA; Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston, TX; and the All-East.

Advised by: Dr. Dan Shike and Lee Rincker

Meat animal evaluation students in facility with hanging meat

Meat Animal Evaluation Team

The meat animal evaluation team serves as the capstone experience for students with an interest in the evaluation of breeding animals, market animals, and the end product. The contest consists of four sections: the breeding, meats, and market animal divisions, and the communication challenge. The meat animal evaluation team competes in the spring at the National Meat Animal Evaluation Contest. Students interested should contact one of the following Advisors.

Advised by: Dr. Dan ShikeLee Rincker, and Brandon Klehm

Meat judging team standing outside of bus

Meat Judging Team

The meat judging team is a competitive extracurricular program that tests students’ knowledge on carcass anatomy, industry function, and end product quality. The meat judging program at the University of Illinois has been active since 1929. Being a part of a meat judging team takes dedication, passion, and typically hand warmers. As a member of the meat judging team, you will get a firsthand understanding of how the final product is evaluated, fabricated, and marketed. Team members are exposed to numerous segments of the livestock and meats industry, allowing you to network with leaders in the industry and across other universities.

Students on the team will get to travel across the country for 2 semesters, competing against students from other agriculture universities to determine who the best evaluators are. The team competes at 4 contests in the spring and 4 contests in the fall. Students interested in being on the team need to enroll in ANSC 215 – Section A (Intro to Meat Eval). For any questions, please contact the Advisor below.

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Advised by: Caroline Downey