Judging - Before the Show

Serving as a professional livestock judge requires organization. Randy Daniel, Colbert, Georgia, has been judging cattle shows nationwide for over twenty years. When a show calls him, he immediately asks the basics: what show, when, where, who is the main contact, and how much is the salary?

“On average, a judge will make $250 to $300 per day, plus have all expenses paid, including travel to and from airport, parking fees, hotel rooms, etc. A judge should always be able to walk away from a show with more money than he/she came with,” says Daniel.

Before accepting a show, ask yourself if you are capable to handle the responsibilities. Are you expected to judge an open show, junior show, females, bulls, steers, showmanship, or all of the above? This will help you determine the level of responsibility you are about to undertake.  Then make an honest assessment of your skill level. Are you qualified for this show based on the size and competitive level? Are you physically able to judge the show based on the number of head expected and the time constraints? And finally, do you have any personal issues that may present a conflict of interest, such as ownership of cattle or close friendships with exhibitors?  

Once you agree to judge, immediately write down the show date and location in your calendar to avoid any scheduling conflicts. Keep a record of all correspondence with the show officials. Obtain a phone number and e-mail for your primary show contact and write down a physical address of the show so that you are able to easily find the location on the day of the event.

A judge should also ask the show officials if they publicize the show judge’s name prior to the event, or if the judge is to be kept confidential. Do not advertise to your friends and fellow peers that you have been hired to judge a specific show. Once you are hired, it’s a good idea to avoid discussing your opinion of certain cattle or attending similar shows immediately prior to judging your event.

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