Here come the judges: What they look for in cows at the Royal

Referee Chad Ryan. (Photo by Bullvine)

Nelson Zandbergen
Farmers Forum

TORONTO – Judges are eager to get their smarts back to work in the cattle show ring at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto this month after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

Wisconsin Holstein show judge Paul Trapp said he was “excited and honored” to participate after the pandemic disrupted his planned appearance three years ago.

In addition to the best animals in Canada, Trapp noted that the best cows from the United States will also be in Toronto. It’s part of the natural back-and-forth between dairy farmers and the large contingent of Canadians who always compete at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, in October.

Trapp, who also judges at the World Dairy Show, said there is no difference in judging the competition in Canada versus the U.S. because the desired Holstein body type is the same.
Wisconsin judge Chad Ryan will also be in Toronto, agreeing that dairy farmers in both countries want the same thing and that the breed has evolved to meet that need.

“I’d say we’re working harder now for legs and feet that are more balanced in size and just functionally sound legs and nice udders, we want to look like they want to be milked,” said Ryan, who is tasked with judging the suitability of the heifers. TD Dairy Classic 4-H show. “I really think that’s what we all want right now. Dinosaur-looking things with big showers are a thing of the past.”

Both American judges expect to see some big cattle and elite showmen, although in their eyes only the cows matter. “If they’re doing their job to make the animal look its best, I don’t even see the showman,” Trapp said.

Ryan agreed, although he suggested that an animal subject to an expert handler might help the appearance to some extent.

“It makes a difference when an animal comes in and he wants to parade,” he said. “He knows why he’s there and wants to cooperate. “Show ring presence is what I always call it, and boy does it make a difference.”

Here’s a look at the three judges who took part in this year’s 100th anniversary Royal Winter Fair.

Paul Trapp
Taylor, Wisconsin
2022 National Holstein Show Judge

Background: Raised on a registered Holstein farm in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1993. He works for Semex and has 30 years of experience in the artificial insemination industry.

Year of trial: 25

Best in show previously judged: Five times at the World Dairy Expo and 10 times at national level competitions outside the US

Prior judgment in Royal: 1

What do you look for in a winning cow?

“That’s how close it is to the real model. I like real dairy cows with fantastic udders, ease and grace around the ring, and overall style and poise.

What would be the deciding factor between two equally matched cows?

“There are five main categories in the division and they’re weighted, so if it’s that close, it’s basically a math number in your head. Best udder is the highest category, so if it’s that close, it’s probably the best udder cow. The highest category in heifers is legs and feet, and if they are equal, the best heifer probably has the best legs and feet.”

Chad Ryan
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
TD Dairy Classic 4-H youth eligibility judge

Background: Raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm, had her first calf at age 7 and was running the farm’s breeding program at age 15. Ryan’s first calf was also the first breeding animal on the farm. He has developed into a thoroughbred herd while “showing at all levels”.

Year of trial: 20

Best Show Previously Judged: International Ayrshire Show at the 2022 World Dairy Show.

Last time judging at Royal: 0

What do you look for in a winning cow?

“I like a balanced cow with incredible milk strength, really good suckers and most people will tell you I’m very, very stingy on legs and feet. I love square heifers, hard top, lots of style and really good legs and feet.

What would be the deciding factor between two equally matched cows?

“I think for me it would be a lot of movement and I like high and wide back udders. So, I think if it comes down to it, it’s going to be a couple of factors. And the general breed characteristics of the actual breed, which is only slightly more beautiful in the head and neck. It depends on the gender.”

Chad Wilson
Wawota, Saskatchewan
2022 Black Angus Show Judge

Background: Runs a beef farm in Wawota, Saskatchewan, where his family grew up.

Year of trial: 20

Best Show Previously Judged: Canadian Western Agribition

Previous conviction in Royal: 2

What do you look for in a winning cow?

“Different things. “It is a healthy cattle, it has ribs and shape, and its eyes are pleasing.”

What would be the deciding factor between two equally matched cows?

“They are all different. It depends on your personal choice that day.”

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