What is your background and current involvement in the sheep industry?
I was raised on and am still a part of a production agriculture farm and ranch in the Texas hill country. Our main focus is a commercial cow calf operation, fine-wool sheep, Angora goats, and a herd of meat goats. Through my own involvement in 4-H and FFA, both as a participant and a leader I have been very fortunate to have worked with some outstanding exhibitors, parents, and colleagues. My current involvement in the industry is as a managing partner in my family’s farming and ranching interest, and I am the production manager at Lindner Feed and Milling in Comfort, Texas where I work closely with our dealers, customers, and clients on all aspects of our products.
What is the most important aspect of being a judge at a national show?
The most important aspect is to judge the first class through to the last class exactly the same. I think that your show ring procedure and how you go about sorting animals, where you place your emphasis and at what point you start to make that final selection should occur exactly the same in every class. It adds to your consistency as a judge and the exhibitors know what to expect as the class progresses. Each show is different in the number of sale animals, or how many blue red and whites they want selected for each class. The area around these dividing lines is just as important as the difference between first and second.
What are your initial sorts when evaluating market lambs?
My initial sort is based on muscle, both volume and shape/expression. Once I have decided that an animal is thick enough, structure, balance and appearance all closely follows, but my initial sort is based on if I think the animal handles with enough product.
When you get down to those top end lambs, what separates them for you?
When separating top end lambs they need to hit me hard on the move. They need to travel toward me neat and eye appealing, have enough angle to their shoulder, being shorter in their scapula while still being tall fronted, long enough bodied to balance while still being long hind saddled. I’m a true believer that a lamb should travel away from you wider than he walks toward you, and that the widest part of his body should be his pin set. I think that a level hip is important but cannot outweigh levelness in the lop line. Overall balance from the side, correctness of skeleton, and show ring presence is very important to me, only after the sheep has enough muscle.
What’s your biggest pet peeve in the show ring?
My biggest pet peeves in the show ring are leaving wool anywhere above the hock, paint, color, die, glue, or sticky special sauce people spray on them.
What person/people influenced or helped to shape your view on what an ideal show lamb should possess?
I have been very lucky to have some great friends that have guided my views on the livestock show industry no matter what species I have judged. I can both understand and appreciate the production agriculture side of the business that I draw from the influence of my family. I have four or five great friends that I can talk livestock with and they range from complete commercial producers to people who found the show industry and have no background in agriculture.
What’s your favorite lamb show to just sit and watch? Or do you have a show you look forward to going to every year?
Honestly, I have never just sat and watched an entire lamb show, but I have been in the lamb barn for an entire show and walked up to the ring for the final placing of the top end sheep in every class. I would have to say that when our Texas majors hire one of my three or four favorite judges, I probably spend more time ring side.
You have been fortunate enough to judge several major shows, what has been your favorite show and why?
I have sorted many different species of livestock, at all different levels of competition, and most of the time I have sorted market lambs and meat goats. However, to date the show that stands out in my mind as being the most prestigious one I have judged is the San Antonio junior breeding sheep show. To judge that show with the quality that was presented was truly an honor. The amount of scholarship dollars that I got to present to some awesome projects on that day was absolutely astounding. I feel like I was a part of something exceptional and the continued support that the San Antonio Stock Show puts forth in terms of scholarship money to the youth of Texas is unmatched.
If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
What do you hope most people notice about you?
What is your favorite sports team?
In the show ring I hope that every exhibitor feels like they get the best look they can get from one end of the line up to the other, and that no matter your placing, every exhibitor received the same opportunity.
The Texas Rangers and The New England Patriots
What is one thing that you cannot leave the house without?
I am usually at the feed mill very early, so I hardly ever leave without coffee.
If you could travel to anywhere on Earth, where and why?
I’ll choose a remote cabin with zero phone service somewhere in the continental United States.