We caught up with market lamb judge Barrett Carlisle before he steps “Inside the Ring” at the Nebraska State Fair FFA Show. We invite you to read our candid interview with Barrett below and please continue to check back often for our next edition of “Inside the Ring.”
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AND CURRENT INVOLVEMENT IN THE SHEEP INDUSTRY?
I remember getting my first two sheep to feed in 1998. There was a Southdown and a Finewool Cross and if I remember correctly, they were not very good. However, at my first county stock show, I won a belt buckle and I was hooked. I continued to show after that up to graduating from high school. Luckily, the sheep got a lot better after those first two. Along the way, my family and I started a small ewe flock as a typical record book project. Even though my record book days are long over, my family, my girlfriend, and I still maintain a small flock of ewes in two different locations that keeps us all plenty busy.
WHAT PERSON/PEOPLE INFLUENCED OR HELPED TO SHAPE YOUR VIEW ON WHAT THE IDEAL SHEEP SHOULD POSSESS?
One thing I will always be thankful for is my parents’ willingness to let me be involved in picking out my own projects from a very young age. I remember going to sales and having my dad come up to me to ask what my picks were. I always felt like he valued my opinion, an opinion I was able to form on my own by getting to go places to look at sheep and learn alongside him. The other major influence was my collegiate livestock judging coach, Dr. Scott Schaake. Getting to look at livestock with him taught me how to evaluate structure, the importance of real world production traits, and that young skinny ones with the right skeleton are usually worth the risk.
WHERE DID YOU ATTEND COLLEGE?
First, I judged at Butler Community College where I was a member of the team that won Louisville and Fort Worth. I then judged at Kansas State University and was a member of the team that won Fort Worth.
WHAT ARE YOUR INITIAL SORTS WHEN EVALUATING MARKET LAMBS?
I like looking at them on the move as soon as they walk in the ring. That is where I make initial decisions about general quality and their skeletons. I rely heavily on that first impression. To me, it takes having enough muscle to consider them having some level of quality.
WHAT’S THE BEST LAMB YOU HAVE EVER SEEN OR JUDGED?
I would like to think I am removing any sort of recency bias when I say the sheep of Logan Jackson’s that won Louisville last year is one of the better ones I have ever seen in his show clothes. I also remember being in Louisville in 2009 when Jordan Amburgey won the Hamps with one I have not since forgotten.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING THE LAMB INDUSTRY TODAY?
I will answer from the perspective of the show lamb industry. Like most people, I think the decreasing number of young people participating will always be a major concern. Along with that, I often wonder how long the current climate of selling sheep for enormous dollars can last.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST PET PEEVE IN THE SHOW RING?
Without question it is flank wool. I find it to be gross.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE NOTICE MOST ABOUT YOU?
A few things come to mind when I speak in the context of judging a show. 1. I don’t care who is standing behind me giving all the hand signals. I will always use sheep I like and on my own terms. 2. No matter where you end up placing, I hope you noticed the detail and accuracy in which I described why I either liked or didn’t like your sheep.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?
A good steak that is cooked properly is hard to beat.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ENJOY DOING THAT DOES NOT INVOLVE LIVESTOCK?
Truthfully, this has been the hardest question to answer so far… When I want to just relax and not think about much, I like to binge watch The Office.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VACATION SPOT?
Any place that doesn’t have many people, isn’t too hot, and is safe to go to matches my criteria for a good vacation spot.