This edition of A Few Minutes is with Brian Maye, the market lamb judge of 2012 State Fair of Louisiana. He currently lives in Arkansas with his family. Brian and his family enjoys raising sheep, showing lambs, and spending time in the barn. Enjoy reading our candid interview with Mr. Brian Maye!
What is your background and current involvement in the sheep industry?
I grew up on a small farm in Haworth, Oklahoma where rodeo, showing hogs, and FFA was my life! Not until my first Ag teaching position in 1988 was I ever really introduced to the show lamb industry. However several of my FFA students had already purchased lambs when I started the job and due to my very competitive nature I learned quickly! It wasn’t long until my students were dominating the market lamb shows in Arkansas. This success sparked an interest in raising club lambs. In 1994, I purchased 10 yearling ewes from Jim Miller and a ram lamb from Mike Hancock.
Currently, I run a 60 head flock of club producing ewes in Hatfield, Arkansas and conduct the Victory Lamb Clinic each year in June which was established in 1997.
How does your current operation effect what you look for when evaluating sheep?
My location is so ”off the beaten path” that in order to stay alive in this business I have got to raise high quality lambs that will be competitive in the show ring year in and year out. It’s all about staying in touch with the trends and the genetics that will help you progress and not regress.
What person/people influenced or helped to shape your view on what the ideal sheep should possess?
Without a doubt Steve Oliver from Hennesey, Oklahoma has been the most influential to me when it comes to learning the club lamb industry. As a young inexperienced Ag teacher, he took me under his wing and taught me so much about what a good one was supposed to look like and how to get one ready for a show. Larry Shell is another mentor and great friend that has taught me a lot about this business.
Where did you attend college and what awards did you achieve while judging in college?
I attended Southern Arkansas University on a rodeo and livestock judging scholarship but was not real competitive judging because of oral reasons! Still to this day, I don’t consider myself with the “gift to gab”! Ha
What are your initial sorts when evaluating market lambs?
I tend to start my sort when the lambs hit the shavings. I want lambs that are built right structurally and can stay together on the move. Obviously, those lambs need to be muscular and balance on the profile as well.
When you get down to those top end lambs, what separates them for you?
I have always considered myself as a judge that is looking for a lamb with the total package. The one that I consider having the fewest problems and the most positives will win.
What would you consider an acceptable fat range and weight range for a October show?
My window of acceptable finish may be a little broader than some. Somewhere between .15 to .30 would suit me best. I want them to look athletic, handle firm, and still be smooth down their topline.
What’s your biggest pet peeve in the show ring?
A couple of things come to mind but as an Ag teacher and FFA Advisor, probably the most disturbing one is when exhibitors can’t act mature and professional in the ring when they get beat. Another is the wool left under the flank (red flag) and not blending the legs.
Do you consider yourself more of a handle judge or a profile judge?
I definitely evaluate lambs more with my eye than the handle. Muscle shape and volume can be read visually without touching them!
What’s the best lamb you have ever seen?
I don’t know about the best one I have ever seen, but one that I will never forget is the Grand Champion Market Lamb at the American Royal in 1994 raised and shown by the Fred Knop family. I thought he was amazing! I’m not sure he wouldn’t still be competitive today! He was an absolute great one in those days for sure! Todd Wise was the judge.
What do you think is the most important issue facing the sheep industry today?
Price of rams!!!
You’ve got one night to go anywhere in the country and watch one band, where is it and who you watching?
What is your favorite place to vacation?
We haven’t been there but my son and I would love to go hunt whitetails in Saskatchewan.
Who is one of your favorite people to watch judge and why?
I love watching and showing to Brad Angus. I feel like we see sheep very similar and I enjoy listening to him describe what he sees.
Thank you so much for your time Mr. Maye!