We caught up with judge Brian Reilly before he steps “Inside the Ring” at the Nebraska State Fair FFA Show. We invite you to read our candid interview with Brian below and please continue to check back often for our next edition of “Inside the Ring.”
WHO GOT YOU INVOLVED IN THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY AND HOW?
My parents, we farmed and I grew up with cattle, hogs and sheep. Somehow I stuck with the sheep. My Dad was probably the most influential, I don’t think it mattered to him how you did in the show ring but he wanted all the details done right.
WHAT IS A DREAM YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH?
I think I’m probably living it.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO WHERE YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
Shullsburg, Wi. It’s about an hour and a half west of where I grew up in WI. I grew up in a highly dense livestock area that was quickly being urbanized. My wife and I couldn’t afford a place in that area when we were younger. An opportunity came up with work (dairy nutrition) to relocate and we took it. The land was considerably more affordable in western Wi at that time so we bought a small place, moved the kids, ewes and ourselves to Shullsburg. 25 years later we’re still here, love the area and not much has changed. I think we’re still the only county in WI without a stop light.
WHAT IS A PET PEEVE OF YOURS IN THE RING?
Crowding the ring when sheep are moving or standing. I want them as far away as possible when I watching them move, getting them closer doesn’t help. Always think in my mind, I’ll find them, you don’t have to walk in a little circle and cut every corner. I think this was pounded into me when I was younger showing hogs.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ANIMAL YOU’VE EVER SEEN?
I’ve been fortunate to be able to judge a number of state fairs and major shows and at those all of the upper echelon are very good. The best one that I’ve seen in a show ring judging, showing against or watching is the 2015 Grand at San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. He was elite, moving, stuck or just standing he was simply elite. I’ve always said there’s never been a perfect one and they can always be better, this one was just about perfect.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ROAD TRIP SNACK?
I’m pretty simple, water, Beef Jerky and Gum.
SHOWING BY WEIGHTS OR BY BREEDS?
STATE FAIRS OR NATIONAL SHOWS?
EVALUATING STOCK ON THE MOVE OR ON THE PROFILE?
On the Move
We caught up with market lamb judge Brian Reilly before he steps “Inside the Ring” at the Ohio State Fair Junior Show. We invite you to read our candid interview with Brian 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 was born and raised on a diversified Livestock operation. My dad and Grandfather were fulltime farmers. My Grandfather ran a herd of registered Angus cattle, and with the help of my sisters, the cattle were shown all over the country. My Dad and Mom ran Limousin cattle, Spot hogs and Dorset sheep all of which were exhibited at District, county and State Fair plus a few Purebred type conferences but never ventured out of state too much. I enjoyed them all, but as I started high school I navigated more towards sheep. When I got my license, I started traveling to fit sheep and soon was traveling to all the Midwest state fairs, Louisville and most major sales. I spent a lot of time fitting breeding stock in college. At that time (late 80’s) my younger brothers were getting showing, and we started in club lambs. I became friends with Dave Annuschat in OK and purchased most of our show lambs from him. In 1994 my wife Jayci and I bought Dave’s entire herd and started Impact Hamps.
Currently, we run 250 wether type registered Hampshire ewes. About 10 years ago we implemented an Embryo Transfer program and flush 16 – 30 ewes per year. We market a limited number of bucks each year, will have a couple online ewe sales and all of our wethers are marketed privately at the farm because of my work schedule and limited time to travel. I work as a full-time dairy nutritionist for a large, progressive cooperative in southwest Wisconsin.
WHAT PERSON/PEOPLE INFLUENCED OR HELPED TO SHAPE YOUR VIEW ON WHAT THE IDEAL SHEEP SHOULD POSSESS?
I don’t think there is one individual person that I would point to, but I have a couple friends in the business that I really respect the way they view sheep and ask for their feedback all the time. I wouldn’t be in the position today that I am if it wasn’t for Dave Annuschat and his willingness to finance the purchase of his ewes to us back in 1994. Granted the phenotype has changed in the last 25 years and we’ve advanced the genetics. Dave was breeding sheep that I thought were extremely good and definitely under appreciated by the masses at the time and will always recognize him for helping Jayci and I get started. In addition, there are many great breeders and traders across the country that I respect, and I really enjoy visiting with them when time permits.
WHERE DID YOU ATTEND COLLEGE?
University of Wisconsin River Falls. A great ag school tucked away in the north woods of Wisconsin.
WHAT ARE YOUR INITIAL SORTS WHEN EVALUATING MARKET LAMBS?
Cool looking as soon as they come in the gate…. Good legged, up-fronted, round ribbed, good chested, shallow and shapely. Most often within the first 5 – 6 paces of the lamb walking in the ring the good ones separate themselves. I’ll often refer to the “way I like them built”, if I’m at a sheep show or at home evaluating them, they should be correct and balanced in their structure, adequate boned, rear legs with the correct set, not too long or too short in the distance from hock to stifle, rears that don’t hock in or roll out, short pasterned and right up on their toes. Their body needs to be symmetrical, shallow from chine to sternum, big open round rib, shoulders that are smooth and lay into their rib cage, straight spined, and square loined with adequate upper hip shape. When you get all that put together…. pack as much smooth, hard, muscle as you can in to it. Then the one that gets the nod at the end is going to be one that walks out tall fronted, comes at me and walks away from me with some base width. I still have old school tendencies and like them hard muscled and trim.
WHAT’S THE BEST LAMB YOU HAVE EVER SEEN OR JUDGED?
This is another long list, there are a ton of them that I’ve seen at Kansas City, Louisville and Midwestern state fairs that have been what I consider extremely good. I’ve been fortunate and have been able to judge several state fairs and major shows. The sheep that would ideally fit my description and mindset would be a lamb I used to win San Antonio Stock show and Rodeo when I judged.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING THE LAMB INDUSTRY TODAY?
There are many; however, if I had to pick one, it would be keeping our livestock shows financially viable and having the funds to keep budgets balanced, continue to improve facilities and building awareness to the importance Livestock exhibitions. Keeping these funded and running (many times with volunteers) is much more difficult than many exhibitors take into account and therefore should express a thank you to any show official and volunteer they come across. To many times they don’t get to hear the appreciation and only get to hear criticisms and grievances.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST PET PEEVE IN THE SHOW RING?
I’ll start with what I prefer, its ideal when exhibitors stay in line, use as much of the ring as possible, use the full distance of the ring and swing the corners wide and don’t navigate to a narrow circle. Most or all judges sifting them want as much space as possible to view them, pushing the lamb closer to a judge doesn’t help you or the lamb get noticed. The “pet peeve” when an exhibitor gives a look of disgust and disagreement when getting placed. “Check your attitude at the gate”.
YOU’VE GOT ONE NIGHT TO GO ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY AND WATCH ONE BAND? WHERE IS IT AND WHO YOU WATCHING?
No thanks.. I’m the most boring person in the world. If we’re not in the barn or hauling sheep somewhere, I’d rather stay home and watch a movie with my wife and kids or just go watch a high school football or basketball game.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE NOTICE MOST ABOUT YOU?
I hope they would say I’m respectful and appreciative of all the work and effort that goes into running the show, as well as to the exhibitors and families that support our show lamb industry. Hopefully they notice I have a type and kind of lamb that I’m looking for and consistently use that type. Although there are times when you get to a show and they just aren’t there. Utmost important that I’m going to use the best lamb that shows up that day.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM?
Green Bay Packers, everything stops so we can watch Packers’ games.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?
Any cookies, mainly chocolate chip cookies and milk is a close second.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ENJOY DOING THAT DOES NOT INVOLVE LIVESTOCK?
Spending time with family and friends catching up, watching any college or professional football.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VACATION SPOT?
Any warm ocean side beach with my wife