This edition of A Few Minutes is with Clay Weber from Oregon, the market judge for the Tulsa State Fair Market Lamb Show this upcoming week. Enjoy reading our candid interview with Mr. Clay Weber and be sure to check back for more state fair judge interviews!
Why do you take the time out of your busy schedule to judge market lamb shows?
I love airports and traveling by plane. Actually, I just like to look at good sheep and work with competitive kids. However, following Tulsa I am going to take a hiatus from judging stock shows to spend more time watching my boys play ball and help my oldest get started showing his own stock.
What is your background and current involvement in the sheep industry?
I grew up raising and showing Dorset sheep in CA. Since 1990, I have been involved in raising blackfaced show lambs and currently run 50-75 of the stoutest, widest, nasty-thick Hampshire influenced ewes that nobody’s ever seen.
How does your current operation effect what you look for when evaluating sheep?
We rely on grass and grass alone to maintain our ewes for 10 months out of the year. The sheep that we keep need to be built tough, have foraging ingrained in their DNA, and feet that won’t completely rot off. And they got to look good come rain or shine.
What person/people influenced or helped to shape your view on what the ideal sheep should possess?
My dad taught me that good sheep are tough sheep and my 4-H leader and good friend Clarence Ylarregui shaped how I look and evaluate sheep.
Where did you attend college?
Modesto Jr. College, The Oklahoma State University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
What are your initial sorts when evaluating market lambs?
I know whether I like one or not as soon as it walks in the ring based on its balance, skeletal structure and muscle content.
When you get down to those top end lambs, what separates them for you?
Every class is different and I have learned over the years that depending on the size of the show, if a judge truly uses the best lamb in each class, all class winners may not look exactly alike at the end.
What would you consider an acceptable fat range?
This is certainly a hot topic and I can say that over the years I have been very tolerant of fat cover if a sheep was darn good otherwise. However, at Tulsa last year there were several very good lambs that were at the edge of acceptability, even for me. I will put it like this…..if every lamb had exactly .2 of an inch of fat cover, fat cover would be a non-issue.
Who are some people that you credit with helping you get to where you are today?
There are too many good, highly talented and very patient people to list.
What’s the best market lamb you have ever seen?
Double F raised the Champion Lamb at the Ohio State Fair Jr. show many years ago. He was parrot-mouthed and I did not get to judge him in the Open Show. I wish I did.
What do you think is the most important issue facing the sheep industry?
Not enough people like the taste of lamb.
You’ve got one night to go anywhere in the country and watch one band? Where is it and who you watching?
I could probably have good fun at a Kid Rock or Sunny Ledford concert. If Zeppelin were still together, definitely.
Who is your favorite sports team?
Niners, SF Giants, Central Linn Cobras.
What’s your biggest pet peeve in the showring?
Obnoxiously loud parents at ringside and kids that role their eyes when you pull them in line.
Do you consider yourself more of a handle judge or a profile judge?
If one looks good enough, you want to handle it.
What is your favorite place to vacation?
The Oregon coast.
Thanks Clay for your time!