We caught up with market lamb judge Keaton Dodd before he steps “Inside the Ring” at the Tennessee Junior Livestock Expo. We invite you to read our candid interview with Keaton 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?
My current background relating to the sheep industry is being the Livestock Judging team coach and coordinator at Texas A&M University. Growing up, I also showed sheep and goats, as well as hogs and cattle.
WHAT PERSON/PEOPLE INFLUENCED OR HELPED TO SHAPE YOUR VIEW ON WHAT THE IDEAL SHEEP SHOULD POSSESS?
I have been really lucky to have so many great influences in my young career from judging coaches, Ag teachers, and other great minds in our industry. It would be extremely hard to shrink that down to just one because of how much I have learned from different people.
WHERE DID YOU ATTEND COLLEGE?
I went to Blinn College to be a member of their Livestock Judging team in 2011. While at Blinn I was a member of a Junior College National Winning team as well as an All-American individually. After graduating from Blinn, I transferred to Texas A&M University where my team was fortunate enough to be crowned the 2013 National Champions.
WHAT ARE YOUR INITIAL SORTS WHEN EVALUATING MARKET LAMBS?
Personally, I do not really like to use just one or a couple traits to come up with my initial sort. Obviously, I want sheep that have muscle and are compositionally correct, but more importantly I try to work up animals with the most good and the least holes. The sheep that work up initially by me probably will not all look the same. I hope they are all quality and problem free.
WHAT’S THE BEST LAMB YOU HAVE EVER SEEN OR JUDGED?
That is a tough question. There have been so many sheep that I have really admired over the past few years. I will say that I was a big fan of the sheep Logan Jackson won Louisville with last year.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING THE LAMB INDUSTRY TODAY?
I’m sure this is a common answer for this question, but to me the big issue is public perception. We as livestock exhibitors must do our best job at doing everything ethically and humanely. There is a large number of people who would love to put an end to what we do, and we must do our best to avoid giving them a reason to make that happen.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST PET PEEVE IN THE SHOW RING?
This goes back to the previous question. I don’t like when people are too rough with their sheep in the ring. That is definitely a bad image for us if somebody from the outside is watching.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE NOTICE MOST ABOUT YOU?
I just want to be known as fair, thorough, and accurate in my placement and discussion of the livestock.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?
For me, It’s hard to beat a good steak. I think I could eat a steak every day and never get tired of it.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ENJOY DOING THAT DOES NOT INVOLVE LIVESTOCK?
Here lately it has become golf. Not that I get a chance to play very often because everything in my life revolves around livestock and livestock judging. If I ever get an afternoon off though, you can probably find me somewhere on the course in College Station.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VACATION SPOT?
Right now, its 100 degrees in South Texas. I would do just about anything to find some cooler weather. I was able to visit Montana for their state fair last summer, and I don’t think there is anywhere much better than that.