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Marvin Ensor

We caught up with judge Marvin Ensor before he steps “Inside the Ring” at the North Carolina State Fair. Learn more about Marvin below…

What’s been your all time favorite sheep you have judged?
I don’t have a favorite sheep that I’ve judged. If I narrowed it down to the past five years, three lambs come to mind as elite on show day. The three include the Grand Champion at the 2018 American Royal and the Grand and Reserve lambs at the 2023 Oklahoma Youth Expo.

Who’s your biggest influence in evaluating livestock?
Many people have influenced me in the area of livestock evaluation, but there’s no doubt that my dad has the greatest influence.

What do you look for when evaluating?
The answer to this question could be lengthy, but I will try to make it concise.  I look for the structurally correct lamb with balance, muscle, and within a range in fat cover required for a quality carcass.  The structural correctness and athleticism is evaluated when they are put on the move. I like to find the most complete package without over emphasizing a single trait or chasing a trend.  

If down to the last few, what will be your sort?
When the quality is deep, the sort on the top of the class comes down to small differences.  It’s nice when the final placing is easy to follow from the profile, but I’m not concerned if there are some difference at times from that viewpoint.

Do you prefer to evaluate when sheep are in motion or stuck on profile?
I don’t have a preference because I feel both are necessary in the evaluation process.  There’s no doubt that sheep must be put in motion to be adequately evaluated. Ultimately I need to be convinced that I would like the lamb if he was turned loose in a pen. 

Tell us about your family!
My wife Karen and I live in San Angelo, Texas.
We have three daughters and nine grandkids.  I retired from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service a few years ago and currently raise show lambs for my grandkids and operate a small commercial sheep operation.  We enjoy supporting the the grandkids in their many activities and serving in various roles with our local church.

What’s one show you look forward to every year?
Being from Texas, we have the opportunity to attend several major shows in the state each year that are outstanding.  But the answer to this question is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

In your mind, how has the industry changed in the show ring over the last 10 years?
In the past 10 years there have been many changes within the industry.  From the market lamb perspective we’ve seen new technologies and the increased access to genetics greatly improve quality and depth in the show ring.

The priority for the industry must always be the youth. We’ve seen additions and changes that we can celebrate.  Major shows have done a great job and continue to add leadership opportunities for youth along with an increase in skillathons and educational opportunities.  The changes have benefitted youth greatly.

There are also challenges within the program and we need to find the solutions. One of the challenges I see is the decline in participation at the local level in some areas.  We all can identify some of the reasons, but we need to find new, initiative ideas going forward.  

Livestock projects can be a viable youth development tool in the future, just as it’s been in the past. My family has benefited greatly from the program for several generations and I hope it continues for generations to come.