Yes, the ADCA 2016 AGM was just that! There was such a positive atmosphere about the whole thing, that it really & truly was a fun, exciting weekend. Some very positive things came out of the Board Meeting and we had an Annual General Meeting without any major controversy. However, the thing that stands out to me as the biggest positive was the judging at the show.
This year we had two excellent, highly qualified judges for the Youth & Adult shows. They are both coaches for the KSU Livestock Judging Team, who absolutely know their stuff, and did a fabulous job explaining the good & bad they saw in each animal. It was quite a change from the typical “beef breed” judges that have normally been acquired for our AGM’s. A great, positive change, if you ask me. Finally, our Dexters were judged as DUAL-PURPOSE animals, based primarily on their CONFORMATION.
The main complaint about past AGM shows that I’ve heard over the years, is that they’ve usually been judged by beef judges who mainly look for the best-conditioned animals. And since Dexters are supposed to be dual-purpose, NOT strictly beef, they shouldn’t be pushed up to the extreme “beefy” end of the spectrum (just as they shouldn’t be pushed to the extreme “dairy” end of the spectrum, either). Yet this was what won in the show ring, and it gave beefier-looking chondro-carriers an unfair advantage. People have also been concerned about judges putting too much emphasis on height, and the difficulty presented by the height differences between chondro-carriers and non-carriers. A lot of people felt the judging at the AGM’s just has not been fair to our breed.
With this year’s judges, this was not the case, as many people expressed that they felt these were some of the best judges we’ve ever had. It was a breath of fresh air…and a level playing field. These judges obviously understood, and were looking for, dual-purpose traits. Extreme beefiness didn’t cut it for them, and sloppy udders were not ignored. Height, or lack thereof, was not a big issue for them. Though the judge for the Adult Show occasionally mentioned that he personally would prefer to see more stature on a particular animal, it did not affect his placement of those animals. In fact, the small, young cow SMD Anna Ferl, of which he said exactly that, he then chose as Reserve Grand Champion Female. Because it was all about conformation for these judges!
Isn’t this how it should be? What is the point of a cattle show, if not to evaluate the conformation of the animals? To expect real livestock judges to overlook phenotypically, functionally incorrect structure in animals, and in spite of it place them at the top based on their beefiness or height, would be unreasonable. Such thinking leads us to seeking judges who will “tickle our ears” instead of staying within the parameters of functionally correct conformation & judging the animals fairly. This certainly would not seem a good aim for our AGM’s. Unfortunately, that would appear to be the aim of a few certain individuals, who have expressed an extremely negative response to this year’s judges.
I feel that continuing to have judges like we had this year would be instrumental in moving our breed and our Association forward into being better than we have been. I think it would be a shame to revert back to the “status quo” of having beef breed judges who do not know what a truly excellent representative of a dual-purpose breed looks like. Shouldn’t we be striving to move forward & improve things? If you think this is a good direction for our Association to take for the AGM’s, then I would ask that you please make your voice heard! Contact your Regional Director and the Show & Sale Committee, and let them know what you think. Let’s see if we can keep this kind of quality & positive momentum, and have a great AGM every year!
(NOTE: I apologize for posting this without photos. I’m waiting for official pictures from the AGM photographer to become available, so I can post photos of some of the winners.)