There are several types of National FFA Organization judging contests (otherwise known as Career Development Events) in which High School age kids compete based on their knowledge of a particular subject. Each school has several different types of teams that compete against other schools. These contests are organized by FFA advisors and local experts. The purpose of these competitions is to determine which team and individuals have the best ability to evaluate a particular animal or item as compared to an "official". The official placings and answers are set by an expert in the discipline. Officials are often from agricultural universities or USDA employees.
One of the most popular competitions is Livestock Judging. This is where teams of four students judge a series of classes (usually of four animals each) and rank them based on criteria to choose the most superior animal (e.g. muscling, conformation). In Livestock judging, students only judge cattle, pigs and lambs; classes consist of animals in some cases from all over the region. Part of the contest is to give "reasons". This is basically a short persuasive speech in which the contestant explains their evaluation of the animals to an official for a score (0-50).
Another popular competition is Horse judging. This is similar to livestock, but students only evaluate horses again in classes of four. They evaluate the animals based on criteria such as conformation, gait, and muscling. Reasons are also given in Horse judging.
Meat judging is also popular and consists of teams of 4 students. Meat judging is based on several contest areas and only includes pork, beef and lamb. Contest areas include class placing (four similar cuts or carcasses of meat evaluated on muscle, fat and bone), identification (correctly identifying the type of cut and where it came from on the animal) and carcass grading (determining the quality and yield grading of a beef carcass).
Each state has state-wide competitions each year in which students compete for the state title in each contest area. Many of the state winners go on to compete in national competitions (some held at the National FFA convention).
There are many other contest areas including:
- Agricultural Mechanics
- Pasture & Range
- Farm Business Management
- Landscape Design
- Dairy Foods
State FFA organizations
- Hay Newman, Lily. "Competitive Dairy Tasting Is A Thing That Exists". GIZMODOE.