Isle of Man Young Farmers held a Stock Judging Skills afternoon at Lough Dhoo Farm in Ballaugh recently.

Stock judging is a skill which combines being able to compare and place livestock and explain your reasons to a judge. Clearly it’s a good skill to learn because it also helps you to assess your own stock, and stock that you might be considering purchasing. You need to know what to look for and to select the most appropriate animals for your end market.

It is important to know which key points to look for in each group of stock as it varies and so does the terminology.

Kirree Kermode said: ‘Skill sessions are a fairly new area in Young Farmers Clubs now and I was delighted to be asked to talk about what to look for, and giving your reasons, on prime beef cattle and breeding ewes.

‘I delivered the skills session, the “How to” part, prior to judge, Paula Creer, placing the classes of sheep in her order for the members to then see if they placed them the same as her. I helped guide a few through writing their reasons before they read them to Paula.’

Kirree went on: ‘The Kneales at Lough Dhoo are renowned for good stock. It was easy to point out the qualities that are looked for in producing beef and lamb, comparing the class of four animals with each other and talking through the reasons why they were placed 1st -4th.

‘Most will take part in placing the classes but reason-giving is something that has really died out and it was sad to see how few actually wanted to do that section.

‘Once given a little reassurance it was nice to see some very young members having a go, placing the stock in order, and reading a short list of reasons to Paula.

‘I remember that many competitions were won or lost by a set of reasons, it was fierce.’

And Kirree added: ‘I guess it’s what most stock farmers do everyday, looking at their own animals, but for some Young Farmers Club members who are not necessarily involved in agriculture, these events give them an insight into how and why we produce top quality livestock on the island.

‘I feel it’s so important they continue. There was fantastic turn out, combining the four clubs into one big sheep judging event was a great idea and some excellent questions were asked.

‘It is always really great giving back to an organisation that has given me so many opportunities as a young farmer growing up.’