The judging for Supreme Champion is a culmination of AADS events for the preceding week. Alan McCauley, AADS President, took a moment to focus on judging guidelines for this particular event, what the judges look for. “You look for straight lines, dairyness, which means angularity and not carrying a lot of excess condition,” he said. “The most important thing is probably a real sound set of feet and legs and a well attached, well balanced udder with proper teat size placement — udder and feet and legs are very, very important.”
If initial judging indicates, say, three strong candidates, what are the next judging criteria for those three? “Height and width of rear udder, front teat placement, levelness of udder floor and strength of pasterns, where the two claws are on the back legs to the hoof wall, some cows are real spongy on that,” McCauley said, “judges like one that will stand up on her foot more correctly.” He elaborated that judges like the cow to track in a straight line rather than throw their legs out, which means that they put a front foot and then a hind foot in a straight line.
Do the judges ever get a sneak peek at the candidates ahead of time? “There’s an old time rule,” McCauley said, “that we enforce fairly well. They are not supposed to be in the barns or the show, but today with the internet and cell phones, everybody has pictures flying around three seconds afterward, so these guys know what’s going on in another state.” A good judge, though, he says, places them how they look when they are in the ring and they are viewing them.
“There are some who don’t do that, but the real good judges see how they are today and place them accordingly. A judge can get in real hot water by saying ‘well she got a first [in such and such a state] so I better make her first today.’” But things change and the competition changes. A judge does not want to get hung up thinking that his conclusion is not as correct as somebody else’s. This is about how they think and how they see them on the actual day of judgment. There is a tendency to rationalize some judgments with the caveat that it is who’s on the halter that counts a little bit.
Do judgments vary between the Grand Champion and the Supreme Champion? “The Grand is the best of the breed,” says McCauley. “There are seven breeds. Then the Grands come in and it is the best of all those seven breed grand champions. It’s the best of the best. It puts everything on a level playing field and it is how good each individual is compared to their breed standard. To a degree, it eliminates the breed effect a little bit. It’s just how darn good they are as a cow!”