It should always be borne
in mind, wherever or whenever you officiate as a judge of
any breed, that you are filling the ethical role of an
ambassador of the breed being judged and that your judging
is to a great extent an educational and instructive task.
Spectators and exhibitors expect to be convinced by your
placings and simultaneous discussions that the desired
animals are placed on merit in accordance with the Standard
of Excellence and breeding aim.
It is essential that you as
a judge should continually endeavour to widen your knowledge
of cattle in general, and specifically the Simmentaler (or
Simbra). You must therefore possess the maximum knowledge
for your task and continually strive to brush up and modify
your knowledge since the standard and objectives of our
breeds are constantly modified according to the demands of
In order to judge
objectively and successfully, you must in the first place be
able to form a mental image of the desirable Simmentaler. To
develop your power of judgment further, you must study the
photos of superior purebred animals and particularly live
animals and endeavour to memorise every detail. To be
ethical and successful in your judgment, you must at all
times be impartial and only the actual qualities of an
animal should play a role in your evaluation. Your final
placings must always be based on concrete and convincing
facts and where applicable, aided by available means such as
Simdex. Functional and economical properties must receive
priority throughout your appraisal.
You must be diplomatic and
positive in your discussion of placings. Do not over-emphasise
faults and imperfections, rather attribute particular
importance to the superior and excellent qualities and
always discuss it first. Be positive in your approach
concerning inferior qualities, e.g. rather than referring to
“poor” or “bad”, make use of the terminology “it could be
Unfortunately not all
prospective candidates are destined to be a proficient
judge, since it truly is a “gift”, a natural talent and you
can only become skilled through wide experience. Theoretical
knowledge and intensive scrutiny of the Standard of
Excellence is not an accepted guarantee for effective and
Method of Judging
To avoid confusing the spectator and cattle leader, always
endeavour to follow a standard pattern of judging
throughout. Train yourself to remember individual animals to
prevent the same animals from being changed around in
Always allow the animals to move from left to right,
preferably according to age. When the animals enter the ring
stand in a position where each animal may be viewed without
interference of the sun. First view the animals from a
distance of approximately 10 metres in order to gain a
general impression and remember that first impressions are
Next, observe the animals walking. It is of vital importance
under our environmental conditions. An animal which does not
walk properly and comfortably is not placed. Stand in a
position where you can view each animal individually walking
towards you and then away from you. Depending on the
position of the sun – always attempt to stand in the
furthest corner of the ring – on the way back to the gate.
Animals normally move more freely walking towards the exit
gate. Try to gain a general impression at this stage, where
you have the animals parading around the ring and note the
Animals with any disqualifying or discriminatory
features in terms of the Standard of Excellence and (at
prominent shows) cows with inferior reproduction
qualities may already be eliminated at this stage.
The basic variations which may be observed between the
animals in the class. Make an effort to remember this,
since it is going to be useful in your motivations for
Compare the basic variations between the animals and you
will already have an indication of how you are going to
place the animals.
What should you pay attention to?
General Appearance - which
includes conformation. Observe length, width, depth,
balance, capacity, symmetry, quality and type – all the
qualities which have a major influence on first impressions,
and to a great extent is permanent.
Functional Efficiency: Since
you are judging breeding animals, it is required that the
animals reveal distinct sex characteristics. One must be
able to clearly differentiate between a bull, a cow or a
heifer. In the female you should pay attention to features
such as steer-like appearance, poorly developed genital
organs and/or any indication of infertility as well as
poorly developed udder and teats. In bulls one should pay
attention to sex characteristics, under-developed and/or
defective genital organs. At large shows the reproduction
records of cows are put to the disposal of the judge by
means of the ringcard. It stands to reason that functional
efficiency includes walking ability previously referred to.
Productive characteristics: The
most important feature of a bull and cow is REPRODUCTION
mentioned earlier. Always bear the following in mind in your
assessment: “Reproduction is 5 times more important than
growth rate and 10 times more important than carcass
qualities”. Observe the other characteristics which are
related to production and do not loose sight of the fact
that you are judging a dual-purpose animal. In the cow one
should observe the udder, teats, lacteal veins and in the
heifer, udder and teat development is of great importance.
Strong muscling is desired, particularly in the bull.
Walking ability is very important since it is closely
related to production.
Next, group the best animals together according to your
initial judgement, allow them to walk and compare them once
again in a standing position.
Line up the animals next to one another in order of
preference. Endeavour not to let the animals stand on a
decline. Place the animals from left to right, as seen by
the spectator, for each individual class.
Having positioned the animals as such, walk past the animals
facing you and observe the following: Head, mouth, width,
prominent shoulder, stance of forelegs, pasterns and hooves.
Thereafter, walk past the rear of the animals and note the
following: shape of rump and length, udder and genital
organs, thigh muscling, width, stance of hindlegs, hocks,
pasterns, hooves and width between pinbones. If necessary
you may again pull out one or more animals and allow them to
walk in order to make sure about the stride.
You are now ready to finalise and motivate the placings.
This, in brief, is the procedure of judging.
What do the skills of a judge embrace
The efficient ability of a judge depends on:
You should look and perceive what you are looking at. You
should observe what you see. You should understand what you
observe. You should know what you understand. You may then
base your decision on what you know. Or even better: You
must know what you are doing.
To accomplish all this one should possess the required
knowledge of a bovine, especially the Simmentaler.
You must know and understand the composition
of an animal.
You must be acquainted with, and use the
correct anatomical terms.
You must know what the different parts
of the body of an animal conforming to the standards,
You must know the faults of
an animal as well as the appropriate technical
You must know what is of major or minor importance, in
other words evaluation is
of vital importance.
You might think that this requires tremendous knowledge
which has to be put into practise. However, rest assured
that the more you know, the easier it becomes to be a
The above mentioned five points are briefly analysed as
1. COMPOSITION OF THE BOVINE
Skeleton – The skeleton is of great importance and is
already well-developed at the time of birth. It is the
foundation to which ligaments and muscle are attached. We do
not wish to elaborate on this, but as a judge, you must
endeavour to study and understand it. (Refer illustration of
Purpose of the skeleton:
Protects the vital organs.
Provides the animal with its specific conformation.
Affords mobility to the animal.
Muscling of animal
Contributes to the conformation of the animal.
● Causes mobility.
● Forms part of all organs.
● Of economic importance viz. the consumer value thereof.
depositing of fat is influenced by age, sex, feed and rate
of maturity (early or late). Purpose of fat:
A storage medium of excessive energy, reserved for
re-use at any time.
● Influences the palatability of the meat.
Skin and hair
skin or hide and hair are of great importance in the total
mechanism of the animal for adaptation to its environment.
The hide is not only the largest single part of the body,
however, is decidedly also one of the most important since
hide and hair are good indicators of an animal’s
adaptability. A thick hide is generally more beneficial than
a thin hide. Purpose of skin and hide:
Affords protection to tissue.
● Affords protection against heat and cold.
● Serves as medium to get rid of excessive heat.
● The hair colour affords one of the most distinctive
characteristics to each cattle breed.
2. CORRECT ANATOMICAL TERMS
It is essential that you as prospective judge is familiar
with and always use the correct terms, since you can simply
not refer to “hock” when you mean “knee” when motivating
your placings. Study the “Anatomical terms” attached hereto.
3. CORRECT ANATOMICAL PARTS AND BODY IN GENERAL
This is described in the Standard of Excellence.
4. FAULTS AND CORRECT TERMINOLOGY THEREOF:
Refer to the Discriminations and Disqualifications contained
in the Standard of Excellence.
General: Too fine or too coarse; off
type/purity, lack of character, poorly-balanced, no definate
sex character; flat or narrow throughout; temperament;
woolly or frizzy coat; weak or excessive muscling.
Head: Undershot or overshot lower jaw; skew
or crooked nasal bone; narrow muzzle; protruding eyes;
fleshy cheeks; underdeveloped eye-brows – particularly in
Fore Quarter: Loose shoulders; straight
shoulder, prominent shoulder; prominent brisket; narrow
chest floor; prominent chine; excessive hump development;
short, flat or too round neck.
Centre piece and loin: Devils
grip; (constricted); hollow back; arched back; insufficient
spring of rib; weak loin; insufficient or too much depth.
Hindquarter: Flat, short, droopy or roofy
rump; narrow pinbones; prominent tail-head; wry tail
setting; short, round muscling.
Legs: Too coarse; too fine; outward
turning; knock-kneed; bow-legged; short cannon bone.
Hocks: Cow sickle; straight; spastic; puffy
Hooves and Pasterns: Small-, shallow-,
cloven-, uneven or roll-hoof-, straight-, weak or tread
Udder and teats: Pendulous-,
underdeveloped, unbalanced or too quartered udder or udder
pulled up in front. Bulbuous, splayed, too short, too long
and thin teats.
Genital organs: Underdeveloped or small
(refer minimum circumference in Standard of Excellence);
hypoplastic, bisexual, twisted testes strings, excessive
sheath skin, prolapse of the sheath and in the female
Rangy and lack of depth: Such animals
normally have a poor productive and reproductive ability,
are poor feed convertors and normally have a low resistance.
Size: Due to several reasons which were at issue at the
last two judges’ symposiums, it was decided that in as far
as size and ADA are concerned, the middle-of-the-road policy
should be adopted. However, sufficient variation to adapt to
the environment should be provided. Discriminate against too
large or too coarse.
Pony Type: Pony characteristics are detrimental to both
milk and high weight gains.
5. WHAT IS IMPORTANT
Everything is important, and you must consequently acquire
as much knowledge as possible.
When judging, you must be fully conversant with the
Standard of Excellence and you must apply your
It is very important that you know for what purpose the
breed is bred, in other words, the purpose of the breed,
in order that you may ascertain whether an animal serves
its purpose. We therefore repeat: The Simmentaler is a
dual purpose breed which must be functionally efficient.
Apart from production related aspects, already dealt with,
the following must be emphasised:
Fertility: In terms of the Constitution of
the Simmentaler Cattle Breeders’ Society one of the objects
is “to see to it that the calving records of cows are put at
the disposal of judges at as many shows as possible to be
evaluated in their judging”. The ICP system has already
since 1977 been in operation at major shows and the “Simdex
system” was introduced in 1987. Also refer to “Functional
efficiency”. Reproduction and everything related thereto
must receive the highest priority.
Structural faults in respect of legs and hooves:
For economical production, proper mobility in an animal is
imperative in South Africa, the stance and stride of an
animal must therefore be considered as vitally important.
Framework: Discriminate against (i)
extremities in size – keep to the middle-of-the-road; (ii)
animals which lack depth or are rangy, (iii) animals with
insufficient spring of rib. Shoulder and/or height of hip,
which are not affected by condition, indicate the size of an
Growth rate: When judging young animals,
special attention must be paid to weight for age. However,
discriminate against extremities in ADA. In junior classes
animals should preferably walk according to age.
Muscle development: Pay attention to weak
or excessive muscling. The muscling on the forearm is a good
indication of muscling throughout.
Length: Pay attention to proper length of
body and length of rump, i.e. measurement from hip to
Width and Capacity: Good width and capacity
throughout. Good width between forelegs, thurls and good
width of body.
Overfat animals: Discriminate against
overfat animals, since we are in the process of judging
breeding animals and not slaughter animals.
Temperament: This feature cannot be
measured. However, the animal should be easy to handle yet
alert and high-spirited.
Variation in conformation at different ages:
It is common knowledge that an eight-month old calf does not
have the same conformation as a three-year old animal.
IN ORDER TO BECOME A JUDGE ONE MUST STUDY SINCE YOU MUST
POSSESS KNOWLEDGE. LEARN FROM BOOKS, LEARN FROM FELLOW
BREEDERS AND JUDGES, LEARN AT SHOWS AND ABOVE ALL, ATTEND
SIMMENTALER JUDGES’ COURSES. THEN, ON THE BASIS OF YOUR
KNOWLEDGE, LEARN TO OBSERVE THE VARIATIONS IN ANIMALS, TO
EVALUATE THESE VARIATIONS, THEN MAKE YOUR FINAL SELECTIONS
IN ORDER OF YOUR PRIORITIES.
INTERPRETATION OF IMPORTANT ANIMAL SCIENCE TERMS
appearance of an animal in terms of how well (or poorly) it
is doing and producing in the environment where it is kept.
(A smooth, moulted and fertile animal in a good feeding
condition will for instance signify a good constitution).
reaction of an animal to environmental stress such as heat,
drought, long distance walking, high parasite infestation
and high humidity (e.g. a hardy animal against drought).
“Constitution” is a good indication of hardiness.
ability of an animal to adjust and thrive in a new
environment or production system. Such an adaptation is
measured by condition, growth and reproduction. We prefer to
refer to “adaptability” to a production system (feedlot) and
“hardiness” against adverse conditions.
synonymous for “structure”, i.e. to what extent legs,
balance, muscling, masculinity, udder etc. conform to the
norms (standard). An animal with for instance straight hocks
has a poor conformation.
FUNCTIONAL EFFICIENCY The
biological efficiency of an animal to comply with a specific
Traditionally it was merely ascertained whether the
structure or conformation of an animal was such that it
could perform its function and efficiency was not measured.
Good walking ability, genital organs and purity would for
instance contribute to the efficiency of the animal, while
shape of horns, length of tail, certain colour markings etc.
(fancy points) were not at all associated with the
efficiency or productivity of an animal.
The modern viewpoint with regard to functional efficiency is
aimed at the evaluation of an animal for (i) functionally
important conformation qualities plus (ii) the measuring of
production records such a Simdex, retention of progeny and
milk production (weaning index of calves) in the female, and
qualities such as semen, service proficiency and growth rate
in the bull.
for the judge (C P Massmann)
Aspects which are important to the consumer, in other
words the commercial beef producer, must also receive
the highest priority in the judging ring – the consumer
Always bear in mind that “nature
does not tolerate extremes”
Merit appraisal is of vital importance – pay special
attention to preference characteristics as determined by
council from time to time.
Bear in mind that fat animals belong to the slaughter
stock showring and not in the ring of breeding animals.
Never loose sight of the fact that you are judging a
There are no friends in the showring.
Do not permit animals with “reputable names” to
influence your decision.
Be independent – previous placings of judges with
“reputable names” should not necessarily be followed.
Do not concern yourself about the spectators’ opinion of
your placings – it is impossible to please everybody.
Motivate your placings, place as many animals as
possible and do not discredit animals in your
“Our Breed Society holds the view that stud breeders should
be encouraged to compete at shows provided that functional
efficiency and reproduction (Simdex) plays a major role in
the final placing”. (CPM)