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Dairy Cattle Judging

Filed Under:
Publication Number: P3152
View as PDF: P3152.pdf

Dairy cattle judging has been very important to dairy farmers and dairy cattle breeders for years. The goal is to have show-winning cows with excellent type conformation. It is difficult to determine the dollar value of type, but cows and bulls in high demand are usually ones with excellent milk production and good type.

Being able to evaluate type conformation requires a lot of hard work and training. You can learn this and have a great time, too, through the 4-H dairy judging program. You will learn how to evaluate type by making comparisons and accurate observations that lead to decision making. You will also learn the importance of type as it relates to production (for example, sound feet and legs and udders that are attached strongly and carried above the hock).

Giving oral reasons helps you learn to express yourself concisely. It also helps you think more clearly, improve your memory, and develop confidence in yourself.



“Functional type,” a term related to dairy cattle judging, is important to all dairy producers because certain type traits (strength of udder support, feet and legs, and body size) are positively related genetically to longer herd life and higher lifetime production. Body conformation that is suitable for efficient milking and management allows cows to live long, productive lives.


Parts of a Dairy Cow

The first thing you need to do in learning to judge dairy cattle is learn the names of the parts of the dairy cow. Study the diagram below thoroughly and learn each part.

The names and parts of a dairy cow are displayed in this diagram.


The Dairy Cow Unified Score Card

The Purebred Dairy Cattle Association Score Card is found on pages 4 and 5. It is divided into four major parts. Each part is worth a certain number of points based on its importance (frame, 15 points; dairy strength, 25 points; rear feet and legs, 20 points; and udder, 40 points). Each part of a cow is in one of these four divisions. If you know the points allowed for each, you can evaluate an animal based on its strengths and weaknesses.


Frame (15 Points)

The frame represents all the skeletal parts of the cow. It can be thought of as the silhouette or outline of the cow. It is easiest to evaluate 20 to 25 feet away from the animal. The frame traits on the scorecard in order of importance are rump, front end, back/loin, stature, and breed characteristics.

The rump includes the hip (hook), thurls, and pins. The rump is ideally long, wide, and nearly level. The rump is the framework for the udder; it helps make the udder wide, long, and nearly level. Thurls should be wide and set almost centered between the hips and pins. The location of the thurls determines rear leg structure, so this is an important part to observe. Pins should be high and wide.

Stature is evaluated by height and length of leg bones. The front end consists of width and depth of chest, with smooth blending of the shoulder to the body wall. Smoothly blended shoulders give a cow the appearance of harmony, style, and balance.


Dairy Strength (25 Points)

Dairy character is determined by signs the cow can produce lots of milk. Excellent dairy character is shown by a great deal of angularity and openness, freedom from coarseness, and cleanness throughout.

The order of importance for dairy character traits is ribs, thighs, withers, neck, and chine. Dairy animals should have a long, lean neck and sharp withers with no evidence of fat. The topline and rump show no fat, with the hip bones and pin bones sharply defined. Thighs should be thin and curve in, showing no excess fat. Skin should be thin, loose, and pliable.

Dairy animals should be open-ribbed and clean-cut at the throat, dewlap, and brisket. Wide ribs signify the ability of an animal to carry a calf well, so they should be well-spaced and slanting toward the rear of the animal. The animal’s body should be long and deep, especially in the flank.


Rear Feet and Legs (20 points)

This part of the animal is probably the most difficult to evaluate because its appearance is affected so much by management. Feet and legs are very important in the functional type category, so they count 20 points on the PDCA scorecard. The traits in order of importance for this category are movement, rear legs (rear and side view), hocks, and feet/pasterns.

The ideal foot has a short toe and a deep heel with a short, strong pastern. Rear legs should be wide apart and straight with moderate set to the hock. The perfect leg walks straight ahead when viewed from the rear. The ideal hock is flat and clean, with no swelling or abrasions.


Udder (40 Points)

The udder is the most important part of the cow. Since a dairy cow’s main job is to produce milk, much emphasis should be placed on the mammary system. For long-term performance under the stress of high production, an udder must be strongly attached, have acceptable size and capacity, and be well balanced.

The fore udder should be moderately long, strongly attached, and blend smoothly into the body wall. It should be uniformly wide from front to rear and be balanced with the rear udder. The udder should have little movement when the cow is walking.

The rear udder attachment should be high, wide, smooth, and deep. The rear quarters should be of equal size and the same width from top to bottom.

The median and lateral suspensory ligaments are the main support for the udder. The median suspensory ligament is located between the halves of the udder, and the lateral ligaments are located on the sides of the udder.

Udders with weak ligaments hang well below the hocks. Weak median suspensory ligaments cause the udder floor to be flat, and there will be no crease between the quarters. A weak median suspensory ligament generally causes teats to point out, making the cow difficult to milk.

The teats should be the same size and shape and 1.5 to 2.5 inches long. They should be placed squarely under the corners of the udder, pointed slightly inward before the udder is filled, and hang straight down when the udder is full.

Balance, symmetry, and quality are terms used to characterize udders. The udder should be nearly level on the floor, and there should be no signs of quartering. The skin should be soft, pliable, and loose. Large mammary veins are evidence of an excellent-quality udder.

Consider an animal’s age and stage of lactation when evaluating udder capacity. As the cow grows older, her udder becomes deeper and larger. When a cow is under 5 years old, serious discrimination should be given if the udder hangs below the hocks.


Judging Suggestions

Here are a few suggestions on procedure for a beginner judge:

  1. Learn to locate and identify the parts of the animal.
  2. Study the Unified Scorecard and learn how many points are given for frame, feet and legs, dairy character, body capacity, and mammary system. Learn the importance of the various parts of the cow’s body.
  3. Get a picture of the ideal cow clearly and firmly fixed in your mind. You can learn by studying models and pictures. Breed publications with pictures of state and national champions are good resources. The Unified Scorecard has a picture of the ideal cow for each breed.
  4. In approaching a class to be judged, stop first at a distance of 25 or more feet and view the animals. You can observe all four animals better from this distance. Beginners often make the mistake of going up close for their first look.
  5. Put in first place the animal that is most nearly ideal and in last place the one least like the ideal animal. This leaves only two animals to place. Put the one more like the first-place animal in second place, which automatically leaves the other animal in third place.
  6. Work quietly to avoid disturbing the animals, and be polite to and considerate of others who are judging. Allow 10 minutes for placing.
  7. Write down placing on your card, remembering that first impressions are usually best. Rely on your own judgment rather than trying to place the class as some other contestant has placed it. Correct placing counts 50 points.
  8. Check your card to be sure placing and name of class are as you mean them to be. Also, be sure your number is correct. Mistakes here can mean you get a zero score for the class.
  9. Make notes on classes that require oral reasons. These classes are designated at the beginning of contest.

Suggestions on Giving Reasons

  1. Study notes diligently so you have your reasons organized but not memorized when called to give them. Practice giving your reasons thoroughly before giving them. They count 50 percent of the total score. You have 2 minutes to give oral reasons. You should never refer to notes while giving reasons.
  2. When called to give reasons, move promptly to the judge and stand attentively and straight some 5 or 6 feet in front of the judge. Speak clearly, distinctly, and confidently. Make reasons fit the class rather than giving mechanical reasons that may or may not apply.
  3. Be neatly dressed. Present a neat, clean, well-groomed appearance.
  4. Stand squarely on your feet. Don’t slouch. Look directly at the person to whom you are speaking. Know what to say, and say it. Be sure to use correct terms.
  5. Always compare two animals being discussed rather than describe one animal. Use comparative terms ending in “er” (such as longer, larger, deeper) rather than descriptive terms (long, large, deep).
  6. Never use the word “better” in giving reasons. Instead, use a comparative term that points out exactly what you mean.
  7. Tell the important differences first. Emphasize the superior points of why one animal excels, and then grant any strong points to the animal you placed lower.
  8. Never go back. Say all you intend to about one placing, then proceed to the next. When you have completed your reasons on the cow in last place, you are finished.
  9. Avoid any “questionable points” on which the judge could disagree with you.
  10. Use numbers of the cows often enough that the judge can follow you easily.
  11. Always carry a clear mental picture of the class.
  12. A courteous attitude and good conduct have never lowered the score of a contestant.

Keep in mind that you can make a good score on reasons even if your placing score is not good. Try to convince the judge on your placement with clear, accurate information.

Dairy cow unified scorecard
The seven breeds of cows are explained.
rear legs, pelvic angle, and rump width drawings of a dairy cow.
fore udder attachment, rear udder width (at attachment), and rear udder height (at attachment)

Dairy Terminology

Examples of Opening Statements

  1. 1-2-3-4 is my placing in this class of (class name).
  2. I place this class of (class name) 1-2-3-4.
  3. My placing for this class of (class name) is 1-2-3-4.
  4. This class of (class name) has a very logical placing of 1-2-3-4.
  5. In placing this class of (class name) 1-2-3-4, I found a           .


Examples of Closing Statements

  1. For these reasons, I place this class of (class name) 1-2-3-4.
  2. These are my reasons for placing this class of (class name) 1-2-3-4.
  3. These reasons justify my placing of this class of (class name) 1-2-3-4.
  4. It is for these reasons that I placed this class of (class name) 1-2-3-4.


Example of Criticism of the Last Cow

  1. I place 4 last because she lacks the             to merit a higher placing.
  2. I place 4 last because she lacks the            to place any higher in the class.
  3. I am leaving 4 last because she lacks            .
  4. I must leave 4 last because she lacks            .
  5. Even though I admire the of 4, I’m leaving her last because she lacks the            .
  6. Granted 4 had            , I faulted her and left her last because           .


Sample Terms Comparing Udders

Udder Support

  1. a more youthful udder
  2. stronger center support in the udder
  3. a deeper crease in her udder
  4. a deeper cleft in her udder
  5. more clearly defined halving in the udder
  6. more halving when viewed from the rear
  7. stronger center attachment
  8. leveler on the udder floor, faulting 2 for having a reverse (forward) tilt
  9. carries her udder higher above the hocks
  10. udder held tighter to the body wall

Negative Terms

  1. weaker attachments
  2. less halving
  3. stale (udder lacks bloom)
  4. lacks udder support
  5. light quarter


Rear Udder

  1. higher in the rear udder
  2. wider in the rear udder attachment
  3. higher and wider in the rear udder
  4. fuller at the top of the rear udder
  5. more fullness at the bottom of the rear udder
  6. more fullness of rear udder
  7. more correct turn to the rear udder
  8. more height and strength of rear udder attachment
  9. more symmetry and balance of rear udder


Negative Terms

  1. unbalanced and loosely attached in the rear udder
  2. light in the left (or right) rear quarter
  3. lower in the rear udder attachment
  4. weak and narrow in the rear udder attachment


Fore Udder

  1. stronger fore udder attachment
  2. a longer, more tightly attached fore udder
  3. less bulginess of fore udder
  4. tighter in the fore udder (attachment)
  5. more firmly attached fore udder
  6. fore udder that blends more smoothly into the body wall
  7. snugger in the fore udder attachment
  8. longer fore udder attachment


Negative Terms

  1. loosely attached fore udder
  2. bulgier appearing fore udder
  3. deep in the fore udder
  4. steeper in the fore udder attachment
  5. shorter in the fore udder attachment
  6. unbalanced fore udder
  7. cut-up in the fore udder


Teats and Teat Placement

  1. teats more desirable in size, shape, and placement
  2. more nearly correct teat size
  3. teats hanging more nearly plumb
  4. teats placed more correctly beneath each quarter
  5. more nearly correct front teat placement
  6. teats placed more squarely beneath the quarters
  7. more correct teat placement as viewed from the side (or rear)


Negative Terms

  1. funnel, bottle, or pencil-shaped teats
  2. teats too small
  3. teats placed to the side of the udder
  4. teats too long
  5. teats of undesirable size and shape
  6. teats hang too close together


Udder Quality

  1. more apparent quality in the udder
  2. an apparently softer, more pliable udder
  3. more desirable texture to the udder, noting the congestion in 4’s udder
  4. an advantage in stage of lactation, noting the congestion in 4’s udder
  5. less congestion (or swelling) in the udder
  6. more prominent veining


General Udder Terms

  1. larger, more capacious udder
  2. more symmetry of udder
  3. more “bloom” and capacity of udder
  4. more balance of udder
  5. leveler on the udder floor
  6. she has an advantage in stage of lactation, having more bloom and capacity of udder


Negative Terms

  1. flatter on the udder floor
  2. broken, weak median suspensory ligament
  3. low, loose, pendulous udder
  4. udder lacking cleavage
  5. lacks a crease to the udder when viewed from the rear


Terms for Comparing Dairy Character

  1. more angularity and clean-cutness
  2. milkier appearance
  3. more openness of ribbing
  4. more open in her conformation
  5. more dairyness throughout
  6. more length and stretch
  7. longer and leaner in the neck
  8. more prominent about the hips and pins
  9. cleaner down the topline
  10. flatter (leaner or thinner) in the thighs
  11. more curving in the thighs
  12. longer and more open throughout
  13. sharper at the point of withers


Negative Terms

  1. shorter, thicker neck
  2. tighter, closer ribbed
  3. throatier
  4. carrying excess flesh in the throat, brisket, or dewlap
  5. thick and fleshy about the throat and neck
  6. thicker thighs
  7. thicker, rounder shoulder
  8. plainer
  9. coarse and thick about the head and neck


Terms for Comparing Legs and Feet

  1. straighter in her rear legs as viewed from behind (the side), faulting 2 for ...
  2. more correct set to the hock, noting the straight (set) leg on 3
  3. cleaner through the hock, faulting 4 for being puffy in the left hock
  4. handles her rear legs more correctly on the walk, faulting 3 for ...
  5. more mobility, noting 2’s crampiness
  6. more strength and substance of leg bone
  7. a cleaner, flatter hock (leg bone)
  8. flatter leg bone
  9. stronger in the pasterns
  10. deeper in the heel (and shorter in the toe)
  11. walks more correctly on her front feet, noting that 3 toes out (toes in)
  12. more mobility


Negative Terms

  1. shallow heel
  2. post-legged
  3. weak, refined, or coarse-boned
  4. weak pasterns
  5. light-boned and lacking substance
  6. hocks in when viewed from the rear
  7. thick in the hock
  8. too much set to her rear legs when viewed from the side
  9. close at the hocks (cow-hocked)
  10. toes out (toes in)
  11. stands too close at the hocks
  12. more coarseness at the hock
  13. puffy about the hock


Terms for Comparing Frame

(Structure and Form)


  1. longer and leveler from hips (hooks) to pins
  2. wider in the pins (and thurls)
  3. less slope from hooks to pins
  4. more nearly correct rump angle, criticizing 2 for being too low (high) in the pins
  5. more nearly level from hooks to pins; faulting 3 for being too low (high) in the pins
  6. tail head that sets more neatly between the pins
  7. neater in the tail setting
  8. more correctly set tail head


Negative Terms

  1. shorter, narrower rump
  2. higher and coarser at the tail head
  3. narrow between the hooks and pins
  4. sloping and pinched in the rump
  5. higher at the pins
  6. more sloping in the rump
  7. reverse tilt to the rump


Stature (Height)

  1. taller, more upstanding
  2. taller at the point of withers
  3. more stature
  4. more height at the point of withers
  5. a taller front-ended cow



  1. straighter down her topline, especially
  2. stronger in the loin
  3. stronger in the chine
  4. stronger through the middle of her back; stronger in the loin (chine)
  5. wider through the loin
  6. longer from head to tail
  7. more nearly level from withers to pins


Negative Terms

  1. less strength of topline
  2. easy over the topline
  3. weak in the chine and crops
  4. weak in the loin
  5. weak over the topline


Front End (Shoulders)

  1. more width and strength
  2. smoother blending shoulder
  3. tighter at the point of shoulder
  4. tighter at the point of elbow
  5. fuller in the crops
  6. blends more smoothly from neck to shoulder and shoulder to barrel
  7. more harmonious blending through the front end (throughout)
  8. wider on the chest floor
  9. more width and strength of chest


Negative Terms

  1. coarser shoulder
  2. looser shoulder
  3. winged shoulders
  4. more prominent at point of shoulder
  5. shallow shoulder lacking strength
  6. open behind the shoulders



  1. more breed character about the head
  2. more femininity about the head
  3. more alertness and style
  4. stronger through the jaw, faulting 3 for her Roman nose
  5. more strength of muzzle


Negative Terms

  1. plainer about the head
  2. head lacks style and breed characteristics
  3. coarse about the head
  4. hort and plain about the head


Terms for Comparing Body Capacity

  1. more width and strength throughout
  2. more width and strength in the chest
  3. fuller behind the shoulders
  4. deeper in the chest
  5. more spring of rib
  6. more spring of fore rib
  7. deeper in the barrel
  8. fuller in the heart
  9. wider through the chest floor
  10. deeper in the rear rib
  11. a stronger, more powerful cow
  12. a cow with more strength and power
  13. more size, scale, and substance
  14. deeper flank
  15. more depth of fore and rear rib
  16. longer from end to end


Negative Terms

  1. less spring of rib
  2. narrow chest floor
  3. narrow, pinched heart girth
  4. weak, front-ended cow
  5. lacks openness and sweep to the rib
  6. shallow-ribbed
  7. narrow, weak, and frail
  8. tight-ribbed
  9. shallow fore and rear rib
  10. pinched in the chest
  11. shallow in the heart
  12. short-bodied
  13. shallow-bodied
  14. ribs lacking in fullness and spring
  15. round-ribbed


General Terms

  1. a more youthful cow
  2. more style and balance (throughout)
  3. more harmonious blending of parts
  4. more symmetry and balance
  5. a cow with more bloom (and capacity)
  6. placing the more recently fresh cow over
  7. more balance throughout
  8. she has an advantage in stage of lactation


Description for Individual Cows

Make your reasons more interesting by using color, markings, or some other clearly distinctive characteristics instead of the animal’s number.

“the black cow” (Holstein)

“the dark-colored cow” (Holstein, Brown Swiss, or Jersey)

“the light-colored cow” (Brown Swiss, Jersey, or Guernsey)

“the white cow” (Holstein or Ayrshire)

“the speckled cow” (Holstein or Ayrshire)

“the spotted cow” (Holstein, Ayrshire, or Guernsey)

“the broken-colored cow” (Jersey)

“the red cow” (Guernsey or Ayrshire)

“the short-eared cow”

“the stub-horned cow”


General Statements

You can use many statements to add variety to your reasons. Some may help you show that the placing on one of the pairs is close or easy. Others help you make a statement of admission. Good reasons also have statements that help lead the listener from one pair to another.


To Indicate an Obvious (Easy) Placing

  1. A handy winner in this class
  2. A logical winner in the class
  3. An easy winner in the class
  4. A clear-cut winner in the class
  5. She has a decided advantage
  6. She has a definite advantage
  7. She has a distinct advantage
  8. In a more logical placing
  9. She has much more . . .
  10. An outstanding cow in this class


To Indicate a Close (Difficult) Placing

  1. In a close placing, 1 goes over 2 because
  2. In a close pair, 1 places over 2 because
  3. 2 is somewhat more than 3
  4. In a closer decision, 2 goes over 3
  5. 2 gets the edge because she is
  6. 2 has a bit more than 3
  7. She has a slightly more
  8. Tends to be more
  9. Has a slight advantage


Admission (Grant) Statements

  1. I admit that 4 is
  2. I grant that 4 is
  3. However, I give her the advantage
  4. On the other hand
  5. I realize that 4 is
  6. However, 4 is clearly
  7. I concede that 4 is
  8. I recognize that 4 is
  9. I give her credit, however
  10. 4 must be given the advantage, however, in
  11. I credit 4, however, for being
  12. I appreciate the of 4, however


Transitional Statements (middle or bottom pair only)

  1. … then placing 2 over 3 because
  2.  … next placing 2 over 3 because
  3. … next, I place 2 over 3 because
  4.  … in the middle pair, 2 places over 3 because
  5. . … concerning my middle pair, 2 places over 3 because
  6.  … going to my middle pair, 2 places over 3 because
  7.  … finally, placing 3 over 4 because
  8.  … in the bottom pair, 3 places over 4 because
  9.  … in my final pair, 3 goes over 4 because
  10.  … lastly, placing 3 over 4 because


Holstein Cows

Holstein Cow.
Holstein Cow.
Holstein Cow.
Holstein Cow.

In placing this class of Holstein aged cows D-C-B-A, D uses her advantage in udder to place over the long-framed C. D is higher, wider, and fuller at the top of the rear udder with greater uniformity of width from the top to the bottom of the rear udder. D shows more dairy strength, as she is deeper and wider on the chest floor with more openness, spring, and arch to both fore and rear rib. I do grant that C shows less evidence of set to the hock.

It is this advantage in frame that easily places C over B. C is taller at the shoulder and has more stretch and length throughout. C is wider in the pins, allowing her tail head to sit more neatly between her pins, and she carries her legs with a straighter set to the hock. Also, C is higher at the top of the rear udder, and has a more correct teat size and shape. I do admit that B is more feminine through the rump and thigh.

It is B’s correctness that carries her over A. B blends more smoothly from the neck to shoulder and in turn shoulder to body, being tighter in the elbow and fuller in the crops. B also stands on a more correct set of feet and legs with a deeper in the heel and stronger pastern. B also has a more youthful udder held higher above the hock. I do concede that A has shorter teats placed more squarely on the udder floor. However, A lacks the overall correctness of feet and legs and youthfulness of udder to merit a higher placing.


Holstein class photos presented in the Hoard’s Dairyman (Madison, WI) 2017 Judging Contest.

Holstein class reasons published by Kevin Ziemba via Hoard’s Dairyman.

Jersey Cows

Jersey cow labeled a
Jersey cow labeled b
Jersey cow labeled c
Jersey cow labeled d.

I place this class of Jerseys A-C-D-B. A comes to the top in a close placing over C. I give a slight advantage to A in having more height of rear udder, and her rear udder also has a nicer shape to it when viewed from the side. I also give A a slight advantage of being more open in her rib along with having more spring to her rib. A is also more desirable through her rump, particularly in her tail setting when viewed from behind. I do admire the overall style and the silkiness of C, which keeps this a close placing.

Next, I place C over D, giving C a definite advantage in her mammary system. C shows more height and width of rear udder and more definition of center ligament than D. C shows more balance of udder when viewed from behind. I will admit that both C and D are very similar in frame, both showing extreme length and quality throughout.

The overall style, balance, and blending of parts gives D a definite advantage over B. D also has a more desirable shape to her udder along with it being more snuggly attached in both fore and rear. D is also more desirable through the rump and blends in better behind the shoulders and through the crop region. I place B fourth in the class, as I would like to see more height of rear udder. B does show more width and dairy strength.

Jersey class photos presented in the Hoard’s Dairyman (Madison, WI) 2017 Judging Contest.

Jersey class reasons published by Andrew Vander Meulen via Hoard’s Dairyman.


Brown Swiss Cows

Sample Reasons

I placed this class of 3-year-old Brown Swiss cows 4-3-2-1. I started the class, in a very close placing, with the most complete individual in the class, combining both mammary system and dairy character to the highest degree. In my middle pair, 3 excelled 2 in both frame and body capacity. 1 was the smallest in the class, being an easy bottom, and, therefore, leaving a logical third in 2.

After closely analyzing my top pair, I chose 4 over 3 because she was a more refined, stylish, angular individual with decisive advantages in dairy character and mammary system. In this advantage in dairyness, 4, the dark-colored cow, was cleaner about the head and neck, sharper over the withers, cleaner across the topline, more prominent about the hips and pins, and also flatter in the thigh. She also excelled in mammary being in bloom and thus having a more capacious udder.

I must admit that 3 had a tremendous advantage in size and scale.

In reviewing my second pair of 3 over 2, 3 was the most upstanding, longest, growthiest, most powerfully front-ended individual in the pair. 3 had an advantage in frame, possessing more harmonious blending of body parts, blending especially more smoothly through the shoulders. Furthermore, 3 excelled in body capacity, being deeper through the heart, possessing more depth of fore and rear rib, more spring of rib when viewed from the rear, and also more width throughout the rump.

However, I realize 2 did have an advantage in udder capacity.

Going to my bottom pair in a logical placing, 2 places over 1 for her definite advantage in mammary system. 2 had a more youthful udder with a higher, wider, stronger rear udder attachment. She was also stronger and straighter across the top, especially over the chine and loin.

In placing 1, the light-colored cow, at the bottom of the class, I realize she did have a very desirable udder, except for the fore udder attachment, but because she lacked the size and scale, was weak over the top, and possessed a sloping rump, I could not place her any higher in the class today. These reasons justify my placing of this class of 3-year-old Brown Swiss cows 4-3-2-1.

Thank you. Are there any questions?


Making Notes for Oral Reasons

To be a successful judge of dairy animals, you must cultivate your memory and, thereby, have a clear mental picture of the class. However, a brief and complete set of notes can be very valuable to you for study before giving oral reasons to the judge.

Notes are for study purposes only and not to read to the judge. Do not refer to your notes while giving reasons.

This is an example reason card for the previous Brown Swiss cow sample reasons:

4-H Judging reason notecard.


Writing Reasons*

1. __ __ __ __ is my placing for this class of (class name).

2. __ places over __ primarily because …

3. She is also …

4. I admit that __ is …

5. In the middle pair, __ places over __ because of her definite advantage in …

6. Furthermore, she is …

7. However, I realize that __ is …

8. Finally, __ places over __ because of her decided advantage in …

9. In addition, she is …

10. I realize that __ is …

11. But she lacks the _____________ to merit a higher placing.

12. These are my reasons for placing this class of (class name) __ __ __ __ .

*Reproduced from “Dairy Cattle Judging Made Easy” by Dr. Dave Dickson.

Mississippi 4-H Livestock/Horse Judging Contest.


Junior Yearling Guernsey Heifers Sample Reasons

Good morning. I am contestant number 10-A. I placed this class of Junior Yearling Guernsey Heifers 3-1-2-4.

I placed 3 over 1 because she is a longer-bodied heifer. She is longer and more level from hips to pins, indicating greater length of udder upon maturity. 3 is higher and wider at the pins and more desirable about the tail setting. She has more balance and symmetry throughout.

I placed 1 over 2 because she is a more upstanding animal and is much stronger over the topline. She has more width of chest and is straighter in her forelegs. 1 shows more promise of udder, in that she has more loose folds of skin. Her teats are also more squarely placed.

I concede that 2 is more neatly blended at neck and shoulders.

I placed 2 over 4 mainly on dairy character. She is much cleaner and sharper throughout. She is sharper over the withers and is more prominent at hips, pins, and thurls. 2 is also more neatly blended at the neck and shoulders.

I placed 4 last in an easy placing because she is somewhat weak over the topline, has a sloping rump, and is shorter and more compact.

For these reasons, I placed this class of Junior Yearling Guernsey Heifers 3-1-2-4.

Are there any questions?


Judging Heifers

The Dairy Calf and Heifer Scorecard is shown on page 16. As you can see, the greatest emphasis should be on general appearance. Good heifer judges look for tall, straight animals with correct feet and legs. Keep in mind that heifers are simply undeveloped cows, and most things that apply to cows also apply to heifers. The explanations of frame, feet and legs, dairy character, and body capacity described earlier in this publication also apply to heifers.

Of course, you cannot be sure how the udder on a young heifer will develop upon calving, but there are indications for guidance. For instance, distance from hips to pin bones indicates whether the udder will be short or will have desired length. The basis for this is that a perpendicular line dropped from the hip of a cow will fall even with the front of the udder, and one dropped from pin bone will fall

even with the rear udder. Likewise, something of the width of udder a heifer will have upon freshening can be determined by observing width between hips, thurls, and pin bones.

If hips, thurls, and pin bones are wide apart, the heifer’s udder should develop into a uniformly wide udder. There is a close correlation in that respect. On the other hand, if hips are wide and pin bones close together, udder tends to be wide in front and narrow behind. These principles also apply to dry cows, whose collapsed udders do not show their normal shape and size.

Calf and Heifer Score Card.

Copyrighted by Ted Halbach & the University of Wisconsin-Madison Dairy Cattle Judging Team, 2010. Revised and copyrighted 2011.

Publication 3152 (POD-10-17)

Prepared by Amanda Stone, PhD, Assistant Professor, Animal & Dairy Sciences; Dean Jousan, PhD, Associate Extension Professor, Extension 4-H Livestock Specialist; and Brittany Bowman, MSU Dairy Research Apprentice.

The authors wish to express appreciation to Wesley S. Farmer, former associate Extension professor, and Gale Chrestman, former senior Extension associate, Animal and Diary Sciences, who compiled and prepared some of the original photos, drawings, and information used in preparing this manual. Additionally, special thanks to Larry D. Guthrie, PhD, retired head of the Extension Dairy Science Department at the University of Georgia; Hoard’s Dairyman, Madison, Wisconsin; and Gerald Taylor, retired MSU Extension dairy specialist, who assisted in preparing the publication.

The Dairy Cow Unified Scorecard was originally published in Holstein Foundation’s Dairy Judging, Volume 3 manual (Purebred Dairy Cattle Association, Madison, WI).

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