Judging Sheep
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Developed by: Richard Coffey, Extension Swine Specialist, University of Kentucky PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Judging Sheep. Developed by: Richard Coffey, Extension Swine Specialist, University of Kentucky Kevin Laurent, Extension Associate, University of Kentucky Warren Beeler, Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Edited for Georgia by Frank B. Flanders

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Judging Sheep

Developed by:

Richard Coffey, Extension Swine Specialist, University of Kentucky

Kevin Laurent, Extension Associate, University of Kentucky

Warren Beeler, Kentucky Department of Agriculture

Edited for Georgia by Frank B. Flanders

Georgia Agriculture Education Curriculum Office

March 2002

Slide 1

Steps to Judging Sheep

1. Evaluate animals from the ground up and from the rump (rear) forward

2. Rank the traits for their importance

3. Evaluate the most important traits first

4. Eliminate any easy placings in the class

5. Place the class based on the volume of the important traits

Slide 2

Ranking of Traits for Market Lambs

1. Degree of muscling

2. Degree of finish

3. Balance and style

4. Frame size

5. Soundness and structural correctness

Slide 3

Ranking of Traits for Breeding Ewes

1. Style and balance

2. Frame size

3. Soundness and structural correctness

4. Capacity or volume

5. Degree of muscling

6. Degree of leanness

7. Wool

Slide 4

Evaluating Degree of Muscling

To evaluate degree of muscling, pay close attention to:

1. Thickness through the center of the leg

2. Width between the rear legs when the animal is on the move

3. Length of the hindsaddle

4. Width and length of the loin

5. Grooved shape over the rack

Light muscled


Average muscled

(average width)

Heavy muscled


Slide 5

Evaluating Degree of Muscling- Center Leg and Base Width -

A wide loin is desired in market lambs

A long loin is desired in market lambs

Slide 6

Evaluating Degree of Muscling- Width and Length of Loin -



Greater length of hindsaddle (relative to the foresaddle) is desired in sheep

Slide 7

Evaluating Degree of Muscling- Length of Hindsaddle -


Grooved shape over the rack is desired in sheep

Slide 8

Evaluating Degree of Muscling- Shape Over Rack -

Slide 9

Evaluating Degree of Finish

  • Lambs should be lean with an ideal backfat thickness of 0.15 to 0.20 inches

  • Degree of muscling, frame size, and stage of maturity influence degree of finish

  • Watch out for short, light muscled lambs

  • Fat sheep will be widest over the top

  • 3. Lambs that are lean will be:

  • Very trim over and behind the shoulder

  • Extremely clean and neat through underline

Fat Alert !!

Sloppy, loose middle

Heavy fronted

Flat, wide top

Good rule to follow: Fat sheep go last in the class

Slide 10

Evaluating Degree of Finish

Ideal finish

Lamb is very trim with base width is at least as wide as width of top

Slide 11

Evaluating Degree of Finish

Ideal finish

Clean and trim over and behind shoulder

Trim and neat through underline

Slide 12

Evaluating Degree of Finish

Slide 13

Evaluating Balance and Style

Balance deals with having equal portions of width, depth, and length, with special emphasis on length:

  • Sheep should be wide and deep at the rear and tight and trim through the front-end (Christmas tree shape)

  • Volume of weight in leg and loin

Style deals with correctness of structure and straightness of design:

  • A straight top line is desired

  • A neat, smooth shoulder that blends smoothly into the neck and ribs is desired

Nasty Sheep Alert !!

(no balance)



Heavy fronted





Too heavy through middle

Slide 14

Evaluating Balance and Style

Broken topped


Wrong angle:

heavier in the front half than in the rear half

Slide 15

Evaluating Balance and Style



Slide 16

Evaluating Balance and Style

Poor Style

Neck too deep and low in its placement

Too open shouldered

Weak topped

Steep rumped

Slide 17

Evaluating Balance and Style

Good style points

Straight top line

Very high, correct neck- shoulder connection

Level rump

Slide 18

Evaluating Balance and Style

Clean, flat breast

Smooth at point of shoulder

Very high set to neck

Tight over shoulders, correct angular shape

Slide 19

Evaluating Balance and Style

Good Style Points!

Slide 20

Evaluating Soundness andStructural Correctness

When evaluating soundness and structural correctness, pay close attention to:

1. Feet and pasterns

2. Hocks

3. Knees

4. Rumps

5. Shoulders

Not good

Too much set to pastern

Poor depth of heel (hoof- skin junction too low)

Cripple Alert !

Extreme set to pastern

Very poor depth of heal

Slide 21

Evaluating Soundness- Feet and Pasterns -

Big, even toes

Nice feet and pastern

Correct set to pastern

Foot sits flat and even on ground

Good depth of heal

Slide 22

Evaluating Soundness- Feet and Pasterns -


Too much set to hocks

Correct hocks

Flex and power

Slide 23

Evaluating Soundness- Hocks -

Knees that need improvement

Buck-knee and restricted

Knee bowed

slightly inward

Slide 24

Evaluating Soundness- Knees -

Good Knees

Straight and strong knee

Proper knee flex for movement

Slide 25

Evaluating Soundness- Knees -

Rumps that need improvement

Short and

steep rumped

Long but

steep rumped

Level but

short rumped

Slide 26

Evaluating Soundness- Rump -

Just Right

Level rump design

Very long rumped

Slide 27

Evaluating Soundness- Rump -

Poor shoulder structure

Open shouldered

Coarse shouldered

Slide 28

Evaluating Soundness- Shoulders -

Good shoulders

Tight at top

of shoulder

Smooth at point

of shoulder

Blends smoothly from shoulder to forerib

Slide 29

Evaluating Soundness- Shoulders -

Slide 30

Example Market Lamb Class I

Slide 31

Official Placing:

1 - 2 - 3 - 4


2 - 3 - 6






  • Originated in Scotland

  • Resistant to cold, windy conditions

  • White, wool free faces

  • Long wool type

  • Wool has a helical crimp

  • Tend to be resistant to worms and footrot


  • Developed by the US Department of Ag

  • Developed to thrive on Western ranges

  • Produce medium wool and large amounts of meat


  • Developed in New Zealand & Australia

  • Dual purpose breed

  • Produces bulky, high density wool

  • Most popular breed in South America


  • Originated in Europe

  • Medium-sized breed with high quality, white wool

  • Most popular white-faced breed in the United States

  • Horned and polled varieties exist


  • Originated in Hampshire, England

  • Black face and legs

  • Mild demeanor

  • Unbroken wool cap should extend from the neck over the forehead


  • Originated in England

  • Two, four, or six horns

  • Black and white fleece

  • Fleece is highly sought after

  • Unimproved breed


  • Originated in England

  • The largest breed of sheep

  • Long-wooled breed

  • White faces

  • Pronounced forelock between the ears


  • Originated in Australia

  • Primarily a wool breed

  • White-faced

  • Most popular breed in Australia

  • High quality wool used in the textile industry


  • Originated in England

  • Second largest sheep breed

  • Meat-type breed

  • Tends to forage for its own food

  • White with black ears and bridge of nose


  • Originated in Spain

  • Shipped to France in 1801

  • White in color


  • Developed in England

  • Well suited to farm flock production

  • Gray face with white body

  • Adapted to wet conditions


  • Originated in England

  • Most popular breed in the US today

  • Produce large amounts of meat

  • White with black faces and legs

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