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Vale FFA competitors wow judges in Salem

Kyla Wright and Matt McBride were part of a Vale FFA team that competed in a livestock judging contest at the state fair recently. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

VALE – The warning bell for the next class was barely fading at Vale High School last week but junior Matt McBride and senior Kyla Wright remained in their Future Farmers of America class.

Wearing their dark blue FFA jackets, they were excited to recount the school’s success in Salem at the Oregon State Fair.

McBride, Wright and seven other students put in a solid performance at the FFA state livestock judging competition.

Vale FFA sent an advanced team and a beginning team.

The advance team of McBride, Wright, senior Clay Siddoway and juniors Morgan Hager and Rachel Wolfe claimed eighth place.

The Vale FFA beginning squad was first among six teams. 

The team included sophomores Mattie Siddoway, and Shelsea Marshall and freshmen Colt Cummings and John Wolfe. Siddoway placed first overall individually in the event.

“I thought our advanced team did awesome. Our beginning team, to have Maddie get first was amazing,” said Vale FFA teacher Anna-Marie Chamberlain.

As part of the competition, each team member judges eight classes of livestock. There are two rounds with pigs, sheep, cattle and goats – market and breeding classes.

 FFA students rank each animal and then defend their grade before a panel of judges. 

 “You rank them from best to worst,” said Chamberlain.

In the market class, students judge the animals on how ready they are for harvest and how each animal meets the attributes sought by the meat packing industry.

In breeding class, said Chamberlain, grades are based on quality and the animal’s reproductive capabilities such as their body structure and size. 

When each FFA member goes before a panel of judges the animals are long gone, said Chamberlain.

“So, There is a lot of mental aspects to it – thinking on your feet, remembering, organizing your notes,” said Chamberlain.

McBride said he found one category difficult.

“I think the hardest class was probably market hogs. I am not around hogs a lot,” said McBride.

Wright said market lambs and brand lambs proved to be the hardest for her to judge.

Chamberlain said she is optimistic about the future for both teams.

“They did excellent and I would suggest that the Vale FFA has a bright future ahead,” said Chamberlain.