Animal Science Competitive Events Overview

Competitive Events Overview

4-H Agriculture and Natural Resources programs work to engage youth through hands-on experiences that connect to their lives and respond to their interests. 4-H programs use hands-on activities in animal science, agronomy, and the environment to teach problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, and inspire young people to explore career opportunities in agriculture.

Competitive Events Overview

Animal Science Competitive Events help youth to develop life skills in the areas of decision making, critical thinking, oral reasoning, self-confidence and problem solving.  

Judging Events

Youth will evaluate a class of four items and then answer questions or orally defend their placings.

Dairy Judging

In dairy judging youth evaluate classes of dairy cows and heifers and then defend their placings through oral reasoning. Youth learn the dairy cow unified scorecard and major breakdowns, anatomy of the dairy cow, along with dairy judging terminology. The State Dairy Judging contest takes place in collaboration with the Iowa State Fair. Learn more about the contest here.

Horse Judging

Horse judging is an activity in which youth learn and apply knowledge of the ideal features of a variety of breeds and riding styles.  They must evaluate each horse in relation to the ideal for the breed and in relation to other horses or riders in the class. In addition to placing the class, contestants must also defend their placings through oral reasons. The state horse judging event takes place as a part of Equine Extravaganza.

Virtual Livestock Judging Coaches Training

Dr. Chris Cassady and Mr. Will Taylor, ISU Livestock Judging Coaches will be leading the program.  This is a training for adults at the  beginner level and will cover recruitment, how to “teach” judging, reasons and how to make the most out of practices as well as topics that are of interest to the group.  View recorded sessions below.

Meat Judging

Meat Judging trains youth to distinguish differences in the values of various meat cuts. Youth learn how to evaluate and identify retail cuts as well as wholesale cuts and carcasses. The 4-H meat judging program allows youth to learn about the different cuts of meat along with the trimness and quality factors that affect the safety and taste of the meat products we consume. Learn more about the State Meats Judging Contest.

State Livestock Judging

Livestock judging consists of analyzing beef cattle, sheep, swine and meat goats and measuring them against a standard. It is the study of the relationship between an animal’s form and function. Livestock judging has two primary components 1) placing a group of animals and 2) orally justifying your decision. Learn more about the Livestock Triathlon.

Quiz Bowl

Youth teams will test their industry knowledge answering a series of questions in a head-to-head format.

Dairy Quiz Bowl

The Dairy Quiz Bowl is a competition all about the dairy industry. Competition in the 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl encourages a 4-H member to develop a more complete knowledge of dairy animals and related subjects. This contest provides an educational experiences for all dairy project members, including those who may not own a diary project, and provides a way to develop self-confidence, communication and teamwork skills, and mastery in the area of diary science. State Dairy Quiz Bowl.

Horse Quiz Bowl

The primary objective of the Horse Quiz Bowl contest is to provide an opportunity for youth enrolled in 4-H to demonstrate their knowledge of equine-related subject matter in a competitive setting where attitudes of friendliness and fairness prevail. Competing as team members assists youth with the development of social skills, cooperation and managing feelings, as they become comfortable with working alongside others toward a common goal; integrity and sportsmanship are also developed through the Horse Quiz Bowl experience. The State Horse Quiz Bowl takes place at Equine Extravaganza.

Livestock Quiz Bowl

Livestock quiz bowl is a team event for 4th-12th graders where they test their knowledge of beef, sheep, swine, and meat goats. The State Livestock Quiz Bowl contest takes place at the 4-H Livestock Triathlon.

Skillathon and Hippology

Youth will showcase practical knowledge and understanding of management practices through this team-based competition.


The primary objective of the Hippology contest is to provide, in a friendly but competitive setting, an opportunity for youth enrolled in 4-H to demonstrate the breadth of their knowledge and understanding of equine science and management, and in particular, the practical application of this knowledge and skill. The State Hippology Contest takes place at Equine Extravaganza.

Livestock Skillathon

Skillathons enhance learning through the use of hands-on activities. Youth practice critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills while gaining the opportunity to achieve project goals, build-self confidence and earn recognition. Livestock skillathon is made up of a written quiz and learning stations such as breed identification, quality assurance, selection, meat evaluation and other livestock skills. The State Livestock Skillathon takes place at the 4-H Livestock Triathlon.