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Meat Judging

boy with clipboard analyzing piece of beef

The North Dakota 4-H Meat Judging Contest provides an opportunity for youth enrolled in 4-H Livestock projects to enhance their carcass evaluation and retail identification skills. Meat judging programs are currently the most effective tool for the recruitment and development of future meat science technologist in existence today. Meat judging is more than the determination of the quality and lean meat yield of a carcass or wholesale cut that affect the safety and taste of the products we consume; the North Dakota 4-H meat science project serves as a training tool to develop young leaders in the meat and livestock industries. Contestants step into a meat cooler (yes, it is cold!) where food safety is the first priority in this project area because there is a consumable, uncooked product being judged. Beyond the cold temperature, 4-H’ers move from table or carcasses hanging on a hook to evaluate the meat products.

This project area helps youth improve life skills such as decision-making, communication skills and confidence, but also provides an opportunity to gain a very practical skill they can utilize through life as they visit the grocery store or butcher shop. Youth gain the skills to examine a cut of meat and determine which is the highest quality with the most flavor. Whether they cook for themselves or others, they will gain a useful skill to perfect as they gain experience. Just as important, this contest advances a participants knowledge of the livestock and meat industry. This contest provides an educational program for all project members, including those who may not own a project animal.
The winning 4-H senior meat judging team will represent North Dakota at the National 4-H Meat Evaluation & Identification Contest as part of the American Royal Livestock Show in Manhattan, Kansas, in October.

Objectives and Outcomes

  • Stimulate learning in animal science, agricultural industry and the meat industry;
  • Youth develop positive interests and attitudes about meat evaluation, animal science and related careers;
  • Youth gain a base understanding of cuts of meat, meat terminology, food safety, and meat selection;
  • Youth will utilize skills and abilities to solve everyday situations;
  • Youth gain valuable consumer experience for culinary skills impacting their future;
  • Provide a competitive setting where attitudes of friendliness and fairness prevail;
  • Participants will process information, analyze complex problems and make informed decisions regarding current meat industry decisions;
  • Develop teamwork, self-confidence, public speaking and decision-making skills;
  • Increased number of participants seek higher education opportunities and careers in animal science.

Age Divisions
Each age division is considered a separate contest and youth may enter one of the following divisions.

  • Junior 4-H division: Youth ages 8 to 11 years old and enrolled in North Dakota 4-H as a full time 4-H member (not a short-term member) as of December 31).
  • Intermediate 4-H division: Youth ages 11 to 13 years old and enrolled in North Dakota 4-H as a full time 4-H member (not a short-term member) as of December 31, 2018.
    • Members who are currently 14 but did not turn 14 before January 1 should judge in the intermediate division as they are not eligible for the national contest.
  • Senior 4-H division: Youth age 14 to 18 on December 31, 2018 and enrolled in North Dakota 4-H as a full time 4-H member (not a short-term member).
    • 14-year-old members who have not turned 14 by January 1 are considered an intermediate, as they are ineligible for the national contest.
  • County agents and coaches are responsible for determining the age and member eligibility of participants in the State 4-H Meat Judging Contest from their respective clubs.

Who May Enter

  • Contestants must be enrolled in North Dakota 4-H (4honline) as a full time member in the county they represent. Short-term 4-H members are not eligible to compete at the state level.
  • Counties may enter any number of participants in either age division. The high three individual scores will determine the team score.
  • All participants are eligible for individual awards.
  • Counties may combine to form a team provided neither county has more than 2 participants. Combination teams must pre-register together for the appropriate age group. A team of three (3) may not pick up a fourth or fifth member from another county.
    • Both counties and coaches from the different teams must approve combining of individuals for a team.
  •  FFA members judging in the FFA contest who are also 4-H members may participate in both contest. To do so, they must be pre-registered by their county extension agent. They will fill out ONE scantron that will be run for both contests. There may be more than one FFA chapter in your county, resulting in a combination of members from different FFA chapters or a mixture of FFA members and non-FFA members, 4-H membership requirements must be observed.
  • Individuals with disabilities are invited to request reasonable accommodations to participate in NDSU-sponsored programs and events. To request an accommodation(s), please contact Holly Halvorson at 701-231-7251 or one week prior to contest to make arrangements.
  • 4-H members are not eligible for this contest if:
    • He/she has judged at a National 4-H Meat Judging Contest.
    • He/she has participated in official post-secondary (university, college, junior college or technical school) competitive events of a similar nature in the same subject matter area. Neither can he/she be a member of a post-secondary team undergoing training in preparation of an event.

Register on with county numbers listed on the last page - Register early to avoid late charges

To register use your ND County 4-H number listed on the last page. Username and password are the same, simply put “ND” in front of your County number: i.e. 7777 = ND7777 for both password and username.

**Deadline for winning State 4-H Meat Judging Team to decide to go to Nationals: July 1**

Rules and Procedures
Contest Format
Guides and Resources