This year, Mizzou’s livestock judging team has a new leader, Britton Francis. While a fresh face to Mizzou, Francis has a long history of showing livestock. He grew up on a diversified livestock farm located outside Paris, Missouri with cattle, sheep, goats and hogs.
While a student at Paris High School, Francis competed on many different judging teams through FFA, including livestock judging. During his junior year on the livestock judging team, he met Eldon FFA Chapter adviser, Jerry Richelle.
Richelle served as a mentor for Francis even though the two schools were competitors. Members of the two judging teams soon became friends. When Francis found out that some of the teammates wanted to pursue livestock judging further at junior colleges, he decided to do the same. After considering many different schools, Francis signed with Fort Scott Community college in Kansas where he earned his associate degree.
He then transferred to Oklahoma State University and competed on its livestock judging team for one calendar year. The team was successful, winning multiple contests. Francis graduated from OSU in May of 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science with a business option.
Bryan Wiegand, professor of animal science at MU, met Francis when he judged Wiegand’s local county fair. Wiegand asked Francis to come help with the judging and yield grading clinic he ran for 4-H and FFA members. After a week of working with him, Wiegand suggested that Francis come to graduate school at MU to oversee the livestock judging program at Mizzou.
Francis is now the livestock judging coach at Mizzou, and he wants his team to learn about the livestock industry, networking and the basics of livestock judging. While he focuses his training on multiple aspects of judging, oral reasoning skills is one of the most transferrable. It improves students’ communication skills, which carries over into their everyday lives and in future job opportunities.
The livestock judging team starts practice in January and continues to November. The team is comprised of eight MU students at different skill levels. At practices, Francis teaches the basics of what to look for in a breed and market animals. They also go through livestock judging classes on Judging Pro and then give oral reasons for those classes. The team also visits different operations around central Missouri to evaluate livestock on foot.
The team meets for practice Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Trowbridge Livestock Center from 3:30-6 pm. Anyone is welcome to join the livestock judging team by joining the Livestock Evaluation 2115 class through the animal science department. Francis says his course is geared for juniors but anyone can take it, although he recommends taking a meat evaluation course first so you have a perspective on how to judge market animals.
Francis’ advice to younger kids, especially high school seniors wanting to get into livestock judging, is to contact him if interested in attending Mizzou. Students interested in competing before attending a four-year college, can also contact Francis to discuss various junior colleges with livestock judging