“You can always tell who the city people are,” Harris said. “I remember one lady asking me if my wether was pregnant and how many are in a litter. That’s the first time I realized that I knew stuff adults didn’t know.”
Just for the record, a wether could never be pregnant because that term refers to a castrated male sheep. The term for a newborn sheep is a lamb; typically, a sheep will have one or two young -- more than that is unusual.
Angela Nelson, who has shown cavies (guinea pigs) and rabbits at the Rock County 4-H Fair as a youth and at the Walworth County Fair as an open class competitor, said 4-Hers are prepped to answer questions about their projects.
“Now, I think that is the cool thing about these fairs,” Nelson said. “It’s that opportunity to educate people on your projects and the handling of livestock.”
When Nelson was 8 or 9 years old, however, she just thought the questions were stupid.
Well, we all know there is no such thing as a stupid question, but a little information can go a long way in preparing the uninitiated when they want to understand what’s going on in the show ring. Asking pertinent questions while visiting the animal barns will garner additional information and most kids are glad to share their knowledge of animals.
Chad Howlett, who grew up around beef cattle and has judged cattle and coached teams of younger judges, said observers to the judging process will often hear some common terms.
“I’ll refer to the ‘quality’ of the animal. The term is all-encompassing and includes the balance and overall structural correctness,” Howlett said. “You know it when an animal comes in the ring and it just has that ‘it factor’ -- that’s a quality animal.”
Know your fair animals
Hen -- mature female bird
Rooster -- male bird
Chick -- baby bird
Comb -- Typically red, the comb is the fleshy crest on top of the head
Spur -- The horny projection on the lower back part of the leg, used for defense
Rabbits have litters of young and live in a warren. Baby rabbits, commonly called bunnies, are kits. A flock of rabbits, in some parts of the world, are called “fluffies.”
Buck -- Male rabbit
Doe -- Female rabbit
Sheep is both singular and plural – for example, you can say “I have one sheep” or you could say “I have five sheep.” A sheep designates an animal over 1 year of age. Younger animals are called lambs. Mutton refers to the processed meat of a sheep; lamb refers both to the meat and the animal, 1 year old or less.
Ewe -- adult female sheep
Ram -- male sheep
Wether -- castrated male sheep
Flock -- a group of sheep
Goats chew their cud, which means they regurgitate a partially digested wad of food to chew it again in order to digest it. All ruminants do this and have multiple compartments, usually four, in their stomach to use in ingestion. The Boer goat is a popular meat animal, while the dairy breeds include Alpines, Saanens and Nubians. Angora goats are raised for their fiber, which is processed into mohair yarn.
Buck -- adult male
Doe -- adult female
Kid -- baby goat of either sex
Chevron -- the meat of a goat
Wattle -- an appendage of flesh that hangs from the throat/neck area
This category is divided into beef and dairy cattle. Beef cattle breeds include Angus, a black-skinned breed developed in the Angus region of Scotland. Another popular breed developed in Herefordshire, England. The Hereford is prized for its high yield of beef and its efficiency of production. The breed names of animals, as in these two cases, often are derivative of the animal’s origins.
Dairy breeds include the Holstein, known as the world’s highest production dairy animal. Their black and white markings are a familiar sight on Wisconsin farms, where they make up 90 percent of the herds. Jersey and Brown Swiss also are dairy cattle.
Bull -- an intact (not castrated) male of any age
Steer -- castrated male
Heifer -- a young female, under 3 years old, that has not had a calf
Cow -- a female that has had a calf
Calf -- refers to the young between birth and weaning of either sex
Beef -- the processed meat of an adult animal
Veal -- the meat from a calf