How to Judge Dairy Cattle

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General Appearance

Judges look for cows with parts that blend together smoothly and are proportional.  Cows should have a straight topline, level rump, correct legs and adequate height for the breed.  Femininity, balance and strength are desirable.

The size of the cow should be appropriate for the breed. For example, a mature Holstein should stand at approximately 1.4 metres and weigh around 680 kg whereas a mature Jersey should be around 1.2 metres and weigh around 450kg.

Feet & Legs

Feet and legs should be clean and strong boned with shape and movement of feet resulting in proper carriage of the animal.

Mammary System

The mammary system is the single most important part of a dairy cow.  It’s no surprise that the most important function of the dairy cow is milk production.  The mammary system includes all the parts of the body of the dairy cow which have a role to play in the production of milk.  The udder texture should be soft, pliable and elastic.

Dairy Character

There should be evidence of milking ability, general openness, freedom from coarseness, giving regard to the stage of lactation.  The head should be clean cut and feminine with bright, large eyes and alert ears.


The rump should be long, wide and clean cut.


The cow should be symmetrical and balanced – giving her an attractive appearance

The above judging criteria and comments have been provided for the purpose of education and do not represent the views, opinions or position of judges, officials or the RA&HS. Any resemblance to actual persons, competitors, or exhibits living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

More Judging Information