April 1, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman

A new Livestock Discovery CD provides young people around the state and beyond an immense amount of livestock information at their fingertips.

The project was the brainchild of Richard Coffey, a swine specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture and youth programs coordinator for the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. Coffey enlisted the help of fellow Extension animal science specialists and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“The No. 1 goal of it is to help kids learn information important to livestock production,” Coffey said. “My intent is for kids to be able to take it home and learn at their own pace.”

The CD is primarily designed to help kids, from ages 9 to 19, involved in livestock programs at the county level whether they’re involved in livestock judging or skillathon competitions.

It contains information about breed identification for different livestock and equine species, external parts of those animals, skeletal anatomy, wholesale and retail meat cuts and grading market animals. Other information on the disk includes expected progeny differences, feedstuffs, and equipment used in livestock production and showing of animals. There are several presentations that walk the youth through judging an animal, how to present the oral reasons for the judging decisions, how to evaluate retail cuts of meat and how to use various calculations important to the production of agriculture.

“It really will give them a pretty good background in some broad areas,” he said. “If someone’s getting ready to go to college for an animal science degree, they’ll have a pretty 
good background in some of the basics of animal sciences.” 

The project began several years ago when Coffey was helping with the Caldwell County youth livestock judging team and they were trying to find good information. They could find bits and pieces but not one source.

“I sat down one day and crudely made some PowerPoint presentations and put it on a CD so the kids could take it home with them, and this became the livestock judging CD,” he said. “We made it available to everyone. So that was the start.”

From there, Coffey decided to develop a CD that was comprehensive. Information on the disk was provided by dairy, beef, horse, swine, sheep and meat Extension specialists and KDA officials.

“It’s really been a cooperative effort with lots of folks giving me information and then I sent it on to UK Agricultural Communications Services to compile it on the CD,” he said. “It took about two years, in part because it grew beyond what we initially envisioned. But it is unique in that there’s probably not anything as comprehensive in terms of cutting across all species and lots of different subject areas.”

Warren Beeler, director of the division of value-added animal and aquaculture products with the KDA, has been a long-time supporter, volunteer and parent involved with youth livestock activities. He was also one of the main KDA contributors to the CD.

With an emphasis on education, the CD helps keep the focus on youth and learning rather than simply the quality of an animal to be shown, he said. The information prepares youth not only for competitions but helps provide skills for life.

“It teaches them to make decisions and defend them,” he said. “What better way to prepare them for the world?”

Beeler said the new CD is user-friendly, and while many people loved the original livestock judging CD, they’ll like this one even more.

“It’s a great CD,” he said. “There’s so much material and it’s so well-rounded.”

Order forms for the CD can be obtained from county Extension offices. The cost of the CD is $3, which helps recoup material costs.


Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contacts: Richard Coffey 270-365-7541, ext. 244