LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Paige Miller, a 2019 Torrington High School graduate, placed first at the National Junior Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest sanctioned by the North American International Livestock Exhibition. Miller and her team of five won the contest, but she also won the contest, individually.
The contest took place in Louisville, Kentucky in November of 2020. Miller said she and her team had placed second in their first competition before going to Louisville. The second place finish ignited a fire within her and her teammates to push them to pursue the first place slot at their next competition.
Miller said she and her team dedicated a lot of time to “working out” on classes of livestock, or spending time analyzing livestock to better enhance their ability to judge livestock in competition.
“I had a really, really good day in the reasons room,” Miller said. “I had my name called a couple of times and then they announced I had won oral reasons. It was humbling to have all of my hard work and my team’s hard work pay off.”
After learning the team had one first place and that she had scored well in several areas, Miller learned she had won the overall first place position of the contest.
“My whole life has been dedicated to livestock and to this industry,” Miller said. “It’s a precursor to what I expect of my future and what my goals and aspirations are.”
“Livestock judging contests are one of the toughest mental sports out there,” Miller said. “You don’t speak to anyone all day, it’s all you and your own thoughts. The preparation leading up to the competitions are pretty rigorous.”
Miller said the participants in the competitions evaluate 12 animals in four classes. The participants then place the classes and are scored on the placing. Participants are then required to give oral reasons for eight of the classes, explaining why they placed the classes in the manner they did.
“It’s an extemporaneous speech that lasts about a minute and thirty seconds,” Miller said. “We then do that for each of those eight classes.”
Miller said her experience in livestock judging has taught her teamwork, leadership, integrity, mental toughness, decision-making skills and learning what is valuable in the livestock industry and feeding the world. Miller said it has also allowed her to make many connections throughout the whole country in the livestock industry.
“I’ve been involved in livestock judging my whole life,” Miller said. “I started going to judging practices through 4-H when I was about six years old with Mr. Clint McWaters through Goshen County 4-H.”
For Miller, livestock judging, and agriculture in general, is a way of life and also a family matter. Miller’s brothers, Skyler and Paul David “P.D.” Miller, have also been involved with livestock judging for most of their lives.
Miller’s parents, Paul Jr. and Christine Miller, own and operate M Lazy Heart Ranch south of Torrington. The family owned and operated show cattle ranch and feed store provided a solid learning ground for Miller to pursue her passion for livestock judging.
Miller said she did livestock judging through Goshen County 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA). She found she had talent with livestock judging and was successful throughout her high school career.
“My oldest brother, P.D., actually came to school here in Kansas at Butler Community College where I am now,” Miller said. “He was on the livestock judging team and was very competitive and went on to judge at Oklahoma State University. So I had an opportunity to do the same thing.”
Miller decided Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas was the place for her. She said Butler is a very prestigious livestock judging school and students from all around the country go to Butler to be on their livestock judging team.
Miller, currently a sophomore at Butler Community College, said she is working towards earning her associate degree in agriculture science, but looks forward to attending Colorado State University. She plans on getting a bachelor degree in animal science from Colorado State University, where she intends to take classes in agriculture business and communications courses.
Though she doesn’t know exactly where she is headed after college, Miller said she is considering attending chiropractic school to learn the trade of animal chiropractic.
“There is a very good likelihood that I end up going back home and having a hand in our family’s triad of business, going on there in Torrington,” Miller said.