Each year, the top 12 overall placing 4-H youth in the Senior Division at the Kentucky 4-H Livestock Judging Contest qualify to attend Top 12 Week.  Youth attending Top 12 Week receive one week of intense training in evaluation of beef cattle, goats, sheep, and swine, as well as training in preparing and giving oral reasons.  The training during Top 12 Week is provided by Mr. Steve Austin (Extension Associate for Youth Livestock Programs).  Top 12 Week is traditionally held during the second week of July (starting the Friday following July 4th and concluding the next Friday).

During Top 12 Week youth will travel across Kentucky and parts of Indiana to visit 12-15 elite livestock operations to evaluate their livestock.  During a typical Top 12 Week, youth will evaluate 50-60 classes of livestock and will give 25-30 sets of oral reasons.  Despite this rigorous schedule, plenty of time is also set aside for youth to socialize with each other and to participate in some fun activities.  Top 12 Week is great time for youth to improve their livestock judging and oral reasons skills, and to interact with other youth from different parts of Kentucky.  Also, the network of breeders and livestock producers the youth will interact with during Top 12 Week will bear fruit for years to come.At the conclusion of Top 12 Week, eight youth are selected to be a part of the Kentucky 4-H All-Star Livestock Judging Team.  These eight youth will receive additional training in evaluation and oral reasons throughout the Fall.  Additionally, these eight youth participate in several regional/national livestock judging contests, which typically includes:

  • AKSARBEN Livestock Exhibition (Omaha, NE)
  • Keystone International Livestock Exposition (Harrisburg, PA)
  • Purdue University Boilermaker Practice Contest (West Lafayette, IN)
  • Premier Stockman Livestock Judging Contest(Auburn, IN)

Following the Premier Stockman Livestock Judging Contest, four youth are selected as the Kentucky 4-H All-Star Gold Livestock Judging Team.  These four youth have the honor of representing Kentucky at the National 4-H Livestock Judging Contest which is held each November as a part of the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, KY.