W.M. Graves1
M.L. London and D. R. Sires2
R.C. Smith3

This guide is designed to help you improve your reasons for your placings in dairy cattle evaluations. Slowly incorporate new terms into your oral reasons and your ability to describe what you see will continue to improve. Concentrate on what you see instead of what you don?t see. You only have 2 ½ minutes to justify your placings. Use I.D. points, and Practice! Practice! Practice! Paint a picture of what you see as if each cow is in the reason room with you.

The PDCA (Purebred Dairy Cattle Association) United Dairy Scorecard for cows and modified for heifers is as follows:

  Score (%)    
Trait Cow   Heifer
Frame 15   25
Dairy Strength 25   40
Rear Feet & Legs 20   35
Udder 40    

Look at that the terms that can be used with each section of the scorecard. Always take breed characteristics into account. The following are examples of terms and phrases used to describe specific differences between animals.

Mammary System/Udder
(40% of PDCA Scorecard)

General Ways to Describe the Udder:

  • More bloom to the udder
  • More veining of the udder
  • More udder texture
  • Exhibits more bloom and capacity of the udder
  • More balance and symmetry to the udder
  • Less quartering when viewed from the side
  • More youthful udder
  • Udder held tighter to the body wall
  • Carries udder higher above the hocks
  • Udder shows more balance from front to rear
  • Udder carried higher off the ground
  • More distance between the hock and udder floor
  • Large, more capacious udder
  • Fore Udder

  • Stronger/ firmer attachment when viewed from the side (say which side)
  • Smoother fore udder attachment
  • Fore udder is held closer to the body wall
  • Cleaner fore udder attachment
  • Fore udder blended more smoothly and naturally into the body wall
  • Longer and firmer fore udder attachment
  • Longer fore udder, blending more smoothly into the body wall
  • Rear Udder:

  • Higher, wider rear udder
  • Higher, stronger rear udder attachment
  • More balance of rear udder
  • More capacious rear udder
  • More fullness to the udder when viewed from behind (or rear)
  • More symmetrical rear udder
  • More fullness and capacity at the bottom of the rear udder
  • More uniform width of the rear udder
  • Carries the udder higher above the hocks
  • More clearly defined udder cleft/median suspensory ligament
  • Stronger center support in the udder
  • More cleft in the udder with a more prominent crease
  • More defined cleft
  • Teat Placement:

  • Teats are more centrally located
  • Teats are more squarely placed on the quarters
  • Teats are smaller (or longer)
  • Teats more desirable in size, shape and placement
  • Teats more perpendicular to the ground
  • More nearly correct front teat placement
  • Teats placed more correctly beneath each quarter
  • Dairy Strength
    (25% of PDCA Scorecard)

  • Sharper over the shoulders
  • More width through front end
  • Cleaner across the topline
  • Cleaner and more refined in the head and neck
  • Has an advantage in dairyness
  • More prominent through the hips and pins
  • More feminine throughout the head and neck
  • Longer and leaner neck
  • Presents cleaner thighs
  • Incurving thighs
  • Carrying less flesh
  • More refined and dairylike
  • More angular at the withers
  • Shows more definition from hooks to pins
  • More open-ribbed
  • Over-conditioned in the dewlap or brisket
  • Width through ribs
  • Stronger, flatter-boned
  • Stronger (or) more powerful cow
  • Deeper in the heart and barrel
  • Deeper in the chest or chest floor
  • Deeper-bodied
  • Greater circumference in the heart girth
  • More total body circumference
  • Greater spring to the rib
  • Larger barrel (or heart girth)
  • Deeper barrel (or heart girth)
  • Less excess conditioning
  • More depth of barrel and openness of rib
  • More width of chest
  • Greater spring of fore and rear rib
  • Displays more openness and angularity throughout
  • Carries less excess flesh through the neck, throat and brisket
  • More angular over withers, hips and pins
  • Less excess flesh about the neck, throat and brisket
  • Greater overall capacity
  • Greater strength and substance
  • More depth of heart
  • Frame
    (15% of PDCA Scorecard)

  • Taller at the point of withers
  • Taller, more upstanding
  • Shoulders blend more smoothly into the body
  • Stronger, straighter, smoother back
  • Longer from head to tail
  • More nearly level from chine to loin
  • Stronger, smoother, straighter loin
  • Stronger in the chine
  • More level topline, straighter topline
  • Higher and wider in the thurls
  • Longer from hooks to pins
  • More functionally correct slope from hooks to pins
  • More correct set to the thurls
  • Wider in the pins (or thurls)
  • More width in the pins (or thurls)
  • Wider in the rump (or thurls)
  • Exhibited less slope from hips to pins
  • Straighter and smoother over the topline
  • Squarer in the rump
  • More correct in slope from hooks to pins
  • Longer from end to end
  • Neater at the tailhead
  • Tailhead placed more neatly between pins
  • Walks more uphill
  • Growthier (heifers)
  • Blends more smoothly from neck to shoulder and from shoulder to barrel
  • Rear Feet and Legs
    (20% of PDCA Scorecard)

  • More desirable angle to the rear foot
  • More correct shape to the rear foot
  • Steeper foot angle
  • More strength in the pasterns
  • Stronger and shorter pasterns in the rear
  • Cleaner and flatter bone in the rear leg
  • Cleaner at the hock
  • More refined hock
  • Deeper heel
  • More substance of bone (say where)
  • Straighter or more correctly placed legs when viewed from the side (or rear)
  • More desirable set angle to the hock when viewed from the side
  • Front legs or rear legs set more squarely beneath the body
  • Handles her rear legs more correctly on the walk
  • More correct on the move
  • Tracks straighter (or more correctly)
  • Walks straighter and on a more correct set of feet and legs

    Use the following phrases to help you get started, tie things together and wrap up your reasons.


  • 1, 2, 3, 4 is my preferred placing in this/today’s class of ___.
  • After closely analyzing this/today’s class of ___ (e.g. 2-year-old Holsteins), my final placing is ___.
  • After evaluating this/today’s class of ___ (e.g. 2-year-old Jerseys), I place them ___.
  • In a close placing, I place this/today’s class of ___.
  • I place this/today’s class ___.
  • I find this class to be a two-pair class.
  • I find this class to have an easy top/bottom animal.
  • I find this class to have a close top pair.
  • General Statements

  • More stylish individual.
  • More stylish from head to tail
  • Greater size and scale
  • More style, balance or symmetry.
  • Smoother blending of parts.
  • Individual (or animal/cow/heifer) with the best combination of ___ (say what).
  • Most complete individual (or animal/cow/heifer).
  • More powerful from end to end (or head to tail).
  • Outstanding animal easily wins this class.
  • Connecting Terms

  • Furthermore,
  • In addition to,
  • Also,
  • Moreover,
  • However, it is this
  • More importantly,
  • I recognize
  • Therefore, ____'s
  • Equally important,
  • Another point in ____'s favor is
  • Besides this, ____'s
  • Likewise, ____'s
  • To complement this, ____'s
  • Grants

  • I realize,
  • I admit,
  • I recognize that,
  • More importantly,
  • I did not fail to recognize,
  • I concede,
  • However, 1 ___.
  • Giving 1 an advantage in ___.
  • Other Terms/Suggestions

  • Presents
  • Exhibits
  • Shows
  • Displays
  • Demonstrates
  • Closings

  • For these reasons, I place this/today’s class of ___ (e.g., 3-year-old Brown Swiss) 1-2-3-4.
  • 1-2-3-4 is how I place this/today’s class of ___ (e.g., Guernsey Heifers).
  • Thank you (to show you are finished).
  • Recognize Superlatives

  • 1, the best-uddered cow in the class, places over 2 due to her definite advantage in dairy strength.
  • 1, the best-framed cow in the class ___.
  • I find an easy top in the smooth, stylish 3, by far the best-uddered cow in the class.
  • In the top pair, the two best-uddered cows, 1 places over 2 due to her advantage in dairy strength.
  • Use qualifying statements to emphasize specific points of advantage

  • 1 has more desirable front teat placement, faulting 2 for having wide and strutting front teats.
  • 1 is smoother in fore udder attachment, particularly when viewed from the right side.
  • 1 has more balance of rear quarters, criticizing 2 for being light in the left rear quarter.
  • Smooth Transitions between Pairs

  • It is this advantage in (from grant) that places her easily over (the next animal) in my next pair.
  • ____ follows the type of pattern set by ____.
  • Moving on to my middle placing, ____ places over ____.
  • It is because of this advantage in ____ that ____.
  • Going now to my final placing, of ____ over ____,

    Some example sets of reasons are:

    Example 1

    After carefully analyzing today’s class of ___ (insert age, breed, cow/heifer [e.g., 4-year-old Holsteins]), I place them B, C, A, D.

    B places easily over C, finding an easy top in the black cow, B, who excels in mammary system and dairy strength. B displays a smoother, stronger fore udder attachment whose udder blends more naturally into the chest wall. Furthermore, when viewed from behind she shows more width, bloom and capacity as well as having a more defined udder cleft. B is taller at her point of withers and is sharper and more angular throughout. I do admit C is higher in her rear udder attachment, thus allowing me to place C over A in my intermediate pair.

    C is superior in udder quality and capacity to A. She displays more veining and is more youthful in her udder appearance. In addition, C is a deeper-bodied individual and has greater depth and spring to her barrel. However, I do acknowledge A stands on a set of shorter and stronger pasterns.

    In my bottom pair, I place A over D, the mainly white cow. A is stronger and wider when viewed from the front. Furthermore, she is wider in her pins when viewed from behind. She also stands on a more correct set of feet and legs. In addition, I appreciate that A is more feminine and dairy about her head and neck. I do concede that D carries less flesh, but she lacks femininity, dairy strength and udder quality to place any higher in
    today’s class.

    For these reasons, I place today’s class of ___ (e.g., 4-year old Holsteins) B, C, A, D. Thank you.

    Example 2

    I place this class of Jersey cows 3, 2, 1, 4. The spotted cow, 3, excels to the top of this class due to her superior mammary system. She has a more capacious udder and has a higher, wider rear udder attachment and greater width to the rear udder. 3 has a smoother fore udder attachment, faulting 2 for her slightly bulgy right fore udder.

    I grant that 2, the darker cow, carries her udder higher above her hocks and has a slightly stronger udder cleft. It is this cleft strength that carries her over 1 in my middle pair.

    I found a close middle pair in this class, placing 2 and 1. 2 has a wider rear udder attachment and slightly stronger fore udder attachment. 2 has less quartering in her udder and has more correct teat size and shape, faulting 1 for her large, cone-shaped teats. 2 is stronger in the pasterns and cleaner at the hocks. I admit that 1 has more width to her rump, thurls and rear udder.

    I place 1 over 4 due to her higher, wider rear udder. 1 is leveler on the udder floor, and has a more correct teat placement, with more prominent veining than 4. She is also straighter across her top and stronger in her loin. She also has stronger pasterns and a more correct foot angle.

    I admit that 4 has a smoother fore udder attachment and a more correct teat size and shape. However, I find 4 to be an easy bottom cow in this class. She lacks the mammary capacity, rear udder width and overall style to place above the other three cows today. For these reasons, I place this class of Jersey 4-year old cows 3, 2, 1, 4. Thank you.

    Example 3

    DBCA is my preferred placing of this class of 3-year-old Holstein cows. After closely analyzing this class, I found a definite top and bottom animal and a close middle pair. In my top pair I place D over B due to her advantage in mammary. D has a more youthful udder, holding her udder higher above her hocks. In addition, D has a wider rear udder, stronger rear udder attachment, and a stronger fore udder attachment that blends more
    smoothly into the body wall. D also stands on a more correct set of feet and legs and is more angular over her withers, hips and pins.

    I admit that B has greater depth of barrel and spring of rib. It is this advantage in Dairy Strength that places B over C in my middle pair.

    B is deeper in the barrel and exhibits greater spring to fore and rear rib. Furthermore, B has a longer, leaner neck, is straighter across the topline and wider in the pins.

    However, I did not fail to recognize that C has a longer, smoother, stronger fore udder attachment.

    Moving on to my final pair, I place C over A. C has a higher, stronger, wider rear udder attachment and more correctly sized and shaped teats. Moreover, C has more openness of rib.

    I grant that A is a longer cow from head to tail; however, I had no choice but to leave her last today. The black cow has a low, rear udder attachment, bulgy fore udder and reverse udder tilt. A also lacks openness of rib and is thicker in her thighs.

    For these reasons, I place this class of 3-year-old Holstein cows DBCA. Thank you.

    The Oral Reasons Note Card may help you practice developing your reasons.

    Oral Reasons Top Ten List

    1. Emphasize the most important points first. Say what you see!

    2. Use “er” words to compare differences between items (e.g., longer, wider) — don?t describe.

    3. Look the official in the eye. Convince him/her your placing is correct. Sound confident.

    4. Include an opening statement describing the class.

    5. Giving grants are important; however, if there are none, don?t give any.

    6. Use I.D. points to identify animals. It helps you remember and prepare.

    7. Oral reasons are to be presented to the judge in the present tense without the use of any notes. Give reasons as if the cows are in the room with you.

    8. Relax, talk slowly and don?t run out of gas. Breathe!

    9. Call heifers "heifers" and cows "cows"!

    10. Practice! Practice! Practice!

    1Extension Dairy Scientist
    2Graduate Teaching Assistants, Animal & Dairy Science Department
    3Extension Leader, Morgan County

    Status and Revision History
    Published on Aug 01, 2003
    Published on Feb 04, 2009
    Published on Nov 09, 2009
    Published with Minor Revisions on Sep 21, 2012
    Published with Full Review on Mar 28, 2017

    William Graves Professor Emeritus, Animal & Dairy Science
    Have a question? Contact your local UGA Extension office to find out how our team of county agents can assist you.
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