Eickman’s Hosts Illinois Meat Judging Contest

The contest had a record participation of 116 youths competing from Illinois and Iowa.
Eickman's Processing, located in Seward, Ill., hosted the Illinois Meat Series Youth Judging Contest on Saturday, February 11. The contest had a record participation of 116 youths competing from Illinois and Iowa. Eickman's was one of three Illinois meat processors who hosted contests, along with Raber Packing Co. in West Peoria and Wenneman Meat Co. in St. Libory. These contests are all preparing the contestants to compete at the state 4-H and FFA Contests on March 3-4, 2023, at the University of Illinois. The Illinois Meat Series is a collaboration of the Illinois Association of Meat Processors (IAMP), the University of Illinois Meats Judging Team, and leaders of 4-H and FFA. Awards are sponsored by the Illinois Farm Bureau.

Students were set up with 30 retail cuts, and they had to identify the species, the primal and the retail cut name. They were then shown rings of hog carcasses, beef carcasses, beef ribs, fresh hams and pork heads. The students also had to yield grade four beef carcasses and quality grade five beef carcasses, along with answering a series of questions. At the end of the competition, the organizers went over the results, including the grading performed by the University of Illinois Meat Judging Team.

Tom Eickman, owner/operator at Eickman's Processing, is a long-time supporter of the Meat Judging Contest and credited IAMP, the Farm Bureau, University of Illinois and the FFA for helping to grow participation in the event. He says that the skills that the students learn will help them in the future – even if they don't enter the meat industry, they will still buy meat at the store. “I have kids that have done this years ago that still come in and visit and tell me how much they still use it in their grocery shopping,” he says.

The winners at the contest were:
  • Senior High Team: Prairie Central High School, Fairbury, Ill.
  • Senior 2nd High Team: Midland High School, Varna Ill.
  • Senior 3rd High Team: Seneca High School, Seneca, Ill.
  • Junior High Team: Ogle County 4-H, Oregon, Ill.
  • Junior 2nd High Team:  Somonauk Haymakers 4-H, Somonauk, Ill.
  • Junior 3rd High Team: Byron Middle School, Byron, Ill.
  • Senior High Individuals: 1 Conner Blunier, 2 Hannah Miller, 3 Madeline Wallingtons, 4 Carla Kilgus, 5 Ellie Drach, 6 Chris Poyner, 7 Preston Plenert, 8 Davis Howell, 9 Franklin Rathbun, 10 Zack Sulzberger
  • Junior High Individuals:  1 Brogan Keltner, 2 Kate Viall, 3 Lucas Thurow, 4 Preston Howell, 5 Lewis Anderson, 6 Ava Faber, 7 Joseph Thurow, 8 Hayden Hall, 9 Erica Trygges, 10 Mason Zabran