An Interview with Brian Carscadden

by Hu Team on July 11, 2014

briancarsBrian Carscadden was born and raised on a registered Holstein farm in eastern Ontario and still resdies in Guelph, Ontario, Canada with his wife Linda and  3 children; Craig, Lauren and Colin.

He graduated from the University of Guelph with a bachelor of science in agriculture degree in May of 1994.   Upon graduation of University Brian was hired as a sire analyst for United Breeders of Guelph, Ontario.

Then in 1998 the Semex Alliance was formed and Brian was hired on to the Semex Alliance Sire Analyst Team where he continues today purchasing bulls across Ontario, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana as well as in the UK and Ireland.  Before his A.I. career Brian was very successful as a professional dairy cattle fitter, preparing cattle for top Holstein, Ayrshire and Jersey breeders around the world.

Brian remains active with various youth programs and is a big promoter of youth in agriculture.  He speaks at many youth events and promotes youth involvement in the annual Semex Alliance Walk of Fame at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and World Dairy Expo, which he heads up each year.


HU: What countries have you judged in?

Australia, New Zealand,  Japan,  Korea, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, USA , Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland , Holland, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal

HU:  Which show had the best ‘atmosphere’?

The shows with the best atmosphere would be the Swiss Expo in Lausanne , Switzerland, The Dairy Show in Verona ,Italy and of course WDE(2008) .

HU: Which show was the most memorable and why

WDE (2008) was the most memorable for me as it was a big show(520+ head) and it was the first year that Canadians were able to cross the border again and show there . Because of this, there seemed to be an excitement in the air leading up to the show that I have  not experienced since . The show didn’t disappoint either as it was the best quality Holstein show that many people had ever witnessed. Someone asked me in the Spring of that year what my greatest fear of judging WDE was – my answer  “ to have a Grand Champion that people would remember and talk about for generations “ !!  As you can see by my next answer, my wish came true !!

HU:Who is your favorite cow that you have judged?


HU: What show was the first one you judged?

It was a very small 4-H show in Rocklyn,Ontario and it was in 1994 . I believe there were less than 30 head and I was more nervous than I have been for any other show since. My 1st show in the US was the Kentucky State Show.

HU: Madison or the Royal – which one was more stressful to judge?

I don’t think that one show is more stressful than the other; however both require immense concentration and focus. I feel that being asked to judge either one of these shows is one of the greatest honours that can be achieved in the Holstein industry. When I was asked to judge WDE, I made the decision to remove myself from all shows and sales leading up to Oct 2008. When I entered the coliseum , I had very little knowledge of any previous placings or sale results of any of the animals that I was about to assess. This allowed me to focus using my cow sense and place the animals without any pre-conceived ideas or knowledge about them. By doing this, I was able to alleviate any stress that I may have otherwise encountered and could then focus on the job at hand. I attempted to take the same approach at the Royal in 2011 and, although it is the last show of the season and not as easy to accomplish, I was able to walk into the arena with very little knowledge of previous placings. In fact, after the 4 yr old class , my associate(David Crack) mentioned that the winner looked even better than she did the week before . My response was “ Who is she and how did she do last week ?? “ – I had no idea that she had been Grand Champion in Quebec the week before.

     HU: Are you nervous when judging?

I would say that I am more anxious than I am nervous. I have judged enough shows that I have the confidence to place them how I see them on the day and don’t rely on any previous placings or history of the animals to help me make my decisions.

    HU: Have you had any ‘bad moments’ while judging?

My worst experience judging was during the National Show in Spain in 2009. I encountered a stomach flu and was forced to use the restroom after every class and there were 18 classes. Lets just say that it was a “very” long day full of “bad moments “!

  HU: Can you explain how it feels to the person standing in the middle of the ring with the        ultimate decision on their shoulders at the show like Madison or the Royal?

In a word I would call it “exhilarating”!  It is truly exciting to witness so many great animals coming towards you one after the other – I literally get the chills!  Just when you think you have the top 6 figured out – 6 more great ones walk in ….

   HU: Who is your ‘judging mentor’; a judge that you really respect and admire?

I have a few : Lowell Lindsay, Bob Fitzsimmons, Mike Deaver and Callum McKinven . These are 4 of the best cowmen/judges in the World and every one of them supported and believed in me as a judge at one point or another.

HU: Was judging ‘major’ shows something you always aspired to do?; or it just sort of    happened?

Yes it was always something that I always aspired to do.

HU: Do you have any tips or advice for young aspiring judges?

I would give 5 tips to young judges:

  1. Always be respectful of whatever show you are asked to judge regardless of its size or importance.
  2. Always treat the role with the professionalism that it deserves.
  3. Judge them like it is the first time you have ever seen them
  4. If you encounter an overgrown heifer in a class – shrink her to the same size as the rest –   if she is still the best one – then it is okay to win with her!  Don’t penalize her for being big; however, she must be good before she can be big .
  5. Avoid controversial placings with animals that you have owned, bred or sold. There is always someone available to place that animal

HU: Is there a show that you have not judged that you would really like to judge?

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to judge many of the best shows around the World and I feel that is time for other young judges to enjoy the same experiences that I did. I was asked to judge the European Confrontation Show last year but the committee decided after asking me that they needed to have a European judge and so they did. I went to the show regardless and it was a tremendous event with many world class cows from 16-17 different European countries. I guess this would be a show that I would like to be asked again to judge.

HU: Any embarrassing or funny stories while judging?

I remember judging a 4-H show years ago and made the mistake of identifying a leadsperson as a boy when in fact it was a young girl – that was embarrassing and needless to say, I avoided using gender in my reasons from that point forward .

HU: Give a brief description of ‘your kind of cow’; what are you looking for in the ring?

“My kind of cow” has a great mammary system, has tremendous mobility and can survive in any type of environment. I don’t always need to have the tallest cows but they need to exhibit dairy strength and they need to be productive. The best uddered cow will quite often be one of the top 2 placing cows when I am judging.


HU: In the genomic era how do you see the “show cow & heifer” changing?

I don’t see the show heifer and cow changing at all as long as breeders continue to select for high type. We have more high type bulls available today through proven and genomic sires than ever before. High type bulls don’t always transmit showring style but breeders are usually quick to figure out which ones do. As long as breeders embrace the high type genomic bulls and realize that, even though we know they are overrated, they still have a good shot at being good proven type bulls. In recent years, we have witnessed the successful graduation of several high type genomic young sires such as Windbrook, Fever, Lavanguard, Atwood and Aftershock.

I feel the industry needs to think about adding a genomic class or 2 at major shows.  Animals would need to be above a certain level of GLPI to qualify. It may add some new interest/participation to the shows and add value to certain animals?

HU:  Will we ever witness another dominate show ring sire like Goldwyn ever again?

People probably asked the same question after the Starbucks and Durham eras and nobody knew who Goldwyn was at that point. There is no doubt that Goldwyn is probably the most dominate sire the breed has ever known on so many levels. It is hard to believe that he could ever be surpassed again; however, I am employed by Semex and will continue to try and buy the next Goldwyn everyday!!

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