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Story and Photos by Fu Jiayong | Local Animal Husbandry Bureau (Xinjiang Regional Project Partner)
More than 100 farmers participated in a lamb judging competition on January 12, 2013, in Tokay Village, Dolat bag Township, Kashgar City, Xinjiang Province. Eighty families received 395 quality ewes after the project officially launched in December 2011. By the end of 2012, 326 lambs were born; these lambs were the “contestants” of this competition.
On a freezing cold Sunday morning, project participants came with their lambs to participate in the competition from all over the village. A normally quiet lane in Tokay became noisy. Lambs lined up under a line of poplars beside the lane. A red banner hanging there, written both in Uyghur and Chinese, read: “Lamb Judging Competition of Tokay, Dolat bag, Heifer China Kashgar Project.” Villagers chatted and laughed around a bonfire. Children ran around in the chilly wind, and the cold air turned their faces pink. Although the weather was cold, the atmosphere was as warm as the festival.
The preliminary competition started in December, 2012, and 20 lambs made it to this final competition. As the judging started, the project operator announced the rules. Seven judges measured the lambs' height and length, checked species and other aspects, keeping a record of the numbers one-by-one. After about an hour, a lamb bred by Kurbanjan Kari won first prize; two lambs won second prize; three won third prize, and 14 won honorable mentions.
Participants raised their lambs under the guidance of technicians from Kashgar City Animal Husbandry Bureau, and they grew strong. It is estimated that the first-prize lamb could bring 2,000 yuan, or about $320.