Ag team takes first in cattle judging

The University team beat 10 teams from across the Midwest to take top honors.

by Yelena Kibasova

Last week University students eyed top cattle in the Midwest and placed first in the Accelerated Genetics Dairy Cattle Judging Contest at the Vernon County Fairgrounds in Viroqua, Wis.

The competition comprised 11 teams from around the Midwest. The junior team was made up of junior agriculture students Luke Olson, Brad Davis and Missy Mussman and sophomore management student Lisa Thompson.

At the competition each team judged 10 classes of cattle, for a total of 40 cattle. The cows were brought into the fair from surrounding farms. The student teams judged seven breeds: Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Red and White, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorn and Ayrshire.

Each team member’s objective was to place each class of cows or heifers based on a 100-point scorecard from best to worst. The animals were judged on specific standards of traits such as the udder, feet, legs and frame, Olson said.

“The one that is ranked higher, the better, the best, should be more profitable and functional for dairy producers,” said Les Hansen, professor in the department of animal science.

After judging the 10 classes, students gave memorized oral presentations explaining how they placed the cows.

Hansen, along with alumni Scott Ellinghuysen, Tara Sammon and Alicia Thurk, coached the team of students.

The training was ongoing and included course training and field training. The team spent two weekends traveling to 24 farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin. In training, farmers brought out three classes of four animals for the students to judge. The students then practiced oral presentations about placement.

“We had the opportunity to see some really good quality herd. In this contest, there is good, quality cattle,” Olson said of the training.

The win at the fair in Wisconsin means a lot to the University as well as to the students who participate each year, team members said.

“(It’s) important for me as a professor and an adviser and a coach because you know there’s a competition for the top dairy students,” Hansen said. “So it’s kind of like ‘Hmm, that must be a good university to go to because students do well.’ “

Davis plans to work in the dairy field when he finishes his education.

“It’s nice to know Ö what good cattle are. I joined the team so I could learn more about what type of cattle people want,” Davis said.

Olson plans to take over the family farm and hopes to professionally judge cattle nationwide.

“Certainly this (competition) will help that aspect, and more or less get my name out there for one, but also help me become better,” Olson said.

Next week the senior team representing the University will head to Madison, Wis., to compete at the World Dairy Expo. Team members Katy Drinkall, Tracy Nelson, Nate Schwab and Jonnie Schefers will compete against 22 other teams from around the nation.