On Sept. 16, the UW–Platteville dairy judging Team competed at the Accelerated Genetics Contest in Viroqua.
Two teams represented UW–Platteville. Team one consisted of Paul Johnson from La Crescent, Minn., Sarah Endres from Waunakee, Cassy Krull from Lake Mills, and Andrea Pagenkopf from Lancaster. Team two consisted of Josh Joseph from Richland Center, Garrett Madland from Lyndon Station, Brittany Sorg from Spring Green, and Chris Voegeli from Monticello.
Team number one finished second overall out of 18 teams, and team two finished eighth.
Johnson, an animal science major, was the top individual overall in both the Guernsey and Milking Shorthorn Breeds, and Endres, also an animal science major, was fifth overall in the Milking Shorthorn Breed. In addition, Johnson was 10th and Endres was fifth in individual rankings out of about 70 competitors from across the Midwest. Each team also placed high overall within each breed. Seventeen schools, represented by about 70 students, competed from around the Midwest.
“The students this year were very knowledgeable about dairy judging even before we started practicing, and they worked very hard to achieve the places that they did,” said Cory Weigel, Pioneer Farm Dairy Enterprise manager and coach of the Dairy Judging Team. “We also had more students involved this year and were able to take two teams instead of one. Last year, we had one team and took ninth place.”
The competition asked competitors to judge 10 classes of dairy cows. For five of those classes, competitors needed to provide judges with an oral explanation of why they ranked the cows in the order that they did. In this area, points were awarded for effective articulation, regardless of whether the competitor’s scores were correct or not. Teams were given 15 minutes to examine the cows and rate the quality of features such as udder, dairy character, frame, feet, legs and body capacity. Scores were then ranked against the scores given by actual judges, and points were awarded based on how close the competitors’ scores came to the actual ones.
“Students on the teams learned how to pick good cattle,” said Weigel. “They got practice seeing what makes a good cow, and how to articulate their rankings to a judge. The most challenging part of this competition isn’t the judging necessarily, it’s working through the reasons to use the right terminology and explain the rankings.”
The team usually practices twice a week with at least one of those practices located at a local dairy farm or the Pioneer Farm to give students practical experience. The team competed at the World Dairy Expo in Madison in early October. In November, four of the team’s juniors will compete in Louisville.
Students who competed are all majoring in some aspect of agriculture and hope to use the skills of the competition in their future careers.
“This was a good competition to do because I have never done one before,” said Endres. “Learning how to rank the cows helps in the dairy industry so that you can know which cows will be productive and will have long lives. I can also use what I learned to help on my family farm to help purchase new animals as well as evaluate current cattle and making decisions based on that.”