CALS teams show off their cow-judging prowess at World Dairy Expo

Two CALS teams demonstrated their superiority cattle evaluation skills at World Dairy Expo last week. In the Post-Secondary competition, the CALS Farm and Industry Short Course team placed 2nd overall and 4th in oral reasons* — the best performance ever for a FISC team. In the Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest, the UW-Madison team placed 3rd overall and 1st in oral reasons, and team member Daniel Walker had the top individual score in oral reasons. Other team members include Shelly Bohn, Lindsay Morris and Evan Schnadt. The team is coached by outreach specialist Ted Halbach and emeritus professor Dave Dickson.

The FISC team’s success earned it an invitation to the International Young Farmers Contest held at the royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland next summer. Team members include: Paula Courtney, Steven Davis, Luke Lensmire and Mandy Peirick. They are coached by Chad Wethal.

The UW-Madison team’s success at World Dairy Expo is a career-builder for the contestants and a recruiting tool for the dairy science department, says Halbach. For the students, it’s proof of their ability to make timely decisions and to communicate effectively, to say nothing of their ability to judge cows. For the department, it’s a way to convince prospective students that the UW-Madison’s dairy programs is among the world’s best.

“The National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest is the ultimate contest that 4-H and post-secondary students dream of participating in. Our team’s history of success adds to the prestige of our department and factors into the decision when these students choose a college,” said Halbach.


*In dairy cattle judging. two-thirds of a student’s score is based on the ability to correctly rank a group of four cows in order of overall quality. One third is awarded for giving “oral reasons” — succinctly explaining those rankings to a panel of judges. Each student judges 12 groups, or classes, of four cows. There are 24 ways to rank a class of four cows, but only one is correct, so contestants have a choice of 12 right answers and 276 wrong ones.