With 13 university teams from across North America, the Wildcats topped the Collegiate Dairy Judging Contest held at the All-American Dairy Show earlier this week. The University of Kentucky bested the five colleges that have produced the past five National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Team champions. To many, they were an unlikely victor. However, if you look into their history, it should come as no surprise.
Just two years ago, Spencer County FFA, a chapter in Kentucky, won the national FFA dairy cattle judging contest. It was a huge victory for them, outpacing their closest competition by 241 points. Yes, you read that right! Jacob Barnett was third individual that day, followed by Tyler Nichols in fourth, and Rachel Sibert in seventh.
Fast forward to this past Monday evening. Those teammates traded their FFA jackets for business suits and Kentucky had another blue-ribbon performance. High individual was awarded to Jacob Barnett, Tyler Nichols took home third, and Rachel Sibert was tenth. Barnett is an agricultural biotechnology major while Nichols is studying mechanical engineering and biosystems and ag engineering. Ag education is the major for fellow teammates Rachel Sibert and Rachel Hinton.
Quite unusual for students from the same FFA chapter to be competing on the same team at the university level. Their FFA coach, Bland Baird, and 4-H coach, Larissa Tucker, were in attendance as they brought the Kentucky FFA and Kentucky 4-H teams to compete in the contest as well. The university team is coached by Matthew Borchers, a UK graduate research and teaching assistant.
It was tough to get around a team with that much depth. The University of Minnesota came close, led by second overall individual Ethan Dado, Crystal Siemers-Peterman who was sixth overall; Gabriella Sorg who topped the Guernsey breed, and Laura Jensen who just finished out of the top 10, in eleventh.
University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Penn State and Cornell completed the top five teams.
When it came to talking, Minnesota had three of the top four individuals in oral reasons. Crystal Siemers-Peterman topped the field, including a perfect score on the Brown Swiss cows. Laura Jensen was third in oral reasons, followed by teammate Ethan Dado in fourth. And rounding out the high individuals for reasons were Austin Milligan, Penn State, in second and Natalie Horning, Michigan State, in fifth.
The top 10 individuals also included a pair of University of Wisconsin-River Falls teammates, Tim Abrahamson and Trent Miller, in fourth and fifth respectively. The Penn State pair of Austin Mulligan and Laura Lesher was seventh and eighth. And Morgan Cavitt from Tarleton State University in Texas placed ninth.The National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest will be held on October 3 in Madison, Wis., at World Dairy Expo. The contest has been in existence for 100 years and attracts colleges from coast to coast. (It’s the 96th contest because no contests were held during World War II.) Check out Hoard’s Dairyman on Facebook on Monday evening to follow the announcements of the winners as they are announced at the banquet.
The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.