Each dairy judging team likely has its own routines, rituals, or good luck charms they bring with them on their trip to Wisconsin to judge on the colored shavings. Some of these 4-H, post-secondary, and collegiate teams have traditions before competitions that are carried on by their dedicated coaches.
For many of these groups, their journey to World Dairy Expo involves participation in the pre-contest events coordinated by World Dairy Expo. This is a chance for young dairy enthusiasts to judge a few more practice classes, maybe see breeds not common in their own state, and take in some historic dairy sights in the Badger State.
This year’s schedule involved visits to three dairy farms on the Friday before Expo, where the youth and their coaches could evaluate and discuss several classes of cattle. These dairy families kindly opened their barn doors to the teams so they could have one final practice before the contest.
Then, on Saturday, the groups toured another southern Wisconsin dairy farm before making a stop at the National Dairy Shrine and Hoard Historical Museum. This piece of dairy industry history is a must-see for many people when they visit the area.
The events concluded with a stop at our Hoard’s Dairyman Farm. The teams had the chance to tour the farm and evaluate two classes of Guernsey cows. A lunch of grilled ham and cheese, featuring Hoard’s Dairyman Farm Creamery cheese, was served. Volunteers from the local Jefferson County Agri-Business Club offered their services to help prepare the sandwiches.
It was a warm, beautiful late September day, and we were honored to be included in the busy schedules of the judging teams. We hope these stops added to the overall experience and helped make memories the young judges will take home with them.
The author is the managing editor and covers animal health, dairy housing and equipment, and nutrient management. She grew up on a dairy farm near Plymouth, Wis., and previously served as a University of Wisconsin agricultural extension agent. She received a master’s degree from North Carolina State University and a bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.