Jan. 26 2024 12:35 AM

Stretch your mind, have some fun, and maybe even win some prizes by entering the Hoard’s Dairyman Cow Judging Contest.

This advertisement from our first issue of 1931 shows that the Cow Judging Contest was a hit from the start. We hope this year’s competition will “go hot,” too.

Are you looking for a fun, thought-provoking, and competitive activity to do with:

  • Your kids
  • Your parents
  • Your 4-H club
  • Your youth breed association
  • Your FFA chapter
  • Your college friends
  • Your agribusiness co-workers
  • Or on your own?

You’re in luck because the 94th annual Hoard’s Dairyman Cow Judging Contest is underway!

We kick off each year with this contest that was established in 1930 to showcase high-quality dairy cattle and encourage dairy farmers to consider what a productive cow would look like. We recently looked back at magazine issues that contained the very first contest and found this from our April 10, 1931, issue when the results of that contest were revealed:

“The chief value of this contest lay in teaching people to see . . . A good judge of dairy talent and type has ability to see . . . The real purpose of our dairy cow judging contest . . . was to provide a little sport for our readers and at the same time start them to develop the habit of comparing form and producing proclivities of dairy animals. It should bring understanding of what constitutes good type and the characteristics which indicate dairy talent.”

Though the cows certainly appear different today, we still look for those same ideals in the animals that make up the classes of our contest. We feature five breeds in each year’s contest so participants can learn about the characteristics of each. Brown Swiss, Holsteins, and Jerseys are always featured in the contest. Since adding classes for Milking Shorthorns (2007) and Red and Whites (2009), we have rotated those breeds with Ayrshires and Guernseys. This year, the contest’s original five breeds are included as an Ayrshire class and Guernsey class round out the group.

The contest is fun for us to put together and a favorite of so many readers and participants because even though judging is based off standardized ideals, it is still subjective. There is perhaps no better way to get a group of cow enthusiasts engaged in good discussion than giving them a class of cows to judge!

That’s why we hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to have some fun with the people closest to you and enter this year’s Cow Judging Contest. We invite entries from all the groups mentioned above, with cash prizes awarded to the top four families, 4-H clubs/youth groups, FFA chapters, college teams, and agribusiness groups.

Don’t worry if you can’t come to a group consensus or if you just want to trust your own gut. Our junior (5 to 18 years old) and senior (19 and older) divisions gather thousands of entries every year, too. There, cash prizes are awarded to the top five finishers.

Entering is easy — remember, you can’t win any prizes or bragging rights if you don’t send us your placings to be officially scored. The classes appear in the first four magazine issues of the year, and there is also an entry blank included in each issue. Families may also use these blanks to submit their placings.

The classes can also be viewed online at judging.hoards.com, and you can submit your entries online there. Groups can enter that way or print off an entry form for their group from the homepage.

The deadline to submit your placings is Monday, March 25, 2024. Whether you have never entered before or are a dedicated judge, we hope to receive your placings by then. See how your eye stacks up against dairy enthusiasts from around the country and the world while having a little fun doing it!

Katelyn Allen

Katelyn Allen joined the Hoard’s Dairyman team as the Publications Editor in August 2019 and is now an associate editor. Katelyn is a 2019 graduate of Virginia Tech, where she majored in dairy science and minored in communication. Katelyn grew up on her family’s registered Holstein dairy, Glen-Toctin Farm, in Jefferson, Md.