Oct. 2 2018 08:00 AM

Now you can be the judge! This year, World Dairy Expo will offer railbird judging classes.

For some attendees, the showring is the heart of World Dairy Expo. Whether they pop in for a class or sit ringside for hours as some of North America’s finest dairy cattle parade on the colored shavings, there is always an attentive audience watching the World Dairy Expo cattle shows.

While some people are simply taking in the show, others along the ring are analyzing each animal and making their own observations right along with the officials. As the judge lines up the animals the way he or she likes them, there is bound to be some quiet chatter in the audience as spectators discuss the results.

This year, people up in the stands or around the showring can take a stab at placing a few classes through the railbird contest. The term “railbird” refers to show enthusiasts who watch from the sidelines, and a railbird contest gives everyone a chance to see if their placings match with the judge’s.

According to Dairy Cattle Show Coordinator Laurie Breuch, World Dairy Expo and its board of directors are always looking for new and interactive initiatives to activate. “The railbird contest brings the excitement of the showring to the spectator, allowing them to try their hand at evaluating the class and placing the top four animals before the official judge makes his first pull,” she said.

Breuch explained that the classes will be published in the Expo Daily Edition and announced ringside. People who want to participate should text "RAILBIRD" to 727-4-WDEXPO (727-493-3976). Those signed up will be texted at the beginning of each railbird class and given instructions for submitting their placings.

There will be one milking class selected per breed. From the start of the class, participants will have up to 15 minutes to submit their top four backtag numbers. Once the class concludes, the winner will be notified by text.

Anyone with texting capabilities on their cellphone is eligible to participate. The first person to text the correct answer will be the winner, and they will receive a gift from The Purple Cow gift shop.

Whether you are an experienced dairy cattle judge or a passive spectator, this contest will add a fun twist to the 2018 World Dairy Expo dairy cattle shows. Text “RAILBIRD” to the phone number above to get signed up!

Abby Bauer

The author is an associate 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 University of Wisconsin-Madison.