Sept. 23 2019 10:36 AM

Junior Dairy Management is the youngest national 4-H contest

Students listen as a contest organizer reviews the answers to the contest.

There are three national 4-H dairy contests held each year. The oldest is the National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest, which started in 1919. It has been held continuously since then except for years when World War II suspended the competition. Currently, it is held in Madison, Wis. The National 4-H Dairy Bowl contest is held in Louisville, Ky., and celebrates its 40th anniversary this fall. These two contests are fairly well-known to competitive 4-H members and coaches. However, the third contest is less familiar, the Junior Dairy Management contest. This contest held its 33th annual contest last week in Harrisburg, Penn.

What a cool contest the Junior Dairy Management contest is! Hands-on, real-world competition for youth who want to dig deeper into topic areas specific to dairy. There are six categories, three stay the same each year, while the other three change annually. All portions are scored via scantron and are multiple choice for speed and ease of scoring. Each year judging/linear, farm finance, and feed and nutrient management are incorporated in the contest. This year, those three were joined by calves, farm safety, and agronomy.

The contest begins when students head to the small judging arena. They judge one cow class and then answer 10 questions about three other cows. Questions include items like which cow would receive the highest numerical linear score for body depth, teat length, and dairy form. It also included lowest linear scores for rear legs-side view, rump angle, and rear udder height. Cows are tied to a fence and students are able to walk around (not in front of the cows) and evaluate the cows and bubble in their answers on scantron forms.

Youth then return to the main banquet hall for the remainder of the contest. Students are divided into group and each head to a different station and rotate until all five stations are complete.

The farm business portion includes understanding and implementing accounting formulas and knowing finance terminology. In the feed and nutrient management segment, feed samples including hay, silage, concentrates, and supplements are placed on several tables. Finer feeds are kept in foil trays for evaluation. Students need to identify the feeds. However, things get more challenging when the question asks which (of a group of four) has the most energy value. They need to not only know what feeds are high in energy, but what the feed looks like. There are also a few questions on manure management as it relates to growing crops. In total, 20 questions are asked in this area.

We all can agree that dairy producers need to be familiar with diagnosing functionality in conformation, understanding a balance sheet, identifying feed and its role, raising calves, following farm safety, and knowing crop production basics.

This contest pulls all of those items together. Previous contests included milk quality, foot care, dairy products, animal welfare, to name a few. The contest remains relevant with a changing industry.

For both 4-H and FFA

In this contest, FFA members compete alongside 4-H members. There are separate team honors, but the individual honors combine both youth organizations. The top 5 youth based on those six areas are then interviewed and answer three industry-related issues. Their interview score is evaluated for content and delivery and a maximum of 100 points can be added to their earlier scores.

The top individual overall earns a $1,000 scholarship! It can go toward school or the purchase of a dairy animal. That should be motivation enough to want to compete and do well. In fact, the top 10 teams receive prize money, as do the top 10 individuals. Unlike the other two contests, states can enter more than one team. Additionally, youth can compete in this contest multiple times – except if they win the top individual prize. This year’s winner placed second last year and wanted to test her skills again this year. It certainly paid off. It was a competitive contest with the third through fifth place individuals separated by percentages of just one single point.

Here are the top individuals in each category, overall individual, and top team in the National Junior Dairy Management Contest.

4-H Teams (3):
1st: New York 4-H
2nd: Clinton County (Michigan) 4-H
3rd: Florida 4-H

FFA Teams (8):
1st: Amery (Wisconsin) FFA
2nd: Tulpehocken (Pennsylvania) FFA
3rd: West Perry (Pennsylvania) FFA

High Individuals Overall (44):
1. Morgan Depue, New York 4-H
2. Garrett Proskine, New York 4-H
3. Rachel Rouland, New York 4-H
4. Grace Haase, Osceola (Wisconsin) FFA
5. Katherine Elwood, Amery (Wisconsin) FFA
6. Madison Halfman, Michigan 4-H
7. Adalee Thelen, Michigan 4-H
8. Julia Heijkoop, Florida 4-H
9. Ian Black, Michigan 4-H
10. Austin Holcomb, Florida 4-H

Top 10 Individuals flanked by contest judges and sponsors

Top Category Scores:

Judging/Linear: Canon Reily, Tri-Valley (Pennsylvania) FFA

Farm Safety: Rachel Rouland, New York 4-H

Feed and Nutrient Managment: Garrett Proskine, New York 4-H

Business Management: Morgan Depue, New York 4-H

Agronomics: Garrett Proskine, New York 4-H

Calves: Grace Haase, Osceola (Wisconsin) FFA

To learn more, visit the website.

Patti Hurtgen

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.