By Maurice L. Eastridge
Department of Animal Sciences
The Ohio State University
The 2014 Ohio Dairy Challenge was held October 24-25 and was again sponsored by Cargill Animal Nutrition. Dairy Challenge provides the opportunity for students at Ohio State University to experience the process of evaluating management practices on a dairy farm and to interact with representatives in the dairy industry. The program is held in a contest format for undergraduate students whereby they are grouped into teams of three to four individuals. Veterinary and graduate students are invited to attend the farm visit and participate in a meeting later in the evening with the contest judges to discuss observations on the farm.
The farm selected for the contest this year was the Pro Milk Dairy, LLC in Mt. Sterling, OH (Pickaway County). The dairy farm is a partnership, with the managing partners being Theo and Christiane Huegemann.
The operation began in February 2014 and consists of 1100 Holstein cows. The parlor consists of a 60-cow-rotary Bou-Matic system and cows are milked 3 times-a-day. The forages consist of corn silage, brown midrib sorghum balage, and western alfalfa hay. There were 49 undergraduate students (13 teams), 22 veterinary students, and 11 graduate students that participated. The undergraduate teams this year were again divided into novice and experienced divisions for judging purposes.
The contest started by the students and the judges spending about two hours at the farm on Friday afternoon, interviewing the owner and examining the specific areas of the dairy facility. During Friday evening, the undergraduate teams spent about four hours reviewing their notes and farm records to provide a summary of the strengths and opportunities for the operation in the format of a MS PowerPoint presentation that had to be turned in on Friday evening. On Saturday, the undergraduate students then had 20 minutes to present their results and 10 minutes for questions from the judges.
The judges for the novice division were: Dr. Normand St-Pierre (Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, OSU) and Laura Weisz, Dr. Katie Cowles, and Michelle Burky, all with Cargill Animal Nutrition. The judges for the experienced division were: Ryan Aberle, Patrick Hart, and Mike Westphal from Cargill Animal Nutrition, and Dr. Maurice Eastridge (Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, OSU).
The awards banquet was held on Saturday, October 25 at the Fawcett Center on the OSU Columbus campus. The top teams in the novice division were: First place [photo at right] – Kayla Oxendale, Logan Morris, and Candace Lease and Second Place – Sytske Miedema, Erica Holtsberry, Maggie Olthaus, and Wen Tze Ng. The top teams in the experienced division were: First Place – Erin Williams, Joey Brown, Brandon Colby, and Devon Bokeno and Second Place – Caitlin Gehret, Taylor Kruse, Cayla Inkrott, and Olivia Houts. Students will be selected to represent Ohio at the 2015 National Contest and to participate in the Dairy Challenge Academy to be held in Syracuse, NY during April 9-11.
Students from OSU also will be participating in the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge hosted by Dordt College in Sioux Center, IA to be held February 11-13, 2015. The coach for the Dairy Challenge is Dr. Maurice Eastridge in the Department of Animal Sciences at Ohio State.