The MSU Dairy Challenge contest allows 2- and 4-year undergraduate and veterinary students to apply knowledge gained in the classroom in an evaluation of the management practices of commercial dairy farms. The MSU contest is held every fall with sponsorship by organizations and individuals in the Michigan dairy industry. Students who have participated in the MSU Dairy Challenge are eligible to be selected to represent MSU at the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge and the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge.
Participants in Dairy Challenge contests do the following: 1) visit local dairy farms and gain knowledge of different farms' management practices; 2) evaluate herd records, and utilize knowledge of dairy herd management software and computer presentation tools; 3) critically evaluate dairy herd management practices and make recommendations for improvements; 4) employ their speaking, presentation, and problem-solving skills; 5) work as a team to build consensus and present in tag-team speaking formats; and, 6) meet and interact with potential employers from the dairy industry during the contest.
Teams of four undergraduate and veterinary students critically evaluate a commercial dairy farm using herd records, a description of farm operations, and tour of the farm facilities. The farmer answers students’ questions pertaining to management of the farm. Teams give a 20-minute presentation that is scored on the description and assessment of the management practices and recommendations for improvements in management and facilities. This capstone experience allows students to interact with dairy farmers and representatives from the dairy industry, and expands their knowledge and skills gained during their academic career.