About 4-H Judging

Members of the Michigan 4-H dairy cattle judging teams are selected based on a combination of criteria, ranging from age to total number of years of participation to how well they score in the annual contest held during Michigan 4-H Dairy Days each summer.

The first step for potential 4-H national team members is to participate in the Michigan Youth Dairy Cattle Judging Contest, which includes both an evaluation and an oral reasons presentation component. In the evaluation part, scores are tallied according to how closely the contestant's placing matches the judges' official placing. In the oral reasons presentation -- comparable to making a defense case in court -- judges assign individual scores to each contestant based on how well the young person can justify his reasons for placing the cows in the order he did in a particular class. Contestants can earn a total of 50 points in both the evaluation and the oral reasons parts of the contest.

Individuals or teams of three or four youth members will compete in one of three divisions: novice, junior and senior divisions. All youth, regardless of past participation in national contests, are encouraged to participate. The novice division (first year members ages nine to 11) judge three classes and complete a written quiz. The junior division (ages nine to 14) judge eight classes and give one set of oral reasons. The senior division (ages 15 to 19) judge eight classes and give three sets of reasons. Classes are made up of four animals each.

Individuals in the senior division compete against one another with the shared goal of placing among the top 25, which earns them a chance to vie for one of 12 positions on the state’s youth traveling dairy judging teams. These teams will compete at three national contests in the fall – the All-American in Harrisburg, Pa., World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., and the North American International Livestock Exhibition in Louisville, Ky. The Dairy Days dairy judging contest is just the first step in what will be a series of intensive workouts and independent practices to earn a spot on one of the teams.

How have Michigan 4-H teams performed since 1919? Visit this link at Hoard’s Dairyman to find out!