MSU animal science students compete in first national dairy cattle judging contest of 2022

Seven students traveled to Utah to compete at the Western National Spring Show.

Seven MSU students at the first dairy cattle judging contest of the season.
Seven MSU students brought home awards from the first dairy cattle judging contest of the season. From left: Racheal Bosse, Adalee Thelen, Mikayla Bowen, Drew Neyer, Kelsey Pasch, Jessie Nash and Katie Wilson. Photo courtesy of Mikayla Bowen.

Seven Michigan State University (MSU) students from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) recently traveled to Richmond, Utah to compete in the first national dairy cattle judging contest of 2022. The Western Spring National Holstein Show was held May 19-20 at the George B. Caine Pavilion, with the two MSU teams each bringing home several trophies.

Representing MSU as the White Team was Mikayla Bowen of Addison, Jessie Nash of Elsie, Kelsey Pasch of Mt. Pleasant, and Katie Wilson of Blanchard. The team earned third overall in in the contest and third in oral reasons. Also attending the event was the Green Team, which consisted of Rachael Bosse from Dorr, Drew Neyer of Mt. Pleasant, and Adalee Thelen of St. Johns. The Green Team earned third place in placings. Individually, the team members also earned many distinctions. Nash was sixth overall and fifth in oral reasons; Neyer was third overall and third in oral reasons; Pasch was fourth overall; and Thelen placed eighth overall.

Although this was the first contest of the year for these two collegiate teams, this was not the first time the students put their dairy cattle evaluation skills to the test. Some students had previously competed in junior college divisions when they were part of the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT) Program Dairy Management Program. Other team members started judging cattle as 4-H members in their respective counties, at the state contest held during Michigan 4-H Youth Dairy Days, and then during national youth dairy cattle judging contests.  Youth who were once competing against each other are now students working together as a team to represent MSU.

In preparation for the contest, the students visited dairy farms around Michigan to practice their evaluation and presentation skills. Dr. Joe Domecq, an academic specialist and the coordinator of dairy education programs in the CANR Department of Animal Science, and Kirby Krogstad, a graduate student in animal science, coached and traveled with the two teams.

“This trip provided team members an opportunity to practice and compete, but more importantly, students were able to travel and see a beautiful part of the country,” said Domecq, as he reflected on this first contest. “They had the opportunity to get to know each other better, which will be important in the fall as they begin to prepare for larger contests."

Teammate Wilson reflected on the contest as well.

“The opportunity for travel is one of my favorite things about dairy judging,” said Wilson. “It's great to experience and learn about how dairy farming varies in different parts of the country, while also competing and having fun along the way.”

The dairy cattle judging season will be in full swing this fall, with MSU and Michigan 4-H teams competing at the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin; and the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky.

To learn more about dairy cattle judging at MSU, visit the dairy judging website. The history of collegiate, IAT and 4-H judging in Michigan is chronicled with results and pictures starting from the 1950’s to present. For questions on dairy science academic programs at MSU, contact Dr. Domecq at; for information on the 4-H dairy cattle project, contact Melissa Elischer with Michigan State University Extension at  

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