Three Michigan teams compete in final dairy judging contest of 2019 season

Michigan 4-H members and Michigan State University students competed at the North American International Livestock Exposition dairy cattle judging contest.

Michigan 4-H team at NAILE
The 4-H team representing Michigan at the North American Invitational Livestock Exposition (from left): Jason Kushmaul, Jack Baker, Jacob VanderMolen and Abby VanDyk. Photo by Melissa Elischer, MSU Extension.

As the leaves started to change colors and the wind blew colder, the Michigan State University dairy cattle judging teams headed south for the final contest of the 2019 season. Three teams—4-H, collegiate and post-secondary—loaded the vans for a drive to Louisville, Kentucky in early November to compete at the North American International Livestock Exposition. There were stops along the way to practice at registered Brown Swiss and Holstein farms in Indiana, allowing the teams to meet new dairy farmers and enjoy beautiful cattle on the way to the contest.

Representing Michigan 4-H, the youth development program of MSU Extension, was Jack Baker from Ottawa County, Jason Kushmaul from Hillsdale County, Jacob VanderMolen from Ottawa County and Abby VanDyk from Kalamazoo County. This was the first national dairy cattle judging contest for Baker, Kushmaul and VanDyk; VanderMolen competed at the All-American Dairy Show in 2018.

There were 21 4-H teams from around the country; Michigan placed seventh in Holstein, 10th in Brown Swiss and 12th in Guernsey. Overall, the team was 11th and 10th in reasons. VanderMolen was fifth in Holstein, sixth in Brown Swiss, seventh in Guernsey, eighth in reasons and 10th overall in the contest. Baker was eighth in Ayrshire, 11th in Holstein and 13th overall.

Jessie Nash, Grace Platte and Caitie Theisen, all students in the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology Program, competed in the post-secondary contest. The team placed second in Jersey, third in Ayrshire, fourth in reasons, fourth overall, fifth in Guernsey and fifth in Holstein. Nash was second in Jersey, fourth in Guernsey, seventh in reasons and seventh overall at the contest. Theisen was third in Holstein, third in Jersey, fourth in reasons and ninth overall.

Austin Haywood, Lauren Heberling and Leta Larsen took to the floor for the final contest of 2019. There were 16 teams in the collegiate contest with MSU taking home first in Brown Swiss, eighth in reasons and 10th overall. Heberling was 10th in reasons and Larsen won Brown Swiss.

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