When Ohio State ATI's Dairy Cattle Judging Team finished third at the 2013 World Dairy Expo Secondary Dairy Cattle Judging Contest, they earned more than accolades. The top three teams each year are invited to take part in the following year's International Dairy Judging Tour. Ohio State ATI's team of Marshall Overholt, Dan Grim, Meghan Thurston and Laura Bond were in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland from June 18 to July 2, where they took part in the Royal Highland Show and toured farms and agribusinesses.The team was accompanied by Gary Crocker, dairy herd manager, and Royce Thornton, coordinator of ATI's dairy programs.
The students learned that there are a number of differences between U.S.and U.K. judging events. "In U.S. contests, teams get 15 minutes to place a class and take notes for reasons," Thornton said. "At the Royal Highland Show, they had five minutes to do both." At the Charleville Show, the students had to arrive at a team score as well as individual scores. Team member Thurston noted, "Producers over there focus more on good feet and legs as well as strength. The cow doesn't have to be the biggest. In fact, a moderate-sized cow is preferred by most producers."
The trip costs about $4,500 per student, and Thornton says he is fortunate to have a number of donors who help cover the expense.
"The thing that will stick with me is how amazing the people are," Thurston said. "Everyone was so friendy and fun to talk to."