There is a new undisputed national championship team at The Ohio State University.
The Agricultural Technical Institute dairy cattle judging team swept the three major national competitions this year with its Nov. 8 win at the North American International Livestock Competition in Louisville, Kentucky.
Team members won by an impressive 67-point margin in Louisville, topping the 64-point margin by which they won the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 28. Hannah Dye, a dairy science major from Beloit, Ohio, was first place overall with 710 points. Teammates Tanner Topp (dairy science, New Bremen, Ohio) and Kaleb Kliner (agronomy, West Salem, Ohio) were second and fourth, respectively. Rounding out the four-person team was John Paulin, a hydraulics and power equipment major from Nova, Ohio.
The team’s first big win of the season was at the Pennsylvania-All American Contest in Harrisburg on Sept. 14.
“I cannot remember any year where a team (at the two-year college level) participated in three judging contests and was first place in each contest and high in oral reasons,” said Royce Thornton, chair of the Agricultural and Engineering Technologies Division and coordinator of Ohio State ATI’s dairy programs.
In dairy cattle judging, team members evaluate and rank animals based on how close the animals are to ideal dairy conformation – a collection of traits associated with high milk production and healthy longevity. After ranking the animals, team members must give “oral reasons,” justifying their placing to contest judges.
Like all Ohio State ATI dairy students, the judging team members take classes in genetics and get firsthand experience in evaluating animals for breeding.
“We select mate all of our cows and are continually working to improve our herd,” said Ohio State ATI dairy herd manager Gary Crocker. “Students see how we pick bulls to try to get as sound an animal as possible. We teach them what we’re striving to achieve and how we get there. Every dairy farmer wants to breed cows that will make the most money.”
Down the road, that’s a skill students can put to use in their careers in the dairy industry, Crocker said. And, Thornton adds, it’s part of the recipe for success for a championship dairy judging team.
Ohio State ATI, located in Wooster, is an associate degree-granting program within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State. Ohio State ATI is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the granting of associate degrees in agriculture and related sciences.