While 2020 has had no shortage of disappointments, Ohio State University staff and students have been making the best of the situation with a variety of virtual contests to stay involved with their various niches of the livestock industry.
“As the powerhouse cow shows of the United States fell like dominoes, so did our opportunities for dairy judging contests. Without contests, some could assume that we would give in to the 2020 trauma. I am pleased to let you know that we did sustain dairy judging. As a small group and outside at farms, we made provisions to practice and learn,” said Bonnie Ayars, dairy program specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University. “Since July, some of us coaches kept discussing an online contest using classes at livetockjudging.com. Was it perfect and like real cows? Absolutely not, but we did come together to offer a secondary approach to students who have been waiting and planning for their opportunity. Instead of shavings stuck in their shoes, they dressed up and stepped closer to the screens of their computers.”
Virtual Collegiate Dairy Contest
Ayars said using the same officials and volunteers from traditional contests, the Virtual Collegiate Dairy Contest made history with 13 teams participating.
Ohio State participants included Deanna Langenkamp, Preston Sheets, Lindsey L’Amoreaux, Sarah Quallen, and Sydney Good. The OSU team finished fifth overall and fifth in reasons, third in placings and third in the Holstein breed. Individually, Quallen was third in placings, fifth overall, and tenth in reasons.
Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest
The Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging/Assessment Contest (AWJAC) virtually celebrated 20 years of competition on Nov. 21 and 22. The Ohio State University was well-represented across all student divisions: undergraduate (junior and senior), graduate, and veterinary.
Undergraduate students Brietta Latham, Maddie Pinkerton, and Elizabeth Schafer and graduate students Brittany Fischer, Shannon Kelley, and Madeline Winans competed for OSU. Supportive team members included undergraduate student, Bri Strayer and graduate student, Nicole Lorig. Undergraduate students were co-coached by Jessica Pempek and Benjamin Wenner, and graduate students were co-coached by Jessica Pempek and Zach England.
Due to COVID-19, all students competed individually year, yet this format did not impede students’ hard work and dedication in preparation for the contest. Collectively, they were awarded one-fourth of the total AWJAC awards. In the undergraduate division, Brietta Latham placed second (senior division) and Maddie Pinkerton placed fifth (junior division). Madeline Winans and Shannon Kelly placed first and second, respectively, in the graduate student division. Julia Rose placed second in the veterinary student division and was coached by Department of Animal Sciences alumna, Kate Creutzinger.
This year, AWJAC was hosted virtually by North Carolina State University, and welcomed nearly 200 contestants across 32 universities and seven countries. AWJAC “teaches students to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings using science-based methods and reasoning. Students are given the opportunity to weigh evidence and present sound evaluations. This contest ensures that tomorrow’s leaders in the animal industries develop strong communication skills and acquire enhanced knowledge of animal welfare” (www.awjac.org).
Students had the opportunity to attend numerous educational seminars, including the history of AWJAC, animal welfare in undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary education, as well as the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion and its positive impact on animal welfare. Species covered in this year’s contest included turkeys and cheetahs in captivity.
A Zoom celebration was held after AWJAC complete with the team’s turkey mascot, Sophia, making an appearance to celebrate the students’ hard work and dedication.
Ohio Dairy Challenge
By Maurice Eastridge, Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University
Due to the COVID-19 situation, the 2020 Ohio Dairy Challenge was held virtually during Nov. 18 to Nov. 21, whereby herd records, pictures, videos, farm map, a farmer questionnaire, and feeding information were provided to students on Wednesday to evaluate. On Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., a Zoom meeting was held with the farmer for the students to ask questions about the operation. Students had to turn in their presentations by 11:00 p.m. on Friday evening and they were judged via Zoom by a panel of judges on Saturday morning. The program this year was sponsored by ADM Animal Nutrition, Provimi North America, Purina Animal Nutrition, ST Genetics, Biomin, and Coloquick. Dairy Challenge provides the opportunity for students to experience the process of evaluating management practices on a dairy farm and to interact with representatives in the dairy industry.
The program is held in a contest format for undergraduate students whereby they are grouped generally into teams of three to four individuals. The farm selected for the contest this year was the Sterling Heights Dairy in Sterling owned by Jim, Anne, Matt, and Mark Saal. The family’s operation includes about 1,100 cows that are housed and milked on two farms and another farm is used for raising heifers. They milk most of the cows three times with at RHA of milk at 29,022 pounds, 3.8% milk fat and 3.2% milk protein. There were about 50 students (10 students from the Agricultural Technical Institute, 5 students from Wilmington College, and 35 students from the Columbus OSU campus) that participated in the program this year. During the Saturday presentations, the students had 20 minutes to present their findings and 10 minutes for questions from the judges. The judges for the program this year were Bob Hostetler (ST Genetics), Alan Chestnut (Cargill/Provimi), Larissa Deikun (Coloquick), Maurice Eastridge (Professor, Department of Animal Sciences), Brian Lammers (ADM Animal Nutrition), Alex Tebbe (Purina Animal Nutrition), Shaun Wellert (Veterinarian and Instructor at ATI), and Benjamin Wenner (Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences). The top team consisted of Paul Bensman, Amanda Nall, Caleb Rykaczewski, and Laura Tavera from the OSU Columbus campus. The second placed team consisted of Sydney Good, Holly Schmenk, Joshua Strine, and Ashley Stroud from the OSU Columbus campus. In addition, an ATI team received an honorable mention that consisted of Mason Benschoter, Alexis Czarny, and Grace Maurer.
Students will be selected to represent Ohio State at the National Contest and to participate in the Dairy Challenge Academy to be held April 15 to April 17, 2021, most likely in a virtual format. Students from ATI participated in the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge held virtually during October in 2020. Students from The Ohio State University, Columbus campus and Wilmington College will be participating in the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge to be held virtually during Feb. 16 through March 2, 2021. This program is being hosted by Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan State. The coach for the Dairy Challenge program at ATI is Shaun Wellert, Daryl Nash at Wilmington College, and Maurice Eastridge for the OSU Columbus campus. Additional information about the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge program can be found at: http://www.dairychallenge.org/