Students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Dairy Science earned second place honors at the National North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge Contest, which was held March 30-April 1 in Visalia, CA.

Four-person teams from 36 universities competed at the event. The team from UW-Madison included Henry Holdorf, Ellsworth, Wis., Jessica Pralle, Humbird, Wis., Courtney McCourt, Saint Cloud, Wis., and Max Shenkenberg, Burlington, Wis. They were coached by Ted Halbach, faculty associate in dairy management, and David Combs, professor of dairy nutrition and management.

“The members of this team put themselves in a position for success with their preparation leading up to the competition,” says Halbach. “It was especially helpful that we had a chance to do some area herd visits in the days before the contest given the differences in California versus Midwest dairying.”

What a privilege it is to work closely with students that have passion and a desire to learn like these four. We couldn’t be prouder of their performance,” continued Halbach.

Dairy Challenge is an applied dairy management competition that involves students analyzing a commercial farm and presenting their observations and management recommendations to a panel of industry professionals. Judges include dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and agribusiness personnel.

The team made recommendations to a 5,000-cow dairy farm in the central valley of California that focused on improving their milk quality and heifer reproduction performance. Seeing how different farms operate is the best part of the competition for some team members.

Edging out UW-Madison for first place on the farm was Virginia Tech University. Other schools in this grouping included: California Polytechnic State University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, University of Illinois, Utah State University, McGill University and the University of Maine at Orono.

“We are very proud of our Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge team for their fine performance in California,” says Kent Weigel, chair of the Department of Dairy Science. “On behalf of the department, I would like to thank the event sponsors and planning committee for providing such an excellent, hands-on learning experience for our students.”


Photo: DYSCI Dairy Challenge Team 2017

Caption: From left to right: Ted Halbach, coach, Henry Holdorf, Courtney McCourt, Jessica Pralle, and Max Shenkenberg.