Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University
The sixth annual Midwest Dairy Challenge drew 66 dairy and animal science students from 15 universities and colleges to the Shisler Center in Wooster, Ohio, February 11-13, 2010. This year’s contest was hosted by The Ohio State University and the allied dairy industry. Students from Ohio State participating in the contest were Ryan Conklin, Annie Eilenfeld, Heather Moff, Amanda Paulhamus, and Teresa Smith. Working in four- or five-person, mixed-university teams, students assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm and then presented their highest priority recommendations to a panel of judges and the dairy business owners. Judges chose three teams as Platinum winners, the contest’s highest distinction. The individuals who comprised these teams were Holly Bruns, South Dakota State; Ryan Conklin, Ohio State; Sabrina Eick, OSU-ATI; Andrea Eilenfeld, Ohio State; Allison Flinn, Iowa State; Tricia Gates, Lakeshore Technical College; Nathanial Guy, OSU-ATI; Katherine Harmelink, UW-Madison; David Hutchinson, UW-Platteville; Darci O’Brien, UW-Madison; Brenda Reiter, University of Minnesota; Stephanie Retz, UW-River Falls; Natalie Schreyer, Kansas State; and Ed Weisgarber, OSU-ATI.
The host farms for the 2010 Midwest Dairy Challenge were Steinhurst Dairy and Ayers Family Dairy. Steinhurst Dairy is a seventh-generation dairy farm. Myron Steiner and his three sons, Carlton, David and John, started with a 25-cow dairy in 1959. As time progressed, David and John took over the day-to-day operations. The family formed an LLC in 1995 with John, David, and David’s sons, Eric and Kurt. After the untimely death of David Steiner last February, the operation reorganized its leadership with John, Kurt, and Eric. All three of them are involved in various aspects of the operation. Currently, the farm consists of 410 milking cows and 1,200 acres. The Ayers Family Dairy is certainly a family-operated dairy farm. Carl Ayers returned home in 1968 to assume management responsibilities along with his brother, Steve, and parents Ed and Ina. Carl’s wife Janet and Steve’s wife Deb help manage the dairy full-time as well. Kathy Davis returned to help manage the farming operation full-time in 1994. Jesse Ayers returned to help manage the farming operation full-time in 2002. David Ayers is currently helping with the farming operation and taking agronomy courses in crop and soil science at OSU-ATI. Today, the herd consists of 693 cows and 630 heifers. THANKS is extended to the Ayers and Steiner families for hosting this outstanding program.