Zooming in on the 2020 Ohio Dairy Challenge

Dr. Maurice Eastridge, Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the 2020 Ohio Dairy Challenge was held a little differently than in previous years. The program was held virtually during November 18-21, whereby herd records, pictures, videos, farm map, a farmer questionnaire, and feeding information were provided to students on Wednesday pm when students could begin evaluating the information. On Friday afternoon at 2:00 pm, 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 pm 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, OH owned by Jim, Anne, Matt, and Mark Saal. The family’s operation includes about 1100 cows that are housed and milked on two farms and another farm is used for raising heifers. They milk most of the cows 3x with at RHA of milk at 29,022 lb, 3.8% milk fat and 3.2% milk protein. There were about 50 students (10 students from ATI, 5 students from Wilmington College, and 35 students from the Columbus 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 (Figure 1) 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 15-17, 2021, most likely in a virtual format. Students from ATI participated in the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge held virtually during October 29-30, 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 February 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 Dr. Shaun Wellert, Daryl Nash at Wilmington College, and Dr. 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/

Figure 1. Judges for the 2020 Ohio Dairy Challenge: Top row – Larissa Deikun (Coloquick), Maurice Eastridge (OSU), Brian Lammers (ADM); Middle row – Shaun Wellert (ATI), Bob Hostetler (ST Genetics) and Allan Chestnut (Provimi); and bottom row – Ben Wenner (OSU) and Alex Tebbe (Purina Animal Nutrition).