Face-to-Face Again with the 2021 Ohio Dairy Challenge

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

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. Fortunately, we were able to conduct the 2021 Ohio Dairy Challenge in-person this year in comparison to having to hold a virtual event in 2020. The program was held October 22-23, but earlier in the week, herd records, an aerial view of the farm, a farmer questionnaire, and feeding information were provided to students.  On Friday afternoon, the students and judges spent about two hours at the farm viewing the operation and visiting with the owners. Students had to turn in their presentations by 8:00 am on Saturday morning. Presentations were judged on Saturday morning and an awards luncheon held on Saturday at the OSU Fawcett Center in Columbus.  

The program this year was sponsored by ADM Animal Nutrition, Provimi North America, Purina Animal Nutrition, ST Genetics, Biomin, Perdue Agribusiness, and Elanco. The farm selected for the contest this year was the Brightbill and Gem-Hill Farms LLC in Loudonville, OH owned by Robert and Sue Brightbill, Greg Brightbill, and Mark Brightbill, with involvement by Matthew, Caleb, and Hayden Brightbill. The family’s operation includes about 690 cows and 700 youngstock. The cows are milked in a double-18 parlor with a RHA of milk at 24,455 lb, 4.3% milk fat and 3.1% milk protein. There were 55 students (5 students from ATI, 3 students from Wilmington College, 4 veterinary students, one graduate student and 42 students from the Columbus campus) that participated in the program this year. During the Saturday morning 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), Paige Gott (Biomin), Maurice Eastridge (Professor, Department of Animal Sciences), Brian Lammers (ADM Animal Nutrition), Alex Tebbe (Purina Animal Nutrition), Logan Morris (Perdue Agribusiness), and Benjamin Wenner (Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences).

The top team consisted of Lydia Dunaway, Tori MacLoed, Allison Sanders, and Kalyn Strahley from the OSU Columbus campus. The second placed team consisted of Kaci McMullen, Leah Miller, Rachel Sherman, Danny Strauchon, and Marissa Topp from ATI. The third placed team consisted of Faith Hagelberger, Elizabeth Schafer, and Ashley Stroud. In addition, the Wilmington team received an honorable mention that consisted of Madelyn Altherr, Hayley Moore, and Madelyn Topp. Students will be selected to represent Ohio State at the National Contest and to participate in the Dairy Challenge Academy to be held March 31 - April 2, 2022 in Green Bay, WI. Students from ATI participated in the Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge held during October 14-16, 2021. Students from The Ohio State University, Columbus campus and Wilmington College will be participating in the Midwest Regional Dairy Challenge to be held during February 16 -18, 2022 that is being hosted by Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan State in Ft. Wayne, IN. The coach for the Dairy Challenge program at ATI is Dr. Shaun Wellert, Daryl Nash at Wilmington College, and Drs. Maurice Eastridge and Benjamin Wenner for the OSU Columbus campus. Additional information about the North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge program can be found at: http://www.dairychallenge.org/