Coming from 10 states across the Midwest, 110 students from 20 colleges and universities gathered in the heart of Madison, Wisc., for the 13th annual Midwest Dairy Challenge. Students came together to gain valuable life, career and dairy management skills, as Dairy Challenge allows collegiates to apply theory and learning on a real-world dairy farm while working as part of a team.
The three-day event kicked off with seminars on a variety of topics to hone skills and information the students would use in the farm evaluation. Students participated in presentations from industry leaders on benchmarking financials, optimizing cow comfort, mining for data and utilizing PCDart and DairyComp 305. During the first evening, teams of four to five students from different schools met, joined in team building and analyzed herd management data and farm financials. Each team was supported by two mentors from agribusiness or universities, who guided them through the data analysis and farm inspection.
On Thursday, February 8, teams visited one of three farms: Wargo Acres, of Lodi; Dohm Farms, of Dane; and Dean’s of Dane. Teams evaluated their respective farm to make recommendations in nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, cow comfort and financial management. After working all afternoon on their presentations, students networked with agribusiness sponsors while participating in workshops on etiquette, interviews and career development.
On the third and final day, students presented their analysis to a panel of five judges and the farm owners. Each team delivered a 20-minute presentation on the strengths and areas of opportunity for their respective farm.
Students also had the excellent industry networking opportunities with companies at an innovation fair and joined a panel of industry leaders on dairy environmental sustainability efforts.
The judges awarded the following teams with the first and second place ranking among the eight total teams participating on each farm.
Source and photos provided by: Midwest Dairy Challenge