For many youth, the culmination of their junior dairy judging career rests on the Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest at World Dairy Expo. Years of practice, a love for dairy cattle, and a brain full of reasons terminology are put to the test during a long day of judging classes, giving reasons, and waiting for the results.
When the final awards were announced at the banquet held Sunday night following the 2023 national contests, the University of Minnesota judges and their coaches had plenty to smile about. That’s because their team was named the winner of the 2023 Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest.
This was Minnesota’s third winning team in the past decade. The Gophers earned 2,545 points in the high scoring contest, 53 more points than second place Cornell University. The team was first in Ayrshires, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorns, and Red and Whites. They also won the reasons portion of the contest, outtalking the second place reasons team of Virginia Tech by 19 points.
Leading the way for the University of Minnesota team was Ben Styer, who received high individual honors. He earned 871 points on the day, missing just 29 points in the whole contest. He also won oral reasons. Further highlights for Styer included a first place finish in Red and Whites, second in Holsteins, third in Brown Swiss, and third in Milking Shorthorns. He was also second in the placings only portion of the contest.
Teammate Isaac Rott had himself a fine day as well, finishing third overall. He was first in Brown Swiss and Milking Shorthorns and fourth in oral reasons.
Fellow Minnesota judge Kelsey Biel also earned All-American recognition, placing in the top 25 as the 17th overall individual. She was second in Brown Swiss and third in Guernseys. The team was rounded out by Haley Beukema and was coached by the trio of Les Hansen, Eric Houdek, and Gabriella Houdek.