UW-Madison dairy judging team wins big at Texas contest

By Cora Kleist

From left: Trent Olson, Coach, Elise Bleck, Grace Vos, Nathan Daniels, Gracelyn Krahn, Brian Kelroy, Coach.

The UW-Madison dairy cattle judging team and dairy science major Elise Bleck took top honors at the Southwestern Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest held Jan. 15, 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas.

The UW team placed first in oral reasons and first in Jerseys to earn its top overall placing in the contest, which was part of the 2023 Fort Worth Stock Show. California Polytechnic State University followed UW in second place and South Dakota State University finished third.

Bleck, a junior from Glenbeulah, Wis., led the Badgers’ four-member team while teammate Gracelyn Krahn, a life sciences communication major from Albany, Ore., placed fourth overall.

The team was coached by Brian Kelroy and Trent Olson, who attribute the team’s success to the students’ countless hours of preparation, with an emphasis on oral reasons and problem solving.

“Dairy judging is all about problem solving to best select your placings of the individual classes and then defending your placings, or your ‘why’ for the oral reasons components,” Kelroy said.

That emphasis seems to have paid off as three of the four team members placed in the top 10 for oral reasons and each placed in the top 10 in at least one of the breed competitions.

This year’s dairy judging team included two juniors, which is a little different than in past years, Kelroy said.

“The team usually consists of all seniors,” he said. “The juniors that participated in Fort Worth were able to gain some more contest experience which should help them for the judging contests in the fall of this year.”

Olson said honors and awards are not the only benefit students receive from participating in dairy judging.

“The dedication allows focus to continually improve decision-making skills and public speaking effectiveness, which will be invaluable skills for future career aspirations and in life,” he said.

Bleck encouraged other undergraduate students to consider competing in dairy cattle judging in the future.

“You are able to travel across the country and evaluate the best cattle in the world,” she said. “I have gained so much confidence in myself by critical thinking and defending my opinions in front of others. These skills are hard to learn in other settings and help you out tremendously in your future career.”

The UW-Madison Team Placed:
• 1st High Team Overall (1,950 points)
• 1st in Oral Reasons
• 1st in Jerseys
• 2nd in Brown Swiss
• 3rd in Holsteins

Individual Awards and Team Members:
Elise Bleck, Glenbeulah, Wis. – Junior, Dairy Science Major
• 1st Individual Overall
• 1st in Oral Reasons
• 1st in Jerseys
• 3rd in Brown Swiss
• 4th in Holsteins

Gracelyn Krahn, Albany, Ore. – Junior, Life Sciences Communication Major
• 4th Individual Overall
• 2nd in Oral Reasons
• 2nd in Holsteins
• 4th in Brown Swiss

Nathan Daniels, Cobb, Wis. – Senior, Agricultural Business Management Major
• 10th Individual in Oral Reasons
• 6th in Brown Swiss

Grace Vos, Maribel, Wis. – Senior, Dairy Science Major
• 6th in Jerseys