by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

Youngsters from upstate New York had an opportunity to take part in the 2019 Richard Keene Memorial Judging Contest that took place during the opening day of the 2019 Spring Dairy Carousel in Syracuse, hosted by the New York Holstein Association.

Chaired by Richard Keene’s grandson Austin Ainsley and judged by Andy Reynolds of Genesee County, the contest gives all ages of youth a chance to test their knowledge of the physical appearance of all ages of major breeds of dairy cattle.

“This contest is about decision making,” explained Reynolds, who was taking part in the contest as judge for the first time.

Lauren Zuber, Nioga Dairy Club/ Genesee County 4-H leader and advisor, said the contest provides an opportunity for young folks “to be the judge.”

“They learn what traits to look for in quality dairy cattle,” said Zuber. “Those strong traits and characteristics are qualities that every farmer is looking for when developing their herd. The dairy farmer wants quality sound cows with deep ribs, correct feet and legs, and strength. These are traits that directly correlate to milk production and longevity in animals, which in turn makes for a productive animal.”

Zuber, who has been a leader with the Genesee County 4-H Dairy Club for 4 years and a volunteer with the county’s 4-H program for 11 years, said their 4-H program works closely with the Nioga Holstein Club. “This gives youth more opportunities to further their dairy industry knowledge.”

The Nioga Club consists of New York’s Niagara, Orleans, and Genesee Counties.

All youth that represented the Nioga Club at the 2019 Carousel Spring Judging were Genesee County 4-H members. Members of their team were awarded 1st place in the Novice Division.

SUNY Cobleskill’s Dairy Cattle Club had the honor of being awarded both 1st and 2nd place in the Senior Division of the judging contest.

Coach Professor Carrie Edsall said she has been bringing the Club to the judging contest for several years.

“I enjoy bringing my students from the Advanced Dairy Judging Course to the Spring Carousel every year,” commented Edsall. “It is a great ‘out of the classroom’ experience for them. Many have never participated in an official judging contest so it’s a great way to give them the experience of what our fall national contests are like.”