UW–Madison dairy science students win national management contest

Wisconsin State Farmer
The UW–Madison’s 2018 Dairy Challenge team. From left, Ted Halbach (coach), Logan Voigts, Charles Hamilton, Connor Willems, Anthony Schmitz, and David Combs (coach).

VISALIA, CA - Students from the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Dairy Science took first place at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge, held April 12-14 in Visalia, CA.

Dairy Challenge is an applied dairy management competition that requires students to analyze a commercial farm and present their observations and management recommendations to a panel of industry professionals. Judges include dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and agribusiness personnel.

Thirty-four universities and two aggregate teams participated in the 2018 Dairy Challenge, with nine teams of four students competing on each of the four contest dairies. The team from UW–Madison included Charles Hamilton of Cuba City, WI; Anthony Schmitz of Fond du Lac, WI; Logan Voigts of Belmont, WI; and Connor Willems of Reedsville, WI. They were coached by Ted Halbach, associate faculty associate in the UW–Madison dairy science department, and David Combs, UW–Madison professor of dairy science.

The team analyzed Rancho Sierra Vista Dairy from Visalia, CA. The free stall dairy operation milks 2,450 cows in a double 32 herringbone parlor with 22 full-time employees. The farm also raises 3,200 young stock, including dairy steers.

For the Rancho Sierra Vista Dairy competition, Cornell University placed second. Other teams that competed on this farm were: Delaware Valley University, Dordt College, Purdue University, University of Idaho, University of Illinois, University of Maine at Orono, and Tarleton State University.

In addition to UW–Madison, first place awards — for the three other contest dairies — went to California Polytechnic State University, Iowa State University and Michigan State University. Each member of the winning teams received $200 scholarships.