Dairy Challenge is a hands-on educational activity for 4-H Youth to test their understanding of the dairy industry, knowledge of how to properly manage a dairy farm, and evaluate top quality dairy animals. The Dairy Challenge program is designed for 4-H youth between the ages of 8 and 18 as of January 1st and culminates in a state-wide competition at the New York State Fair.
The primary purpose of 4-H is to create an environment of positive youth development and hands-on learning opportunities to help them grow into competent, caring, and contributing members of society. Participating in dairy skillathon activities like Dairy Challenge provides an excellent opportunity for youth to increase their dairy knowledge of in many facets of the dairy field using an applied and hands-on model. The one-day competition held during the New York State Fair allows youth from across the state to showcase their skills both as a team and as individuals. Youth rotate through themed stations and answer questions on topics such as farm and food safety, meat and dairy product identification, and dairy reproduction.
To get started, youth should contact their local or country CCE 4-H educator.
New York State 4-H Dairy Challenge Rules and Eligibility
The primary purpose of 4-H is to create an environment of positive youth development and hands-on learning opportunities to help them grow into competent, caring, and contributing members of society. Participating in dairy skill-a-thon activities like Dairy Challenge provides an excellent opportunity for youth to increase their dairy knowledge of in many facets of the dairy field using an applied and hands-on model.
1. All participants must be in good standing and a bona-fide 4-H member in their county of participation.
2. All contestants will be considered as "individuals" (they do not have to belong to a "team" to participate).
3. For these contests, a "team" is defined as a group of either three or four individuals whose contest scores will be considered as a "team score." Prior to the state contest, these team members may have worked together in a cooperative effort, but not necessarily. If there are 3 or 4 individuals from a county on the same level, they must compete as a team also
4. Each county can have a maximum of 8 contestants for each level; Beginner, Junior and Senior for the contest held at the New York State Fair each year.
5. The members of a particular "team" should all be from the same county unless there is a multi-county program agreement. If a county does not have enough team members to fill 2 full teams (up to 8 participants per level), counties in the same 4-H Dairy Educational District may combine contestants to make a full team or additional team as-long-as the maximum number of participants has not exceeded 8 for each level.
6. If a county has more than 4 individuals but less than 8 and there is not an opportunity to add members from another county within the 4-H Dairy Educational District to form a team, those youth may participate in the contest as individual participants. Members of the team and those competing as individuals must be identified at registration. Individual participants are not eligible for team awards but will compete for individual placings.
7. The New York State 4-H Membership year runs from October 1 to September 30.
Persons with an intellectual disability may participate fully in 4-H programs if their developmental age is considered to fall between 8 and 19 years of age. Age – All contestants must be 8 by January 1 of the current calendar year and not have reached their 19th birthday by or on January 1 of the current year. To be eligible for selection as a member of a state team, contestants must have been at least 14 years of age by January 1 of the current year.
8. Entry will be in Beginner, Junior or Senior levels or divisions. Beginner division includes youth aged 8 to 10 years as of January 1, Junior team members must be at least 9 and less than 14 years old as of January 1 of the current year. Senior members must be at least 14 years old as of January 1 of the current year and not reached their 19th birthday prior to or on January 1 of the current year.
9. If a youth participates at the State Fair Contest and goes on to Harrisburg for the Dairy Management contest and places as high individual at the contest in a prior year, regardless of state or county representation, that youth is ineligible to compete at our State Dairy Challenge contest held at the State Fair in subsequent years or the Junior Dairy Management Contest in Harrisburg, PA.
10. Current active agricultural students in private High Schools with an Agricultural curriculum may enter the contest and compete for individual awards. They may not have completed one quarter/semester of post high school education, nor placed as high individual in this contest in a prior year.
11. There will be a pre-registration forms emailed to counties for sign-up. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged for the contest being held at the State Fair but, with exception, registration prior to the start of the event will take place in the dairy cattle showring on contest day at designated times. Contestants are expected to provide their own pencils/pens when needed for a contest.
12. The use of cell phones by contestants will not be permitted during any of the dairy youth educational contests.
13. Because of scheduling at the Pennsylvania All-American, youth cannot compete in both the Junior Management Contest and the Dairy Judging Contest in Harrisburg in the same contest year.
14. In cases where the placing of a contestant is not clear or there is a duplication of a number, the lowest possible score using the information presented will be used.
15. Calculating team scores will include the top 3 individual scores of the team members.
16. All ties will be broken by the contest coordinator using prescribed procedures.
17. Award ribbons to each member of the top 5 teams, ribbons to show rank of team. Ribbon to each of the top 10 individuals, ribbons to show rank.
18. Contestants will not be allowed to take books, notes or writing paper into the contest except cards or handouts as provided by the contest coordinators. Cell phones and other portable electronic devices are not allowed.
19. While the contest is in progress there shall be no communication among the contestants or between a contestant and anyone else, except as directed by the superintendent or his/her representative.
20. Stations will include the following but not limited to:
- Judging – four animals to be placed on body conformation.
- Linear Trait Evaluation – select animals which best answer questions on their linear type evaluation.
- Farm and Food Safety – questions relating to safe practices involved with farm, livestock and machinery plus handling and production of food.
- Feeds & Nutrient Mgt.– identify foodstuffs and/or answer questions about nutrition components and use in balanced dairy feeding program.
- Dairy Beef – identifying cuts, proper cooking, and safe handling of dairy meats.
- Dairy Genetics – understand genetic terms and values that appear in sire and cow genetic summary data.
- Herd Health/Animal Care – understanding of antibiotics and their responsible use, how they relate to animal care and new Veterinary Feed Directive.
- Reproduction - questions related to A.I. breeding and reproduction management for cows and heifers.
- Farm Business Management and current issues (for Senior and Junior Groups only)
21. Station topics may be changed or substituted as needed. Stations are worth 50 points each except Farm Business Management is worth 100 points.
22. Youth will be divided into smaller groups of same age level. Participants will rotate through stations in the order announced by contest officials with each station being timed at 12 to 15 minutes.
23. Counties will be billed $150 per youth with membership in specified county who represents New York State as a team member at the Junior Dairy Management contest in Harrisburg, PA.
- Dairy Judging- Participants will judge and place a class of 4 dairy animals
- Linear Dairy Evaluation- Participants will observe dairy animals and answer a series of questions based on linear type evaluation
- Farm and Food Safety- Hands-on activities and questions relating to safe practices involved with farm, livestock and machinery plus handling and production of food.
- Dairy Nutrition and Feeds –Participants will identify feedstuffs and/or answer questions about the nutrition components and use in dairy cattle feeding programs.
- Dairy Housing and Facilities- Activities will include questions and evaluation of housing facilities and management practices relate to cow and/or calf dairy facilities.
- Meat Identification, Dairy Products and Quality Assurance of Dairy Beef- Activities will include identifying cuts of dairy beef and veal and a variety of dairy products through look, smell and taste. (May be cuts or photos/pictures)
- Dairy Health and Diseases/ Mastitis and Biosecurity-Activities will include proper identification and use of equipment use for herd health along with testing participants understanding of herd health management.
- Dairy Reproduction-Equipment and questions related to A.I. breeding and reproduction management for cows and heifers.
- Farm Business Management- (For A and B division only) Participants will be tested on their understanding of basic farm business management concepts like debt, assets and budgeting along with analyzing and calculating financial statements.
Resources by Contest Topic
Feed and Nutrition Online Resources - Hoard's Dairyman free online articles and resources
Feedstuff IQ - Guess 20 by-product feeds from their appearance/description, purchase form Hoard's Dairyman
World of Dairy Cattle Nutrition - This workbook and corresponding exercises outlines the digestive system and how it affects individual cow and herd management, free from the Holstein Foundation
Feeding and Managing Dairy Cows - Detailed, easy-to-understand information about the dry period, how to manage and feed the dry cow, and specific details about a dry cow’s nutrient requirements, free from Penn State
NYS Cattle Health Assurance Program - The New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program (NYSCHAP) is an integrated disease prevention program that utilizes a team of advisors to develop a farm-specific herd health plan
Dairy Herd Health - Prevent costly health problems; gives causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment of common ailments, can be purchased from Hoard's Dairyman
Manual of Foot Care in Cattle - This is a step-by-step illustrated guide to trimming the hooves of dairy cows, can be purchased from Hoard's Dairyman
Working With Dairy Cattle –-This workbook provides hints that will help make young peoples’ experience of raising a dairy calf both educational and successful, free from the Holstein Foundation
The Path to Your Future - The junior workbook, “The Path to Your Future…Career Opportunities in the Dairy Industry” is designed to help young people develop potential career objectives by describing dairy related employment opportunities, download for free from the Holstein Foundation
State and National Contests
For more information
Contact Debbie Grusenmeyer at djc27 [at] cornell.edu.