MSU Dairy Youth

Michigan youth take top honors at National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest

Published: 2012-10-16

Contact:  Dr. Joe Domecq
Michigan State University Department of Animal Science
(517) 353-7855

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan is home to the No. 1 youth dairy judging team in the country. The Michigan youth delegation earned enough points to top teams representing 31 other states in this year’s National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest, held Oct. 1 at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. The team was the highest ranking team both overall (beating out second-place Minnesota by 44 points) and in oral reasons. The double win is a first for the Michigan Dairy Youth Program, which is led by Joe Domecq, Michigan State University (MSU) animal science specialist and coordinator of the Michigan dairy judging program.

By winning first place overall, the team earned an invitation to travel to Europe for the two-week International Livestock Judging Tour, an honor awarded to the three top-ranking teams from the national contest. This year marks the sixth time in nine years that the youth team from Michigan has earned this honor by placing either second or third (five times) and first in 2012.

Competing on the Michigan youth team were MSU students Megan Bush, from Swartz Creek; Hayleigh Geurink, Allendale; and Savannah Katulski, Goodrich; and Alma College student Megan Filhart, Rosebush. The team was coached by Domecq and Sarah Black, volunteer assistant coach from Eagle.

“I can’t say enough about the level of commitment and dedication the members of this team made in preparation for the national contest,” Domecq said. “In addition, the program is fortunate to have a large number of volunteers and judging team alumni who are willing to volunteer numerous hours to help train and mentor the youth over the course of the practice season. The entire experience is about more than practicing for a contest – it’s about continuing to build the dairy judging program and helping these young people develop the skills necessary to succeed in life.

As a team, Michigan placed first in the Ayrshire breed, first in the Guernsey breed, second in the Holstein breed and fifth in the Jersey breed. Individually, each team member placed among the top 10 in one or more breeds.

Bush finished second place overall, fourth place in placing points only and fifth place in oral reasons. She was high individual in the Guernsey breed, third high individual in the Ayrshire breed and sixth in Jerseys.

Filhart was third high individual overall, second in both the Ayrshire and Holstein breeds, fifth place in placing points only and seventh place in oral reasons. Geurink placed eighth in oral reasons, ninth overall and was the second high individual in the Guernsey breed. Katulski placed seventh in the Brown Swiss and Guernsey breeds and was 20th high individual overall.

World Dairy Expo is like no other dairy industry event in the world. It features an industry trade show with well over 1,100 exhibitors from around the world, national dairy cattle shows and sales for seven dairy cattle breeds, youth judging contests, virtual farm tours and educational programs. Total attendance for the weeklong event tallies close to 70,000.

For more information about the Michigan Dairy Youth Program and the Michigan dairy judging program, contact Domecq at or (517) 353-7855.

Sponsors for the MSU and Michigan dairy youth judging programs are ABS Global, Inc., NorthStar Cooperative, the Michigan Holstein Association, the Michigan District 1 and District 6 Holstein Associations, the Michigan Jersey Cattle Club, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, the Michigan Milk Producers Association and the Michigan Dairy Memorial Foundation.

The Michigan team, left to right: Savannah Katulski, Hayleigh Geurink, Joe Domecq, Sarah Black, Megan Bush, Megan Filhart