October 3-5th Dad, Addison and I took a road trip to World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. Now, for those of you who aren’t farm people, World Dairy Expo is pretty much the cow equivalent to the Super Bowl. One has only to say “Expo” and everyone knows what you’re talking about. The “colored shavings” are as familiar to cattle show-men as the Indianapolis Speedway is to race car drivers. This year, “1,616 owners exhibited 2,225 head of cattle from 36 states and 6 provinces”.
There are 7 shows, one for each breed of dairy cattle. When a cow is exhibited in a show she is groomed to look her very best and then competes against all the other animals in her age class. The judge ranks the cows based on their physical appearance, called their “conformation”.
It was so exciting just watching the shows at Expo, but we actually went for more than just sight seeing. Our calf, Price-View Reginald Prize (“Regi” for short), was entered in the Fall Calf class and we were there to watch her show.
It’s kind of confusing to explain how the show works, but let’s use Regi as an example. She is from the Holstein breed and was born on September 2, 2012, which puts her in the Holstein Fall Calf class (all the animals born between 9/1/2012-11/30/2012). In order to advance beyond that class she would have to get either 1st or 2nd in her class of 48 other calves. Then she would compete against the 1st and 2nd place winners from the 6 other Holstein calf classes. From these 14 animals the judge picks the one he believes to be the best (Junior Champion), 2nd best (Reserve Junior Champion), and 3rd best (Junior Honorable Mention).
The Holstein Junior Champion and Reserve Junior Champion show against the Intermediate Champion (best milking cow not older than 3 years old), Reserve Intermediate Champion (2nd best milking cow not older than 3 years), Senior Champion (best milking cow over 3 years), and Reserve Senior Champion (2nd best milking cow over 3 years). From these animals the judge selects the overall Grand Champion, Reserve Grand Champion and Honorable Mention, which would equate to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd best cows of the entire Holstein breed at the show.
At the end of Expo the Grand and Reserve Champions of each breed face off for the ultimate title in the dairy world: Supreme Champion of World Dairy Expo. This year’s Supreme Champion winner was the Grand Champion Holstein cow, Bonaccuiel Maya Goldwyn.
My dad’s all-time favorite Expo winner is Brookview Tony Charity, who earned the title of Supreme Champion 4 times! (1982, 1984, 1985 & 1987)
Although Regi didn’t advance beyond her age class, it was still a great experience, and being the 28th best fall calf in the world isn’t that bad either!
We were also able to watch the selection of the Red & White Holstein Grand Champion which was really neat! The judge walked up to the line of cows. Pointing at the first 3 he said, “Bing, bang, boom!” and chose 3 cows that were all related! KHW Regiment Apple-Red was Reserve Grand Champion and her own clone, KHW Regiment Apple-3, ended up beating her for Grand Champion! For Honorable Mention the original Apple’s daughter was selected, Ms Candy Apple-Red.
Not only did we see some exciting shows at Expo, but we also walked around the massive trade show. They had booths selling anything from tractors, to milking parlors, to paintings of cows. I ended up making a purchase that hopefully I’ll be able to use on my calves this winter…
Friday evening they set up a big auction ring right in the center of the show ring for the World Classic Sale, to sell offspring from the elite of the Holstein breed. The beginning of the sale was like the start of a concert! When the first cow walked in the ring the lights were dimmed and a spot-light shone on her as Katy Perry’s song, Roar, played. It was really great to be there as these awesome cows sold. One we were able to see was the best genetic Red and White Holstein in the world!
It was a great trip to Expo, and I hope to be able to go again in the future!
-The Farming Daughter