Isabella County 4-H member is state’s top novice dairy cattle judge

EAST LANSING, MI -- Taylor Gager, of Isabella County, was the high individual in the novice division of the state’s dairy cattle judging contest at this year’s Michigan 4-H Youth Dairy Days, an annual dairy youth activity held in conjunction with the Michigan Dairy Expo. This year’s expo, the 19th annual, took place July 18-22 at the Michigan State University (MSU) Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education in East Lansing.

In the team division, a group of youth representing Ottawa County earned top ranking among seven teams.  Team members were: Tarrah Barnes, of Grand Haven; Braxton and Wyatt Meekhoff, and Kylee Slocum, of Hudsonville.

Youth are eligible to compete in one of three age divisions in the dairy cattle judging contest: novice, junior or senior. Participants in the novice category – for young people ages 9 to 11 and competing in their first or second year at Dairy Days – evaluated the conformation of four classes of dairy animals (four animals in each class) and completed a quiz.

Evaluation scores were tallied according to how closely the contestant’s placing matched the judges’ official placing. Contestants can earn a total of 50 points for each class.

The top 10 individuals overall in the novice division of the dairy cattle judging contest, in chronological order, were:

1. Taylor Gager, Isabella County (Elwell, Gratiot Co.)

2. Dori Battel, Huron County (Cass City)

3. Kylee Slocum, Ottawa County (Hudsonville)

4. Alex Halfmann, Clinton County (St. Johns)

5. Wyatt Meekhoff, Ottawa County (Hudsonville)

6. Sam Meyer, Clinton County (Ionia)

7. Levi Poling, Hillsdale County (Addison)

8. Tarrah Barnes, Ottawa County (Grand Haven)

9. Brianne Halfmann, Clinton County (St. Johns)

10. Matthew Whitaker, Clinton County (Elsie)

Placing second in the team division was a three-person team representing both Hillsdale and Huron counties. Team members were: Dori Battel, of Cass City; Evelyn Daskam, of Ubly; and Levi Poling, of Addison. In third place, was a team composed of youth from Isabella and Kent counties: Lydia Deters, of Fremont; Taylor Gager, of Elwell; James Link, of Alto; and Gavin McQueen, of Shepherd. Clinton County won fourth and fifth places. In fourth place, on Clinton County Team A, were: Olivia Black, of Eagle; Brianne Halfmann, of St. Johns; Paul Meyer, of Ionia; and Matthew Whitaker, of Elsie. Members of Clinton County Team B, who placed fifth, were: Joey Domecq, of Rives Junction; Willow Evans and Nathan Halfmann, of St. Johns; and Sam Meyer, of Ionia.

As the youth-centered portion of the Michigan Dairy Expo, the largest annual dairy event in the state, Michigan 4-H Youth Dairy Days offers young people interested in the dairy industry opportunities to compete for premiums, ribbons and scholarships in various educational activities, including dairy quiz bowls, dairy management contests, dairy cattle judging competitions and the Dairy Days youth show. This year, nearly 170 youth from around the state participated in one or more of the educational competitions, and winners may go on to represent Michigan in national competitions.

For complete lists of results from the 2016 4-H Youth Dairy Days, visit

Awards and other recognition during Michigan 4-H Youth Dairy Days, along with other dairy youth and judging program activities conducted throughout the year, are made possible through the generous support of numerous businesses, organizations and individuals. These include: ABS Global, AIS Equipment, the Branch County Dairy Organization, the CHS Foundation, the Clinton County 4-H Dairy Council, Dairy Farmers of America, the District 1 and District VI Holstein associations, Drs. Joe and Denise Domecq, GreenStone Farm Credit Services,  Hillsdale County Dairy Leaders, Ira Krupp, Lely, the Michigan Dairy Memorial Foundation, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Holstein Association, the Michigan Jersey Cattle Club, the Michigan Milk Producers Association, the Michigan Purebred Dairy Cattle Association, the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, the MSU Dairy Club, the MSU Dairy Cattle Judging Team, the MSU Department of Animal Science, MOO-ville Creamery, NorthStar Cooperative, the Osceola County 4-H Dairy Boosters, the Ottawa County 4-H Dairy Committee, Rodney Pennock, Purina Animal Nutrition, the Shiawassee County 4-H Dairy Association, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, and the Vitality Dairy crew.

For more information about the Michigan 4-H dairy youth program, contact Elischer at 517-432-4306. For more information about the Michigan Dairy Expo, contact Dr. Joe Domecq at 517-353-7855.

The 2017 Michigan Dairy Expo is scheduled for July 17-21 at MSU.