Local farms do well at dairy shows

October 13, 2009|By JEFF SEMLER

While there's not a whole lot to celebrate in the dairy industry these days, for several local dairy producers there are some things to feel good about.

For those of you outside of agriculture or the dairy business, each fall there are several major dairy industry gatherings, including one in Harrisburg, Pa., and another in Madison, Wis.

These gatherings are known as the All-American Dairy Show and the World Dairy Expo, respectively.

They are part trade show, part cattle show, part youth contests and part social gathering.

These types of events in years gone by were more common and more localized than today. You must remember, at one time in this nation and this county 75 percent or more of us would have been farmers.

The nature of farming is such that you don't interact a lot with folks outside of your farm so events such as fairs, shows and expos arose as part social gathering and part competition.


Just like early horse races, cattle shows started with a twofold objective:

o One - which person was breeding the best cow?

o Two - would my neighbors be interested in using a son of my cow as their herd sire?

Competition and camaraderie are a big part of the human experience.

Today's events, such as the ones mentioned above, are alive and well.

Recently in Harrisburg, several locals competed and did very well. In the youth showmanship contest, sisters Kaitlyn and Erin Corbett of Williamsport and Scott DeBaugh of Boonsboro competed.

Kaitlyn finished eighth in the Senior Division ahead of 89 others from across the Mid-Atlantic.

In the show ring, Allen Hess of Smithsburg exhibited the Reserve Grand Champion Milking Shorthorn and the Shank and Creek families of Palmyra Farm south of Hagerstown exhibited the champion Exhibitor's Herd in the Ayrshire Show.

Moving west, the next stop is the World Dairy Expo, arguably the premier dairy gathering in North America if not the world.

This event is attended by visitors from around the globe and cattle from both the U.S. and Canada. It is a huge trade show and there are countless seminars, and of course, cattle shows and judging contests.

This year at the International Ayrshire Show, the folks from Palmyra farm won a first, a second, a third, two fourths and two fifths on their way to capturing their sixth consecutive Premier Breeder Banner. This is quite an accomplishment; this banner is awarded to the breeder who has garnered the most points from cattle they have bred. To win the banner once is a feat, but to win it six straight years is an exceptional accomplishment.

The International Ayrshire Show draws cattle from hundreds of cows east of the Rockies and Canada. And if you know anything about Canadian Ayrshire breeders, you know they come to win.

In the 4-H and collegiate dairy cattle judging contests, the area was again well represented. In the 4-H contest, the Maryland 4-H team won its 29th national championship, while on the intercollegiate side, Virginia Tech won its second national championship in as many years. As with nearly all of the Tech's judging teams, Marylanders play a significant role. This year, Hannah Smith of Clear Spring placed third overall helped lead her team to first place in both Oral Reasons and Overall.

While the price of milk may stink as you can see in recent weeks, folks from our neck of the woods have been coming up roses.

Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached weekdays by telephone at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by e-mail at

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