Dairy Cattle Evaluation

Name of Contest:
Dairy Cattle Evaluation

Contest Chairs:
Tim Heeg
Matt Lippert

Contest purpose/objectives:
The Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Management Career Development Event (CDE) helps students develop skills in dairy cattle selection and herd management. Participants evaluate the cattle’s physical characteristics, explain their various classes and analyze a herd record as a team.

Teams of our four students develop skills in observation, analysis, communication and team communication through this competitive CDE. Each participant contributes to the team’s total score through both team and individual activities. For the team exercise, judges provide a dairy farm management scenario with problems and solutions that must be identified as if they were a hired consultant advising a dairy producer. As individuals, team members complete a general knowledge exam, evaluate and select six dairy animal classes, and provide oral reasons.

Students in this event gain a greater understanding of dairy cattle management and become knowledgeable in areas that include animal welfare, biosecurity, business management, current issues, environmental management and safety practices.

Location notes:
This event is held in an unheated facility. Students are advised to dress accordingly.

Qualification Statement:
This is a qualifying contest for the State contest. The top 5 of the participating teams will be eligible to enter the State FFA Career Development event. Practice teams will not be accepted. One team per school.

This contest is limited to 15 teams, practice teams will not be accepted.

Placement and tie breaker statement:

Placement of teams will be determined by tabulating the three best scores of contestants from the school.

If a tie occurs, the following events will be used to determine award recipients:


  • Oral reasons score
  • General knowledge exam score
  • Evaluation score

Overall Team

  • Total oral reasons score
  • Total general knowledge exam score
  • Total evaluation score

Materials Needed:
A clipboard and paper free from notes or other markings
Several sharpened no. 2 pencils (no pens)

Event Format:

  • Dairy Management / DHI Record Analysis Exam (50 points)
    • The exam will consist of a 25-question written exam involving dairy management practices and DHI records. Ten questions will focus on interpretation of DHI records that may include individual cow production records, somatic cell count summaries, and herd management summaries. Fifteen questions will be concerned with various dairy management and industry-related topics. Each question will be worth two points for a total of 50 points. All questions will utilize a multiple choice or true/false format. 
    • DHI records will be provided to answer the questions utilized within the exam.
  • Evaluation and selection (200 points)
    • Four classes of four dairy cattle each will be placed on type, with all or most being milking cow classes. One class may be a class of heifers. Holstein and Jersey cattle will be used for evaluation classes. 
    • Each class is allowed 50 points for a correct placing. 
    • Participant will have at least 12 minutes to place each class. Fifteen minutes will be allowed for the class upon which oral reasons or TAQs will be based. 
  • Type analysis questions (50 points)
    • One of the placings classes of four animals will be used for this exercise. Five to ten questions will require the contestants to select the animal in the class that has the most desirable or least desirable feature (e.g., strongest fore udder attachment, sharpest at the withers). 
    • Each question will have only one correct answer. Each question will be worth five points for a total of 25–50 points. 
    • Fifteen (15) minutes will be allowed for the class in which the TAQ questions fall. 
  • Oral reasons (50 points) 
    • Oral reasons will be required on one class of lactating cows. The class will be designated by the event superintendent prior to the actual judging of the class. 
    • Oral reasons will be given following the judging classes in a rotation with the test. 
    • A maximum score of 50 points will be given to a perfect set of reasons. Participants are encouraged to refrain from utilizing notes during the delivery of reasons. If notes are used, a maximum score of 40 points will be given to a perfect set of reasons. 
    • Participants will have at least 15 minutes to prepare for oral reasons.