MSU Dairy Youth

Dairy Cattle Judging

The Michigan Youth Dairy Cattle Judging Contest includes both an evaluation and an oral reasons presentation component. In the evaluation part, scores are tallied according to how closely the contestant's placing matches the judges' official placing. In the oral reasons presentation -- comparable to making a defense case in court --- judges assign individual scores to each contestant based on how well the young person can justify his reasons for placing the cows in the order he did in a particular class. Contestants can earn a total of 50 points in both the evaluation and the oral reasons parts of the contest. 


Individuals or teams of three or four youth members will compete in one of three divisions: novice, junior and senior divisions. All youth, regardless of past participation in national contests, are encouraged to participate.The novice division (first year members ages nine to 11) judge three classes and complete a written quiz. The junior division (ages nine to 14) judge eight classes and give one set of oral reasons. The senior division (ages 15 to 19) judge eight classes and give three sets of reasons. Classes are made up of four animals each.


Individuals in the senior division compete against one another with the shared goal of placing among the top 25, which earns them a chance to vie for one of 12 positions on the state’s youth traveling dairy judging teams. These teams will compete at three national contests in the fall – the All-American in Harrisburg, Pa., World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., and the North American International Livestock Exhibition in Louisville, Ky. The Dairy Days dairy judging contest is just the first step in what will be a series of intensive workouts and independent practices to earn a spot on one of the teams. 

2013 Dairy Cattle Judging Season Recap

Study Materials

Contest Reasons Score Card (PDCA)

Cow Reasons Card (University of Wisconsin)

Cow Reasons Card with Text (University of Wisconsin)

Dairy Cattle Judging (Mississippi State University Extension Service)

Dairy Cattle Judging (Jim Gilmore, University of Vermont)

Dairy Cattle Judging Resources (Wisconsin Dairy Youth Programs)

Dairy Cattle Judging Video (University of Wisconsin, 2000 - 2010) - order form

Dairy Cattle Reasons (University of Wisconsin, Dickson and Halbach)

Dairy Cow Placing Card (University of Wisconsin)

Dairy Cow Unified Scorecard (PDCA, 2009)

Dairy Judging (Holstein Foundation)

Dairy Judging Resources for New York State (Cornell University)

Dairy Judging Terminology: A Guide to Saying What She is and Not What She Isn't (University of Georgia)

Five Easy Steps to Preparing Effective Reasons for Dairy Cattle Judging Contests II (University of Florida IFAS Extension)

Heifer Scorecard (University of Wisconsin)

Holstein Classification Card (University of Wisconsin)

Judging Dairy Cattle (University of Minnesota, 2000)

Judging Dairy Cattle: Giving Reasons (4-H, Oregon State, 2005)

Learning to Give Dairy Oral Reasons for Junior Dairy Members (Iowa State University Extension)

Linear Traits Card (Holsteins) (University of Wisconsin)

Making it Better: Tips for Improving Oral Reason Scores IV (University of Florida IFAS Extension)

South Dakota Dairy Judging Guide (South Dakota State University)

You Be the Judge (Holstein Canada)

YOU can learn how to judge dairy cattle! (University of Wisconsin)

Youth Dairy Judging Guides (Hoard’s Dairyman)


Past Teams


MSU Dairy Judging Facebook page (log-in required)


Additional Resources

How Dairy Cattle Judging Made Me Rich (The Bullvine)