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(Janesville, WI) Catherine Idzerda, Gazette

To the layperson, one cow udder looks the same as any other udder.

To them, terms such as “defined halving,” “suspensory ligaments” and “bloom and capacity in the mammary system” sound like either:

-- Something they don't want to know about.

-- Something they shouldn't be talking about.

But the Craig High School FFA dairy judging team understands the importance of those cow qualities. The team's knowledge earned it a second place finish in the World Dairy Expo dairy judging contest and the chance to compete in Luxembourg and Scotland this summer.

The Craig team, which is made up of Alexander Krueger, Hayden Funk and Jenna Broege, competed against 132 teams from around Midwest.

Broege and Funk have solid dairy backgrounds. Funk's parents, David and Julie Funk, have hosted the dairy breakfast and are active in dairy promotion events. The family's dairy farm is on County J just outside of Janesville.

Funk has excelled in dairy judging and showing.

Broege is the daughter of Phyllis and the late Steven Broege. Although Jenna and her family no longer live on the farm, they are part of a dairy dynasty.

When Broege was 11, she received an award from the Wisconsin Holstein Association for her junior Holstein projects. She was judging even then.

And Krueger? His dairy knowledge is based on “interest.”

“I like hanging out with them at the fair,” he said, gesturing towards his fellow teammates.

This was his first competition, and he only joined the team to fill in for another member, Annie Runde. At World Dairy Expo, teams are made up of three people, and the fourth does showmanship. Runde participated in showmanship, and Krueger filled in on the judging side.

This was his first competition.

“I was really nervous,” Krueger said.

Here's the best part of the story: In individual scoring, Mr. Nervous placed sixth out of 391 participants. Funk came in 24th.

In dairy judging, competitors look at three or four cows of the same breed and decide which is best.

Competitors consider an animal's frame, her “dairy character,” her feet and legs and, most importantly, her udder.

Some characteristics matter more than others.

Udder quality accounts for about 40 percent of a cow's score. Dairy character, which refers to qualities such as a deep and wide chest and barrel body with good depth, is worth 25 percent. Rear feet and legs make up make up 20 percent, and frame accounts for 15 percent.

Now things get really complicated.

Within each of those categories, some qualities matter more than others.

Udder depth matters more than “defined halving,” the crease going down the back of the udder.

The rear udder is worth 9 points, while the fore udder is worth 5.

All of this decision-making is timed, so you can't spend all day debating between the relative merits of a weak topline versus a nice tail head setting.

But with Broege and Funk's experience and Krueger's diligent study, the team prevailed.

The team's finish in the top three made it eligible to participate in the 2016 international dairy judging tour sponsored by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers. The team, which would include Runde, would get to judge in a special competition at the Royal Highland Show and to participate in the 2016 international dairy judging tour sponsored by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers. The team, which would include Runde, would get to judge in special competitions at the Royal Highland Show and the Luxembourg National Show.

Students would get to stay with farm families and meet young people from around the country and the world. The two-week trip also includes sight-seeing opportunities.

Diane Runde, Craig High School teacher and FFA advisor, said team members were still considering their options, and calculating how much fundraising they would need to do. The two-week trip would cost about $2,700, and that includes plane tickets, housing and some meals.

Other high scoring individuals and teams include Milton FFA, 10th place in dairy product judging; Ashlyn Sarbacker, Edgerton, 3rd place in junior showmanship; and Lindsey Sarbacker, Edgerton, 7th place in intermediate showmanship.

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