state ffa career development contest
contest home link new for 2004 link entry forms link area contest link
Dairy Cattle Evaluation
entry limits superintendent

In order to compete in this State contest, you must qualify in the top 40% of an Area Contest.

Beth Heinze , Superintendent
Room 275 Animal Science Building
(608) 263-9409,

Contest Location
Participants will report to the event superintendent for registration to pick up their cards and receive instructions at 7:30 a.m. in the UW Stock Pavilion, 1675 Linden Drive.
The contest will start promptly at 8 a.m. and end at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Contest Purpose

To provide a competitive event for agricultural education students, emphasizing skills in dairy cattle selection and dairy herd management.

General Rules

  1. Participants will report to the event superintendent for registration, to pick up their answer sheet and receive instructions at 7:30 a.m. in the UW Stock Pavilion.
  2. All participants must bring a number 2 lead pencil.
  3. The contest will start promptly at 8:00 a.m. and should end at approximately 12:30 p.m.
  4. You are not allowed to touch any of the animals.
  5. If you have any questions during the contest – ASK YOUR GROUP LEADER!
  6. No one but contestants and contest officials are allowed on the Stock Pavilion floor.
  7. The most current and updated information (DHI, linear, etc.) will be used as industry standards change.

Dairy Cattle Answer Sheet

All registered dairy judging contestants will receive a machine-readable answer sheet at the contest orientation. The sheet provides students with all possible placing options for each portion of the contest. THE SHEET MUST BE MARKED WITH A NUMBER 2 LEAD PENCIL OR THE ANSWERS WILL NOT BE READABLE. At the conclusion of each class, team leaders will verify each contestants placing.

View an example of the answer sheet:

Dairy Cattle Scantron


  1. To provide agricultural students with dairy interests a practical experience that will serve them well in industry positions or in management of a modern dairy herd.
  2. To develop students' skills in observation, analysis and communication.
  3. To provide experience in the evaluation of dairy cattle type, production records and dairy herd management.
  4. To encourage agriculture instructors to seek assistance from various resources in the dairy industry. (Examples: dairy breed associations, artificial breeding associations, state extension dairy specialists, state DHI associations, dairy equipment manufacturers, local dairy farmers and breeders, etc.)

Event Format

A. Dairy Management Exercise

  1. The exercise will consist of a 50-question written test involving dairy management practices and DHI records. Students will analyze individual cow production records and/or herd management summaries answering 15 questions concerning their use in making management decisions.

    The remaining 35 questions will be concerned with general dairy industry knowledge and various dairy management topics. The dairy related chapters of “Modern Livestock and Poultry Production” a FFA resource and the PDCA Dairy Cow Unified Score Card will serve as references for these questions.

  2. Appropriate information necessary to answer the DHI questions will be provided.
  3. The dairy management exercise is worth a maximum of 100 points. Participants will have a minimum of 30 minutes to complete the exercise.

B. Pedigree Class

  1. One class of pedigrees (no animals present) will be ranked as to their indication of the animals' ability to transmit superior production and type traits to offspring. This exercise is worth 50 points for a perfect placing.
  2. Other factors include completeness (number of records), accuracy (reliability), level of performance (type and production) and profitability.
  3. Sample pedigrees are attached on pages 9-10. The official placing for these two pedigrees is 2-1.
    Sample Pedigree 1
    Sample Pedigree 2

C. Linear Evaluation

  1. Two Holstein cows (numbered 1 and 2) will be evaluated for 15 primary linear traits on a 1 to 50 scale and for final classification score on a 50 to 97 scale. The linear traits evaluated are: Stature, Strength, Body Depth, Dairy Form, Rump Angle, Rump Width, Side View – Rear Legs, Foot Angle, Fore Udder Attachment, Rear Udder Height, Rear Udder Width, Udder Cleft, Udder Depth, Front Teat Placement and Teat Length (90 points maximum).
  2. Each cow will be evaluated for final classification score (10 points maximum).
  3. Participants will be afforded a close-up view of each cow. Evaluations will be completed at a distance of approximately ten feet from each cow. Participants will not be permitted to handle them.
  4. Correct evaluation of the 15 linear traits of each cow is worth 45 points.

    a. Three points will be awarded for each trait scored within five points of the official judges' score.

    b. Two points will be awarded for each trait scored within six to seven points of the official judges' score.

    c. Example: If the cow's trait were rated 25 by the official judges, points would be awarded to participants as follows:

    18-19: 2 points
    20-30: 3 points
    31-32: 2 points

  5. Correct evaluation of final score for each cow is worth 5 points.

    a. 5 points will be awarded for a final score within 3 points of the official judges' score.

    b. Scores that are between 4 and 5 points different from the official judges' score will receive 2 and 1 points respectively. Scores 6 or more points different from the official judges' score will earn 0 points.

  6. A minimum of 15 minutes will be allowed for the linear and final score evaluation.

D. Evaluation and Selection

  1. Five classes of four dairy animals each will be placed on type. Classes will be selected from the recognized breeds of dairy cattle. The class selection committee, however, shall give priority to selecting quality cattle in the breeds available, and not be obligated to having all breeds represented in the judging classes. Classes will consist of heifers, young cows or mature cows.
  2. Participants will be permitted to view the animals from all angles but will not be permitted to handle them.
  3. Animals will be numbered 1-2-3-4 Right-to-Left as viewed from the rear. The holders will wear numbers that identify the animals.
  4. Each class is allowed 50 points for a correct placing (250 points maximum).
  5. Participants will have a minimum of 12 minutes to place each class. For classes on which oral reasons will be given, participants will be given a minimum of 15 minutes.

E. Oral reasons

  1. Oral reasons will be required on two classes, which will be designated by the event superintendent prior to the actual judging of the class.
  2. Oral reasons will be given immediately following the judging classes.
  3. Each class is allowed 50 points for a perfect set of reasons (100 points maximum).
  4. Participants should not use notes during delivery of reasons, with the exception of a card showing only their placing order. If notes are used, a maximum score is 40.
  5. Participants will have at least 12 minutes to prepare each set of oral reasons. No more than two minutes may be used to deliver the reasons before the judges.


Scoring Summary

Max. Points

A. Dairy Mgt. Exercise


B. Pedigree Class
C. Linear Evaluation
D. Judging
E. Oral Reasons
Total Possible Score

Dairy Judging Instructional Resources

Hoard's Dairyman
P.O. Box 801 , Fort Atkinson , WI 53538-0801

  • “Dairy Cattle Judging Made Easy: Interactive CD-ROM,” 2004, interactive chapters on explanation and identification of the parts of the cow, linear scoring used to interpret the PDCA Dairy Cow Unified Score Card and successful oral reasons strategies along with an illustrated sample set of high scoring oral reasons. Instructor resources included. $25.
  • Annual Cow Judging Contest official entry form and booklet. Free
  • “Judging Guide,” 1999 edition booklet, featuring Linear, analysis of scorecard, & 15 practice classes. $7.
  • “Focus on Linear Scoring,” 1998 reference guide to linear instruction.

World Dairy Expo, Inc.
3310 Latham Drive , Madison , WI 53713
(608) 224-6455

  • “PDCA Dairy Cow Score Card,” $1.
  • “PDCA Uniform Score Card for Judging Junior Dairy Fitting and Showmanship Contests,” $1.

UW-Madison Dairy Science
1675 Observatory Drive
Madison , WI 53706-1284

“Oral Reasons for the 2004 Hoard's Dairyman Cow Judging Contest,” UW-Madison dairy judging team students give sample reasons for each breed class, picture sheets, $25.

CEV Multimedia, Inc.
P.O. Box 65265
Lubbock , TX 79464


  • “Dairy Cattle Judging: Cows - Video Active” #486 $95.
  • “Dairy Cattle Judging: Heifers - Video Active”#487 $95
  • “Dairy Cattle Judging: Oral Reasons” #489 $95.
  • “Judging Dairy Cows” 1987 #501 $79
  • “Judging Dairy Heifers” 1987 #502 $69.
  • “Practice Dairy Cow Judging” 1989 #506 $ 49.
  • “Practice Dairy Heifer Judging” 1989# 507 $49.
  • “Linear Evaluation of Dairy Cattle” #510 $89.
  • “Practice Dairy Cow Judging” 1993 I-#511; 1994 III-#514, #515; $49. Ea.
  • “Practice Linear Evaluation I” 1994 #516 $59.
  • “Linear Classification: Scoring of Linear Traits” #517 $ 89.
  • “Practice Linear Evaluation II” 1995 #520 $59.

 Instructional Materials Service (IMS)
Texas A&M Univ. 2588 TAMUS, College Station , TX 77843-2588
(979) 845-6652, or 6653.

  • “Dairy Cattle Judging Cows” Video #9552, $99.
  • “Dairy Cattle Judging Heifers” Video #9553, $99.
  • “Dairy Cattle Judging Fundamentals” Video #9554A, $99.
  • “Dairy Cattle Judging Oral Reasons” Video #9554B, $99.

Dennis Hartman
2709 Mt. Vernon Lane , Blacksburg , VA 24060
(540) 951-8047.

•  “Techniques of Judging Dairy Cattle” 5th Edition, $8.

  Holstein Association
1 Holstein Place
Brattleboro , VT 05302-0808
(802) 254-4551

  • “ Linear Classification Program,” $2.00
  • “Pedigree Questions & Answers” and “Build Your Knowledge of Sire Summaries” for pdf files of the workbooks go to and then link to “programs” and then “workbooks” and scroll to “Pedigree Questions & Answers” and “Build Your Knowledge of Sire Summaries.”

109 5th Ave.
New Glarus , WI 53574

  • “Judging Slides and Audio Tapes, 15 classes,” $80 per set; $150 for both sets

Additional Website Resource List
American Dairy Science Association
National Association of Animal Breeders
Dairy Herd Improvement

(Note: Videos are available for rent from the UW Extension Media Collection, phone 1-800-353-3514 or order from their web site at




contest home link new for 2004 link entry forms link area contest link
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
116 Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison WI 53706
phone (608)262-3003, fax (608)265-5905