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Goodhue County 4-H Dairy Judging Competes in Europe

Cattle parade of champions in the center ring of the Royal Highland Show near Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Casandra Veiseth1 / 3
Clint Irrthum participates in a dairy judging contest at the agricultural fair of Ettlebruck, Luxembourg. Photo by Casandra Veiseth2 / 3
The Goodhue County 4-H dairy judging team visiting the Tower Bridge in London. From left to right are: Clint Irrthum, Ben Thompson, Emily Benrud and Kjersten Veiseth. Photos by Casandra Veiseth3 / 3

The Goodhue County 4-H senior dairy judging team recently returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe to participate in an international dairy judging and tour experience.

The opportunity for travel came as a result of the team's October 2016 top 4-H team honors at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. Team members participating in the European tour were Clint Irrthum of Wanamingo, Kjersten Veiseth or Zumbrota, Emily Benrud of Goodhue and Ben Thompson of Zumbrota. The adults attending were Chuck and Carol Schwartau, Brenda Thompson and Casey Veiseth.

The group arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, on June 22. While there, the team visited a large dairy farm that relied on many robotic features as part of its operation. After touring the cities of Stirling and Edinburgh, the team competed in the dairy judging competition at the Royal Highland Show, the United Kingdom's premier agricultural exposition that includes livestock competitions, educational exhibits, consumer outreach and the arts.

The team judged four classes of dairy cattle — two Holstein classes and two Ayrshire classes. The queen even had cattle shown at the event. At the end of the event, the group was treated to a traditional "high tea" and horse show.

Moving into England, the team visited a traditional 100-cow dairy. While many features were somewhat similar to those in Goodhue County, the over 100-year-old brick farm buildings were different. The hosting farmers treated the group to a traditional English pub meal of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, vegetables and many pudding options for dessert.

The team's second opportunity to participate in a judging contest was at the Foire Agricole in Ettelbruck, Luxembourg. This showcased that country's agricultural industry and businesses.

While participating in the fair, the team spent time assisting dairy farmers with chores and fitting cattle. On judging day, the team was to judge and place seven Holsteins (different than the typical four in the United States) and be ready to have reasons for their top three.

While learning about European agriculture and the dairy industry were main reasons for the trip, there were other learning and touring opportunities as well. The group spent time in London, Brussels, Luxembourg City and Germany. They experienced the Tower Bridge of London, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Warwick Castle, the Grand Market of Brussels, and a beautiful cruise of the Rhine River in Germany. Besides time to explore, the youths were able to perfect their navigation skills of the London Tube and Luxembourg train systems.

Returning to the United States on July 4, the team was able to reflect on the kindness of the people of Europe and that farmers in other regions of the world have similar concerns and struggles.