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Hillsboro hosts FFA contest

Staff writer

The Hillsboro High School FFA chapter hosted the district FFA contest on Monday at the Marion County Fairgrounds.

Approximately 25 schools including high schools from Wellington, Goessell, McPherson, Centre, Ark City, Peabody, Marion, Abilene, Linn, and Winfield, sent their chapters to compete in four different career development events.

The events were dairy cattle judging, dairy foods, nursery landscape, and horse judging. Each event has practical applications for an agricultural career. Dairy foods pitted students against each other to discern cheeses from one another — for instance the difference between sharp and mild cheddar — but also to determine if a cow has mastitis, an utter infection. If a farmer can determine that a cow has mastitis, he or she can save the rest of the milk from contamination.

“If a cow gets out into an onion patch, you can tell in the milk,” event organizer Sonya Roberts said. “You find out what causes problems in dairy cattle.”

Nursery landscape is a competition where students needed to correctly identify different vegetation. Students needed to know the differences between all the different trees and shrubs on the land.

Students also judged dairy cattle and horses. The judging is very specific, and although it is subjective, there are certain characteristics that are common on certain classifications of the animal.

“You want the utter to be high with a straight level on the utter floor,” dairy cattle judge Haley Ellis of Colony said. “(The position of the utter can determine) How much (milk) they would produce.”

Horse judging is equally scrutinizing, but less focused.

“You look for balance and quality,” Buhler High School participant Jessie Shantz said. “Does the body flow smoothly? For performance class, which horse would you want to ride?”

Horse and Dairy cattle judging each had six different classes of animals that students had to evaluate. The owner of a dairy farm brought in multiple cows of each class and multiple people brought in horses.

After the students made their evaluations, they had to explain the reasoning behind their classifications for each animal in one specific class. The students turn in a card with their evaluations, which are judged against evaluations filled out by experts in each competition, in this case from Kansas State.

While the FFA chapter from Hillsboro did not participate in any of the events, the 30 members did help set up the event. Roberts said that several parents also volunteered to help.

“This year, due to budget cuts, we had to put more activities into one day. Usually we just have two events in one day,” Roberts said. “It takes a lot of people to set this up.”

Last modified Nov. 25, 2009

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