Where your milk comes from: Dairy judging family team talks qualifying for the world expo and their experiences

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Amelia Stone, Morgan Stone and Taylor Stone get ready moments before the Hancock County 4-H Dairy Show. Monday, June 20, 2022. Morgan, Taylor, Elliana Cole and Amelia Stone are a group of three sisters and one cousin who recently qualified for the Dairy Judging World Expo October 2-7 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

By Elissa Maudlin

HANCOCK COUNTY At Morgan Stone’s first dairy judging competition, she didn’t want to go. However, her mom told her “it [would] be a straight shot from here,” and after one small step, Morgan said “it really just kind of started everything.”

Taylor Stone, one of her sisters, also didn’t originally want to go into dairy judging her first year, telling her mom she “[wasn’t] going in” from the truck she was riding to one competition in.

Morgan, Taylor, Elliana Cole and Amelia Stone are a group of three sisters and one cousin who qualified for the Dairy Judging World Expo October 2-7 in Madison, Wisconsin.

They qualified by earning first place at the state competition for dairy judging. First place got to go to the World Expo, second place went to Pennsylvania and third place went to Kentucky.

“We were nervous because there are several teams that are very competitive,” Morgan said. “We were like, ‘Oh if we don’t win, we don’t get to advance anywhere.’”

The girls had already competed in Pennsylvania and were showing cows in Kentucky, which meant they wouldn’t be allowed to compete in either of the other competitions except for the World Expo.

In dairy judging, the girls rate different dairy cows and give reasons to the judge why they rated them the way they did. The look of a dairy cow is different from a beef cow: the cow’s bones should be visible, as this shows they are milking well, and the cow should be defined, tall and long, the girls said. The rear udder should be full, wide and as high as possible.

To prep for a competition like this, where they aren’t sure what kind of cow they’ll get, the girls give mock sets of reasons and work with a coach to better their reasons, they said.

When they won the Indiana State Dairy Cattle Judging Contest on June 3, they said they were “beaming.” They finished in second place the last few years.

“I think [the World Expo is] a very, very good representation of the dairy industry,” Morgan said. “There’s lots of really amazing cows. They’re amazing people that have been in the industry for a long time and really know what they’re doing. There’s people from all over the world that will go up there …”

When it comes to the dairy industry, Amelia and Morgan both said it builds hardworking people, and Taylor said “this world would not be the same” without the dairy industry.

“A lot of times the people that come from the dairy industry, they’re experiences have made them better people,” Amelia said. “ … they work from sunset to sundown. They really know what a full day of work really is, and that plays into their lifestyle, how they treat other people and how they look onto the world …”

Morgan said more generations, however, are being removed from farming and don’t know where their food comes from.

“They think, ‘Oh, milk just comes from the grocery store,’ but where does that milk actually come from before it gets to there?” Taylor said. “It comes from cows.”

Elliana said she loves teaching people about dairy cows and remembered an interaction she had with some girls coming home from the state show, who she said hadn’t seen a cow in person, up close.

Morgan said this is weird to her since her and her sisters have “been around them [their] whole lives,” and she “[doesn’t] know anything different.” She said she’s been showing since she was four years old.

When it comes to how their friends view dairy judging and 4-H, the girls said “they don’t really get it.”

“None of my friends have like animals or anything like livestock,” Elliana said. “So they’re very supportive of [me], but they’re like, ‘So, when can you hang out?’ I’m like, ‘I can’t.’”

For Amelia, the end result of dairy judging is her favorite part, standing up and getting acknowledged by everyone, showing their hard work and the fact they’ve done well, she said.

Taylor’s proudest moment was when she beat the three other girls at a dairy judging invitational before state.

“That made me really happy because like, finally, I had proven myself because I had never actually beaten any of them,” she said. “So it really gave me confidence going into state that I can actually do better than what I usually do.”

Morgan said she became more confident in herself, and Elliana said she has a calmer outlook on things through doing dairy competition.

“It definitely gave us different attributes to grow into, and I think that’s really helped us with growing into who we are today,” she said.

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