By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — Two members of Dunn County’s dairy judging team took top honors at the international dairy judging competition in Scotland this past June.
The dairy judging team, which includes Brooke Brantner (Little Elk Creek 4-H), Krista Styer (Willing Workers 4-H), Luke Powers (Little Elk Creek 4-H) and Ben Powers (Little Elk Creek 4-H), spoke at the Dunn County Board’s September 21 meeting about their experiences at the international dairy judging contest at the Royal Highlands Show in Scotland.
Brooke Brantner took first place in the individual category for dairy judging.
Ben Powers came in first for showmanship.
During the four-day event, 180,000 people attended the Royal Highlands Show, Brantner told the Dunn County Board.
In the United States, dairy judging is done in teams of four. At the Royal Highlands Show, two-member teams worked on judging dairy cattle, she said, noting that the time allotted for judging the cattle also was shorter at the international show than in the United States.
Ben and Luke Powers formed one team and came in third in the international competition, and Brantner and Styer formed another team and came in sixth in the international competition, Brantner said.
“It was eye-opening to see the differences of what they look for in the animals,” she said.
Some breeds of beef cattle in Europe, for example, are what is known as “double muscled” so they look much different than the beef cattle here in the United States, Brantner said.
Double muscling results in a reduced fat content in the meat.
The Dunn County dairy judging team won the state competition in Marshfield last year and then went on to win the national competition in Madison.
At the national contest at World Dairy Expo, the Dunn County team competed against 26 teams from around the United States and two teams from Canada to judge five heifer classes and five cow classes.
Four dairy cows or heifers were included in each class.
The members of the dairy judging team stayed with host families while they were at the international competition.
Team members wrote a biography about themselves, and Ben Powers said he had written he is a professional cattle fitter who prepares the animals for the show ring.
The family he stayed with requested Ben as their guest, and as soon he met the host family, he found out why — they had 25 cattle they needed to get ready for show.
Ben Powers said he enjoyed clipping the cattle and getting them ready and also made some good friendships in the process.
While the dairy team was in Scotland, they toured several dairy farms.
The dairy cattle are all grass fed and are not fed corn, Ben Powers said.
The climate is exceptionally wet and is too cold to raise corn, he said.
Consequently, compared to the dairy cattle in the United States, “they are not high production cattle,” Ben Powers said.
For Luke Powers, the highlight of the trip was the Luxembourg World War II cemetery.
General George S. Patton is buried there — and it is sobering to realize 22 sets of brothers are buried there as well along with ten fathers and sons, he said.
The dairy judging team visited the cemetery on July 4, and it also was sobering to realize many of the men buried there were the same age as the dairy judging team, Luke Powers said.
The Battle of the Bulge museum had a variety of artifacts on display, including razor blades, uniforms, tanks and artillery, he said.
The team had the opportunity to tour castles too, and the tour guides were wearing kilts, Luke Powers said.
In fact, quite a few men were wearing kilts.
Kilts, as it turned out, are considered formal wear, he said.
When asked how much a kilt might cost in American dollars, the answer was about $400 for a custom-made and custom-fitted kilt, Luke Powers said.
The dairy judging team happened to be in London at the time of 2016 “Brexit” referendum vote, Krista Styer said.
During the referendum, 51.9 percent of voters in the United Kingdom approved withdrawing from the European Union.
As soon as the team members met their host families, they were being asked about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and for the opinions of the Americans about the two potential presidential candidates, Styer said.
During their time in London, the dairy team saw Kensington Palace and Westminster Abby, she said.
Krista Styer is currently a sophomore at the University of Minnesota.
Brooke Brantner is a freshman at UW-River Falls.
Styer and Brantner both are studying agriculture in some capacity and both plan to go into agriculturally-related fields.
Luke Powers is a homeschooled senior who plans to go to technical school and study dairy and swine herd management. He says he would one day like to own a dairy farm.
Ben Powers graduated from the University of Wisconsin “short course” in dairy farm management and now travels around the country as a professional cattle fitter.
Jim Powers and Scott Nelson are the coaches for the Dunn County team.
During a telephone conversation the day after the county board meeting, Jim Powers said he was proud of the way the members of the dairy judging team had matured and that he was impressed with their dedication and their professionalism.