CLEMSON, S.C. — Members of the Clemson University Dairy Science Club received several honors after competing in the 2022 South Carolina State Fair.
Students and their bovine partners taking home awards include Lauren Epps, an animal and veterinary sciences major from Marietta, South Carolina, and her cow, Orillia. Epps and Orillia placed 4th in Jersey Conformation (form or structure), and 5th place in Showmanship. Preparing for and competing in State Fair contests complements what is taught in Clemson classes.
“We spent a minimum of four hours per week getting our cows used to the halter and practicing setting them up as if a judge were watching us,” Epps said. “Practicing these skills and learning what judges look for complements what is learned in the classroom
, in that we have real-life experience of identifying attractive traits in livestock.”
Elizabeth McCabe, an animal and veterinary sciences major from Lexington, South Carolina, and her cow, Vega, placed 2nd in Collegiate Jersey Showmanship. Her cow placed 6th in Junior Jersey conformation.
“This includes halter breaking the animal and practicing leading and setting them up to compete in the show ring,” McCabe said. “It also involves learning as much information as possible about dairy cows and their physical conformation.”
Clemson Dairy Science Club members also participate in clinics and mock shows to help them prepare for competition.
“Halter breaking is the first aspect of training,” said Lydia Owens, Dairy Science Club show chairperson from Pickens, South Carolina. “Once the heifers are used to walking on a halter, they start to learn the more fine-tuned details of showing such as a higher head carriage, a slow walking gait, and setting up their feet and legs and being able to switch them.”
Training students receive complements dairy knowledge gained in the classroom. During shows, students must be prepared to answer conformation-related questions about their heifer, which gives them experience with assessing a dairy heifer for ideal body conformation and structure as well as flaws. They also must know their heifer’s parents introducing them to some of the genetics associated with dairy cows. Students also gain experience working with the different breeds such as Jersey, Holstein, Guernsey and Brown Swiss, as well as learn the differences in purpose, structure and temperaments among the breeds.
Clemson Dairy Science Club Winners at 2022 S.C. State Fair
Clemson Dairy Science Club members and their bovine partners winning at the 2022 South Carolina State Fair are:
· Holstein Showmanship category: 1st Place Jessica Graham and “Minnie, “2nd Place Grace Covan and “Kate,” and 3rd Place Emaleigh Walters and “Dory.”
· Brown Swiss Showmanship category: 1st Place Lydia Owens and “Dolly,” 2nd Place Taylor Hancock and “Nan,” and 3rd Place Jessica Zayas Pardo and “Oakley.”
· Guernsey Showmanship category: 1st Place Chloe Greaux and “Elsie.”
· Jersey Showmanship category: 1st Place Victoria Mueller with “Penny,” 2nd Place Elizabeth McCabe and “Vega,” 3rd Place Hannah Culler and “Ruby,” and 5th Place Lauren Epps and “Orillia.”
· Holstein Conformation Category: 1st Place in class and Honorable Mention Breed Champion Emaleigh Walters and “Dory” (Clemson Charlston 4722 Tish), 1st Place in class and Reserve Junior Breed Champion Haley Scarborough and “Minnie” (Clemson Tropic 4019 Julie), 2nd Place in her class Grace Covan and “Kate” (Clemson Daredevil 4837 Pear).
· Brown Swiss Conformation Category: 2nd Place in Junior and 3rd Place in Open Lydia Owens and “Dolly” (Clemson Spark Dolly), 1st Place in Junior and 2nd Place in Open Taylor Hancock and “Nan” (Clemson Bosephus Nan), 1st Place in Junior and 2nd Place in Open Chloe Link and “Oakley” (Clemson Diego Freya).
· Guernsey Conformation Category: 5th Place in Junior and 7th Place in Open Sydney Grace Lewis and “Elsie” (Aldens HH Reputation Unforgettable).
· Jersey Conformation Category: 3rd Place in Junior and 4th Place in Open Heather Sarver and “Penny” (Clemson Holeinone 523 144), 6th Place in Junior and 8th Place in Open Elizabeth McCabe and “Vega,” (Clemson Shocker 724 208), 4th Place in Junior and 7th Place in Open Lauren Epps and “Orillia” (Cherub Colton Orillia), 7th Place Sara Etezadmozafar and “Ruby” (Clemson Holeinone 523 144).
Clemson Dairy Science Club
Cows shown during the State Fair are owned by Clemson University. Reta Miller, Clemson LaMaster Dairy Center manager, said students from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to join the Dairy Science Club. The Dairy Center is part of the Clemson Piedmont Researchand Education Center.
“What is unique about the Dairy Science Club is that no experience is required,” Miller said. “Dues are very minimal which encourages students from all backgrounds to participate.”
Participating in the club gives students hands-on time with large animals, particularly cows. Once the students complete all necessary university training, they are assigned a heifer and begin training that animal to lead on a halter. Once they have mastered leading and walking, students begin teaching their heifer how to appropriately walk for show and the correct ways to set up their feet.
“Once animals are comfortable on the halter and have experienced the organized chaos that is a cattle show, they become calmer,” said Miller, who joined the Clemson Dairy Science Club Show Team as a freshman in 2011. “Having calm animals makes them easier to handle on all areas of the farm and also makes them better candidates for research projects.”
Miller became LaMaster Dairy Center manager in 2021. Each semester, she typically employs six students to work on the farm.
“From my experience, participating in the show team is what gets people interested in not only working at the dairy farm but learning about the dairy industry as a whole,” she said.
Grace Covan, a senior from Honea Path, South Carolina, and Clemson Dairy Science Club president, said the show team accepts new members every semester.
“Dairy Science Club members work to advocate for the dairy industry which is quickly dying out in South Carolina,” Covan said. “We go on farm tours to educate members about how different farms operate. We then apply what we learn to teach others at the various farm shows and community events we attend as a club. I’ve been a member of the club for 3 years. During this time I’ve made some of my best friends.”
Covan said the club is always looking for new members and invites anyone who is interested to contact them at Clemsondairyscienceclub@gmail.com.