Unlike cattle, sometimes we need to move out of comfort zone to grow


It caught me by surprise. As I was glancing at all the Facebook chatter, links, updates, and social news, I saw a caption. It was a link to an article titled “How Dairy Cattle Judging Made me Rich!” Nothing could have captured my attention any quicker than this tidbit linked to the “Bullvine” page.

Immediately I opened it up to find a testimony to this Canadian’s feelings about the art of judging cows.

He mentioned all of the usual rationale about problem solving, being able to communicate verbally, and how it been an asset to his future career plans. Obviously his gift of words was the sincere reflection of what he had learned in his youth as he organized a set of oral reasons. 

Pass it on

My next action was to share these thoughts on other links (such as Ohio 4-H Dairy Program) and to print it off for mandatory reading in my university class of Dairy Cattle Evaluation. For spring semester, this class includes 33 students who will embrace the challenge of not just looking at cows, but carefully evaluating them from a functional standard as well as one that embraces the beauty of the bovine species.

One of their classes will even include a lab at Spring Dairy Expo. 

I use the lab term loosely because it is actually more like a work-out or experiment to test their skills at comparing cows in some classes made up of sale cattle. It also tests my ability teach the concept.

These students come from all over the state, varying levels of expertise from farm to city backgrounds, pre-vet students, and those who are simply wanting to learn more about the dairy industry.

One of my perennial goals is to connect those dots by linking them with the industry from the individual breeders, the environment of showing and marketing cattle, and those who work in the dairy businesses. These same students will also volunteer time in the parlor, the sale crew, the Ohio 4-H Dairy Judging Contest, and perhaps just by observing a sale while attempting to unravel the pedigree language.

The more experienced class members can be found in leadership positions as well as teaching others and answering the typical questions.
The comfort zone diagram. In these atmospheres, I am often prompted to come up with my own Temple Grandin-like diagram of how to move people, instead of cattle.

I would like to encourage and teach these students on the process of movement that motivates. When should they proceed out of their comfort zones to tackle the challenges that put them in the flight zone of life?

Obviously, one of these “scary” moments could be presenting an oral set of reasons or meeting new people in new environments.

We can have so many distractions, and unlike cattle, we have goals that push us forward or decisions that leave us in the shadow of our dreams. The Spring Dairy Expo classroom of life can possibly prompt youth to move beyond their point of balance.

Although the livestock diagram promotes calm movement, I would like to think that the human version should rely more on excitement and enthusiasm as we have the ability to reason. Unfortunately, we also seem to have the ability to make excuses that can often result in the lack of mobility or moving in the opposite direction.

Dairy expo melting pot

Spring Dairy Expo is a melting pot of the dairy industry and it allows us to showcase who we are, what we do, and how we manage. It is a location where we learn, we teach, we interact, we compete, we make purchases, and we discover what it is deep down inside that motivates us to such levels of involvement.

By the time some of you read this, the Dairy Expo will be in progress, and others will not pick up your Farm and Dairy till next week. Regardless of your level of involvement with Spring Dairy Expo, just know that the event does focus on dairy cattle judging on paper and on the hoof. It also provides a classroom setting that can prompt and motivate youth and adults alike.

Although the article stated that dairy cattle judging can make you RICH, I am satisfied to admit that our quest to build a better cow will definitely ENRICH our lives!


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Bonnie Ayars is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.



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