“Dairying has changed so much in the last 30 years,” says Dan Undersander, a University of Wisconsin forage agronomist who has been involved in the WFAS since its beginning. “We’re growing different crops than we used to, we’re feeding differently and herd averages are much higher. We want the categories in the contest to reflect that.”
When the contest first started, Undersander notes, there were just two categories—hay and haylage. As the contest grew over the years, categories were added for corn silage (both BMR and traditional), baleage and grass hay.
As in other categories, the organic hay entries are judged on forage quality and visual traits including color, leafiness and other characteristics that come into play when buying and selling hay. Producers who want to enter in this category must provide organic certification with their entries.
As contest categories have evolved over the years, so too have the tests used to evaluate the forages.
The future of the contest seems stable as Undersander doesn’t expect many major changes. “There are a lot of different forages out there, and we’re always open to suggestions and thoughts,” he says. “But, at this point, we don’t want to add more categories unless there is a strong use of that forage within the dairy industry.”
In 2016, the WFAS attracted 385 entries from producers in more than 20 states. Be sure to view the 2017 forage entries in the east end of the Arena Building, next to the Dairy Forage Seminar Stage.
Winners will be announced Wednesday October 4!