Covington Legend Nadine, shown by Audrey Souza, captured first place in the Junior Jersey Aged Cow Class at the 2016 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. She also took sixth place overall in the open Jersey Aged Cow class. She and her owners were awarded a commemorative gold-trimmed vase, a medal, and $400. “This year, Nadine has earned $1,000 in prizes,” Souza said.
The World Dairy Expo features exhibitors from across the United States and Canada and over 2,460 head of cattle. “This show is considered the largest and most important show in North American,” Souza said. The event celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this year. “A neat thing about the event is each year there is a theme and the wood chips in the arena are dyed a different color to match the theme. This year, they were gold for the anniversary.”
Preparing for the show required countless hours. “I worked with Nadine a lot. It takes a lot of time and patience to form a bond between a showman and their animal. I had shown Nadine, since she is an aged cow, but I would walk with her and we would practice as if we were in the show ring. It was important to find a pace and manner in which Nadine and I would move as one. She and I are both stubborn, so it took time for us to find our rhythm.”
In preparation for show day, Souza said, “Nadine needed to be clipped, worked with, and sometimes given a special diet. On show day we generally wake up early and wash her, feed her a special diet, and prep her for the show.” Preparations begin as early as 4 a.m. “It depends on the show and how many animals will be showing.”
Nadine is co-owned by Souza and her sister, Hayley Anderson. The duo have owned a herd of cattle named Northern Lites Registered Jerseys since 2009 when Audrey was a freshman in high school. “It was a way for my sister and me to learn responsibility and how to manage finances and a business at a young age. It was also an opportunity for us to start work early in an industry we wanted to eventually hold a career in.”
Audrey and Hayley own Nadine along with two other partners – Troy and Darin Zoellner of Al-Shar Holsteins in Groton and Azaria Angston of North Dakota. According to Souza, “They were looking to get more involved in the show industry and so were we, so we joined together.”
In September, Nadine won Supreme Champion at the South Dakota State Fair. She is classified as a 94 Excellent point cow. “To put this into perspective, the scale is 0-100 points, but the highest classified Jersey cow on record was 97 points,” Souza said.
Souza began showing cattle when she joined 4-H at the age of eight, but said she has been around cows since she was born. Her parents, Kevin and Suzanne, have owned and operated Victory Farms in Milbank since 1998. “My mom is also the Big Stone County 4-H Extension Coordinator. My mom spent her youth in 4-H and FFA and showed dairy cattle and my dad showed dairy in FFA and in college. It’s in my blood. Plus, I just love cows. I watched my sister show, too.”
Souza is a pre-veterinary medicine student at South Dakota State University. She is majoring in Dairy Production and Ag Communications with a minor in Spanish. “I will be graduating with my undergraduate degree in May 2018 and plan to apply to veterinary school.”