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How to Get Started in 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl

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Publication Number: P3127
View as PDF: P3127.pdf

Do you love Jeopardy? Are you passionate about the dairy industry? Do you enjoy competing with your friends? Then the 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl is the contest for you!


How the Contest Works

The Dairy Quiz Bowl contest requires four 4-H members for a team, but it is ideal to have five team members (one member is an alternate). Teams will compete in a series of one-on-one matches against another team in a single-elimination format. In each match, you compete with other 4-H members from your county in three phases to answer questions related to the dairy industry. Phase A is a written exam, Phase B consists of team questions, and Phase C is a toss-up round.


Phase A: Written Exam

Team members take a written exam to determine the seeding of teams in the competition bracket for the oral portion of the contest. Seeding is the order that teams compete against each other. The teams with the best written test scores typically compete against teams with lower written scores. Depending on how many teams are participating, it is sometimes even possible for the teams with the highest written scores to receive a “bye” out of the first round, which means they skip to the second round without penalization. During each match, the same series of five questions from the written exam will be designated for use, and a different series of five questions from the exam will be used in each subsequent match of the contest.

Each correct answer on the written exam for a designated match will be worth five points, so each team has an opportunity to earn 100 points in each match from the exam. These written exam score points are announced at the end of Phases B and C and added to the team’s overall match score. After the written test, an oral round follows consisting of two types of questions: team questions (Phase B) and a toss-up question round (Phase C).


Phase B: Team Questions

In the team round, five questions of more difficulty are asked to one team. Team members are allowed to confer on the answer, and the team captain reports the team’s answer to the moderator. An answer must be started within 20 seconds and completed within an additional 60 seconds. Correct answers receive 10 points, and there are no deductions for incorrect answers. Partial credit may be given at the discretion of the judges. After one team has answered these five questions, the other team is brought into the contest room and asked the same five questions.


Phase C: Toss-Up Round

In the tossup round, questions are asked at-large to both teams. Team members buzz in individually, and the first person to buzz in answers. The team member who answers correctly receives 10 points for their individual and team score. If the question is answered incorrectly, no points are deducted, and a member of the other team has the opportunity to answer. If the question is interrupted, the moderator will stop reading the question, and the contestant will answer. If the question is answered incorrectly after an early buzz in, the question will be read from the beginning, and the opposing team will have the sole opportunity to answer. Although it may feel embarrassing to buzz in early and lose points, don’t let one mistake stop you from buzzing in quickly with the potential to answer correctly.

No partial credit is given to answers in Phase C. Team members are not allowed to discuss answers during this period. Additionally, if three different members of the same team answer a question correctly during this round, that team earns a bonus question. All correct answers to questions in Phase C earn the team 15 points, except for bonus questions, which are worth 20 points each.


Note: This is only a summary of the 4-H Quiz Bowl contest. It is not intended to be a final authority on rules. Please always reference the official contest rules for each Dairy Quiz Bowl contest.


Preparing for the Dairy Quiz Bowl Contest

Let your county MSU Extension agent know you are interested in competing in Dairy Quiz Bowl. Ask for study materials, and find out if he/she knows a local farmer or dairy industry representative who would be willing to help you prepare. Your county may already have a 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl team in place, and you can try out to be a team member. If you live on a dairy farm, ask your family to start sharing facts while you work with them. For example, while you are milking, ask how often they change the inflations or what temperature the milk is cooled to in the bulk tank. Be sure these statistics are industry-recognized and not only the farmer’s preference. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn by doing!

The key to 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl practice is to learn to answer questions quickly. To do this, consider writing questions on flashcards or using a computer or smartphone app, such as Quizlet. You will be surprised how many stray minutes you find in a day to practice. Using free time while riding in the car or waiting between classes will help you break up the information for better retention.

During team practices, practice both the toss-up and team questions. Teams should practice at least twice each week beginning at least 1 month before the contest. Time yourself for the team questions, and get familiar with your team captain’s style of compiling the group’s answer. The team captain should be someone who is familiar with the dairy industry; if, during the contest, your team is unable to produce a team answer, the team captain will need to be able to provide an educated guess. Remember, there are no point deductions for incorrect answers in the team questions.

For the toss-up round, learn key words in the questions you practice. Take the following question as an example: What is the minimum solids-not-fat content of whole milk? You should learn to associate “solids-not-fat” with “8.25 percent.” This will help you to answer the question as soon as you are sure what the moderator is asking. Remember that the moderator stops reading the question if a buzz-in interrupts, so be sure you know what the question is before you attempt to answer. If the person who buzzes in early answers incorrectly, the question is read from the beginning to the opposing team. However, as you advance in competition level, speed in pushing the buzzer will become increasingly important. Knowing the overall concepts of the dairy industry is more helpful than memorizing specific questions.


Study Materials

Several universities have compiled helpful resources for 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl. Here are some good places to start:

Cornell University

North Carolina State University

Oklahoma State University

Virginia Tech


Additionally, example 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl questions from the Holstein Foundation are included at the end of this publication to help you begin studying and give you an overview of how the questions will be asked. Hoard’s Dairyman magazine is another great source of information for this contest.


Organizing a Team

The 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl is the perfect opportunity for young people to learn more about the dairy industry. It is relatively simple to coach, as the coach’s primary roles are to facilitate studying and read questions aloud for the team to practice answering quickly. 4-H’ers will have many travel opportunities as the team advances, and it can be quite life-changing as they learn more about dairy science careers.



The 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl contest is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the dairy industry, build leadership, and explore careers. Take advantage of resources in your county and online to get ready for competition.


Holstein Foundation 2017 Holstein Dairy Bowl Practice Questions

Questions obtained from Holstein Foundation Inc. (Brattleboro, VT),

  1. What dairy expense is the most notable difference in costs between high-profit and low- profit organic herds? Labor (Hoard’s Dairyman 2016)
  2. Animals have excellent memories for both good and bad experiences. What is the term given to a scary or negative experience called? Fear memory (Hoard’s Dairyman June 2016)
  3. Too often the decision to cull is based on barn capacity, but should be based on what important factor instead? Breakeven milk production — Is the cow’s production covering her costs? (HF Workbooks December 2014, p. 784)
  4. What restaurant chain set a single-day digital sales record on Super Bowl Sunday? Pizza Hut (Hoard’s Dairyman April 2016)
  5. Which trait evaluation system serves as the basis of all modern dairy cattle type classification systems? Linear type traits (Hoard’s Dairyman January 2015, p. 28)
  6. Excessive rates of pneumonia in dairy herds are not typically due to cold weather or drafts, but often due to what? Inadequate ventilation (Dairy Herd Management January 2015, p. 20)
  7. What organization has accepted requests from cooperatives for export assistance of 668,000 pounds of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in Asia and Oceania? Cooperative Working Together (CWT) (HD 2016)
  8. What is the top service provided by veterinarians to dairies according to USDA? Emergency services (Dairy Herd Management December 2015, p. 6)
  9. A dairy calf should be delivered how many minutes after the nose appears? 30 to 40 minutes (Hoard’s Dairyman April 2016, p. 287)
  10. Oxygen and air can penetrate how many feet into a well-managed silage face? 3 to 5 feet (HD 2016)
  11. What percent of all dairy cattle hoof lesions occur in the rear limbs? 94 to 96% (Hoard’s Dairyman December 2015, p. 793)
  12. At what point during the dry period does a cow’s colostrum production stop? At the start of labor or calving (Hoard’s Dairyman December 2015, p. 793)
  13. When taking soil samples, it is recommended to take them at how many inches? 6 to 8 inches (Hoard’s Dairyman March 2014, p. 172)
  14. Which part of the digestive tract is responsible for reabsorbing water? Large intestine (Other 2014)
  15. When a cow is stressed, it takes how long for her heartbeat to slow down? 20 to 30 minutes (Dairy Herd Management May 2010)
  16. A cow can smell up to how many miles away? 6 miles (Hoard’s Dairyman April 2016)
  17. On average, healthy cows ruminate for how many minutes per day? 400 to 600 minutes (Hoard’s Dairyman May 2016 p. 347)
  18. Confined animals are vulnerable to which two types of flies? Stable and house flies (Hoard’s Dairyman July 2014, p. 444)
  19. Milk is composed of approximately what percent lactose? 5% (Progressive Dairyman March 2015, p. 13)
  20. What was the name of the first silent auction in the dairy industry? Stars of the Silent Screen (Holstein World 2015)


The information given here is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products, trade names, or suppliers are made with the understanding that no endorsement is implied and that no discrimination against other products or suppliers is intended.

Publication 3127 (POD-09-17)

By Brittany Bowman, Extension Undergraduate Apprentice; Dean Jousan, PhD, Associate Extension Professor; and Amanda Stone, PhD, Assistant Professor, Animal and Dairy Sciences.
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Portrait of Dr. Dean Jousan
Extension Professor
Extension 4-H Livestock Specialist