“All we know for sure is it was in our blood.” This is the heartfelt reason given by every member of the family at Keightley and Core Jerseys when asked to answer the question, “What motivates you?” The Core’s who live and farm in Salvisa, Kentucky believe this is the healthy force that keeps them going strong. “While dairy farming and the show business can be a rewarding life, it also isn’t easy. You really have to make sure that you understand the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices involved. At the end of the day, you have to have and understand the passion that is needed.” The Core family has it: Alta Mae and Jeff, son Brady, daughters Brittany and Brooke Powers (married to Chad) and grandchildren Jackson and Embry personify the vision of a close knit farm family.
They’re Putting Down Roots and Raising Records
Having found their passion the family works together to keep their focus on doing better all the time. “We currently farm about 250 acres and milk right around 70 cows with a total herd size of 175. We are truly a family run operation and employ no outside help. We are very proud to announce that we have recently achieved 2 milestones in production and classification. After a resent classification our herd of 71 cows has an average of 90 points, this is a first for us as we have average 89 for many years. Second, in the March issue of the Jersey Journal you will find that in the 40-79 lactation herd size we now rank 3rd in the nation for milk at 22,207 lbs of milk, 4th for protein, and 10th for fat, another exciting accomplishment at KCJF!”
Valued Family. Family Values.
Families are the building block that provides the foundation for how people develop in life. Alta Mae acknowledges this influence. “My parents definitely helped shape the person I am today. I was raised on a small registered Jersey farm and was taught at a young age that the hard work is the key to success. Both of my parents, AJ and Adelene Keightley believed in the Jersey breed and instilled that same passion within me.”
Watch the Best. Ask Questions
This nationally renowned dairy judge and 1999 Klussendorf winner expresses warm praise for other influences too. “I was also fortunate to grow up in the golden age of showing Jerseys. I had the honor and the privilege to watch and compete against Happy Valley, Vauclause Farm, Heaven Hill, Mayfield Farms, and many others. It was both a thrill and a learning experience to see how the great cowmen associated with these farms ran the operations and managed the show string. I’m sure as a kid I was a little annoying to some of them as well as their staff. I can remember watching and asking questions as they tended their cattle. I was eager to learn the fine points of what they did whether it was making the pack, putting the immaculate edge on the pack, putting up their display ( years ago some of these places wouldn’t have a straw out of place), or even the fine art of fluffing a switch. Norm Nabholz was and is probably the master of the switch. (Read more: Halter, Pen and Gavel. That’s Just the Norm.) But people like “Big John” Bob Finberg, Dick Walraven and many many others were people I watched. Also Lew Porter and Max Gordon were people that I looked up to for their class and professionalism.”
The Family “Treasure” Album
Although there are plenty of cows that still hold a special place in our heart we consider ourselves blessed to have had the opportunity to breed and develop KCJF Regency Treasure. She is not only one of the few 97 points cows in the breed but is also homebred on both sides of her pedigree by a homebred sire out of a homebred cow family. Treasure has not only been a five time All American but has also won numerous production awards and at 12 years of age continues to be an impact on our herd. She defines our breeding philosophy of strong cow families and a breeding program that balances type and production.”
Family Hall of Fame: Ritzy
“Treasure is obviously still a large part of our current program and her impact is felt in the pedigrees of numerous other cows we are currently working with. Most notably KCJF Tracers Ritzy, winner of the 2012 National Jersey Jug Futurity is by a Treasure son. In addition Ritzy was All American Junior Two Year Old in 2011. Ritzy’s mother KCJF Centurion Ritz is also a cow that is still in our herd and show string and was All American Senior Two Year Old in 2009.” (Read more: Gary Sauder – The Muse in his Studio)
Family Hall of Fame: Molly
Another cow family of note that is making a current impact on the Keightley-Core herd is KCJF Sambo Molly, 2008 National Jersey Jug Futurity Winner. They tell us, “While Molly may be gone, she left behind numerous offspring both male and female that are making waves in our herd currently. We recently had 3 Two Year Olds all score 89 points who are all directly from that family. In addition, Molly’s son KCJF Molly’s Ren Motion sired 1 All American and 2 Reserve All Americans in 2012. Another son that has been collected and is now being used in many herds besides our own is KCJF One in a Million.”
At this point it is hard to say how genomics will affect our operation. It is something we will definitely watch long term to see how it will meld into our breeding philosophy. Probably due to my upbringing and parents influence we have always believed in using bulls out of good strong cow families whether it was our own farm bred bull or from another. Breeding strategies are as varied as the people who devise them. Keightley-Core Jerseys has a strategy that works for them. “We definitely use a number of our own homebred bulls such as Million, Motion, Regency and although we did not breed Hollylane Response we did purchase and collect him and still use him in our current program. We also use a number of other AI sires from both American and Canadian genetics.”
At Keightley-Core they are concerned about the steady reduction of family farms nationally, however, they have also seen many positive changes in the Jersey breed and they point specifically to the areas of productivity and efficiency. Jeff and Alta Mae agree wholeheartedly on one other thing. “Raising our children to have an interest in the Jersey breed and our farming operation has definitely been our greatest accomplishment. All three of our children were educated in the Agriculture field and continue to be involved in the farm. Now we also have grandchildren and are beginning to see their interest as well. It is a great feeling of satisfaction to see the future generations taking an interest in the future of our farm and the desire to continue the legacy that was started by both Jeff and my families.”
The Bullvine Bottom Line
It is all about building on heartfelt passion for family – both home and livestock. Everyone at Keightley and Core Jersey Farm knows exactly where their heart is!