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Snickerdoodle enjoying life at retirement home


One of the world’s most famous cows is enjoying her retirement in a pasture near Myakka City, Fla. The Brown Swiss cow, now 18, is the only cow of any breed to win every milking class at the World Dairy Expo and holds the record for the number of breed grand championships.

When Allen Bassler accepted a job as a cheesemaker at Dakin Dairy Farms in Florida, he had one stipulation — that his famous cow, Old Mill E Snickerdoodle, be able to move south with him.

The Brown Swiss cow, now 18, is enjoying her retirement in a pasture near a free-stall operation where 2,300 Holsteins are milked three times a day. Snickerdoodle isn’t bred or milked anymore, but her longtime owner still makes sure she is well cared for and comfortable as she lives out her remaining years.

“She’s like a family member now,” Bassler said of the famous cow. “You take care of her and do things for her like you would a family member.”

Snickerdoodle is perhaps the most decorated cow of any breed ever to be led into a show ring. She is the only cow of any breed to win every milking class at World Dairy Expo, winning from the time she was a 2-year-old through her career as an aged cow and a dry cow. She was supreme champion at the show in 2003, reserve supreme champion in 2008 and 2009, and Brown Swiss grand champion at the Expo in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009, the only cow to win a breed championship six times.

Bassler milked 12 cows and made cheese at Oak Spring Farm in Upperville, Va., for many years before the farm was sold in 2015. Snickerdoodle made the 18-hour trip from Virginia to Madison nine times during her showing career, and moved with Bassler to her new home in December 2015.

Bassler, a 28-year cheesemaking veteran, began making cheese for Dakin Dairy in 2016. The farm previously had developed a milk-bottling enterprise and offers farm tours to school children and the public.

Snickerdoodle’s dam, known as Cookie, was given to the Bassler family for a 4-H project as a calf. When Cookie was 3 years old, she had a calf that the family named Snickerdoodle.

“I don’t know how they came up with that name,” Bassler said. “The kids and their mom were in on the naming. It was just one of those things that came about.”

Bassler said he didn’t really know what he had until Snickerdoodle won her World Dairy Expo class for the first time as a 2-year-old. From that point on, she was given her own special box stall and pasture.

“When she won the first time you think, ‘We got (the first-place trophy) and we’re done,’ ” Bassler said. “Then the next year comes, you look at her again, and she looks pretty good. I got the pictures out and compared her from the year before, and she actually looked better.

“Every year, the previous year’s picture helped me decide whether to take her to Madison. It was like a no-brainer, she developed more every year. By the time she was a dry cow people were advising me not to take her, because there was a chance she would get beat, but it never happened.”

When Snickerdoodle won the dry cow class in 2013, she received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Brown Swiss show.

Bassler said he is curious if any of the 49 other supreme champions of the World Dairy Expo lived to be as old as Snickerdoodle.

“If any of the other champions lived to be older, it would be neat to know who it is,” he said.

Snickerdoodle will live on in her offspring long after she is gone. The cow has had 21 Excellent daughters in the U.S. and more than 30 in Europe. She has been flushed more than 50 times, which has resulted in more than 150 offspring worldwide — that Bassler knows of.

“There are some countries where there is no way to find a database,” he said. “I know she has offspring in Lichtenstein, Australia, Austria and Colombia, for example, and in some places it’s hard to follow how many offspring there might be.”

Snickerdoodle, who was scored EX-94 four times, has 20 Excellent daughters in the U.S. and at least a dozen in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Her highest-scored daughter, Old Mill Starbuck Spottie, scored EX-94 2-E, resides in the UK, where she has had a successful show career of her own.

Bassler said it is hard to put a monetary value on what Snickerdoodle has meant to him and his family, although he knows her offspring generated more than $500,000 and semen sales from her sons were considerable.

Not to mention the 261,870 pounds of milk Snickerdoodle produced along the way.

Bassler said Snickerdoodle, who weighs about a ton, has plenty to eat and has company with a herd of goats in the pasture where she resides.

“We’re letting her live her life,” he said.

Source: The Country Today


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