It’s with sadness that I watched my first definition of a dairy breeder herd sell on Friday. I have had the opportunity to get to know Clarence, Don, Brian as well as the many family members that have helped make Ebyholme one of the greatest homebred herds in the country. Their passion for cattle and their talents as cattlemen are of the highest level. It’s because of that that watching the Ebyholme prefix come to an end brought a tear to my eye.
How it all began
You cannot go far in the Kitchener, Ontario area without running into the name Eby. That’s probably because Kitchener’s original name was Ebytown because of the number of Ebys who came there in the early 1800’s. Starting from it’s roots as part of the Ebydale herd started by his father Edwin, Clarence started the Ebyholme herd in 1957 when he and Doris made the decision to farm on their own.
Since the very beginning, the herd has been known for its long row of tall, framey cows, rather than for any particular prima donna, just a picture of consistency from top to bottom for type and production. Over the year, any visitors left the farm, somewhat amazed, thinking that they had just seen one of the best homebred herds in the country.
The Foundation of Ebyholme
This three time master breeder herd got it’s start from three main cow families: Ebydale Snow Peggy B (VG-2*): Braeside Benefactor May (EX-3*): and a dam-daughter pair that Clarence had purchased from his cousin, Howard Eby, Eby-Manor Duke Retainer Patsy (VG) and Eby-Manor Shamrock Patsy (EX).In 1991, Clarence’s and sons Don and Brian who had joined the farm in 1967, purchased Oak Ridges Bella (EX) for $27,000 at the Oak Ridges’ Dispersal. From Bella came Oak Ridges Beverly (EX-2E), who would become the fifth generation member of the Ganaraska Belle (EX) family to classify Excellent in Canada (Later joined by Ebyholme Bubbles EX-92-4E, Ebyholme Leader Babe EX-2E ). In 1999, Ebyholme Lindy Bella (EX) became the sixth generation, joined by Ebyholme Leader Beauty (EX) to become the 2nd 6th generation excellent. Who then produced the 7th generation excellent, Ebyholme Lindy Beautiful (EX-2E) in 2006. Not surprisingly, thirty-five descendants of the Bell family grossed over $143,000 (over 27% of the sale total) in the sale on Friday.
Another big contributor to the recent sale was Hillcroft Leader Melanie (EX-96), who Don and Brian had purchased from a somewhat reluctant seller, Robert Miller, as a bred heifer in February 2001. I can still remember when they had purchased her. Jeff Stephens had told me he had seen one that could be a great one, but was having troubles getting the deal done. Well Don and Brian did get the deal done and Jeff was correct as Melanie went on to be a 2 time All-American and 2004 Madison Grand champion. Thirteen descendants of Hillcroft Leader Melanie averaged $6938 in the sale. Including Ebyholme Goldwyn Mellow (VG-89) from a 4E-92 Gibson, then Hillcroft Leader Melanie(3E-96), then 3 VG dams. She was purchased by Yvonne Sicard, Pierre Boulet and Richardo Boulet, PQ
Is it the end of breeder herds?
For me, growing up, there were a few cornerstones when it came to breeder herds. Fradon Holsteins of Frank and Don Donkers, Dupasquir Holsteins of Oscar and Eric Dupasquier, and Ebyholme Holsteins. The interest in cattle, some international travel, a few family romances and other community involvement provided the opportunity to get to know all of these families quite well. Two of three now have held dispersals. What this tells The Bullvine is that times are a changing. , There is not always a next generation to continue the legacy.
What happens next?
I am confident that the we have not heard the last of the Eby name. Rob (son of Brian) and his wife Julie, from the great Pleasant Nook Jersey’s, purchased the sale topper Ebyholme Goldwyn Marcia EX 94 2E for $31,500. Having grown up and competed against both Rob and Julie there is no denying the level of talent and passion they have for dairy breeding. From Rob winning grand champion at Hays Classic as an intermediate showman to Julie’s perennial success showing “them Jersey’s” there is no question the Eby name has more to come.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
You will not see an Ebyholme heifer on top of the index lists or Ebyholme following the latest trend. Don and Brian, like their father Clarence and grandfather Edwin before them, took great care to protect every mating they made. They made sure that they focused each time on finding that perfect mate that would deliver the consistency, frame and longevity they so desired. We may be sad at the passing of an icon we can be enthusiastic about the future. With many of the local breeders who they had supported for many years purchasing animals in the sale and Rob and Julie purchasing the sale topper, there is more than likely a 4th Master Breeder Shield destined for Ebyholme. They have shared their legacy.