No two dairy breeders are exactly the same. They should not be stereotyped as one group but rather considered as a whole that when brought together is better than the sum of its parts.
This is direction we are pointed toward upon getting to know the thoughts of Holstein USA President Chuck Worden. Chuck is descended from a diverse dairy background himself and encourages others, including his three sons, to develop their own unique dairy philosophy. “My start in dairy cattle came through my family farm, Glen Cove Farm. My father and uncle took over their farm from their father. They had both Holsteins and beef, Scotch Shorthorns. In genetics they had more success in the beef than dairy. Today all of my three brothers also have dairies and all of my three sons have returned to our dairy.” The pride in family, uniqueness and diversity rings through every word.
“It’s a love of genetics that keeps all of our family in cattle.”
Chuck and his wife, Vanessa, point with pride to the dairy passion of their family. “Without question the biggest success story of Wormont Dairy is the interest of the next generation. All four of our children have a great passion for genetics and fine cattle. We are most proud of this.”
Chuck also points back to his own father for inspiring his love of cattle. “My father’s love for cattle genetics spanned both Holstein and Scotch Shorthorns, although most of his success was in beef cattle, having bred many All Americans. At one point he had both the International Supreme Champion (1961) and the World record Shorthorn bull at $36,000 on our farm at one time. He also served on the American Shorthorn board and was voted “builder of the breed”.
A terrific role model for future generations of Wordens.”
Wormont Dairy: Growing and Moving
Whether it’s in New Mexico or New York, Wormont Dairy has always kept their herd evolving with the market. “Currently we’ve got 275 cows, both Holstein and Jersey, all registered. We’ve relocated several times from 60 cow tie stall in the 80’s and 90’s in New York to New Mexico where we had up to 1400 cows on a dry lot and back to New York where we are currently located.” He sums up the successes of their program. “Many families, both bred and purchased, have made useable females for us to breed from. As we’re working into genomics and marketing from them we’re finding surprises as we continue to test females. While in New Mexico a young Outside son of Regancrest Jolt Diantha was used. I loved the calves and bought 700 more doses of him. While at Madison, I bought a pick out of Diantha and chose Outside as the sire. I ended up getting a daughter from this mating. Today Destiny stands at Ex-93 and is our favorite cow.” Looking back Chuck singles out Wormont Blackstar Dorian-ET. “She was our best cow in the 1990’s. She sold 16 sons into AI and spearheaded a family that put over 100 bulls into AI over a ten year time span.”
“Stay focused on your goal!”
Focus is a recurring theme of this dedicated President and Holstein breeder. “Whether you are in love with the showing or breeding for high genomics, you must stay focused on your goal. Many young breeders that I visit with will jump back and forth and never reach their goals because they lose their focus.” He supports his viewpoint with perspective gained working with the Holstein Association. “The biggest challenge we face as dairyman in the US is profitability. In tough times we’ve had to make many compromises on our dairies. One area we’ve tried not to compromise on is genetics when buying semen. With our breed association the biggest challenge will always be doing what’s right for members and the Holstein cow. There is no compromise that would take the breeding decision away from the breeders.”
Chuck explains how they walk the talk at Wormont Holsteins. “Our breeding philosophy focuses on genomics as we strive to get back into a market based breeding program for diversity in income. Over 30 young high genomic sires are always on hand based on GTPI TM and uniqueness of pedigree. We’re not on any AI exclusive list so we get new bulls as they’re available like most everyone else.” The Wormonts keep up with the changing times in their approach to marketing as well. “Although we’re in the building stages of our genomics marketing program, we use Facebook and our website, wormontdairy.com. Lindsey, our daughter, does our website and other marketing initiatives.”
Proud of People and Opportunities
Chuck Worden speaks glowingly of the experiences he has had as President of Holstein Association USA Inc. and points to the people especially. “I am humbled by the many great breeders that I served on the HAUSA board with and now call them and their families our friends. Two that stand out for their focus and resolve are Marvin Nunes of Ocean View and Bill Peck of Welcome, both headed our Genetic Advancement Committee and help influence the direction of our breed. The initiatives put forth by our CEO John Meyer when he was first hired stand out to me. He started “Complete,” our whole program that has led to increased use of many of our core programs. His Management by Objective, MBO, way of measuring success has given HAUSA about ten years of outstanding bottom line success while saving our members money on the services they use. It also allowed the board and staff a chance to see the success as it was accomplished.” Speaking of services he goes on. “Field services have never been free, but all data collectors, DHIA, DRPCs and breed associations have always operated at very conservative margins. The way they charge for services rendered has and probably will change a great deal as more and more marketing is done off of genomic predictions. All allied industry partners will work together to fund research.”
Ready to Face Challenges too!
With his commitment to American dairy breeding, Chuck doesn’t downplay the very real issues they face. “The biggest challenge that I’ve ever focused on any board has been the work done on transfer of the service work on genetic evaluations and genomic predictions from USDA to the dairy industry.” He feels quite strongly about what is needed. “This is not something we can afford to take lightly. It means protecting the integrity and preserving the “Gold Standard of the World” GTPI.”
Years of experience have given Chuck Worden a reasoned perspective on change. “The breeding industry is a constantly swinging pendulum. It‘s easy to get depressed when you feel like the breed has gone too far in one direction. I do believe the rapid rise in genomic bulls has slowed. Many great breeders I’ve witnessed don’t let the pendulum control their breeding program. They do make adjustment to their breeding programs to fit their marketing strategies, focus on your goals, not the popular bull of the month.”
“The challenge to any president is to do the best job of representing our members and our association.”
Although Chuck has spent a lot more of his “extra” time as Holstein President flying than pursuing his hobby of fishing, he is proud of the association he represents “The North American gene pool is the greatest, most in demand in the world. It’s up to our breed associations to maintain the credibility of our breed by maintaining an unbiased, accurate data collector and genetic predictor. I think we’re done a fabulous job of that.”
The Bullvine Bottom Line
No doubt family, friends and fellow dairy breeders count themselves lucky to be associated with the commitment, leadership and dedication of Chuck Worden. There is also no doubt that he feels he has benefitted most. “I’ve got a great deal of respect for the many breeders and industry leaders I’ve gotten to know and work with over the last 15 years. What makes the registered Holstein industry special is the uniqueness and diversity of our breeders. I personally realize that getting involved is worth it. I’ve gained far more than I could ever have imagined. Our involvement does make a difference!” To Chuck Worden, The Bullvine joins our readers in acknowledging your fine focus toward pulling uniqueness and diversity together for the benefit of the members of Holstein Association of America and say, “Thank you!”