To have a winner at a major dairy show is a dream for those who are passionate about dairy breeding. To lead a Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo or the Royal Winter Fair are moments that only a special few can experience. For Ernie Kueffner, of Kueffner Holsteins and Jerseys in Maryland, once was not enough and, as a result, he and Terri Packard have shared a countdown of achievement that hits those big first places not just once or twice, but four times.
“The Without Compromise Kueffner Countdown”
Here’s the Kueffner Top 4 Countdown: FOUR Royal Champions in THREE Different Breeds; TWO World Dairy Expo Supremes in 2 Breeds and ONE All-Time All- American 4-year old. He looks back and urges simplicity. “Some people ask for advice from too many sources, and then they collect it all and don’t know where to go with it. Decide what kind of cattle you like and stick with it. Know the traits that are most important to you and don’t compromise when you are making mating decisions!” This particular focus has been the foundation Kueffner counts on, builds from and wins with!
“Good Ring Sense From Good Cow Sense”
If you`re thinking of ways to either start showing cattle or how to improve, Ernie has some advice derived from his observations. “I do think there are a couple things to watch. Rear udders have become extremely important – maybe too much so. I feel that fore udder attachments and teat placement play a bigger role in the longevity of a cow. And the emphasis on big rear udders in the show ring has increased the pressure to get the udders extremely full. As you watch the great cow classes at our major shows, you see many that have lost the definition of crease and the quality of their mammary. It is not attractive.” Having shared his thoughts about udders, he goes on to other areas that shouldn’t be overlooked. “Feet and legs is the other area I am concerned about. This is not always emphasized as much as I think it should be which may be related to the focus on rear udders. In reality, feet and legs will have much more effect on a cow’s longevity.”
“They’re Always Seeing Stars!”
Having developed superior Holsteins and Jerseys, it isn’t surprising that more than one have won special places in Ernie and Terri’s hearts. For Ernie there are three in particular. “They are – Tri-Day Ashlyn-ET, KHW Regiment Apple-Red-ET and Huronia Centurion Veronica. (Read more KHW Regiment Apple-Red – Beauty, performance, and even more record accomplishments, Great Show Cows: Can they pass it on? and The 12 Greatest North American Colored Breed Show Cattle of All-Time) All three are great cows – all have been Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo – two have been Supreme Champion at Expo – and all three have been voted World Champion within their breed.” As glorious as their show records are, what they have accomplished through their offspring (both sons AND daughters) for multiple generations makes them special in Kueffner’s eyes. “It continues on and on – it is amazing to me. You can talk about the best show cows in the world, but we all know that very few of them became respected brood cows. Some of the greats produced a good son or a couple nice daughters, but it is rare to have a cow transmit superior genetics to her sons and her daughters. Ashlyn, Apple and Veronica have distinguished themselves through what they have done both inside and outside the show ring. And they aren’t done yet – they continue to raise the bar.”
Teamwork “Running Rings Around the Best”
Ernie and Terri express their feeling for their cattle in the sign which has hung in more than one of their barns, “Every cow in this barn is a lady, please treat her as such.” Perhaps this respect sums up the “Ladies’ First” achievements that their girls have delighted them with. “It was a great thrill to have Supreme Champion & Reserve Supreme Champion at 2004 WDE from the same string – two cows that we purchased for the owners, then developed and managed.” As well there have been four Grand Champions at The Royal in three different breeds. There is justifiable pride in other career highlights which include purchasing a Holstein 2-yr old who stood 14 at Expo and then developing her into the All-Time, All-American 4 year old. They earned the WDE Premier Breeder banner in two breeds during the time they managed Arethusa Farm and in 2009 had the All-American Produce of Dam for both Holsteins and Jerseys. Oh yes and both of the dams were past Supreme Champions at World Dairy Expo. Impossible feats are simply expected successes for Ernie and Terri.
“I’m Seeing Barbara From A New Perspective”
First impressions sometimes disappoint later but, in all respects, Butz-Butler Gold Barbara was everything she appeared to be when Ernie saw her in Madison in 2012. “Barbara is one of the few cows, in any breed, that offers a complete package. She is an outstanding show cow with a great pedigree, and that combination gives her worldwide marketing appeal – which makes the financial investment worthwhile. All of this makes her special.” With such obviously strong inclinations toward owning this cow, it isn’t surprising that great partners could be convinced to share his enthusiasm. “When I heard that she was for sale in August, I made a trip to Illinois. She looked outstanding but was recently fresh. I thought waiting a few weeks would help me to make the proper decision. The package price for Barbara and 10 offspring made it difficult to purchase her alone. Tim Abbott joined me on the return trip to Butlerview. After they paraded her at milking time, it was an easy decision….we agreed that it was time to own another Barbara.” Then another opportunity presented itself. “Hearing about my trip, our friend and veterinarian, Dr. Matt Iager, mentioned that he would like to invest in a great young cow if we would take care of her. Shortly thereafter, the representative from River Valley contacted us expressing their interest in investing in a Holstein. Tim and I agreed that the four potential partners all had something to offer – each brought a unique talent/skill to the partnership.” (Read more SOLD – All-Canadian & Unanimous All-American Senior 2 Year Old to Kueffner, St. Jacobs, and Dr. Matt Iager UPDATE: River Valley now a partner) Beyond Ernie’s first instincts and the impact she’s making through her offspring, Barbara continues to surprise. “Now we have worked around the cow for six weeks. And we’ve learned that Barbara is special in other ways – her attitude, appetite, great willingness to milk, and the way she responds to attention make you look forward to going to the barn.”
“Your Reputation is Your Marketing Brand. Share it on Social Media”
Ernie and Terri know that good business starts with the trust people have for the work you do and the cattle you promote. Ernie points out how important that can be. “In this business, you must build a reputation for marketing your best. We always sell cattle with deep pedigrees that the buyer can build on. And we always want to see buyers do well.” For eleven years they have used their website as a marketing tool, but recently launched a Facebook page. Terri is enthusiastic. “I am amazed at the interest this generates. It helps us grow the “brand” and allows people to feel a connection to our business, no matter where they are located around the world. Now we use Facebook to get news out quickly – whether information about a consignment, show winnings or new photos – and this leads people back to our website. I feel that combining the immediacy of social media and the substance of a good website works together to successfully promote our herd.”
“Mother Knows Best”
Terri Packard looks back to her parents, Richard and Marilyn, for life lessons that led to cows she worked with becoming well-known successes. “My mother taught me about preparing an animal for a show and she was tough! She had a winning calf at the National Show in Chicago as a teenager. She paid attention to every detail – something she learned from her father. I have clear memories of pulling all the dead (brown) winter hair off the heifers in the days before body-clipping; washing animals with bluing and putting them in the sun to whiten; having to rewash animals because she found dander; using a piece of glass to smooth the hooves; and more. But my mother felt that everyone was on an equal playing field when it came to fitting and showing. It didn’t matter how good your calf was. If you used soap and “elbow grease” and put in the time, you would be competitive.”
“Change is Good. Natural is Better”
Along with collecting numerous awards, Ernie Kueffner has witnessed changes in the show ring. “The biggest change for me has been the appearance of the cattle. Cows have much more dairy character, angularity and style. Ashlyn was a great cow, but when we look at her pictures from 2001 and compare them to cows competing today….the changes are obvious. Many cows today have a flatter, cleaner bone. They may not have as much strength and depth as in the past, but there is more style and more milk. More emphasis has been placed on breeding/buying cows with outstanding mammaries now that the major shows have been cleaned-up. And cows are going to the ring with their udders full of milk. This has been a positive change. Being somewhat familiar with what goes on at WDE, I find it a great compliment to the cattle people that they have weaned themselves from the udder tampering that went on in past decades. Almost 100% of the cattle are natural now.”
“With a Heart for Cows and a Head for Business”
For Ernie the family farm was the ultimate training ground for the business man he would become. He outlines the process. “After high school, I went to auctioneer school in Billings, Montana. Eventually, I joined my father (Ernie Sr.) as a partner in the cattle and auction businesses. In my mid-20’s I purchased my father’s share of the sale barn. I really enjoyed this business because I could travel to several states, and Ontario, purchase cattle and resell them to my customers in Wisconsin. I was very particular about what I purchased and sold, so I established an excellent customer base that appreciated what I offered. As time went by, I expanded into different businesses including a real estate company (owned with my brother) while continuing to help my father with his auction business.” With a growing resume under his belt, Ernie was ready to focus on what was closest to his heart. “At the age of 34, I sold the sale barn and moved to North Carolina to work for Arlen Buttke. We were partners on some cattle and I also helped manage his operation.”
“Talk, Look and Listen”
Both Terri and Ernie had their love of dairy cattle inspired by their parents. Terri recalls her parents’ influence. “My father enjoyed the breeding side of the business and loved to “talk cows” (or bulls) with anyone else that shared his passion.” It was similar for Ernie. “When the sale barn opened I was 10 years old. After school and on weekends, I would travel with my father to different farms to look at cattle to purchase or sell on consignment. As soon as I got my drivers’ license at 16, my father put me on the road to buy cattle. I was given a lot of responsibility and the opportunity to take it as far as I wanted.” Kueffner was introduced early to exceptional cattle buyers and sellers. “My first experiences were with four Jewish cattle dealers in Wisconsin and Illinois. They were very wise and I enjoyed listening to them. One of the dealers had many sayings that I still quote to this day. My favorite example is – ‘the good deals never quit winning and the bad deals never quit losing.’ For me, this applies to cattle, business and dealing with people on an everyday basis.”
“The ‘Glamour Purse’ Sets a Shining Example
Having been an eager student of cattle dealing, Ernie was always destined to become involved in that side of the dairy business. He fondly recalls one sale that still ranks high as a personal-best achievement. “Global Glamour (2008) was a huge undertaking and a resounding success with an average over $96,000 on 40 lots and the money was real. We co-managed the sale with Isaac Lancaster and Dan Donor of ADI and wanted it to have an international appeal.” He offers these insights into what it took then and now to build the success of the sale. “A lot of effort went into providing an “experience” for those that attended – from organizing a pre-sale trip to New York City, to the cattle presentation and the atmosphere before, during and after the sale. GG set a standard for high-focus sales in our industry and you see a lot of those ideas used today. “
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Success in the Show Ring. Success in the Sales Ring. Achieving either one is admirable. Achieving outstanding success in both areas is a mark of exceptional focus and commitment. Teamwork over the past 16 years has earned a lineup of awards second to none …and still growing! It only seems impossible until we watch Ernie Kueffner and Terri Packard doing it! Congratulations!