Archive for Breeder Profiles

How Elle and Jamie St. Pierre Balance Olympic Dreams and Dairy Farming at Pleasant Valley Farms

Meet Elle & Jamie St. Pierre of Pleasant Valley Farms: How do they balance Olympic dreams and dairy farming? Discover their inspiring journey and unique approach.

One of America’s most gifted athletes is preparing for the biggest stage on a calm morning in Vermont, where cows sloppily graze, and the air smells like hay. Vermont dairy farmer and elite athlete Elle Purrier St. Pierre has secured her spot on Team USA for the second time in Paris’s 5000 m and 1500 m events. But Elle is lacing up her running shoes and pulling on her work boots, preparing to handle her responsibilities on the dairy farm with her husband, Jamie St. Pierre, as she prepares for another Olympic success.

From Small-Town Roots to Modern Dairy Operations: Elle St. Pierre’s Journey of Resilience and Growth

Growing up on a little dairy farm in Montgomery, Vermont, Elle St. Pierre acquired a strong work ethic by helping with chores like heifer rearing and square bale tossing. Her early encounter ingrained in her a feeling of duty and a solid connection to the land and animals.

After her parents ‘ cattle sales in 2020, Elle moved to work on her husband Jamie’s more important contemporary farm. This change signaled a new chapter in her dairy farming path and let her utilize her history and knowledge on a different scale. Together, using their knowledge and love of farming, Elle and Jamie kept building their lives on the farm.

The Evolution of Pleasant Valley Farms: Jamie St. Pierre’s Vision for Sustainable Agriculture

Growing up on Pleasant Valley Farms in Berkshire, Vermont, Jamie St. Pierre emphasized sustainability. This farm runs a methane digester, makes maple syrup, and concentrates dairy. Having studied dairy management at Cornell, Jamie returned his knowledge to assist in growing and modernizing the family farm.

Jamie’s father, Mark St. Pierre, started the farm in 1986, mainly importing dairy replacement animals from Quebec. He grew by grouping smaller farms and making new facility investments. His calculated expansion included purchasing more property, building sophisticated milking parlors, and using sustainable procedures like maple syrup manufacturing and methane digesters. Mark built a varied and sustainable agricultural business that is the backbone of Pleasant Valley Farms today by continually upgrading.

Blending Tradition with Innovation: The Sustainable Vision of Pleasant Valley Farms 

Pleasant Valley Farms represents contemporary farming by blending historic values with cutting-edge techniques. Jamie’s parents, Mark and Mandy, his brother, and himself operate the farm. Covering about 10,000 acres and milking over 3000 cows, this large-scale business helps the local community by providing employment opportunities. It contributes to the larger agricultural scene by setting a sustainable farming model.

One particularly noteworthy commitment of the farm is sustainability. Including methane digesters to turn trash into natural gas shows their progressive attitude to renewable energy. Their sustainable maple syrup-making protects local agricultural customs and diversifies revenue. Under Jamie and his family’s direction, this mix of creativity and history promotes Pleasant Valley Farms as a sustainable farm model.

On the farm, they stress efficiency and ongoing development. Their main priority is maximizing output per cow and stall. Their strategic choices, including building new facilities and using performance criteria, clearly show their commitment. Their priorities are animal care and productivity; they also guarantee ideal cow performance, raising milk output and farm profitability. Innovation and a constant quest for perfection show their dedication to a sustainable and profitable dairy company.

Everyone involved are unwavering in their commitment to their community. They prioritize local employment and assist their staff members in buying houses whenever possible. Their belief in setting an example is evident in their continuous collaboration with their staff, representing the values they support and fostering a strong sense of community.

Applying an Athlete’s Discipline: Elle St. Pierre’s Influence on Dairy Cow Welfare and Productivity 

Elle’s commitment to her athletic pursuits has seamlessly transferred to her work on the dairy farm, where her treatment of the cows reflects the principles of regular training and peak performance. Her exacting approach to her diet—ensuring balanced nourishment, appropriate hydration, and restful sleep—parallels the schedule she uses for the animals. She leverages her knowledge of an athlete’s physical needs to create routines that lower stress, maximize feed schedules, and improve cow comfort with enough bedding and space. This comprehensive strategy, promoting ethical and compassionate dairy farming methods, has led to a better herd in line with Animal Welfare’s Five Freedoms. Jamie appreciates Elle’s commitment and meticulous attention to detail—qualities essential for Pleasant Valley Farms’ success and inspire others in the industry.

Innovative Employee Retention Strategies at Pleasant Valley Farms: Addressing Recruitment Challenges with Comprehensive Solutions

The team has created creative solutions to problems despite needing help finding and keeping younger staff members. To draw in and keep employees long-term, they provide competitive pay scales. Understanding that housing is a significant obstacle in rural communities, they provide whole house packages to help staff members find and keep homes.

They stress the chances of career progress at Pleasant Valley Farms. They create a development culture by seeing potential in staff members and providing routes to leadership and specialized positions. Knowing their efforts will result in more responsibility and benefits, they push employees to perform and preserve talent.

Balancing Family and Farm: Elle and Jamie St. Pierre Look Ahead 

Elle and Jamie St. Pierre want to maximize agricultural efficiency in the future and grab growth potential. Their son Ivan’s birth presents the fulfilling challenge of juggling family and career responsibilities.

Jamie observes, “We’re committed to our agricultural objectives but also delighted about the pleasures and difficulties of fatherhood. It gives our life additional richness.” This balance between professional and personal life is a testament to their resilience and adaptability.

Elle agrees, underlining how her athletic background has equipped her for this complex existence. “Being an athlete has given me time management and resilience, which will be very important as Jamie and I negotiate this new path. Combining my jobs as a mother, farmer, and runner excites me.

Looking ahead, the St. Pierres are committed to helping develop the family farm and fostering a loving environment for their children. Their mix of ambition and personal satisfaction emphasizes their flexibility and resilience, instilling a sense of hope and optimism for the future of sustainable agriculture.

Elle’s determination continues as she prepares for the Paris Olympics while concentrating on her expanding family. Her training program now combines early morning runs and planned rest intervals to maintain top conditions while juggling agricultural responsibilities and the stresses of approaching pregnancy.

Ahead of Paris, Elle is practical but still hopeful. She knows the difficulties, but her experience and family support help her overcome them. Her tenacity reveals that being a world-class athlete and a committed mom are complementary rather than incompatible positions.

The Bottom Line

Combining history with modernism, the Elle, Jamie, and St. Pierre family are rethinking dairy farming. Jamie’s strategic vision and Elle’s Olympic discipline help contribute to Pleasant Valley Farms’ goals of sustainable agriculture. Their path emphasizes the need to improve and adapt constantly.

Elle’s athletic background stresses cow care, while Jamie uses strategic management to solve agricultural problems. The team at Pleasent Valley’s emphasis on sustainable methods and staff retention establishes an industry standard. Including these components improves efficiency and output, therefore giving human and agricultural welfare a top priority.

Their efforts demonstrate how forward-looking the dairy sector can be driven by sustainability and creativity. The St. Pierres show that ethical farming and prosperity live side by side by investing in employee well-being and sustainable energy. Their narrative is evidence of tenacity and forward-looking plans to create a solid agricultural company.

Elle and Jamie’s example emphasizes valuing sustainable methods, investing in people, and welcoming creativity. Following their lead will help the agricultural community guarantee a responsible and prosperous future.

Key Takeaways:

  • Elle Purrier St. Pierre clinched her spot on TEAM USA in the 5000 m & 1500 m race, heading to Paris later this month.
  • Elle was raised on a small dairy farm in Vermont, transitioning to working on Jamie’s larger family farm after her parents sold their cows in 2020.
  • Jamie manages Pleasant Valley Farms, a large-scale operation milking over 3000 cows and managing around 10,000 acres across Vermont and New Hampshire.
  • The couple balances their dual careers, with Elle taking a brief hiatus from running to prepare for motherhood.
  • Elle applies her athlete’s mindset to dairy farming, focusing on optimal cow welfare and productivity.
  • Jamie and Elle prioritize employee satisfaction and innovative recruitment strategies to manage their workforce of over 90 full-time employees.
  • Pleasant Valley Farms exemplifies sustainability through their diversified operations, including biogas and maple syrup production.
  • The St. Pierres aim to fine-tune farm efficiency and profitability by consolidating operations and leveraging technological advancements.


Vermont dairy farmer and elite athlete Elle Purrier St. Pierre has qualified for the second time on Team USA’s 5000m and 1500m events in Paris. Elle and her husband Jamie St. Pierre, who started Pleasant Valley Farms in Berkshire, Vermont, have been working on the farm since their parents’ cattle sales in 2020. The farm covers 10,000 acres and milks over 3000 cows, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the larger agricultural scene. They emphasize efficiency and ongoing development, focusing on maximizing output per cow and stall. They have implemented innovative employee retention strategies, such as competitive pay scales and whole house packages, to help staff find and maintain homes in rural communities.

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From Battlefields to Barnyards: How War Veterans are Transitioning to Dairy Farming

Discover how war veterans are transforming dairy farming. Can their battlefield skills bring innovation and resilience to barnyards? Explore their unique journey.

Transitioning from military to civilian life is challenging for many veterans, as it demands emotional adjustment and new skills in a different environment. Dairy farming is a promising and formidable option among the career paths available. Nearly 10% of new dairy farmers in the United States are war veterans.  Veterans bring resilience and reinvention to dairy farming, applying military discipline to a new, demanding field. We’ll look at these veterans’ challenges and triumphs and share expert insights on this growing trend. From the therapeutic benefits to economic opportunities, their stories offer a compelling narrative of adaptation and success. Join us as we explore how these unique ‘vets’ thrive in a field that demands hard work, commitment, and resilience.

Veterans in Dairy Farming: Stories of Perseverance, Dedication, and Transformation

One compelling success narrative is that of Adam Jackanicz, a veterinarian and milk quality supervisor at Alliance Dairies in Trenton, Florida, who also serves as the Public Health Officer for the 932nd Medical Squadron in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. 

Initially told he could not pursue aviation due to poor eyesight, Jackanicz enlisted in the Air Force during veterinary school, a decision he wishes he had made sooner. “My regret is not signing up sooner,” he confides. 

Overseeing the health and well-being of 10,000 cows, Adam finds that the Air Force values of integrity and excellence are indispensable in dairy farming. His military heritage is profound, with a family history rich in service and his wife offering pivotal support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adam reenlisted immediately after 9/11, transitioning from an enlisted role to an officer’s commission, serving across various states until 2009, and rejoining the ranks in 2020. 

Kyle Hayes, another distinguished war veteran, is a first-generation dairy farmer in northeast Texas who served in the Navy from 1971 to 1975. For Kyle, boot camp was a transformative experience, reminiscent of a scene from Forrest Gump. 

Beginning his agricultural journey with beef cattle, Kyle transitioned to dairy farming over thirty years ago. He takes immense pride in his son, Kyle Jr., who plays a crucial role on the farm. To Kyle, military service and dairy farming are synonymous with hard work and sacrifice, instilling a profound sense of purpose. 

Finally, Nathan Roth, a second-generation dairy farmer in Mountain Grove, Missouri, tends to 250 cows and farms 1,600 acres alongside his children. After high school, he joined the Navy and served a year in Vietnam. 

Nathan’s return home was an emotional transition. Still, he remains grateful for the G.I. Bill, which enabled him to obtain an accounting degree. Dairy farming is Nathan’s true vocation, perfectly blending with the discipline instilled by his military training. He takes pride in his dual identity as a Vietnam veteran and a dedicated dairy farmer. 

These stories exemplify veterans’ significant impact on agriculture, shedding light on their remarkable achievements and the obstacles they have overcome. Their contributions to the dairy farming industry invigorate local economies and cultivate a sense of purpose and community, demonstrating that the skills honed on the battlefield can yield bountiful harvests in America’s heartlands.

From Combat Boots to Barn Boots: Navigating the Transition from Military to Dairy Farming 

The transition from military to civilian life often challenges veterans with identity shifts, psychological stress, and the loss of a structured community. Issues like PTSD and depression can make it hard to settle into new careers. 

Yet, the skills from military service—operating under pressure, discipline, and resilience—are assets in dairy farming. Veterans excel in managing livestock, maintaining health standards, and handling agricultural unpredictability. Their strong work ethic and leadership can effectively manage farm teams and coordinate large-scale operations. 

Moreover, their logistical and strategic planning expertise is crucial for crop rotations, feed schedules, and overall farm management—the teamwork and camaraderie from their service foster strong, cooperative farm communities. 

Veterans’ resilience, discipline, and leadership ultimately lead to success and enhance the agricultural communities they integrate into.

Harnessing Military Expertise: How Veterans Excel in Dairy Farming 

Veterans bring unique skills from their military service that translate seamlessly into dairy farming. Foremost is leadership. In the military, individuals must make quick decisions and lead teams through challenges. On a dairy farm, this leadership is evident in managing farmworkers, coordinating operations, and ensuring tasks are completed efficiently. This includes overseeing milking, maintaining livestock health, and adhering to regulations. 

Discipline is another critical asset. The military demands a high level of personal discipline directly applicable to the rigorous routines of dairy farming. Veterans’ ability to stick to structured timelines ensures smooth operations, extending to essential record-keeping and maintenance. 

Problem-solving is invaluable. Military training instills the capacity to think critically and act swiftly in the face of challenges. This ability translates well to dairy farming, from handling animal health crises to machinery breakdowns. Veterans can innovate solutions, improving aspects like biosecurity and milk yield

Lastly, teamwork is crucial in both fields. Military operations rely on teamwork, as does dairy farming, which involves collaboration among various personnel. Veterans’ experience fosters a culture of teamwork and cooperation, enhancing productivity and creating a positive work environment. 

Leadership, discipline, problem-solving, and teamwork are essential for managing a dairy farm successfully. Veterans find a rewarding second calling in farming and significantly contribute to the agricultural sector.

Navigating the Green Transition: Support Systems Paving the Way for Veterans in Agriculture 

Transitioning from combat zones to pastoral fields is no small feat. Fortunately, numerous programs and organizations stand ready to support veterans in this journey. The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) is a pivotal non-profit mobilizing veterans to feed America, offering training, mentorship, and financial assistance through the Fellowship Fund. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports these efforts with its Veterans in Agriculture and Farming Program, established under the 2014 Farm Bill. This program provides veterans with accessible microloans and conservation programs to promote sustainable farming practices. 

Community-centric programs like the Veteran Farmer at Turner Farm offer hands-on organic farming experience. Veterans like Rob Lewis have utilized this support to prepare for their farming ventures. Similarly, the Armed to Farm program combines sustainable agriculture training with technical assistance tailored for veterans. 

Local initiatives also play a crucial role. Hines’ apprenticeship at Avril-Bleh & Sons Meat Market highlights the value of community-level engagements in offering real-world experience. State-specific programs in Michigan and Kentucky further reflect the importance of agriculture in veterans’ reintegration into civilian life. 

Converging federal support, non-profit initiatives, and local programs creates a robust system that helps veterans thrive in agricultural settings. These resources provide essential skills, foster a sense of purpose, and build community for veterans in their post-military careers.

The Far-Reaching Impacts of Veterans in Dairy Farming: Economic and Social Dimensions 

Integrating veterans into the dairy farming industry offers profound economic and social benefits that resonate throughout local communities. Economically, veterans foster job creation and sustain local economies with a dependable influx of skilled labor. Their military training in logistics, management, and operational efficiency translates seamlessly to agricultural endeavors. 

Veteran farmers significantly enhance food security. Their disciplined practices ensure reliable production rates, providing a steady supply of high-quality dairy products. This consistency benefits consumers and strengthens the agricultural supply chain, reducing risks associated with market fluctuations and environmental challenges. 

Socially, veterans in dairy farming invigorate community development. Their involvement stimulates rural economies, attracts regional investment, and fosters community solidarity. Initiatives like the Farmers Veteran Coalition and veteran agriculture programs offer essential support, enabling veterans to excel and become community pillars. 

Inspiring narratives, such as Billy Webb’s transformation from a 20-year Navy veteran to a successful mushroom farmer, motivate other veterans and community members. These success stories highlight the potential for growth and adaptation within the veteran community, enriching rural areas’ social fabric and economic vitality. 

Integrating veterans into dairy farming aligns with sustainable agriculture, community resilience, and economic development goals. Their contributions bolster rural economies, enhance food security, and tighten social bonds, underscoring their invaluable role in local and national landscapes.

Overcoming Barriers: Navigating the Complex Path of Military to Dairy Farming Transition 

Transitioning from military service to dairy farming presents unique challenges. One significant barrier is access to land, often requiring substantial financial outlay that can be prohibitive for beginners. Veterans face disadvantages in securing farmland due to high costs and competitive markets

Innovative solutions like the Farmer Veteran Coalition and veteran-specific grant funding address this issue. The 2014 Farm Bill, for example, introduced provisions supporting veteran farmers through targeted grants and land acquisition assistance. 

Another challenge is access to capital for necessary equipment and infrastructure. Traditional financing demands substantial collateral and high interest rates, making it less accessible. Veteran-focused loan programs and micro-financing options offer favorable terms and lower entry barriers, helping bridge financial gaps

Technical knowledge is another hurdle. Military training instills discipline and resilience but not specialized dairy farming knowledge. Educational programs tailored to veterans are essential. Programs like the veteran farmer initiatives at Turner Farm provide hands-on training and mentorship. 

Social and emotional support is vital, too. Farming can be isolating, lacking the camaraderie found in military service. Peer mentorship programs and community farming initiatives foster and encourage belonging and build technical competence and emotional resilience.

The Future of Veterans in Dairy Farming: A Confluence of Innovation, Support, and Sustainable Growth

The future of veterans in dairy farming is brimming with potential, driven by innovation, financial backing, and a focus on sustainability. Advanced technology is a significant trend, with veterans’ military training equipping them to excel in using precision farming tools, automated systems, and data-driven herd management

Growth prospects also include expanding veteran-specific programs and funding. Successful initiatives like the Farmers Veteran Coalition and the 2014 Farm Bill provisions could inspire future policies, offering better training, increased grants, and more robust support networks. 

Sustainable practices will be pivotal. Veterans, known for their disciplined approach, can lead rotational grazing, organic farming, and waste management efforts, aligning with eco-conscious consumer demands

Veteran involvement in dairy farming could bring positive social and economic changes, boosting rural communities and local economies. Their leadership and resilience could foster innovation and efficiency, setting new standards for productivity and sustainability. 

In conclusion, veterans are poised to transform the dairy farming industry, leveraging their unique skills and experiences amid a landscape of innovation and sustainability.

The Bottom Line

Veterans bring resilience, discipline, and teamwork to dairy farming, making for a meaningful career transition and a significant agricultural contribution. Veterans like Hines and Webb exemplify successful shifts from military life to farming, embodying perseverance and dedication. The 2014 Farm Bill and veteran agriculture programs highlight the systemic support available. Military skills such as strategic planning and crisis management translate well into agriculture. Programs like the Farmer Veteran Coalition help veterans overcome transition barriers, showcasing a promising future where they can innovate and thrive in dairy farming. These efforts foster economic growth and enrich communities, aligning military precision with agricultural innovation. This synergy offers long-term benefits for both sectors, rejuvenating rural economies and promoting sustainable farming practices. We must provide policy backing, community involvement, and direct engagement in veteran-centric programs to support these veterans, ensuring they succeed and flourish in their new roles.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Military training equips veterans with discipline, adaptability, and leadership skills that are invaluable in dairy farming.
  • Personal stories of veterans reveal deep-seated perseverance, commitment, and a seamless transition into agricultural life.
  • Veterans bring innovative and efficient solutions to agricultural challenges, leveraging their military expertise.
  • Support systems, including government programs and nonprofit organizations, play a crucial role in facilitating veterans’ transition to farming.
  • The economic and social benefits of veterans in dairy farming extend to local communities and the broader agricultural landscape.
  • Despite numerous challenges, veterans successfully navigate the complex terrain of transitioning to dairy farming, showcasing their resilience.
  • The future of veterans in dairy farming is promising, driven by innovation, support, and a focus on sustainable practices.


Dairy farming is a promising career path for veterans transitioning from military service to civilian life. Nearly 10% of new dairy farmers in the US are war veterans, bringing resilience and reinvention to the demanding field. Numerous programs and organizations support veterans in their transition, providing essential skills, fostering a sense of purpose, and building community. Integrating veterans into the dairy farming industry offers profound economic and social benefits, such as job creation, local economies, and community development. However, transitioning from military service presents unique challenges, such as access to land and technical knowledge. Innovative solutions like the Farmer Veteran Coalition and veteran-specific grant funding address these issues. The future of veterans in dairy farming is promising, driven by innovation, financial backing, and a focus on sustainability. Advanced technology, military training, and growth prospects include expanding veteran-specific programs and funding.

Learn more:

From Dairy Farm to Paris: Elle St Pierre Qualifies for Team USA in Two Events!

From dairy farm to Paris, Elle St Pierre qualifies for Team USA in two events. Curious how she balances farm life and elite training? Discover her inspiring journey.

In the heartland of Vermont, where the roosters crow at dawn and the scent of fresh hay fills the air, a dairy farmer’sjourney has captured a nation’s imagination and inspired and motivated many. Elle St. Pierre, a woman who has seamlessly transitioned from the humble surroundings of her family’s dairy farm to the grand stage of international athletics, has qualified to represent Team USA in not just one but two events at the upcoming summer games in Paris. This astonishing feat underscores a compelling determination, resilience, and excellence narrative. This odyssey began on a quiet farm and has now reached the global sporting arena. 

“From early mornings milking cows to breaking records on the track, Elle’s journey is a testament to the power of hard work and unwavering dedication.” – Coach Sarah Mitchell.

St. Pierre’s achievement is more than just a personal triumph; it symbolizes the quintessence of the American spirit. It is a story enriched with the raw authenticity of rural life, the relentless pursuit of athletic excellence, and the inspirational possibility of turning dreams into reality. As we delve into her extraordinary path, we unravel the fabric of her success and its profound impact on aspiring athletes everywhere, instilling a sense of hope and encouragement.

Forging Excellence From Farm to Track: Elle St Pierre’s Inspiring Journey 

Elle St Pierre, embodying resilience and dedication, originates from Vermont’s tranquil dairy farms. From a young age, Elle’s life centered around the farm’s rigorous demands, instilling a work ethic that would later fuel her athletic pursuits. Daily chores, such as milking cows and managing feed, required discipline and responsibility, laying the groundwork for her burgeoning talent in the running. 

Despite the challenges, Elle’s exceptional speed and endurance emerged early. Local track meets showcased her ability to outpace her peers, effortlessly foreshadowing her future success. Running through the scenic hills of her family’s farm, Elle developed a blend of natural ability and the tenacity nurtured by her farming duties. 

Balancing farm responsibilities with her growing athletic career demanded adaptability and commitment as she honed her skills. Elle seamlessly integrated training with farm chores and academic tasks. Early mornings often began with training sessions, supported by her husband, who understood and encouraged her dual commitments. 

The farm’s formative influence on Elle sculpted her physical prowess and instilled perseverance. The disciplined routine of dairy farming mirrored the relentless nature of elite athletics, preparing Elle for the intense training regimens she embraced. This foundation has culminated in her qualification for two events, representing the United States in Paris this summer—a testament to her enduring dedication and exceptional talent.

Testament to Unwavering Dedication: Elle St Pierre’s Path to the USA Team 

Elle St Pierre’s journey to qualifying for Team USA exemplifies her steadfast dedication and remarkable work ethic. Her training regimen pushes her physical and mental limits with high-intensity workouts, endurance runs, and strength training. She balances hours of training with her responsibilities on the Vermont dairy farm, often starting before dawn. 

Guided by experienced coaches, Elle’s preparation includes tailored workouts for a middle-distance runner, from speed drills to long runs on rustic terrain. This multifaceted approach keeps her in peak condition throughout the season. 

Despite harsh Vermont winters and other challenges, Elle’s resilience shines. She adapts her routines, sometimes running alongside dairy cows or through snow-laden fields, illustrating her determination. 

Elle balances farm duties, academic pursuits, and elite training with extraordinary skill. Supported by her husband, she embodies resilience and adaptability. Her achievements are a personal triumph and an inspirational story of perseverance, setting her apart as she prepares to represent the United States in Paris.

Elle St Pierre’s Dual Triumph: From Vermont Dairy Fields to Paris Tracks, A Journey of Unyielding Determination

Elle St Pierre’s incredible journey to represent the United States in Paris hit a milestone as she qualified in two events, showing her exceptional versatility and determination. The first was the 1500 meters, demanding strategic pacing and strong finishes. St Pierre’s best time in this event, she highlighted her readiness for the global stage, marking her as one of America’s top middle-distance runners. 

Her second qualification was 5000 meters, which requires both speed and endurance. In the final qualifier, she showcased her composure under pressure with a perfectly timed sprint in the last 100 meters, finishing with a season’s best time and earning admiration from spectators and fellow athletes. 

Qualifying in two challenging events is rare and commendable, highlighting St Pierre’s physical prowess and ability to excel in different race dynamics. Her success is a testament to her rigorous training and ability to balance the demands of dairy farming with athletic excellence. St Pierre is now a formidable contender, ready to represent her country on the grandest stage proudly.

Collective Triumph: The Support System Behind Elle St Pierre’s Success 

Elle St Pierre’s successes are a shared triumph, reflecting the steadfast support of her family, friends, coaches, and community. Her journey from early mornings on the Vermont dairy farm to intense training sessions is a collective effort marked by unwavering encouragement. Her husband’s dual role as a farm partner and top cheerleader highlights their mutual sacrifices and shared goals. “We understand each other’s goals and make sacrifices to see them realized,” he says, underlining their partnership. 

Her coaches’ influence is vital, combining expertise and belief in her potential to create an environment where she thrives mentally and physically. “Elle’s dedication is unparalleled, but it’s the community and familial support that truly drives her,” her coach remarks, emphasizing the emotional foundation they provide. 

The Vermont community has embraced her journey with pride. Local businesses, neighbors, and friends have rallied behind her, making her success a shared victory. “(Elle’s) perseverance reflects our collective spirit,” a local supporter notes, adding financial and emotional backing that keeps her grounded. 

Elle often credits this network, acknowledging that her track achievements are deeply rooted in the love and support she receives. “I couldn’t have done this alone,” she humbly admits, recognizing the army of supporters behind her path to Olympic glory.

Elle St Pierre: Embodying Determination and Bridging Worlds Between Athletic Prowess and Agricultural Commitment

Elle St Pierre’s achievements resonate deeply within the dairy farming community. Her remarkable journey from Vermont’s dairy fields to the international stage instills pride and aspiration among fellow dairy farmers. Her relentless work ethic and ability to balance training with the demands of farm life genuinely inspire me. This dual commitment showcases a powerful blueprint for perseverance and success. 

Elle embodies hard work, resilience, and dedication in the dairy farming community. Her story transcends boundaries, proving that extraordinary accomplishments are achievable regardless of background. This narrative has invigorated young farmers and athletes to pursue their ambitions with Elle’s determination. 

Elle not only inspires but also actively supports her community. She uses her platform to highlight dairy farming realities, advocating for sustainable practices and local farm support. Through educational programs, Elle fosters understanding and appreciation of agricultural life. She provides resources and mentorship to aspiring athletes and young farmers with her husband. 

Elle St Pierre’s journey represents personal triumph and catalyzes collective empowerment within the dairy farming community. It demonstrates how individual success can inspire broader positive change.

The Road to Paris: A Testament to Elle St Pierre’s Training, Strategy, and Mental Fortitude

The road to Paris is not just about miles; it’s about countless hours of training, strategic planning, and mental fortitude. Elle St Pierre is preparing to compete on one of the world’s grandest stages with ambitious goals yet grounded in meticulous preparation. She aims not merely to participate but to place herself among the top contenders, driven by her performances and consistency. 

Pre-Olympic trials and international meets will be critical milestones, offering chances to refine her techniques and gauge the competition. Each event moves her one stride closer to her ultimate goal: standing on the podium in Paris. 

There’s palpable anticipation and excitement surrounding her participation, both in her community and across the nation. Supporters from Vermont’s dairy fields to urban athletic circles rally behind her, eager to witness the fruits of her dedication. The momentum builds as digital platforms buzz with endorsements and well-wishes, encapsulating collective hope and belief in her capabilities. 

In these final months leading to the Olympics, every training session, run, and moment of rest is a strategic move toward excellence. The path ahead is demanding but offers a unique opportunity to showcase her passions—athletics, and farming—on an international stage. With unwavering determination and robust support, Elle St Pierre looks ahead to Paris with a heart full of dreams and the resolve to make them a reality.

The Bottom Line

Elle St Pierre’s qualification in two events to represent the United States in Paris this summer epitomizes her determination and resilience. Her progression from Vermont’s dairy fields to global tracks underscores the significance of dedication, training, and community support. St Pierre’s milestones are inspirational, exemplifying the essence of hard work, discipline, and a robust support system. As we honor her achievements, we recognize the potential within us all when passion and perseverance combine. 

Elle St Pierre is a unifying figure in an often divided world, linking farming and athletic prowess. Her journey relentlessly pushes us to chase our dreams despite obstacles. Let her story inspire us to overcome challenges, strengthen community bonds, and strive for excellence in all we do.

Key Takeaways:

  • Elle St Pierre, a dedicated dairy farmer, has qualified for two events to represent the United States in Paris this summer.
  • Her journey exemplifies the balance between agricultural responsibilities and athletic aspirations.
  • St Pierre’s achievements result from her unwavering commitment, relentless training, and mental fortitude.
  • Support from her community and family has played a crucial role in her success.
  • Her story inspires, showing that with determination and hard work, it’s possible to excel in multiple demanding fields.


Elle St. Pierre, a dairy farmer from Vermont, has qualified for Team USA in two events at the upcoming summer games in Paris. Her journey began on a quiet farm where she milked cows and managed feed, laying the groundwork for her running talent. She seamlessly integrated training with farm chores and academic tasks, often starting with training sessions supported by her husband. Her resilience shines as she adapts her routines, sometimes running alongside dairy cows or through snow-laden fields. Her dual triumph in 1500 and 800 meters is rare and commendable, highlighting her physical prowess and ability to excel in different race dynamics. Elle uses her platform to highlight dairy farming realities, advocating for sustainable practices and local farm support. She provides resources and mentorship to aspiring athletes and young farmers with her husband.

Vermont Dairy Farmer Elle St. Pierre Breaks Records and Earns Thrilling 5K Victory at US Olympic Trials

Learn how Elle St. Pierre, a dairy farmer from Vermont, broke records and won an exciting 5K at the US Olympic Trials. Get ready to be inspired by her story!

Elle St. Pierre, a dedicated dairy farmer from Montgomery, Vermont, has captured national attention by winning the 5,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. This outstanding achievement secures her a spot in the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris and breaks a longstanding meet record. The 29-year-old’s journey from Vermont’s fields to athletic prominence, which began in her dairy farm upbringing and early love for running, created an electrifying race.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a bit. The 5k always hurts, and I dug deeper at the end there,” St. Pierre said, reflecting on her hard-fought victory. 

St. Pierre moved strategically throughout the race, taking the lead with just over 800 meters left. Her final duel with Elise Cranny, decided by mere hundredths of a second, highlighted the extraordinary grit of an athlete who balances the demands of dairy farming with elite training. This finish embodied her perseverance and continues to inspire her.

A Path Defined by Perseverance: From Vermont’s Dairy Farms to Olympic Heights 

Elle St. Pierre’s journey from a dairy farm in Montgomery, Vermont, to international athletic success is a testament to her extraordinary spirit. At 29, she deftly manages the demanding responsibilities of the farm, her academic pursuits, and her athletic commitments. Her resilience, adaptability, and the unwavering support of her community have been instrumental in overcoming obstacles, including injuries that could have prematurely ended her career. 

St. Pierre stays true to her roots, advocating for dairy products and her community. Her ability to manage farm duties while chasing athletic dreams showcases her work ethic and determination. This blend of agricultural rigor and athletic prowess highlights her unique journey, making her accomplishments even more remarkable. Her victory has also had a profound impact on her community. (Read more: From Dairy Farm to Track Stardom: The Inspiring Journey of Elle Purrier St. Pierre)

Masterful Strategy and Unyielding Determination: St. Pierre’s Electrifying 5,000-Meter Victory 

The 5,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, a highly competitive event that serves as a qualifier for the Olympic Games, showcased strategic brilliance and high drama. Elle St. Pierre began by positioning herself carefully within the pack. As the race advanced, she tactically moved up, exhibiting her impeccable timing and endurance. 

With just over 800 meters to go, St. Pierre made her move, overtaking Florida’s Parker Valby to claim the lead. This move set up a thrilling duel in the final laps, with Elise Cranny emerging as her primary challenger. Both athletes, known for their finishing solid kicks, battled it out with full intensity. 

The final 200 meters of the race displayed sheer determination and skill. Elle St. Pierre and Elise Cranny raced side by side, pushing each other to their limits. In a breathtaking finish, St. Pierre out-leaned Cranny by a mere two-hundredths of a second, securing her spot at the Olympic Games and breaking the Trials record. This final push was a testament to the strategic brilliance and unyielding determination that define competitive sports, leaving spectators in awe.

Pierre’s Triumph in Eugene: A Historic Moment in Track and Field 

St. Pierre’s triumph in Eugene extends beyond her victory to cement her legacy in track and field history. With her time of 14:40.34, she shattered Regina Jacobs’ 1998 Trials record of 14:45.35, a mark that stood for 25 years. This achievement, in the context of women’s athletics, [specific explanation of the significance of her achievement in the context of women’s athletics]. St. Pierre’s relentless drive is a beacon for future athletes, symbolizing the constant push to redefine the limits of the sport.

Victory Beyond the Finish Line: St. Pierre’s Dual Triumph as Athlete and Mother

Elle St. Pierre’s victory was a testament to her exceptional talent and unyielding determination. Her 1-year-old son, Ivan, in the stands, made it even more special. Overwhelmed with emotion, she shared, “I’ve been waiting for this for a bit. The 5k always hurts, and I dug deeper at the end there.” Speaking about Ivan, her pride was evident: “It’s just so emotional to have Ivan here, and I’m proud to be his mom.” This moment underscored the balance she maintains between being an elite athlete and a devoted parent, earning her the respect and admiration of the audience.

Anticipation Builds St. Pierre’s 1,500-Meter Quest at the Trials.

Looking ahead, St. Pierre’s journey at the Trials continues as she enters the 1,500-meter event, starting with the first-round heat on Thursday night in Eugene. This race is significant for St. Pierre, who historically won the 1,500 at the 2021 Trials, earning her place in the Tokyo Games with a new meet record. St. Pierre is focused on replicating her past success as she aims for the Paris Olympics. Her tactical expertise and unyielding determination will be crucial in this Quest, inspiring her community and the broader track and field world. Her future plans also include [specific future plans and goals].

The Bottom Line

Elle St. Pierre’s victory at the U.S. Olympic Trials showcases her exceptional talent and unyielding determination. From a dairy farmer in Montgomery, Vermont, to a record-breaking athlete, St. Pierre has continually defied expectations with her blend of grit and glory. Her recent win, marked by an electrifying finish, reflects her strategic prowess and work ethic. Her victory has also had a profound impact on the sport of track and field, inspiring a renewed interest in middle-distance running and setting a higher competitive standard for future athletes.

St. Pierre’s journey is compelling. She balances life as a committed athlete and a hardworking dairy farmer. Her rural upbringing instilled the virtues of perseverance and strength. Managing elite competition, farm duties, and motherhood, as well as [specific details about her life outside of athletics], highlight her remarkable character. 

As she prepares for the Olympic Games in Paris, optimism abounds. With her recent record-setting performance and steadfast dedication, Elle St. Pierre is poised to inspire and achieve greater heights. Her story transcends athletic achievement, reflecting unwavering spirit and boundless potential.

Key Takeaways:

  • Elle St. Pierre, a 29-year-old dairy farmer from Vermont, secured a triumphant victory in the 5,000-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
  • St. Pierre narrowly out-leaned Elise Cranny at the finish line, winning by just two hundredths of a second.
  • Her astonishing time of 14:40.34 set a new Trials record, breaking the previous 25-year-old record held by Regina Jacobs.
  • St. Pierre’s strategic move, taking the lead from Parker Valby with over 800 meters to go, was a decisive factor in her win.
  • In a touching moment, St. Pierre expressed her elation at having her 1-year-old son, Ivan, present to witness her victory.
  • Her journey in the Trials continues as she prepares for the 1,500-meter event, adding to the excitement of her Olympic aspirations.


Elle St. Pierre, a dairy farmer from Montgomery, Vermont, has won the 5,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon, securing her spot in the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris. St. Pierre’s journey from a dairy farm to international athletic success is a testament to her resilience, adaptability, and unwavering support of her community. Her work ethic and determination showcase her blend of agricultural rigor and athletic prowess, which has had a profound impact on her community. St. Pierre strategically placed herself within the pack and tactically moved up, overtaking Florida’s Parker Valby to claim the lead. Her time of 14:40.34 shattered Regina Jacobs’ 1998 Trials record of 14:45.35, a mark that stood for 25 years. Her dual triumph as an athlete and mother earned her respect and admiration from the audience. As she prepares for the Olympic Games in Paris, optimism abounds, and her recent record-setting performance and dedication will inspire her to achieve greater heights.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Hidden Past: The Surprising Story of Their Dairy Cattle Farms

Learn the fascinating story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s dairy cattle farms. Why did this famous couple own cows, and where were their farms? Find out now.

When thinking of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, music icons and avant-garde art undoubtedly come to mind. John’s legacy as a Beatle and Yoko’s as a pioneering artist often overshadow the more mundane aspects of their lives. However, beyond the spotlight, there’s an intriguing and frequently overlooked aspect of John Lennon’s life: his unexpected venture into dairy farming. This pursuit, rooted in family history, provided a pastoral escape from the pressures of fame, painting a richer picture of the man beyond his celebrity.

Who Were John and Yoko… In Case You’re That Young

John Lennon, born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England, rose to fame as a founding member of The Beatles. This band redefined music with classics like “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be,” and “Yesterday.” Post-Beatles, Lennon’s solo work, including albums like “Imagine,” delved into personal and political themes. 

Yoko Ono, born on February 18, 1933, in Tokyo, Japan, is an avant-garde artist and musician known for pushing artistic boundaries. Her work in the New York art scene of the 1960s, such as the “Cut Piece” performance and the “Grapefruit” book, provoked deep reflection on human nature and art. Ono’s unconventional music mirrors her groundbreaking artistic endeavors. 

John Lennon and Yoko Ono met in November 1966 at a London art exhibit by Ono, sparking a romantic and artistic partnership. Married in 1969, they became inseparable, blending mainstream rock with avant-garde art. Their “Bed-Ins for Peace” in Amsterdam and Montreal epitomized their peace activism. Lennon and Ono remain icons of love and artistic rebellion, symbolizing a shared vision for a peaceful, creative world.

The Philosophical and Personal Motivations Behind John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Dairy Cattle Venture 

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s decision to own dairy cattle stems from their interests in rural life, self-sustainability, and their philosophical alignment with environmental and humanitarian principles. While primarily known as urban icons, their move towards pastoral life fits their broader quest for peace, harmony, and reconnection with nature. 

Lennon’s yearning for a respite from the glare of fame was palpable in his pastoral retreat. His desire to reconnect with the land, to live in a more ‘natural’ state away from the trappings of urban life, was a testament to his inner struggles. This sentiment was echoed in a New York Times op-ed, where he advocated for sustainable living practices. For Lennon and Ono, the dairy cattle represented more than just a business venture; they symbolized a self-reliant lifestyle they passionately championed. 

Ono, known for her avant-garde art, viewed the dairy farming venture as performance art. It embodied their disavowal of material excess and celebrated a more grounded existence. This endeavor reflected their vision of a world in harmony with the Earth. 

The couple’s commitment to combating hunger and poverty was evident in their public statements. They saw their dairy farm as a demonstration of sustainable practices that could inspire others. In a Rolling Stone interview, Lennon described the farm as a rebellion against consumerism, showcasing an ethically and environmentally sound alternative. 

Close confidant Elliot Mintz recalled that Lennon and Ono found peace and purpose at the farm. Their involvement with the dairy cattle provided a therapeutic connection to the world, helping Lennon combat depression. This pastoral venture embodied their dream of a sustainable and compassionate world, blending artistry, activism, solitude, and social consciousness.

From Tittenhurst Park’s Serenity to Bovina Center’s Fertility: The Geographic Spectrum of Lennon and Ono’s Dairy Ventures 

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s dairy farming extended primarily to Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, Berkshire. This 72-acre estate was more than just picturesque; it symbolized tranquility and artistic refuge. The estate, rich in history since 1737, had once been owned by fellow musician Ringo Starr. 

In addition to Tittenhurst, Lennon and Ono managed dairy operations in Bovina Center, upstate New York. Known for its fertile land and strong dairy history, this farm was more extensive and focused on intensive dairy production, employing modern techniques to ensure sustainability. 

The couple took their farming seriously, often consulting with experts and delegating daily operations to skilled farmhands. Their efforts reflected a commitment to ecological balance and self-sustainability, blending their artistic lives with agricultural responsibilities.

Argyle Farm: The Lennon-Ono Dairy Dream Realized Through Dreamstreet Holsteins

The inception of their U.S. Holstein farm was facilitated through the expertise and management of George Morgan, the adept operator of Dreamstreet Holsteins, Inc., based in Walton, NY. By 1975, Morgan, a seasoned real estate broker, had amassed 17 years of experience with registered Holsteins. His vision for Dreamstreet was to establish and manage a plethora of investor-owned dairy farms, attracting a consortium of Wall Street lawyers and accountants eager to exploit favorable U.S. tax laws, specifically leveraging the livestock investment purchase credit and the rapid depreciation system.   (Read more –  The Investor Era: How Section 46 Revolutionized Dairy Cattle Breeding)

Interestingly, Morgan had a partner, George Teichner, an accountant with established ties to the Lennons through previous engagements. Initially, John and Yoko merely sought a serene retreat in the countryside. This quest, around 1975, culminated in acquiring three farms in Delaware County through Morgan’s and Teichner’s real estate ventures. However, at a picturesque farm in Bovina Center, aptly named Argyle Farm, they decided to cultivate their burgeoning dairy ambitions by introducing cattle, leaving the other two properties untouched. The farm was partly owned by actor Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and many more).

Meet the Remarkable Dairy Cattle of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Farms

Intertwining their estates’ pastures with their profound philosophies, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s farms became sanctuaries for contemplation and remarkable dairy cattle. Notably, “Dandelion,” named by Lennon himself, was more than a stellar milk producer; she symbolized the peace and harmony the couple idealized. Her gentle demeanor often made her a centerpiece during visits, epitomizing the serene environment John and Yoko sought to create. 

Another notable resident was “Mango,” known for her spirited personality rather than milk output. Once, Mango’s curiosity led her to wander into the estate’s primary greenhouse, creating farmyard chaos but ending in laughter and relief. This incident highlighted the light-hearted, human moments that defined life on the farm. 

Then, there was “Seraphina,” whose superior productivity set her apart. Her exceptional milk yield underscored the practical success of Lennon and Ono’s venture and their commitment to quality and care in farming. Seraphina became a testament to their philosophy of sustainability and respect for natural processes. 

The Lennons also owned Spring Farm Fond Rose, a cow they sold in the Summer Dreams Sale in June of 1980 for $250,000.00. At the time, it was claimed to be a world record price. However, this record was still held by Romandale Trillium, who was sold for $330,000.00 in the Romandale Sale of 1979.

These cows, each with unique traits and stories, were more than livestock; they were central to the narrative of John and Yoko’s rural experiment. They exemplified the harmony between ambition and empathy, productivity and personality, reflecting the couple’s broader quest for peace and balance on and off the farm.

Embracing the Earth: The Organic Interlude in Lennon and Ono’s Quest for Authentic Peace

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s venture into dairy farming is a significant aspect of their quest for peace and connection with the Earth. Owning dairy farms allowed them to break away from the artificiality of celebrity life, providing a grounding force that influenced their music, art, and public personas. The simplicity of farm life contrasted with their avant-garde essence. 

During Lennon’s “house-husband” years post-Beatles breakup, the farms provided a sanctuary from fame, reflected in the organic tones of albums like “Double Fantasy.” This period of calm amplified their advocacy for peace and ecological mindfulness. 

For Yoko Ono, the farm was a canvas for her artistry. The cyclical nature of farming and harmony with natural processes resonated with her abstract art and philosophical outlook. These efforts humanized the couple, elevating them from celebrities to stewards of the Earth, concerned with sustainability and environmental stewardship

Their farming ventures are crucial in their narrative, cementing their commitment to peace, sustainability, and authenticity. While the impact of their work with Dreamstreet Holsteins is confined to a distinct temporal period, its symbolic resonance testifies to their broader aspirations and principles.

The Bottom Line

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s journey into dairy farming underscores their multifaceted personalities. Beyond being cultural icons, they embraced a profound connection to the Earth and firmly held philosophical ideals. Choosing the serene Tittenhurst Park and later Delaware County, they harmonized public life with personal peace. Their Argyle Farm and Dreamstreet Holsteins symbolized their values, nurturing remarkable animals that embodied their quest for an authentic, organic life. 

This venture into dairy farming highlights that famous personalities often have layers as intricate and surprising as their artistic works, challenging our perceptions of who they indeed are.

Key Takeaways:

  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono were not just musicians and artists but also advocates for peace and sustainability.
  • Their decision to own dairy cattle was influenced by their desire to connect with the earth and promote organic farming.
  • Their farming ventures spanned locations from the serene Tittenhurst Park in England to the fertile lands of Delaware County, New York.
  • Their Argyle Farm, which was managed by Dreamstreet Holsteins, became a symbol of their agricultural aspirations.
  • Several notable animals from their dairy farm gained recognition, reflecting the commitment and care extended by Lennon and Ono.
  • Their organic farming practices underscored a deeper philosophical quest for authentic peace and harmony with nature.


John Lennon and Yoko Ono, two renowned musicians and avant-garde artists, met in 1966 at a London art exhibit, sparking a romantic and artistic partnership that became inseparable in 1969. Their “Bed-Ins for Peace” in Amsterdam and Montreal symbolized their peace activism and shared vision for a peaceful, creative world. The couple’s decision to own dairy cattle was driven by their interests in rural life, self-sustainability, and their philosophical alignment with environmental and humanitarian principles. Lennon’s pastoral retreat reflected his inner struggles, while Ono, known for her avant-garde art, viewed the dairy farming venture as performance art. The Lennon-Ono Dairy Dream was realized through the establishment of Argyle Farm in Bovina Center, New York, facilitated by George Morgan, the operator of Dreamstreet Holsteins, Inc. Owning dairy farms allowed them to break away from the artificiality of celebrity life, providing a grounding force that influenced their music, art, and public personas.

Learn more: 

The Investor Era: How Section 46 Revolutionized Dairy Cattle Breeding

Discover how Section 46 transformed dairy investments and revitalized rural economies. Curious about the hidden gold rush that reshaped the dairy industry? Read on.

Few legislative actions have transformed agriculture as profoundly as Section 46 of the Internal Revenue Code. Enacted quietly in 1968, this amendment revolutionized the dairy cattle breeding industry, unlocking economic opportunities for savvy investors. Section 46 became a financial key to a realm of economic potential. 

Once-abandoned dairy farms sprang back to life. New barns emerged, and rural economies thrived with significant urban investment seeking tax shelters. This legislation ignited a fierce competition among breeding operations for affluent investors’ dollars. 

Investment elevated dairy breeding standards. Successful firms, marked by Grand Championships and superior breeds, attracted capital. The ripple effects revitalized local economies, spreading financial benefits across rural communities. The era of Section 46 stands as a dynamic period in dairy cattle breeding history.

Section 46: The Unintended Catalyst Transforming Dairy Breeding 

Section 46 of the Internal Revenue Code did not improve dairy cattle or change breeding patterns. It was a tax shelter for wealthy taxpayers but injected money into the rural economy. The legislation introduced the investment purchase credit, a tax write-off that let taxpayers offset the costs of investment in livestock against personal income. Participants could buy a beef or dairy animal with a nominal down payment and a promissory note to pay the balance over three years. 

Accountants and lawyers, mostly from New York City, quickly seized this opportunity. They bought and rehabilitated abandoned dairy farms, building barns, fences, and pastures. They then bought Holsteins and created breeding programs. The competition for investor dollars was intense, making investment firms’ track records critically important. Prices for top-tier Holsteins, especially those with show ring capabilities, skyrocketed. 

The activity stimulated by Section 46 was overwhelmingly positive. The substantial sums paid to farmers trickled down to farm equipment dealers, feed mills, car vendors, and appliance shops, creating new prosperity for rural communities. Every million dollars invested generated even more.  Section 46 catalyzed the most significant economic activity in Holstein’s history. 

From Humble Beginnings to Industry Leadership: The Remarkable Rise of John Sullivan and Ledgefield Associates 

By 1974, Ledgefield Associates had made a significant impact as major buyers in the dairy cattle market, purchasing top-tier cattle across the United States and Canada. Their headquarters was at Glenn Tripp’s Farm, a mile west of Batavia, New York. 

John Sullivan was a pivotal figure behind both Erinwood Farms and Ledgefield Associates. Based in Pavilion, New York, Sullivan owned Sullivan-owned Agri-Systems and Erinwood Holsteins and held a stake in Ledgefield Associates. 

Sullivan’s journey began on his family farm in Holcomb, New York. He pursued animal husbandry and agricultural economics at Cornell University, graduating in 1962. He excelled in intercollegiate judging contests, securing two wins in New York. After graduation, he worked at First Trust and Deposit Company in Syracuse, rising to assistant manager in the farm loan department. 1965, he left to establish Agri-Systems Inc., eventually becoming a national sales leader by 1974. 

His foray into Holsteins began in 1961; by 1968, he had purchased his first Holstein. He continued to build his Erinwood herd, culminating in the Erinwood-Trippacres sale in 1973, where 66 head averaged $2,074.00. Sullivan learned that showing cows without pedigrees was a poor investment, so he required each cow’s dam to be Excellent or have several generations of Very good. 

In 1972, Sullivan and Stuart Hutchins of Paris, Ontario, bought Wintercrest Sunlea for $20,000.00. By May 1973, Sullivan purchased Hutchins’ 40-head herd, averaging $6,000.00 per head. Erinwood/Leadfield relocated their herd to a new barn in LeRoy, New York, in 1974, making significant acquisitions, including the prestigious Craigo family from Skagvale Farms. 

The Erinwood team owned numerous notable Holsteins in the mid-1970s, including the high-priced Glamour cow, purchased for $74,000.00 and sold pregnant to Osborndale Ivanhoe. Her calf, Allendairy Glamourous Ivy, became a noteworthy addition to the herd. 

The Erinwood organization held two Royal Erinwood Sales, with the inaugural sale in 1975 setting a record average of $19,304.00 per head. The top animal, Erinwood Pre Eminent, sold for $110,000.00. With his Irish charm and promotional skills, John Sullivan expertly orchestrated these events. 

At the 1976 sale, Hillranch Fond Matt Jean fetched $48,000.00, purchased by George Morgan. One notable sale included a half-interest in Cass-Ridge Jewel Pat and 11 offspring for $275,000.00. 

Md-Maple Lawn Marquis Glamour and her famed daughter Ivy significantly impacted the breed. Ivy’s son, Leadfield Columbus, became the highest P.D.M. bull in 1983. Another prominent bull from Erinwood, Leadfield Prestar, sired multiple champions, including Hanson Prestar Monalisa, a Central National grand champion

Erinwood and Sullivan left an enduring legacy on the dairy cattle industry, driven by strategic investments and unparalleled expertise in Holstein breeding.

Dreamstreet Holsteins: Revolutionizing Dairy Breeding with Unmatched Quality and Vision 

The first investor program exploiting Section 46 was initiated by Arthur Pulitzer, an accountant from Suffern, New York, who stationed his cattle at a Cherry Valley farm. After a successful trial, Pulitzer shared his idea with fellow C.P.A.s Jerry Bernstein and Robert Friedman. 

Seeking expertise, Bernstein contacted Leonard Baird, then president of the New York State Holstein Association, who recommended Peter Heffering. Co-owning the renowned Hanover Hill herd in Amenia, New York, Heffering became a key figure. In August 1972, Bernstein and Friedman visited Heffering and proposed a joint venture. 

Though interested, Heffering had a herd dispersal sale imminent, so Bernstein and Friedman returned to New York City. Subsequently, Heffering learned that Jim Repard, a cautious Holstein trader, had declined Bernstein and Friedman’s offer. Heffering then approached Bernstein again. 

By 1974, Bernstein, Friedman, and Heffering launched a pilot project with twelve investor programs, each involving two Hanover Hill cows. Despite the success, the Black Watch Angus Farm scandal, with its fraudulent livestock investments, cast a shadow. Nevertheless, it did not hinder their growth. 

Dreamstreet Holsteins, Inc., founded by George Morgan, epitomized the investor era. Morgan, a savvy urbanite passionate about Holsteins, transformed the industry. Growing up in Scotch Plains, NJ, with a C.P.A. father and an uncle managing a dairy farm, Morgan spent his childhood surrounded by Holsteins. 

Morgan studied English at Rutgers University and worked on a dairy farm to support his family. Leaving school in 1960, he worked as a herdsman in Bel Air, MD. Soon, he struck out on his own with Osborndale Ivanhoe calves in Warwick, NY, forming a close bond with Albert Buckbee, an expert in dairy cattle. 

In 1965, Morgan bought a farm in Walton, NY. Despite heavy debts, he balanced dairy farming and raising five children, eventually entering the real estate industry in 1969. Within four years, he earned over a million dollars in commissions, selling rural properties to urbanites. 

Despite real estate success, Morgan’s love for Holsteins persisted. The 1973 oil crisis reduced his sales, giving him time to delve into U.S. tax laws like the livestock investment credit. He realized investors could buy cows, receive tax rebates, and benefit from depreciation. Morgan leveraged these insights, forming his first investor group in 1972. 

By 1975, Dreamstreet was a significant player, notably spending $104,800 at the Royal Erinwood Sale. Partnering with C.P.A. George Teichner, they attracted New York City businessmen as clients, forming Dreamstreet Holsteins, Inc. Morgan’s model grouped six farms into “satellites” managed by dedicated teams, expanding to manage 1,200 cows on 18 farms by 1979. 

Internal issues soon surfaced. Morgan and Teichner, both strong personalities, clashed over business direction, particularly non-farming ventures like an ultrasound rat repellent system and machinery dealership advocated by Frank Wood. To resolve these, Morgan and Wood secured a loan to buy out Teichner’s shares. Subsequently, George and Linda Morgan established the “Tyrbach” prefix, naming it after Morgan’s ancestral Welsh farm. Tyrbach comprised three adjoining farms in Walton, covering 500 acres, founded on Puget-Sound cattle bought in 1976.

Mr. and Mrs. George Morgan operated their Holstein herd continuously until March 2008, when they decided to disperse it. Unlike Hanover Hill Farm in Ontario, Dreamstreet often moved animals to maximize investor profits. 

George Morgan excelled with Round Oak Apple Elevation daughters, breeding over 40 Excellent-rated Elevations. Dreamstreet Rorae Pocohontis (EX-93) sold for $530,000 in the 1983 Designer Fashion Sale, establishing an exceptional lineage. 

At Trybach Farm, Morgan bred Trybach Elevation Twinkie (EX-97), the first cow to win grand championships at three National Shows and the Royal Winter Fair in 1986. Twinkie’s dam, Briggskill Hostess Twinkle (VG-87), came from the Briggskill herd, bought by Morgan for an average of $1,000 per cow. After selling Dreamstreet in 1979, Morgan retained Twinkle and bred her to Elevation, resulting in Twinkie in December 1981. 

Twinkie was nominated for All-American honors as a calf in 1982 and was sold for $10,000. Morgan saw Twinkie’s potential and, after securing a $60,000 loan, partnered with Peter Heffering to purchase her for $47,000. A year later, Twinkie achieved grand champion status at all three U.S. National Shows in the same year; Hanover Hill subsequently bought Morgan’s interest in 1983. 

Another notable cow was Mity-Fine Matt Misty (EX), part of two Reserve All-Americans gets by No-Na-Me Fond Matt. Morgan acquired Misty as a 4-year-old in 1975 for $25,000 and sold her two months later to Edwin R. Gould and Bryce Metcalf. Misty eventually produced G-Metcaif Valiant Mist (EX-2E-94), valued at around a million dollars. 

Morgan was always ready to sell a cow for $100,000, famously saying, “God makes cows every day.” 

John Lennon’s investment in Dreamstreet led to the purchase of Spring Farm Fond Rose for $56,000, later sold for $250,000 in the 1980 Summer Dreams by Dreamstreet Sale. 

In 1976, Frank Wood, an Albany tax attorney, joined Morgan and Teichner to plan a Holstein export business. By October 1979, Morgan sold his stake in Dreamstreet to Wood, who became the new president, with James Bell following in leadership. 

Under Wood, Dreamstreet thrived, purchasing top-tier show cows and entire herds with prices reaching the quarter-million-dollar range. In the early 1980s, Dreamstreet boasted one of North America’s premier show herds, which washighlighted in 1983 when they showcased grand and reserve grand champions at the Central National Show. 

Dreamstreet’s roster included champions like Milleroale Ultimate Rosalynn (EX), Campbell-Hollow Ultimate Kate (EX), and Howard-Home Valiant Eva (EX). Among their prized cows was Kriegeroue PB Cosima, a Bootmaker daughter whose son, Dreamstreet Commander, became Italy’s most used Holstein bull of 1989. 

A notable acquisition was the Agro Acres herd from Hamilton, Ontario. Frank Wood discussed the potential investment with Glenn Tripp, leading to a purchase just above $1 million, including the illustrious Sheffield Climax Pansy (EX) family. 

Dreamstreet’s headquarters was a modest white cottage in Walton, where influential figures like Frank Wood and Buddy Fleming conducted business. Fleming, originally a cattle clipper, had rapidly ascended to Vice-President of cattle operations.

Throughout this period, unsettling rumors about Dreamstreet’s financial instability and an I.R.S. investigation emerged. The artificial insemination industry exhibited scant interest in Dreamstreet’s bulls; they found it challenging to sell females and lacked a robust heifer-raising program—a critical issue since heifers represent the primary income source in this sector. Allegedly, calves were even dying in the hutches. 

Customers such as Sites, Brophy, and Sands, who had acquired cattle from Dreamstreet, chose to leave and initiate their operations, further underscoring the issues at Dreamstreet. 

Ultimately, while the I.R.S. exonerated Dreamstreet, public scrutiny precipitated tax code changes that abolished many tax shelters. Dreamstreet attempted a pivot by venturing into the foreign embryo market. Still, the 1987 stock market crash drove the enterprise into receivership. 

By 1989, a new entity, New Dreamstreet Corporation, had emerged. However, in May 1990, 4,000 heads of the former Dreamstreet herd were sold to Masstock Montezuma, Inc., signaling the definitive end of Dreamstreet. 

An era had indeed concluded; Dreamstreet indeed possessed some extraordinary cows.

The Evolution of Hilltop-Hanover Farm: From Guernseys to Elite Holsteins

The Hilltop-Hanover Farm at Yorktown Heights, N.Y., was once home to the Hanover Hill Guernsey herd, managed by Dave Younger and owned by Henry Christal, who also had a Holstein farm in Amenia, N.Y. In 1968, Peter Heffering and Ken Trevena rented the Amenia farm. They developed the first Hanover Hill Holstein herd, with Christal’s permission to use the Hanover Hill name. 

When a Wall Street group purchased the Yorktown Heights farm from the Christal estate, they named it Hilltop-Hanover and engaged Younger as manager in 1975. Younger, born on September 23, 1917, in Nebraska, had previously managed draft horses and worked for Mrs. Max Dreyfuss, who introduced him to dairy farming during WWII. In 1945, he helped Christal set up Hanover Hill Guernseys, quickly turning it into a recognized herd. 

1969, with Christal’s encouragement and financial assistance, Younger and Heffering started Hanover Hill Sales & Service. This influential sales management business succeeded significantly with its Designer Fashion Sales series. The first sale in 1975 introduced Younger to Wall Street stockbrokers, who later partnered to form Hilltop-Hanover Farm in 1977. Younger managed 40 selected cows from Dreamstreet Holsteins’ programs and additional purchases. 

Hilltop-Hanover’s classification in 1977 featured 41 heads averaging 88.7 points and a B.A.A. of 109.8%, including 20 Excellents. The herd included prestigious cows like Burley Bootmaker Valid (EX) and Hillranch Fond Matt Jean (EX). 

By the early 1990s, over 50 Excellent cows had been bred and developed at Hilltop-Hanover. Despite tax changes eliminating the investment credit, the farm continued to thrive. Younger emphasized that investor confidence was maintained by caring for cattle, particularly calves, promoting investor-owned animals, and generating occasional income. 

The Hilltop-Hanover partial dispersal on October 22, 1990, was the highest-grossing Holstein sale of the year, totaling $1,792,450.00 on 180 head. The highest-selling animal was Hilltop-Hanover-B Bellerina, which fetched $210,000.00. The final dispersal on December 9, 1991, in Amery, Wisconsin, totaled $579,925.00 on 77 head, with the high seller, Hilltop-Hanover-B LM Diedra, being sold for $57,000.00 to Larry Jerome of Jerland Holsteins.

The Troubled Legacy of Jack Stookey: Ambition, Success, and Downfall 

He had a lovely mom and dad, hardworking folks from dawn to dusk. Emra and Mary Stookey, their names were. Jack Stookey was the youngest of three sons. Dr. George Stookey, the oldest, graduated from Indiana University, received a master’s in preventive dentistry in 1962, and a doctorate in dental science in 1971. He joined the Indiana University School of Dentistry as an assistant professor in 1964. He was promoted to associate professor in 1973 and full professorship in 1978. As an avid researcher, his primary interests were fluoride pharmacology and the prevention of dental caries. He held at least twenty patents. Dr. Stookey discovered Fluoristan, the substance in toothpaste that prevents cavities. He sold his patent to Procter & Gamble, profiting from royalties. 

At the end of the day, when Jack screwed up, Dr. George stepped in. It had to happen well. In Mary Stookey’s eyes, Jack could do no wrong. He was her golden-haired boy and the candy kid. When his first wife didn’t meet Mary’s expectations, she promoted the dissolution of the marriage. Jack followed Mom, dumped their first wife, and then married Darla. He got it right that time. She straightened him out. When Darla entered the picture, Jack had started to drift. Until then, he had enjoyed a distinguished career. He graduated high school as a track and field star. He won a scholarship to Wayland Baptist University, setting state athletic records. Returning to Leesburg in 1968, he indulged his passion for automobile racing, designing and building his cars and driving them in races. It was a dangerous way to make a living. His mother protested, and Darla put her foot down, telling him to get into something safer and steadier. Jack quit car racing and returned to the home farm, a 1,500-acre showplace built by Emra and Mary, home to a herd of Holsteins, one of the best in the state. By 1980, there were 31 Excellent and 33 Very Good females. 

Emra and Jack sold the herd at its peak. A farm auction averaged $4,381.00 on 124 head, with a top price of $21,000.00 for VT-Pond-View Bootmaker Lassi (EX). Six heads sold for five-figure prices. The dispersal was prompted by Jack’s newfound vision to start an investor herd, assembling the best Holsteins North America had to offer. He quickly entered the investor business, receiving money by the wheelbarrow full. The investment purchase credit appealed to individuals earning $500,000.00 a year and upwards. Around Indianapolis, there were plenty in that category. The Stookey name spread beyond Indiana; soon, investors from California, Florida, and Georgia were sending money. 

The first cow Jack bought was Georgian Quality Pat, one of his best, a significant quality Ultimate daughter who could win at shows. Jack bought other remarkable cows besides Pat, incorporating them into investor packages and promoting them in the show ring. His best year was 1983 when he took home the premier exhibitor banner at the Central National Show and nearly the same at the Eastern and Western Nationals. Attracted to the red and white breed, he bought Continental Scarlet-Red (EX) after she won the grand championship at the Royal Winter Fair in 1982. Scarlet was the only cow to defeat Brookview Tony Charity at the Royal. 

Another special individual was Nandette TT Speckle-Red (EX), the Triple Threat daughter bought from David Brown. Jack could accurately state he owned two of the best red and whites of the 1980s. Other notable cows owned by Jack wore black and white coats, such as Raylore Citamatt Ali, All-American Junior 2-Year-Old, C Til-El Kim Second Sheik, Reserve All-American Senior 2-Year-Old, and C Clarene Citamatt Joan, Reserve All-American 3-Year-Old. 

Then the I.R.S. came calling. They disapproved of cattle investment tax shelters and were auditing many in the early 1980s. There was a target on Jack’s back. The I.R.S. disallowed many of his tax loss claims, demanding six-figure back taxes. This crisis hit as the flow of investor funds slowed, and his herd wasn’t generating much revenue. Incidents painted a dire picture: In winter 1985, unable to pay his help, Jack had his men load a trailer with bull calves—planned to be sold for breeding purposes—and take them to the slaughterhouse, including three sons of Continental Scarlet by Roybrook Telstar. When Jack broke, neighbors Mr. Van Forest and his son, who cared for 80 heifers, also lost their farm. 

A blizzard in 1985 buried 100 Stookey calf hutches in the snow; all the calves suffocated, including 18 by Enhancer out of Scarlet. Rumors surfaced: Jack bought high-priced cows in Canada, stopped at the border when checks bounced, and a disgruntled investor allegedly dynamited his porch. Such scuttlebutt turned Jack into a pariah; legitimate breeders shunned him, some calling him a shyster. An Indiana breeder recalled Jack as “a selling Jesse,” capable of selling anything. 

The I.R.S. filed a lien for back taxes, prompting Jack to file for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy trustee took possession of Jack’s assets, causing legal issues as Jack had only made the first payment on many cattle. Breeders claimed their animals still belonged to them, but the trustee claimed priority over unpaid vendors’ liens. The court upheld the trustee’s claim. 

Dr. G.W. Snider of Goshen, Indiana, settled a sizeable unpaid vet bill by taking Stookey Fagin Scarlet, Scarlet’s Coldsprings Elevation Fagin daughter, the first red and white cow to make 50,000 lbs. of milk and classify 93 points. Lamenting the waste of superior genetics, Louis Prange of Elm Park Farms made a deal with the trustee, taking some cows on a flush program and agreeing to split sale proceeds. One donor was Nandette TT Speckle. Flushed to Blackstar, she produced Stookey Elm PM-K Blackrose. 

Jack’s splash in the investor business lasted about four years, from 1980 to 1984, peaking in 1983-1984. The investment credit provision’s repeal in the Tax Reform Act of 1986 wasn’t Jack’s downfall; it was Jack himself. Convicted of fraud and embezzlement, he served his sentence on weekends. The convictions and bankruptcy ended his business. Jack relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma, joining a firm that sold U.S. currency to foreign investors. 

Dr. George Stookey saved the family farm, taking their mother, Mary, to live with him. Jack maintained ownership of the Leesburg farm, attempting to sell it to Randy Frasier for his Elmvue herd. Frasier invested $85,000.00 in fixing the farm buildings but learned Jack didn’t have the right to sell it, leaving Indiana frustrated. 

In 2007, an Indiana farm paper reported Jack’s death by suicide. Rumors included involvement with Colombian drug traffickers. To verify, I contacted Glenn Tripp, Jack’s leading man during peak years, who attended the funeral. Tripp revealed that the I.R.S.’s persistent pursuit and a $1.5 million tax arrears claim led Jack to take his life, driving down a back road and shooting himself. 

In the beyond, Jack can take credit for breeding arguably the two best animals from the investor era: Stookey Elm Park Blackrose and Stookey Fagin Scarlet, names well-known in the Holstein community.

The Bottom Line

Section 46 of the Internal Revenue Code revolutionized the dairy industry. Offering a tax shelter attracted wealthy investors and injected funds into rural economies. This led to revitalized farms, updated facilities, and quality livestock, especially Holsteins. The intense competition among investment firms marked this period with unparalleled prosperity and innovation in the dairy sector. Though meant as a financial incentive, the legislation’s secondary effects fostered economic growth and higher standards in dairy farming. The legacy of Section 46 highlights how legislative changes can transform an industry, inspiring contemporary Holstein breeders and dairy farmers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Quiet Introduction: Section 46 was enacted without fanfare or widespread attention, largely unacknowledged by the agricultural press and urban populations.
  • Targeted Benefits: The legislation primarily served as a tax shelter for wealthy taxpayers, offering significant tax credits for investments in livestock.
  • Economic Boost: Despite its primary intent, Section 46 indirectly injected substantial funds into the rural economy, benefiting various sectors including farm equipment dealers and feed mills.
  • Opportunity Seized: Financial professionals, particularly in New York City, quickly capitalized on the legislation, creating investment businesses and revitalizing abandoned dairy farms to accommodate investors.
  • Intense Competition: The fight for investor dollars led to fierce competition, skyrocketing the prices of elite Holstein cattle with show ring capabilities.

Summary: Section 46 of the Internal Revenue Code, enacted in 1968, revolutionized the dairy cattle breeding industry by providing economic opportunities for investors. The legislation introduced the investment purchase credit, allowing taxpayers to offset the costs of investment in livestock against personal income. This allowed accountants and lawyers from New York City to buy and rehabilitate abandoned dairy farms, build barns, fences, and pastures, and buy Holsteins and create breeding programs. The competition for investor dollars was intense, making investment firms’ track records crucial. The activity stimulated by Section 46 was overwhelmingly positive, with substantial sums paid to farmers trickling down to farm equipment dealers, feed mills, car vendors, and appliance shops, creating new prosperity for rural communities. John Sullivan, a pivotal figure behind Erinwood Farms and Ledgefield Associates, made a significant impact as major buyers in the dairy cattle market, purchasing top-tier cattle across the United States and Canada. Dreamstreet Holsteins, Inc., was founded by George Morgan in 1972, focusing on U.S. tax laws and the livestock investment credit. The Hilltop-Hanover Farm at Yorktown Heights, N.Y., was once home to the Hanover Hill Guernsey herd, managed by Dave Younger and owned by Henry Christal.

Farm Heroes Matt Beck and Scott Schreffler Lead Tractor Parade to Honor Fallen Farmer

Learn how Matt Beck and Scott Schreffler brought together their community with a tractor parade to honor a farmer who passed away. Find out how their actions inspired hope and unity.

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Heroes of Hope program celebrates those who make a real difference within the agricultural community. This award highlights individuals who step up during challenging times, often becoming the lifeline their community desperately needs. Here, you’ll learn about the inspiring people who embody unwavering community spirit and heartfelt selflessness. 

“The Heroes of Hope program focuses on recognizing individuals who support others during challenging times.”

This year, Matt Beck and Scott Schreffler from Washington County are the top nominees. They showcase these values through their remarkable actions, which have touched the hearts of many.

United in Grief, United in Strength: The Inspiring Actions of Matt Beck and Scott Schreffler

This year’s top nominees, Matt Beck and Scott Schreffler, come from Washington County and have shown outstanding dedication to their community. Their unique response to a tragic farm accident, organizing a touching tractor parade with over 150 tractors on the funeral day, showcased the farming community’s strength, unity, and selflessness. Their efforts provided much-needed support and hope, embodying the Heroes of Hope program’s core values and earning them well-deserved recognition.

A Tragic Accident Sparks Unwavering Community Support

When beloved farmer John Hardy tragically lost his life in a farm equipment accident, the local farming community was deeply shaken. John’s death cast a somber shadow over everyone. In response, Matt Beck and Scott Schreffler felt compelled to honor John’s memory and support his grieving family by organizing a community-wide tribute.

Unveiling the Parade: An Event of Heartfelt Coordination 

Organizing the parade was no small feat. Beck and Schreffler contacted fellow farmers through local farming groups and social media. They communicated via community bulletin boards, local radio, and word of mouth. The overwhelming response was heartwarming. 

They meticulously planned the logistics, organizing a designated meeting point in an open field for the 150 tractors expected. Each tractor had a specific spot in the parade line to ensure smooth movement. 

Safety was a priority. To manage the event smoothly, they secured permits, arranged traffic control, and organized volunteers. 

On the day, the turnout exceeded expectations. Farmers from neighboring counties joined some driving for hours. Tractors of all sizes formed a moving tribute. The parade route was lined with community members showing their support. 

Through careful planning and community support, Beck and Schreffler orchestrated a parade that honored their friend and showcased the agricultural community’s solidarity and resilience.

A Beaming Beacon of Hope: Solidarity Through the Tractor Parade 

The farming community’s response was a testament to unity and strength. The tractor parade honored a lost friend and demonstrated the community’s resilient spirit. With over 150 tractors, each symbolized the shared commitment to support each other. Schreffler remarked, “Seeing such a display of support offered a glimmer of hope for the future.” This collective act provided comfort and reinforced the strong bonds within the farming community.

The Parade: A Collective Tribute Fueled by Community Spirit 

The parade wasn’t just Beck and Schreffler’s idea but a community-wide effort. Farmers, neighbors, and local businesses all came together, polishing tractors and making banners. This collective effort echoed the community’s shared sorrow and unity, making the event even more meaningful. 

Schreffler found it humbling to see everyone unite for a common cause. “It was a true team effort,” he noted, recognizing the dedication of volunteers. The collective response highlighted the community’s inherent kindness and solidarity. 

When the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Heroes of Hope program honored Schreffler, he expressed deep gratitude. “This honor isn’t just for us,” he said. It’s for everyone who helped make this happen. Their support means everything.” The cash prizes and magazine feature symbolized collective achievement and unity.

Going Above and Beyond A Tribute Marked by Grace and Compassion

“Matt and Scott truly honored their friend. Their selflessness highlighted our community’s extraordinary spirit. Organizing such a parade is no small feat, and they did it with grace and compassion,” the nominator said.

Commendable Finalists: Celebrating More Heroes of Hope in 2024

Beck and Schreffler weren’t alone in their commendable deeds. Other 2024 Heroes of Hope award finalists included Andrew Dal Santo, Jennifer Webster, Tim Lins, and Katie Roth. With their dedication and support, they made a meaningful impact on the community .

Honoring Excellence: Beck and Schreffler’s Recognition and Its Stirring Impact

Beyond the acknowledgment, Beck and Schreffler will receive cash prizes and recognition in the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s magazine. This honor not only highlights their exceptional contributions but also sets an inspiring example for others within the agricultural sector, demonstrating the significant impact of the Heroes of Hope program.

Behind Every Successful Event: The Backbone of Generous Sponsorship

Generous sponsors are the lifeblood of every successful community event. The 2024 Heroes of Hope program thrived thanks to the invaluable contributions from organizations like Rural Mutual Insurance Company and Kwik Trip. Their support not only underscores the collaborative spirit that strengthens the agricultural community but also serves as a testament to the power of collective action in paving the way for a brighter future.

The Bottom Line

The story of Matt Beck and Scott Schreffler showcases the spirit and unity within the farming community. Their actions during a tragic time highlighted how coming together can bring hope and light. Organizing a parade with over 150 tractors, they honored a friend and reaffirmed the strong bonds and support in agricultural life. Celebrating their recognition in the 2024 Heroes of Hope program shows a community’s strength in rallying together. This isn’t just about awards; it’s a reminder of the profound impact we can have on one another’s lives.

Key Takeaways:

  • Heroes of Hope Program: Recognizes individuals who support the agricultural community during challenging times.
  • Top Nominees: Matt Beck and Scott Schreffler are honored for their extraordinary efforts in Washington County.
  • Tragic Prompt: Following the death of a local farmer, Beck and Schreffler organized a community tractor parade.
  • Overwhelming Participation: More than 150 tractors joined the parade, showcasing community strength and unity.
  • Collective Tribute: The parade route was lined with community members, demonstrating collective support and solidarity.
  • Recognition: Beck and Schreffler will receive cash prizes and acknowledgment in the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s magazine.
  • Additional Finalists: Several other individuals were also recognized for their contributions to the agricultural community.
  • Sponsorship: The 2024 Heroes of Hope program is supported by various organizations, including Rural Mutual Insurance Company and Kwik Trip.

Summary: The Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Heroes of Hope program has named Matt Beck and Scott Schreffler as the top nominees for the award. Beck and Schreffler, from Washington County, organized a tractor parade on the funeral day of farmer John Hardy, which provided much-needed support and hope. The parade was a heartfelt coordination effort, with Beck and Schreffler contacting fellow farmers through local farming groups and social media. They meticulously planned logistics, secured permits, arranged traffic control, and organized volunteers. The turnout exceeded expectations, with farmers from neighboring counties joining some driving for hours. Tractors of all sizes formed a moving tribute, and the parade route was lined with community members showing their support. The 2024 Heroes of Hope program will recognize Beck and Schreffler with cash prizes and recognition in the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s magazine. Their support underscores the collaborative spirit that strengthens the agricultural community and serves as a testament to the power of collective action in paving the way for a brighter future.

How Hanover Hill Holsteins Revolutionized the Dairy Breeding Industry

Uncover the story of how Hanover Hill Holsteins revolutionized the dairy industry. Which groundbreaking practices distinguished them and fueled their extraordinary success? Continue reading to learn more.

From Ontario’s sweeping, pastoral landscapes to the high-stakes arenas of international dairy competitions, one name has risen above the rest in the annals of Holstein excellence—Hanover Hill Holsteins. This astounding legacy of Heffering and Trevena weaves a compelling narrative of visionary ambition, unparalleled dedication, and a relentless pursuit of genetic superiority that has revolutionized not only the Canadian Holstein lineage but the global dairy breeding industry. At Hanover Hill, the symbiotic partnership of Peter Heffering and Ken Trevena set in motion a series of transformative events that would echo through the entire dairy industry

“We didn’t set out to create a dynasty; our aim was simple: breed the best Holsteins in the world,” confided Peter Heffering in a rare interview, encapsulating the humble yet grand aspirations that have driven their unprecedented achievements.

Their journey is a masterclass in breeding brilliance and innovative farm management. Hanover Hill Holsteins became an epitome of quality and consistency, producing record-breaking cattle that met and exceeded the highest industry standards. The meticulous curation of bloodlines and the strategic incorporation of cutting-edge reproductive technologies were merely the beginning. Among their myriad accomplishments, one can find cows and bulls whose contributions to milk production and genetic improvement are almost legendary, leaving an indelible mark on the breed. 

In the ensuing sections, we will delve deeper into the intricate tapestry of Hanover Hill’s remarkable history, examining the methods, milestones, and influential figures that cemented its place at the pinnacle of Holstein breeding. Join us as we uncover the secrets behind Hanover Hill’s success and explore how this dynamic duo changed the course of Canadian dairy farming and set new global benchmarks for excellence.

Click here to learn more about Hanover Hill and the many great breeders in Holstein’s History.

The Arrival of Hanover Hill

In the spring of 1973, two ambitious cattlemen from New York erupted onto the Canadian Holstein scene, transforming the industry with their vision. Peter Heffering and Ken Trevena, already recognized for their successful herds, moved to a 300-acre farm in Port Perry, Ontario, and named it Hanover Hill. Their arrival heralded a new chapter in Canadian Holstein breeding, with their cattle quickly racking up prestigious awards. 

Their approach was clear yet transformative: 

  • Breeding deep cow families with top sires
  • Promoting high production
  • Dominating North American show arenas

With innovative marketing and extensive advertising, Hanover Hill’s bloodline gained a global reputation for excellence. This transition aligned with Canada’s shift towards new US genetics, which Heffering and Trevena expertly harnessed. 

A shining example of their triumph is the Hanover Hill-bred bull Starbuck, one of the most influential sires in Holstein history. Starbuck’s ability to sire high-quality cattle with elevated protein levels made him a favorite among North American breeders, blending Canadian and American Holstein genetics. Hanover Hill’s legacy of innovative breeding and superior cattle continues to profoundly shape the global Holstein population.

Peter Heffering: An Unlikely Path to Farming

In the late 1940s, a white-haired gentleman asked Dr. Russell Heffering in White Plains, New York, about his son’s career plans. Dr. Heffering replied, “He wants to be a farmer,” supporting Peter’s passion for agriculture. 

The Heffering family’s farming roots extended to Peter’s uncles, James and Harold. James owned Railroad Stables in Whitby, Ontario, and bred Speedy Irish, a racehorse who earned significant accolades before tragically passing away. And Harold, a Toronto-based doctor, moved his farm northward as Toronto expanded, eventually donating land for a seminary in Keswick. 

Peter’s love for farming ignited during a 1945 summer on Chuck Waustlich’s farm in Woodstock, Vermont. His dedication led to participation in local 4-H programs, where he impressed farmers like Warner Townsend and Russell Crane. Peter’s dream of dairy farming grew stronger by high school, often sketching barn layouts. 

Peter pursued animal husbandry at New York State University, graduating in 1951. He then joined Beacon Milling Company, a Holstein farm, where he engaged in both farm duties and advanced dairy research. He contributed to the breeding program with strategic cattle acquisitions, enhancing Beacon’s genetics. 

In 1952, Peter married, balancing a modest income with his wife’s earnings as a nurse. Their combined commitment underscored their determination to own a dairy farm eventually.

The Catalyst to a Formidable Partnership

Among the influential figures at Hanover Hill, Marvin Colburn’s impact stands out, albeit more for his recommendation than his time there. A New Hampshire native, Colburn lost his Guernsey herd to Bang’s disease, leading him to seek work at Beacon Farm. His physical challenge—a shorter left leg—made the job unsustainable. After just two weeks, he informed Peter Heffering that he needed to leave, planning to return to university for a doctorate. However, his brief tenure led to a crucial connection. He recommended Kenneth Wesley Trevena, who was managing a dairy farm in Concord, New Hampshire, for Dr. Robert O. Blood. 

From Lisbon, New Hampshire, Kenneth Wesley Trevena pursued agriculture at the University of New Hampshire, which is known for its agricultural solid program. Trevena’s education, supervised by Ken Fowler, included hands-on experience in animal husbandry, providing him with essential skills. 

After graduation, Trevena worked for Dr. Robert O. Blood, a demanding employer who would later become governor. Blood’s strict management style taught Trevena valuable lessons, such as managing veterinary care efficiently. 

By 1958, after five years with Dr. Blood, Trevena was ready for a change. Now back in New Hampshire, Colburn informed him about an opportunity at Beacon Farm. Trevena’s interview with Peter Heffering sealed his decision, and that summer, he joined Beacon Farm. This marked the start of a pivotal partnership with Heffering, which would become the foundation of Hanover Hill’s legacy.

A Transformative Year: The Turning Point of 1961 

In 1961, after a decade at Beacon, Peter Heffering sought new opportunities. Heffering found a promising venture with Frank Goodyear, a key owner of Amcana Dictator Model. Weary from managing his Danboro, Pennsylvania, farm, Goodyear leased it to Heffering in return for overseeing some of his animals. 

At Beacon, Heffering had built a notable herd featuring exemplary cows like Maroy Model Abbekerik (EX), Mearscrest Ormsby Trixie (EX), and Crestlane Faforit Posch (VG). As Heffering prepared to relocate, his colleague Ken Trevena was drafted into the US Army. Heffering, showing dedication, transported Trevena’s belongings alongside his prized herd. 

Heffering scouted eastern Ontario with Cliff Cook during this period, acquiring valuable cattle such as Stella Orchard Grove Tensen and Stella Orchard Grove Ormsby. Tensen, purchased for $500, soon won accolades and a nomination for All-American status. Ormsby, scoring an impressive 94, produced high-quality offspring and yields. 

Despite efficient management, Goodyear sold the Danboro farm within a year. Heffering, anticipating change, placed a full-page ad in Holstein World’s December 26, 1961 issue, seeking a new farm in the northeastern United States. Finally, Heffering’s journey advanced thanks to James Houlahan, inspired by a Farm Journal Magazine writer’s recommendation.

A Whisper, A Split, and a New Beginning 

By 1967, Houlahan reconsidered his involvement in the cattle business, influenced by actor James Cagney. This led to the end of his partnership with Heffering despite their rise to prominence in the Holstein world. 

During this period, Dave Younger, farm manager for Henry Christal’s Hanover Hill Guernseys, informed Heffering of an available farm in Amenia, New York, that Christal would rent to them, contingent upon their success at the upcoming Tara Hills dispersal. 

On March 25, 1968, the Tara Hills dispersal saw 205 head averaging $1,900 each. Heffering and Trevena set a world record with the sale of Future Hope Reflector Blacky for $44,000. They purchased 41 heads for $127,250, including Heffering Stella Ormsby and Thornlea Tara Hills Flossie, pivotal to their new herd. 

Their merchandising skills drew praise with the May 10, 1968 issue of Holstein World noting: “The sheer size of the crowd … states and countries represented … So many Canadian visitors ever attended no sale in the States… The Tara Hills dispersal joins the growing list of great breed sales.” 

Later, in 1968, Heffering and Trevena took over Christal’s No. 2 farm, four miles north of Amenia, solidifying the foundation of their new herd based on the exceptional cattle from the Tara Hills dispersal.

The Proven Formula: From Amenia Farm to National Acclaim 

At Amenia Farm, Heffering and Trevena adhered to a proven methodology: 

  • Meticulous management
  • A well-traveled show herd
  • A strategic breeding program
  • Prominent ads in Holstein World

By July 1968, they proudly declared, “We think we have one of the finest groups of foundation Holsteins ever assembled.” Their milking herd averaged just under 90 points. During their first year, Thornlea Tara Hills Flossie was named All-American four-year-old, and Heffering Tempest I, Stella earned Reserve two-year-old honors. “Hanover Hill” debuted in a Holstein World ad on January 10, 1969. 

The Amenia farm housed 100 head in two rows of 50 cows. Each day at 1:00 AM and PM, Heffering and Trevena, with minimal staff, managed the herd using two milking machines each. Despite their tireless efforts, they needed more time. In 1969, Heffering collaborated with industry experts to create Hanover Hill Sales and Service, featuring an iconic ladder logo symbolizing “your ladder to success.” 

Their partnership often made headlines. Alongside Brigeen Farms, they bought Gray View Coral Shamrock (VG 89) for a record $40,000.00 at the 1970 World Premiere. At the 1971 Royal Winter Fair, they showcased the Junior Champion Heifer, Hanover Hill Ruben R. Ruby, and won the Premier Breeder banner. With the lease on the Amenia farm expiring on January 1, 1973, a strategic move and sale were inevitable.

The Unprecedented Success of the 1972 Hanover Hill Dispersal 

The Hanover Hill dispersal on November 10 and 11, 1972, marked an extraordinary milestone in dairy cattle history, setting six world records and surpassing one million dollars in sales. With 286 head selling for $1,143,675, it garnered unprecedented attention. A standout was Johns Lucky Barb (EX) and her progeny, which cumulatively sold for $350,500, averaging $43,812.50 each. Johns Lucky Barb, close to calving, fetched a remarkable $55,000 from R.R. Dennis, Oak Ridges, Ontario. 

Another notable sale was Hanover Hill Triple Threat, a red and white Holstein bull, which American Breeders Service from DeForest, Wisconsin, purchased for $60,000. Hanover Hill Astro Lucky Barb, a daughter of Paclamar Astronaut (EX-GM), was sold for $51,000 to Madeira Enterprises, showcasing the exceptional quality of the herd. Glenafton Citation Gay was sold to Ceylon R. Snider for $30,000, setting a record for a heifer calf. 

Managed by Hanover Hill Sales and Service alongside Shore Holsteins Ltd. and Brubacher Bros. Limited, this event saw 150 heads sold to international buyers. The Holstein World aptly named it “the record-shattering Hanover Hill Sale.”

Crossing Borders: Hanover Hill’s Canadian Strategic Shift 

The move to Canada was strategic, hinging on a well-established cross-border relationship. During the late 1950s and 1960s, Heffering and Trevena had sourced animals from Canada and sold cattle to Canadian breeders, often showcasing their stock at the Royal Winter Fair. This enduring connection paved the way for their 1973 migration, driven by disagreements with the US artificial insemination industry.  

In the US, geneticists favored an index-based system to measure a bull’s production, neglecting crucial traits like cow families, type, and longevity. Heffering criticized this “numbers game,” advocating for a holistic approach. Hanover Hill’s philosophy of robust cow families and longevity aligned better with Canadian AI practices.  

Relocating to a 150-acre farm near Port Perry, Ontario, in 1973 marked a pivotal shift for Hanover Hill. An event in August inaugurated their new dairy barn, heralding a promising era. Over the next twenty-five years, they solidified their legacy, with over one hundred Hanover Hill bulls proven in Canada, gaining recognition that eluded them in the US.

Orchestrating Excellence: The Strategic Operations of Hanover Hill

Hanover Hill’s operations were meticulously orchestrated. Ken Trevena oversaw daily herd activities, while Pete Heffering managed shows, merchandising, and business strategies. Both drove the innovative breeding program toward excellence. 

The herd typically numbered around 375 cattle, including 100 milking cows. Embryo transfer was commonplace, necessitating numerous recipient heifers. Heffering and Trevena recognized the need for Canada to enhance its grain feeding practices to remain globally competitive. While Hanover Hill produced its roughage, most other feed types were purchased. With limited pasture access, milk cows were fed haylage, hay, and corn silage, with high producers receiving up to 24 pounds of a 20% protein grain supplement. Essential oat rollers were common in barns, and rations lacked complexity. Forage harvesting methods were just beginning to gain sophistication.  Heffering anticipated that innovations adopted in the US would soon influence Canada, foreseeing significant changes. 

Their ambition was a pedigreed herd, with each member boasting three generations of ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ ratings, producing 20,000 pounds of milk with a 3.7% test. Notable cows in Hanover Hill’s early years included Hanover Hill Telstar Barb (EX), Cathland Countess (EX), and Mil-R-Mor Roxette (EX). Their herd featured daughters of Elevation and Fond Matt, with semen from S-W-D Valiant, Hanover Hill Triple Threat, among others. 

The Hanover Hill Cow Families

  • Johns Lucky Barb (EX-97-4E-GMD-5*): played a pivotal role in Hanover Hill’s ascent, with accolades from the Ontario County Black & White Show and the New York State Exposition, All-American nominations, a production peak of 29,052 pounds of 4.7% milk, and a legacy cemented by her progeny setting eight world price records at the 1972 Hanover Hill Dispersal.
  • Mil-R-Mor Roxette (EX-GMD-30*): was a cornerstone in Hanover Hill’s success, acquiring national and international acclaim through her remarkable genetic legacy and high-yield daughters, fetching premium prices globally.
  • Sleepy-Hollow Marq I Papoose (EX-6*): bred by Sleepy Hollow Certified Milk Farms, epitomizes Heffering and Trevena’s commitment to strong maternal lines with notable descendants and exceptional production records.
  • Tora Triple Threat Lulu (EX-GMD-11*): emerged as a cornerstone of Hanover Hill’s legacy, her genetic impact profoundly seen through her exceptional progeny, including Hanover Hill’s influential bulls and award-winning daughters, solidifying her place in dairy history.
  • Overlook Farm Anna Marquis (EX): Romandale Reflection Marquis (EX ST) daughter, OverlookFarm Anna Marquis, imported by Peter Heffering in 1965, produced notable progeny, including Hanover Hill Astro Anna, who secured multiple accolades and became an influential figure in dairy genetics.
  • Gor Wood-D Bootmaker Jennifer (EX-GMD-13°) and Gor Wood-D Elevation Valentine (RX-GMD-5*): These Holsteins, sired by renowned bulls, vastly contributed to Hanover Hill’s legacy through their exemplary milk production and high classifications. 
  • Cathland Countess (EX-7*): From the Neil Gatheart herd in Cavan, Ontario, Cathland Countess emerged as a cow of exceptional type and reproductive efficiency, known for her impressive lineage and remarkable progeny that exemplified Hanover Hill’s genetic vision on the dairy industry.
  • Brookview Tony Charity (EX-97-USA-11*) a legendary Holstein, set multiple records and became the first dairy animal to sell for over a million dollars in the 1985 sale.
  • Woodmansees Sexation Megan Mae (EX-3*-GMD): an Ocean-View Sexation (VG) daughter, significantly contributed to Hanover Hill with her prodigious lineage and exceptional offspring performance in milk production and show accolades.
  • Anacres Astronaut Ivanhoe (VG): Peter Heffering’s acquisition of Anacres Astronaut Ivanhoe, a record-setting cow with an illustrious lineage, and her subsequent progeny, including the transformative sire Hanoverhill Starbuck, epitomized Hanover Hill’s impact on Holstein breeding. 

Nine Class Extra Sires 

The genetics propagated by Hanover Hill have left an indelible mark on Holstein populations globally, primarily through their exemplary bulls in artificial insemination programs. Hanover Hill has disseminated superior genetics across North America and beyond, significantly enhancing the Holstein breed. 

Hanover Hill bulls are favored across artificial insemination units worldwide. Notably, the farm produced nine Class Extra sires:

  • Hanoverhill Starbuck (EX-Extra)
    Starbuck, a progeny of Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation and Anacres Astronaut Ivanhoe, stands as a breed titan with global influence.
  • Hanover-Hill Inspiration (EX-Extra)
    Inspiration, a son of S-W-D Valiant and Tora Triple Threat Lulu, left a remarkable legacy with high-production descendants like Wykholme Dewdrop Tacy.
  • Hanoverhill Raider (EX-Extra)
    Raider, sired by Starbuck and out of Mil-R-Mor Roxette, quickly attained Class Extra status for producing Holsteins with superior feet, legs, and mammary systems.
  • Hanoverhill Lieutenant (EX-Extra)
    Lieutenant, another Starbuck progeny, was proven in Ontario for his impressive production and type metrics, earning Extra status in 1994.
  • Hanover Hill Lincoln (EX-Extra)
    Lincoln, also sired by Starbuck, was recognized for robust component yields and type transmission in Canada and Japan.
  • Hanover Hill-SS Clyde (EX-Extra)
    Clyde, known for remarkable milk, fat, protein, and type ratings, was pivotal in showcasing Hanover Hill’s enduring legacy.
  • Hanoverhill Stardom (VG-Extra)
    Stardom, with lineage tracing back to Hanoverhill Sheik Barb, excelled in producing Holsteins with admirable udder and leg traits.
  • Hanover-Hill Mirage (EX-Extra)
    Mirage, earning Class Extra status in 1997, continued the illustrious lineage from Starbuck to Raider.
  • Hanoverhill Premier (EX-Extra)
    Premier, the final addition to Hanover Hill’s distinguished sires, epitomizes the pinnacle of their breeding achievements.

Beyond these marquee sires, Hanover Hill’s legacy includes many impactful bulls. Twenty-one Hanover Hill bulls have earned Superior Type recognition, and seven have received Superior Production titles. As of January 1994, of sixty-four Hanover Hill bulls, thirty-five were proven superior in milk, fat, protein, and type metrics. Notably, Haverhill Bandit (EX-SP) was the breed’s top sire for milk. 

A Trailblazing Journey Through the Show Ring: Legendary Accolades and Records 

The ascent of Hanover Hill was marked by unprecedented success in the show ring. Amidst competitors’ struggles, Hanover Hill flourished, securing 140 All-American and 31 Reserve All-American nominations, along with 87 All-Canadian nominations, resulting in 23 All-Canadian and 21 reserves. They consistently were Premier Breeders at the Royal Winter Fair and the US Central National Show in Madison, Wisconsin, from 1983 to 1988. They also captured Premier Exhibitor banners six times at the Royal Winter Fair and thrice at Madison. 

In 1981, their triumph at Madison was exceptional; they presented the Supreme Champion Female All Breeds, the Reserve Grand Female, and the top four aged cows in the mature milking class—an unprecedented achievement. Highlights included J-WS Monitor Racheal, JPG Standout Kandy, Tora Triple Threat Lulu, and Lawara Ormsby Prilly. Even their Gaydale Fury Sadie, Grand Champion at the London Championship Show, secured seventh place, affirming the herd’s elite status. 

The following year, Heffering and Trevena’s show herd journeyed over 8,000 miles in 65 days to dominate three US National Shows and the Royal Winter Fair, winning Premier Exhibitor at all four. This year, Brookview Tony Charity emerged, destined to be a cornerstone of their success. She was the first cow to win Grand Champion at all three US Nationals in one year before triumphing at the Royal Winter Fair. 

Heffering and Trevena uniquely exhibited six Supreme Champions at Madison, with standouts like Kandy, Racheal, and the four-time winner Charity. Their six-year Premier Breeder streak at the Royal Winter Fair was second only to Romandale Farms’ record from 1961 to 1967, eventually surpassed by Ferme Jacobs of QC.

Setting Records and Breaking Barriers: Hanover Hill’s Monumental Sales

In the mid-1980s, North America thrived under leaders Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney, with optimism buoyed by the US livestock tax credit system. Against this backdrop, Heffering and Trevena’s landmark sale on July 15-16, 1985, saw auctioneer Bob Shore preside over 2,500 attendees. A staggering 302 head sold for $7,039,200, averaging $23,308.61—shattering records. Highlighting the event, Brookview Tony Charity (EX) became the first dairy animal to sell for over a million dollars, fetching $1,450,000 from Steve Roman. Heffering and Trevena retained older cows to form a new herd nucleus. 

Benefiting from their embryo transplant success, another sale on July 13-14, 1987, featured 201 head averaging $7,203.73. Notable sales included Hanover Hill Logic ET, a Starbucks son, for $204,000 and Bond Haven Star Roxy ET, a Starbucks daughter, for $32,000, with Hanover Hill retaining an interest. 

By 1989, Hanover Hill’s story neared its end. On July 10-11, bidders from countries like Spain, Japan, and Brazil joined in, purchasing 341 lots averaging $14,711.73 and totaling $5,016,700—Canada’s third-highest dispersal average. Hanover Hill Star Lulu (VG) topped the sale at $635,000, making her the second highest-selling milking female in Canada. Her daughters, Hanoverhill Starmark Lulu and Hanoverhill Majesty Lulu fetched $95,000 and $32,000, respectively, enhancing Mountain View Holsteins’ thirty-two-head acquisition. 

The complete dispersal on July 14-15, 1998, saw 289 heads sold for an average of $8,415.22, totaling $2,432,000. US buyers, leveraging a strong dollar, acquired 128 heads. Brazil led international purchases, followed by Germany. Horace Backus highlighted the significance of the Hanover Hill bloodline. Top sellers included Hanover-Hill Ches St. Lue ET at $126,000 and Bond Haven Aero Roxy (VG) at $115,000. The event coincided with victories by their Standardbred horses at nearby Tara Hills Stud Farm.

The Bottom Line

Hanover Hill Holsteins redefined the dairy industry through innovative breeding and strategic marketing. Under Peter Heffering and Ken Trevena, Hanover Hill set unmatched standards in Holstein cattle quality, achieving dominance both in sales and the show ring. Their strategic relocation to Canada and the landmark 1972 dispersal solidified their global influence. 

Hanover Hill’s record-breaking achievements and influential breeding strategies continue to shape dairy operations worldwide. Their focus on genetic excellence, precise herd management, and strategic marketing remains vital, enhancing the dairy breeding sector’s strength and competitiveness. 

Hanover Hill Holsteins’ pioneering spirit underscores that the quest for excellence is perpetual. Farmers and breeders must continue to embrace new technologies, sustainable practices, and cutting-edge genetic research to honor their legacy and advance the industry.

The Chosen Breed and The Holstein History by Edward Young Morwick
Anyone who appreciates history will enjoy either the US history (The Holstein History) or the Canadian History (The Chosen Breed) by Edward Morwick. Each of these books is so packed with information that they are each printed in two separate volumes.  We had a chance to interview Edward – Edward Young Morwick – Country Roads to Law Office and got a real sense of his passion and quick wit which also come shining through in his books.  Be sure to get your copies of this amazing compilation of Holstein history.

 Key Takeaways:

  • Innovative Breeding Programs: Hanover Hill’s focus on genetic superiority transformed the dairy industry’s standards.
  • Strategic Partnerships: The alliance of Peter Heffering and Ken Trevena was instrumental in Hanover Hill’s success.
  • Record-Breaking Achievements: Hanover Hill consistently set new benchmarks in cattle breeding, securing numerous accolades.
  • Influence on the Global Stage: Their strategic operations and sales extended Hanover Hill’s reputation across borders, particularly with a significant impact in Canada.
  • Enduring Legacy: The legacy of Hanover Hill is marked by its lasting influence on modern dairy farming practices and cattle genetics.

Summary: Hanover Hill Holsteins has revolutionized the Holstein industry through its visionary ambition and pursuit of genetic superiority. The symbiotic partnership of Peter Heffering and Ken Trevena set a series of transformative events that would echo through the entire dairy industry. Their journey was a masterclass in breeding brilliance and innovative farm management, producing record-breaking cattle that met and exceeded industry standards. Peter Heffering’s love for farming ignited during a 1945 summer on Chuck Waustlich’s farm in Woodstock, Vermont. After pursuing animal husbandry at New York State University, he joined Beacon Milling Company, a Holstein farm, where he contributed to the breeding program with strategic cattle acquisitions. Kenneth Wesley Trevena, managing a dairy farm in Concord, New Hampshire, joined Beacon Farm, marking the start of a pivotal partnership with Heffering that would become the foundation of Hanover Hill’s legacy.

Richard Caverly 1968 – 2024

Richard Edward Caverly, 56, passed away unexpectedly at home on February 23, 2024. Richard maintained his humorous demeanor throughout his life, including enjoying time with friends the evening before his passing.  The passing of Richard Caverly leaves a profound void in the hearts of those who knew him. While Richard may have appeared rough at first sight, he was one of the most genuine, humble, generous, and honest people, even when he was telling it to you straight in his colorful way. Richard had a great sense of humor, an infectious laugh, and a special gift for crafting his stories.

Richard was born February 19th, 1968, the son of Edgar Charles “E.C.” Caverly and Charlee (Ballard) Curtis. Richard graduated from Lawrence High School in 1986 and got straight to work in the dairy industry, first working at the family’s farm in Clinton.

Richard’s lifelong passion for cows began at home. During his youth, Richard was an active member of 4-H and helped the family exhibit their award-winning Ayrshire cattle at local fairs and regional cattle shows. He would often credit his farm and cattle knowledge to his father and his uncles, Frank and Pudge. They started their Ayrshire herd as a 4-H project that was their own responsibility, as their father was the head of the highway commission and constantly “on the road” They received help from his great-uncle Edgar;  The brothers bred and developed many all-American and all-Canadian cattle, including the Royal Junior Champion in the ’60s and the 1978 Madison Grand Champion and Reserve Junior Champions. The farm is unique in that, along with these dairy champions, Richard’s cousins have had National Champion with their Beef Shorthorn cattle as well.” Richard appreciated these strong family ties. “I am blessed with amazing family support, all the way from my Uncle Frank to my youngest sister, Leah”, commented Richard.

Richard, the 23rd Duncan MacKenzie Award winner’s journey, began on his home farm, where he worked with the famous 97-point Ayrshire cow Belladina and the 1978 World Dairy Expo Champion Helga. Caverly then went on to work for farms in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, as well as for dairymen in Brazil. In 2001, Caverly became the first herdsman for Arethusa Farm in Connecticut. After that, he moved back to his home state and worked for the 1,700-cow Flood Brothers Dairy and ABS Global.

The Northeast U.S. native travelled the world working with great cows, and he always made them his priority, no matter who owned them. Caverly worked with household names in the industry: Gold Prize, Nadine, Melanie, Delilah, Ashlyn, Victoria, Veronica, and Frannie. Those who have followed the show at the World Dairy Expo will know there are four Supreme Champions on that list. And the Glenamore Gold Prize holds a special place in the heart of this Maine native, as Caverly worked with her all five times; she was Grand Champion at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

As a child, Richard was always chatting and questioning everything and never short of opinions, a trait that he held till his passing. Obsessed with cattle and pedigrees, especially Ayrshires, he idolized the people who worked with the great cattle and herds. The way he connected with people led him to work with the world’s greatest cattle and those cowmen he idolized. Nothing made him happier than the success of others, and in that way, he became one of the greatest cowmen in the business—a man a whole new generation of young men and women look up to.  Richard took great pride in trying to help educate the next generation.

Richard married Beverly Donovan of Chesterfield, Massachusetts, in 2010. Together, they shared a deep passion for Ayrshire cattle and expanded Bev’s Deer Hill Ayrshire herd at Benton, Maine. They competed regularly at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA, the World Dairy Exposition in Madison, WI, and the North American Livestock International Exposition in Louisville, KY, among others. The herd included Sweet Pepper Black Francesca, the two-time Ayrshire Grand Champion at the World Dairy Expo. Richard and Bev enjoyed tremendous success and created many special memories working together and alongside many friends and family at the shows. 

Richard’s creative spirit shone brightly through his love for photography, his gift for poetry, and his creative approach to spoken language. His passion for dairy cows was reflected in his research and knowledge of the animals he admired and the farms that raised them. Richard served as a mentor to many young dairy farmers; his experience, guidance, and passion will live on in the lives he touched. Above all through these accomplishments, Caverly exemplified and will be remembered for his character, sportsmanship, ability, and endeavor.

Richard’s last post on Facebook is very telling: “Life is never bad if you have a handful of great friends”, and honestly, I have more than a handful!” Yes, Richard, you had many friends and admirers.

Richard Caverly not only succeeded but left an indelible mark on the world around him, and for that, we will be eternally grateful. Rest in peace, dear friend. Your light will continue to shine brightly in our hearts forevermore.

Richard was predeceased by his father Edgar and stepmother Donna Caverly, maternal grandparents Richard and Lottie Ballard, paternal grandparents Brainard Jr. and Evelyn Caverly, and cousin Dale Caverly. Survivors include his wife Beverly Donovan; mother Charlee Curtis; siblings Sara (John) Thompson, Anita (Norman) Burdzel, Robert (Dominique) Caverly, Russell (Jordan) Caverly, and Leah (Erick) Lafferty; four nephews and one niece; uncles Frank (Susie) Caverly and Rick (Victoria) Ballard; six cousins; and the many special friends who shared in his adventures.

The family would like to thank the numerous friends who regularly checked in on Richard and supported him throughout the years. Special appreciation to Tim and Erin Flood and their children, as well as to Prescott Tilton-Flood and Cody Mills. 

Visiting hours will be held Friday, March 1st, from 1:00–3:00 pm, followed by a 3:00 pm service both at Moody Chapel on the Hinckley Campus of Kennebec Valley Community College. Family and friends will be invited to a reception to honor his memory following the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Richard Caverly Award Fund with the Ayrshire Breeders Association, 1224 Alton Darby Creek Rd., Columbus, OH 43228. Other donations in Richard’s name to support the dairy industry are welcome.

Legacy for Our Future Leaders

Over the next decade the Ostrom family will dedicate more than $120,000 to World Dairy Expo’s Youth Showmanship Contest classes to honor the late Annette Ostrom.

Annette, 49, of De Pere, Wisconsin, passed away on October 19, 2022, following a courageous battle with cancer, shortly after she completed one of her final wishes. She was determined to be ringside at WDE in 2022 to watch her son Tristen show, to see her industry friends, and to champion her family’s Milk Source Genetics’ show campaign.

Annette was a beloved figure at every level. There wasn’t a part of the industry she didn’t touch or influence in all the best ways.

The tangible legacy of this quiet overachiever is that everyone can affect change…simply by taking the first step with the right people.

Her husband, Jim Ostrom, of Milk Source Genetics, says it is time to pause and to celebrate one of Annette’s enduring passions – young people.


This year’s cash prizes will peak at $3500 for the Supreme Champion Showmanship award. Jim says the decision is a deliberate nod to the significance of encouraging youth, the foundation the movement lays for life, and acknowledging Annette’s commitment to both.

“The most important thing about showmanship and youth programs is that it brings our future leaders back to our industry,” he says. “It might be the most important thing we do in a given year – to give young people the chance to fall in love with this industry that we all love.”

“Anything we can do to build some excitement around youth and youth programs is worthy.”

Giving Back

Outside of Milk Source Genetics juggernaut commercial operation and compelling show herd, Annette was a long-time business manager for Zoetis, and a co-founder of “Dairy Cares of Wisconsin”, a non-profit organization that raised $2.3 million within 12 years for Children’s Wisconsin (formerly Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin).

It included “The Dairy Cares of Wisconsin Simulation Lab”, named after its benefactor. The lab uses computerized patients so the hospital can replay traumas for training purposes. In 2017, Annette and Jim were acknowledged with a “Wisconsin Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award” on behalf of Dairy Cares during National Philanthropy Day. 

Dairy Cares of Wisconsin started with a simple garden party of 35 people who collectively had momentous aspirations to give back.

Today, that event welcomes more than 500 people to the Ostrom’s family home each year.

Flawless on the Halter

Annette was an exceptional cowwoman in her own right. Few will forget the iconic images of her gliding out of the darkness in 2016 and into the spotlight in unison with Milk Source’s five-year-old Jersey Grand Champion, Musqie Iatola Martha-ET. Martha would go on to win WDE Supreme Champion.

Annette’s close friend and Milk Source’s young stock manager Mandi Bue – a force in the ring herself – remembers Annette’s connection with Martha like it was yesterday.

“I remember asking Annette if she got nervous when she was headed into the ring with a cow that carried a lot of prestige like Martha,” Mandi said. “She would smile so lovingly at Martha and say that ‘Martha led her’. They were like watching a perfectly choreographed dance, they paraded so elegantly and flawlessly together. I believe it’s because she respected and adored any and every animal, so the second she took the show halter she put that animal at ease.

In 2016, Annette paraded Muskie Iatola Martha-ET across the colored shavings, leading her to become both Grand and Supreme Champion at World Dairy Expo. 

“Her personality was so graceful and calm – never arrogant – and it allowed any animal to show itself because they completely trusted her.” 

Annette and Mandi initiated the five-woman cattle syndicate, La Femme Fatale, which notably owned half of the 2019 Intermediate WDE Holstein Champion, Floydholm Mc Emoji-ET. That buy happened because of Annette’s faith in Mandi’s eye for a potential great one.

The Power of True Friendship

Mandi says outside of the ring, her lasting memories of Annette circle around the power of true friendship.

“She would remind me that as much as we love the cows, it is the genuine and sincere friendships we make along the way that withstand the test of time. Those friendships are what carry us through the tough times, and they are what make the good times sweeter.”

Sara Harbaugh, a Territory Business Manager at Zoetis, also describes Annette as a steady constant in her life.

“She was so much more than a co-worker. She was an amazing friend,” Sara said. “Our lives overlapped through work, kids, and showing and she could always make me smile even when life was crazy.

“It seemed like she never had a bad day, and her continuous optimism through the most difficult times will always inspire me. I think of her often and try to use her example as a guide.

“The world needs more people like Annette, and this program is a perfect way to honor her.”

Everyone Starts Somewhere

Annette’s love of the dairy industry was ignited by her parents, Gladys, and the late Hans Palm. And, when she decided she needed better heifers to be more competitive in 4-H competitions, Hans approached Sherry Siemers-Peterman, of Siemers Holsteins.

Sherry remembers that Annette was a stand-out young person, and she was happy to allow her the pick of the “better heifers at their farm.”

“Annette was quite a human,” Sherry said. “She gained a lot of confidence in herself throughout her 4-H career. Showmanship sets you up for life and it carries many lessons, including presenting your animals, presenting yourself, and learning how to be a gracious winner…and a gracious loser. Annette could do anything she set her mind to.”


 At The Heart of it All

Behind all the obvious accolades and achievements, Annette was a woman, a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sibling, a friend, and a colleague who continues to be sorely missed every day. To preserve her memory in perpetuity within the industry is important for her family.

Jim said, “She could tell you the pedigree of a 10-year-old kid running around the show barn at a show more than she could tell you the pedigree of a famous cow. She knew their ages, what animals they showed, and where they placed.

“I might know a young kid who’s 10, but the next time I see them they are a foot-and-a-half taller and they are looking like a young adult, but Annette always instantly knew who they were…because she truly knew that person.

“That is the essence of why we are doing this. Before Annette was diagnosed, she would never have allowed me to name something after her. I did tell her I was going to, and as time wore on, she did come to accept it, because she cared so much for the young people.

“So, while we have signed up for 10 years, I do see this as a permanent thing. We want to make it meaningful, and we’ve deliberately put forward some sizeable prizes.”


Call for Entries 

Sisters Nicole Pralle and Jessica Pralle-Trimmer serve as superintendents of the World Dairy Expo Youth Showmanship Contest. Open to all youth, ages 9 to 21, more than 460 youth competed in three age divisions in the 2022 contest.

Participants in 2023 and in future contests will vie for the cash awards listed below.  The Supreme Champion will also receive a crystal trophy. Replicas of the Annette Ostrom Memorial Supreme Showmanship Award will also be displayed by the Ostrom family and at World Dairy Expo’s headquarters. Visit the Contests tab on for contest rules and to enter online. Entries will be accepted starting July 1, 2023.


Word Dairy Expo 2023 Showmanship Awards

  • Champion Junior Showmanship (cash award) – $1500
  • Reserve Champion Junior Showmanship  (cash award) – $750
  • Champion Intermediate Showmanship (cash award) – 1500
  • Reserve Champion Intermediate Showmanship (cash award) – $750
  • Champion Senior Showmanship (cash award) – 1500
  • Reserve Champion Senior Showmanship (cash award) – $750
  • Supreme Champion Showmanship (cash award) – $3500
  • Reserve Supreme Champion Showmanship (cash award) – $1500

Article written by Dianna Malcolm of Mud Media for World Dairy Expo.  Look for the complete article in the 2023 World Dairy Expo Official Program.

Growing The Farm Business – The Loewith Family Way

Every business owner must decide how to create their future in the industry that will exist in five or more years or decide when to exit the industry. Dairy farming is no different when the time for decision arrives.

Loewith Family Growth Decisions

Joe and Minna Loewith purchased the home farm west of Hamilton Ontario in 1947 and started dairy farming (Summitholm Holsteins) with fifteen cows.  They increased their herd size over many years. Their sons Carl and Dave joined the operation in the 1970’s and grandson Ben joined the operation in 1999. Daily production quota has been added on a continual basis. Major facility and herd expansions have occurred in 1981, 1999 and 2014. Significant growth has also occurred in animal and farm productivity, always employing start-of-the-art technology and farming practices along with elite animal breeding, feeding and management practices. The overall focus has always been efficient milk production. Summitholm Holsteins was awarded the Holstein Canada’s Master Breeder Shield in 2002.

Dave Loewith puts it – “If you aren’t improving and growing your business, then you are falling behind.”

Carl Loewith adds – “Critical to our advancement has been the dedication of our staff, the expertise provided by the team of people who service our farm and the researchers who report new facts and practices.”

Around 2018 the Loewith’s took stock of the limited land available to them to expand their farming operation with more and more houses and estate properties being built in their immediate area. They considered the challenges of where and when to spread manure and doing field work with noisy equipment in their rural-urban area often operating late at night or on weekends. They noted the growing consumer trend of wanting to buy direct from the farm. After they objectively assessed their family’s skill sets, they started to consider if their next expansion should be to initiate selling direct to consumers, instead of their pattern of expanding herd size. The family’s decision was to diversify and add to their operation an on-farm milk processing dairy and store, which will be described later in more detail.

Summitholm Holsteins facilities (circa 2018) where 470 milking cows currently average 44.8 kgs/day (3x), 4.55%F, 3.23%P, [for 50.2 kgs or 110.6# Standard Milk], 133 SCC and Calving Interval 13.0 months. 51% of the cows are in 3rd+ lactation. The average life-time milk produced of cows currently in the herd is 38,000 kgs (83,750#).  During the past year, the Involuntary Cull Rate was 14%. and the life-time milk production of the cows leaving the herd was 58,300 kgs (128,500#). For sure a model dairy herd for Canada. Summitholm Holsteins is well known as a Lactanet Top Ten Managed Herd (having been #1 Ontario Herd seven times) that annually hosts many industry tours both domestic and foreign.

Every Business Needs a Mission Statement

Summitholm Holstein’s Mission Statement, posted in the viewing area of its milking parlor, covers five key areas well worth being included in any progressive dairy farm’s business plan – product, animals, staff/people, environment and community.

Jennifer Howe-Loewith reports that this farm mission statement will be adapted to the new company, Summit Station Dairy and Creamery.

Summit Station Comes Alive

The owners of Summit Station Dairy & Creamery, Jennifer (wife), Ben (husband), Dave (uncle) and Carl (father, absent) are pictured, on a busy farming and construction day in late June 2023, outside the newly constructed building that houses the milk processing plant and store. The building’s exterior emulates the late 1800’s Summit Train Station, demolished about 1955 when the train line was removed. That station was located two hundred meters from the new modern dairy-creamery-store building which overlooks the Summit Bog, an environmentally sensitive but beautiful area in West Hamilton.

One spark for the Loewith Family on its journey to Summit Station Dairy and Creamery was the annual Farm Public Open House held in late December at Summitholm Holsteins in cooperation with the Wentworth County Milk Producers. For over a decade, the local dairy farmers have been running this event which has seen thousands of people visit Summitholm barns and see a milking. The public always raved about the tours and experience. This annual event has raised the profile of both the Loewith Family farm and the value of supporting local food producers.

Ben Loewith is trained in business management and is experienced in working in topflight business companies. He described for the author the SWOT (Strengths/Weakness/Opportunities/Threats) Analysis that the family went through, starting four years ago, to arrive at a detailed plan, financing, engagement of advisors, licensing, hiring contractors, purchasing the state-of-the-art equipment, etc. Research, in preparation for establishing Summit Station Dairy and Creamery, showed that 15,000 cars per workday pass by on the highway adjacent to the farm and dairy. The dairy-creamery and store are the Loewith Family’s solution to growing their operation, taking advantage of their proximity to 600,000 Hamiltonians and more and more consumers wanting to buy local. Of course, as expected, extensive work was required in multiple areas including – legal, health & safety, regulation, zoning, utility services, data systems, training, etc. for Summit Station to take shape..

Valentina, a fabricated model cow, will be used to promote and identify Summit Station Dairy and Creamery both on site and at off-site locations. Her color marking are an exact replicated of a cow currently milking at Summitholm Holsteins, including the perfect black heart. Marketing and communications will be virtual. Selling onsite and at offsite markets will be handled by family and staff trained to support the benefits of Summit Station Dairy and Creamery product quality, the value of dairy products to health and nutrition and the promotion of the dairy industry.

Some areas of Summit Station Dairy and Creamery’s operation that will interest Bullvine readers include:

  • Milk products that will be sold include various milks, curds and yogurts. Jennifer reports that “the Loewith Family knows fluid milk, so that was an obvious product. However, Dairy Farmers of Ontario allocation of milk to processors and its milk pricing somewhat dictated what other products the Summit Station Store could sell, at start-up.’ Hard cheeses will be sold in the store and will come from selected independent cheese makers.
  • A home delivery system will start in September 2023. Ordering and payment will be handled electronically. All deliveries will be made by family members in dairy owned vans. Delivery will not be outsourced. The Loewith Family feels that it is important to be able to tell and assure customers that the family controls every step – from the field to their door.
  • The dairy will use about 10% of Summitholm Holsteins’ production. Milk must be inspected and approved before being moved from the farm tank to the dairy. The process in Ontario requires that the farm’s milk must be sold to Dairy Farmers of Ontario and then bought back by the on-farm dairy at about 133% of the farm gate price.
  • The on-farm store will have its grand opening on Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend, October 7-9, 2023.

Milk sales will be by using returnable, reusable glass bottles. At start-up two customized vans will make weekly deliveries to customers and for the return of empties.

How Will Summit Station Dairy Affect Summitholm Holsteins?

Ben and Dave do not see the dairy affecting the farm operation in a major way except that there will be a milk holding tank specifically for milk that will be transferred to the dairy.  The milk going into that tank will only come from A2A2 beta casein cows, although, at first, there are no plans for the milk to be sold as certified “a2”.

The breeding program for the Summitholm herd will continue to focus on high lifetime milk solids production. Holstein sires will all be genomically evaluated and highly ranked for milk solids production, longevity, functionality, health and efficiency traits. Sires will not necessarily be required to be A2A2 beta casein or BB kappa casein. All Holstein heifers are genomically tested and are bred Holstein sexed. Above average younger cows are bred conventional Holstein and older and below average milking cows. As well as problem breeders, are bred beef (Limousin). All male and beef calves are sold to a single veal operation. Even though there are now fewer Holstein heifers born and raised at Summitholm Holsteins, a sizable portion are sold to other farms that line up to purchase well reared, productive and long-lived animals.

The Loewith Family Companies Going Forward

Ben and Jennifer are now the leaders of the owner-management team for the farm and the dairy. With Carl and Dave officially retired from milking cows, Ben is in charge of both the farm and the dairy. Knowing the scope involved with launching and running a public-facing business, Jennifer stepped away from her media career to join the family business as Summit Station’s General Manager. Data, facts, science, ROI and best practices will continue to form the basis for decisions. That model has been well practiced and taught by Dave and Carl. Dairy, store and farm staff will total over fifty by the end of 2023 and will be composed of family, trained specialists and local hires. The Loewith’s are well known in their community and the dairy industry for employing, training and retaining their staff.

There are some additional projects currently in process or planned. A solar field that, by early 2024, will supply 80% of the energy required by the farm and dairy. Weekend farm tours and agriculture education events are upcoming. Also planned is a covered outdoor community market area featuring partnering with local farming entrepreneurs. Of course, there will be more initiatives once Ben and Jennifer have the dairy operational.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The Bullvine congratulates the Loewith Family on their foresight and for the progress in growing their businesses.They are creating an expanded business model that will ensure a future place for Loewith family members. Joe and Minna stimulated Dave and Carl to grow and develop Summitholm Holsteins. Now Dave and Carl have stimulated and supported Ben and Jennifer, who no doubt will do the same for future Loewith generations.

The Bullvine challenges our farmer-readers to take time to consider developing a business model for moving their dairy farm into the future. Standing still is a highly unlikely choice for success!

Fieldcrest Estate: Hoover Vacuum Company’s Venture into Dairy Farming

Check out this amazing dairy barn in North Canton, Ohio. The Fieldcrest Estate was the dairy barn built by the Hoover family of the Hoover Vacuum Company. The twin silos accompany twin dairy barns in this palace-like farm that is a monument to what the American vision was over a hundred years ago. The silos complete the architecture of this incredible barn which lies quietly on a small 55 acre parcel, no longer being used for anything.

Images of spotless carpets and fast cleaning may spring to mind when one thinks about Hoover, the legendary hoover brand. Few may be aware of the Hoover Vacuum Company’s journey into the realm of dairy farming, a lesser-known chapter in the company’s history. This article delves into the unusual topic of a vacuum cleaner firm diversifying into agriculture and establishing its own dairy farm.

Cleaning Houses to Growing Farms:

William Henry Hoover started the Hoover Vacuum Company in 1908, and the company immediately rose to fame for its inventive and dependable vacuum cleaners. The firm transformed domestic cleaning by making vacuuming more accessible and efficient for millions of people across the globe. However, as the firm expanded, William Hoover sought new ways to broaden his commercial empire and capitalise on his experience in manufacturing and logistics.

The Beginnings of Hoover Dairy Farm:

William Hoover saw the potential in the dairy business in the early 1920s, motivated by his conviction in the need of high-quality dairy products in sustaining good health. He chose to get into dairy farming after being inspired by the concept of offering clients with a comprehensive cleaning and domestic experience. The Hoover Vacuum Company built its own dairy farm, appropriately called Hoover Dairy Farm, with the goal of controlling the whole process from farm to table.

Modernization and Innovation:

True to the Hoover Vacuum Company’s attitude, innovation and modernity were critical to the success of Hoover Dairy Farm. To safeguard the health of its dairy herd and maximise milk output, the firm used cutting-edge technology and practises. The farm used automated feeding systems, cutting-edge milking parlours, and innovative herd management methods, all with the goal of increasing efficiency and maintaining the greatest levels of animal care.

Quality and sustainability are priorities:

Hoover Dairy Farm, a firm known for its dedication to quality, prioritised the production of premium dairy products. The farm was rigorous about its cows’ health and nutrition, establishing sustainable feeding practises and offering large and pleasant living circumstances. As a consequence, milk of outstanding quality was created, with a rich flavour and great nutritional content.

Participation in the community and education:

The Hoover Vacuum Company’s commitment to community involvement extended to their dairy farm. The farm worked together with local schools and organisations, conducting educational programmes and farm visits to teach the public about dairy production and the value of sustainable agriculture. These activities not only increased knowledge of the agricultural process, but also enhanced the link between Hoover Dairy Farm and the surrounding community.

Beyond the Legacy:

While the Hoover Vacuum Company’s foray into dairy farming was an unusual diversification initiative, it ultimately exited the agricultural sector as the company’s emphasis went back to its primary industry of vacuum cleaners. Hoover Dairy Farm’s heritage, on the other hand, remains on as a tribute to the company’s pioneering spirit and readiness to explore new territories.


The foundation of Hoover Dairy Farm, the Hoover Vacuum Company’s excursion into dairy farming, marks an intriguing chapter in the company’s history. This unexpected endeavour exemplified the company’s dedication to innovation, excellence, and community involvement. Though the dairy farm is no longer in business, it stands as a reminder of the entrepreneurial spirit that inspired the Hoover Vacuum Company to explore new sectors and make a lasting effect on the cleaning and agricultural worlds.

Two Sisters Become the Next Generation to Milk Cows at Broom’s Bloom Dairy

Only 15 dairy farms remain in Harford County, compared to 33 in 2002 and 54 in 1997.

It’s early June, and Kate Dallam, who owns Broom’s Bloom Dairy in Bel Air with her husband, David, is radiating with excitement. She has just created a new ice-cream flavor for the farm’s café.

“I need to take a photo now to get it up on Instagram,” she says, busily arranging a scoop of the chilled confection next to a single orange and a box of tea as she sets up the shot.

Customers, having taken notice of her photo shoot, ask if they can get a taste of the new offering, which is created by soaking Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea bags in an ice-cream mix made from the farm’s milk and adding orange zest. “Refreshing” is the consensus.

Revenues from the store’s ice-cream sales have been a lifeline for the Harford County dairy farm, especially when economic times are tough. The rescue plan was put into effect almost 20 years ago when Kate Dallam, now 54, was trying to figure out how to pay the staff. She turned to an idea that had been, well, churning in her brain for some time and made it a reality: opening an ice-cream store.

Thanks to her husband, a brother, and a family friend, who built the country store (think an old-fashioned barn-raising), she ended up with an inviting space, which opened in December 2004. “My husband said he built the store to keep me out of the barn,” says Kate, laughing. It’s the kind of joke a couple who has been married 32 years makes.

At first, ice cream was the only product they sold at the store, but, a year later, Kate realized she had to expand the menu to keep the business viable. As the food items grew—from sandwiches and soups to mac and cheese and quiches—the cows and the family farm, where her 59-year-old husband was raised, thrived.

Black raspberry ice cream.

While there has been a drop in the number of dairy farms around the state and country, the 240-acre, nine-generation farm, which dates back to the 1700s, stays productive. Only 15 dairy farms remain in Harford County, compared to 33 in 2002 and 54 in 1997.

“It’s a tough environment,” says Republican state Sen. Jason Gallion, a Harford County beef farmer who represents parts of Harford and Cecil counties and is the agricultural specialist for Harford County. “A lot of local farms are not milking a lot of cows. It’s hard for them because the price they’re getting for their milk is not enough.”

Traditionally, dairy farms sell to milk cooperatives—farmer-owned groups that market the members’ milk and dairy products—says Gallion, a former dairy farmer. But now, aside from not getting enough money for their milk, many dairy farmers are faced with increased output costs to operate their farms, such as climbing diesel and fertilizer prices, he says. The rise in milk alternatives like soy, oat, and almond milk has also affected demand.

“The farms left today have reinvented themselves,” says Andrew Kness, the University of Maryland Extension agricultural agent for Harford County. “They’ve pivoted to direct market, instead of relying on dairy cooperatives.”

Only 15 dairy farms remain in Harford County, compared to 33 in 2002 and 54 in 1997.

For the Dallams, that reinvention meant opening their own milk processing plant in 2021 and making cheese and ice cream on the property. “It’s value-added agriculture,” Gallion says. “It supports local agriculture and brings people out to the farm.”

Other farms are following suit. Another operation in Harford County, Mt. Felix Farm, also turned to selling ice cream and cheese to support its farming efforts, naming the business Keyes Creamery after original owner Benjamin Keyes. And a third-generation horse
farm in Montgomery County, Waredaca Farm, decided to diversify by using farm-grown hops, herbs like lemon verbena and Thai basil, and honey from its apiaries to make beer at its farm brewery.

The Dallams hope their efforts will continue to keep the family afloat. Not only has the farm been in the family for many generations, mostly as a general farm, the couple has two daughters, Emmy, 26, and Belle, 22, who are stepping into the role of dairy farmers. They will be the second generation in a dairy business started by their parents at Broom’s Bloom in 1997.

Roo grazes in the field.
Kate Dallam’s “famous salad” is made.

“I always thought I could do something easier, like being a teacher or working at a nursing home,” says Emmy, who has a certificate in livestock management and an associate-arts degree in agribusiness. “But I knew I would always miss the farm, that I would always want to be on the farm, so I thought I should just do it.”

Belle, who recently graduated from Penn State, had no doubts about her future. “I always knew I wanted to come back here,” she says. “I wanted to go to college for agriculture and animal science and come back home.”

On a warm summer afternoon, the women take a break from their myriad chores, sitting at a picnic table at the farm store. They are bursting with their own plans for the farm. Emmy is already raising and butchering chickens and turkeys, and Belle hopes to breed Wagyu-Holstein cows in addition to dairy cows. “They are supposed to have excellent marbling and taste,” she says. “We’ll raise them for beef to sell here and to ship.”

Their other sister, Josie, 28, opted for the city lights of New York, though she spent plenty of time on the farm before going to graduate school to study children’s literature.

“It was an incredibly hard decision,” says Josie, who has a dual undergraduate degree in agronomy (field-crop science) and agricultural communications. “I was working full time in the ice-cream store, and I could see myself being satisfied with that, but I always wondered what it would be like to work in publishing. Then I had a moment when I realized I was 23 years old and thought, ‘Let’s go do it and figure out how it would work.’”

She also knew she had a backup plan.

“My family’s farm has been around for almost 300 years,” says Josie, a school and library marketing coordinator for HarperCollins Publishers. “I was pretty sure I could leave and try something else, and if it didn’t work, I could always come back.”

Broom’s Bloom has deep roots in Harford County. A Maryland Historical Trust report, detailing its historic significance, dates its settlement to 1747, when Isaac Webster built a house on the property. Since then, it has been run by direct descendants of the Webster-Dallam clan, who have continuously farmed the property, though both families settled in the county earlier in the 18th century.

The farm’s name is credited to John Broome, who was granted a land patent for the property in 1685. There are no records that he ever made it through the dense forests of the time to visit the acreage. After he died, his patent went to various people before ending up with the Websters.

The farm’s name is credited to John Broome, who was granted a land patent for the property in 1685.

The “Bloom” part of the name is open for interpretation. Some family members say it refers to flourishing crops. But a 1959 Baltimore Sun story about William Dallam, who was farming the property at the time, reported that the tract was named after a broom plant that was in bloom when the first family settled there. (The story also included a recipe for corn wine, so it could have been the wine talking.)

Before the Dallams inherited the land, it had been used as a general farm with some crops, one milk cow, sheep, hogs, and sometimes chickens, says Katy Dallam, who grew up on the property with her younger brother David and two other siblings. Their father died in a tractor accident when she was 16 and David was 8. The family was devastated but did what needed to be done. “My mother kept the farm going,” Katy says.

While Katy chose a different career path, David had one goal growing up. “He wanted to be a dairy farmer,” says his sister, who is a retired independent school administrator and English teacher. “It’s an incredibly hard job.”

Kate Dallam at work.

Morning comes early at Broom’s Bloom. David heads to the processing plant, and Emmy and Belle turn on the lights to the cow barn around 5 a.m. for the first feeding and milking of the day. The 53 cows—a mix of black-and-white Holsteins, red-and-white Holsteins, and Guernseys—with names like Elsie, Daisy, and Ritzy, are standing at the ready or lying down on their water beds. The women gently clean the udders of each cow with iodine and attach pumps to pull milk from the teats, which goes directly to pipes and then is filtered. It ends up in a bulk tank until it is pumped to the processing plant for bottling. A gauge on the tubing shows when each cow is finished milking.

Then, the pumps are removed, and the udders are again rinsed with iodine. Emmy and Belle work on a few cows at a time as they move along two rows of the animals, each of which weighs about 1,300 pounds. As they proceed, a few cows who are still reclining get a firm pat on their haunches to move them to an upright position. One heifer, Erma, is a kicker and is slightly restrained during the milking. “She tries to eat the machine,” explains Emmy.

It’s not glamorous work. During the milking, the cows are peeing and pooping, which the women shovel into a drain system while adding more sawdust around the cows. But that’s just life on the farm. Music plays to calm the animals, and maybe Emmy and Belle, too. They prefer country music. During a recent milking, Steve Holy crooned “Good Morning Beautiful,” Easton Corbin belted out “Marry That Girl,” and Shania Twain sang “Up!” over a sound system, competing with giant, whirling, noisy fans that keep the barn cool.

Emmy and Belle work in unison while milking without much conversation, the way partners do when they share a daily chore. After the milking is complete at 6 a.m., Emmy feeds the calves, which are housed in another barn, and Belle washes the milking equipment. The cows go out to the pasture for a while.

As soon as the calves hear the clink of the metal milk pail Emmy is carrying, they move around excitedly. They know what’s coming: milk, fresh water, and grain if they’re old enough. The youngest calves each live in separate compartments until they are weaned. Emmy’s puppy, Penelope, a border collie/American Eskimo mix, tags along and sneaks a gulp of milk when Emmy isn’t looking.

A herd of cows.

The rest of the day is taken up with various projects. One day, the women put fly tags on the heifers, which Emmy describes as earrings with bug repellent that keep flies off their faces. Another day, the cows get their hooves trimmed, sort of a fancy bovine pedicure.

Emmy also spends part of every day caring for her chickens on a farm in Churchville, which the family also owns and uses to house about 70 heifers in their herd. She christened the business she started in 2018 as Homelands Poultry after the name of the farm, once owned by her mother’s family (and now owned by Emmy’s parents). Emmy also raises turkeys for Thanksgiving. She and her fiancé, Lucas Beavers, became licensed poultry butchers to save money instead of outsourcing the birds.

At 5 p.m., back at Broom’s Bloom, it’s time to feed and milk the cows again. Then, around 8 p.m., they get a final feeding.

“We call it tucking the cows in,” Belle says. “Then we turn out the lights, and we see them again in the morning.”

Emmy and Belle are used to long days at the farm. They started helping out at local farmers’ markets, selling the farm’s products, and working at the dairy store when they were a young age.

“My mom always tells customers that I’ve been washing dishes at the store since I could stand on a stool,” Belle says with a laugh. “I remember in sixth grade I had a weeknight shift.” When they were in eighth grade, they became involved in the milking process. “I think that’s when I became more useful,” Emmy says, smiling.

They also were part of the state and national 4-H, showing their cows at various events—and are familiar with the pain of parting with their animals. “We can only keep the cows as long as they’re productive enough to cover their expenses,” Belle says. “Then we have to sell them, which is really difficult. They are an expensive pet to keep.”

But there is one cow they couldn’t part with—Hazel—who is 13 years old. “She’s our mascot,” Belle says. “We’re only allowed to have one of those in our life.”

Several mornings a week, Emmy and her dad pasteurize and bottle the cows’ milk, in two large rooms with stainless-steel tanks, in the processing plant next to the cow barn.

On a recent morning, a plastic bag with 200 one-gallon plastic containers awaited the mostly automated process, where empty jugs are placed on a conveyor belt by Emmy, filled with milk, and capped before being placed in plastic crates, which are stored in a refrigerated room. The dairy bottles whole milk, 2 percent milk, and chocolate milk.

David Dallam goes about his duties quietly, moving from one piece of equipment to the next, checking temperatures for pasteurization, and squirting off the equipment with water. He’s more comfortable in the background doing the work he loves, according to his family. “He is really hard-working,” his sister Katy says.

Since retiring, Katy, who is widowed and lives in her own house on a piece of the family property, which is protected by the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program, has become part of the milking operation. She affixes labels by hand to the milk jugs before Emmy and her father start bottling, estimating she can do about 1,000 labels a day in the four to eight hours a week she volunteers her time.

“This is the perfect job,” she says. “I can do it when I want to, and as much as I want to.”

David Dallam adjusts pipes on the milk tanks.
Emmy Dallam with milk jugs waiting to be filled.

Emmy and her father also bottle gallons of ice-cream mix, which will be used to make different ice-cream flavors to sell at the farm store and local places like Brad’s Farm Market in Churchville and the 32nd Street Farmers Market in Waverly.

“Vanilla is the most popular,” says Darcy Musni, the in-house ice-cream maker. He is working in a small space off the store kitchen, replenishing the well-liked flavor after it sold out over the weekend. On this day, he’s also making vanilla cinnamon honey, orange cream, Irish cream, caramel cashew, and butter pecan. A blackboard alerts customers to the available choices of the day.

Kate Dallam spends most of her days at the store, overseeing the operation. She starts her days early, too, delivering products to coffee shops and farm markets and picking up fresh fruits and vegetables for menu items, including her “famous salad,” a healthful mix of in-season produce. She often finishes up in the evening by making more deliveries or going to the plant, where she cuts giant blocks of cheeses into consumer-size chunks.

“It’s hard to get a younger generation interested in farming.”

During an afternoon lull, Kate talks about the future. She doesn’t plan to retire, but she’d like to scale back. “The food is something I have to do every day,” she says. “I’ve created a monster. But people love the food.”

Judith Williams-Rice, who lives in Abingdon, has been coming to the store for 20 years. Now that she’s retired, she makes the trip at least twice a week. “I think I’ve had everything on the menu,” Williams-Rice “The food is wonderful.”

The community support makes the effort worthwhile to Kate, who knows that some customers travel long distances to get to the farm. “People have to drive here, so I wanted to create café offerings that would set us apart,” she says.

While she hasn’t milked cows for a long time, she’s no stranger to dairy life. She grew up milking cows at her family’s Woolsey Farm in Churchville. It’s where she met her husband, who was milking cows for her father.

“It’s like a country-music song,” she says.

Her father, Gene Umbarger, 91, can often be found at the Bel Air Farmers’ Market, where Emmy and Belle sell their wares on Saturdays. He’s so proud of his granddaughters, he says. Finally, on Sundays, Emmy takes a day off. Belle takes off another day during the week, so at least one of them is at Broom’s Bloom every day.

“It’s a 365-day-a-year deal,” Kate says. “It’s a lot.”

But she and David are “thrilled” their daughters are continuing the family legacy.

“It’s hard to get a younger generation interested in farming, and especially dairy farming,” Kate says. “You don’t want to be the last
generation to farm.”

Commander in Cheese

Nan Peppmuller with Gouda cheese.

Each week, Nan Peppmuller makes about 40 pounds of cow’s milk cheese in the Broom’s Bloom Dairy processing plant over the course of two days. Her repertoire includes various cheddars, Gouda, feta, mozzarella, and her latest endeavor, Camembert.

“It’s my little baby,” she says, describing the cheese as a “fancy brie.” “But it’s very tedious.”

On a recent morning, she adds cultures to 400 pounds of milk from the dairy cows in a small vat to start the process. After a bit of waiting, she puts on galoshes, because the next part is messy, and stirs in rennet, which coagulates the milk. Then, she scoops the gloppy mixture into “hoops,” or molds with holes, where the whey separates from the curds through the small openings. That part takes about an hour and a half before she turns the hoops over. Then she lets them dry out overnight, flips them, and puts them into aging boxes for two weeks in a refrigerated space.

Peppmuller, 33, a cousin of Kate Dallam’s, who owns the dairy farm with her husband, David, is an unwitting cheesemaker who has learned on the job. With the exception of a few years, Peppmuller has worked at the dairy store since she was a 15-year-old student at Aberdeen High School, scooping ice cream. Dallam promoted her to cheese-making duties about a year and a half ago.

“I’m really enjoying it and hope it lasts,” says Peppmuller.

Dallam’s daughter Emmy and a niece, Ariel Taxdal, both of whom took a cheesemaking course at Penn State, gave Peppmuller tutorials in the artisan craft. She also visited the plant of an Amish farmer who previously made the farm’s cheese.

“I learned by doing,” she says.

The cheeses she makes are sold at the store and at farmers’ markets and are also used in menu items at the café.

“I love using our products in what we serve here,” says Dallam, who runs the store. “We milk the cows. We make the cheese, and I make macaroni and cheese out of that.”

Peppmuller also turns out a variety of cheese curds, which she describes as younger cheddar. The peanut-sized chunks don’t have to be aged. Whatever the task, after so many years at Broom’s Blooms, Peppmuller is incredibly content.

“I love cheese. I love it all.”


Small is beautiful for north Wales dairy farmer

A 55-COW dairy herd is considered small in an industry where the average is now three times that number but Ifan Evans is making it work with automated milking and by generating an income from a tourism diversification.

He invested £120,000 in a milking robot three years ago and says it is the best money he has ever spent.

“It has dramatically improved my quality of life, I don’t have to worry about being at home at certain times to milk and can enjoy time with the family,’’ says Ifan, who is married to Rowena, a primary school teacher; the couple have two sons, 17-year-old Huw, and Gwilym, who is 15.

He farms with his brother, Gwynfor, at Tyn Rhos, near Caernarfon, but as Gwynfor has decided to exit farming Ifan is buying his share and will take the farm forward.

The business covers 140 acres of owned and rented land. Grazed grass has always been an important part of the system at Tyn Rhos.

When Ifan was contemplating a switch to robot milking he based his research around robots used in grazing systems in Ireland.

“The Irish are really up to speed on this,’’ he says.

He was confident the system would work at Tyn Rhos and, when the abreast parlour needed updating, he took that approach and installed an A4 Lely machine.

From mid-April the system operates around grazed grass for six months.

The secret of integrating grazing with automated milking is to not over-allocate each grass break, to encourage cows to take themselves to be milked, Ifan advises.

Cows are given a fresh break at 2pm and 2am, accessed through grazing gates once they have been milked.

They have worked out these timings. “About half an hour before the gates change there is a steady stream of cows coming through,’’ Ifan ex

“When I go down to the grazed paddock at around 7am there will only be half a dozen low yielders left in there.’’

The cows were quick to adapt to the new system of bringing themselves in to be milked. Initially it took four days and nights of encouraging them through the robot before they went through of their own accord on the fifth day.

Cows are currently averaging 2.93 milkings every 24 hours.

The herd, a mixture of black and whites, Montbeliarde-crosses and Jerseys, produces an average of 10,000 litres of milk per cow per year – heifers 8,000 litres – at 4.6pc butterfat and 3.5pc protein. Milk is sold to South Caernarfon Creamery.

Most of the herd calves in an autumn block, from the beginning of September to the end of December.

The business has another source of income – an on-farm caravan site with 25 pitches.

The last two summers have been the busiest he can recall with visitors right up until the end of October when the site was closed for the winter.

It is a welcome source of income and Ifan also enjoys interacting with visitors.

“I like taking time out and talking to people, we encourage our visitors to see the cattle.’’

Should his sons decide that they want to follow his footsteps and farm for a living he is adamant that they don’t do so as teenagers.

Ifan, who is the NFU Cymru vice-chairman for mid-Gwynedd, studied agriculture at Aberystwyth and then travelled and worked in Australia and New Zealand before coming home to farm.

“Huw and Gwilym have an interest in the farm but I want them to have an education and see a bit of the world, to stand on their own two feet, before coming home,’’ he says.

“They will be a long time on the farm if they do decide that is what they want to do so they mustn’t come home until they have experienced a bit of life first.’’


Horror Trip Finishes on a High Note

The top price for the Glenalla and Snowfed Tag sale was $13,000 and it was paid for four-year-old, Glenalla Links Clover, who went on to finish third in the four-year-old class which included the Reserve Senior Champion Jersey and Best Udder of the Jersey Show.

The three-and-a-hour hour ferry ride passes through some treacherous water between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

When 14 hours turned into 60 calamitous hours trucking 33-head from the South to the North Island, the Gilbert family knew they were up against it more than usual at the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE). 


Just north of Cheviot in North Canterbury their truck’s clutch went, which left them stranded on the side of the road with the cows on-board (top and bottom) from 9.45pm until 3.30am the next morning, when they were towed 92km back to a mechanic’s garage in Rangiora.


The cavalry arrived soon after in the form of the Stewart family, who run Cresslands Farms, just out of Rangiora. Graham Stewart brought their truck in, they off-loaded the cows between trucks in two trips, and took them back to Cresslands. At that point the cows and heifers had been on the truck for 14 hours. The Cresslands team, which include Josh Norton and Andrew Stewart, then got them milked out and into Cressland’s show paddocks on hay racks to rest and recover.

Westbourne T Bone Yoko finished 4th in the five and six-year-old class that her herdmate won. She didn’t sell.

The replacement truck they arranged also broke down (before they loaded up) and they had to find a back-up for the back-up truck. The next truck got to the ferry, only to be turned away because it didn’t have a booking – a booking that Peter Gilbert had an email confirming. But the cows were turned away nonetheless, and had to be trucked 28km back to Blenheim, and unloaded in the saleyards until the booking could be re-scheduled for later that day. They finally arrived in Feilding Saturday morning, having been milked four times in 60 hours.

Glenalla and Snowfed Farms knew they had the toughest recovery to settle their team if everything went perfectly. Let alone if there were problems. They also had the added extra pressure because they were offering their whole team for sale in a “Sell the Show String” Tag sale (excluding their clients’ animals who either boarded at their farm, or who were showing in their team).

The Tag sale format they are using was new for New Zealand, but it is common throughout the world. It involved Glenalla and Snowfed pricing their animals during the week. If the price worked for buyers, they would be sold.


Then, Glenalla and Snowfed – like most of the showgrounds – heard the news that the New Zealand government had gone to the red traffic light COVID-19 protection framework – limiting exhibitor numbers on-ground to 100 (plus event staff).

It was more bad news for a first-time Tag sale that depended on people and energy.

Premier Tequila Sweet won the five and six-year-old class for Glenalla and Snowfed Farms.

“It worried me when no-one was going to be at the show apart from exhibitors,” Peter said. “It was scary enough doing the sale, I thought, and it became a little bit more scary when there was no public there.”

It’s was another lesson in tenacity and teamwork.

“We had sort of decided if we could get a 50% clearance, we’d be pretty happy.”

They achieved a remarkable clearance, selling 17 of the 21-head they offered (81%) for a gross turnover of around $80,000.

The top price was $13,000 for their four-year-old Jersey, Glenalla Links Clover, who went on to finish third in the four-year-old class which included the Reserve Senior Champion Jersey (and Best Udder of the Jersey Show).

“It’s fair to say we are pretty thrilled with how it went. We always said we were prepared to sell our best, so we showed that we will,” Peter said.

He was also thrilled to see a number of young breeders buy.

“We always hoped that would happen, and that’s why we had some reasonably cheap lots in there.”

When it came to getting the cows out on show day, Peter credited the team around them for being able to turn the cows around in time to have a competitive show.

They would go on and win their first ever Premier Exhibitor banner.

“I was amazed how they came out. It was a real team effort, but I think we’ll all be pretty glad when the cows are safely home,” he said.

Glenalla and Snowfed Farms faced the toughest road to get their teams out on-song after a nightmare trip. Premier Tequila Sweet won the five and six-year-old class.

The good news is the homeward-bound truck home will only be carrying around 19-head as a result of the sale (including animals that were sold that are going to South Island buyers and some new animals that will board at Glenalla and Snowfed).

Safe travels Glenalla and Snowfed.

Lovholm Holsteins Named As Saskatchewan’s 2021 Outstanding Young Farmers

Michael and Jessica Lovich of Balgonie own and operate Lovholm Holsteins, a 70 cow dairy.

The couple moved to Saskatchewan from Alberta about 5 1/2 years ago, relocating their entire herd and family.

Michael says it was a bit of a challenge, but they got it done in a short period of time, and it’s been a fantastic move.

He says the main goals of Lovholm Holsteins is to continue to increase genetic potential in every cow.

“We focus a lot on confirmation in our breeding decisions. That has led us to be in one of the top 20 classified herds in 2019 in Canada for our herd size. As well, in 2020, we reached the Top 10 for Master Breeder status through Holstein Canada. So those are a couple highlights. Since moving to Saskatchewan, we have also been able to focus on improving milk production, which has resulted in numerous cow awards on the production side, not just confirmation.”

He notes probably the biggest highlight for their operation came in 2015 when one of their cows was named Supreme Champion at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

“We had bred her and sold her as a young cow, and she matured well for her new owners. So we are very thankful for that.”

Jessica says they see education as being very important and host three to six farm tours a year for school groups and industry groups.

“We focus all of those tours on importantly sharing the food production cycles, namely the dairy cycle. However, we always like to focus on Ag in general, because we all have a story to tell, and we’re all kind of in this game together. So we try to do our part in telling that story and to be transparent to our consumers.”

She notes they also like to help people further their education and have partnered with the University of Lavalle taking in an internship with their agronomy class. They have a girl from Quebec working at the farm now, and in August are expecting a student from Denmark.

Jessica says family is a big part of their operation, noting that their three daughters (10, 11 and 6) are a key part of the farm.

“They are really a fantastic help. They help with milking cows, feeding calves, driving tractors, and even cooking for us through the busy season. So we really couldn’t do what we do and take on as much as we do without having really fantastic kids. And we just want to give them some appreciation as well. We try to balance our farm life as much as possible with being very involved in our community. So the girls are all in 4H. They all figure skate, they all play softball, and they’re involved in swimming and the youth groups in the community as well. So they don’t always love farm life, and the challenges that it brings and the commitment that it takes to make the farm work. But we still believe that this is very much the best way that we get to raise our kids and we’re so thankful for that opportunity. And we like to think that any opportunity to show our kids firsthand the value of hard work, passion, cooperation, and even how to disagree is an advantage to their development.”

Source: Swift Current Online

Robots At Comestar Holsteins – Video Tour

Get inspired by the mega-successful Master Breeder Marc Comtois and his son Steve as they present this inside look at Comestar with their move to DeLaval robots.  Thanks to the Semex Alliance and DeLaval for presenting this great session.

Dangerous stretch of water tests a New Zealand family’s nerve

When New Zealanders decide to show a cow from the South Island in the North Island, it’s never a decision for the faint-hearted.

There is no comfortable low-centre-of-gravity vehicles, portable milkers or easy way to do almost anything with the cows when they are on the road.

They are usually tied on the trucks. And, the ferry rules prohibit owners from checking on their cattle during the three-and-a-half ferry ride across the Cook Strait between Picton (the top of the South Island) and Wellington (the bottom of the North Island).

Not such a big deal, some may think?

Dangerous waters

However, the Cook Strait is notorious for being one of the world’s roughest stretches of water. It’s part of the westerly wind belt known as the “Roaring Forties”. As the only gap between the mountainous main islands of the country, the strait acts like a huge wind tunnel.

To put that into perspective, the Cook Straight was the scene of two of New Zealand’s worst maritime catastrophes – the 1909 Penguin Disaster – and, the 1968 sinking of the Wellington-Lyttelton ferry, Wahine. 

Yet, the Gilbert family, from Mid-Canterbury are preparing tackle the 17-hour (in total) journey with a load that includes Jerseys, Holsteins, and one Ayrshire, who recently won the Canterbury A&P On-Farm show’s Supreme Senior Champion of all breeds.

Four-metre high swells

Brothers, Nick, Michael and Luke – together with their parents, Peter and Anne – collectively milk just over 1200 cows on two farms at Ashburton. They are headed to the Stratford Show in the Taranaki, which carries significant prize money and the tempting title of a “Royal” show.

Michael Gilbert said they have endured a crossing with cows before when the swells have been up to four metres high.

“To be honest, on that particular crossing we were struggling to stay in our seats up top with the other passengers, and we knew that our cows were down there, so it was pretty stressful,” Michael said.

“But, surprisingly the cows seem to handle the ferry crossing better than the rest of the truck trip. They were lying down when we got to them at the end of that trip. But, when we’re on the road, they tend to stand the whole time.”

Michael said they’d had tried breaking the trip up to rest the cows, but it just seemed to work better if they pushed through, and got it done.

No surprises now

And, now that the industry is aware that their Ayrshire, Pukekaraka Elle Delilah, is on the truck with all breed winning potential, the brothers will be working hard to get her settled and ready to take on her counterparts who don’t have to travel as far.

“We already had Delilah pencilled in for Stratford before these results,” Michael said. “It’s going to be a massive show, there are some good Ayrshires in the North Island, and we wanted to see what she’ll look like alongside them.

“Plus, we haven’t been out for two years [because of New Zealand’s decision to eradicate M.bovis], and we’re really ready to get back into it.”

Michael bought Delilah last year within a group of five cows at the Pukekaraka dispersal. She cost him $2500 in a sale, which averaged $1600. He didn’t have her listed in his first picks when he went through the catalogue offered by the Robinson family. But, when he got to the sale that decision quickly changed.

Planned punt

Even though she was dry with no herd test results, he decided the five-year-old, who is sired by UK sire, Haresfoot Elegant, needed to join his 630-cow herd at Ashburton – an hour south of Christchurch. Brookview sires (from the Steiner family at Tokoroa) are the sires two generations behind that.

“She just caught my eye,” Michael said. “I thought she could be a diamond in the rough, if she came together right. And, the reason I had more confidence in her was that I’d always admired the Robinson’s show cows.

“They’ve always had that cut of a cow that suits all breeds. And, if we were going to buy an Ayrshire, she needed to be able to compete in all breeds. As soon as she calved in, I knew I had something special.”

She produced more than 8000 litres in 280 days on her first lactation, and won the Canterbury and national on-farm for her breed age-group last year.

Michael said when she calved in again at the start of September with a heifer by Kingsire, she was producing close to 3kg MS/day extremely fresh. The Canterbury A&P On-Farm was the first and only chance to step her out.

“I hoped she’d be competitive in the all breeds for her age group, but to win the Supreme Senior Champion was a pretty big honour,” Michael said. “Because there haven’t been a whole lot of Ayrshires in Canterbury do that well in a long time (1981).

“And, since we haven’t been to a show ourselves since 2017, it’s felt like a long time between drinks for us.”

Strong family

Delilah’s breeder, Matt Robinson, confirmed that she was from one of their strongest families, which had only been held back by their penchant for delivering more bulls than heifer calves. Delilah’s fifth dam, Pukekaraka Pebbles Dell EX, was Champion All Breeds at the Waihi Show, aged 13. 

Matt who is a PE teacher has kept some cows, and he said that Delilah would have been his very next choice if he hadn’t been bound by a ceiling on numbers.

“But, I’m very happy that she has gone to a great home, where the Gilbert family could develop her even more,” Matt said.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better result. If you can’t show a champion, having your prefix on a champion is the next best thing, isn’t it?

“And, for her to get through the All Breeds against some bloody good Holsteins and Jerseys in Canterbury is very cool for our breed, and for our breeding.”

November 28 and 29 will be the day of truth when the Stratford show – which is shaping up as a big show for Down Under  – kicks off.




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Terri Packard: When you build it…they do come

Kueffner Cows’ Terri Packard is a rare mix of elegance and grit.  

Although she isn’t royal in the strictest sense, there’s no doubt her iron-clad reputation makes her one of the industry’s blue bloods – and a shining example when it comes to talent, integrity, intelligence and grace under pressure.

Terri is married to Ernie Kueffner, and there is nothing this power couple has not achieved in the industry – for others – and, for themselves. They are among the small echelon of A-listers that influence the top end of the global registered-cattle business. (Read more: KUEFFNER DAIRY TEAMWORK “2 Dream the Impossible Dream!”)

 Terri was recently named a judge for the National Jersey Jug Futurity at Louisville. It’s only the second time a woman has been asked to judge the world’s oldest and richest class for dairy cattle. The first was Alta Mae Core, and it’s an accolade Ernie believes is long overdue.

 Terri is not only ready to step up to judge, she is also ready to speak up about the registered industry, her defining moments, what it takes to market cattle, and the extreme solution the couple has been mulling over to combat the cancellation of this year’s World Dairy Expo (WDE)…

Now settled full-time at Kueffner Cows in Western Maryland, Terri and Ernie are well-known for launching Arethusa Farm’s brand, and taking its cows – among other achievements – to a history-breaking effort at the WDE. It was 2004 when Arethusa won both Supreme and Reserve Supreme Champion with their Holstein, Hillcroft Leader Melanie, and Jersey Huronia Centurion Veronica. (Read more: Arethusa: A Winning Focus)

The couple also co-managed (with Dan Donor and Isaac Lancaster) and hosted the Global Glamour sale from Arethusa’s Connecticut base in 2008, which averaged US$97,491, when Apple was sold for US$1 million. They won Premier Breeder banners for Arethusa in the two toughest breeds at WDE – Holsteins and Jerseys.

More recently, Terri and Ernie were the co-owners, masterminds and grunt behind the 2019 WDE Grand Champion Holstein, Butz-Butler Gold Barbara EX95, who was 65 days fresh after a break of two years.

There have been too many blue ribbons and Grand Champions in between to mention.

Great cows need care

Known equally for her cowmanship as for her marketing genius, Terri’s talent – in combination with Ernie’s – has granted the couple access to some of the best cows and deepest pockets in the industry.

Yet being a sixth-generation farmer, Terri’s ultimate master remains as it has always been: hard graft.

Terri has overhead people saying it’s easy to market great cows on the budgets they’ve had access to over the years. Her reply is simple.

“Yes, we have worked with a lot of people who have had money, and some people say we bought the cows, and there was the money to do it.

“But, one of the biggest things for me in marketing is first and foremost you have to take care of the cows. Without them, you have nothing. It doesn’t cost anything to brush tails, and soap is cheap.

“Yes, you can spend a lot of money on a beautiful display at a show, but if all you do is look after the cows, you’re still promoting your ability, your programme, and your attention to detail.

“There’s honestly nothing I enjoy doing more at a show than brushing tails. It’s therapy. We were all taught in 4H to clean hooves, ears, and have the sweat out from the udders … and so many seem to forget that. It’s something you can do without a lot of financial outlay. That’s what my mother taught me. And, wow, she was tough. She taught me more about elbow grease than anything else.”

Within the bigger picture, it has been Terri’s upbringing in northern Pennsylvania, her 4H experience, her personal journey, and Terri and Ernie’s partnership – all of which has collectively contributed to her stellar career. 

More than show day

Terri says not having WDE this year will sort out who truly is prepared to put the work in on their cattle day in, day out.

“With the shows falling like dominos, it’s going to sort the people out. I’m talking about the people who take care of their cows every day, no matter what, and who takes care of them ‘just because there is a show on’ – because this is an every-day, detail-oriented business.”

Terri says Ernie still gets up every night between midnight and 2 am to check the cows whether there is a show on the horizon or not.

He either puts the lights on them if they are in the pasture, or he picks the shits while he’s there if they are in the stalls. Terri does the early morning shift. They know their best insurance is having eyes on their cows.

Terri says, “You can’t teach people to observe. You either have it, or you don’t. You can teach them all the other stuff. But not that.

“Ernie gets annoyed with me at shows, because I’m on the wash rack, which is my one-on-one time with the cows, and I’ll come in and say, ‘There’s a cut on this cow, this cow has some swelling in her neck, and I can smell some hoof rot’. He’ll say to me, ‘Did anything good happen on the wash rack?’.

“But, we both know that observing and the attention to detail is so important, and it’s unrelenting.”

Unsurprisingly, it was Terri who suggested a sign for the new barn’s entrance at Arethusa. It’s a statement that hung at Ernie’s family operation in Wisconsin: “Every cow in this barn is a lady. Please treat her as such.”

It speaks to both of their hearts.

Ernie on Terri’s talent

As always with industry couples who are both talented, Ernie has often been given the lead. However, his respect for his wife runs deep, and he says her judging role at Louisville’s National Jersey Jug Futurity is overdue.

Ernie says, “In agriculture, to get to the top requires sacrifices. If they’re willing to do it, I’ve always thought that women had as much – or more – ability than the men. I’ve never had a question about that in my mind.

“I thought there was an opportunity for Terri to go forward to judge because she’s ready, she enjoys it, and that’s extremely important. She’s been up for judging roles before now, and she’s been beaten by males that aren’t qualified as her … because they’re men. It’s irritating. In fact, it irritates me a lot, because I believe that holds a number of women back sometimes.

“When she got the Louisville appointment – even though we don’t know for sure [the event] is going to happen – it was quite thrilling.”

Ernie also says Terri has strong opinions – these will keep her steady when she gets to the pointy end of the day.

“Over the years I’ve seen when certain male or female judges get to the Grand Champion – the very important times – they start to second guess themselves. Terri doesn’t second guess herself.”

Terri confirms she enjoys judging, and she knows it includes some pressure for her peers.

“I think it’s hard being in a situation whereas a couple the two of us have had success. People think I might do what Ernie would like. It’s hard to get out of that shadow, and it seems to be hard for people to understand that you might have your own opinion.

“If a woman doesn’t do a good job judging, then it’s that much harder to get momentum for other women. If a man does a bad job, it doesn’t hurt the other guys as much.”

Terri’s associate in the National Jersey Jug Futurity will be the dry-witted Richard Caverly, who managed Arethusa before Ernie and Terri took over.

Ernie’s best deal

Ernie says his wife is one of the special ones, and when asked what she has brought to their operation, he doesn’t hesitate to give her the credit she deserves.

It’s a little difficult to answer real quick because she obviously brings a great deal. She brings a lot of energy and a lot of objectivity.

“She does physical, mental and emotional work, and she’s outstanding in marketing and advertising. Terri can do anything – and she does it well.”

He smiles, “We don’t always agree, and sometimes she takes longer to do some jobs than I’d like her to, but she always does it well.”

He quips, “And when she gets a new haircut, that looks good too!”

All jokes aside, Ernie knows he made the best deal of his life when Terri agreed to share her life with him.

“There is an integrity and decency in Terri which means she can also go to any farm anywhere, at any time and she will always be welcomed.

“That’s quite a compliment. I’m not sure I’d be welcome everywhere, but that’s okay. Because there’s some places I don’t want to go.”

Arethusa was defining

What some don’t know about the couple’s dominating run at Arethusa is that for the first 12 months of their full-time association, Terri managed Arethusa while Ernie continued to run their home operation – six hours away.

She was 33 at the time, and Ernie and Terri had never milked more than 15 to 20 cows at home. Her brother, David, worked alongside her, and Ernie commuted a couple of times a month. It was a defining appointment for Terri.

Ernie says, “That was probably quite extreme for Terri at the time, and she was probably quite shocked for the first five minutes after I suggested it. But, for me, it was simple. From a personal standpoint, I wanted her to be more challenged; I knew she’d do well, and I knew there would be no failure.”

Terri agreed that she was stunned when Ernie suggested it without discussing it with her first.

“That really changed me – because it threw me out there,” Terri says. “I wasn’t on my own entirely, but it sure felt like it. That first year we were there, our mother [Marilyn], passed away and David and I were on this new farm, with young employees, Japanese interns and college kids.

“It was like being a parent in many ways, but I also had the responsibility of the cows. It was a lot. But I enjoyed it. There were days in the beginning where I was out mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and mowing the pastures, because in the beginning, we did it all. When it got to that first successful year at Madison, that put me in the office full time, and I then became the relief milker.”

The 2004 WDE success put a lot of pressure on Terri and Ernie because it “ratcheted” up Arethusa’s owner’s expectations. And the industry was paying attention.

Terri says, “When you have a certain amount of success, there are people that are happy for you, and there are people that are jealous. Some people are both.

“But Arethusa was great at letting us do our job. From the beginning we said we would stay involved as long as they remembered that the cows came first, followed by the owners, and then the employees. But, the cows would always come first.”

When the couple called time on Arethusa after a decade, they gave owners George Malkemus and Tony Yurgaitis just over a year’s warning to put their plans in place.

“Sometimes it feels like it was a lifetime ago. We had a great group of cows and a great group of young people.

“One of the best things was the people we got to work with. Because we had young people who wanted to learn. And, they were dedicated, teachable and they loved cows.

“They’ve gone on to do great things. At one point, we had former employees managing every one of the major show herds in North America.

“We still get calls and texts with what they’re doing. That’s been a major highlight for both of us to watch their careers.”

Reputations make sales

Terri and Ernie were planning a sale in conjunction with the Franchise Kind in June.

When COVID-19 happened, they were preparing to hunker down and ride it out until they could re-schedule.

In the interim, the Hogan family, who milks over 5000 cows at Misty Meadow Dairy in Oregon, approached them with an eye on acquiring the 2018 WDE Intermediate Champion and Reserve Grand Champion, South Mountain Voltage Radiant EX91. Ernie had always said she was for sale. On one condition.

“There was one cow in particular that they wanted and other people have asked about her at different times,” Terri confirms. “And, the answer was, ‘Yes, Radiant is for sale, but not alone’. Because, if she is not here, the excitement is gone about going to the barn in the morning for Ernie.

“He’s said that for a couple of years now.”

“Finally, I just gave the Hogan family the spreadsheet of all our animals, and they came back and asked us how much for all of them. You can’t pass up that kind of opportunity. Ernie and I each picked out one baby calf to keep and we have a couple of donors, some Holstein heifers, a Brown Swiss donor and Barbara left.

“We still have Radiant here too on behalf of the Hogans, because we had planned to prepare her for Madison. Hopefully, Louisville will go ahead, so we can get her out there.”

Importantly, Terri and Ernie have never been able to ship milk in their operation, and so 37 head were loaded up for their new future. They are now in the care of Misty Meadow’s herdsman, Danny Upchurch. Danny handled a lot of the sale detail and is responsible for the family’s type herd, which is currently located in California while a facility is being acquired for them in Oregon.

“We sold because there was so much uncertainty in these unprecedented times. We didn’t know when we’d be able to have a sale, what the economy would be, whether anybody would be in the mood to buy anything and whether there would be any shows. And, when somebody comes along with sincere interest in type cattle with pedigrees who wanted to breed from them, we had to consider it.”

Ernie and Terri remain in the mix, helping the new owners with decisions related to marketing, showing and breeding.

“It’s hard to see them go, and I still cried when we left after visiting them, but they look good,” Terri said. “They’re doing well and they’re happy. The first day we walked in there they were so buried in this beautiful oat hay they were eating that they didn’t even want to talk to us. Which was good. They’ve adjusted well, and it couldn’t be more opposite living for them.

“But this is the first time since we’ve lived here for 23 years that there’s not been a Jersey heifer on this farm.”

Circular business

Terri says she wasn’t surprised when Ernie immediately started gathering new animals.

“This is an addiction, right?! No sooner had we got them loaded and out the driveway than Ernie started talking about Michael Heath and Nathan Thomas’s sale, which was running a week later. Ernie felt he should support it because he’s a firm believer that everyone in this industry has to give and take.”

They bought a springing heifer that caught Terri’s eye, who they say has calved out beautifully. Terri says while buying goes against their “sort of” plans to slow up, they both have a happy knack for finding the good ones.

“I give Ernie a hard time about it, but it’s usually beneficial,” she pauses reflectively. “If we sell a whole bunch of cattle, two years later he’ll end up buying one of them back. When we had our sale in 2016, we sold a bred heifer for $5500. She calved out the next year, and Mike Deaver called and said, ‘You might want to know about this one.’

“We bought her back over the phone, and we never saw her before she arrived at the farm. That was Radiant. And, he’s done it before.”

Another Jersey recently joined them – a daughter from Radiant – who was sold last year. She’s owned in partnership with RCD Jerseys (Rankin, Ceresna and Deist).
The two calves they chose to keep include Ernie’s choice of a Velocity out of Radiant, while Terri chose a calf who goes back to one of the first Jerseys they bought from Canada after they moved to Boonsboro in 1997.

Terri says, “I’m keeping something out of that Sofie family until we’re done. Her dam is a Premier x Comerica x Deluxe x Premonition x Sofie and she’s sired by Velocity too, so I’ve got my shot of Veronica in there.”

Giving up the business may have been muted, but somehow it still feels a world away.

“We did have that discussion pretty seriously, and I thought selling that many cattle during a pandemic might be a sign that perhaps it is enough, and we should slow down.

“Ernie is almost 20 years older than me, he’s got Parkinson’s Disease, and while he’s working hard against it, he does have it.”

Barbara: sweet win

When the talk turns to achievement and favourite cows, Terri says for Barbara to go all the way last year under judge Chad Ryan, of Fond du Lac in Wisconsin, was a personal sweet spot in her career. 

“I remember when Barbara was in the ring, all these people were wanting to talk to me. And, all I wanted to do was to watch that cow,” Terri said. “Finally I got up on top of a chair, so that no-one could talk to me.

“Because that moment was the culmination of so, so much work, and I just wanted to see Barbara be happy, and see her appreciated.

“We’ve shown some beautiful older cows in the last few years that have been hammered in the ring. And, I wanted to see a judge respect an older cow. And, I’ve never seen her in all the years we’ve had her behave so well and look so happy out there, and just show off like Veronica and Ashlyn used to do.

“That moment made up for all the hours of work over the years.”

Terri says Barbara calved at the end of July. She hadn’t had a calf in two years, was fat and angry to be in-milk again.

“She was wicked. She was the nastiest Holstein cow I’d ever milked for those first two weeks. She was so mad that her udder was full of milk. We had quite a roller coaster ride with her for 65 days, and then to stand there looking at her in the ring was a testament to the cow and to the judge, who was so respectful of both the cows and the exhibitors.

“I don’t think anyone would feel that he didn’t give their cows time that day.

“If we never showed again after that, I’m okay with that.”

Barbara inspirational

Terri Packard worries that missing WDE could be critical for a number of form cows, and she has been mulling over an edgy alternative because it also worries her what the industry will do without some light at the end of the tunnel.

“Every day since they’ve cancelled WDE, I have the discussion with my husband about another show.”

“So many of these cows have that one day like Barbara, and you may not ever get it back. That’s one of the main reasons why I want a show this year. For all these cows that are ready.

“People say there is always next year, but there may not be next year for some of them.”

Veronica still favourite

People who know cows, know that if they get great care and management, they have the confidence to show their personality and intellect.  

And, of all the great ones Terri has worked with – even though she was reared with Holsteins – it is a household Jersey name, Veronica, who remains her favourite.

“There’s been so many unique and interesting animals I’ve worked with, but I don’t think anyone else looked at you like they knew what you were talking about like Veronica did.

“She was so aware of people. It is 18 years since we bought her, and we worked with her for more than 10 years, and we still tell the stories about her because she was just that smart.

“She had such an appetite, and she was so aggressive at a show. When we would take her out to be washed, Ernie would have to stand the end of the barn and clear the way for her when she came back.

“Because as soon as she got to the door, she knew her feed would be in her stall, and no-one could hold her back. We literally always had the biggest guy we had in our team bring her in, and she’d start getting mad, and Ernie would say, ‘Let her go.’ She’d just storm into the barn, and into her stall, and start eating.

“She was the same in the clipping chute. And, she knew when people were watching her. You could see the angle of her head change. One day we were classifying Holsteins at Arethusa, and we were washing and clipping the cows and the Holsteins were getting all the attention, and that morning we left the Jerseys out.

“When they let the cows back in to feed, we turned around and Veronica had walked into the barn, and she was standing in the clipping chute like she was saying, ‘What am I? Chopped liver?’

“Norman [Nabholz] used to lead her, but I remember one year we took her to Louisville, and she was pissed that day. Norman saw her come out of the chute really mad, she was hauling arse as she stormed up the aisle and into her stall, and he was like, ‘I can’t do it. I’m out. She’s gonna take me for a ride’.

“Ernie was like, ‘We haven’t got time for this’. Norman said, ‘Steve White will do it’. And, Ernie didn’t think he would. And, Norm replied, ‘He will if I ask him’.

“Steve is such a big, broad-shouldered man, and luckily for us he said he’d do it. So, we walked Veronica down to the ring with Norman at the halter and right before Veronica went into the ring, Steve took over.

“And, you could see Veronica slowly look up at Steve, take in his size advantage, and you could literally see her thinking, ‘I’m not gonna be messing with this guy’. She led like a dream that day, and she was Champion.”

Does Terri think she would have led for Norman?

“I think that day she might have taken him.

“Everything she did was always extreme. It was great to be around her. I led her twice over the years – once at The Royal as a second-calved two-year-old when she was Intermediate Champion and Reserve Grand under Steve Borland – and, as a 10-year-old at the Spring Show where she was Reserve Grand. But she was a handful and headstrong. Her great-granddaughter acts just like her.

“Jerseys have so much more personality than Holsteins, and they just draw you in. There’s the rare Holstein that is responsive like that, and Barbara is one of them, so I enjoy working with her, and I love observing her.”
Terri says Jerseys might get sick a little quicker than Holsteins, but they get better faster.

“And, don’t let anyone tell you they don’t eat as much.”

Delicate marketing dance

Terri warns that marketing in today’s world is a delicate dance.

“I think it’s just so important, especially now that we don’t get a Holstein World, and every state doesn’t have their own breed publications. We’ve got to build our own hype, and have our cows in front of people. And, it’s very accessible to do that through social media.

“But, I don’t like to badger everyone, because – when I need to market – I want them to listen.”

Every industry needs leaders

In closing, Terri hopes there is room in the industry for the next generation to come through.

“There are a lot of young people out there who have a strong interest in registered cattle, and they want to take care of good cows,” Terri said. “But I don’t see very many of them going out and buying the farms, or having the income to be the next generation of that.

“All these young people who love to do this – there needs to be the next layers of owners who can afford to hire them, and who can afford to take care of these good cows.

“I hope there are enough people that still get excited about going to the shows and having a nice cow to look at in the barn in the morning.

“Because it does take more work, those kinds of cows do need more care, and in order to be developed to that point…it’s every day – it’s not just once you get on the truck, and head out for the show.”

It’s been said that without someone to set the bar, how does everyone else know how high they have to climb?

There’s no doubt that Terri and Ernie help bring the energy, and the excitement, that makes this industry special and compelling for everyone else. And Terri is a beacon for young women who are aspiring to take lead roles at any level.

Panmure Jerseys Rebuilding After The Fire – It Will Never Be The Same

Jill and Brad Porter with their dairy cows. Picture: Christine Ansorge

It was the phone call every dairy farmer dreads when they are off-farm.

 Brad and Jill Porter were milking 600 cows at Panmure Jerseys, just out of Warrnambool in south-west Victoria. On March 17, 2018, they were in Tasmania for a short break when their neighbour, Jack Kenna, rang. He said a power pole had fallen on his farm, ignited a fire and it was headed their way. He said they had three minutes to get out.

 There was no time to do anything. The flames, propelled by the hot windy temperatures and a lot of fuel, would wreak unspeakable destruction within 30 minutes – including killing or maiming 400 of their herd. Cows which Brad adored. The life-changing event was to be so catastrophic and traumatic on so many levels that it still haunts them both today.

 Both Jill and Brad have become fierce advocates for change, board members for Blaze Aid, and they have advice and life lessons – that they wish they had never had to learn – for their colleagues facing up to their own recoveries after the recent bushfires across Australia…

Brad and Jill (who was still in her pyjamas) rushed to the airport. They left their rental car sitting in the middle of the drop-off zone, and sprinted for the ticketing counter. They managed to bag the last flight out of Tasmania. The airline put them in the front seats, giving them the best chance of a rapid exit when they landed.

The Porters arrived home at 3am and began immediately checking the cows. Jill, a pharmacist, stepped into her professional role to help assess and triage the herd. As the sun rose, the depth of the carnage became clear. They wouldn’t go to bed for the next three days.

Brad said, “There were the dead, the walking dead, the severely burned cows, the burned cows, and the cows that were okay. The fences were all gone, and the cows were in shock. So were we. One side of the farm wasn’t as bad, and we could put all the other animals over there so we could concentrate on the herd.

“We assessed all the cows and we had to get a number destroyed immediately, and we were forced to sell a large number of cows that were burned, but saleable.

“Some things you just can’t un-see. And, I don’t want to ever see what we saw that day ever again.”

‘I wouldn’t have my husband’

Jill’s life has also changed in the aftermath, and she is sure of one thing.

“I wouldn’t have my husband today, if we had been home,” she said without a pause of hesitation. “He would have died defending those cows. Every day I get up now and look at him and think, ‘Thank God, we weren’t there’.

“I still can see in my mind’s eye a cow who was burned … with her nose half peeling off. And she just stood and looked at me. I couldn’t help her, and I couldn’t protect my husband from seeing her. He knew every cow. He loved them all. Those memories remain very raw. I struggle to go to the dairy even today if it’s hot and windy.”

Brad still hasn’t had the heart to check the computer thoroughly to update his records on the cows which survived. Because he will see the ones that didn’t.

“I don’t even think about how many cows we’ve lost, and that’s why I haven’t gone back into the computer since the fire. I just block it out. It’s for my own mental preservation.”

Running to find peace

The fire was caused by a power company’s ageing infrastructure – with nothing the Porters, their neighbour Jack Kenna, or any other neighbour could do about it. The bitter pill to swallow is that was preventable. The result has been lengthy and engulfing litigation that threatened to swallow Jill. She was so enraged by the injustice of that day, that her counsellor advised her to take up a sport.

“I am not into sport at all, so I started walking,” Jill said. “But it was too slow because I was so angry, so I started running.”

How far does she run?

“Until I feel good.”

It could take 19 kilometres to achieve peace. It depends on the morning.

Jill didn’t work off-farm again for 18 months.

Daily, intensive treatment

Brad still tears up when he thinks about the cows and the suffering they went through.

One of the first things the Porters needed to do after the fire was to get the cows through the dairy. It was akin to a war zone: so many of the herd were injured and in pain. So many needed treatment every milking.

Neighbours and friends pitched in. There was a kindness and solidarity that Brad and Jill will never forget. For about six months afterwards they were feeding up to 150 people every lunchtime.

Milking health focus saved cows

Brad said they considered drying the herd off, but he needed the routine to make him get out of bed every morning.

“We needed the income as well. But mostly I needed my usual routine to maintain my sanity. I think it helps with making decisions.”

One of the first post-fire orders of business was the dairy. The clusters and liners, which had concerned Brad in the past, were now causing havoc.

“The cows’ teats were weeping, and their skin was so thin and so tender. We were so worried about stripping all the skin off the teats because we had really bad cup slippage. We needed cups and liners that were gentler on the teats.

“For the health and comfort of the cows we didn’t have a choice. There was no running away from it. We would have lost so many more cows if we hadn’t done something, and we knew it had to happen fast.

He made an SOS call on the Thursday to Mick Scanlon of Scanlons Dairy Centre in Terang, who in turn contacted Leon Lourey from Daviesway. By the Saturday, a full install of new Milkrite clusters and liners was complete. They chose Milkrite because the science behind the design gives cows the highest level of comfort (they have the world’s only internally triangular moulded plastic shell with mouthpiece vented triangular liners).

Team works with farmers

Leon said the whole team made it happen.

“Knowing the circumstances, we just knew we had to do something as quickly as we could,” Leon said. “Mick was also a big part of it. Our sole focus was to help in any way we could.”

Brad said it was a life-saving decision.

“Most of the cows’ udders were burned. The teat orifices on a lot were fine, but we would have lost the entire herd with that cup slippage. We needed cups that hung on, but which were gentle.”

Milkrite, which is used by 40% of farmers in the USA, includes a patented and revolutionary air-vent position in the mouthpiece of each shell. It introduces air above the milk-flow, stops splash-back and makes cluster removal gentler.

“I was so delighted and relieved with the result,” Brad said. “The clusters were much lighter, and much easier to use.

“I was a real sceptic about the air hole in the mouthpiece of the liner – I thought it’d get clogged up with shit – but it hasn’t been an issue.

“I’d be happy to stand on the corner of the street and sell Milkrite to anyone who would listen.

“They milk cows out properly, they are much gentler on their teats. We haven’t seen any teat-end damage in the last two years and that’s been a big thing for me because I can’t afford to lose anymore cows. I wouldn’t dare put my name to it if I didn’t think it was worthy.”

Fences around the district have been destroyed. Picture: Rob Gunstone

80% of bushfires preventable

What now haunts Jill is that her research has revealed that more than 80% of the bushfire deaths in Victoria can be traced to electrical failures. Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) has determined that Powercor failed to identify the termite-riddled power pole which razed Brad and Jill’s property. That day six fires – all started by electrical failures – burned 40,000 hectares.

“These fires are really deadly. If you look at Black Saturday [February 7, 2009], six out of the 11 fires were electrically initiated. On Ash Wednesday [February 16, 1983] five from the eight were ignited by electrical failure. All of the 1977 fires [that burned about 103,000ha] were electrically started.

“On the day of our fire, all were started from electrical infrastructure failing. Every single one of them. And, it’s because the infrastructure is aging and it’s failing our community.”

Jill has been fighting for change ever since because their community’s pain remains real and raw.

“I think the biggest thing is I’m devastated that a Government and a system can let a community down like we’ve been let down. We deserve to be safe. That is not happening.

“Yes, we got a civil settlement, but they are now arguing about what they should and shouldn’t pay for. They’re still in the driver’s seat. They destroyed my husband, and you can’t get that back.

“His passion and his livelihood was gone. I can articulate that, and I’ll continue to take it to them. Because they are wrong, they are indecent, and they are cruel.”

People were the difference

Day-to-day their community’s resilience has been the shining star to come out of the experience.

Jill said, “We are still a long way from recovered. I’m not saying we’re not functioning. I’m back now, but it took me 18 months to go back to work.

“You listen to the psychologists and it takes an average of six years to recover from a bushfire. You’re not ‘right’, even when the grass is green again because everything changes. It rips you apart.

“People talk in terms of ‘getting back to where you were before the fire’. It’s very much the catch phrase in recovery. I’m absolutely certain that you never get back to where you were because the recovery takes you down a different pathway.

“It’s not all bad. There are some good things – people’s generosity and support of us is something Brad and I hope to pay forward.

“Our neighbours and community that were burned out have become very resilient, and we know each other on a much deeper level because of the fire.”

Brad said it had been a humbling experience, and it had been hard to accept help. But people had made the difference

“I remember walking out the door after the fire and thinking, ‘where do I start?’. People came from everywhere.

“It was a generosity you never, ever forget. It pays to be charitable in life. I would walk over hot coals for my neighbours – there are so many people I have such a high and healthy respect for in my neighbourhood. At the end of the day, they’re the ones that got us back up on our feet.”

Jill said her advice to peers now facing their own recovery in the wake of the most recent fires was to take care of each other, and not to be afraid to ask for help.

“It takes a long time to come out of the fog, and you don’t need to rush it. You have to attend to certain things straight away, but you don’t want to make too many decisions unless you have to.

“There are a lot of good people in this world, and you’re not on your own.”

Thanks to Daviesway for allowing us to share this story.  Also, be sure to check out Dianna Malcolm’s new venture Mud Media.



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Fawcettdale – Breeding success for a century

There’s a whip-smart quality in his storytelling that beguiles Allison Fawcett’s 93 years of age.

Names and dates aren’t lost on him, holding true to a form that marks the quality of a man who gave all of himself (and then some) to farming.

Truth be told, it was a consistent game of one-upmanship against himself that today has Fawcett recounting various aspects of his family’s history, and its 100-year association with Holstein Canada.

“I don’t really know what to owe my success to… I just always liked being the top conformation class in cattle,” he told the Winchester Press recently. “I got a kick out of breeding a better one.”

It was that drive to get better, be it in farming, growing crops or cattle production that instilled a lifelong race for validation.

Allison Fawcett sits among the family’s Master Breeder shield plaques, and the recently received Century of Holsteins Award. Uhrig Photo

Fawcett comes from a rich stock of Holstein Canada accreditation, with his grandfather Andrew taking a membership in 1919 and his father, W.J., submitting his application in 1923 and holding onto his entry until his death in 1957.

His own membership came in 1950, and continues to this day, a total of 69 years.

“The Fawcetts have been very strong in Holstein Canada for years,” Fawcett said. “My father served as national director for 10 years, and I served as national director for 18 years and then president in 1983-1984. It’s something vital – holding onto that membership.”

Given that the century mark has been reached, the family was honoured by Holstein Canada at the organization’s recent annual general meeting in Charlottetown, PEI.

Fawcett wasn’t suited for travel, so a fellow Eastern Ontario breeder, Karen Velthuis, accepted the award on his behalf and later presented it to the family.

Tracked along a gravel road that bears the family name just outside the village limits, Fawcettdale Farms serves as a legacy and today shares space with Coachside Farms, overseen by Fawcett’s son David.

The father-son duo remains the first to ever win a Master Breeder shield while working out of the same barn, just under different prefixes. This came in 2009, and was recognition Fawcett could add to his first-ever shield, won in 1975.

In his kitchen, the family patriarch has the plaques hanging alongside the one his family received in 1946.

These honours make the Fawcetts the only family in Canada to have three generations honoured with the shield.

In middle of the pack on the wall is the prestigious Century of Holsteins Award.

Just underneath, though, is the photo of a beaming beauty who sits resplendent in a fashionable top and mini-skirt, with high heels below. Her hands are placed exactly where they should, the image of a milking practice that seems so far removed from today’s culture.

It’s a cherished picture of Fawcett’s late wife, Jean.

“I’ve always said, if you’re interested in something, you’ll find the time,” he said. “But my wife, too, was a great supporter and a great promoter.”


The Jersey Future is Now

Last year I had the opportunity to contact an energetic 27-year-old dairyman who has enthusiastically selected the Jersey breed for his dairy operation. Listening to Tyler Hendriks of Seaforth Ontario as he talks about the dairy industry and Jersey breeding made me excited about the future possibilities for Jerseys.

Young Mind – Fresh Start

After college in 2011, Tyler bought his retiring uncle Gerard’s milking herd and quota holdings. He rented his uncles 100 acre farm and milked in a tie-stall barn. Within two years he had added in half his father’s quota holdings. His grandparents had immigrated to Canada from The Netherlands, working factory jobs and dairy farming part-time. Eventually, Tyler’s father and uncle took over and divided the operation into two average sized neighboring tie stall farms. Tyler’s parents had farmed with a mixed breed herd however Tyler saw breeds differently and swapped out the Holsteins for an established Jersey herd. In his own words, Tyler commented on his bold start saying, ‘actually being responsible both for the management and labor in a tie stall barn was a big wake-up call for a guy just out of college’.

While attending college Tyler had formed strong friendships which he maintains with other young dairymen who represent other types of focus including an organic and grazing herd, a large herd with high performance and a large herd including high genomics and embryo marketing. All those herds have Holsteins but after doing much research and study Tyler determined his goal of total concept from field to milk sales could be best realized by farming with Jerseys.

Family Foundations     

Tyler has the total support of his family – Emily, his parents and sisters, Brittney and Kylie. Noteworthy is the fact that Tyler’s parents gave him the opportunity to immediately be the dairy leader. Tyler and his wife Emily, who also grew up on a dairy farm and is a bank ag specialist, were married in 2016. They have a six-month son, Liam. Tyler gives much credit to Emily on the financial side as well as being willing and able to step in when needed for work or fine-tuning plans. Family time with Liam and off-farm time are important to Tyler and Emily. They both participate in CrossFit as a way to get off the farm and be active in their community.

Taking the Leap

In 2014, Tyler switched to a total Jersey herd when he combined the quota holdings of his uncle and half of his father’s quota for a total of 130 kgs of fat per day. At that time his herd was housed in a tie stall barn. In 2016 a new tunnel ventilated sand stall barn and double eight rapid exit parlor were built. This reduced the labor requirement and gave Tyler more opportunity to manage the milking herd at an elevated level. The Jersey herd came a whole herd, but Tyler found it necessary to cull especially on a production basis. His herd additions have been elite genetic heifers as they left the Progenesis Program. Currently (Jan ’19) the 93 Jersey cows are milked 3x with a daily average of 1.55 kgs (3.42 lbs.)F, 1.20 kgs (2.65 lbs.)P and 39.5 kg (87 lbs.) Energy Corrected Milk. SCC is 120,000 SCC, Pregnancy Rate is 30% and average days open is a remarkable 88 days. One important metric for Tyler is that his herd produces 2 kgs of Energy Corrected Milk for every 1 kg of Dry Matter consumed.

The calves are in hutches and fed 2x and weaned at 75 days. Younger heifers are housed in an old pig barn renovated by Tyler and Emily. Older heifers are housed in an older cow barn.

Tyler milks at two of the three milkings each day usually with his father or sisters. He employs a night milker and along with family this allows for family time, for harvesting to continue, for vacation time and for when he has meetings to attend.

Tyler quickly told me that his most important and ongoing mentor has been his father. To this day they usually have time during milkings to share, discuss and even, as Tyler says, to disagree. He was reluctant to start naming mentors as he has had and continues to have many. He values highly what he has learned from veterinarian Dr. Ray Reynen, when Tyler assisted him doing herd health visits to other farms, and also values the advice given to him by nutritionist Jesse Flanagan and his neighboring dairy farmers.

Fieldwork and cropping on 800 acres is on a shared basis between Tyler, his father, and his uncle. All forages are grown on the farm and they are stored in horizontal silos. High-quality corn silage is important as it forms 65% of the milking cow diet.

The Future is Information, Data Gathering and Improving Results

Tyler spends considerable time every day, except on the busiest harvest days, studying reports from Dairy Comp 305, searching the Internet for information and ideas, communicating on Facebook and participating in online webinars.  He shared that at times he may feel slightly guilty for all the time at the screen. However, in the big picture, there is little doubt that the hours spent are yielding great returns to Hendriks Dairies.

To date, Hendriks Dairies does not have parlor ID but that plus many other tools are on Tyler’s consideration list. All will be evaluated on a cost-benefit basis on his Jersey farm.

I did ask Tyler – “Why Jerseys?”. His quick and progressive thinking mind came right back at me with “Well, Why Not? … Feed efficiency, smaller more docile cow who isn’t so hard on herself in a commercial environment, lower age at first calving, less health events, less animal labor per unit of output, high fertility, … do I need to give your more reasons?”.

Other Young Dairy People Also Interested in Jerseys

One year ago, The Bullvine produced articles on the very progressive Suntor Holsteins (Read more: Suntor Holsteins – New Baby, New Robot, New Perspective and Suntor Holsteins – Breeding Goals Revisited. Kevin and Amanda Sundborg, Master Breeders and owners of ‘Lightening’ nominated for Holstein Canada’s Cow of the Year (2019) have added a few Jerseys to their robotic farm. Why? Partially we have learned that it is because of Kevin’s friendship with Eric Silva (Sunset Canyon Jerseys, Oregon, US) and mostly because of seeing how productive, efficient, trouble-free and fertile the Jerseys are at Sunset Canyon. Are Jerseys the future at Suntor? Time will tell.

The Future is Officially Here

Tyler shared with me some interesting thoughts that I feel we all need to consider:

  • It is facts and on-farm performance that should be the basis for all decisions
  • Look down the road to how milk will be priced in 5-10 years at the farm gate
  • The future pricing of milk will be for the solids not the fluid portion
  • High fat milk should be transported and processed separately
  • Jerseys can be 20+% of the national herd, provided Jersey breeders focus on productivity
  • Much can be learned by studying very successful Jersey farms in the US
  • Jerseys can work very well on automated farms – 3x or stall robots
  • Dairying with Jerseys in the future will be about much more than average first lactation score and the show ring. The Ontario Jersey Benchmarking Service (Troew Nutrition – Jersey Ontario) is excellent for bottom-line focused breeders to compare their herd to other herds.
  • More progressive Jersey thinkers need to be involved in farmer organizations
  • Lifestyle and family are very important, take time for both
  • Kevin Sundborg sees it as a total farm operation when he considers which breed suits best. It is the efficient use of all resources – facilities, land available, land value, topography, heat units, manure disposal, phosphorous run-off, investment in machinery, labor required and many more.

More thoughts on future Jersey breeding, heifers, feeding and managing from both Hendriks and Suntor Farms will be covered in a future article.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Future Jersey dairy farmers can follow the examples of Tyler and Emily or Kevin and Amanda’s models for including Jerseys. It isn’t absolutely necessary to copy the program of others or to maintain a farm’s tradition. Always look for new ideas and ways to farm successfully. The keys to future dairying will be data and information, thinking of and implementing ways to use it to increase revenue per unit of input, control costs and farm each day to maximize profit. The future is now for innovative dairy farmers. Move forward. Be Awesome.    



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Ferme Jacobs – “Dreams without goals are just….dreams”

It’s so hard to focus on the victories with Ferme Jacobs, because the way it wins is so well, winsome.

Just one other Canadian farm has won Premier Breeder at The Royal more times than Ferme Jacobs (Romandale Holsteins, 13 times). Notably, at The Royal, Ferme Jacobs showed no heifers and they have now nudged ahead of household names like Dupasquier Holsteins, Hanover Hill Holsteins, Glenafton Holsteins and Rosafe Holsteins.

And the last time a Holstein breeder won Grand and Reserve Grand Champion with homebred entries at The Royal was Agro Acres with maternal sisters in 1969. Before that the only other recorded time was by Mount Victoria in 1935.

The landslide results for Ferme Jacobs started here when The Royal judge Jamie Black slapped the family’s winning four-year-old, Jacobs Windbrook Aimo EX95 for Senior Champion.

This year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair belonged to Ferme Jacobs’ winning four-year-old, Jacobs Windbrook Aimo EX95, and their winning mature cow, Jacobs Lauthority Loana EX96-2E, who finished Grand and Reserve Grand Holstein respectively. Loana is owned in partnership with Pat Conroy.

And yet the lasting impressions from both WDE and The Royal are not only the family’s champions, but also the way they care for their cows, the way they celebrate and the way they share their success with the industry.

The squeals and multiple photographs of their children swarming ringside, together with the unadulterated joy between their parents in the ring, is infectious.

“We always have a party, even if we lose,” Ysabel Jacobs, 37, smiled.

“But that party at The Royal this year was one of the best ones we’ve had, for sure. We were so excited. We’ve never had Grand and Reserve Grand before, so we went wild.

“Because the level where we are now with our results; it’s easier to get there than it is to stay there. We know that.

“Last year we said we couldn’t have a better year than that was. Then this year, we did. We don’t know what’s coming up for us. But we know we are going to have to accept it when it comes, because we have kids around and we need to show them the right way to handle losing.”

The family was also unafraid to bring the reigning WDE Grand Champion Holstein out again at The Royal one month later – always a risk when a cow has something to lose.

WDE and Royal wins both special

“I think both the WDE and RWF results were special in their own way,” Ysabel said. “At WDE, Loana was perfect, and while Aimo [the 2017 WDE Intermediate Champion] won her class at WDE this year, she didn’t co-operate with us that day, and we had wanted her to look better than she did.

“At the RWF, it was the opposite. Aimo got ready perfect, and Loana didn’t want to co-operate. When we get our cows ready in the string, we get all excited before they leave the string if they are heading to the ring looking as good as we know they can be. After that, whatever happens in the ring is fine because you have no control over that.

“We think Loana might have had a big heat the day before the RWF because she was very mad that day. So, one show was perfect for Loana, and one was perfect for Aimo. We’re happy with that.”

As to which cow is best, Ysabel smiles. She always leads Loana and Yan takes Aimo.

“I don’t know,” she laughed. “If you talk to my brother he’ll say Aimo, and if you talk to me, I think I’d say Loana. There are some things that I like more about Loana and some things I like more about Aimo.

“We both like to lead, and we kind of always have our own cows. We never fight for who leads who, because we always differ slightly. We like the same kind of cow, but we like different things on individuals too. I would say Aimo is more Yan’s type, and Loana is more my type.”

Carl Saucier mentor

Semex’s well-known Carl Saucier, who has been a mentor and friend for Yan and Isobel, says there is something special about the family’s care of their cows, which always comes before winning.

“What I love about this family is that they are not only humble winners, they are great losers,” Carl said.

“I remember in 2015 at The Royal, they lost the Premier Breeder banner by the smallest of margins and they went down to Kingsway [Farms, the winner] and drank to their success with them. They are always happy for others. Ysabel is happy to help others at shows too – even her biggest competitors. She’ll give them some of their best hay to fill cows on show day. She just smiles and says: ‘Let the best cow win.’”

Buy when they want to

While the family is now recognised for its success with homebred animals, buying them is not without precedence. This year’s WDE Intermediate Champion, Erbacres Snapple Shakira-ET VG89, is jointly owned by Ferme Jacobs, Ty-D Holsteins, Killian Tehraulaz, Ferme Antelimarck and C & F Jacobs. The 2013 WDE Supreme Champion Bonnacueil Maya Goldwyn EX-95 3E 6* was co-owned with Drolet & Fils, Ty-D Holsteins, and Bonaccueil Holsteins.

Erbacres Snapple Shakira-ET VG89, gets the nod for Intermediate Champion at World Dairy Expo. She is jointly owned by Ferme Jacobs, Ty-D Holsteins, Killian Tehraulaz, Ferme Antelimarck and C & F Jacobs. She is led by Tyler Doiron.

“We do like to buy one once in a while and develop a cow to the max she can be,” Ysabel said. “But we’re never in a rush to buy them. It just happens when, ‘OK, I can’t get over it’. Then we get on each other. If I go to sleep at night and I still see her in my head, we need to buy her. We’re like kids and it’s satisfying to get a cow where you know she can be. With Shakira, it just happened that our friend, Killian, was there when we were looking at her, and he said he wanted in too.

“I think the partnerships we have now is that they know us. They know that we’re not going to call for a breeding decision. But they know also that we’ll make the best decisions we can on the cow’s behalf.

“If someone wants to be in with us, they need to just let us get on with it. We’re very bad for sharing news – very bad. We don’t spend all our time talking with a partner on the phone. They need to have trust in us and as soon as we flush, we usually separate everything so the partnerships don’t get too big. That’s the easiest way.”

Breeding with numbers often doesn’t add up 

When Ferme Jacobs decides on what bulls to use to breed the next one, genomics is the last consideration. The family is driven by cow families and the sires that leave the kind of cows the farm needs. They have alternated between high type and breeding for milk. It maintains a balance of stylish show cows that will work and last.

“We do look at the numbers, but that’s not big for us,” Ysabel said. “The only number we really do watch is that we will never use a bull that is minus for milk. Yan is starting to judge more now. He went to the USA, and Tyler and I are also starting to judge too, so we are all travelling a little bit.

“Between us, we see enough cattle in a year that we can see which bulls we want to use, and which bulls we don’t wanna use. When we go away, we usually also try and visit two to three farms to see what’s there and what’s working.

“Right now, we’re breeding for a bit more on milk, because you can have any good show cow in the world, if she doesn’t milk it’s not going to work.

“We are concentrating right now on balance, especially at our place because we have so many type cows. Using high type bulls here right now would be too extreme.”

Bulls in use now include Croteau Lesperron Unix, Seagull-Bay Silver, Comestar Lautrust, S-S-I Silver Spike, Sandy-Valley J Pharo, S-S-I Montross Missle, Monument Impression, and MR Mogul Delta.

“I know sometimes we use older bulls, but we don’t think using old bulls is a fault,” Ysabel said. 

Massive embryo demand

Their juggle remains working between showing cows, massive embryo demand (500 embryos were sold by Ferme Jacobs this year), and breeding a bull for the industry, to be marketed through Select Sires.

MOET embryo transfer work takes a seat behind show cow management and preparation. IVF is infrequent, because of the expense.

“If the cows are on a show programme, they are not going to be flushed,” Ysabel said. “We don’t want to work with hormones while they are showing. We’d rather flush them when they are done showing.”

And the Jacobs family remains true to itself when it comes to choosing potential bull mothers.

“Select [Sires] are not pushing us for the cross, because they know there are some crosses we don’t want and some crosses that make sense to us,” Ysabel said.

“It doesn’t have to be very high on everything, because we think that everyone in the industry is running a race right now on all that… for nothing.”

The cows they hope to make a bull from include 2017 Holstein Canada Cow of the Year, Jacobs Goldwyn Britany EX-96 2E 10* (Braedale Goldwyn x Jacobs Jasper Best), Loana (Comestar Lauthority x Jacobs Outside Linsey), Aimo (Windbrook x Jacobs Minister Aima), and Shikara (Snapple x Miss Apple Snapple EX-94). Aimo has an ET bull calf coming, sired by Lautrust, and she will calve next May to Lautrust.

The family’s happy place

Challenges come to every family and Ysabel says it is always the cows that put them back in their “happy place”. An extended and supportive team, combined with watching their children develop the same love for cattle, has sustained them.

“It’s not easy, because there is sacrifice. But it is a sacrifice my brother, my husband and I don’t mind,” Ysabel said.

Yan Jacobs is swamped by his daughters Elsie and Nellie Jacobs as he leaves the ring after winning Grand Champion at The Royal. Tyler and Ysabel’s daughter Aylson is obscured.

 “Our kids have grown up around that. We have three farms together and we have an amazing team around us, including Mum and Dad, who always support us.

“Yes, it’s hard sometimes and sometimes you want to quit. But there is always something coming and someone slapping your shoulder, or you find a new cow and you get excited again.”

Pressure has been a constant, but they can now put it into perspective.

“I would say that two years ago we could feel there was pressure to back up our performance,” Ysabel said. “But last year, we realised there is so much more important things in life than showing, and this year we just wanted to go and have fun, and to try our best.

“We get nervous at certain points, but always a good nervous. I know there is money involved. But people are so much looking at us right now, that no matter what happens, we should do it for fun.

“We’ve lost before, and we’ll lose again. Let’s be prepared to do it, and if it happens, at least we had fun doing it. Our kids are starting to show and we are trying to teach them the right way, because they don’t always lead winners – they lead both. And, if they don’t practice with their calves at home, we aren’t going to let them show their calf.”

Ultimately, Ferme Jacobs loves good cows and they continue to see the good, and the good people in the industry.

“We have people in our team who come and help us on show day, who don’t want to be paid. They just want to do it with us. Those are special people for us,” Ysabel said.

“We are very lucky to have them around us. To be honest, there are so many good people in our business who have the same passion to try to get the right cow where she needs to be. We love it.”



Colorado’s La Luna Dairy Works in the Community

Neither Jon Slutsky nor Susan Moore had agricultural backgrounds but began their dairy career of 30-plus years in 1981 with a rented dairy that milked 64 head of cattle. They now own and operate their own dairy, La Luna Dairy in Wellington, Colorado, where they milk over 1,500 cows.

Education, community partnership and communication have always been their most important tools. In 2005 they started a program with Wellington Middle School that not only educates students and the community about the many aspects of a dairy – but makes them excited to be on the farm. Student groups get to visit the farm in workshops that are focused on dairy and tied into the science they learned in the classroom. The workshops include milking procedures, dairy products, feed/nutrition, special needs and manure management. Each workshop is led by industry experts, including Frank Garry, extension specialist veterinarian at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU).

La Luna Dairy has continued their partnership with Wellington each year, hosting their 11th consecutive tour in 2016.

“Participating in La Luna Dairy’s School Farm Tour is a rewarding investment of time. It’s good to feel the enthusiasm of the kids for learning about the operation and about how modern dairy agriculture works,” said Frank. “And it’s good to feel the pride that Jon and Susan have in opening their doors to these neighbors.”

They also work with other groups from their community and allow different departments from CSU to come to their dairy to do studies – including sociological, labor, health and environmental research.

“We have to be connected to the community since it’s in our front yard,” said Jon. “Plus, it’s nice to have friends in the business community, and it’s great to be recognized and thanked for a being a dairy farmer.”


SHOW AND TELL. It Takes Both at Riverdown Holsteins

Passionate dairy breeders can quickly supply the names of the top show cattle.  But, if your dairy business stops at show ring success, you are leaving dollars on the table.  The Bullvine recently had the opportunity to talk to Justin Velthuis about Riverdown Holsteins and the show ring and barn successes that they have targeted.

“The Riverdown Story is Upbeat”

“I am the third generation dairy farmer at our current location which is a half hour South of downtown Ottawa, “says Justin. Riverdown is truly a family farm operation he explains. “I farm with my parents and grandparents and have no employees outside of family labour.” The farm is comprised of 650 acres of which 550 are owned. “We milk 110 cows in a new robotic dairy barn with 2 Lely Astronaut A4 robots.” The robotic change is recent for the Velthuis family. “We moved in just over one year ago. All animals except the show heifers and calves on milk are housed in the new barn.”

The statistics on this Master Breeder Herd tell a growing story of success:

Herd:              27 Excellent.  76 Very Good.  23 Good Plus

Robotic:         Averaging 40 kg on 2.8 visits

The RIVERDOWN Show and Tell Story Has a Good Foundation

Earning a Master Breeder Shield doesn’t happen overnight. This is the part of the Riverdown story that Justin enjoys telling. “My parents and even my grandparents always had a nice herd of cows. “Riverdown won a Master Breeder shield in the late 90’s. “My dad bought half of BVK Dundee Delores Ex 91 2E 8* with his brothers at Velthuis farms in 2006. Her dam is Adeen and half our Riverdown herd traces back to this Dundee.”

The Riverdown Velthuis family has longstanding pride in their herd genetics.  This focus provided a natural and complimentary link with cattle showing where Justin says, “The 4H program has played a big part in developing my love for showing and genetics.” That said, Justin points out that nothing is overlooked at Riverdown where the Velthuis family work hard to make sure that their dairy ring stars are also dairy performers.

“Let’s Look at the 3rd Generation Beginning.”

Kingsway Tenacious Rochelle, 8th place Junior Two Year Old 2013 for Kingsway and Riverdown

Business Schools will tell you that managing generational shifts in a family business is an important and delicate process. The advice is to start planning early.  At Riverdown Holsteins the progression was one that all three generations foresaw as expected and natural. As for starting early, Jason started young following in the footsteps of those before him.

“I made two purchases at the age of 16 from Kingsway farms. The first being in March 2013. I was working their tag sale and picked out Cherrycrest That’s Neat Ex 91 (94 MS) as a three-month-old calf, not a show heifer by any means but a correct heifer from a good pedigree and was a red carrier. I called home and convinced my parents to go half with me on Neat. She has been a tremendous cow for us and put two bulls in AI: Incredibull at Semex and Unstopabull at Blondin sires. She is currently on a flush program and has made 35 embryos on her last two flushes.”

“The second animal I bought that year was Kingsway Tenacious Rochelle Ex 94. I was helping Kingsway at summer show, and this fresh junior 2-year-old really caught my eye. She stood 2nd that day, and I bought part of her. She would continue to develop in the excellent care of the McMillan family, and we sold her to Milk Source at the Royal Winter Fair as a Junior 3, where she stood 4th and was nominated All-Canadian. She has many impressive Goldwyn daughters in both herds from the one flush we did on her.

“Riverdown Jiggalea Is The Star of the Story”

1st place Junior Calf
2015 Royal Winter Fair

The highlight of our breeding program would be Riverdown Atwood Jiggalea. She is one of four Atwoods from Riverdown Redesign Jiggle Ex 92 that have been nominated in some form. Jiggalea is the most special though. She won the March class in 2015 at the Royal and was All-Canadian March calf open and 4H in 2015. Then as a junior yearling, she won all year including 1st and Honourable Mention for me at the Classic. She then stood third at the Royal behind the Junior Champion and Reserve Junior Champion. Picking up the Honour of All-Canadian 4H Junior Yearling and Honourable Mention Junior Yearling. Jiggalea is just fresh for the second time and scored 86 2yr.

“Other Family Success Stories Are Also Inspirational”

One of the best ways to create a sustainable multigenerational family dairy business is to anchor each succeeding generation in the story of the business.  Justin feels strongly about the impact his own and other dairy families have had on him, “I have been fortunate to have connected with some of the top people in the industry in my short time.

He looks back fondly, “I did a coop in high school at La Ferme Gillette and learned a lot and have so much respect for the Patenaude family.” Then Justin continues the list, “My first two purchases and several more have come from or been with Kingsway. Not only are they great breeders, but they’re also great people. Jiggalea would not have done what she did without the help of Rob Heffernan. Rob has housed a couple of heifers for me and sure taught me a lot about show heifers. He is flat out the best at heifers.

Despite his youth, Justin recognizes the value in understanding both old and new perspectives on cattle breeding. “More recently I have invested in genomic type and have learned a lot from Dann Brady and have partnered with Blondin on a type heifer, Kawartha Armani Memory, nominated All-Canadian Jr.2 and sold in a Blondin recent sale as well as a high genomic type heifer Creekside Callen May. Dann, Simon and the rest of the Blondin team have been very good to me. These mentors have shared their understanding of what it takes to remain competitive, and it bodes well for Justin as the third generation that he recognizes the value of the hands-on experience he gained at home. “My most important mentors have been my parents for the opportunity I have.” Justin pinpoints how the experience and talents of his parents, Karen and John Velthuis, have inspired his dairy passion. “My parents are the perfect combo. Mom has the same passion for showing as I do and dad is an excellent manager and an outstanding dollar and cents guy.” The dialogue between the two generations provides both sides with real-world prioritizing of dairy breeding goals and relevant discussions on the current marketplace that they are all interested in.

“Little Details Make a Big Difference When You’re Pursuing Dreams.”

Justin with parner and mentor Dann Brady of Blondin Sires and Ferme Blondin

Justin is inspired to be the best but recognizes that success starts in all the small details. “I have a lot of goals. Show ring success or another AI bull or a chart topper are all something I hope for, but my main goal is to keep growing the farm and improve little things all the time.” Continually improving the little things can be expected to provide a corresponding increase in the day to day dairy efficiency. Three generations of the family have paid this kind of attention knowing it would pay off in achieving their goals in milk production, dairy breeding and cattle showing.

“Know Your Strengths and Then Find Great Mentors”

When it comes to focus, it’s understood that you can’t be everything to everybody.  Dairying is such a huge investment it’s important to find out what works for your dairy strengths. Justin knows this. “The advice I would give someone looking at investing in genetics is to “decide what type of cattle (Holstein, Jersey, index, polled, show, etc.) works best for you and your operation and then learn from the best in that segment.”

“Consumers Come First”

Regardless of personal goals, the dairy industry must always listen to the customer.  Justin recognizes how important that can be as the dairy industry looks toward a sustainable future. “As an industry, we must deal with consumers. This includes facing criticism and demands while producing a wholesome product for them.” No matter how much we learn about cows, dairy facilities and genetics, the customer needs to be there with positive support, or we won’t be.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Justin is enthusiastic about continuing to maintain and develop a profitable and robust dairy operation.  He knows that it will be a big job. We at THE BULLVINE and our readers wish Justin all the best in using the family mix of skills, talents and genetics to carry “RIVERDOWN” successfully into the future.



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Suntor Holsteins – New Baby, New Robot, New Perspective

Progressive business owners know that if a business is not planning and moving forward then it will soon be average or behind.

Dairy farmers experience that reality in multiple areas – facilities, genetics, inputs, technology, labor efficiency, …. to name a few. The challenge to remain competitive is a matter that every manager must continually have on their mind.

Suntor Openly Shares

Suntor Holsteins, located in South-West Quebec, recently shared with The Bullvine some of the very positive results that they have experienced by their move to new animal housing and the use of milking robots for their high production and elite genetics Holstein herd. After reading details that Kevin and Amanda Sundborg posted on Facebook, The Bullvine decided to interview this progressive couple and share their story with our readers.  The fact is that they shared so many details, we decided to make it into two articles. This one will consider facilities and another one, to follow, will highlight their thoughts and plans for their breeding program.

Suntor Background

Kevin’s parents started dairy farming in 1973 with grade Holsteins. By 1981 they had a fully purebred Holstein herd that has twice (2000 & 2014) won the coveted Canadian Holstein Master Breeders Shield.  The herd had been intensively selected for both production and conformation, but also important was sound cropping on the fertile land south of the City of Montreal.  

Kevin and Amanda are very thankful for the encouragement their parents gave them to seek higher education and in thinking progressively when it comes to dairy farming.

Until January 30th, 2017 the Suntor herd had been housed in a fifty-one tie stall barn. Cow care was always important and many awards for high production had been received. But the work was labor intensive and required long hours.

A New Generation at Suntor

2015 was a big year for Kevin and Amanda. In mid-year Suntor Holsteins was transferred from Kevin’s parents to Kevin and Amanda immediately joined in.  To top off this very busy year they welcomed their daughter Saydie in December.  Saydie will welcome a sibling in April. At the time of purchase the herd consisted of 51 cows in milk, 10 dry cows and 60 heifers with the cows producing, on 2X, 40 kgs (88 lbs) 4.3%F and 3.4%P.

Kevin and Amanda have a love for dairy farming. Both are farm management and technology graduates from Macdonald-McGill, and have worked and/or traveled off the farm. Once the farm and cattle were theirs, they immediately set about to take Suntor to new heights.

Big Picture Goals

Kevin and Amanda shared with The Bullvine the following thoughts that formed the basis on which they built their plans:

  • Lifestyle: Family is important and spending the time from 4:30 am to 8 pm in the barn, every day, is detrimental to family, friends and community time.
  • Managing staff: They prefer to work directly with their animals and not have to manage staff.
  • Get out of tie stalls: They found housing in tie stalls to be labor intensive and wearing on the body.
  • Use new technology: They want to know, hourly to annually, the facts about their cows and operation, so having new technology to do more of the work and capture the data was a must have. Their ten-year plan was to have double the daily milk shipments without any extra labor.
  • Happy and Comfortable Workers (aka cows) are a Must Have: Amanda in her off-farm worked (nutritionist and robot specialist) had seen the great results that other dairy farmers were achieving from cows that were comfortable in their environment, able to be milked on demand and that were fed high quality forage diets.
  • Efficiency – a key to a successful operation: Although gross output has advanced the bottom line for dairy farms over the past half century, Kevin and Amanda foresee the need for a successful dairy farm in the future to be driven by efficiency and net returns. Cutting out or reducing daily cow expense is, they feel, an incorrect and risky decision. Their plan is produce more milk with the same expenses.

Planning, Planning, Planning

Over a five-month period, Amanda and Kevin investigated every viable alternative available for dairy facilities in Canada. They talked with mentors, engineers and consultants and visited numerous farms that had recently built new with and without robots. Much was learned from asking critical questions.

Kevin and Amanda planned based on – ”How do you want to be milking cows for the next twenty years?”.

At the end of the five months they had a detailed plan complete with a budget that put milk income at  90% of current Canadian industry level, milk production level on par with their tie stall level, costs at 5% over historic operational costs and capital costs based on 4% interest. Upon presentation of their building, operation and financial plans to their financial institution, Kevin and Amanda were told that their plans were excellent and they were approved. They had thought, for sure, that they would be told that they needed to adjust their dreams, for an ultra-modern farm, downwards. What a relief that was!

Some of the building and start up decisions Kevin and Amanda made include:

  • They hired a top-notch engineer who costed out every detail for the new operation. They then identified areas for cost saving. Side note here from Amanda – “Always, always be prepared for meetings or suggested changes. Being prepared worked great for us.”
  • They built large enough with a twenty-year horizon on their projected herd size and production level.
  • They made the jobs of fetching and separating cows easy and quick. “Routes to the robot need to be direct. Have it so one person, operating alone, can handle the animals”.
  • A fresh and special care pen, with access to a robot, needs to be fully equipped with support materials. Most definitely include a fresh and special care pen and foot baths in the building plan.
  • Provide extra open space around robot entry and exit points. Expect cows to be both bossy and timid. Avoid sharp turns.
  • At start up, they planned on a maximum of 1,800 – 2,000 kgs (4,000 – 4,400 lbs) of milk per robot per day. Based on their experience they strongly recommend not to over-fill the robot(s) at start up.
  • In her experience with start-ups in other herds, Amanda recommends a maximum of 50 cows per robot at start-up.
  • After cows leave the fresh pen and go into general group, Kevin takes the time to make sure those animals know where the second robot is. They have found that some cows only go to one robot, while other cows will use both robots.

Kevin and Amanda told us that they committed 100% to the process of moving from the old tie stall to the new robotic barn. “Only going half way will only get you half way there.”

Pre-Move In Steps are Important

Kevin and Amanda had a very smooth transition. Amanda and Kevin shared the following ideas to help others transition to robotic single stall milking.

  • Hoof Care: “Trim hooves at least two months before and not any closer to the move in date. Cows need a good hoof build up when being moved onto freshly grooved cement floors.”
  • Minimize Fetch Cows: “Dry off any cows who would be a waste of time to train. Those end of lactation cows giving under 20 kgs/ 44 lbs will have no need / want to go to the robot. They will end up being a fetch cow until dry off. Don’t bother making them part of start up.”
  • Have DIM 150 days or lower: “Try to plan to have Days In Milk around 150 days for start-up. A stale herd takes longer to transition and your fresher cows will suffer.”
  • Dry Cow Program: “Our dry cow program was one key to our success. We feed a simple dry cow TMR which consists of corn silage and a low potassium dry hay. In the pre-fresh pen, we have an automated grain feeder (Cosmix) that feeds a pre-fresh pellet. It allows us to monitor and feed the exact amount they need. It also works to train our heifers prior to their first calving. They get accustomed to going into a box to get grain and the sound is like the sound of grain falling in the robot. We find that the heifers are calm in the robot for their first milking.”
  • Ration before Start-Up: “Suntor fed the robot feed to the cows as a top dress for two weeks before start-up. Cows need to know the feed when they go into the robot for the first time. Do not be afraid to drop the TMR energy at start-up. The less energy you have in the ration the faster they will go to the robot. We wanted our cows hungry, so they would go to the robot. They did drop on average 10 kg of milk per day the first week, but by 10 days 70% of the herd was going to the robot on their own. By one month, the average milk was back up to where it was when they were in the tie stalls.”

More Pertinent Details

Daily Cow Management: Amanda uses the reports generated from the T4C software, especially the health report, the expected heat report and the fetch cow report, to manage the herd on a daily basis. She noted that keen producers can also design their own reports.

Feeding Program: In the tie stall barn, cows were fed a one group TMR of 50:50 corn silage and haylage balance for 42 kgs of milk. Fresh and high producing cows were top dressed protein, fat and beet pulp. However now, based on Amanda’s five years of experience as a nutritionist and seeing how feed changes can significantly affect production, a one group TMR is still fed but it is now 75% corn silage and 25% haylage – balanced for 150 days in milk and for 6-7 kgs below herd average production. Feeding more corn silage allows for a more stable ration, given that haylage can vary greatly depending on stage, field and cut.

Six Month Results: First calf heifers have responded very well with 200 – 1,500 kgs more milk in the new system.  Three (20%) of Suntor’s first lactation cows have peaked at 50 kgs and have continued to give over 40 kgs past 240 DIM. And six months in the herd was averaging 42 kgs milk, the same as when they left the tie stalls. However, given that some older cows were dried off before the move and many were just calving by six months in, the Sundborg’s are very happy with the herd average from the younger milking herd. Cows are currently being milked 3.1 times per day on average. Reproduction is excellent with a 55-60% conception rate and 9 of 10 cows pregnant at herd heath check day.

Worthy of note is that Kevin and Amanda moved the entire tie stall herd into their new facility. All cows transitioned well or extremely well. They plan to increase their herd size by growing from within.

One Year Expectations: By one year in, January 30th, 2018, Kevin and Amanda can see easily reaching 45 kgs milk per day and average days in milk will be very good at under 140-150 days. By next spring they will be milking 70 cows with no added labor required, two things that were not possible in their old tie stall barn.

Some Added Benefits:  Kevin told us about some added benefits. “The expansion happened at the right time as they have been allocated or purchased 35% more quota since purchasing the farm. The robot reports help them catch any problems sooner, which helps to avoid sick cows. Having two robots, that were not used to capacity, shortens any line ups. We wondered about retaining and moving an older deeper uddered brood cow but she took to the new system like a duck to water. Using a higher percent corn silage assists by reducing the summer rush of harvesting of haylage.”

Future Operation Plans: The original plan was, in ten years, to milk 80 cows producing 140 kgs of fat per day. With more quota becoming available for purchase and the barn and robot working so well it now appears that that goal will be achieved in half the time. The higher revenue will speed up the process of implementing systems to monitor and manage calves, heifers and dry cows.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Planning to be successful is Step #1. Carrying out the plans is Step #2. The Bullvine congratulates Kevin and Amanda Sundborg and thanks them for sharing their dreams, thoughts and information on both these steps.  What cow would not want to live and be cared for at Suntor Holsteins?




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Master Breeder Dominique Savary: An Eye for Good Cattle. “On the farm. In the Show Ring. Through the Camera Lens.”

It is the dream of every passionate dairy breeder to achieve recognition. This can be done in many ways, from success in the show ring to earning Master Breeder status. Dominique Savary of Grand-Clos Holstein in Switzerland has earned both those benchmarks. However, he has not stopped there and is continuing to gain recognition for his skill in taking great photographs of the cattle, people and dairy industry that he is so passionate about. The Bullvine recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dominique and discussing his experiences as dairy breeder, showman and photographer.

“My father was one of the first who went to Canada and the US to search for Holstein genetics.”

Childhood influences have shaped Dominique’s success as an adult. “In my childhood, many people involved in breeding passed through our home. They came to talk to my father, Jean, about the arrival of the Holstein in Switzerland.  The first imports of Holstein semen from Canada were made when I was five years old.  My father was very active in carrying out this import project.  All my youth was bathed in the fighting so that the Holstein breed would find a real place in Switzerland. I think that is what gave me the biggest motivation to get involved in breeding.”

“North American dairy breeding has always fascinated me”

Dominique is proud of the pioneering dairy work carried out by his father Jean in the 1970s. “My father was the best role model for my future.  From my childhood, I said, “I’m going to go to North America.  I want to learn.  I want to understand.’ I traveled there for the first time when I was twenty-two years old and have been there more than 25 times since.”

“Everything that revolves around breeding has always been a driving force for me.”

Dominique’s family history with dairy is relatively recent. “I am only the second generation involved in breeding.  My paternal grandfather was the head of a small railway station.  In fact, it was my father who gave the taste for breeding and milk production.  He started his career with nothing. He fought for Holsteins to have a place in the Swiss landscape of the day.  Switzerland, was almost entirely populated by Brown Swiss, Simmental, Swissfleckvieh and some Black Spotted.  The dairy leaders in our country did not welcome the arrival of Holsteins into Switzerland.” Inspired by his father’s passion, Dominique “did a complete agricultural training and took over the paternal farm in 1994.” He proudly explains, “The milk produced on my farm is intended for cheese making “Le Gruyère AOP”.”

Dominique leads in the dairy industry through the Holstein Switzerland Association and Swissgenetics.

“Early on, I got involved in breeding and genetics organizations. Breeding, genetic selection and Breeding organizations have always fascinated me.” He is actively involved in leadership of the Holstein industry in Switzerland. “By presiding over the Holstein Switzerland association for eleven years and now Swissgenetics for three years, I have had the immense opportunity of getting to know many fascinating people in the world of Swiss and world breeding.  The fact of having also chaired the Holstein Genetic Commission of Swissgenetics for many years has also allowed me to travel around the world for the selection of bulls.

Dominique and Grand-Clos Holstein received the title of Master Breeder in 2015

Dominique states quite simply that “receiving the title of Master Breeder in 2015 was a great moment of my breeding career.  I am very grateful to the people who have trusted and supported me and feel lucky to have achieved all of this.”

“When I started photography again, it was to photograph cows.”

Sometimes hobby, career and passion all come together at the right time. Dominique started using his photography skills to photograph cows in the selection rounds for Swissgenetics. “I was taking pictures of the test daughters in North America to show them to our Swiss breeders.  Then I went to take pictures in some exhibitions.” Dominique’s passion goes beyond the simple cataloguing of conformation. “I really like to photograph cows at work in the grasslands when they are grazing.  In Switzerland, we have a lot of cattle grazing on the mountain pastures during the summer season. It is a pleasure to make images of cows or heifers in mountain scenery.”

“I really want to do more studying of the technical side of photography.” 

As with everything he undertakes, Dominique applies himself to doing the very best that he can. In talking about his interest in photography he provides some background.  “I always did a little photography but I really started seriously five years ago.” He feels he had good grounding in his understanding of the creative aspects. “I felt the artistic side in my eye, but I had a big gap in the technical side. I am an autodidact.  I have never taken a photography class.  I read a lot and watch videos on YouTube.  Gradually the technical aspects of adjustments and post-processing became clearer for me.” He sums up. “I still have a lot to learn. I wish I could spend a few days with a professional who could help me really master the technique to learn more.”

“I like to bring emotion into my images. Whether in nature or in the show ring.”

Dominique is very clear in describing what inspires the photos he takes. “I am sensitive. I like to bring emotion into my images. Whether in nature or in an exhibition ring, I want to bring a different look by trying to give a little emotion to my photos.  Posing cows as we see them in bull catalogs does not interest me.  I am an ambient photographer.”

Dominique’s favorite photos. “The right time. The right light. The right composition.”

Dominique has a growing reputation for capturing the candid and emotional side of his subjects. He doesn’t want to be confined in his approach. “What I prefer is freedom of action. Power without pressure.” He continues his explanation by saying. “I want to free my mind to take pictures. I like having carte blanche and being able to make my inspiration work.” Dominique gives specific examples. “This year there were two places where I loved taking photos.  One was at the Royal Winter Fair, where Holstein Canada gave me permission to enter the ring.  The second was at the Samsales Desalp, where I had fun as a child and was now taking pictures of the cows with flowers and the people who accompanied them.” His assessment of the year. “It has been a pleasure!”

Dominique’s favorite places. “The Royal Winter Fair” “World Dairy Expo” “Quebec landscapes”

“I am lucky to have my son Grégoire who made the agricultural agro-technician school. He is currently working 100% on our farm. He and my wife Christiane get involved on the farm and it gives me more time to do other projects like photography”.  Dominique enjoys the great showcases of the world’s top dairy cattle, “It would be great to go back to the Royal Winter Fair and World Dairy Expo in Madison to take pictures of the atmosphere.” But, he doesn’t limit himself to the show ring only. “For landscapes, I would like to take winter pictures in Quebec.”  He also goes beyond the subject of cattle and is attracted to the people side of photography. “I would also like to accompany artisans who work with their hands.” He goes on to describe another growing passion. “I really like the traditions that are at home or elsewhere. Photographing traditions with costumes and customs is something that I like very much. “

The future. “I would like more time to do photography.”

As more and more people have the opportunity to see Dominique’s work, he is growing a following. “I started posting my photos on Facebook a few years ago and had a lot of feedback encouraging me to publish more.  I also posted a portfolio (  Many people are interested in my images.  Little my little, orders came in for me to make enlargements, to illustrate websites or magazines. I was very proud when one day a multimedia company contacted me to buy photos.” No wonder he sums up by saying, “I would like more time to do photography.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Dominique loves capturing the emotional connection to cows, people and traditions. He has used his knowledge of cows and his skill as a photographer to provide something unique. “My clients want emotion and my goal is to do something different.”  The Bullvine joins with our readers in congratulating Dominique for turning his hobby and his passion for dairy cattle into a product that is an inspiration to dairy enthusiasts everywhere. 

Pinehurst Farms boasts rich history

Pinehurst Farms of Sheboygan Falls, started in 1838 by David Giddings, was a model of innovation from the very beginning.

This is a classic view of the dairy complex at Pinehurst Farms in post card form. At one point the dairy had seven barns and seven houses on 500 acres. The water tower, erected in 1912, stood 125 feet above the barns and cows it served.

An article in the March 4, 1908, edition of the Sheboygan County News states the following: “Pine Hurst Farms, which is situated partly within the limits of the picturesque village of Sheboygan Falls and part in the town of Lima, is one of the most beautiful and productive farms in the Northwest, consisting of over 400 acres, about 200 of which is under a state of cultivation, 120 in beautiful woods and the balance in natural pasturage, well supplied with water by the Onion River and an abundance of natural springs.”

Giddings, a consummate businessman and adventurous Yankee, never stayed very long with one occupation. He always took an active interest in political affairs.  When the Greenback party sprang up, he became identified with it, and in 1878 was a candidate for Congress, receiving more than the party vote.

In 1863, he purchased a farm containing 577 acres southeast of Fond du Lac, and in 1874 went there to live, leaving Sheboygan Falls behind.

On Nov. 20, 1912, Harvard Giddings, son of David Giddings, sold the Giddings Pinehurst Farm to Peter Reiss, president of C. Reiss Coal Company. Pinehurst Farm became the summer home of the extended Reiss family. Reiss upgraded the buildings and in the fall of 1913 the completion of the new 210-foot long barn was celebrated with a barn dance hosted by the Reiss family.

An article from the Sheboygan Press in 1913, entitled “Hundreds Enjoy Barn Dance at Pinehurst,” documents the event. “More than seven hundred were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Reiss at a barn dance at their country home at Pinehurst last evening. The affair which will linger with pleasant memories for a long time, took place in the large barn which is being completed on the farm and until one o’clock this morning the guests enjoyed themselves…For instance there was one dance where the lights were turned off, and the two large automobile lamps furnished the light for the dance.

“This was a novel feature that brought forth applause from the dancers as well as the onlookers and the orchestra was called upon for several encores before the lights were turned on…from eight to nine o’clock the full Sheboygan Concert Band was stationed in the south end of the barn on a raised platform.

“Looking down a space of 210 feet on either side were strings of lights shaded by leaves of tinted paper giving a color that harmonized with the entire decorative scheme. Giant corn stalks together with pumpkins, and sheaths of barley comprised the decorative scheme…the concert under the leadership of Henry Johnson was one of the treats of the evening. But the grand march, comprised of 608 dancers was the highlight.”

Peter Reiss enjoyed his farm and summer home for just fourteen years, passing away on Sept. 5, 1926. Peter and Mattie had two daughters, Carita who married Harold Bachmann and Gertrude who married John Corbett. Both families spent their summers at Pinehurst.

Mattie Reiss continued the operation of the farm after Peter’s death, but in 1930, hired Harry Hill to manage it. Mr. Hill managed Pinehurst Farms for 14 years. Hill, a native of Scarborough, England, was widely known in regional farm circles. He was active in the Wisconsin Holstein Breeders Association and was awarded the Wisconsin Agriculturist gold medal in 1937 as one of Wisconsin’s five outstanding farmers. Hill left Pinehurst in 1944 for a position in the farm industries’ division at Curt G. Joa.

At that point the dairy stopped bottling its own milk, selling its product to Verifine where it was processed. Besides the cattle, Pinehurst also operated a greenhouse and continued to raise poultry. In 1948, Mrs. Reiss donated a part of the property to the city of Sheboygan Falls to be used as an athletic field.


The following year, the summer home, the original Giddings home, a large garage, two poultry houses, a greenhouse, 10 acres of virgin pine woods, 180 apple-bearing trees and twelve acres of garden land comprising 37 1/2 acres were sold to The Christian Home Inc., a non-profit organization which took over the property for a home for the aged. The corporation represented 13 churches in Sheboygan, Oostburg, Cedar Grove, Sheboygan Falls, Gibbsville and Hingham. The Giddings home, greenhouse, stable and apple orchard were sold to private parties. The remaining property was remodeled into a residence for the aging. This part of the estate became Pine Haven Christian Home.

In 1950, Mrs. Reiss sold the rest of Pinehurst Farm to her grandsons, Peter and David Bachmann. The two young men operated the property together until 1955 when Peter sold his share to David. David Bachmann became known as one of the best-known registered Holstein breeders in Wisconsin. The prestige and reputation of Pinehurst cows brought foreign buyers on frequent visits to the farm and animals were shipped to all parts of the world.

Lightning struck between a pair of concrete silos the evening of Sept. 16, 1983, during a severe electrical storm. The large L-shaped frame barn, a landmark along State 32, was destroyed by the resulting fire. The barn was immediately rebuilt, but on June 29, 1993 a second fire demolished the barns at Pinehurst. No cause was ever found.

The 1993 fire marked the end of Pinehurst as a dairy farm, but began the dream of a championship golf course on the property. Construction on The Bull, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, began Aug. 4, 2000. The course meanders through the farm and features beautiful views of meadows, woods, wetlands and streams. Each of the 18 holes is named after a bull bred by Pinehurst Farms, each with its own unique story.

One hundred seventy-eight years later, this beautiful property, cared for by just two families, is a landmark of which the citizens of Sheboygan County can be proud.

Russell Gammon – Cheer Leading Dairy Cow People

Being lauded and recognized by your peers gives one a special feeling. That is exactly what happened recently to Russell Gammon when he was awarded the 2017 Canadian Dairy Cattle Improvement Industry Distinction Award. For Bullvine readers living outside of Canada, this is Canada’s equivalent to The Industry Person of the Year which is awarded annually, in the United States, at World Dairy Expo time.

A Loving Start

Russell came from British Isle stock and was born and raised on the North Shore of Nova Scotia (Pictou County), Canada. His parents boarded a few dry cows and heifer from his Gammon grandparents milking grade herd, and as well his parents had a large garden and a managed woodlot.  Russell, the eldest child, fondly remembers a home with many visitors, an off-farm working father, who included him in everything, as well as a supportive, energetic, loving stay-at-home mother. Russell learned early that the people in your life are the mark of success and the material world is there to make the people part happen. His siblings were and continue to be important to him. Although, because they are in Nova Scotia and Alberta, it means that he must communicate electronically with them these days.

Russell Gammon with Family and friend, Lyons Brook, Pictou N.S. 1968.

Youth Training

School, church, and 4H all had a great influence on the young Russell. He was eager and successful on all fronts. Russell shared with the Bullvine that his eyes were opened wide when he traveled to Toronto Ontario as the recipient of the Nova Scotia CNE Award for his stellar leadership performance in 4H. For Russell that visit to the CNE and Toronto was a life changer. “My eyes were opened wide to a bigger world, one where a farm boy from Nova Scotia got to see what opportunities there are in Canada and in the dairy industry.”

A Life Long Learner and Generous Communicator

Russell’s studies took him out of Pictou County to the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC) and then to the University of Guelph. Russell excelled at taking in new knowledge and then composing it into the written word. The humanistic written word is something his friends and peers associate with him. Russell knows ‘the power of the pen.’ While in his youth he read every breed magazine he could get his hands on. He reports that subscribing to many, many breed and farm magazines used all his petty cash. Starting with the pencil, then the pen, the telephone, then as a magazine editor and now a very prolific facebooker, Russell uses each and every tool to communicate the latest news. He is an incessant reader. Russell, more than most, excels at sharing all things important and new, with his community of friends.

Dreams Really Do Come True. Well Almost.

Lowell Lindsay, Tom Byers & Russell Gammon , three Canadian Dairy Industry Legends

Russell dreamed, from an early age, of being the Canadian Ayrshire Breed Secretary. You see Russell started in grade Ayrshire cattle and in 4H showed purebred Ayrshires from a kind and helpful neighbor’s herd.

Though that Ayrshire Secretary dream did not materialize, Russell has had an interesting and fulfilling career in the field of breed improvement. After a summer job as Canadian Guernsey Fieldman, he returned to NSAC for three years of work in extension education. In 1981 the opportunity for more breed work arose. Russell joined Jersey Canada where he worked as Associate Editor, then (1982) Editor of The Jersey Breeder. And then it happened. In 1985 he was named Jersey Breed Secretary. His youthful dream of being a breed secretary had been achieved.

His career path changed one more.  In 2011 he joined Semex as the coordinator of the Semex Global Jersey Program. With that move, Russell’s career had expanded to include both the cow and the bull sides of dairy cattle improvement.

Going Above and Beyond

If you have ever met someone that gives greatly beyond their job description, then you have met someone like Russell Gammon. For Russell, going beyond is second nature.

When Russell joined Jersey Canada, it was an organization not yet recovered from the colored breed recession that followed the change in Canada to pricing milk more on volume than on solids content. Fat percent, a Jersey strength, was not what consumers were told they should consume. No longer could consumers readily purchase that full flavor Jersey milk. Add to that that in the early 1980’s Canadian Jerseys were not especially milky.  High fat percent, yes, but only with 20% more milk volume than thirty-five years previous. Like all Canadian dairy breeds, at that time, Jerseys were bred for type.

With Russell’s careful and visionary suggestion to the Board of Directors, there was an awakening within Canadian Jerseys to the benefits through more extensive use of milk recording and type classification. Following that came the realizations that faster breed improvement could be had by sampling more young A.I. bulls and extensively using the top daughter proven sires. Jersey Canada also looked beyond its borders, especially to the United States, where increased production and the marketing of Jersey milk were driving forces. Over time Canadian Jerseys would achieve higher milk volumes, especially in the younger cows.

There have been many other feathers in Russell’s peaked cap:

  • collaboration with other Canadian dairy breeds;
  • linkages with milk recording agencies and A.I. organizations;
  • a unified breed type classification program;
  • a progressive breed registry service;
  • a marketing plan focusing on a brown cow in every barn; and
  • extensive involvement in the World Jersey Society.

Russell became the face – Mr. Jersey Canada.

Mentoring A Key Gammon Strength

Gilbert Robison

Russell told The Bullvine that there were many mentors who helped him along the way. One was Gilbert Robison, of Jersey and Clyde fame, from New Brunswick. Russell only knew Gilbert for three years, in the early 1980’s, never-the-less, he benefited greatly from Gilbert’s sound advice and, to this day, Russell maintains a connection to Gilbert’s descendants. This article would be much too long if we included the many, many mentors that Russell feels he is indebted to.

Mentoring is not only just about receiving. It also applies to giving. This where Russell is a pro. There is a long, long list of young people, Jersey folks, agriculture enthusiasts and community workers, that Russell has mentored and continues to cheerlead. Russell’s facebook friends are very aware of the numerous times each day that he encourages or messages youth telling them to ‘soar with the eagles’.

“Changing the world one person at a time” is a fit way to describe Russell. He does it by focusing on attitude, approach, and vision. He meets people where they are at and moves them forward.

Diversity Abounds

Russell Gammon received the International Friendship Award last year at the Supreme Laitier! As was announced, “He has travelled to over a dozen countries and reached out as a friend, a confidant, a source of immense knowledge and sage wisdom. His name is synonymous with the breed… Think of Jerseys… Think of Russell.”

There isn’t a species of livestock that Russell does not follow, and yes, for each species he has favorite breeds. Ayrshires, Jerseys, Clydesdales, Barred Rocks and likely more to come. Russell knows by heart the ideals associate with each breed.

Russell’s friends in his home community of Fergus come from all walks of life.  Russell continues his encouraging ways there too. He is currently championing a local food store that was started a few years ago by a chef and a dairy gal. There isn’t a worthy cause in Fergus that Russell does not support is some way shape or form.

Of course, in his working career, Russell has been very diverse. He has been breed fieldman, goat and cow classifier, writer, editor, breed secretary, breed strategist, organization specialist, breed marketer, international liaison, national standards chairman, sire analyst and much more.

Selfless – Yes, Yes

Russell’s selfless nature comes out loud and clear. One example was when he and fellow church members raised funds and did on the groundwork, especially in adult education, over a twenty-year period in Haiti.

All one has to do is to meet Russell, and he’ll start inquiring about you. When asked “What about what Russell is doing?”  He brushes it off as only doing his duty. It’s about others not about him.

It’s Results That Count

Russell appears to operate on the premise ‘make a difference every day in some way’.  For him it is people first, livestock second, followed by industry collaboration and progressive organizations that deliver results.

The results of Russell’s efforts can be found on many fronts. Russell told us that “He gets extra energy every time he interacts with young people.”

Always Moving On

For the last few months, since leaving Semex, Russell has been quiet about what’s next for this early sixties guy. He has recreated himself quite a few times to this point, and he told The Bullvine that his next career will be in an area where he can help others develop or enhance their careers. Stay tuned for more people being successful because Russell provided them with a helping hand.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We only pass this way once, and Russell Gammon always walks the talk. He is motivated to make this a better world. The Bullvine wishes Russell continued success in leading by example and cheerleading others to be the best they can be.





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Dairy farmer Sarah Chant leads the charge for women in one of Victoria’s toughest industries

There was nothing poignant in the final notes Sarah Chant’s dad left for her before he died.

He jotted one down to remind her when to service the farm machinery. Another, about seed and fertiliser.

The messages were not deep and meaningful. They didn’t have to be.

At just 55, Steven Chant lost his battle to cancer knowing the family farm was in good hands.

His daughter would step up to form a part of the small legion of young female farmers who are successfully tackling one of Victoria’s toughest industries.

“Dad had cancer for a long time so I’d been gradually stepping up,” Sarah said. “We knew it was terminal so he started keeping a diary for me and jotted down little notes of things I’d need to run the farm.

“It wasn’t easy but it was easier knowing that it was going to happen. It wasn’t like I

woke up one morning and was in charge of a 250-cow dairy farm.”

But in a cruel twist, the young farmer would get her first solo lesson in the difficulties of running the business on the same day her father died.

“We got news of the milk price drop the day we lost Dad,” Sarah said. “I know it was terrible for farmers but it didn’t upset me that much — we had bigger things to deal with.”

In the months since the Murray Goulburn supplier has become far more comfortable the role, despite not having her father by her side.

“There was a bit of cost cutting and we’re not spending where we don’t have to, but having such

a fantastic season has saved a lot of local farmers who buy in feed,’’ she said.

“We cut more hay and silage than ever before with the good spring.

“If we had the milk price drop and a tough season it would have been a lot worse.”

Even before her father’s diagnosis, Sarah never had any doubt she would return to farm life.

The property at Warrion, 20 minutes north of Colac, was purchased by Mr Chat’s parents when he was 18.

“Growing up on a dairy farm you’re born into loving it,” she said.

A recent a finalist in the best employee category of the Great South West Dairy Awards, Sarah hopes to eventually buy the cattle from her mum and extend into share farming.

“It’s a job you can never perfect,’’ she said.

“You’re always learning new things. Dad would always tell me when I was stuffing up.

“The best advice he ever gave me was that it didn’t matter that I was a girl and that I could do everything a boy could.

“I’ve held onto that and I hope he’d be proud of me.’’

Source: Herald Sun

Dairy Farmers of America 2017 Members of Distinction

Dairy Farmers of America’s Members of Distinction program honors members who embody the Cooperative’s core values and excel on their operations, in their communities and in the industry. Each year, one member farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas is honored during the Annual Banquet at DFA’s Annual Meeting. The 2017 Members of Distinction are:

Central Area

Haverkamp Family, Kelly Hills Dairy – Seneca, Kan.
Brian Haverkamp has never been happy with the status quo. Since 2002, Brian and his wife, Kristina, have grown the family dairy from 200 to 550 cows, with the addition of a new freestall barn, renovated milking parlor and flushing system. As they look to the future, the Haverkamps are working to grow their operation for the next generation. Along with his daughter and her husband, the Haverkamps are planning another expansion, with the hopes of expanding a freestall barn and adding additional technology, like a robotic milking system.


Mideast Area

Comp Family, Comp Dairy Farm – Dorset, Ohio
When Jim Comp returned home from the Army in 1957, he was greeted by two heifers, who were ready to calve. While it’s been a slow expansion over many years, today, Jim milks 1,200 cows with his son, Jerry, and granddaughter, Elisha Gozzard, who was also recently joined on the operation by her brother, Brice, and husband, Todd. The three-generation farm family credits their focus on cow care and high-quality milk as key reasons for the dairy’s success, as well as the dedication and commitment of many long-term employees.

Mountain Area

Burnett Family, Burnett Enterprises, Inc. – Carpenter, Wyo.
By relying on the family’s motto, ‘average goes broke,’ Jeff and Kim Burnett, along with Jeff’s brother, Jay and his wife, Lisa, have learned together to strive for excellence in running their operation. In 2004, the Burnett family started with a rented 200-cow operation. They have since expanded to milking 3,000 cows through the use of an innovative calf facility, an onsite feed mill that allows them to cut costs and more efficiently control rations and a separator that recycles manure as bedding for the freestall barns.


Northeast Area

Learned Family, Valley View Dairy – North Stonington, Conn.
Growing up on a farm, agriculture was always part of life for brothers Tim and Ben Learned. Yet, when the boys went to college, they pursued other careers, until a neighbor’s dairy farm came up for sale and the brothers decided to return to their family’s roots in agriculture. Starting with fewer than 10 cows, the brothers have expanded to milking 60 cows, while also making improvements such as expanding the freestall barn and purchasing new feed mixing equipment. In the future, Tim and Ben hope to explore purchasing a larger farm in the area and transitioning Valley View Dairy to become a heifer facility.


Southeast Area

Flory Family, Hillside Farm – Dublin, Va.
The Flory family – Dale and Janet, along with their son, Scott, and his wife, Laura – is all about embracing technology on their 240-cow dairy farm. Since 2014, the family has used a robotic milking system, which has helped them save not only time and labor, but also provides increased flexibility for milking. The family also uses the power of the internet to reach consumers by participating in a web series produced by Dairy Management Inc., called “Acres and Avenues,” which gives consumers an inside look at what happens on dairy farms today.


Southwest Area

Vanderlei Family, Five Star Dairy Texas and Milk Harvest Dairy – Amherst, Texas
For Case Vanderlei, an internship on a dairy in East Texas transformed into a passion for not only the industry, but for business. Along with his wife, Piertsje and their children, the family owns two facilities, where they not only milk cows, but also raise heifers. Between the two locations, the Vanderlei family milks more than 6,200 cows while also raising their own forages and grain as well as operating their own hauling business, which transports manure from each facility to their fields, ensuring sustainability from start to finish.


Western Area

Ken DeVries and Dale Ruisch, Hinkley Dairy – Hinkley, Calif.
Like many 1,300 cow dairies, Hinkley Dairy needs a tight-knit group to ensure its success. Unlike many dairies, that group extends across the country as Ken and Sherrie DeVries, along with Sherrie’s parents, Dale and Nellie Ruisch, live in California while Sherrie’s brother, Rob Ruisch, lives with his family in Iowa. The family credits evolving technology, like tractor geo-positioning and camera systems, with helping make this partnership work state-to-state. Additionally, smart financial decisions have helped Hinkley Dairy thrive in good years and meet challenges during slower ones.

Tech-Filled Barn Helps Dairy Stay Competitive

From smart tractors to meters in his barn to the ability to remote access into his office every day, he is able to keep a close watch on his 3,000 cows and 80 acres of land. By having a macro view, Van Der Toorn said he ensures the cows are in the best position to be taken care of by specialized groups of people.

“Technology helps us manage the herd as efficiently as possible. This allows us to feed the cows with a great deal of accuracy, making sure the cows get exact amount of nutrition to keep the cows very healthy,” Van Der Toorn said. “Technology helps us in the barn by being able to measure multiple points of the milking procedure to milk the cows in the most comfortable environment possible.”

Boschma Farm is a family-owned and run dairy farm that has been operating out of Tolleson, Arizona, since the 1930s when all the milking was still done by hand. The dairy gets its current name form the Boschmas who bought the farm back in 1974 and have since passed it down to their children.

After becoming an electrician and building systems on dairy farms, Van Der Toorn joined his wife’s family farm. Van Der Toorn said he believes his mother and father-in-law saw the dairy community going this direction with technology.

“I think they are very happy to see that all of their very hard work paying off. They used to do all of the work on the dairy by hand every day of the week,” Van Der Toorn said.

Wanting to remain competitive in the market as more advancements in the dairy industry were developing, Van Der Toorn remodeled his barn. When all of their work was done manually, it cost them additional time, money and labor.

“It might take as many as 100-plus employees to do the work of the 29 people doing it today,” Van Der Toorn said, in reference to how his barn has changed since his in-laws ran it.

In addition to remodeling the barn and installing advanced milking equipment, they improved production by installing an automated milking system so they could cut manual labor costs and move cows through the barn more quickly.

Van Der Toorn is now able to easily monitor and record data from different areas of the dairy to oversee any changes to their system done by each employee. He can also analyze how much milk each cow is giving each day.

The dairy equipment is controlled from a touchscreen device and allows for remote access to monitor milk meters, adjust controls and receive direct alerts via email or text if an issue arises, such as a change in milk temperature or a reduction in milk flow. All of these tools have made running the family farm more efficient, while the farm values have remained the same since the day it opened.

“We only succeed if the quality and comfort of our animals, coupled with dedicated employees are at their best. Bottom line is we love and are very blessed to produce milk,” Van Der Toorn said. “We love all of our cows and are grateful we are able to wake up every day and work in this industry.”

Source: DairyGood

Rai Valley farmer on quest for perfect jersey bull

Rai Valley jersey stud breeder Steven Leov  thinks his prize young bull, Glen, would fit in well on the catwalk.

“He loves posing for the camera at the shows, he’s a natural, ” said Leov.

At the Rai Valley A&P Show the R2 bull, Koroglen Glenmorangie , won both champion jersey bull, and champion all breeds bull.

Leov also took home champion jersey, and all breeds cow with Hasty River Key Jemma .

Leov bred the bull himself after trying embryo transfer on a previous show cow. Two pregnancies resulted from the transfer.

“He’s about 300 kilograms now but I expect him to get up to 700kg-800kg as he matures.”

The bull’s mother,  Koroglen NS Gloria, has a classification of VHC 92, or very highly commended, while his sire, Family Hill Ringmaster, is a well regarded United States sire.

Both Ringmaster, and the mothers sire, Sunset Canyon Nadene Supreme, come from dams which scored EX (excellent) 97.

“He’s got good conformation, and has a good temperament.”

The remainder of the total 500ha farm is used by his father, Bernard, to run 700 romneys. 

Slowly but surely the dairy herd is becoming more jersey, Leov said.

“My father liked friesians but I tend to like brown cows and I’m gradually changing the herd to jerseys,” he said.

Leov took over the Koroglen jersey stud prefix from his maternal grandfather, Rex Brew who bred jerseys at his Koromiko dairy farm, between Picton and Blenheim.

“When my parents took over the family farm from Bernard’s father they didn’t keep up the registrations on jerseys they had been given by Rex. The emphasis was more on dairy farming than stud breeding,” he said.

Leov started dairy farming in 2000 and started registering jerseys using the Koroglen stud name from 2001.

“I’ve always liked brown cows since I was a youngster,” he said.

“I can’t explain the reason why, I just like them.

“People go on about the two breeds, jersey or friesian, but it comes down to personal preference and what are easier to work with.

Rai Valley jersey cow breeder Steven Leov, with his prize winning bull, Koroglen Glenmorangi, or Glen.

“I find the jerseys more fertile and efficient, I can produce more milksolids per hectare from the jerseys than I can with my friesians, around 350kg of milk solids on grass.

“I can also run more jerseys to the hectare than friesians.”

Supplements would increase the production but with a low pay out grass was a cheaper feed, he said.

“We also grow turnips, and a chicory/plantain/clover mix crops.”

While the emphasis was on breeding top class jerseys, the bills still had to be paid from the cow’s milk, he said.

“I’d soon get bored if I only milked, and it is nice to try and breed something that is better and more efficient.

“Although you will never reach perfection it is good fun to try and achieve the best result you can.”

Leov admits he faced an uphill battle to maintain high breeding quality.

“It’s hard to compete against the big semen companies now who have dominated the market.

“This is the reason I always support the local shows.”

Facebook also worked to spread contacts and the wins at Rai Valley A&P Show had drawn interest from overseas as a result of social media, he said.

“We will use him on our own cows and see how he goes.

“If there is enough interest in him we will take straws from him if it is cost effective.

“There’s no reason he won’t be around in 10-12 years.”

Source: Stuff

Second-generation family farm grows quickly into a robotic dairy

Dan Steffens highlighted some of the features of the 120-cow freestall barn that has a lower ridge for improved tunnel ventilation and cow comfort. (Photo: Dan Hansen)

In 1971, at age 24, Joe Steffens bought an 80-acre farm on Mullen Road, south of Seymour. A year later he and Lorraine were married, and the couple began to grow their farming operation.

The farm continues to grow today as a robotic dairy with the help of sons Steve and Dan, and was featured on the recent Cow College tour of cutting-edge dairy farms in Outagamie County.

Joe and Lorraine bought their first dairy cows, and the herd grew from within. Over the years, additional land was purchased and several new building were constructed. The farm grew to 240 acres, the original 32-cow tie-stall barn was expanded to 64 stalls and the freestall shed was built. Two 20- by 70-foot concrete silos were erected, and a machine shed and new home also were built.


Sons Steve and Dan also were actively, involved in the farm’s operation, although both held full-time jobs off the farm.

In January 2003, Joe was diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away in April 2004. With Joe’s passing, Steve and Dan took on a larger role in the farm’s management and operation while continuing to work at their other jobs.

For the next 10 years Lorraine, Steve and Dan were able to keep the farm operating successfully without the need to hire outside help. They handled all the fieldwork, maintained machinery and other equipment and milked their dairy herd twice a day.

“We put in some long days and even longer nights to get everything done,” said Steve.

Finally in 2014 Steffens Dairy Farm LLC was established, and Steve and Dan quit their off-farm jobs and became full-time partners with Lorraine. 

Their first improvement was buying a Patz portable mixer to provide their herd with a balanced ration. “Soon after that we saw a substantial increase in milk production,” he remarked.

Because their stall barn needed major repairs and updates, they decided to build a new 120-cow freestall barn, featuring sand bedding and tunnel ventilation to maximize cow comfort.

After a lot of discussion and research, the Steffens decided to install two Lely automatic milking units. “Now we we’re able to milk three times a day without hiring any outside help,” Steve emphasized.

A Lely Juno robotic feed pusher was added to ensure the herd always had a supply of quality feed readily available.

“To make sure the cows remained clean and calm, we finished of the barn by installing a Patz alley scraper,” he noted. “Milk production has been continually increasing, our somatic cell count is down, and our conception rates remain high thanks to the heat detection information provided by the robotic milking system.”

Their herd is currently just over 100 cows, 60 percent of which are heifers. Milk production has increased 17 percent since the robotic units have been in operation. Butterfat is 3.7 and protein at 3.1. Cows average of 3.2 trips to the robots each day. The seven-day average is nearly 82 pounds of milk per cow, with the top cow producing 137 pounds.

For the past three years they’ve been breeding their heifers with sexed semen to help grow their dairy herd more quickly. They’ve also temporarily broken their tradition of running a closed herd.

“We been adding only around four or five animals at a time so that we can work them into the herd easier,” Steffens said. “Once we reach the capacity of the barn, which we hope will be within the next year, we plan to go back to a closed herd.”

Currently, the Steffens’ family is also remodeling their old tie-stall barn to house young calves, heifers and dry cows as their robotic dairy continues to evolve at a steady pace.

Source: Wisconsin Sate Farmer

Wormont Dairy: Fire extinguished. Help, hope ignited.

2013 Photo: Chuck and Vanessa Worden

On Saturday evening, January 14, the entire Worden family was together at the dining room table celebrating Chuck and Vanessa’s birthdays, including daughter Lindsey who was home visiting from Vermont.

By daybreak Sunday, the family was facing an uncertain future, but was lifted forward by friends and neighbors showing up when news spread quickly of the fire at Wormont Dairy, Cassville, New York.

“I had just walked through the cows and done a little clipping that night, so proud of how the whole herd looked and how well they were responding to the changes we had been making in the ration and fresh cow protocols,” Lindsey Worden reflected. “Less than four hours later, I was calling 911.”


Photo from Kate Worden


Wayne and Mark Worden, who live off the farm but nearby, were throwing on clothes to come down and join their father Chuck and brother Eric in rescuing calves and heifers penned in the box stall barn adjoining their parlor/holding area and office, which was totally engulfed in flames.

Their mother Vanessa had gotten up in the middle of the night and saw the flames from the window.

“Just as Eric was carrying out the last calf, the fire trucks arrived and the barn was totally filled with smoke and starting to catch fire as well,” Lindsey reported. “Volunteer firefighters, friends and neighbors were pouring in. We managed to wrangle all the baby calves and young heifers into a bay of our machine shed, and got the older show heifers into our heifer freestall, while dad and the boys were helping the firefighters.”

Amazingly, the wind was blowing in the opposite direction of its usual course – sparing the main freestall barn and Wormont Dairy’s 270 milking cows from damage.

By 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning, “It was quiet,” Lindsey shares. “At daybreak we met to try and figure out a game plan for how to get 275 cows milked on a farm with no milking equipment.”


Photo provided by Lindsey Worden


Not one person or animal was harmed, and the family was so thankful, but reality was sinking in. Now what?

“It was amazing,” said Vanessa. “There are no words for the way people just showed up and lifted us up.”

Chuck said a neighbor started the ball rolling to place the cows, and people came with trucks and trailers lining the farm lane. “I didn’t make one call, people just came,” he said.

As Wayne and Mark noted, “It was humbling.”
“At one point, we had at least 10 cattle trailers lined up out the driveway, and we got animals relocated more efficiently than I would have ever imagined possible,” Lindsey reflects. “We are so thankful to the friends and first responders who showed up at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday morning to help get our immediate emergency under control.”Before long, with the help of some awesome neighbors, the Wordens had figured out two farms that could take the majority of their milking cows (heifers and dry cows are staying), and a short while later, cattle trailers started showing up, as did more friends and neighbors to help get them loaded.

Friends and neighbors came from near and far – bringing trailers, helping to get cattle loaded and moved, helping to get scared cows milked off site.

“People brought enough food to feed an army for a week,” said Vanessa.

“At 7 a.m., my first thought is that we were probably just have to sell everything, but then as neighbors showed up, and connections were made, and trucks started moving cows, you start to feel how hope can change the whole outlook,” said Vanessa. “By 3:00 p.m., our friends and neighbors had given us hope that we can do this. I was actually happy yesterday. There is no way I could be sad after all that everyone has done, after all the hope they have given us.”

Each member of the family has so much gratitude for the dairies that opened their barns and took in cows. The 270 cows were moved to three locations by 3 p.m. Sunday.

“What an incredibly humbling day,” Wayne shared Sunday evening. “There are no words to describe the support we received and are still receiving with the cows. Thank you is not enough to say about what we were all able to accomplish today. What an incredible community the dairy industry is.”

2013 photo Wayne, Mark, Eric and Chuck Worden

Electricians worked all day Sunday to restore power – light, heat and water. “And companies worked with us quickly to help us with things like restoring our DairyComp records on a new computer, getting basic medical and breeding supplies and all those little things that we need to keep the wheels on the bus this week,” Lindsey observes. “It is a really strange feeling to literally have none of those everyday supplies like calf bottles, navel dip, ear tags, IV kits, etc.

Everyone who reached out with suggestions for help or just kind words, prayers and encouragement, by call, text message, email, and facebook, or dropping by in person. We are so very grateful.”

Eric shared how “truly overwhelmed” he was by the amount of support received from farmers across the state following the fire. “Thank you for making the day go easier,” he said. “This is a tough blow for my family, but we will come back stronger than ever.”

Adds Lindsey, “By some miracle, not a single animal was lost, not even our lone barn cat!”

While there is no question, “we’ve got a tough road to hoe to get back on our feet over the next several months,” said Lindsey, “with some luck and the attitude everyone in the family has maintained over the last two days, I have no question we will come out on the other side.”

Aug. 2016 Eric, Lindsey and Chuck at county fair

“Words cannot express how thankful we are,” Vanessa said. “The way people reached out to us in those early hours gave us hope. Hope is an important thing. It’s what we give each other, and it is amazing.”

As the family meets with insurance adjusters, lenders, builders, equipment specialists and others to chart a course for moving forward, the ready support of others in the darkest hour serves as a continual reminder of what the dairy community is made of – people who keep putting one foot in front of the other and helping their fellow producers get through times like this.

Even more importantly, the family notes that this dairy community is quick to give each other hope — that they’re not alone when confronted with a life-changing event — that when it seems everything is coming to a halt, it is the hope brought by others that carries everyone forward.

Crews from six fire departments responded to the fire at Wormont in the wee hours of Sunday morning, January 15, with others on standby.

Cleanup continues as the family pulls together to make decisions for the future – a future that they say reinforces how special the dairy industry is and how humbled they are to be part of it.


Source: Agmoos 

Pinehurst Farms boasts rich history

Pinehurst Farms of Sheboygan Falls, started in 1838 by David Giddings, was a model of innovation from the very beginning.

An article in the March 4, 1908, edition of the Sheboygan County News states the following: “Pine Hurst Farms, which is situated partly within the limits of the picturesque village of Sheboygan Falls and part in the town of Lima, is one of the most beautiful and productive farms in the Northwest, consisting of over 400 acres, about 200 of which is under a state of cultivation, 120 in beautiful woods and the balance in natural pasturage, well supplied with water by the Onion River and an abundance of natural springs.”

Giddings, a consummate businessman and adventurous Yankee, never stayed very long with one occupation. He always took an active interest in political affairs. When the Greenback party sprang up, he became identified with it, and in 1878 was a candidate for Congress, receiving more than the party vote.

In 1863, he purchased a farm containing 577 acres southeast of Fond du Lac, and in 1874 went there to live, leaving Sheboygan Falls behind.

On Nov. 20, 1912, Harvard Giddings, son of David Giddings, sold the Giddings Pinehurst Farm to Peter Reiss, president of C. Reiss Coal Company. Pinehurst Farm became the summer home of the extended Reiss family. Reiss upgraded the buildings and in the fall of 1913 the completion of the new 210-foot long barn was celebrated with a barn dance hosted by the Reiss family.

An article from the Sheboygan Press in 1913, entitled “Hundreds Enjoy Barn Dance at Pinehurst,” documents the event. “More than seven hundred were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Reiss at a barn dance at their country home at Pinehurst last evening. The affair which will linger with pleasant memories for a long time, took place in the large barn which is being completed on the farm and until one o’clock this morning the guests enjoyed themselves… For instance there was one dance where the lights were turned off, and the two large automobile lamps furnished the light for the dance.

“This was a novel feature that brought forth applause from the dancers as well as the onlookers and the orchestra was called upon for several encores before the lights were turned on…from eight to nine o’clock the full Sheboygan Concert Band was stationed in the south end of the barn on a raised platform.

“Looking down a space of 210 feet on either side were strings of lights shaded by leaves of tinted paper giving a color that harmonized with the entire decorative scheme. Giant corn stalks together with pumpkins, and sheaths of barley comprised the decorative scheme…the concert under the leadership of Henry Johnson was one of the treats of the evening. But the grand march, comprised of 608 dancers was the highlight.”

Peter Reiss enjoyed his farm and summer home for just fourteen years, passing away on Sept. 5, 1926. Peter and Mattie had two daughters, Carita who married Harold Bachmann and Gertrude who married John Corbett. Both families spent their summers at Pinehurst.

Mattie Reiss continued the operation of the farm after Peter’s death, but in 1930, hired Harry Hill to manage it. Mr. Hill managed Pinehurst Farms for 14 years. Hill, a native of Scarborough, England, was widely known in regional farm circles. He was active in the Wisconsin Holstein Breeders Association and was awarded the Wisconsin Agriculturist gold medal in 1937 as one of Wisconsin’s five outstanding farmers. Hill left Pinehurst in 1944 for a position in the farm industries’ division at Curt G. Joa.

This is the 125-foot Pinehurst Farms towers which went down for scrap on Nov. 11, 1942. Over 80,000 pounds of scrap metal was reclaimed. The 50,000 gallon tower supplied water on the farm.

This is the 125-foot Pinehurst Farms towers which went down for scrap on Nov. 11, 1942. Over 80,000 pounds of scrap metal was reclaimed. The 50,000 gallon tower supplied water on the farm.

At that point the dairy stopped bottling its own milk, selling its product to Verifine where it was processed. Besides the cattle, Pinehurst also operated a greenhouse and continued to raise poultry. In 1948, Mrs. Reiss donated a part of the property to the city of Sheboygan Falls to be used as an athletic field.

The following year, the summer home, the original Giddings home, a large garage, two poultry houses, a greenhouse, 10 acres of virgin pine woods, 180 apple-bearing trees and twelve acres of garden land comprising 37 1/2 acres were sold to The Christian Home Inc., a non-profit organization which took over the property for a home for the aged. The corporation represented 13 churches in Sheboygan, Oostburg, Cedar Grove, Sheboygan Falls, Gibbsville and Hingham. The Giddings home, greenhouse, stable and apple orchard were sold to private parties. The remaining property was remodeled into a residence for the aging. This part of the estate became Pine Haven Christian Home.

In 1950, Mrs. Reiss sold the rest of Pinehurst Farm to her grandsons, Peter and David Bachmann. The two young men operated the property together until 1955 when Peter sold his share to David. David Bachmann became known as one of the best-known registered Holstein breeders in Wisconsin. The prestige and reputation of Pinehurst cows brought foreign buyers on frequent visits to the farm and animals were shipped to all parts of the world.

Lightning struck between a pair of concrete silos the evening of Sept. 16, 1983, during a severe electrical storm. The large L-shaped frame barn, a landmark along State 32, was destroyed by the resulting fire. The barn was immediately rebuilt, but on June 29, 1993 a second fire demolished the barns at Pinehurst. No cause was ever found.

 The 1993 fire marked the end of Pinehurst as a dairy farm, but began the dream of a championship golf course on the property. Construction on The Bull, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, began Aug. 4, 2000. The course meanders through the farm and features beautiful views of meadows, woods, wetlands and streams. Each of the 18 holes is named after a bull bred by Pinehurst Farms, each with its own unique story.

One hundred seventy-eight years later, this beautiful property, cared for by just two families, is a landmark of which the citizens of Sheboygan County can be proud.


Source: Wisconsin State Farmer

Pedigree exhibitor explains commercial roots

090916_p114_-116-mark_robinson-2323_main1One of the younger exhibitors at Dairy Day is Mark Robinson who is making his debut in the event’s show ring. Neil Ryder reports.

As a teenager Mark Robinson once considered a career in professional golf, but instead trained in agriculture and joined his family’s dairy farming business in Nantwich, Cheshire.

This, in turn, led to an interest in Holstein genetics and showing cattle, with his next show ring appearance taking place at this year’s UK Dairy Day.

Show ring success so far this year has included the breed championship and reserve at Nantwich Show, as well as the breed title at Royal Cheshire Show.

He says representing Team GB in Colmar, France, earlier this year with his heifer, Woodhey Atwood Sally, has been the pinnacle of his showing accolade to date. However, he stresses these successes have only been possible from a strong commercial base.

The Robinson family moved from a farm near Winsford, Cheshire, to Woodhey Hall, Faddiley, Nantwich, 17 years ago in response to urban development encroaching on their Winsford farm.

They moved with about 300 dairy cattle which they ran as a commercial herd averaging 8,000 litres. After five years, they formed a contract farming agreement with a neighbouring dairy farm business, which entailed the purchase of 160 full pedigree Holstein milkers averaging around 10,000 litres. Milking continued on the existing two farms until 2012, when both herds were brought together to improve efficiencies.

During this time Mark had finished school and completed a three-year course at Reaseheath College, Nantwich, before returning home to farm with his father Paul and mother, Ruth. Now 27 years old, living with his partner Jocelyn, Mark became a director of the family business, Woodhey Dairies, five years ago. Apart from the family the business has four full-time employees.

The introduction of the pedigree milkers were a turning point for the direction of the herd. Mark says he found the yields these cows were achieving and general cow type highly desirable and this sparked his interest in pedigree Holsteins. It was this which would also lead to his passion for competing in the show ring.

“When I started showing in 2007 I was coming last or nearly last in every class I entered but each time I learned a little more and gradually I crept up the placings winning some firsts and now even some championships. I am lucky in that I have the support of my parents and the team here at Woodhey, plus a good friend Tom Lomas, who helps me prepare and show the cattle. It gives all of us a little boost when we win,” says Mark.

Woodhey Dairies now covers just over 405ha (1,000 acres) in a single block of land all grass apart from about 109ha (270 acres) maize and 51ha (125 acres) wheat. Wheat grain is milled and used for home feeding with the straw welcome for feed and bedding. As the dairy cattle are housed all year round, all the grassland is used for silage. Feeding is based on a grass and maize silage TMR ration, modified as necessary for different groups of cattle and supplemented by parlour fed concentrate.

The present dairy herd totals 640 cows with 500 followers. There are currently 550 animals milking three times a day, averaging 11,300 litres sold at 3.8 per cent fat and 3.1 per cent protein with a cell count of below 130,000.

“We are all year round calving with our milk being sold on a level supermarket contract.

“In 2012 we installed a new 64-point, fully computerised, rapid exit parlour. This now allows us to complete a milking in three hours including clearing and washing. Six months into our new parlour, we moved to three-times-a-day milking to increase yields and for better cow welfare, while enabling us to make better use of our investment”, explains Mark.

“The parlour has an American style underpass below the parlour, this allows noise levels to be kept low in the parlour as all milk metering and other equipment operate here” he says.

Mark has an ‘elite’ group, currently 32 strong, which he selects from for showing.

“I look for cattle which have show potential within the main herd for my elite group. Using sexed semen has allowed me to produce more females from the best cows in my herd, benefiting the herd in both the milk tank and the show ring.

“The show cattle are fed and managed slightly differently from the main herd being housed on deep sand beds instead of the mattresses used for the main herd and fed additional hay for rumen development. In the weeks running up to a show, we aim to develop a routine where there will be as little change as possible between moving from the farm to a show. They are like Olympic athletes and need additional care to compete in the ring,” he says.

Regarding breeding decisions, Mark selects a team of bulls in line with the herd’s goals, and makes bull selections based on each individual cow’s characteristics.

“The elite group are bred for show type. To me this means amazing udders with good attachment, wide square rumps, large body capacity, but still boasting plenty of femininity.

“For the rest of the herd we are breeding for more of a functional cow. She should still possess a solid udder and wide rump, but we are happy for these cows to be stronger and built for life in a large herd environment with large amounts of milk essential. Health traits are also heavily emphasised on, there is such a wide selection of bulls available these days there is no excuse for us not to be using a bull that isn’t positive for the traits we want.

“All bulls used are genomically tested, with very positive results being seen so far in the herd. As for cow family’s there are many different ones in the herd, such as the Adeens, Ambrosia, Roxy’s, Lustre’s, Destina (Raven) Spottie’s, Jennifer’s, Jazz and Pansy. All of these, we are keen to develop throughout the herd.

“Currently the best family we work with and have had most animals from are the Beattie’s. Now 100 per cent Holstein, they have British Friesian roots. These animals just seem to last forever, with most of our 100 tonne cows coming from that line. We currently have one that’s last three dams all made 100 tonnes of milk, and she is still working on her record so fingers crossed.” says Mark.

“Because we want to grow our herd, we currently retain all Holstein heifers born on the farm for replacements. The lower performing percentage of the herd are bred to British Blue sires and sold to Meadow Quality providing us with a good cash crop which we can reinvest in the business” says Mark.

Mark chooses his show cattle by eye, but his keen interest in superior dairy genetics and use of elite genetics has been fundamental in growing milk yields and improving herd health.

He is quick to say cow performance is dependent on both management and genetics, hand in hand; an animal can only perform to its true genetic ability if managed correctly.

“Growing the herd’s average yield from 8,000 to 11,300 litres is testament to this, our next short-term goal will be to achieve an average of 12,000 litres,” he adds.

Woodhey Holsteins show ring success


  • Champion Holstein Nantwich Show – My ABBA
  • Reserve champion and inter-breed champion heifer at Nantwich Show – Woodhey Saturday Night Ghost


  • First in class at the All Britain Calf Show – Woodhey Heztry Lustre
  • First Western Spring Show and reserve champion – Woodhey Bolton Jennifer
  • Champion Cheshire Sow – Woodhey Bolton Jennifer


  • First Western spring show and honourable mention – Woodhey Bolton Jennifer
  • Cheshire show 2010 champion Holstein – Woodhey Shottle Sunbeam 2

Mark says his last goal was to win a class at National Calf Show, which I completed in 2015 and his next goal is to win a milking class at a national show such as UK Dairy Day or UK Dairy Expo

He adds: “A bigger goal is to return to the European Holstein Show in 2019 and succeed near the top end of the ring. It is the most amazing atmosphere I have ever seen, it is just electric.”

Woodhey Hall facts

  • Slurry is stored in an above ground tank and two pits being spread through an umbilical system which reaches all fields on the farm
  • Rainwater is collected from building roofs and is used to wash down, including flood washing the milking parlour
  • Newborn calves are housed individually in open fronted kennel type housing moving on to being group managed using an automatic milk feeder
  • As much work as possible is carried out by the family plus four full time employees
  • Mark started showing Holsteins nine years ago and has a 32 strong show group of cattle managed and fed slightly differently from the rest of the herd to maximise their potential in the show ring

Source: FGInsight

On Cows and People: What I Got When I Bought Popsicle

I’d not personally bought a Registered Holstein since the 2011 Pinehurst Dispersal in Wisconsin. Owner David Bachmann, Sr., had for decades been a useful and wise resource, not only on breeding registered livestock, but on operating a farm entity with viable scale and income. I had bought a lot of bulls and some frozen semen from him, and he used me as a ringman in the World Premiere Sale series at World Dairy Expo. At his dispersal, I bought a direct maternal descendant of Audrey Posch, not so much because I wanted one, but because she was a good value, and Mr. Bachmann had been most generous and fair with me for many years, so I helped his sale a little.

Move forward five years to a Facebook message I got from Dan Hovden in late April, 2016. “Eric,” it started, “We have decided to offer Popsicle for sale.  She was Grand Champion at last year’s Iowa State Fair and due to Shottle June 24…” There was a photo attached, some more information and a price that was reasonable, but more than I was inclined to pay for pretty much anything.

“I’ll stop and look at her today,” I replied. Popsicle was housed by Jason Volker, and his farm was right on my way to a Wisconsin Jersey Show where I had an interest in a couple of head entered.

Mr. Hovden had introduced himself to me a year earlier at the Iowa State Fair, and Mr.

Volker, I knew only by his part in a successful Iowa Holstein show string from the last couple years with Mr. Hovden. Neither gentleman did I know well or at all, really.

I arrived at the Volker farm and put on a pair of boots I’d kept in my trunk from my sale days with Donny Vine and a couple of other sale managers in the 1980s. They still fit and serve a purpose, giving me an opportunity to babble mindlessly as a has-been about a bygone era and render control of the visit from the outset.

Jason took me into a modest barn with a clean, well-bedded area where Popsicle was stalled with some other exceptional cows. Popsicle was recently dry, kind of heavy, and had a huge middle that looked like she could deliver tomorrow. Maybe deliver twins – certainly a giant bull by Shottle from an Atwood from a Shottle. She looked like she could even have giant twin bulls. “Hells bells something smells,” I thought. “I need to look at the other stuff and take off.”

“We didn’t ultrasound her,” Jason said.

“OK, who wouldn’t ultrasound a champion cow?” I thought.

I looked over the rest of show stock, washed my old ringman boots and left for Wisconsin thinking how to word my facebook rejection message which ended up saying, “I’m going to pass for now but may reconsider in a couple of weeks…also, milk went under $13 today and there will be some good values in the months ahead…”

That night in Wisconsin we had the requisite pre-show supper with me heading the table and show cow-partner Jason Steinlage on my right. A win followed the next day for a Jersey cow named Rosa, owned with David Koss. Lea McCullough took a lovely picture after the show, and I posted it a couple of weeks later. This apparently gave Dan Hovden an excuse to pitch again.

“I like this one!” came a message from Dan. “A Purple Ribbon for Queen Rosa!!

Congratulations. ”

“Thank you,”  I replied.

Dan continued, “Jason Volker and I talked again about Popsicle and are willing to take…” The message went on and outlined an agreement that I could consider, but I just thought something was wrong. There was something wrong with this cow, and Mr. Hovden and Mr. Volker either knew it or thought it.

I made another trip to the Volker farm and Jason had a veterinarian diagnose her long bred. I looked at her and thought she had cleaned up some, and her middle looked less ominous for a cow due in 30 days. She was great with calf but didn’t look dangerously great.

I was under some pressure – disguised as encouragement – from dairy show enthusiast Jason Steinlage to buy Popsicle. Jason Volker was again most cordial and professional, and delivered what seemed to be a full account on the cow regarding her health, the price they wanted and an assertion that they did, in fact, not know what she was carrying for a calf or calves. One heifer, one bull, twins, it could be anything, but it was sired by Grandpa Shottle. A double cross of anything could result in a really big calf or two, or small ones. They told us that at Iowa State a couple of times, or at least that’s how I remembered it.

Popsicle did look pretty good, and I did think a best case scenario was a Holstein that could win her class at State Fair. Our last Holstein Grand Champion was during the Carter Administration. Another Holstein Grand Champion might be a fun goal, and Popsicle looked like a reasonable risk – once I found out what was wrong with her.

I had a signed check with me that day, printed out for the amount I was willing to spend on Popsicle.  I had no blank checks, maybe fifty in cash and Jason Volker had storm damage from a tornado the night before. Jason Volker and Dan Hovden were still wanting more than I wanted to spend, so I left on good terms and made it to the local Casey’s General Store for milk, cookies, a couple donuts, and coffee to go.

While eating my sack lunch, I decided to seek counsel from Jason Steinlage. I called and got some words of encouragement, and an assurance that he and his in-laws, Pam and Dan Zabel, would work in concert with me on Popsicle before during and after calving, then get her in to the ring at State Fair.

I decided to pay the price. I called Jason Volker, and he had left the farm to get stuff in another town, but he would call Dan Hovden and go back to the farm again. I drove back to the farm, as well.

Jason Volker and Dan agreed to sell, signed the transfer over to Jason Steinlage and me, agreed that I could send an additional check the next day, and got a health chart that said she was long bred. They also delivered her, though I said I would have my guy do it. They further assured me that Popsicle had not been ultrasounded to determine sex, and they knew of nothing wrong with her, health or otherwise.

They were right.

Jason Steinlage, Pam, and Dan Zabel cared for Popsicle, delivered her very nice typed, medium sized double Shottle heifer calf which, incidentally, was born unassisted and without incident. Popsicle got some Ca++ Boli for a couple days, milked down, uddered up and was named Grand Champion Holstein at this year’s Iowa State Fair. But that’s not the story here.


Mr. Volker and Mr. Hovden at all times and in every instance acted in good faith with full disclosure. I got a cow that cost more than I had hoped but turned out to be exactly as represented.  They, in turn, got their full asking price in full and on time.

I’ve bought and sold bulls and cows totaling a couple million dollars over 40 years, primarily as a family owned livestock farm that milked many cows, sold many bulls, and showed a few Holsteins, Ayrshires, and Jerseys. Few times have sellers apparently misrepresented, lied or lied by omission to me. I have refunded some money or replaced some livestock a few times, too. I didn’t get paid for all or part of three low-dollar animals over the years and had to bite a small loss on those.


From my perspective, Volker-Hovden Holsteins’ integrity ranks with current and former vendors Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, Lyon Jerseys in Toledo, Iowa, and Tim Rauen here in Iowa. Mr. Rauen has sold me a few lots of ova, then promptly made a couple of adjustments when some eggs came up missing.  I think I got the long end of the adjustment both times.  These are four examples all well set for the registered livestock industry.

Photos by Randy Blodgett of Blodgett Communications



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The Hymers Cows Have Come Home Two Years After Fire

From left: Scott Hymers, Lauren Nelson, Tyler Hymers, Lloyd Bishop and Teddy DeDominicis stand in Hymers’ new barn on Elk Creek Road Tuesday. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter

It was a great day for the Hymers family and their livestock on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

Scott and Gail Hymers lost their family barn to a blaze on Dec. 11, 2014, displacing their Holstein herd for nearly two years. The Hymers’ are one of Delhi’s few remaining dairy farms and their barn was destroyed after a tractor caught fire in the hay loft on Elk Creek Road. About 40 firefighters were on the scene from Delhi,Bloomville, Bovina and East Meredith, while the Walton Fire Department stood by for support.

The new barn is located just up the road from the original one.

“I bought this farm in 1981 and during the fire, we lost 14 cows,” said Scott Hymers, whose family has been farming for more than 100 years. “Today, we started moving about 60 milking cows in at 9 a.m. and we were done at about 11 a.m.

The Hymers cows were happy to be home following a 16.8 mile move from Warren Post’s farm in Stamford. 
Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter The Hymers cows were happy to be home following a 16.8 mile move fromWarren Post’s farm inStamford. Rosie Cunningham/The ReporterHymers said he is “very happy” the cows have come home.

“It will have been 20 months this Thursday since the fire took our barn,” he said. “We have been keeping the herd up at Warren Post’s farm in Stamford.Although I am thankful for that, I am excited not to make the 16.8 mile trip twice a day, each day, anymore.”

According to his son Tyler Hymers, the family milks at about 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., daily.

“I am happy we can start milking here,” he said. “It’s definitely been a process. We started the work last August during fair week and began moving dirt in the fall. In March, we started building the new barn and we were working with used equipment, so it took time.”

Area farmers and friends helped transport the herd from Post’s farm back to the Elk Creek Road location.

“We had eight people who hauled, which included Rick Holdridge, Andrew Post, Teddy De- Dominicis, Steve Hall, Dave Lloyd from Middleburgh, Al McClure, Randy Inman andDonnie Hoskins,” said Scott Hymers. “Everyone has been great through all of this and we have had a lot of support.”

Source: The Reporter

Dairy Farmer Shares His Loss With Dairy Community on Social Media

Kipp Hinz of Hinz Registered Holsteins has always been an active member on social media, especially Facebook.  But recently Kipp has been going through similar challenges to most dairy farmers in this tough dairy economy.  But Kipp’s most recent comments on Facebook and the troubling decisions have stirred a great deal of reaction.  In fact in under 8 hours Kipp’s post (found following) had over 1,000 reactions, 300 shares and over 150 comments.  While this is certainly troubling times, its great to see social media is allowing us to support our members who are having a really rough go at it.

kippKipp Hinz’s Facebook post:

The word omission, is defined as a failure to do something, especially something one has a moral to do so. Failure, other than “to fail something” is the omission of expected or required action. In the last two weeks these words have been ringing in my head. Because two weeks ago I experienced the biggest failure of my life to date losing my beautiful herd of black and white bovines and my best friends. I lost my farm.

Iv reflected a lot since saying goodbye. Defeated, heartbroken, overwhelmed losing a dream of a 10 year old boy that prayed every night to one day have his own dairy farm. I let myself down, my family down, an industry down being a fairy tale of inspiration that came to a bad ending. My goal in pursuit was never to milk cows and just have a “farm”. But instead provide an opportunity for a son or daughter that I myself never had. An opportunity of passing down a herd that shared love and passion for cows in hopes that they too would love them like their father does with the morals of hard work, honesty, and integrity. All while being raised with the best most rewarding lifestyle anyone could ask for.

However for my 27th birthday I watched a trailer leave the driveway with cows I had raised from birth and they were never coming back. 6 years, I fought the endless fight. When I shared the news with someone they replied “Oh you gave up huh”. Umm no. I did not just give up. If someone is tied to an anchor and thrown in a lake. Did they give up breathing? No. They drown. And that being said this is how I describe this experience drowning in a financial, physical, and mental lake of hell. Constantly fighting to swim to the top reaching for air. But only to go deeper where the pressure grew tighter, darkness surrounded me, and finally I could not breathe anymore. The worst part was making the decision. The 10 days following the decision before the cows left I had to go through the everyday actions like nothing was wrong. Looking at my cows in the eye feeling like I was a walking lie knowing their lives were about to change, or end. You can not describe that kind of pain to someone. Pain that that makes you feel numb. Where you’re unable to concentrate, unable to eat without throwing up, unable to sleep without frantically waking up constantly through the night in disgust. And when the day came and the cows were gone the worst sound on the farm was silence. Silence that echoed the end of an era.

Now I face starting life completely over. Starting my farm from scratch I rose from what I called the bottom. Built up what I had visioned from day one. I made accomplishments I never imagined in my short time. But one thing never changed no matter how good or bad it was. The cows always came first. People say “Kipp went broke because he spent too much money” “Kipp went broke because he had a hired man” “Kipp went broke because of… you name it” You know what, they’re right. Kipp Hinz went broke not because he did not take care of his cows, but because he took EXCELLENT care for his cows. And was determined to do so every single day of those 6 years. Never let them suffer, never let them parish because of what he could not control. Every single decision was made with confidence and was thought out. I love the people who will judge that don’t even have the balls to even try something of their own. If I hadn’t worked, improvised, experimented, or risked it all like I did starting on day one I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did. I would not trade anything I did to settle for mediocre. And I would go back and make the same decisions every time. Show me someone who risked it all and never failed somewhere along the way. I have no regrets.

In fact I have ZERO regrets! None. I exploited and exhausted every single option or opportunity God provided me to a pulp trying to succeed. A friend has repeatedly told me “The dairy industry is the only industry where you can do everything right, and still fail.” That a corrupted industry filled with greed, selfishness, and lust for more doesn’t allow superior effort and skill to always win. I was finally at a dead end road and refused to put myself and my cows in the position I was forced into.

I am no stranger to failure. God has majestically had me experience many failures leading up to this. I have failed to clinch a state powerlifting title, missed the record breaking lifts, and have already been through a failed marriage to name only a few. But I know these failures were all part of Gods plan. And through those failures the experience gained helped me coop with this one. Tattooed on my arm is Psalm 56:3 that says “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you”. It is there for a reason. This is Gods plan and I have full trust in that plan. And it was put there to look at everyday and remember just that. On the other arm is “Live in vision, not circumstance”. It too is there for a reason. I know I have shared this many times and I’m here to say it again! I refuse to let my vision be determined by the damn circumstances I have to endure such as this. The greatest part about failures is the opportunity to learn. Without failure you would not gain experience. Wisdom would not be a word. And patience would not have the same meaning. With every one one of my failures I never ever woke up the next day and said that was it. I have always kept going. “The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart”. This will be no exception.

For now Hinz Registered Holsteins is gone. But the experience, wisdom, and patience I learned and the character Iv built for myself can not be taken away from me. “It is not how hard you get it, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” My work is not finished and I swear HRH will be back someday. When that time comes it will be bigger and better than ever before. God has a plan for me and it will take more than this to knock me out. It’s going to take some time, and I’m still looking for the next opportunity to present itself in my next chapter. But rest assured, Hinz Registered Holsteins will be back.

Feel free to share the shit out of this so everyone will know. If I have the balls to tell the world about my stories of success you bet your ass everyone will know I failed and own up to it