Archive for Youth Profiles

Preparing for the Future: Holstein’s Young Distinguished Junior Members

The National Junior Holstein Association is a dynamic organization for youth under the age of 21, with over 8,000 active members in 48 states. Eight finalists have been named in Holstein Association USA’s annual Young Distinguished Junior Member (YDJM) competition.

The YDJM recognition is designed to reward youth, ages 9 to 16, who demonstrate a firsthand working knowledge of the dairy industry. Applicants must participate in Registered Holstein®, dairy and other activities, be role models for other youth and good spokespeople for the dairy industry.

The 2018 Young Distinguished Junior Members Finalists are:

  • Eliza Endres, Waunakee, Wis., daughter of Randy and Karen Endres
  • Nathan Erbsen, Lanark, Ill., son of Carl and Becky Erbsen
  • Matthew Gunst, Hartford, Wis., son of Dennis and Nichole Gunst
  • Julia Heijkoop, Webster, Fla., daughter of Johan and Trisha Keijkoop
  • Hannah Hockerman, Westfield, Wis., daughter of Greg and Dawn Hockerman
  • Samantha Pitterle, Watertown, Wis., daughter of Mark and Val Pitterle
  • Audrie Risser, Lebanon, Pa., daughter of John and Alisha Risser
  • Blake Wright, Verona, Mo., son of Larry and Jodi Wright

Kelli Dunklee, Holstein Association USA & Holstein Foundation Program Specialist states, “One of the most important components of Holstein Association USA is its youth programs. The Young Distinguished Junior Member program, which began in 2004, recognizes the future of the dairy industry. This honor has become an extremely coveted award by honoring youth from across the country while drawing future leaders committed to Registered Holsteins.”

Applicants for the YDJM award complete an entry book, which summarizes their involvement with Holstein cattle and programs, as well as other extracurricular activities.

The eight finalists will be recognized during the 2018 National Holstein Convention, June 29-July 3, 2018 in Acme, Mich.

For more information about the YDJM contest or other Holstein youth programs, visit, or contact Kelli Dunklee at 800.952.5200, ext. 4124 or by email.

2018 Holstein Distinguished Junior Member Semifinalists

Semifinalists in the 96th Annual Holstein Association USA Distinguished Junior Member contest, a competition recognizing excellence in the Junior Holstein Association, are announced.

Established in 1922, this contest is the longest running Holstein youth program. The Distinguished Junior Member award is the highest honor given to members of the National Junior Holstein Association, ages 17 to 21, in recognition of a commitment to the Holstein breed and involvement in a variety of agriculture related activities.

The 2018 Distinguished Junior Members Semifinalists are:

  • Alexandra Gambonini, Petaluma, Ca., daughter of Frank and Stacey Gambonini
  • Daniel Kitchen, Danville, Pa., son of Randall and Patricia Kitchen
  • Haely Leiding, Fountain, Minn., daughter of Todd and Stacy Leiding
  • Kayla Leiding, Fountain, Minn., daughter of Todd and Stacy Leiding
  • Samuel Minch, Green Bay, Wis., son of Glenn and Shelby Minch
  • Austin Nauman, Norwalk, Wis., son of Danielle Nauman and Scott Stanford
  • Erin Norris, Westhampton, Mass., daughter of Karl and Lisa Norris
  • Joseph Opsal, Blue Mounds, Wis., son of Troy Opsal and Jane Sarbacker
  • Taylor Pool, Robesonia, Pa., daughter of David and Martha Pool
  • Nicholas Logan Potts, Purcellville, Va., son of Mike and Nancy Potts
  • Mary Scott, Westgate, Iowa, daughter of Mike and Kathleen Scott
  • Danielle Warmka, Fox Lake, Wis., daughter of Russ and Laura Warmka

Each of the semifinalists completed an entry book, detailing their Junior Holstein project work, involvement with their cattle, program participation, and school and community activities.

The twelve semifinalists will interview at the National Holstein Convention, June 29-July 3, 2018 in Acme, Mich. Six finalists are announced at the Junior Awards Luncheon on July 3 at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.

Finalists receive annual renewed memberships to Holstein Association USA. All Junior Holstein members, ages 17 to 21 are eligible to apply for the Distinguished Junior Member recognition.

For more information about the DJM contest or other Holstein youth programs, visit, or contact Kelli Dunklee at 800.952.5200, ext. 4124 or by email.

Kitchen Receives National Judi Collinsworth Award

Daniel Kitchen of Danville, Pa. is the recipient of the 2017 National Judi Collinsworth Outstanding Exhibitor Award from Holstein Association USA, Inc. This award recognizes youth for their outstanding Holstein project work and involvement with their cattle and dairy activities. Kitchen is the thirteenth Junior Holstein member to receive this honor, and receives a $500 scholarship.

The Judi Collinsworth Outstanding Junior Exhibitor Memorial Award is presented annually, in memory of former Holstein Association USA Executive Director of Member and Industry Services, Judi Collinsworth. Winners are selected at each of the four National Junior Holstein Shows, based on sportsmanship, herdsmanship and level of participation in Holstein activities. All winners receive a $250 scholarship and are invited to apply for the National Judi Collinsworth Outstanding Junior Exhibitor Award.

Kitchen is the 20-year-old son of Randall and Patricia Kitchen, and is working towards his degree in animal science at the Pennsylvania State University. He enjoys being involved in their home operation, Kitch-Vue Dairy Farm, caring for calves, assisting in herd health management and preparing animals for the showring. Upon graduation, Kitchen plans to return to the family farm and pursue a career as a dairy nutritionist.

“This award recognizes years of hard work, not only in the show ring, but also at home on the farm,” said Kitchen. “I look back at other recipients of this award and their success in the industry today and I’m humbled to be included in this group. This award gives me motivation to continue working with, breeding and developing quality Registered Holstein cattle.”

Kitchen has been an active member of the Pennsylvania and National Junior Holstein Associations for the past 10 years. He annually attends Holstein conventions and has competed successfully in several activities, including dairy jeopardy, the folding display contest and prepared public speaking at State and National levels. Kitchen served as a member of Pennsylvania’s Junior Holstein Association Executive Committee for three years. Recently, Daniel placed first in the All-American Youth Fitting and Showmanship Contest in Harrisburg, Pa.

Kitchen received the Judi Collinsworth Outstanding Junior Exhibitor Memorial Award at the Premier National Junior Holstein Show. Other winners at 2017 National Junior Holstein Shows include Jill Seiler, Valley Center, Kan., Southern Spring National Junior Holstein Show; Rachel McCullough, Juda, Wis., International Junior Holstein Show; and Erin Leach, Linwood, Kan., Grand National Junior Holstein Show.

The application for the Judi Collinsworth Outstanding Junior Exhibitor Memorial Award is available online at, or at each of the four 2018 National Junior Holstein Shows. For more information on Holstein youth activities, contact Kelli Dunklee at or 800.952.5200, ext. 4124.


Holstein Association USA, Inc.,, provides products and services to dairy producers to enhance genetics and improve profitability–ranging from registry processing to identification programs to consulting services.

The Association, headquartered in Brattleboro, Vt., maintains the records for Registered Holsteins® and represents approximately 30,000 members throughout the United States.

Top 10 Qualities Farm Kids Bring to the Workplace

Rachel Kagay, Leadership Development Manager, FFA Enrichment Center

In my experiences growing up on a farm, and in my line of work, I have interacted with a wide variety of people. Since an early age, I have always believed you can identify quickly upon meeting someone whether or not he or she grew up on a farm, have worked on a farm, or possess the ‘farm kid’ mentality. These students and young professionals possess recognizable talents and abilities that allow them to stand out from their peers. Without further ado (and in no particular order) here are the top 10 qualities kids that grew up on a farm bring to the workplace.

  1. Work Ethic
    ‘Farm kids’ are instilled with the value of hard work, and a great work ethic. They are resourceful and willing to stay until the job gets done, and done right. Often, this work ethic translates into a willingness to “get dirty” when necessary, and complete the work even when conditions aren’t ideal. Knowing the value of hard work also means that you can count on farm kids to have the determination to see a task through to completion, often without close supervision necessary.
  2. Responsibility
    Employers and co-workers often recognize their ‘farm kid’ colleagues are reliable and dependable. Responsibility is extended to ‘farm kids’ at an early age. Growing up, the rule in my home was “you eat after the animals eat”; my sister and I knew that we were accountable for having our chores completed before we sat down to the dinner table. In the workplace, these colleagues can be expected to accept take full ownership for their projects and work to get the job done right.
  3. Critical Thinking Skills
    Challenges often arise on a farm; addressing these issues develops skill in independent thinking, problem solving, ingenuity, and offering creative, innovative solutions. Through a social media discussion Katie C. shared, “[Farm kids have] the ability to solve problems and come up with creative solutions! I had a Kindergarten teacher tell me she can pick out the farm kids as early as kindergarten based on their ability to problem solve.” I believe this ability expands and deepens over time, serving as a great asset in the workplace.
  4. Flexibility
    Nature and the markets don’t always trend the way we’d like on the farm. In the workplace, this translates into the ability to be flexible as needed and make do with a given situation. I’m sure, like myself, many ‘farm kids’ can look back and remember mornings when plans were drastically changed due to escaped livestock– resulting in being late to church, work, or school. On the farm and in the workplace, sometimes things must be done that are not on our preferred time frame or schedule.
  5. Initiative
    Farm work imparts an ability to see what needs to be done, and then seek to accomplish that work. These individuals are driven, and typically have less hesitation in making decisions regarding work. ‘Farm kids’ take action on the work as necessary, without always needing to be given instruction or direction.
  6. Perseverance
    Persistence, endurance, and perseverance: all qualities that ‘farm kids’ bring to the workplace. They often possess a great internal drive, and can make hard choices when necessary. They know how to deal with disappointment, and have an optimistic outlook regardless of the situation. For many ‘farm kids’ their faith in a bigger plan empowers their perseverance and optimism.
  7. Team Player
    Very little work on a farm is done completely independently. In the workplace, ‘farm kids’ know that it takes the whole team to accomplish a project with the most success. While working independently is also a skill of ‘farm kids’, they bring a willingness to assist co-workers as needed. Often they are eager to do what it takes to support the overall work of the team or organization.
  8. “Real World” Skills
    Often ‘farm kids’ come to the workplace armed with practical, real world skills they can directly apply to their jobs. Often, these skills are in the practical areas of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as general agriculture. These skills translate into on the job common sense and ability that benefit themselves and their peers in the workplace.
  9. Respect
    Respect for others, respect for authority, respect for property are all learned on the farm. This often translates into being a colleague that knows how to extend respect to others, treat others well, and be open and coachable.
  10. Humility
    Farm work results in being rewarded over time for your labor, there’s very little instant gratification. In the workplace, this often translates to less of an “I deserve” attitude, a lack of pretentiousness. Through a social media conversation, Katy K. shared that this attitude develops from the fact that “you don’t reap the field of benefits if you didn’t plant, [you must] plant and care for it properly along the way.”

Please let me make one thing clear. I am not implying that only those that grow up on a farm possess these qualities, and that non-farm individuals do not have these abilities. I believe that growing up on a farm facilitates the opportunities for these skills to develop more naturally than it might for those without the same experiences or opportunities. There are other avenues for these skills to develop with conscious effort.

There is bonus 11th item for the list that I believe overarches all the others: Passion. Passion for the field of agriculture often translates into the workplace; it facilitates and motivates the other qualities on the list. We are engaged in this industry because we care, because we love it, and because we live it.


Source: Talent Harvest

Molly Westwood announced as Young Farmer of the Year at 2017 Food & Farming Industry Awards

Photograph shows Jessica Westwood collecting the award on behalf of Molly

Molly Westwood of Panda Holsteins has been announced as winner of the Young Farmer of the Year at the 2017 Food & Farming Industry Awards.

The Food & Farming Industry Awards are staged annually by Farm Business and Lewis Business Media to recognise excellence and innovation across the agricultural sector.

Molly was presented the Award at a prestigious ceremony, hosted by well-known political broadcaster, John Pienaar, at the House of Commons on Friday 1st December.

HYB member Molly is a true inspiration to all young farmers and is a shining example of what can be achieved with hard work, passion and determination. She left school at 16 and went on to gain experience based on a farm in Canada for four years. On her return, she set up Panda Holsteins, and within one year had successfully put the herd on the breeding map and started to make a profit!

Farm Business publisher, Simon Lewis, said, “Congratulations to Molly who was a deserved winner on the night. Once again these awards have highlighted the breadth and depth of talent, drive and ambition in the farming sector. We are delighted to recognise the achievements of the winners, but also all of those shortlisted, which, in itself, is a great achievement.”

Head judge, Sean Rickard, said, “As always, every category posed some real dilemmas for the judges, such was the excellence of all the entries. But congratulations to all the winners, who each managed to demonstrate something different and special about their businesses.”

Molly was nominated by Holstein UK for this prestigious award which is a fantastic accolade for her dedication to the promotion of the breed and her herd Panda Holsteins which is well on way to be being a global name.   Based in the South West, Molly is member of Devon HYB which supports the future generation of dairy farmers through seminars, workshops, competitions and networking in the UK and Europe. 

Molly Westwood said, “I am truly honoured and shocked to be awarded the Food & Farming Industry Awards Young Farmer of The Year, and would like to thank Holstein UK for nominating me. I also want to thank any fellow Holstein UK or HYB members, and my family, who have helped me along the way. I am certainly pursuing my dream of breeding and developing elite Holstein genetics of my own, and hope to inspire other young breeders who also have similar ambitions.

Miriam Bagley, Events & National HYB Coordinator for Holstein UK, commented, We are thrilled that Molly has been awarded this prestigious title – she is certainly a deserving winner!  What Molly has achieved with Panda Holsteins is a testament to her hard work and dedication.  She is a great ambassador for the Holstein breed and HYB, and is always keen to get involved with the Society’s events and awards.  With individuals such as Molly driving the industry forward, we should feel confident that the future of dairy farming is in safe hands.” 

UW students make good money, great contacts and awesome sandwiches at World Dairy Expo

Charlie Hamilton admits that he let his schoolwork slide in early October. The University of Wisconsin-Madison senior figured his time would be better spent flipping sandwiches on a grill or cleaning up after cows.

This might sound like senior slump, but it was anything but. He missed a few classes, but he learned a lot, made some money, made great career contacts and had a blast.

The first week of October is when Madison hosts World Dairy Expo, a five-day trade show that draws 75,000 visitors, 800 commercial exhibitors and several thousand world-class dairy cattle. The show happens just a couple miles from campus, and Hamilton and his classmates take full advantage. The UW-Madison’s Badger Dairy Club (of which Hamilton is president) organizes a large workforce for the event and operates one of its most popular food stands.


“I’ve heard the quote, ‘Don’t let grades get in the way of your schooling,’ and I would say that Expo week is the epitome of that,” says Hamilton, a dairy science major. “We not only learn about the dairy industry, but also about managing people and money and handling difficult situations. I would say some of those lessons are as important as anything we can ever learn in class, and there is no other way to learn it.”

Each year, about 100 UW students handle a wide variety of tasks at the dairy show, such as setting up and maintaining the show ring, staffing the milkhouse and cleaning out the barns. World Dairy Expo pays the workers, but the club recruits and schedules them and collects tax forms and time sheets. Students and World Dairy Expo both benefit, says Scott Bentley, the show’s general manager.

“World Dairy Expo could not happen without the annual contributions and labor from the UW-Madison students,” Bentley says. “During a three-week period they work thousands of hours to ensure that Expo runs seamlessly and professionally.”

The club also teams with the UW-Madison chapter of the Collegiate Farm Bureau to run a food stand that sells about 30,000 grilled cheese sandwiches (choices ranged from American and Swiss cheese to specialty varieties like pesto Havarti and smoked gouda) and 12,000 milkshakes. Earnings from the stand pay for some great field trips. Last year, for example, club members spent four days in California visiting dairy farms and processing plants.

Organizing things at World Dairy Expo is a crash course in leadership. The club appoints a general chairperson and co-chair to oversee the whole effort and others are assigned to manage individual work areas and handle business details.

“Being the club’s business chair at Expo allowed me to hone my planning, organizational, and communication skills,” says Marisa Klister, a junior in the UW-Madison’s pre-veterinary program. “My co-chair and I made a schedule of each day detailing when and where student workers needed to be picked up to be shuttled to Expo. We communicated with each other and the other chairs to accommodate changes in the schedule.”

Connor Willems, one of two students in charge of the cheese stand, had to manage both people and groceries.

“We go through roughly 1,300 lbs. of American Cheese and 700 lbs. of Swiss, 650 lbs. of butter and about 2,000 loaves of bread,” says Willems, a dairy science senior. “It requires good critical thinking to make sure we will have enough of everything but not so much that we are being wasteful.”

World Dairy Expo also lets students showcase their management skills in front of a key audience, points out Laura Hernandez, an associate professor of dairy science who is the club’s faculty advisor.

“The students have a microcosm of what it’s like to be in charge of something that’s really important and to be held accountable,” she says. “When they do a good job of it, all those industry people see how great they are at it. So they get to display their work ethic and also make contacts with people in different parts of the industry, which might lead to a job later on.”

Students also learn to manage their own time. Charlie Hamilton may have let his schoolwork slide a bit during the show, but he didn’t blow it off. He kept up by hitting the books extra hard before and after the event.

“We can’t be at two places at once, so it is important to start preparing well in advance. And after Expo is done, there’s always the task of catching up on school,” he says. “It really comes down to knowing your limits and what you want to accomplish. For me and a lot of other dedicated students, the learning experience and networking opportunities at Expo are worth missing a few classes.”

Source: University of Wisconsin



Junior Members are Honored for their Outstanding Registered Holstein® Cows

Holstein Association USA is pleased to recognize several youth every year for their achievements in breeding and developing exceptional Registered Holstein® cows. National Junior Star Performer Award 

The National Star Performer Award recognizes well-rounded Holstein cows with exceptional milk and component production, as well as admirable classification scores. The cow must be bred and still currently owned by their Junior Holstein breeder; have an RHA of at least 87%; be enrolled in Holstein Association USA’s TriStarSM production records program; have a 305-day or less lactation completed in the last calendar year, producing at least 25,000 pounds milk; and be classified Very Good-85 or higher. Once the eligible cows are determined, they are ranked based on a formula: (Combined ME Fat and Protein + Age Adjusted Classification Score) x (Breed Average ME CFP/Breed Average Age Adjusted Score). Annually, ten cows are recognized with this honor, with the highest-ranking cow being designated as the National Junior Star Performer. 

The 2016 National Junior Star Performer is Sunnyview-BK Large Awesome owned by Benjamin Todd Kronberg of Wisconsin. Awesome is classified Very Good-87 at 3-11, and calving in at 2-11, has a 305-day production record of 40,500 pounds of milk, with 1,475 pounds of fat and 1,214 pounds of protein. 

Continuing, the top 10 winners of this prestigious award for 2016 are: 
2nd place: Dinomi Mcctcn Kathy 9946, owned by Deena Migliazzo, Calif. 
3rd place: Siemers Hero Hil-Dawg, owned by Jordan C. Siemers, Wis. 
4th place: Hill-Ton Sidney Chrysalis, owned by Charles Conrad Hamilton, Wis. 
5th place: Frederickacres Dempy 698-ET, owned by Andrew R. Good, Pa. 
6th place: Mar-Linda-K Sterlng Raeanna, owned by Nicole K. Wright, Wis. 
7th place: R-Vision Fever Lavender, owned by Emily M. Irwin, Ill. 
8th place: Siemers Bradnick 19189, owned by Jordan C. Siemers, Wis. 
9th place: Tooky-Val Butze Maguire, owned by Abraham I. Robertson, N.H. 
10th place: Dream-Prairie FGG Oreo Mini, owned by Courtney E. Moser, Wis. 

National Cream of the Crop Award 

The National Cream of the Crop Award recognizes the top 75 Junior-owned Registered Holstein cows that have produced the highest combined pounds of fat and protein during a 305-day lactation. To be eligible for this award, cows must meet the following criteria: be owned by a current Holstein Association USA Junior member; have an RHA of at least 87%; be enrolled in the TriStar production records program; and have a 305-day or less record of over 30,000 pounds of milk completed during the calendar year, with the entire lactation being completed while the animal is under youth ownership. Once the pool of eligible cows is determined, cows are ranked on total pounds of fat and protein produced during the lactation. 

First place in the 2016 Cream of the Crop
 recognition group is Synergy Kamik Zelda owned by Hailey Rose Jauquet of Wisconsin. Zelda is classified Excellent-92, and calving in at 4-03, had a 305-day production record of 40,250 pounds of milk, with 2,252 pounds of fat and 1,267 pounds of protein. 

Rounding out the top 10 Cream of the Crop winners for 2016 are: 
2nd place: Balland Gold Diamonds, owned by Richard Donovan Ball, Idaho 
3rd place: Rose-Lyn S Storm Cypress, owned by Tori J. Evert, Wis. 
4th place: Foxberry Atwood Mazy 951-ET, owned by Kyle David Vanderfeltz, Pa. 
5th place: Show-Mar Money 1284, owned by Dylan Brantner, Pa. 
6th place: Ransom-Rail Gold Cando-ET, owned by Dylan Anderson, N.Y. 
7th place: Mayhill Atwood Thanks, owned by Lilly Meyer, Ind. 
8th place: Opsal Wlstar Dare Shot-ET, owned by Joseph Opsal & Cathyrn & Christopher Gunst, Wis. 
9th place: Jenny-Lou Crown 3212, owned by Allison, Lauren & Brayden Breunig, Wis. 
10th place: Show-Mar Louann 1195, owned by Dylan Brantner, Pa. 

Other recognitions that cows owned by Holstein Association USA Junior members can achieve include the National Junior Breeder of an Excellent Cow Award, National Junior Breeder of a Multiple “E” Excellent Cow Award, National Junior 150,000 Pound Lifetime Production Award, and the National Junior 200,000 Pound Lifetime Production Award. All eligible cows are automatically screened for these recognitions on an annual basis.

Help Save the All American Dairy Show and K.I.L.E.

The proposed 2017-2018 PA State Budget does not include any funding for the All-American Dairy Show or the Keystone International Livestock Exposition. The PA State Budget meetings are in their final negotiations. If the proposed budget passes, that means zero dollars from the state to support two of the largest premier agricultural events in the nation. These unique events do so much for our state’s economy, the local economy, PA agriculture, and most importantly, OUR YOUTH.

The economic impact of these events is remarkable. Thousands of exhibitors trek to the Susquehanna Valley to attend the shows, contributing $12.8 million to the region each year.  Both individual events rank in the “Top 25 Major Events,” according to the Hershey-Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau, showing the substantial return on the state’s relatively minimal investment.

Please help raise awareness before it is too late. We need to come together and show that these events help shape the future of our industry. Sign the petition to reinstate funding for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Shows. 

Let’s show Pennsylvania that we need continued state funding for our agricultural youth development. 

Here is the link to our presentation at the State Capitol on April 19th:


What can we learn from dairy cattle competitions?

Andrew Swale of the UK Classifier team gives his take on how we can all learn and benefit from competitions.

There are many ‘sayings’ about how we never stop learning and that every day is a school day, but have we ever stopped to think about how we all absorb different elements from the activities we see as pastimes and hobbies as part of our learning.

As members of HYB look towards National Competitions Day, taking place this year at Joseph Heler Farms (The Parkes) in Cheshire at the start of July, minds turn to stock judging and linear assessment. The importance of these skills should not be overlooked as they hold you in good stead to be able to assess the animals before you, wherever you may be. It is a great skill to be able to identify an animal’s strengths with a view to how she will perform within your herd. Additionally, if you are able to recognise any areas of weakness within an animal, you can go on to make informed breeding decisions by mating the cow with a sire that is known to help improve those traits in the next generation. 

Many people who have travelled through the ranks of HYB are now making informed decisions on cow selection themselves or are employed in the industry advising others on their breeding decisions. The additional skill of reason giving translates for many into being able to talk before a crowd with confidence and have belief in the words they are speaking; I was once told that you don’t always have to be right but you do have to believe in what you are saying in case the judge questions your placings, if only for a split second.

The learning does not stop when we become ‘too old’ for HYB; many of us attend our Club judging evenings and local shows, all with the view to seeing what animals are presented and how we would place them if we had been asked to ‘be in charge of proceedings’. Every time we do this we are increasing our knowledge of the breed, often alongside learning about the wider industry and, indeed, ourselves as we take a walk around the host farm/event. How many of us have gone home from an event and looked up the pedigree of an animal on the Holstein webpage, reviewed their ancestry and clicked on the factsheet to look at her linears? Before you know it you have reviewed half a dozen cows in the herd and spent some time learning without even realising it!

Social media is making things more accessible to all of us, but we need to have been grounded in the skills in the first place, to allow us to understand the information presented to us via all these different routes. We can then use the skills and knowledge we have acquired to make informed decisions, which will benefit not only our own herds but, in turn, the UK herd as a whole.

Source: Holstein UK

Panda progress driven by passion – Getting started in farming

Molly’s path to pedigree dairy breeding began in 2002. Her elder sister, Amy, was breeding and showing Dexter cattle and Molly also began to take an interest in preparing cattle for the ring.

“I hung on, as younger sisters do, and helped out and found it all really fascinating and enjoyable. I also thought it would make sense to show some of our own Holstein cattle.”

It was late 2004 when her father, Andrew, bought her a Christmas present which would pave the way to the career and the success she is enjoying today. It was a four-month-old heifer calf – Honesberie Charles Gem – from Nigel Hollick’s Northamptonshire-based herd.

“She was out of the Gem cow family – a pedigree leading back to Canadian genetics with nine generations of VG and EX dams.

“And she grew up to be a tremendous cow, classifying VG86 in her first lactation. Today some of her great granddaughters are winning shows across the country,” says Molly.

Molly is now based in Chumleigh, in Devon, but she ventured abroad before returning to the family farm.

In 2007, aged 16, she took a job working with the world-renowned Morsan Holstein herd in Alberta, Canada.

“I was offered the job while I was still at school,” she recalls, adding that former rep Chris Parry had recommended her for the job.

At that time, the Morsan herd comprised about 2,000 cows with a separate barn for the top-end show cows and genomic animals.

Molly was responsible for the day-to-day care of the show cattle, helping to prepare for shows and sales and assisting with marketing.

“I loved it – I was there for four years and then I faced a tough decision. Stay in Canada or come home and restart a herd in the UK, using all the experience I had gained.

“I’m a farming and a family girl, so it was a no-brainer really. But knowing there were some Panda ‘seeds’ left at home to work with which also helped me to make a decision.”

Her first heifer – Honesberie Charles Gem – was being cared for by close family friend Anne Harrison, who owns the Bassingthorpe Holstein herd at Boothby Pagnell in Lincolnshire.

Molly also bought five embryos from the Fools Gold cow family to bring home with her from Canada. These were from Stoneden Fools Gold – one of the cows she had been working with out there.

“She wasn’t necessarily the best of the bunch, but I could see her potential. She’s a unique Variant Red Goldwyn daughter.”

Embryos were produced using Golden Oaks ST Alexander.

“I think he’s a stylish sire and the only thing which the Fools Gold cow family lacked, in my opinion, was finesse and leg quality. I’d seen some Alexander calves on the ground and thought he’d make a good match.”

All five embryos held and resulted in a red and white bull, a black and white bull and three heifers. “We got lucky,” says Molly.

“The red and white sire, Panda Redfactor Red, was taken by Cogent – our first bull to be snapped up by an AI company – and all three Fools Gold heifers classified well.

“They all performed well in the showring with national titles as calves, and two have since been sold to other renowned UK herds.”

Source: FG Insight

Bringing the Next Generation Back: Create Policies

As family farms and ranches grow, both in dollars handled annually, and the number of individuals involved, a business approach to family and non-family employee management should be considered.

As discussed in Part 1, wealth management through salary and compensation analysis is an important component when bringing the next generation back to the operation. This article will focus on hiring and employment policies.

Employment Policies

“They are family, thus they deserve a spot in the operation.” This may not be a true statement for your operation. Depending on the skills, education and experiences the individual possesses they may be a good fit for your operation, or they may not. Farm managers that have a list of positions within the operation, (including job descriptions and employment requirements) have a decision aid when considering the addition of a family member into the business.

Policy Recommendations

Is there an open position?
The size of the operation will be a large factor in answering this question. Can the operation afford another family member being paid through cash and non-cash funds? Analysis of the operation’s financial status should be conducted to determine its financial trends. Operations that are determined to be profitable then need to evaluate what will be the effect of bringing an employee/partner into the business. There are likely short and long term costs and benefits to the decision, and these should be carefully evaluated prior to bringing the next generation back to the operation. 

If the financial situation warrants the addition of a family member, a written policy that lists the job duties of each positon can further be used to determine if the individual has the required skill set needed to improve the operation.

For example, if your operation is full of highly knowledgeable agronomy-based employees, do you need another agronomist, or would hiring someone with book keeping, marketing and financial analysis skills be more beneficial to your operation? If the policies are put into place before it is needed, high school and college age children can plan their educational career to prepare for the openings in the operation.

On the job training.
Work for someone else before you work for the family operation. Some families may be really excited about having the next generation return to the operation, and may skip this policy. However, consider that working for others prior to returning gives them time to learn good employee habits such as: arriving to work on time, looking for “what’s next”, learning to take orders from a manager or improving their people skills in a management positon. The length of time could vary from 3 to 5 years depending on your operation.

Do they have experience in areas you need to fill?
While working away from the operation, did the family member take advantage of their years working for someone else, or did they just “put in their time” before returning to the family operation? Time working somewhere else should improve their experience level in many areas and not be considered “marking time”.

The work experience is designed to make them “better” before returning to the operation. This time off the farm also allows them time to consider if the family operation is the “right fit” for them. There is one realization the farm family will need to keep in mind, the next generation will not be readily available to help with busy times (i.e. branding, synchronizing, planting, harvest, etc.) as they once were. They are now employed by another business and will be expected to be there during the busy seasons.

Supervision and Reporting Protocols

Determining who each employee will report to, and what the expectations of each person are, provides a clearer understanding about what is to be done, when it needs to be done, and who to report to. This accountability ensures jobs are completed, communication is occurring among all levels of management, and provides the basis for advancement or reprimand.

These expectations will vary depending on the position. Developing a flow chart can help clarify the reporting process. The flow of information should improve management’s decision making ability as they process and monitor the business.

As a component of employment, evaluations are typically done the first 3, 6 and 12 months after an employee is hired, and then yearly after that. Evaluations should be looked at from two perspectives:

  1. What areas are the employee excelling at, and where should improvements be made?
  2. What areas are the business excelling at, and where could improvements be made?

Open communication during this time allows the employee to become vested in changes made to the operation. Employees that have their voice heard regarding changes and improvements take pride in the place they work and strive to keep the business profitable, viable and a good place to work.

Advancement Opportunities
Family members may enter into employment with the family business with the expectation of being an enterprise manager, or even overall manager sooner or later. Policies that provide timelines and performance objectives related to the advancement provide incentives to improve their skills as there is a plan in place, compared to the “someday” timeline. This policy also addresses situations where a non-family member may currently be employed. Prevention of issues that may arise if someone feels they are being pushed out of a job they have held for period of time is a critical component of this policy.

In situations where grandparents and parents are involved in the operation, this timeline provides all involved with information regarding retirement considerations, including but not limited to how retirement will be funded for each generation and where all involved generations will live.

Other Business Policies

There are also policies that should be considered prior to needing them. If a plan is developed before it is needed, a consistent protocol can be implemented each time a situation comes up.

Investments in the Business
In some cases, heirs or non-related individuals may want to invest in the operation. Will this be allowed? Will investors be voting members in the operation? How will payouts be made? Off-farm heirs may see this as a way to remain involved in their family operation, without being occupied in the daily activities, and maybe this appeals to the owners, generally the parents. When the bylaws of the limited liability corporation (LLC) or the business entity are created those questions can be addressed and policy created prior to being needed.

Buyout Agreements
There may come a time where life leads one family member to another opportunity. If they have invested, been gifted or bought shares of the business, what kind of exit strategy has been developed to address this situation? The business may need to dissolve for a variety of reasons and this should again be addressed during the creation of the business entity.

Prenuptial Agreements
As ownership of the business is critical to the operation by active members of the business, prenuptial agreement policies can be part of the family business policies. The prenuptial agreement should provide protection in cases of death or divorce of the family members involved in the operation.

While most commonly known in relation to the division of assets during a divorce, the agreement can also provide stability for the surviving in-law in case of death of their spouse. As the business may own the house, and the salary of the spouse was an important financial contribution to the family, the agreement can provide a timeline for housing and any financial contributions the business will continue to make.

Intentional conversations, followed by hard work, then written down and shared.

As family farms move to becoming farm businesses, policies developed prior to their need, can reduce stress and problems that occur without them. To create these policies there will need to be intentional conversations about these issues. This conversation will then need to be followed up with hard work. Discussing them casually in the cab of the pick-up is not enough. They need to be well thought through, and most importantly, written down and shared with all family members and employees affected by these policies.


Source: iGrow

Minnesota Tops 16th National Dairy Challenge in California

Undergraduate students — 230 in total — from 37 colleges across North America traveled to Visalia, Calif., for the 16th annual Dairy Challenge (NAIDC). Seven dairy farms participated in the educational event. Dairy students worked to improve their dairy management and communication skills, networked with other students, and explored industry careers. Dairy Challenge is a unique, real-world experience where dairy students work as a team and apply their college coursework to evaluate and provide practical solutions for an operating dairy farm. In Visalia, two programs ran concurrently — the 16th national Dairy Challenge contest and the fifth annual Dairy Challenge Academy. The events were coordinated by the NAIDC Board of Directors and the western planning committee.

This year’s national contest included 34 universities, whose four-person teams competed for awards based on their quality of teams’ farm analysis and appropriate solutions. Their farm presentations were evaluated by a panel of five judges, including dairy producers, veterinarians, finance specialists and seasoned agribusiness personnel. The University of Minnesota’s national contest team included Johanna Knorr (Pelican Rapids), Andrew Krause (Buffalo), Fred Mansfield (Kerkhoven), and Lance Sexton (Millville). Dr. Marcia Endres coached the team. The team earned a First Place award with high overall scores. Judges were very impressed by the team’s assessment and presentation. The dairy producer also attended the presentation and told the team that their recommendations were really practical. “It was an outstanding performance by the team, I was very proud”, said Endres.

The Academy provided interactive training for nearly 90 students from four-year universities or two-year dairy programs. Academy participants were divided into smaller groups including students from various schools, and dairy industry volunteers worked as Advisors to coach these less-experienced Academy participants as they assessed the dairy and developed recommendations. The University of Minnesota students participating in the Academy were Ethan Dado, Trent Dado, Maddie Lindahl, and Austin Schmitt.

“Dairy Challenge is a tremendous collaboration between universities, dairy producers and agribusinesses — all working together toward a common mission to help develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders and continually improve the dairy industry,” said Amy te Plate-Church of Look East PR and NAIDC board chair.

NAIDC is an innovative event for students in dairy programs at North American post-secondary institutions. Its mission is to develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders and enhance progress of the dairy industry, by providing education, communication and networking among students, producers, and agribusiness and university personnel. Over its 16-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare more than 5,000 students for careers as farm owners and managers, consultants, researchers, veterinarians or other dairy professionals. The next national event will also be hosted in Visalia, Calif., April 12-14, 2018. Four regional events are held in late fall and winter;


Source: Minnesota Ag Connection

Scotland Launches Action Plan for New Generation Farmers

A 10 point action plan aimed at kick-starting a new generation of farmers by dramatically increasing the number of starter opportunities on public land has been published.

The recommendations, contained in the final report of a short life industry-led group, sets out how start-up grants, access to Basic Payments allied to advice and skills programmes can facilitate entry and allow individuals to develop.

Welcoming the publication of the report, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Supporting the next generation of farmers is a key priority to help build and grow our rural economy. New entrants are essential to any industry, bringing energy, enthusiasm, new ideas and approaches.

“We firmly believe that there is a supply of land in public ownership with the potential to offer a route into farming for new entrants. That is why we established this short life group to investigate how this land could be used to kick start the next generation of farmers, secure food production and boost our economy for years to come.

“I, therefore, very much welcome the New Farming Starter Opportunities on Publicly Owned Land report and would like to thank all those involved in pulling together such a comprehensive set of recommendations aimed at dramatically increasing the number of starter opportunities on public land.”

Henry Graham, Chair of the group said: “It was clear to all members of the group that new entrants are highly desirable and access to land is a key requirement. Those seeking to enter agriculture often require assistance to get on the first step of the farming ladder and the review found there is a supply of starter opportunities on publicly owned land. I now look forward to coordinating the New Entrants Opportunities Programme highlighted in the report.”


Source: The Cattle Site

Cali Girl at #WDE50 – Day 2

Good morning and welcome to day 2 of World Dairy Expo! This morning, I will be watching the Jersey cows parade through the show ring. I competed in dairy judging all through high school and then for two years collegially at Cal Poly.

But just because my official judging days are over doesn’t mean I won’t test my eye on these large classes of Jerseys, currently 36 animals in the ring!

Follow this link to watch the show live and see for yourself the incredible animals WDE has to offer:

#WDE50 #Celebrate50 #CAdairygirl


Over 850 companies are represented here at World Dairy Expo so multiple walks through the exhibitors hall is necessary! Each company is specific to dairy in their services and provide anything from the the newest technology to nutrition consultants, and ranging from local to global businesses. And not to mention the amazing shopping opportunities! I’ll be heading back later today to continue exploring. #WDE50 #CAdairygirl


What would Expo be without ice cream!? A must try at World Dairy Expo is sampling the flavors of the day at the Ice Cream Parlor in the Exhibition Hall.

Each day hosts new flavors such as Cookies and Cream, Cookie Dough, and Door County Cherry. But any day of the week, you can try the special anniversary flavor, Caramel Expo-losion! That was my choice today and I’d have to say it sure hit the spot.

As an added bonus, all proceeds go to benefit youth in agriculture through the FFA program.  I will definitely be visiting again this week! #WDE50 #CAdairygirl #icecream


Cali Girl at #WDE50 – Day 1

Good morning and welcome to World Dairy Expo, 50th Anniversary Celebration!

My name is Katie Migliazzo, a California girl that is more than excited to me back at Expo for the second time. I grew up in the Central Valley of CA where my family milks 800 registered Holsteins. Throughout the years, I have taken part in anything cow related: showing, quiz bowl, judging, etc. I am currently a Senior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo majoring in Dairy Science with interests in marketing and communications. Please join this #CAdairygirl as I explore the wonders of #WDE50 throughout the week!


World Dairy Expo is known for bringing people together. Whether it be old or new acquaintances, we love expanding our networks and bonding over our love for the dairy cow. I’ve had the chance to meet  my new friend, Jordan, who spent his summer interning at a dairy in California.

I also had the chance to hang out with my cousin, Deena, who competed in the post-secondary judging contest yesterday for Modesto JC.

 I may live 2,000 miles away but there’s quite a large dairy family beginning to gather here in Madison, Wisconsin. #WDE50 #CAdairygirl #newfriends


Friends for life — that is was the dairy industry has blessed me with!

Going way back to the years I competed at National Holstein Conventions, I met a girl from Pennsylvania, around 2009. Emily may have been a competitor at the time, but today we stood together on the sidelines of the show ring cheering on our favorite cows and discussing our future plans.

I’m so thankful for the dairy industry that introduced us and has allowed us to reconnect here at Expo! #WDE50 #CAdairygirl #friendsforlife

Pictured left: 2011 National Holstein Convention, Virginia   right: WDE 2016


Katie Anderson Awarded Dairy Youth Travel Scholarship

18-year-old Katie Anderson from Yarroweyah has been awarded the coveted Dairy Youth Travel Scholarship at the 2016 Royal Melbourne Show.

Conducted by The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV), the Dairy Youth Travel Scholarship offers compelling future development and career opportunities, providing the recipient with a $10,000 travel bursary to visit dairy regions in Asia, New Zealand or the USA.

The scholarship application process includes pre-Show elements of an essay and panel interview, as well as competing in either the All Breeds Elite Dairy Heifer Show or the Dairy Youth Handlers Classic.

Katie, who grew up on her family’s Sun Vale Holstein and Red Holstein stud, has had considerable success competing at International Dairy Week, regional country shows and Royal Shows across the country.

Today Katie was awarded the titles of Supreme Champion Parader and Senior Champion Parader in the Dairy Youth Handlers Classic.

Katie’s sister, Renee, was awarded Reserve Supreme Champion Parader, along with a number of blue ribbons in the All Breeds Elite Dairy Heifer Show.

RASV CEO Mark O’Sullivan said the scholarship gives an emerging dairy industry leader the opportunity to gain insight into global agricultural and food industries.

“RASV has a strong commitment to highlighting career opportunities and promoting future development for youth industry participants,”

“We congratulate Katie and look forward to supporting her in her travels to international dairy regions and retail markets.”


Source: Royal Melbourne Show

Team Canada takes part in EYBS 2016


Holstein Canada, in partnership with its branches, was pleased to send a team of six selected young leaders to participate in the European Young Breeders School (EYBS) in Battice, Belgium held August 31 – September 4, 2016. Earning a respectable eighth place finish at this year’s competition, “Team Canada” was comprised of Katelyn Crest (AB), Ava Doner (ON), Cameron Stockdale (ON), Julie MacFarlane (QC), Maxime Montplaisir (QC) and Kathryn McCully (NB).

EYBS is a week-long competition event encompassing all aspects of training and preparing animals for shows, as well as marketing animals and genetics. Teams from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the UK took part in this year’s competition. The EYBS opportunity allows participants to meet and network with like-minded youth from across Europe, while also providing an opportunity for participants to teach and share valuable tips and tricks with each other that may not be common knowledge in their respective countries.>

“I am very involved with my local dairy 4-H club here at home,” says Team Canada member Julie MacFarlane. “My aim is to bring the information and skills that I have gained back to my club to help the younger members improve their showmanship, clipping, teamwork, pack making and feeding skills.”

Holstein Canada and its provincial branches have been partnering to send a Team Canada to EYBS every year since 2013. Team members are selected by their provincial branches, and are winners of provincial competitions and/or successful candidates from an interview process held within their respective provinces.

“The trip to Belgium was great; making new friends, meeting new people and competing with members from across Europe, says Team Canada member Katelyn Crest. “It was a great experience and I was privileged to be able to take part in this event.”

A hands-on, interactive event, EYBS falls under the “Practical Learning Opportunities” pillar of the Holstein Canada Young Leader Program, with the added bonus of the international travel component. Young Leaders interested in becoming members of future EYBS teams are encouraged to contact their provincial Holstein Branch for more information.

Fearless or Fearful? Today’s Farm Kids are Both!

The kids are back in school.  Harvest season is swinging into gear.  Fall fairs are highlighting the 4-H and farm projects of future farmers. It seems that all’s well with the world until unfortunate headlines suggest that there is danger lurking behind the heartwarming scenes of farm kids, calves and trophies.


A recent discussion on The Milk House raised questions around 10 to 12-year-olds driving tractors, trucks and large pieces of equipment on the highway.

Here at Huntsdale, I look over the top of my computer screen, whenever something passes on the concession road.  It is still rare enough to be interesting!  Lately, I have become more aware of how young the tractor and equipment drivers seem to be these days and how fast they are moving down the road.  When my children were pre-teen, it seemed “okay” for them to drive a truck or tractor between the lanes and field entrances on the farm.  As a grandmother of eight city kids, I am much more concerned about everyone’s awareness.  Not just my own.

City kids have expectations of safety whenever they walk down a sidewalk.  Country kids (and adults) are not always aware of walkers, joggers, and bicyclists who don’t seem to respect the size, speed and blind spots of modern farm tractors and equipment.

Then comes the question of experience.

Some of the modern equipment and the size of the loads can be a handling challenge even for an experienced (aka adult) farmer.  Reaction time is something that takes repetition and judgment to master.  From the opposite perspective, these days we have to take into consideration the fact that there are non-farm drivers who are not paying attention or who are more and more often distracted by texting and cell phones.

Safety of our children and the public is the first priority.

Many kids start to learn to drive on the farm property itself.  However, knowing how to drive and being able to move around in traffic are two different skill sets. Keeping everything in the family, while overlooking the insurance risks, could be a sad way to lose everything, including the family. Everyone should take safety training. All decisions should be within the law.

Do you know the legal limit for drivers in your area? Is playing the odds making you reckless? Responsibility should be taken by everyone – grandparent, parents, children, staff and suppliers. As one contributor wrote on The Milkhouse “It only takes one accident to change everything for life” Another gave his heartfelt support. “To me, it is not worth putting my children’s lives in jeopardy. They are too precious.”


It is sometimes enlightening to look at things we take for granted from the perspective of those not involved in agriculture or dairying.  Almost everyone waxes nostalgic about their romanticized visions of life on the farm, but they come down hard on the idea of children being pawns in the search for profit.  Of course, if you’ve ever heard a farm kid lamenting pre-dawn chores or harvest season backaches, you might not be blamed for assuming that farm offspring are being taken advantage of.  Milk House comments acknowledge that there is a fine line between working with children and overworking them.  “Honestly, if you cannot afford to hire older experience help, perhaps it’s time to reassess the sustainability of your operation.”  One stated emphatically, “We should be allowing children to be children and not making them free slaves.”

It is best when everyone shares a mutual goal and a vision for a successful sustainable farm. As with any logistical situation, however, there are several ways to get to the same end result.  Good communication will make sure that everyone experiences the passion and success of working on the dairy farm, without sacrificing their personal development.  Children raised on farms often look back and acknowledge how their farm work experiences benefited them in their job searching and securing of employment.

When the experience is positive, it is usually possible to point to the way in which inter-generational teamwork, discussion, and open communication solved problems before they could become urban legends or scare-inducing newspaper headlines.


It is only natural for parents to want to protect their children from the unpleasant aspects of life. Sad experiences are part of the package that comes with raising food producing animals.  It seems unfair that the closeness that develops in selecting, training, showing and raising a farm animal can also include illness, sale or (death). The upside is that farm kids can learn and participate in gaining a realistic view of the process and purpose of raising animals for food production.  They can experience justifiable pride in taking responsibility for doing a good job with their animals. Nevertheless, at some time or other all dairy kids experience seeing their beloved first calf sold or auctioned off to a different farm or sent to market for beef.  It was a heart-wrenching experience for all of us when the Huntsdale dairy herd sold. Even at age 10 Andrew was there videoing the memories, while tears streamed down his face. Sometimes unexpected illness has a devastating outcome.  Once a calf had a heart attack and died while being led around the barn yard. The times when there isn’t a logical explanation are the ones that are hardest ones to help young family members to deal with. Avoiding the experience isn’t the answer. It is good to talk frequently about the full range of outcomes that may happen. At the end of the day, everyone looks forward to participating in the next new beginning. Celebrating successes is part of making the goodbyes easier to handle.  Unfortunately, not everyone sees life and death on a dairy farm as natural or even acceptable.

img_2211Farm Youth Are Being TARGETED by Animal Rights ACTIVISTS

When animal rights activists attack the dairy industry or its associations or even particular farm practices, we are becoming practiced at projecting a Teflon image and letting the extremist viewpoints run off while, hopefully, taking constructive steps to address any potential problems.  Having said that, we don’t have such a balanced viewpoint when we are presented with the rising reports of animal rights activist groups disrupting agricultural youth events and activities. Their claim is that “animals are being denigrated, enslaved and killed.” While espousing that they are concerned about the care and respect shown to animals, they have no problem throwing blood on contestants. It is happening often enough, that proactive groups are preparing media statements, appointing spokespersons and establishing and posting animal welfare policies

It would be easy to end our discussion with the feeling that life on the farm is more down than up. That simply isn’t true.  And there really is truth in the idea that we can learn and benefit from the hard times that we find our way through.  As mentioned previously, actual experience in dealing with problems …. good work ethics and intergenerational teamwork and communication means that farm children who grow up actively involved in the dairy operation, also grow up better prepared to enter the workforce – whether it’s on or off the farm.  There are many groups such as the Animal Agriculture Alliance ( that are prepared to provide resources and advice. A key message that they endorse is “If you do end up confronted by protestors, remember that their goal is to provoke you into conflict and create a scene. They thrive on publicity of any kind – avoid giving it to them by not engaging.”


When it comes to the emotional side of farming, there will always be a full range of experiences.  Teamwork and good communication can often sway the potentially negative results toward the positive. It is always better to be prepared by acknowledging that there is a fearful side to dairy farming.  Sometimes it can be controlled by good training, setting safety protocols and establishing animal welfare practices. Other times, we face a challenge that is outside of our own control, and we must respond to unexpected and unpleasant attacks. At all times, we need to proactively support each other and, especially, our youth as we work together to maintain safe learning experiences both on and off the farm.

Teaching our kids to show dairy cows – toxic or worthwhile?

As we roll into fall, there is a whole smorgasbord of competitions to get excited about.  Sure the Olympics are over, but the American election, baseball season and football are just getting underway.  Of course, most of us aren’t part of those races, but we love being armchair quarterbacks and statistical analysts.  We have loud and often heated discussions about the basic dishonesty of the candidates, the players or the league themselves. Likewise, when it comes to the dairy industry that we are part of, there is huge debate about whether the competitive aspects of the dairy show ring are worthwhile or toxic.  Beneficial or detrimental?

This year, as in every year up until now, as show season heats up so do the arguments about why competition is bad, pointless or fixed. “There’s no way we are going to win at that show! “some say. And, of course, they’re right! They’re not going to win…because they have already eliminated themselves from the competition. Their bias against competition has guaranteed their defeat.  At Huntsdale we’re biased too!  We love competition.  Kids! Calves! Trampolines or Vacuuming!  Give Murray and I something that needs doing and we will find a way to make it into a competition. (Read more: For Love of the Ring)

Murray teaching three of his grand children to show calves.

Murray teaching three of his grand children to show calves.

“You Can’t Find Excitement if There isn’t a Contest.”

As long as I can remember, for me both fun and work incited passion, if competition was involved. When I had children of my own, this began to change. Most adults reading this article will have been touched by the “competition is unhealthy” trend.  As a teacher, I was strongly discouraged from using competition as a motivator. As a parent, I have watched children completely lose interest in entry level sports where no one keeps score, there are no league winners and no 1st, 2nd or 3rd place trophies.  Everyone gets the same participation ribbon and the end-of-season pizza party. And everyone is bored! The theory is that this avoids the anguish associated with competitive sports for young players. It also bears no resemblance to what they see their parents getting passionate about. Is it any wonder that video games hold so much appeal?

“If you want to Win, you’ve got to be focused on the Goal”

We aren’t so far past the Olympics in Rio that we have forgotten seeing what it takes to be the best in a competition.  Winning Olympic athletes eat, breathe and sleep their sport.  Competitive, dairy farmers and their families are also familiar with the 24/7 lifestyle that is needed to achieve success. And, like athletes, the training begins early in life. In one case, it’s to become the best at a sport.  In the other, it’s to produce the best dairy animal in the ring.  From the outside looking in, it may seem that this desire to win, borders on obsession.  For those young dairy exhibitors who achieve the highest level of success, passion is needed.  Those who “settle for average” or “I got the t-shirt” or “I’m in it for the experience” have never taken their dairy passion to the next level.

“You’ve got to Train and Be Prepared”

Those who reach the podium do so because they have a focused plan and routine. There are daily repeated actions.  You don’t suddenly enter the show ring on show day and automatically have a calf that exhibits proper head carriage, and that is under control at all times. The kind of style that sets winners apart from the group takes training and preparation.  Champions, in any field, take the time to discover what is required to perform at a higher level every day.

“There’s no such thing as effortless competition.  Winners are average dairy people who have made above average effort.”

I thoroughly enjoy working with young people with agricultural backgrounds who compete in speaking or writing about agriculture or by showing their calves at dairy shows.  The challenge for them and I is to stop thinking about the reasons why they won’t win: “I’m too young” “I’m not well-known” or “The judges don’t recognize how much I’ve put into this.” The challenge is to think about how hard the judge’s job is.  I tell them, “Judges have a short amount of time to separate the best from the rest.  Your job is to make their job easier!” Whether it’s speaking from a stage or walking around a show ring, you have to demonstrate what makes you stand out from the crowd.  And by that, it’s not how you draw attention to yourself.  It means that you have done everything in your power to make sure that your calf is the center of positive attention.  Well-trained.  Effortlessly set up.  Your speech is polished, entertaining and unique. Winners gain a competitive edge by doing all those little things every day that the competition doesn’t.

“Don’t Blame Your Results on Bad Judging”

We all know, there can be what appears to be biased judging. However, to use that as an excuse for poor performance is only hurting yourself and your show ring goals.  In the big picture, judges only have their reputations to fall back on, if they want to continue judging and make an impact on the dairy industry.  In the show ring, there is one judge, but everyone at ringside is watching and judging the outcome too.  Leave the excuses at home.  The judges don’t know that you practiced with your calf every morning for three months.  They don’t know that your calf has just recovered from a severe hoof trimming job.  All they see is what is in front of them.  This isn’t about what you did at all the local shows leading up to this competition.  It’s not about how well you do most of the time.  It’s about giving 110% right now.

“It’s not about how far you have come. It’s about where you’re going from here!”

We all know our story.  We are aware the obstacles we have overcome.  We usually have a great support team who build us up with encouragement for everything we have achieved. As we rise to higher levels, we need to remember that that competition is also increasing. The greatest success happens when we do well against those we recognize as being a good or better than we are. Having said that, it’s not about beating particular opponents.  This is no time to worry about who you are up against.  In reality, you are always in a fight against your biggest opponent…yourself.  The weaknesses that could make you lose are your fears, your doubts, and your poor preparation.  Don’t run from identifying these chinks in your armor.  Knowing your weaknesses and those of your calf is the best preparation you can have if you are determined to make it to the podium. Do the best with what you have. Don’t settle for anything less! And when you win, be humble and then…. prepare for your next challenge.

“Nothing is a sure thing.  Problems happen.  Learn how to handle defeat.”

It is especially discouraging when you feel you have given your absolute best effort and still did not win.  It seems trite but sometimes we learn more from failure than from success.  We all feel for athletes who carry great expectations on their shoulders and then face defeat.  The same thing happens in the dairy ring.  Learning how to handle failure builds character.  We get to admire those who accept the better taste of loss and move on—no matter how difficult that might be.  If we want the next generation to be successful in the dairy industry, this is probably one of the most important things to help them to understand. You’re never too young to learn to face challenges and test your will to persevere. It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, you’re never out for the count until you fail to get back up!

Three Ways to Change the “Win at All Costs” Attitude

As much as I would like to proclaim that there is no downside to competition, we all know that isn’t true.  Some evidence suggests that competition can promote anxiety and damage self-esteem.  It takes courage against this evidence to prepare children for the reality of the real world and particularly for the challenges of the dairy industry.

It seems that we seek a middle road that encourages conditions that make competition enjoyable while still enhancing performance. While seeking the podium or the trophy, we want to encourage our children to see the bigger picture of how excellence helps the larger dairy industry.

Our peers are not our competitive enemies.  Instead, they are setting higher benchmarks that we all seek in raising and showing better dairy animals. Three simple steps to make competition healthier include

  1. Encourage more children to get involved in competition.
  2. Recognize excellence and effort when others achieve it.
  3. Be a resource for training and support for those who seek to improve.

These basic steps are aimed at a spirit of cooperation even in the midst of competition. When our children lose, as they inevitably will, they will learn to accept encouragement for the next time.  The goal is to take the emphasis off winning and put it on mastery. In this way, the individual, the team — the dairy — will grow in the process.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

I am always trying to improve my ability to seek cooperation over competition so that I can build stronger teams at home and in the community. One morning recently Murray and I met at the coffee maker after we had been working in separate rooms preparing articles for The Bullvine.  I’m writing on “competition in the show ring.” I said.  “I’m nearly finished the one I started!” bragged Murray and added, “I will send it off soon!” Hmmm. “Not if I send mine first!” I replied. The coffees were forgotten, as we both hastened back to our desks. Competition.  For sure! Cooperation. A work in progress.



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2016 Ontario Dairy Youth Award Winners Announced

The Ontario Dairy Youth Award selection committee is pleased to announce the winners of the Ontario Dairy Youth Award for 2016. Established in 1980, the competition recognizes young people aged 25-35 who are actively involved in the operation of a dairy farm, who have demonstrated leadership and taken an active role in their communities and within their breed has taken place.
These four lucky winners will receive all-expenses paid trip to World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin this fall. The Ontario Dairy Youth Award is funded through the Ontario Dairy Youth Trust Fund and Gay Lea Foods.

WESTERN – Derek Van Dieten (519-441-3286) •
After graduating from university in 2007, Derek returned home to Huron County and within a year along with the help of his parents, transformed a bare-bones 150-acre farm into a fully functioning dairy. He is grateful for all the support received by family, friends and neighbours, and will never forget the day he milked his first cow in his new free-stall sand-bedded barn: September 8, 2008. Today he milks his 90-cow herd in a swing 8 parlour three times daily, with the help of three part-time milkers who handle the evening milkings. He began with just 26 kg of quota and cull cows from nine different herds, but today he fills 130 kg of quota with a BCA of 272-298-267. His herd is over 50 per cent Very Good or better and in 2011, he had his first homebred Excellent cow. Two years ago, Derek added 40 stalls and a straw pack to his barn. A second manure pit and plans for another barn for close-up cows are currently in the works. Derek is a past Director of the Huron County Holstein Club and served as President in 2013. He is currently in his third term as the 2nd Vice-Chair of the Huron County Dairy Producer Committee.

WEST-CENTRAL – Laura Schuurman (905-869-1015) • Laura is a full-time employee at Summitholm Holsteins. The 400 milking cow operation consists of two free-stall barns for cows and heifers, an 80-calf pack barn for calves two to six months old and 40 hutches. Cows are milked three times a day in a double-12 parallel parlour and have continual access to high-quality, fresh TMR feed. Since becoming involved in the operation seven years ago, Laura has brought the calf mortality rate down from almost 10 per cent to less than one per cent and increased the average daily weight gain in pre-weaned calves from approximately 700 grams to almost 860 grams per day. Laura has helped create an Ovsynch program to increase pregnancy rates from 23 to 26 per cent and decrease average days open to 115 from 130. She’s also installed the HeatTime system in an effort to maintain an average first calving age of 22.4 months. Laura has recently restarted her own prefix within the herd and plans to increase the number and value of her cows. She is currently Vice-Chair of the Brant-Wentworth Holstein Club and serves as a Director for the Hamilton-Wentworth 4-H Board. Laura leads the 4-H calf club in Ancaster and enjoys supplying calves to local 4-H’ers.

EAST-CENTRAL – John Werry (289-830-2879) • John milks 75 cows in Ontario County, in partnership with his wife, Heather, and parents, Dennis and Cindy. Their new compost bedded pack barn, designed by John and built last spring, features a GEA M1One robotic milking system, milk taxi pasteurizer and stress-free calving area. In addition to improving efficiencies, the new facility was designed for cows to “be comfortable, make milk and get in calf.” John spent a decade gaining expertise in both the genetic and nutritional fields of the dairy industry before returning to the home farm. All feed is grown on the farm and some rented acreage provides the opportunity to cash crop soybeans and corn. He uses proven sires on top-ranking cow families to maintain the herd’s focus on type. With 20 VG 2-year-olds last year and a BCA of 220-235-220, John and his family are excited about the herd’s progress to date. Going forward, he’d like to construct a new facility to house dry cows and bred heifers, expand to a third robotic milking stall and purchase nearby land as it becomes available. John also plans to continue to aggressively purchase quota (they’ve expanded from 74 kgs to 95 kgs since he became involved) to eventually fill the 200 kgs a third stall would allow for. John is an Official Judge with Holstein Canada, Past President of the Ontario County Holstein Club, a Director on the Durham Region Milk Producers Committee and a member of the East-Central Junior Show Committee.

EASTERN – Jason Gould (613-432-0478) • Jason and his family milk 55 cows in a tail-to-tail tie-stall barn in Renfrew County. His mom, Vera, is in charge of the farm books and helps in the barn as needed, while Jason, his dad, Barry, and brother, Scott, focus on the cows and the family’s 24,000 boiler chicken operation. The herd, which achieved Master Breeder status in 2014, consists of 7 EX, 47 VG and 16 GP and over 90 per cent of cows have a Very Good or Excellent dam with stars. Cows at Gouldhaven are fed TMR four times daily, with one ration used for all milking cows. The family crops alfalfa hay, wheat, corn and soybeans in rotation and purchases some straw and dry hay each year. Several changes over the years have helped the herd improve. Raising the roof in their old barn by four feet and installing new lights and fans in 2005 helped boost milk production and reproduction. They increased the size of the the old stalls in 2011 and put on an addition with 12 more stalls, three box stalls, a feed storage area and a wash area. Going forward, Jason and his family plan to purchase more chicken and dairy quota. Their five-year plan is to build a heifer and calf barn and continue to buy big-framed animals from good cow families. Jason is currently 2nd Vice President of the Renfrew County Holstein Club. He is passionate about hockey and after playing six years of Junior hockey himself, became the head coach for his local Junior B hockey club. He has coached and mentored at the minor level and acts as a Scout for a number of organizations in Toronto.

Holstein Quebec Preparation School 2016

Holstein Quebec successfully hosted their annual Preparation School, in Victoriaville, QC this past weekend. 45 young participants had the opportunity to learn and deepen their knowledge of the art of preparing animals for show. They learned the best tips and tricks throughout the school from some of the top professionals in the industry, that allowed them to compete Monday against each other and to put into practice what they learned. All heifers were from four farms in the area, Comestar, Deslacs, Fleury and Milibro.




Individual Results
1. Julie MacFarlane
2. Francis Blanchette
3. Lydia Auger
4. Karina Lessard
5. Devin Keenan
6. Adam Desrochers
7. Jonas Gyger
8. Marie-Rose Morneau
9. Michelle Vidal
10. Jérémie Morneau

Best Team (7)
Patricia Ayotte, Jonas Gyger, Francis Blanchette, Karina Lessard, Naomi Tourigny & Kamylle Ten Have

Clipping Results
1. Francis Blanchette
2. Julie MacFarlane
3. Laurie Boisvert
4. Marie-Rose Morneau
5. Félix Lemire

Showman Championship
Lydia Auger
Marie-Rose Morneau
Julie MacFarlane

1st Showmanship Class (11)
1. Marie-Rose Morneau
2. Jérémie Morneau
3. Savannah Crack
4. Félix Lemire
5. Jérémy Patry
6. Naomi Tourigny
7. Carolane Simon
8. Ashley Cavers
9. Jessica Coddington
10. Kamylle Ten Have
11. William Roy

2nd Showmanship Class (9)
1. Karina Lessard
2. Devin Keenan
3. Adam Desrochers
4. Charlie Lefebvre
5. Brogan Keenan
6. Maxime Ouellet
7. William Baumgartner
8. Jeremy Dohmen
9. Ariane Côté

3rd Showmanship Class (11)
1. Julie MacFarlane
2. Michelle Vidal
3. Jonathan Clavreul
4. Thomas Vigeant
5. Alexandre Illand
6. Jonathan Scott
7. Chloé Rivard
8. Elisabeth Gagnon-Brassard
9. Patricia Ayotte
10. Catherine Gagné
11. Coralie Le Clezion

4th Showmanship Class (11)
1. Lydia Auger
2. Jonas Gyger
3. Francis Blanchette
4. Laurie Boisvert
5. Claudie Desrochers
6. Ophélie Houget
7. Amélie Bouvier
8. Agnès Moisan
9. Alexandre Côté
10. Jacob Bélanger-Lavigne
11. Cynthia Houde

Successful 2016 Northeast Show Calf Summit Held


Another successful Show Calf Summit is in the books.  A different date and location did not seem to deter youth from attending.  100 youth from around New England & New York, came to Rutland to take part in the Summit.  Interestingly, it was like a new generation of youth attended.  Of the 100 youth 68 were 12 years or under and with limited showing experience.  However that does not mean they were not sharp as a tack.  They peppered the presenters with questions from start to finish.  With this number of youth, it made for small groups and the chance for hands on experience.

How to make a bedded pack with Pat Lundy.

How to make a bedded pack with Pat Lundy.

The presenters this year were Callum McKinven, Lookout Holsteins & Jerseys,  Quebec; Jenny Thomas, Triple T Farm, Ohio; Pat Lundy, Luncrest Farm, New York; Matt Senecal, Arethusa Farm, Connecticut; Elizabeth Olson, Vermont/Minnesota; Ariel Garland, Vermont; Kyle Thygesen, Vermont; Bonnie Burr, Connecticut and Martha Seifert, Vermont.  Subjects covered were Selection, Clipping, Public Relations, Show Savy, Showmanship, Nutrition, Washing and Making a Bedded Pack.  The Seward Family of East Wallingford, VT brought in 15 heifers for the groups to work on.  On Friday evening, Nicole Fletcher from Massachusetts who coaches the New England Quiz Bowl Team, worked with the group on Dairy Jeopardy and provide information about other programs that the youth could participate in.

Generous sponsors made this whole event possible.  Each participant received a tee shirt, nylon halter, pad board and pen.  There were numerous door prizes with the top three being two sets of clippers and a top line blower.  Sponsors included Ag Enhancement, Farm Credit; Yankee Farm Credit; Phoenix Feeds; Poulin Grain; Select Sires; New England States Holstein Assoc.; Bob White Dairy Equipment; Salem Farm Supply; Stoneyfield Yogurt; Green Mtn. Dairy Promotion; Agritech; Mycogen Seeds; Orleans County Farm Bureau; Shur-Gain/Nutreco; Cargill Feed & Nutrition; Prince Ag Products; Cattle Connection; Hi-Pro;Performance Products; NASCO and Valley Vet.

The Otter Creek 4-H Club provided lunch before everyone headed for home on Saturday.

Four ways parents can model good sportsmanship at shows

13083160_10209248739806392_3544273173033517923_nAt any given time, a livestock or horse show can be exciting, stressful, emotional and exhausting for competitors and their parents. With all of the buzzing around and competition, the environment is ripe with opportunity to behave in a very unsportsmanlike manner; parents, this is your opportunity to lead by example!

Michigan State University Extension recommends these four easy ways you can model good sportsmanship at shows:

  1. Actively praise and congratulate others. Everyone likes to be congratulated for a job well done! For adults to genuinely and actively recognize other youth for their accomplishments, even if it is just “great job out there” or “I love watching you show,” it becomes a normal part of the show.
  2. Show compassion. Even the most successful showman has disappointments and setbacks during their showing careers. All too often we gravitate towards the negative, but reality is that people who are successful have countless hours of hard work and a large emotional investment into their projects. Parents can model good sportsmanship by extending a kind word to others when they are struggling. This creates an environment where people feel cared for, supported and connected. When in doubt, always be kind.
  3. 10580046_588801937897349_8413261626835393466_nDon’t criticize others. The old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” can go a long way. We all have opinions; however, it is up to us how to word those opinions so they don’t hurt or disparage anyone else. We may not agree with the judge’s placing that day or perhaps we would have managed the show differently, but we must show respect to those people because after all, they’re all people. The beauty of life is that we don’t all think and operate the same way. Finding the value in another person’s critique of our performance, learning about different ways to manage shows and observing others free from judgement allows us to learn a great deal.
  4. Take care in being your child’s biggest fan and greatest analyzer. Finding balance between when to sing your child’s praises and when to give them advice on their performance is key. When parents continue singing their child’s praises, the child may feel an enormous amount of pressure to not let their parents down. On the flipside, when you constantly and ruthlessly analyze your child’s performance and point out what they could or should have done, the child may begin to feel inadequate and unworthy of praise. Striking the balance between the two is hard; a simple approach is to turn to your child. Ask them how they think they performed. If they were happy, encourage and enjoy that moment. If they felt they could have improved, offer support to help them meet their goal.

To learn more, visit the Michigan 4-H Animal Science website.

Holstein Association USA Recognizes 2016 Young Distinguished Junior Member Finalists

Holstein Association USA has announced the finalists in the 2016 Young Distinguished Junior Member (YDJM) competition. The YDJM award is the highest honor a Holstein Association Junior member between the ages of 9 and 16 can achieve.

The eight finalists in the 2016 YDJM competition are: Todd Allen, Jefferson, Md.; Jordyn Griffin, Union Bridge, Md.; Kaianne Hodorff, Eden, Wis.; Kalista Hodorff, Eden, Wis.; Johnathan King, Schuylerville, N.Y.; Hannah Nelson, Ellsworth, Wis.; Kylie Nickels, Watertown, Wis.; and Madison Weaver, Ephrata, Pa.

To qualify, a youth must compile a portfolio which demonstrates their involvement and leadership within the Holstein community, their school, and in other aspects of their life.

In his Story of Junior Holstein work, sixteen-year-old Todd Allen talked about his involvement in his community and breed association. “Being an active youth of Holstein Association USA has given me a life-changing impact over the past sixteen years. My knowledge and experiences of exhibiting cattle, and participating in dairy bowl and dairy judging, and on-the farm management tasks have given me not only many exciting opportunities, but also a passion for the industry,” he wrote.

“My farm responsibilities are many and varied which is helping me prepare for my future by increasing my knowledge and understanding of the farm’s operations and allowed me to experience the complete life cycle of our animals,” said sixteen-year-old Kalista Hodorff in her story of Junior Holstein work.

Finalists in the YDJM contest will be recognized at the National Holstein Convention, which will be held June 27- July 1 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. For more information about YDJM or other Holstein youth programs, , or contact Kelli Dunklee at 800.952.5200, ext. 4124, or by email

2016 Holstein Association USA Distinguished Junior Member Semifinalists Announced

Holstein Association USA has named six semifinalists for the 2016 Distinguished Junior Member (DJM) awards. The Distinguished Junior Member recognition is the highest honor given to members of the National Junior Association ages 17 to 21 who demonstrate a lifetime of commitment to the Holstein breed and involvement in a variety of activities.

This year’s semifinalists are: Matthew Kramer, St. Cloud, Wis.; Lucas Plamann, Hutchinson, Minn.; Nicole Pralle, Humbird, Wis.; Elizabeth Sarbacker, Verona, Wis.; Jordan Siemers, Newton, Wis.; and Kayla Windecker, Frankfort, N.Y.

Each of the semifinalists completed an entry book, detailing their Junior Holstein project work, involvement with their cattle, program participation, and school and community activities.

“I could never imagine my life without the dairy industry or Junior Holstein,” said Kayla Windecker of Frankfort, N.Y., in her Story of Junior Project Work. “The opportunities offered and the people I have met have become unforgettable. It is my dream to be able to give back to the industry that has helped shape and mold me into the person I am today and the person I hope to become in the future.”

“Through perseverance, hard work, and calculated decisions I’ve been able to achieve many goals as a member of the Junior Holstein Association,” Jordan Siemers, of Newton, Wis., wrote in his story. “As I transition to an adult member of Holstein Association USA, I will use the skills I learned as a Junior Holstein member for the good of our farm and for my involvement in the Association.”

The six semifinalists will interview at the National Holstein Convention, June 27- July 1 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where the finalists will be selected. Finalists receive annual renewed memberships to Holstein Association USA. All Junior members of Holstein Association USA ages 17 to 21 are eligible to apply for the Distinguished Junior Member recognition.

For more information about DJM or other Holstein youth programs, visit , or contact Kelli Dunklee at 800.952.5200, ext. 4124 or by email at

Tomorrow’s Dairy Leaders Stormed New York for 2016 Dairy Challenge®

2016NAIDC-FirstPlaceTeams-300x179Nearly 250 future leaders of the dairy industry gathered in Syracuse, New York, for the national Dairy Challenge held April 7-9, 2016. The event brought together 39 colleges from 29 states and three Canadian provinces to learn technical dairy skills, network with other students and explore industry careers and innovation.

“Dairy Challenge is a premier dairy event, providing education, communication and networking among students, producers, and agribusiness and university personnel,” explained Barry Putnam, Northeast Dairy Challenge committee chair.

The North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC) allows dairy students to work as a team and apply theory and learning on a real-world dairy farm. In Syracuse, two programs ran concurrently – the 15th annual Dairy Challenge contest and the fourth annual Dairy Challenge Academy. The events were coordinated by the NAIDC Board of Directors and the Northeast Dairy Challenge committee.

The 2016 contest included 32 universities, each with four students on their team competing for awards. The Academy provided interactive training in dairy farm evaluation for 119 students in dairy programs at universities, community colleges or technical schools. Academy participants were divided into smaller groups, mixing students from various colleges, with agribusiness volunteers as Academy Advisors guiding their work.

Dairy Challenge Applies Learning to a Real-world Dairy

Over its 15-year history, Dairy Challenge has helped more than 5,000 students prepare for careers in the dairy industry, dairy production and veterinary medicine.

“Dairy Challenge provides an opportunity for our students to jump-start their careers by integrating what they learn in the classroom with real challenges facing the industry, all while networking with dairy leaders and improving their problem-solving skills,” said Owen Bewley, area sales manager for Phibro Animal Health Corporation and NAIDC board chairman.

The three-day event began with a tour at Hemdale Farms, Inc. in Seneca Castle, New York, where students, industry specialists and educators witnessed 19 robotic milking systems in action and worked together at learning stations on reproduction, feeding management, milking protocols and other key management areas. The day also included two panel discussions. A group of processors provided a perspective on their businesses and how they interact with producers. Processor panelists included Kevin Ellis of Cayuga Marketing and Cayuga Milk Ingredients, Tera Jackson of Chobani, Tom Murray of Muranda Cheese and Skyler Ryll of Dairy Farmers of America. Next, a panel of young producers shared insights on starting and entering a dairy operation. Producer panelists were Dan Durfee, Luke Getty, Dan Hartzell and Meghan Vaill. The day concluded with each group receiving data from a dairy to analyze and provide recommendations for improvement.

Day two included a thorough farm visit to the assigned dairy and a question-answer session with farm owners. All groups – in both contest and Academy – developed recommendations for nutrition, reproduction, milking procedures, animal health, cow comfort and financial management.

On day three, students presented their recommendations, visited with sponsor companies at the Career and Innovation Fair and learned through Corporate Technology Presentations from top-level NAIDC sponsors. These talks were presented by:

  • Martha Baker, M.S., PAS – Purina Animal Nutrition
  • Christopher Canale, Ph.D. – Cargill Animal Nutrition
  • Kristi Fiedler – Genex/Cooperative Resources International
  • John Lehr – Farm Credit East
  • Dave Whitlock – Select Sire Power

In the contest, the college team presentations were evaluated by a panel of five judges, including dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and agribusiness personnel. All students, coaches, volunteers and sponsors joined together to celebrate at Saturday evening’s banquet.

Eight College Teams Earn Top Awards

The following teams and students were awarded first place, with each student receiving a $200 scholarship.

  • California Polytechnic State University: Justine DeVries, John Schoneveld, Toni Silva and Christine Sousa, coached by Dr. Stan Henderson and Dr. Julie Huzzey
  • Cornell University: Josh Landis, Kelsey Neckers, Greg Van Ravenswaay and Colleen Smith, coached by Betsey Howland and Dr. Mike Van Amburgh
  • University of Wisconsin-River Falls: Brian Fesenmaier, Meghan Connelly, Kyle Rentmeester and Dylan Nelson, coached by Dr. Sylvia Kehoe
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison: Cody Getschel, Olivia Peter, Elizabeth Endres and Megan Opperman, coached by Theodore Halbach and Dr. David Combs

Teams and students earning second place and $100 student scholarships include:

  • University of Alberta: Melanie Boros, Casey Morey, Kathleen Murphy and Sarah Pletts, coached by Dr. Masahito Oba
  • University of Guelph: Shaelyn Prins, Victoria Seip, Sabrina Van Schyndel and Maggie Williamson, coached by Mark Carson, Dr. Trevor Devries and Dr. John Walton
  • University of Idaho: Kimberly Davenport, Kayla Nelson, Zachary Reynolds and Thomas Vanberkum, coached by Dr. Amin Ahmadzadeh
  • University of Minnesota: Eric Houdek, Mary Liebenstein, Bret Ott and Wyatt Smith, coached by Dr. Marcia Endres

Total Industry Effort

Six dairy farms opened up their farms for analysis, and in exchange they received a wealth of ideas from students and judges. Host farms for the 2016 Dairy Challenge were:

  • Black Brook Farms, Shortsville, New York
  • Fouts Farm LLC, Cortland, New York
  • McMahon’s E-Z Acres, Homer, New York
  • Tuscarora Dairy LLC, Chittenango, New York
  • Beck Farms LLC, Freeville, New York
  • Twin Birch Dairy LLC, Skaneateles, New York

“The success of the 2016 Dairy Challenge was possible through tremendous support of the participating dairy farm families in New York, the time and financial support from allied dairy businesses and dairy food donations by processors. Dairy professionals from across the U.S. assisted as contest judges and Academy advisors,” shared Putnam. “I know beyond a doubt that the industry will rally again to support the 2017 Dairy Challenge in Visalia, California, next year and make it an even greater success as we continue developing tomorrow’s dairy leaders.”

About Dairy Challenge

NAIDC is an innovative event for students in dairy programs at North American post-secondary institutions. Its mission is to develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders and enhance progress of the dairy industry, by providing education, communication and networking among students, producers, and agribusiness and university personnel. Over its 15-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare more than 5,000 students for careers as farm owners and managers, consultants, researchers, veterinarians or other dairy professionals. The next national event will be March 30April 1, 2017 in Visalia, California. Four regional events are held in late fall and winter. Details are at

Developing young talent in the Australian dairy industry

Leaving home to study at university can be a big challenge for young rural students. As they adjust to self-directed study in a new environment while developing new social and support networks – the financial stress can be a burden on students and families alike.

Mitchell Dodds won a dairy industry scholarship. He’s not from a dairy but did placement at a dairy vet and hopes to work as a vet in the dairy industry.

Each year Gardiner Dairy Foundation offers four scholarships to tertiary students to ease the pressure associated with furthering their education.

“Gardiner has awarded 33 scholarships worth half a million dollars since 2007,” chief executive Mary Harney said. “We support young people from Victorian dairy towns who are pursuing a career that will either directly benefit the dairy industry and/or benefit small dairy communities.”

By assisting people to gain essential qualifications that are in high demand, the foundation is helping to attract, retain and develop talented people who will come back to rural and regional Victoria and strengthen their communities.

Mitchell Dodds

Mitchell Dodds grew up on a hobby farm running beef cattle at Boolarra in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. Passionate about becoming a vet and working with cattle and the dairy industry, in 2014 he successfully applied for the inaugural Jakob Malmo Dairy Scholarship. Now in his third year of the Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Melbourne, he is loving the opportunities the scholarship has brought him.

“The first year was interesting coming from a cohort of 50 people in year 12, in a small town where I knew everyone, to university where there were 2000-3000 people in my biology course,” Mr Dodds said. “It was also really hard to find people who were interested in vet, specifically large animals and then the dairy industry as a whole.”

Financially the scholarship enabled Mr Dodds to pay for some subjects up-front, buy a laptop and cover the cost of text books without the “massive financial strain” that some of his university friends faced. In his second year it also helped him to rent a share-house in Brunswick, enabling him to become more involved in campus and Melbourne life.

“The networks I am creating and the contact I am having with the industry is invaluable,” Mr Dodds said. “For me it has been the most important aspect of the scholarship.”

While his desire to work in dairy cattle has strengthened, his outlook has broadened and he hopes to extend his studies into the United Kingdom and the United States.

Laura Peters

Laura Peters received the Gardiner Dairy Foundation Tertiary Scholarship in 2008 to support her physiotherapy studies at Charles Sturt University in Albury, NSW. Ms Peters came from a dairyfarming family of seven in the Mitta Valley. At this time the scholarship consisted of a one-off payment of $10,000, which Ms Peters welcomed as she was working to put herself through her four year full-time degree.

“It is a great initiative,” Ms Peters said. “There is not much else like it. What the Gardiner Foundation has done for our valley is pretty substantial. It is very good.”

Ms Peters is now working in private practice at Wodonga, Vic, and has moved back to Tallandoon in the Mitta Valley where she is active on committees in her local community and works on the family farm one day a week.

In the past two years she has taken the lead in building a new netball court in Mitta and is working on another at Eskdale. The Mitta building committee has just completed a new pavilion. Ms Peters provides pro-bono injury management for the netball and football clubs and is on the Mitta Muster Committee – a large community run event.

Scholarship evolution

The tertiary scholarships began in 2007 as a way of supporting dairyfarming communities during the hardship of the millennium drought. Four students now receive $7500 annually for the duration of their university or TAFE course. Each scholarship is named after a dairy legend and this year Western Victorian Dairyfarmer Shirley Harlock was added to the list, joining Bill Pyle, Doug Weir and Jakob Malmo.

While many students study veterinary science or agriculture, scholars have also been supported to undertake medicine, commerce, nursing/psychology, environmental science and engineering.

Rebecca Sexton

In 2008 Rebecca Sexton left the family farm at Dingee, Vic, to begin a Bachelor of Business at La Trobe University, Bendigo. “It made my transition from high school to university much less stressful and reduced the pressure on my parents to support me at a time when we were struggling emotionally and financially due to the drought,” Ms Sexton said.

After working for Bendigo Bank at Deniliquin, NSW, she is now working as a business consultant for ORM in Bendigo and has recently been accepted into the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program for 2016.

Monique McMahon-Hide

Unlike most of the other scholars, the inaugural recipient of the Doug Weir Dairy Scholarship in 2013, Monique McMahon-Hide, didn’t come from a farm. The year 9 Cows Create Careers program at her school at Wallington, near Geelong, first piqued her interest in the dairy industry and then work experience in year 12 took it further. She has just completed a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience at La Trobe University, Bundoora.

In her second year at university Ms McMahon-Hide seized the opportunity to study for six months abroad at Washington State University in North America using her dairy scholarship to cover the costs. “It was an absolutely invaluable experience and taught me a lot both personally and academically,” she said. Ms McMahan-Hide is yet to decide on how to venture forth from here but she has a keen interest in genetics and its potential within the dairy industry.

How to apply

Applications for 2017 scholarships will open in August via the Gardiner Dairy Foundation website.

Scholarships will be awarded to four students who have to relocate to study and have the potential to make an impact in the dairy industry or its communities.

Contact: website, phone (03) 8621 2900.

Source: The Australian Dairy Farmer

FARM BOOTS and CAREER MOVES. Ag Grads Juggle Multiple Job Offers.

If you have an agricultural background, there are three things you need to know about university and the post-graduation job market.

The GOOD NEWS:                  This year nearly 2 million college students will graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree.
The BIG QUESTION:                Will graduates find a job?
The SIMPLE ANSWER:            Yes…if they majored in agriculture.

You may be surprised to hear this, especially if you are aware of the challenges that face some branches of agriculture and the world economics of dairy farming in the past several years.  If you have college age children who are graduating, you may also be swayed by the “graduating gloom” that pervades these young people, as they leave higher learning to enter the workforce, often accompanied by debt.

Yes!  There is a shortage.  But it’s a shortage of graduates NOT a shortage of jobs.

According to a report released nine months ago by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University, employers have 57,9000 job openings in agriculture and related fields each year.  But just 35,400 students graduate annually with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture.  That means there is a shortfall of 22,500 ag graduates! If you’re graduating this year or selecting courses in university, it’s a good plan to customize your resume or your curriculum to make the most of your agricultural interests and assets.

The grass is greener on the Ag side of the career fence.

All employers face a catch 22 situation.  They look for entry level employees but find that it’s a challenge for them to find someone with practical experience before that graduate has had a chance for hands-on experience.  A farm background is like the ‘farm league’ for a major sports team.  Employers look here to see who has the skills, work ethic and passion to contribute to their business team.  Many “ag” kids have those attributes in spades!  These grads are known to cross the urban/rural work line easier than those who don’t have comparable hands on experience. Farm life, 4-H, and multi-tasking from an early age means they have experience that will translate well into project management, work logistics, business analysis and commitment to starting and finishing what they start.

Growth in job opportunities will vary.

The facts reported by the USDA study don’t mean that the picture is rosy for everyone.  Some employers will struggle to find enough graduates to fill jobs.  In a few areas, employers will find an oversupply of job applicants.  As well, companies will continue to face the challenge of hiring a diverse workforce reflective of society as a whole.  Generally speaking, this is good news for Ag graduates.  By it’s very nature agriculture is all-inclusive when it comes to practical training to manage climbing the career ladder.  Employers recognize how important self-motivation, work ethic, and passion is to moving their businesses forward, and ag graduates have had numerous practical experiences in learning and applying these skills. Being able to relate to employer’s needs is one of many opportunities that ag graduates have to differentiate themselves in the competitive job market.

“The agriculture workforce is shrinking with age.”

The modern agricultural workplace is not immune from the major changes that are affecting all businesses.  One of the major ones is the aging workforce.  About 25 percent of the existing professional agriculture and food workforce is 55 and older. Inevitably retirement will become the next step for this large group.  Simultaneously this will mean that there will be new opportunities for a steady flow of young people. Discerning employers and human resources departments are planning and preparing ways to handle this migration so that outgoing and incoming changes don’t negatively affect their workforce and financial sustainability.

“Ag students need to be prepared for these opportunities!”

Those who don’t prepare for the job market, even if they have the right background and skills, are overlooking ways to get themselves to the front of the pack.  Practical experience is always an asset.  Many ag students work as summer interns in areas where they have or want to gain expertise.  Graduates who are mobile will also have more job offers, especially if they are willing to use their technical and professional skills in other states or countries.

“How much ag background is needed?”

Full-time employment for new graduates in the agriculture industry spans dozens of fields with nothing more in common than that they work with crops or animals at some point along the production chain.  No wonder knowing what to expect from this industry is tough.  Throw into the mix the fact that there are ever-changing demands from consumers and society, and it is clear that ag careers are raising the bar to a place where job skills include fielding hard questions and media challenges. Once again many ag raised grads have had experience with this aspect of modern society’s not always friendly focus on the food production industry.

Having said that, there are still many significant areas that the USDA research is reporting as having great potential for job seekers between 2015 to 2020.

Here are five areas that are reporting needs for Ag grads.

  1. Veterinarians
    “Graduates with expertise and experience in traditional food animal production will be in demand, especially in poultry, dairy, and swine operations.”
  2. Nutrition
    “Consumer demand for nutritious and safe food will contribute to the high demand for food scientists and technologists in new production development, food processing, and food safety. Food-animal nutritionists will see a continued strong employment market in research and development programs connected with feed and animal health”
  3. Technology.
    “As companies explore the precision ag space, they will be looking for job candidates with experience with software, hardware, and agriculture to develop and enhance their offerings.”
  4. Sustainable
    As the number of specialty producers of fruits, vegetables, and organic products (to name a few) grows, so will the need for knowledgeable workers and advisors. “Graduates with degrees in sustainable crop production and management will likely fare better in the employment market than will those with degrees in animal production and management.”
  5. Management and business.
    Almost 50% of the new ag-related jobs each year are found in this area. “Most graduates with bachelor’s degrees in business management will enter sales and technical and service jobs.  Those with advanced degrees will more likely begin careers as economists, financial analysts, lending executives, marketing managers and human resources specialists.”

Where do you fit in best?

College graduates with an ag background or an ag degree will no doubt find they can make the best of both worlds.  Long gone is the narrow view of agriculture that only saw it as a production industry.  Everyone from the farm gate to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is singing the praises of ag. “It’s not just production agriculture now, but this is an expanding, entrepreneurial, creative, opportunistic aspect of our economy that I think will continue.” One of the consultants in USDA’s job study summed it up perfectly, “People realize that this sector isn’t our traditional ‘cows, plows and sows’ industry anymore.  It’s tremendously diverse.”

“Show me the money!”

We’ve covered a lot of positive aspects of getting a job offer upon graduation.  Last, but far from least, is a quick overview of what kind of remuneration can be expected. According to Mike Gaul, career services director for Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences “The average starting salary for ag college’s 2014 grad was about $48,000-with around half going out at about $50,000.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Regardless of whether you are entering or graduating from university, make sure you consider to emphasize your agricultural background as you look at the broad range of opportunities within agricultural business. Not only will you be warmly welcomed by employers but you will also have the satisfaction of working in a field that addresses the world’s most significant challenge…food production. Great work!



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Canadian Youth Delegates Selected for World Holstein Conference

As part of Holstein Canada’s initiative to invest in Young Leaders across the nation and create further opportunities for international travel, Holstein Canada is proud to announce that two delegates have been chosen to participate in the 14th World Holstein Conference being held March 28th to April 3rd, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Cindy Jaton (Compton, Que.) and Bridget Wilson (Whycocomagh, N.S.) will travel to Argentina to participate in the World Youth Meeting held in conjunction with the conference. There they will have the opportunity to meet, exchange ideas, have fun, learn, and build relationships with other global Holstein youth, uniting participants for life. In addition to two days of workshops and seminars, youth participants will take part in typical Argentinian leisure activities, including dancing the tango, visiting a traditional folk party, and learning to play the game of Pato.

The Holstein Canada Young Leader Advisory Committee was tasked with selecting the two winners from a large, very strong pool of candidates. As part of the application process, applicants were asked to create a short video on why they would make a great ambassador for Holstein Canada, the Canadian Holstein, and the Canadian dairy industry. Both Cindy’s and Bridget’s winning video essays can be viewed on the Holstein Canada YouTube channel at:

For more information on the Holstein Canada Young Leader Program and its various pillars and initiatives, contact the Holstein Canada Program Coordinator Kelly Velthuis at

Ohio State University Take Championship

The ATI Dairy Judging Team has swept the nation in three major competitions. At the recent North American International Livestock Competition in Louisville are, from the left, coach Don Hange and team members Hannah Dye, Kaleb Kliner, Tanner Topp and John Paulin. (photo: ATI)

There is a new undisputed national championship team at The Ohio State University. 

The Agricultural Technical Institute dairy cattle judging team swept the three major national competitions this year with its recent win at the North American International Livestock Competition in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Team members won by an impressive 67-point margin in Louisville, topping the 64-point margin by which they won the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 28. 

Hannah Dye, a dairy science major from Beloit, was first place overall with 710 points. Teammates Tanner Topp (dairy science, New Bremen) and Kaleb Kliner (agronomy, West Salem) were second and fourth, respectively.

Rounding out the four-person team was John Paulin, a hydraulics and power equipment major from Nova. 

The team’s first big win of the season was at the Pennsylvania-All American Contest in Harrisburg on Sept. 14. 

”I cannot remember any year where a team (at the two-year college level) participated in three judging contests and was first place in each contest and high in oral reasons,” said Royce Thornton, chair of the Agricultural and Engineering Technologies Division and coordinator of Ohio State ATI’s dairy programs.

In dairy cattle judging, team members evaluate and rank animals based on how close the animals are to ideal dairy conformation – a collection of traits associated with high milk production and healthy longevity. After ranking the animals, team members must give “oral reasons,” justifying their placing to contest judges. 

Like all Ohio State ATI dairy students, the judging team members take classes in genetics and get firsthand experience in evaluating animals for breeding. 

”We select mate all of our cows and are continually working to improve our herd,” said Ohio State ATI dairy herd manager Gary Crocker. “Students see how we pick bulls to try to get as sound an animal as possible. We teach them what we’re striving to achieve and how we get there.

Every dairy farmer wants to breed cows that will make the most money.” 

Down the road, that’s a skill students can put to use in their careers in the dairy industry, Crocker said. And, Thornton adds, it is part of the recipe for success for a championship dairy judging team. 

Ohio State ATI, located in Wooster, is an associate degree-granting program within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State. Ohio State ATI is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the granting of associate degrees in agriculture and related sciences.

Dairy judging provides youth experience to improve life skills and global competencies

The 2014 Michigan high placing 4-H Dairy Judging Team at World Dairy Expo. From left: Suzanna Hull, Kayla Holsten, Lucas Moser, Bryce Frahm, Coach Sarah Black, Coach Dr. Joe Domecq.

Youth involved in 4-H, the youth development branch of Michigan State University Extension, have the opportunity to try many new projects, improve important life skills and increase global and cultural competences through travel opportunities. One activity that is part of numerous animal science projects is judging, an event that engages youth in so much more than just learning about their specific animal project. Learning about animal judging for a project area takes a great deal of time and dedication from both youth and coaches, but the benefits gained will last a lifetime. The Michigan State University collegiate coaches of dairy cattle, horse, animal welfare and former livestock and meat science coaches in the Department of Animal Science agree that judging is about far more than evaluating classes.

Youth who have taken the time to learn the necessary judging skills may travel across the country or internationally to judge, but learn much more along the way. Earning opportunities to showcase evaluation, communication, decision making and numerous other skills takes years of practice. For youth involved in dairy judging, the 4-H contest held during World Dairy Expo at the end of September in Madison, Wisconsin, is the pinnacle of a young person’s judging career. Four youth represent this home state on a team on the national stage, competing for top honors and the invitation to judge on the international stage. In 2014, the Michigan 4-H team won this contest. Looking back a year later, Saginaw County youth Bryce Frahm reflects on this experience and the skills and benefits gained through dairy judging.

Frahm commented, “Traveling to Madison, Wisconsin, as a member of the Michigan 4-H Dairy Judging Team was an incredible experience. Not only did it allow me to broaden my experiences in the dairy industry, but it also allowed me to represent my state and hometown in a prestigious national competition. After hearing that Michigan was the winning team at the contest, once again I realized that if you put in an honest effort and work hard towards those goals, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. We also had the opportunity, along with a few other top dairy teams, to travel through Scotland and Ireland for two weeks this past summer and complete in some of their judging contests while touring many different dairy and beef farms in the United Kingdom. Having earned the opportunity to judge at World Dairy Expo and in Europe is definitely something I will never forget and it will be something to talk about and reflect on for many years to come.”

In 2015, four new Michigan 4-H youth had their time on the colored shaving in Madison, Wisconsin. Each, through hard work and dedication, were already winners and well on their way to a bright future in the dairy industry.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

All-Breeds All-Britain Calf Show 2015

DATE: October 17th-18th, 2015
LOCATION: Malvern, Worcestershire, UK

Lancashire won Top Team Award.

The Showmanship Team Award was won by Shropshire.

Winning the Calf Team Award was Border and Lakeland.

Lancashire won the Overall Stand Award.

Holstein Champion – Lynholme Glauco Pledge (Glauco), Lancashire
Reserve Champion – Blydale Quality Lynn (Atwood), Central Counties
Honourable Mention – Knowlesmere Windbrook Chancel (Windbrook), Shropshire

Red & White Champion  – Panda Rhubarb Gem (Barbwire Red), Devon
Reserve Champion – Aintree Chipper Daisychain Red (Chipper P Red) Western

Champion Jersey Calf – Mydrim Tequilas Sandy (Excitation), Mydrim Jerseys
Reserve Champion 0 Logan Tequila Glamour (Tequila), B Yates
Honourable Mention – Jovial Ryan Rosemary (Ryan), JR & SM Howie

Champion Ayrshire – East Church Prime Time Blissful (Prime), H M Sayer & Son
Reserve Champion – Hunnington Toni 3 (Admiral), N & C Lockyer
Honourable Mention – Sandyford Primed Clover (Prime), E T Tomlinson

Champion Showperson – Rebecca Channing (Central Counties)
Reserve Champion – Will Horsley (Border & Lakeland)
Honourable Mention – James Docherty (Shropshire)

Ayrshire Champion Showman – Beth Mellish
Reserve Champion – Jake Sayer
Honourable Mention – Cameron Carson

Jersey Champion Showman – Izzy Wright
Reserve Champion – Zoe Clear
Honourable Mention – Claire Daws


Seven Student Leader Scholarship Recipients Named, Supported by Center Foundation, Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association

Congratulations to this year’s Student Leader Scholars. Seven individuals have been recognized as Student Leader Scholars and will receive a $3,000 scholarship to support their 2015-2014 academic studies. Five of these scholarships are generously supported by the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, while the other two will be funded by the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania.

The seven recipients include:

Danielle DelpDanielle Delp, who is a sophomore studying biology and pre-veterinary medicine at Messiah College. Danielle is the daughter of Durrell and Dawn Delp from Williamsburg, Blair County. She assists on the family’s 150-cow dairy, Delside Farm, and wants to one day practice as a large animal veterinarian serving Pennsylvania dairy farms.

Amber GabelAmber Gabel, who is a junior studying animal science at the Pennsylvania State University. Amber is the daughter of Robert and Jennifer Gabel from Newport, Perry County, and has been very active in youth and college-level dairy activities. She hopes to pursue a career working in genetics before one day taking over and expanding the family’s dairy operation.

Simon ItleSimon Itle, who is a junior studying food science at the Pennsylvania State University. Simon is the son of Dan and Machelle Itle from Loretto in Cambria County. He is from a dairy farm and processing operation called Vale Wood farms. He works at the Penn State Dairy Barns and hopes to one day serve as the plant manager in his family’s dairy processing operation.

Rebecca KloppRebecca Klopp, a senior studying animal science at the Pennsylvania State University and the daughter of Richard and Denise Klopp in Bethel, Berks County. Rebecca is very active in the Penn State Dairy Science Club and is interested in pursuing her master’s degree in animal science and dairy nutrition before working for a dairy nutrition company in Pennsylvania.

Kyle SollenbergerKyle Sollenberger, who is a senior pursuing animal science at the Pennsylvania State University and the son of David and Holly Sollenberger in Spring City, Chester County. The Sollenbergers own a small dairy operation called French Creek Farm, and Kyle has been very active in both 4-H and the Penn State Dairy Science Club. After college, he hopes to work in either dairy genetics or nutrition.

Abby SternerAbby Sterner, who was this year’s Freshman Award winner. Abby is a freshman at Delaware Valley College and is the daughter of Karen and Jonathan Sterner. She is active in the Montgomery County 4-H Dairy Club and hopes to one day have her own dairy farm. She also would like to work in the dairy nutrition industry.

Collin StoltzfusCollin Stoltzfus, a senior at the Pennsylvania State University studying BioRenewable Systems with an Agricultural Systems Management (ASM) option, who is the son of Donald and Joanne Stoltzfus from Berlin, Somerset County. Collin is the third generation at Pennwood Holsteins and owns 36 head of his own cattle. He wants to one day work for a large machinery company in mechanics and one day operating his own dairy and crop farm operation.

Congratulations to these seven individuals, who were selected from a pool of thirty-four very deserving candidates. Information on the 2016 Student Leader Scholarship will be available in March 2015.

Morey Takes Top Honors for second time in WDE Youth Fitting Contest

Thirteen dairy youth competed in the World Dairy Expo Youth Fitting Contest on Sunday, September 27 in the Estrumate Sale Pavilion. Lee Morey of Rochester, Alta., took home top honors and received a clippers, sponsored by Aesculap AG Germany. Morey has placed in the top five of the contest every year since winning in 2011. Austin Nauman, Norwalk Wis., and Trevor Tuman, Arlington, Minn., took home second and third place respectively, and both received a clippers sponsored by Wahl Clipper & Lister Shearing. Serving as official judge for the contest was Kyle Henderson of Millbrook, Ont.

Top 10 winners of the 2015 World Dairy Expo Youth Fitting Contest

Top 10 winners of the 2015 World Dairy Expo Youth Fitting Contest

The placings for the Youth Fitting Contest are as follows:

  1. Lee Morey, Rochester, Alta.
  2. Austin Nauman, Norwalk, Wis.
  3. Trevor Tuman, Arlington, Minn.
  4. Jack Cliffe, Middletown, Del.
  5. Nathan Arthur, Sumner, Iowa
  6. Casey Morey, Rochester, AB
  7. Evan Stanley, Norwood, Ont.
  8. Hannah Nelson, Ellsworth, Wis.
  9. Brock Liddle, Argyle, N.Y.
  10. Elizabeth Acle, Guys Mills, Pa.


WDE, recognized as the meeting place for the global dairy industry, attracts more than 70,000 attendees from more than 90 countries each year. Visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@WDExpo or #WDE15) for more information.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Tops 22nd Annual Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest

High Team Overall

The 22nd  Annual Accelerated Genetics Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest was held September 20, 2015 in Viroqua, Wis., with the University of Wisconsin-Madison taking top honors in both reasons and overall. The University of Wisconsin-Madison team was coached by Chad Wethal and Brian Kelroy. Team members Kristen Broege, Abigail Martin, Megan Lauber and Sara Griswold took home the coveted Brown Swiss Canton III Traveling Trophy for winning the contest.

Placing second overall was the University of Wisconsin-River Falls coached by Steve Kelm and Mary Holle. Team members included: Charlie Moore, Tim Abrahamson, Trent Miller and Meghan Connelly.

The top overall individual award went to Kristen Broege from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The other top individuals included (listed in order from 2nd-5th): Logan Voigts, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Meghan Connelly, University of Wisconsin-River Falls; Jessica Pralle, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Lars Sivesind, Iowa State University.

In the oral reasons individual competition, the top three receive a special scholarship from the James W. Crowley Fund. This years top three individuals were: Kristen Broege, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Meghan Connelly, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and Abigail Martin, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A total of 12 teams participated in this year’s contest representing the states of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. They judged the following dairy breeds Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Milking Shorthorn with each participant placing 10 classes and giving five sets of oral reasons.

A key part of the judging contest are the youth that serve as leadspeople. Each year, Vernon County youth assist with the contest by leading the cattle – this year 25 youth participated. Showmanship awards are then given to the youth based on their skills exhibiting the cattle and sportsmanship.

In the Junior Showmanship Division Karly Anderson placed first, Grant Fremstad placed second and Gabe Engh placed third. Placing first in the Senior Showmanship Division was Krista Hall, second place Courtney Moser and third was David Petersheim. And the Overall Showmanship Winner was Leif Thompson, who received the David Larson Memorial Showmanship Award – a special award in memory of David Larson, who worked very closely with the Vernon County youth and the judging contest.

This contest would not be possible without the tremendous support of the numerous contest and award sponsors. They include: American Guernsey Association, American Jersey Cattle Association, American Milking Shorthorn Society, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Chart Industries, Inc., Church of Christ, Connie Schmelzer, Hampel Corporation, Holstein Associaiton USA, James W. Crowley Fund, Merial, Ltd., Milk Products, Inc., Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Sci-Tech Premixes, Inc., Supreme Awards, Swiss Valley Farms, Co., The Baraboo National Bank, The Bank of Viroqua, Vernon County Agricultural Society, Vernon County Junior and Open Show Exhibitors, Wisconsin Brown Swiss Canton III – Jane of Vernon, and Zoetis,.

Dear College Dairy Student

Kimmi Devaney at home at Washington State University Photo by Kimmi Devaney

School started up again a few weeks ago for college students across the country. It’s now been nine years since I moved 300 miles across the state to begin my college career at Washington State University. I’d like to think I was fearless, but I was more than a little nervous. My best friend was my roommate, but what if I didn’t know anyone else? What if I didn’t like it? What if I wanted to move home?

That first semester was pretty tough since I didn’t have many friends there and I felt all alone most of the time. One of my dairy princess friends was in Dairy Club and said it would be a good way to meet people just like me. I joined and at the first meeting became an officer. As they were electing the historian, Megan said, “Pictures?! Kimmi loves pictures! She’s perfect for this!!” Hmm. I guess there’s no backing out now.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that put me on track for a remarkable college experience. Megan was right. I DID meet a lot of people through Dairy Club. New friends that let me tag along to help milk at the university dairy, introduced me to another dairy-related group on campus and opened a lot of doors to various experiences. Most were seniors at the time and they certainly didn’t have to do this for a little freshman they didn’t really know. But they did. And I’ve never forgotten it.

When I was a senior, Dairy Club elected me as their president and we had a lot of new, younger members. I did everything I could to make them feel like part of the group and get them involved. Pay it forward.

A lot of older students and alumni gave me advice during my four and a half years in Pullman and in the spirit of paying it forward, I hope it helps current students.

“Good things happen when people know who you are and what you can do.” 

An alumnus said this at an event and it stuck with me. He said to get involved in activities and groups I enjoyed and make as many connections as possible. You know what? He was right! Every job I’ve had since college has been because of someone I knew. Well, kind of. I had the right connections, which helped, but ultimately it was my experience and personality that got me the job. Professors, industry folks and classmates are all good contacts. Keep in touch with them!

Along those lines, collect business cards.

I write on the back where I met the person, the date and anything that stands out about our conversation. When you get a lot of cards in a box, you’ll be glad you have something to jog your memory.

You don’t  need to know everything…

No one is an expert. It’s okay. Be knowledgeable in your area and open to new ideas. Knowing where to go for information when you need it is a good skill to acquire. This goes back to keeping in touch with those contacts.

…But learn everything you can.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do. In high school, I wanted to be a journalist and write for a national dairy magazine. WSU had an exceptional communications college, so that’s what I did. After joining Dairy Club and meeting a lot of animal science students, I thought learning about what I loved (cows) sounded awesome. Later, I found that there is actually a major for people who like to write and love agriculture: agricultural communications! I took a lot of somewhat random classes and I’m glad I did. I tap into that knowledge from time to time and it’s nice to have some contacts that are better versed in those areas when I need it.

Don’t be afraid to move.

Internships are SO important! Do a lot of them. Don’t be afraid to move or try something that seems a little outside your comfort zone. It’s three months. If you don’t like the job and/or don’t like the location, you aren’t stuck. It’s much harder to change your mind once you are in a job after college. Now is the time to try things out. Take advantage of that because it’s MUCH more difficult to bounce around after college. For the record, moving was one of the best things I ever did.

In college, I wanted nothing more than to work in the Washington dairy industry and be close to family. You have to go where the opportunities are and unfortunately, at the time they were not in Washington. It’s scary at first. The first 6 months will suck. Things get so much better, just give it a chance.

You’ll be okay. I WISH someone had told me that when I was struggling after moving to Indiana after graduation. I didn’t know anyone and felt extremely alone. It was awful. I hated it. I didn’t know that what I was experiencing was normal and that it would get better.

Stay involved after graduation.

Get involved in activities outside of the classroom in college. Stay involved in the professional organizations you joined after graduation. The dynamic changes and you need to be ready for that. I wasn’t. It was a shock and I almost quit going, but I’m glad I gave it another chance. Five years later, I’m on national committees and can’t walk 2 feet at the conference without running into someone I know. Give it time. Learn everything you can. Meet people and network.

Network, network, network!!

This is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. You need to have the knowledge to back up your credibility, but getting out and meeting people will make a big difference. Who doesn’t like having new friends?! It makes everything more enjoyable.

Don’t wish away anything.

I always couldn’t wait for this or that. Dad told me not to wish my life away. He’s right. You can wait. Enjoy what’s happening now because you’ll never get that time back. I was so over college my last semester. I wanted to be done. I didn’t want to be there. The real world would be so much better. As good as the real world can be, I wish I had savored that last semester more.

Pay it forward.

Get involved, network and learn as much as you can. When others take time to teach you things like those older students and alumni did for me, don’t forget to pay it forward. If we all help each other, the world will be a better place.

Read this article and more from the Kimmi’s Dairyland blog at:

The European Young Breeders School – The Passion Unites


The European Young Breeders School units passionate young breeders between 13-25 years from around the world.  After a successful 16 years, this year’s participants did not disappoint.


Winner 2015: Canadian Chris Steven, also best clipper. He beat the German Fieseler Margarethe of ZBH team (2 nd) and the Belgian Pieter Vandewalle of VABI team (3 rd).


Best Showman (presenter), Jacques Bernard from Luxembourgish. Also best judge, he is ahead by 2 Canadian participants Mauranne Steven and Chris Hebert.

A new award, one of the leaders for the most deserving young man was carried away by Agueda Capon Fernandez (Spain).

The team of trainers welcomed two new recruits: Jonas Melbaum (Germany) and Marcel Egli (Switzerland). Jonas Pussemier, they are well 3 to be passed by the benches of the EYBS 



Taking home the top team award was Switzerland

The judge, Daniel Brochu and his wife, the Milibro Farm in Quebec were impressed by the level of presentation, quality heifers, labor and energy made by all these young people and the organization in place.

All results online.

The classic part? All of the friends you make at the dairy show

Alberta hosted the Western Canadian Classic Junior Dairy Show and, as usual, 
a whole batch of special memories was made

Jaclyn Hunter won the intermediate calf class with a heifer borrowed from Wendon Holsteins of Innisfail. Photo: Dianne Finstad

Getting experience in the dairy showing world at a young age can open all sorts of doors.

The 31st edition of the Western Canadian Classic (WCC) Junior Dairy Show brought 100 participants between the ages of 12 and 21 to Westerner Park in Red Deer for five days of activities.

Naturally, the event included showing calves, but also things like a dairy science quiz and a judging contest, not to mention a host of fun ‘get to know each other’ activities.

Jaclyn Hunter of Ferintosh came to this year’s event (held on Aug. 18-23) with mixed emotions. The 21-year-old was excited to be participating in her home province and seeing old friends again, but it was also her final year.

“It’s bittersweet knowing that this is my last year — growing up with all these kids and meeting the new ones,” she said before adding with a beaming smile, “Like this year we have eight new members, which is incredible for the team!”

The great thing about the program for Hunter was being involved even though her own family sold its dairy herd in 2007.

“I’m very fortunate. I’ve been borrowing heifers (to show). I’ve borrowed from Crestomere Holsteins, Mosnang Holsteins, and Wendon Holsteins — those are three of the farms I’ve also worked for lots at shows and sales, too. They’re an awesome group of people and really helpful.”

Hunter has seen her share of success at the youth event over the years, including winning the Grand Champion Showmanship prize in 2014. That led to her selection for Team Canada, and an international adventure in the dairy industry. As part of Holstein Canada’s Young Leaders initiative, a six-member team travelled to Battice, Belgium last September to take part in the European Young Breeders School.

“It was extremely neat to go over there. Team Canada is looked up to,” she said. “When we got there, we all were given a calf, donated from farms for the kids to use, which I thought was amazing. It was our duty to break them to lead, wash them all week, clip them up, feed, water and bed them, and take care of them. We went through some judging seminars, a clipping demonstration, and had some farm tours.

“I think the thing about it I enjoyed the most was how well the six of us (on Team Canada) got along. It was so amazing to go somewhere with people I’d never met before — I met them at an airport — and we’re all great friends now and keep in touch.”

In Belgium, Hunter was billeted with a host family, and immersed in the French language.

“That was a learning curve, since I know no French. I learned a little bit to get me by,” she said. “They were so nice, and drove us to and from the barns every day. It was just such an amazing atmosphere, and an amazing time.”

Alberta won the team award at this year’s Western Canadian Classic Junior Dairy Dianne Finstad

While Team Canada did participate in the competitions, earning individual points, its role was partly to teach and share with the European young people about the Canadian youth dairy showing initiatives.

“I say this to everybody who asks me — WCC is an amazing program. I couldn’t have asked for a better last 11 years. Competition-wise, I think WCC is head and foot above anything there. But experience-wise, and just learning new things and meeting new people, Belgium was the best time. Definitely a highlight of my years.”

Hunter will be completing her directed field studies for her bachelor of applied science in agribusiness at Olds College this fall, after harvesting with her family. She’s not sure what kind of job her training will lead to, but she’ll always have cows close to her heart.

“I love the dairy industry. I’m so passionate about it.”

Showing the Grand Champion heifer this year was Katelyn Crest of Athabasca, with her junior Holstein yearling Skycrest Peanut. It’s the fourth time she’s had the top animal.

“I won with her mother one year, so that’s kind of cool,” said the 20-year-old, who was also the reserve winner in showmanship.

Crest has been part of the WCC program for 10 years, and is also an enthusiastic supporter.

“Everyone gets along. It’s a competition, but we’re still hanging out with other teams and having a good time. It’s good competition, too.”

Alberta won the team award this year, but Crest says part of the responsibility of the senior members is to help the younger ones.

“We’ve got five or six leaving (our team) in the next two years, so it’s grooming time for these little guys to step up and learn the tricks of the trade.”

Next year’s Western Canadian Classic Junior Dairy Show will be in Brandon, Man

Source: Alberta Farmer Express

Ontario Dairy Youth Award Winners Announced for 2015

The Ontario Holstein Branch is pleased to announce the 2015 winners of the Ontario Dairy Youth Award. Established in 1980, the competition recognizes young people aged 25-35 who are actively involved in the operation of a dairy farm, who have demonstrated leadership and taken an active role in their communities.

This year’s winners are Adam Petherick (Almerson Farms Ltd.), Ted Clarke (Blayjoy Holstein Ltd.), Gary Markus (Markhill Holsteins) and Stefen Robinson (Glenn Acres Farm).  These talented winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin this fall. The Ontario Dairy Youth Award is funded through the Ontario Dairy Youth Trust Fund, the Ontario Holstein Branch and Gay Lea Foods as a supporting sponsor.

Below is information on each winner:

Ted Clarke – Blayjoy Holsteins

Ted milks 50-55 cows in Grey County, in partnership with his brother Allan and parents Blain and Joyce. The 450 acre tie-stall operation in Dundalk ON is home to a total of 135 head who are milked in a double 4 Herringbone Parlour. The farm has a current classification of 5 ME, 3 EX, 42 VG and 15 GP Holsteins. Blayjoy has bred two All Canadian/All American nominations, Blayjoy Jasper Mallory and Blayjoy Pundit Patrice. Since taking over the breeding program in the fall of 2000, the herd classification average to 85.5 points, they have increased quota holders from 23 to 73 kilograms, dropped age at first calving to 24-25 months, bought two neighbouring farms, added a bigger bulk tank, built a second tower silo and has built an addition on the barn bank with 23 tie-stalls for a total of 50 stalls on farm.

Adam Petherick – Almerson Farms Ltd.

Adam and his wife, Amy, in partnership with his parents, Evan and Marilyn, milk 54 cows in a head to head bank barn in Campbellford Ontario. The 350 acre, 2-time Master Breeder operation in Northumberland County is home to 41 Holsteins and 12 Jerseys, with a current classification of 8 EX, 34 VG, and 18 GP, with a current herd BCA of 253-263-257. The herd averages eight generations of VG or EX dams, with some animals as high as twelve generations. Since returning from university, with the support of his parents, Adam has initiated and overseen many changes to the farm, such as the dairy barn renovation completed in 2009 which saw a 50 X 120 foot tarp barn and an open front heifer barn built. He has also increased the farm’s quota holdings by 50%, adopted herd management software on the farm, switched the herd to a TMR based ration, and has invested in more labour saving automation like an automatic calf feeder.

Gary Markus – Markhill Holsteins

Gary and his wife Hilary moved to their current operation three years ago, and milk 60 Holsteins in a 2-row tunnel ventilated free-stall barn in Oxford County. The 60 head herd are milked in a Double 8 Swing-Over Parlour. Their Management Score is 35th out of 230 producers in Oxford County, and their current classification is 5 ME, 2 EX, 19 VG, 16 GP, 2 G and 5 not classified with a herd composite BCA of 261.7. Markhill Holsteins has been rewarded with 15 Superior Production Awards, and has had the privilege of breeding an All-Ontario Milking Yearling in 2010 (Markridge Goldwyn Emilyne, EX-92-2E), breeding a 2013 member of the Royal Walk of Fame (Markhill Fever Tessie, VG-89-3YR), and has bred 4 Excellents and 15 Very Good two-year-olds in six breeding years. Gary and brother Darryl purchased 30 kilograms of quota off the monthly exchange, starting with 25 cows from 15 different farms and sales as the starting base of the herd seven and a half years ago. The brothers rented a 40 cow tie-stall barn for 5 years and continued buying quota monthly to slowly grow their holdings until they filled the rented facility. In summer 2014, the brothers as intended, were able to sever their partnership and each operate their own farm with their families.

Stefen Robinson – Glenn Acres Farm

Glenn Acres Farm is a 460 acre family run operation, with almost entirely all the work done by the family. Stefen milks 65 cows in a tiestall facility with his parents and two brothers in Renfew County. The 150 head in the herd are 100 per cent Holstein and consist of 2 ME, 1 EX, 25 VG, 32 GP, 2 G, and 4 not classified. They are milked in the 73 stall tie-stall barn in Beachburg Ont. built in 1967 with two major additions built in 1997 and 2007. Since becoming involved in the farm, Stefen has increased quota holdings by 25 per cent, began feeding a customized protein pellet and premix mineral along with BMR corn, which has increased the annual milk kilograms by over 900 per cow, and annual milk value increased by almost $1,200 per cow. The farm has recently expanded the barn to 73 tie-stalls and a new bulk tank has been installed.

Source: Ontario Holstein

A World Record 4-H Project


The bond between 4-H’er and calf is one that often grows strong,- bringing much joy. This was never more evident than during the partnership between Stormont’s Aimee Van Loon and her jersey calf, Payneside Mac N Cheese.

Loaned to Aimee for her 4-H project in 2013 by club leader Jill Robinson and her husband Doug from their family farm, the two quickly became inseparable. Aimee worked on training, clipping, feeding and showing the calf in many competitive and open 4-H shows across the province.

“Every time I went to walk her, she would come running to see me. When I put her back in the pasture she would turn around, stay at the gate and watch me leave,” says Aimee.

Jill says watching the pair together was simply amazing.

“Aimee is very dedicated to training animals and has patience and the ability to remain calm and focused even when her calf has a stubborn day,” she says. “They connected right from day one.”

“It means a lot to me because Doug and Jill saved Mac N Cheese for me to show when they could have easily sold her to some of the many people wanting to buy her,” says Aimee. “It was great that they gave me the opportunity to show Mac N Cheese at numerous shows that season.”

Despite coming from a holstein farm, Aimee has always held affection for jerseys, saying she loves their unique personality, which can make them more challenging.

And Aimee was more than up to the challenge, entering Mac N Cheese into numerous competitions and having huge success. Overall, they attended nine 4-H events that summer and fall. At their first show, which was the Eastern Ontario Junior Show, Mac N Cheese won Grand Champion, despite Aimee being in new territory, having never been in the champion class before.

As a typically quiet member who got involved with 4-H because her family was involved—and because she enjoyed showing cattle—Aimee found this experience helped her develop many new skills.

Being in 4-H has allowed her to become more confident in public speaking, leadership and working with others, as well as teaching her new skills like cooking, sewing, plowing and showing beef cattle. Watching senior classes gave her a chance to learn new tips for showmanship, fitting and clipping skills.

“During this time we could see Aimee gaining more confidence in her own abilities,” says Jill. “Her showmanship skills got better and better due to the time spent working with Mac N Cheese… Aimee was thrilled when we put a
set of clippers in her hands and said ‘Mac N Cheese is your project.’”

Aimee’s hard work culminated 18 months later into a world record when Payneside Mac N Cheese sold at an auction in the United States for $267,000 on April 2.

Jill says she and Doug are thrilled and that they knew there was something special about Mac N Cheese from Day 1 as a young calf, but never imagined this.

“As a 4-H member Doug always dreamed of having the perfect calf, and although he was not on the halter of Mac N Cheese he still got to see his dream come true through Aimee.”

Aimee looks back fondly on her time with Mac N Cheese.

“It feels incredible. It’s awesome how much I hear people talking about Mac N Cheese and I’m so proud of her,” she says. “It feels like a dream come true. I always knew that someday Mac N Cheese was going to be famous.”

Now 14 years old, Aimee plans on completing her years in 4-H, while continuing to show jerseys and hopefully achieving her goal of once again competing in the Royal Agriculture Winter Fair. Also on the horizon is joining new clubs and camps, becoming a Youth Leader, and becoming a volunteer leader once her years of membership in 4-H are complete.

By: Ryan Métivier 4-H Ontario

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