Michael Heath, a well-known Maryland Jersey breeder, has died. Our deepest sympathies are extended to the family.
Michael Heath and his Uncle were moving round bales when a board broke on the second story and he fell about 10-15 feet. Michael hit his head on the concrete, causing bleeding and was unconscious until the Med Flight unit arrived. Michael was life flighted and his family was given no hope as they could not stop the bleeding and he had seven fractures on his skull. As part of his final wishes, he was able to donate his organs to help others live.
His family would like to express their gratitude for your kind words of hope and encouragement.
Michael Heath grew up on Spring Valley Jersey Farm, one of six farms owned by parents Billy and Betty Heath that have exhibited at all 50 All-American Dairy Shows. Heath, who was heavily influenced by his parents, grandfather, and uncles, worked as a professional fitter for 14 years after college and is now a dairy cattle marketer. He has owned cattle from some of the top Jersey breed families, most notably the Atlee family. Heath has judged cattle at the local, state, and international levels, including the World Dairy Expo International Holstein and Central National Jersey shows, the International Junior Holstein Show, the Canadian National Jersey Show, the Royal Ulster Show in Ireland, the Mexican National Holstein Show, the Quebec International Fall Holstein Show, the Western Spring National Holstein Show, and the Western Fall National Holstein Show.
Michael was described by his peers as a “walking encyclopedia of cows and pedigrees.” Rarely did he forget a cow he has seen. He is known for finding the “diamond in the rough” and developing her into a highly sought-after individual. Because of this, he become a successful cattle marketer, both as an individual and with his partners, Nathan and Jenny Thomas, in North Lewisburg, Ohio. The Triple-T and Heath partnership has managed some of the top-averaging sales in the United States over the past decade.
Michael Heath was the son of cattle photographer Billy Heath and Betty (Stiles) Heath of Westminster, Maryland. Spring Valley Jerseys is owned and operated by him and his uncles, Wayne and Allen Stiles. The REAP herd is well-known for breeding and developing high-calibre animals over the years. With 38 Excellent cows and 25 Very Goods, the 63-cow herd has an appraisal average of 89.2%.
Five cows in the herd currently have Excellent-94% or higher ratings. SVHeaths Hunter Mascara has a rating of Excellent-95%. Excellent-94% for SVHeaths Tequila Java, Avon Road Premier Jessica, and SVHeaths Harry Blondie.
He and his family have been exhibiting at the All-American Jersey Show for the past five decades. To date, he has bred more than a dozen All American or Reserve All-Americans.
In 1993, he won his first National Grand Champion with a cow named Pensmith TJ Mindy. In 2020, he was one of the breeders of the All American Jersey Show’s National Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion, Triple-T-Heath Getaway to Cancun and SV Velocity Rosie.
Three daughters of Hollylane Jewels Jasmine, one of his foundation cows, were named Junior Champion or Reserve Junior Champion of the national Jersey show between 2004 and 2007. Heath and his partners bred them all.
Show champions SV Impression Holly-ET and Chili Nitro Cabo-ET are also Heath-bred cows. Heath’s foundation purchases were Pleasant Valley Prime Heather and Family Hill Connection Chili. Though these maternal lines have had an impact on the breed in the show ring, their sons, including SV Jade Hired Gun-ET and Chilli Action Colton-ET, both bred by Heath, are now making their mark.
Heath has always worked with stunning animals. After college, he became a professional cattle fitter, which allowed him to hone his marketing skills, sharpen his eye for cattle, and expand his industry network.
While he has exhibited cattle all over North America, he has also been asked to judge cattle all over the world. His use of colourful terms in his reasons set him apart from his peers before it was fashionable to deviate from the traditional set of reasons.
Heath has presided over The All American Jersey Show, World Dairy Expo, and Pennsylvania All-American Dairy Shows, as well as numerous state fairs. He has judged at the Royal Winter Fair in Canada, International Dairy Week in Australia, the Royal Ulster Show in Ireland, the Mexican National Holstein Show, and shows in Switzerland, Holland, Brazil, Argentina, and the United Kingdom, among others.
A great Michael story is told Joy Widerman. I don’t know Michael Heath, but many of my dairy friends do. Having said that, he always said hello to me and was very nice. I believe it was at the World Dairy Expo in 2013 that I realised what a special person he is. Ellie Widerman was nine years old at the time, and we had taken “Toffee” to the red and white show. For those who don’t remember her as a child, she was very small. Michael was the judge, and he not only took the time to make sure he saw her heifer, but he also noticed when she was losing spots due to her young age, even if the placement didn’t seem important because she was in the bottom half of the class. Michael made a point of going to get my daughter because she had dropped 5 or 6 places due to adults blowing past her; he brought her up to 18th place, but he made a point of pushing a spot in line for her. So, even in one of the most important stages of his judging career, he was kind and caring. As I watched my little girl, his actions meant the world to me.
Nathan Thomas of Triple T Holsteins and Jersey’s shares is a long-time friend and partner of his. A legend is someone who is famous or notorious, especially in a particular field; Michal Heath, your knowledge and eye for cattle were unparalleled. You will be remembered as a legend in our industry, but to me, you were the kind of friend who comes along once in a lifetime; you were family to Jenny, myself, and our children. I’ve had the good fortune to ride tens of thousands of miles with you across the United States and Canada looking at cattle over the last 25 years. We had a lot of fun on those trips and had the honour of owning some great ones with you and putting together first-class sales, but seeing firsthand how much it meant to farmers and breeders all over the world to pick your brain and ask your opinion on what was out there that you liked showed me just how much you meant to our industry. I’ll miss those trips, but what I’ll remember most is your visit to our farm; your assessment of the cattle at Triple T meant more to me than you’ll ever know. Until we meet again, my friend, I’d like to thank you for your friendship and the path you’ve blazed for us all to follow. You are a living legend.
The very talented dairy cattle photographer Cybil Fisher shares “I will have to think long and hard about anyone in this current industry that had more drive and passion for cattle (not only Jerseys) than Michael. Nobody visited more herds in a year, and saw more “potential” in cattle AND people than MPH did. I’m going to miss talking with you about cows you are seeing, that you liked, and your “Bull List”. More Importantly….Thank You for being an organ donor. I have several close friends, who are alive today, because of individuals like you, who did so.”
When the full obituary is available, it will be posted here. Please keep the family in your prayers and thoughts.