Dairy Shrine to Honor Dairy’s Best at All-American

8/17/2013 7:00 AM

DENMARK, Wis. — On Sept. 11, the dairy industry will honor it’s top dairy producers, students and leaders at the annual National Dairy Shrine awards banquet in Harrisburg, Pa., during the 50th Anniversary of the All American Dairy Show.

The award winners come from a wide cross section of the dairy industry. The award winners are listed as follows.

Pa. Guernsey Breeder Named Distinguished Dairy <\n>Cattle Breeder

Berneta Gable, New Enterprise, Pa., will be honored as the 41st recipient of the Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder Award, given by the National Dairy Shrine. This is the highest honor awarded to a dairy cattle breeder.

Berneta manages the farm with her husband, Brad; son Aaron and his wife, Amy. Daughter Kendy also is active on the farm during show season and assisting with farm tours.

“Snider Homestead is truly a family farm built around hard work, attention to detail, honesty, integrity and a love for the Guernsey cow,” said Blaine Crosser, Select Sires Guernsey sire analyst.

Of the 212 registered Guernseys at Snider Homestead, 94 percent are homebred and bear the Sniders’ prefix. However, that hasn’t stopped Gable from buying a good one from time to time.

“Berneta’s ability to pick out a great one in the rough’ is bordering on legendary. She has done it many times, not by finding one in some backwoods location, but by making buys at public sales that adhere to the basics of selecting good cattle — functional type and deep cow families,” said Seth Johnson, executive secretary-treasurer of the American Guernsey Association.

Gable’s breeding philosophy focuses on building cow families. She places emphasis on a strong maternal line, udder, sound feet and legs, health traits and a combination of production and type, when choosing any sire.

One of Snider Homestead’s most prominent cow families is the Altann family, as in Cedar Fringed Altann, excellent-95, a Gold Star Dam. The maternal line of Altann, Aliyah, Aerolin and Adeline boasts four generations of excellent cows, scoring 93 points or higher. In addition, eight Altann daughters have been scored excellent and nine very good. The Altann family delivers consistent excellence, with one of her excellent-93 daughters producing another excellent-93, which then had an excellent-94 daughter. Snider Homestead currently has 11 active A.I. sires making their mark. Sniders Option Aaron-ET is currently the breed’s number one PTI sire and Sniders Ronalds Alstar ranks first for net merit. Gable’s focus on type and production has also resulted in her breeding the leading sire of All American breed nominations in 2012, Sniders Deemand Adacka-ET.

Gable’s breeding philosophy results in much more than show stoppers. Her cows shine in and out of the ring. In 2012 with 124 cows on test, Snider Homestead produced 16,983 pounds of milk, 745 pounds of fat and 579 pounds of protein, on average. In addition, in June of 2012 there were 12 cows in the herd with lifetime production over 100,000 pounds of milk.

Evidence of Gable’s success in the show ring can be found in champion cows like Sniders Opp Georgie, a two-time All American and a National Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo. The Gables have also had over 180 All American nominations and have exhibited National Grand Champions at all three National Guernsey shows, receiving numerous premier breeder and premier exhibitor honors along the way.

The Gables’ contribution to the Guernsey breed has not gone unrecognized. They have received many accolades for their dedication to improving the Guernsey cow, which includes the American Guernsey Association (AGA) Master Breeder Award in 2010, the highest recognition given in the Guernsey breed. Berneta was also the second recipient of the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award, the Dairy Woman of the Year at World Dairy Expo in 2000 and was awarded the Obie Snider Award at the All-American Dairy Show in 2007.

Clark Earns Graduate Production Award

Ryan Clark of Tyrone, Pa., is a deserving recipient of the 2013 National Dairy Shrine Graduate Dairy Production Award. The award was established to recognize, encourage and assist qualified two-year or four-year agricultural college graduates to pursue careers in commercial dairying and to gain ownership of dairy cattle with the intent of growing the size of their dairy herd. Entrants can apply during their second to ninth year after graduation. He will receive a $2,500 cash award from sponsor Elanco Animal Health which will be presented during the awards banquet for National Dairy Shrine.

Clark did not grow up on a dairy, but from the wages earned on local farms through his high school and college years, he was able to purchase 20 Registered Jerseys and house them at a neighbor’s dairy.

A 2007 graduate of Penn State with a bachelor of science degree in Animal Science and a minor in agronomy, Clark took a position with Cargill Animal Nutrition as a dairy focus consultant upon graduation. He credits this position with allowing him to see many successful dairies throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland and learn from them. While in college, Ryan also had the opportunity to intern with Fair Valley Farms, a 500-cow herd, and assist the herdsman with his management responsibilities gaining experience in a large herd setting. These experiences helped to make the young man more certain this was the route he wanted to take.

While balancing a full-time job and beginning his own dairy operation, Ryan was able to grow his herd of 20 cows to the current 160 lactating Jerseys and 25 replacement heifers. In 2009, when the herd grew by 70 milk cows, Ryan resigned his position with Cargill and began to focus on the herd fulltime. Today, he rents facilities for his current herd. The young dairy enthusiast plans to expand the herd to 240 milking cows over the next couple of years and then look to purchase his own dairy.

During this growth, Ryan was able to secure a loan during tough financial times by putting together a realistic and conservative financial plan with a projected cash flow that lenders could easily understand. And that has worked well for Ryan as he is projected to pay that loan off early. Ryan’s sound financial decisions show in his management. When purchasing cattle he worked with respected dairy producers in Pennsylvania and New York to put together an outstanding group of cows that are top producing individuals. In 2012, his herd had an American Jersey Cattle Association lactation average of 20,598 pounds milk, 1,019 pounds fat and 782 pounds protein on 122 lactations. This average ranked him fifth in the nation for fat production and sixth for protein production in herds of 80-149 lactations.

“I feel that the future of the dairy industry will be more consolidated with fewer farms, but the farms left will be much larger,” said Clark on his outlook of the future of dairying. “More partnerships or team ownership arrangements will help ease daily management challenges and combine capital to allow expansion or to purchase expensive, yet essential, farm land needed to feed these growing herds.”

For these reasons, Ryan is realistic in knowing that his current operation will allow for the growth to 240 cows, but because of parlor inefficiencies and animal units per acre, he needs to look at the big picture plan.

What is that plan? First, Ryan must finish filling his rental facilities and grow to 240 cows. When that level is reached, he will maintain that herd size over the next three years while planning a move to a long-term or permanent location. Also within those three years, he will finish paying off his start up loan and put him in a stronger financial position for future planning. His end goal: 500 milking cows.

How will he get there? Ryan is looking at all options since financing an expansion of this size will not be easy as he will need facilities and land. Perhaps it is an opportunity with a current dairy producer that is close to retirement and no one to carry on the family farm. Clark hopes to discuss a 10-year business plan, allowing them to retire, while still earning an income. No matter the route Clark takes to reach his goal, his friends, family, and business associates know that he will be successful.

Five Industry Pioneers Selected

This year’s honorees are renowned cattleman and showman R. Peter Heffering; Dr. William G. Bickert, one of the industry’s early innovators of cow comfort and technology; Dr. Clarence C. Olson, the dairy extension specialist who took DHIA testing to the next level; Maurice Keene a man who helped lead the direction of today’s Holstein breed; and Robert Heilman, who was instrumental in establishing international export opportunities to add value to U.S. cattle breeders.

Pioneer awardees are nominated by NDS members and selected by an anonymous committee, portraits of each inductee will join those of previous winners on permanent display in the museum.

Some may say that no single cattle breeder has left a legacy as longstanding as that of the late R. Peter Heffering. The son of a New York doctor, this “city kid” came to love agriculture, and by the time of his death in 2012, he had become one of the most revered cattlemen of all time.

The bloodlines of the industry’s best cows and bulls still trace back to Hanover Hill Holsteins, the influential herd Heffering developed with business partner Ken Trevena. Few herds have ever had the success that Hanover Hill did in producing proven bulls that consistently sired a balance of type and production, among them the famed Hanoverhill Starbuck, Hanover-Hill Inspiration and Hanover-Hill Triple Threat-Red.

The herd also staked its claim in the show ring with such cows as Brookview Tony Charity, five-time All Canadian and four-time All American. All together, they earned 145 All American and 99 All Canadian nominations, resulting in 31 All American, 34 Reserve All American, 24 All Canadian and 18 Reserve All Canadian awards. Among his laurels, he won grand champion female at the Royal Winter Fair five times, as well as winning Holstein grand champion and supreme champion female at World Dairy Expo six times, not to mention numerous premier breeder and premier exhibitor banners.

“A dairy farm was his classroom,” said colleagues of Dr. William G. Bickert, whose innovations and ideas fashioned the gold standards of today’s modern dairy farms in the areas of labor efficiency, cow comfort and environmental management.

Bickert completed a 45-year career at Michigan State University in the Agriculture Engineering Department, where he served as a teacher, researcher and extension specialist. His early research in the 1970s developed the first automatic milking machine detachers and other innovations that improved the through-put of herringbone and parallel milking parlors.

Bickert’s driving force throughout his research was cow comfort, which prompted him to improve the design of free stalls, including optimizing physical stall dimensions and loop design. A particular and distinct loop design was dubbed by the industry as the MSU loop. He also implemented sand bedding as a stall base to improve cow comfort, which led him to explore methods for handling manure-laden sand, thus having a part in creating the first sand separation system. He also introduced the concept of transition heifer barns and naturally ventilated free stall barns, further promoting cow health and comfort and producer profitability. These ideas have become commonly accepted practices throughout the United States and worldwide.

Olson spent the bulk of his career as a dairy extension specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Among his most notable work was the enhancement of Wisconsin’s DHIA testing program. He assumed statewide responsibility for the development of training programs for DHIA field technicians, area DHIA testing labs and educational programs to help producers use their records to improve their herds.

During his tenure, Olson founded the first of its kind Dairy Schools for Farm Women. The theme for these schools was Partners in Better Farming. In the 10 years that followed, 232 such schools were held; these were attended by nearly ten thousand women.

A life-long breeder and former president of Holstein Association USA, Maurice Keene of Auburn, Maine, has been a visionary for improvements and advancements in the Holstein breed.

A dairy farmer for more than 55 years, Keene began his career in partnership with his father, Raymond in 1952. Together they developed the herd with the Raymau prefix. Following his father’s death in 1979 Maurice continued Raymau farm as the sole proprietor. In 1989 son Steve and daughter-in-law Debbie returned to the home farm, where they purchased the farm buildings, 20 cows and 40 acres and established Dirigo Holsteins. As the Dirigo herd grew, Maurice moved about 50 of his Raymau cattle to daughter Linda and son-in-law Doug Hodorff’s Second Look Holsteins in Wisconsin, where the Raymau prefix continued for the next decade. In the meantime, he continued involvement in the home farm in Maine assisting with feeding and crops until he retired in 2010.

The Raymau herd was recognized as a Progressive Breeders Registry (PBR) winner, and earned over 20 Gold Medal Dams, Dams of Merit and Gold Medal Sires. The Raymau prefix has bred 43 excellent and 175 very good cows with the “C” family being a continuous 12 generation maternal line of very good or excellent cows.

Keene is credited as being among the first of a core group of Holstein breeders who recognized the need to promote genetic progress based on the best science available. He and others had the foresight to create a team approach along with industry professionals to act as the catalyst to the industry’s evolution from daughter-dam comparisons to herdmate comparisons in the 1960s. During Keene’s term of leadership on the Holstein Association Rules Committee (now called the Genetic Advancement Committee), Holstein descriptive type classification was developed, and the Holstein genetic information bible the Red Book was custom designed. Both advancements offered dairy producers up to date type and production data in a user friendly format right at their fingertips.

Pennsylvania native Robert Heilman is credited with creating a new source of revenue for the American dairy cattle breeder through the international movement of embryos.

During the first half of Heilman’s professional career, he promoted the Holstein breed and association’s programs and policies as a program director for the Holstein-Friesian Association of America and later as the international marketing coordinator for Holstein Friesian Services. Heilman assisted Holstein breeders and local and state organizations in seven states.

The second part of his career was in International marketing and promotion of the dairy industry. Heilman recognized the forthcoming health embargo into the European market for live animals. Foreseeing that embryos were the safest health method to for importation Heilman marketed this attribute to maintain his genetic market in Europe.

The marketing process started in 1978 through expanding his knowledge of the current procedures for embryo recovery and implantation.

Heilman was partner in American Marketing Service (AMS) Genetics, Inc., an organization which provided embryo marketing and export. In 1981, AMS exported the first commercial embryos from the United States to Budapest, Hungary, and later that year to France. It was in May, 1984, under Heilman’s capable watch, the first exported frozen embryos were successfully implanted in dairy cattle in France. As president of AMS Genetics in 1997, with more than 25 years of international marketing under his belt, he focused on the promotion and building of “genetic bridges” across the globe to the benefit of AMS and its clients. Heilman has served as chairman of the All-American Dairy Foundation and the Holstein Foundation Fundraising Committee.

Guest of Honor

Robert Cropp, professor emeritus, department of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been named the 2013 National Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor.

This prestigious award is given each year to salute a contemporary leader for outstanding achievements and contributions that benefit the dairy industry.

An expert in milk pricing and marketing, Cropp’s career spans more than 47 years in the dairy industry. He has worked at the intersection of dairy producers, dairy processors, dairy cooperatives, government agencies and lawmakers, providing unbiased analysis, recommendations and information in all aspects of dairy policy and marketing.

In addition to discussions with producers, Cropp has shared his knowledge through industry events, classroom education and media outreach. A read through the title of Robert Cropp’s publications reveals the breadth of his expertise, with topics including futures trading, options trading, market pooling or de-pooling, and federal milk market order reform amongst the many.

Cropp began his career in 1966 at the University of Platteville and in 1990 started work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Although Cropp retired in 2003, he still teaches dairy marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course.

“Bob Cropp is an individual of humility, impeccable integrity and an incredible energy and capacity for hard work,” said George Shook, professor of dairy science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “He has great compassion for others, especially farmers, and he is passionate about informing producers and industry leaders about the dynamics and intricacies of milk pricing and dairy marketing.”

Cropp has received numerous accolades for his contributions to the dairy industry, including the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison gives out, but out of all of them he says, “I feel extremely honored and humbled to receive the National Dairy Shrine Guest of Honor award. I know people who have won this award and I am among very good company.”

Cropp has four children and 11 grandchildren and resides in Madison, Wis., with his wife Bette.

Progressive Producers from Midwest

Saluting the accomplishments that talented young dairy operators have already made, as well as nurturing their future efforts, is the goal of the National Dairy Shrine Progressive Producer Recognition. These dairy producers must have already demonstrated leadership in the dairy industry and their communities. These grants are open to active dairy producers age 21 to 50 in two herd size categories — less than 300 cows milking, and over 300 cows. Each winner receives a $2,000 educational travel stipend to introduce them to new technologies, methods and people that may help them continue to advance their leadership, management and farm performance.

The two extremely successful and progressive producers being recognized in 2013 are Bill and Kelle Calvert of Cuba City, Wisconsin, in the small herd category, and Dana and Cary Metzger of Rock Rapids, Iowa, in the large herd category.

Small cow numbers, but enormous passion for genetics, animal performance, and the dairy industry are trademarks of registered Holstein breeders Bill and Kelle Calvert. Although their Moorclose Holsteins dairy of 82 cows was started just 15 years ago, their goals of being a top family oriented dairy operation are well on their way. They are the fifth generation of Calverts to farm where they are today, having bought the cows in 2000 and the 450 acres of land in 2009. Things have been nonstop ever since. The herd’s quality and productivity have soared. Milk production average has increased over 7,000 pounds per cow in the last five years. It is currently over 27,000 pounds of milk, 900 pounds of butterfat and 850 pounds of protein on three-times-a-day milking.

Strength and wisdom certainly resulted from multiple carefully planned and detailed expansion projects taken on by Multi-Rose Jerseys, which, as the dairy industry can look back upon and appreciate now, came at less than ideal times.

The herd of more than 1,500 Jerseys that the third-generation family corporation milks today was just 90 cows in 1999. It was then, just two years out of college that Dana partnered with one of his brothers to buy out one of their uncles. In 2002 they took a quantum management leap and expanded the herd to 500 cows. Little did they know that milk prices would collapse that year to their second-lowest level in more than two decades. A second brother joined the partnership in 2009, the worst financial year the industry had seen since the Great Depression, and a third joined in 2010, when it was still gripped in a brutal cost and price squeeze. A second huge expansion, this time to 1,100 cows, occurred in 2012 when the worst drought that the U.S. had seen in half a century crippled many dairies.

Metzger has already had leadership positions by serving on the Northwest Iowa DHIA board and one term as president. He is also active in the Lyon County Dairy Association, Iowa Farm Bureau and the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance.

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