Holstein Association USA is pleased to honor seven U.S. Registered Holstein breeders as 2013 Herd of Excellence award recipients. The Herd of Excellence designation was introduced six years ago to honor dairymen who have bred and raised Holstein cattle that are consistently performing at the highest levels for them.
To be named a Herd of Excellence, herds must be 25 percent above breed average Mature Equivalent (ME) for milk, fat and protein; have classified within the last year and have an actual average classification score of 83 points or higher; have at least 70 percent of the herd homebred; and be enrolled in the Association’s TriStar production records program.
This year’s honorees include: David Bachmann, Pinehurst Farms, Sheboygan, Wis.; Tim Baker, Star-Summit Farm, Byron Center, Mich.; Joseph A. Brantmeier, Hilrose Holsteins, Sherwood, Wis.; Janice Jurbala, Spotlite-J Holsteins, Orangeville, Pa.; Thomas J. Kestell, Ever-Green-View Farms, Waldo, Wis.; Randy W. Kortus, Mainstream Holsteins, Lynden, Wash.; and Benjamin F. & Carolyn A. Turner, Maplelane-Manor Farm, Apulia Station, N.Y.
Pinehurst Farms, David Bachmann, Sheboygan
1-Year Honoree, 81.8 percent homebred; average classification score: 89.5; ME averages: 35,523M 1,607F 1,037P
David Bachmann began breeding Registered Holsteins in 1947, and took over his grandfather’s dairy farm. Since then he has worked to develop an internationally recognized herd, widely respected for their homebred animals with outstanding type and milk production. The herd at Pinehurst today is smaller than it once was, with 24 cows milked three times a day. Cows are housed in the tiestall barn, with some box stalls available for special individuals.
Bachmann says that at Pinehurst, their focus has always been on efficient milk production and reproduction. “We believe that cows breed to the average of their inheritance,” he says. “We try to update the average of their inheritance with each generation.” David advises other breeders, “If you set a target [for your breeding program] and try to maintain it, even if you can’t always, it is the effort to do that which increases your chances of success.”
Through the years, they have participated in both classification and production testing programs, proving the outstanding performance of their cattle. The proof is in the results; just looking at animals bearing the Pinehurst prefix, you will find 57 classified EX-93 or higher, with five at EX-96, and 4 at EX-95. Additionally, they have bred four Gold Medal SiresSM, 33 Gold Medal DamsSM, and 12 Dams of MeritSM. David believes that if you breed for type, you will get cows with sound milk production, commenting that the original concept for “type” was established by the traits cows have which allow them to produce large volumes of milk.
One cow family who continues to bring notoriety to the Pinehurst herd in recent years is that of Pinehurst Royal Rosa-ET EX-91, who was the first twelfth generation Excellent cow in the breed. Impressively, Rosa is backed by six generations of cows (and sometimes sires, too) with the Pinehurst prefix. Of course, Rosa went on to have 16 Excellent daughters herself, who have produced several branches of the family which have done well for their owners.
Hilrose Holsteins, Joseph A. Brantmeier, Sherwood
6-Year Honoree, 86.4 percent homebred; average classification score: 86.7; ME averages: 34,350M 1,259F 984P
Hilrose Holsteins is a true family dairy, owned and operated by Joe Brantmeier and his two sons, Andy and Jeff. They milk 90 Registered Holsteins twice a day in their tiestall barn, and are the only farm in the country to have received Herd of Excellence honors every year the award has been given, since 2008. Additionally, they have earned Progressive Breeders Registry honors for 23 years, and are a five-year Progressive Genetics Herd.
Hilrose is enrolled in the Holstein COMPLETE program, and use Official Holstein ear tags for registration. Joe says he finds value in all of the programs Holstein Association USA offers but they especially enjoy classification. “Our family always looks forward to classification. It gives us a good chance to see how things are progressing.” Joe was proud to have, at one time, had five generations of cows all alive and milking in his barn, all classified Excellent.
The Brantmeiers pay close attention to cow families, and enjoy making matings that complement the strengths of each. Some families are bred for high type and the show ring, while they have others which are more focused on high genomic values, and have recently exported embryos to China and Germany. “That’s the neat thing about the Registered business,” Joe said, “there’s room for everyone!”
No matter the cow family and what the specific breeding goals are for a mating, they maintain an overriding philosophy of striving to breed profitable cows with sound type, who live long, productive lives. A few of the bulls currently being used as service sires include Apples Absolute-Red-ET, Domicole Chelios-ET, Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood-ET and Mr Chassity Gold Chip-ET. Joe’s advice for younger breeders is to “buy the best animals you can, and remember that when you buy an animal, you are not only buying her, but the future offspring she will produce.” He adds, “Also use good bulls, whatever your criteria for a ‘good bull’ is. Don’t lose sight of type, and focus on making long-lasting cows.”
Joe, Andy and Jeff officially formed an LLC last summer for the dairy, and are excited about the future of their operation. Joe’s wife, Chris, is a recently retired teacher who has been heavily involved with their county committee which is hosting the Alice in Dairyland finals this month, and they also have a daughter, Sara.
Ever-Green-View Farms, Thomas J. Kestell, Waldo
3-Year Honoree, 73.4 percent homebred; average classification score: 83.6; ME averages: 34,199M 1,354F 1,038P
With over 50 years of experience in the Registered Holstein business, Tom Kestell’s motto at Ever-Green-View Farms is, “Where dreams come true.” Pursuing his dream, Tom and family milk 86 cows three times a day in their tiestall barn in eastern Wisconsin. Their hard work and dedication to consistency has paid off; in addition to being multi-year Herd of Excellence honorees, Ever-Green-View has received the Progressive Genetics Herd award for 21 years, and earned Progressive Breeders Registry recognition for 12 years. The herd is enrolled in Holstein COMPLETE.
Tom employs a progressive breeding strategy to capitalize on the quality genetics his herd possesses, and to ensure genetic gain generation after generation. They are genomic testing many calves, but Tom is quick to emphasize that it is used as a “starting tool,” not as a final decision. He says, “In order to stay in business, you have to change as things change.” This has led to utilizing more genomic young sires to help them remain competitive. He seeks out bulls who come from proven cow families, with strong maternal lines and a sire stack he admires.
Kestell believes strongly that “you get what you breed for,” and because of that, his breeding program revolves around high fat and protein, balanced with high milk production and good udders. A few of the bulls currently being used on the farm are Rickland Predestine 669-ET, Seagull-Bay Supersire-ET and Val-Bisson Doorman-ET. He does an extensive amount of flushing, and last year made 3,000 embryos, the majority of which were exported.
Tom credits consistency in all areas of their operation as a key to keeping their cows performing at a high level. “We have always had consistent goals for both production and type,” said Tom. “We are not breeding for show type, but for very functional type, yet never taking production out of the equation.” He also advises, “You have to decide where you want to go and stick with it. It’s important to stay focused on your breeding goals and not jump around.” He has also been blessed with good help through the years, including one son who is currently farming with him. Finally, he feels that their steady supply of quality feed has been beneficial for the cows. Tom is excited for the future of the Holstein breed, and feels there is no limit to the potential of what can be achieved for herd averages.