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2014 National Holstein Report

2014 Holstein Convention in Dubuque, IA

Delegate report by Matt Nuckols

Hello fellow VA Holstein members,

As I am flying home from Holstein Convention I thought it would be nice for me to share my experience. It was a very busy several days for me moving from one event, meeting, or activity to another but I had a lot of fun, met some new people, caught up with friends, and learned more about our association. I’ll try to organize things as best I can.

Distinguished Junior Member

On Wednesday I had a great privilege to be one of six to interview the 12 DJM semi-finalist this year. I cannot express how impressive the young men and women were. This year’s group was 9 women and 3 men. They all are extremely bright, quick with their responses, and handle themselves very well. On a quick side note, they all have extensive dairy judging experience also. Just saying!!!!!

Farm tours

Regancrest, Henkessen, Moondale, Wesselcrest

The farm tour I went on for host day was quite entertaining! I’ll get to the farms in a minute. But first I have to mention that I along with Liz Leonard, Davey Hardesty, and Connor Shendow was on the bus that ended up in the ditch. If you’re on Facebook be sure to look at the pictures. We’re talking an 8-10 foot ditch and the bus nearly tipped onto its side. In the end we were all fine, had to switch buses, and that bus may still be stuck in that ditch for all I know.

Regancrest is a very beautiful farm but we only had 45 minutes and I made the mistake of visiting with friends for half of it. I missed out on seeing more of the cows but I can say of the 900 they are milking it was hard to find a bad one. Real hard! They have a double 16 (I think that many stalls) herring bone rapid exit parlor that seems relatively new. The whole barn is slatted floors and the have mattresses covered with sawdust. I did see several hock abrasions.

Henkessen is a nice family operation with a tie stall barn of around 70. A high BAA herd that uses mostly high type bulls. Not a lot of really high scored cows almost all were VG or EX and a few Plus young cows. I mostly liked a 93 point Toystory that was I think a Grand or Reserve grand at an IA state show last year. Also had my eye caught by an 85 point 2 year old Observer. I’ll certainly leave bulls out but they had cows by Atwood, Goldwyn, Sanchez, Advent, and Jasper. Another note was an impressive new heifer barn they built that I was mostly surprised that it had about 20 feet under roof and 35 feet outside. All of it was concreted and they feed at headlocks outside and bed the inside with corn stalks. They also were feeding round bales of course hay my best guess being orchard grass. I didn’t ask what their energy (grain or personal mix) was but they weren’t feeding silage. The heifers looked amazing and ready to take into a show ring. Very deep ribbed.

Moondale was another nice small tie stall herd with a very friendly laid back family. They had amazing snacks and offered beer on ice too. I didn’t see very many takers at all on that but thought I’d mention it. Pretty exclusive type and proven bull breeding on this farm. They still had several Durhams, one Junior 3 I really liked. Partly because I didn’t look at the cows enough at Regancrest maybe but my favorite cow of the trip was definitely an 88 Fever Sr 2 they had in a box stall. You show junkies watch for her this fall and let me know if she does anything! Also some great looking heifers too.

Wessellcrest put in 2 Lely robots 2 years ago and built a freestall barn with it that has ally scraper, headlocks, and beds with sand. They are currently getting an astounding 6500 lbs/day/robot. They are doing this by milking 70 cows/robot which is well over the 60 you usually hear. I asked the owner how he is doing it and he said they do it by moving out the low producers and any cows, usually 2 year olds, which take over 7 minutes to milk. They also have an old tie stall barn where they milk about 50.

Delegate Meetings

Friday began my delegate duties with meetings. Before the annual meeting started the early bird session was a panel discussion with Frank Regan and Bob Miller mediated by Corey Gieger and several questions from the floor. It’s always great to hear from successful breeders from our industry. Both told neat stories about the purchases of Dellia and Roxy respectively. Both made mention of the importance of promoting their cow families through advertisement. Mr. Miller rattled off stats about Roxy descendants as if he was reading off a paper but it was all from his head. I didn’t take the note but I believe the number of excellent descendants of Roxy was in 600s!

Some notes I did take:

Frank Regan

  • About genomics “type is pretty accurate, production seems hit or miss. Production needs to be tweaked.”

  • Again about genomics “Need to use more than one bull”

  • He genomic tesst all his females he thinks might be workable

  • About buying high end animals “invest in several not just one because some don’t work out”

Bob Miller

  • Philosophy – stuck with long lived high performance cows.

  • Would like to see reproductive traits improved

  • He is not interested in a pedigree without performance numbers

  • On buying animals “Buy 3 or 4. Work with the good ones and don’t be bashful about getting rid of the bad ones”

  • On buying “If there is a big difference (200 or 300 points) in genomics you better go with the higher genomics”

A major highlight for me from the meeting was from Lindsey Worden. She unveiled a new program from Holstein USA called Enlight. You can get to it by going to There is way more to the program than I can type so I highly suggest you visit the page or the main association page and learn more about it. The simplest I can say is it is a way to get information about your own animals such as their genetic evaluation and also you overall herd and ranking list. This is a poor explaining so please investigate yourself or hassle Hendrix! It also involves a partnership in genomic testing with Zoetis that likely will result in a major increase in basic registrations from large herds that currently are not registered. I believe it will be the talk of the registered world over the next year.

The afternoon session included a panel of young breeders that was mediated by John Meyer and again had questions from the floor. 2 of the 5 were from YDLI class 8 (There’s that program again!) Brent Schuler and Ashely Abbott. The young breeders were very impressive and spoke about transitioning their farms, starting their own farms, balancing young families, use of technology, robotic milkers, influence of college and internships. It was a popular session.

We met our candidates for the Board of Directors on Friday as well and had question and answer with them in the afternoon. Directors elected were; re-elected Mike Jones, Indiana and Roy Buessing, Kan. New directors John Burket, Pa. and Dale Drendel, IL. Retiring directors were Jim Burdette, PA and Boyd Schaffuelberger, IL.

Discussion that spanned from the meeting to the caucuses to delegate breakfast included:

  • Adjustments to the TPI formula. The new formula took 3 percent off type and 2 percent off Productive Life. It will add points to new feed efficiency and fertility composites. If I’m not exact on these percentages I’m close. As best I understand it these changes increase importance on health traits a little because of the fertility composite. Type won’t be decreased as much as it seems at first glance because of the linear traits that will be factored into the feed efficiency composite.

  • There was quite a bit of discussion on “Body size” The effects of this are reflected in the TPI formula adjustments. Board members want to better measure body size so that it is not simply measured by stature. Cows are getting too tall is the opinion of the majority. There is a goal to make cows that are more balance through the breed. We’re not talking about show cows in this regard, there doesn’t seem to be a lot effort to make many changes in the show ring. Quoting Bob Miller again “I don’t want to be the first judge to say I even though this cow has the best udder, the best feet and legs, and most dairy structure, I made her third because she’s too tall” He’s a character.

  • A couple of rough numbers to expect with the early 2015 base change are type to go down .99, milk to go down 430, and DPR to go down .2

  • There was a little discussion about should bulls 99% be bumped to 100% after a certain number of generations. A board member said they could possibly use genomics to help with this because they tell us if they are truly 100% Holstein.

We passed a resolution allowing the board to adjust deadlines for delegate selection. On that note estimates from my memory are there were 110 possible delegate seats, 98 elected, and 93 present from 38 states. Virginia has 2 seats which were myself and Randy Inman this year. James Cook also attended all meetings and I think we should all encourage him to run for our area board seat next year!

National Convention Sale

I socialized through much of the sale and didn’t get a lot of numbers for you on that. I know it had 93 lots and averaged over 14,000. I know a calf for Cool Lawn brought around 32,000. I hope the Smiths are happy about that. I sincerely apologize if I left out any others with VA connections but I barely looked through the catalog. It was a busy week and I wasn’t buying.

There was a lot of love flowing from Dubuque to our dear friends Reese Burdette and Patricia Stiles and their families. There wasn’t a prayer said that didn’t include them. There were auction items and donation buckets throughout. Jim Burdette wasn’t able to attend and is clearly very respected by his fellow board members and dairy breeders. So many people want so badly for these two brave women to pull through this tragedy and to just remove the hurt from the whole family!

I probably forgot something unfortunately but feel free to ask me about it. This was the fourth time I have served as a delegate and I so wish I had attended more conventions in the past. I have learned so much about what our association has to offer by doing so. Please, PLEASE strongly consider attending next year in IL and find out for yourself what I have. I hope you are all having a great summer!

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