Virginia Holstein Member Spotlight
Steve Zirkle, New Market
Nestled in the beautiful hills of Shenandoah County is Cedar Bluff Dairy which has been in the Zirkle family since 1929. Steve’s great grandfather purchased the farm which consists of 200 acres. His grandfather milked twelve cows and carried the milk in cans. His mother, Barbara’s home farm in Edinburg was home to six cows that got milked by hand. William and Barbara Zirkle raised two sons, Steve and his older brother, Jeff, on the farm and they currently milk around eighty cows.
Steve has been active in the Holstein industry his whole life. Since he was five years old, he loved cows and was determined to work with them when he got older. He was a 4-H member and participated in dairy judging, dairy bowl and has always enjoyed showing cows. The cow, KOLK CHARMCROSS BETTY started his family with registered cattle. Her sire was Vigo Charmcross and he got her from his good, Quicksburg neighbors, Butch and Barbara Street. She lived to be sixteen years old after having her 13th calf! He had three Elevation daughters from her. The Street’s were great influences on Steve. They served as Junior Holstein leaders and Butch took Steve to the State shows. Butch was also the former sale chairman for the Virginia Holstein Association. Steve was able to attend the National Convention in 1976, held in Philadelphia. His favorite convention was the 1979 Colorado convention where they met up with Riley and Barbara Wagner, Bridgewater, on the tours. From 1993-1996, Steve worked off the home farm for R. Lynn Brubaker, near Ottobine/Dayton area as a herdsman.
Another great Holstein influence for Steve, since 1980, was the late Larry Kibler, Ken-Wan Farm in Luray. Steve helped him at shows and also housed cattle for him for several years. Larry shared his knowledge of Holstein cattle and emphasized breeding for a combination of strength and dairyness. Steve’s travels with Ken-Wan took him to the State Fairs of Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. He also got the opportunity to travel to Canada. Several cattle in Steve’s herd include Larry’s prominent cow families- Pretty, Lucky Barb and Ella.
Current bulls being used at Cedar Bluff Dairy are: Aftershock, Sid, Fever, Golden Dreams and all of the St. Jacob’s Judges Choice bulls (program member herd) and sires of the current milking herd include Talent, Goldsun, Destry, Aftershock, Atwood, Sid, Fever and Dundee.
A few “standout” purchased cows are an Excellent 3 year old, BAF-ZBW Atwood Glamour-ET, purchased at the VA Sale of Stars as a bred heifer, who has six VG or EX dams behind her from the Burr-Ayr Farms breeding. Also, an 86 point 3 year old, Butlerview After Alameda-ET, purchased at the Maryland March Madness sale as a bred heifer and recently, Steve is excited about acquiring three, new milk cows from the final Windsor-Manor sale in New Windsor, Maryland.
Steve “wears a couple of other hats” besides herd manager at his home dairy and relief milker for a neighbor. He served as the Shenandoah County Dairy Club 4-H leader with James and Julie Barb for five years and was very active in participating and promoting a calf lease program for youth on the state level. He has accompanied 4-Hers to the Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina State Fairs, Shenandoah County fair, State Holstein shows and judging contests. They had eighteen members in the club and several, supportive parent volunteers. He has hosted area 4-H and Virginia Tech judging team practices at the farm for at least ten years and represents his district as a current Virginia Holstein Association board member.
The current facilities include a single six side herringbone parlor and free stall barn with access to pasture. The Zirkle’s feed corn silage top dressed with a grain mix. In 2005, a hoop barn for calves and prefresh group was constructed, as the result of a barn fire. In the future, Steve hopes to be able to build a pack barn and wants to continue to breed for high type cattle with a balance of strength and dairyness and nearly perfect udders. He is using more sexed semen on his heifers to help increase herd size. This, he hopes, will also help him have more heifers available in the future to consign to state sales. Steve, THANK YOU for your sponsorship and support of Virginia Holsteins over the years and best of luck in the future.