Five Young Jersey Breeders Recognized in 2020

The AJCA Board of Directors has named five recipients of the Young Jersey Breeder Award for 2020. They are Jason Chamberlain, Vale, Ore.; Julian and Nicole Cowan, Nehalem, Ore.; Walter Graves, Dundas, Ill.; Derrick and Kaycee Josi, Tillamook, Ore.; and Kevin Krejci and Lisa Demmer, Ellsworth, Wis.

The first Young Breeder Awards were presented in 1976. Since then, more than 280 producers have received this award, including this year’s recipients.

The Young Breeder Award is presented to individuals or couples younger than the age of 40 on January 1 of the year nominated who merit recognition for their expertise in dairy farming, breeding Jersey cattle, participation in American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) and National All-Jersey Inc. (NAJ) programs, and leadership in Jersey and other dairy and agriculture organizations.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, the honorees will receive their awards later this year. The AJCA and NAJ boards of directors voted to cancel the originally planned AJCA-NAJ Annual Meetings in Portland, Ore. Details will be announced at a later date.

Jason Chamberlain

Jason Chamberlain, Dairylain Farms, LLC, Vale, Ore., is a third-generation dairy farmer who has always had a love for cows. Today, his 550-cow Registered Jersey farm, plus youngstock, is a part of the legacy he hopes to pass to future generations.

The family dairy, started by Jason’s grandparents in 1971 and continued by his parents, Warren and Lori Chamberlain, has always been a huge part of his life. However, the dairy participated in one of the dairy buyouts in 1987. In 1992, the family began milking cows again.

“Even though I was young, I can remember building the herd from the original 50 head of Jersey springers we purchased at that time,” wrote Jason in his application.
Those 50 heifers were the base for what is now a 550-cow dairy farm milked by eight Lely automated milking systems. The family also farms 500 acres which allows them to raise most of their forages. This includes corn silage, alfalfa hay, haylage, triticale silage and most of their corn grain needs.

In 2006, Jason graduated from Oregon State University (OSU) with a master’s degree in dairy nutrition. During his collegiate career, he was active with many organizations, but most notably the OSU dairy judging team, Dairy Club and the Agriculture Executive Council. He co-chaired the OSU Beaver Classic in 2003 and 2005, along with many other leadership roles during his tenure there.

On his summers off from OSU, Jason would return home to help on the family’s dairy. He came to enjoy mating and breeding cows and was proud to take ownership of his decisions. In 2004 and 2005, he led himself and Dairylain Farms to Premier Breeder and Exhibitor awards at the Western Idaho State Fair.

After completing his degrees, Jason knew he planned to return to the family’s dairy farm, however, he wanted to utilize his knowledge and degree elsewhere first. Therefore, he began working as an independent nutrition consultant in the Northwest. While doing this, Jason would return to the home farm when possible, as well as occasionally judge dairy shows.

Jason and his wife, Mary, were married in 2007. In 2008, the desire to be more involved with Dairylain Farms, LLC brought them back to Vale. The couple has welcomed three boys to their family: Jackson, Isaac and Henry.

Jason made the decision to return to the dairy full-time and start his own business, Chamberlain Nutrition Consulting, in 2015.

“As with every aspect of life and the dairy industry, times change and so must you,” penned Jason. The family knew it was time to grow and evolve to allow for Jason and Mary to be involved.

The dairy started an ambitious expansion. In July 2016, they started milking with six Lely robots. By 2018, the Chamberlains doubled their herd size to the current count of 550 head of milking and dry cows. That fall, they added two more robotic milking systems and shut down their milking parlor on January 1, 2019. Today, Jason continues to run his nutrition business while operating the dairy with Mary and his parents.

Jason’s goal is to breed high quality, long lasting cows with excellent udders and solid feet and legs. When talking about this subject, Jason said, “This is a philosophy which not only do I follow, but was preached by my dad and grandpa about. I hope I am passing this down to my own boys.”

Currently, 75% of the milking herd is bred using genomic bulls and 50% of the heifers are pasture bred. Jason does use JerseyMateTM to assist making the herd’s breeding decisions. The fruits of Jason’s labor are apparent, as during their December 2019 appraisal they had seven new Excellent cows, including Dairylain Titanic Rocket 2062 {6}, Excellent-94%. “Rocket 2062” has four Excellent dams behind her, including Dairylain Sooner Betty 286 {2}, who was the only other Excellent-94% individual to call Dairylain Farms, LLC home. These individuals hail from the cow family Jason showed through his 4-H and FFA career.

This REAP herd’s current actual rolling herd average was 18,857 lbs. milk, 898 lbs. fat and 669 lbs. protein. They have had one individual make a Hall of Fame record for actual cheese yield, Dairylain Centurion Action 1323 {4} with a 305-day production record of 24,180–1,192–952 with 3,231 lbs. cheese yield at 5-11.

“Giving back to the industry and community is a priority in our lives,” said Jason. When talking about his role as a dairy representative on the Oregon Beef Council from 2009-2018, of which three years he chaired the council, he wrote, “This was a wonderful opportunity to give back to our state and help not just promote beef, but also to fund research to aid both the dairy and beef industries.”

Executive Direct Tami Kerr of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association wrote in a letter of support, “Jason was very involved with and led the Beef Council’s animal sciences grants program that provided financial support to search that benefited both the beef and dairy industries. Jason was instrumental in building a stronger alliance between beef and dairy producers.”

Jason and Mary are involved in the local 4-H and FFA programs. They help train dairy teams for contests and assist the FFA program, as well as host tours for every age group: preschool to senior citizens. They have even hosted 200 plus FFA students on a dairy judging day at the farm.

The couple also serves as superintendents for the 4-H and open shows at their county fair, as well as help run their local dairy replacement program at the fair.

In the closing of his application, Jason wrote, “Now that our own children are getting the desire to show, raise and breed their own cattle, we are getting the joy (and some frustration) of the full circle of where the dairy has been and where it is going.”

Julian and Nicole Cowan

Julian Cowan, Nehalem, Ore., grew up on his family’s 80-cow Holstein dairy farm in Puget Island, Wash., with his parents, Brad and Melody, and siblings Aleia, Nathaniel and Marika. The children were given chores on the family dairy as soon as they could be helpful, and Julian received two registered Holsteins to start his herd.

When Julian was 13-years-old, the family moved to Astoria, Ore., for the increased farming opportunities and to ship milk to Tillamook County Creamy Association (TCCA). They brought 80 cows on their move with immediate plans for expansion, something not possible at their previous location. Since producing milk with higher components was more profitable, the family started breeding for and buying Jerseys.

In 2004, they installed a 60-bale rotary parlor built by a New Zealand (NZ) company. The Cowans had previously been milking 400 cows, immediately expanded to 650 and soon were milking 1,000 cows with more land and the ability to milk 500 cows an hour.

With an interest in management and grazing, Julian took the opportunity to move to NZ to learn more. “Altogether, I worked on three different farms around the North Island; it was an unforgettable experience,” wrote Cowan. “I still go back every year or two to visit and look at the farms that are supplying bulls to the NZ A.I. companies.” Cowan’s wife, Nicole, also did a work experience in NZ.

In 2014, the Cowan family purchased another farm in Nehalem, Ore., with the intent to set up another grazing dairy to capitalize on their excess stock. This is where Julian, Nicole and their sons call home—GreenGold Dairy LLC.

In the fall of 2015, Julian met Nicole and they were married in August of 2016. They have two sons, Kywin, 2, and Kingston, 1.

“It is my goal to give our sons every opportunity to learn and work on the farm growing up,” wrote Julian in his application. “Hopefully they will inherit Nicole’s and my love of Jerseys and farming.”  Nicole had a small herd of Registered Jerseys on her mother’s farm in Eugene, Ore. They came with her after they married and are still going strong in the herd today.

“Julian and Nicole are infectious in their enthusiasm for the Jersey breed,” wrote Desi Josi, Tillamook, Ore., of Wilsonview Dairy.

Julian and Nicole moved to Nehalem in early 2016 to manage the family’s operation there. In 2017, a 20-cow swing over parlor with milk meters with butterfat, protein and conductivity censors was installed at the dairy. They were able to grow the herd at this facility from 280 to 400 cows with the more labor efficient and higher quality parlor.

As they expanded through the years, the Cowans focused on using NZ Jersey genetics on their mostly Holstein herd. Which resulted in an expanding amount of crossbreds and more Jerseys. The crossbreds were registered through the Jersey expansion and Genetic Recovery programs.

When describing his breeding program, Julian stated, “When I am looking for bulls to use on my herd, I am always wanting to make a more sound, healthy animal.” He mentioned he aims for good production, lots of strength, extreme fertility, low SCC, great feet and legs, strong and capacious udders, high components, A2A2 genes and reasonably tall stature.

The Cowan family has used mainly NZ bulls throughout the past 15 years, along with homebred bulls with NZ genetics on both a natural and custom collection basis. They have gone back to adding North American bulls into their program recently.

“Julian uses many different sires (from high GJPI to foreign pedigreed) to breed his cows to, but his philosophy always comes back to a profitable cow that is able to graze and utilize the abundant grass available on their farm,” said Tom and Jennie Seals, Beaver, Ore., Legendairy Farms, LLC.

Until 2019, Julian was doing the A.I. and individual matings on both farms, but he recently gave up doing the A.I. work at the Astoria farm and just makes mating recommendations for each cow now. In the future, they will continue to genomic test bulls and collect select individuals based on those results. Currently, they are using about 20% young sires to service the herd.

After learning how to artificially inseminate in the spring of 2007, Julian went on to learn how to do his own embryo transfer that fall.
AJCA Master Breeders Bearl and Joanne Seals, Cloverdale, Ore., wrote in letter of support, “He [Julian] is a self-taught pioneer in embryo transfer, ultrasound and IVF, using these procedures long before they became mainstream.”

When looking for females to flush and keep bulls from, Julian wants them to be above herd mates on production, great conformation, superb udder and from a great cow family. As Julian stated in his application, “I want cows that are going to last and be trouble-free doing it.”

Julian remembers his first Registered Jersey fondly. At the 2000 Washington County Youth Sale, he purchased, Little River Patrick Calee, Excellent-90%, who started his “love affair with the Jersey breed that is still going strong to this day.”

Another purchase that has impacted the herd was Oregon Mannix Classique, Very Good-87%. A majority of his herd is either a direct maternal or paternal descendent, as she was an incredible brood cow. Julian flushed her twice with great results for both male and female offspring.

“The management style on our dairies has always been to try and drive profit by low-cost dairying,” said Julian. The cows, especially on the Astoria farm, have to walk up to three miles a dairy to the furthest pasture, therefore it is important to the Cowans the cows have a higher component milk.

“By feeding small amounts of grain and very little brought in feed, we don’t need to get high production to be profitable,” he wrote. They also graze on fresh pasture once or twice a day, depending on the time of year. Both farms run mostly seasonally, with 90% of the cows calving between February and May.

In 2018, the Cowan’s herd received a top-quality award for their production. As of January 1, 2020, the farm’s actual rolling herd average was 11,487 lbs. milk, 619 lbs. fat and 442 lbs. protein based on 400 cows.

As of recent, Julian has bred 65 Excellent cows with 14 of those being from his own homebred bulls. Their September 2019 appraisal averaged Very Good-83.2% on 370 head. He is content breeding the type of cows that work for them and their farming system. A hope for him is to someday influence the Jersey world with the genetics he’s creating.

The Cowan family will soon be seeing changes. His parents have decided to sell the Astoria farm, the original Cowan Dairy. As of January 1, Julian has a larger stake in the Nehalem farm. Future plans including building a second parlor on a nearby property purchased in 2017. This will allow them to milk 150-head at the location.

Not only are Julian and Nicole passionate about their farm, but they are very involved in agriculture organizations. Julian is the current president and past vice president of the Oregon Jersey Cattle Club. Both he and Nicole serve as delegates for the TCCA Young CoOperators.

 

Walter Graves

Learning by doing is a mantra Walter Graves of Dundas, Ill., has exemplified throughout his approximately 25-year career as a Jersey breeder. Having been raised on a 200-head Registered Jersey farm, Walter found his passion for Jerseys as he started having an increased role on the dairy.

Upon graduation from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a degree in animal science, Walter moved to California to work for D&E Jerseys, Hilmar, owned by past AJCA President, Distinguished Service Award and Master Breeders recipient the late Donald Sherman and his wife, Elsa.

When describing his experience, he wrote, “While I was there, I learned a new and efficient way of dairy farming that I had never been exposed to before. At D&E Jerseys, the genetics of the animals were a priority and it was then I realized the value in breeding cows for certain traits.”

From there, Walter moved to Dalhart, Texas, to be the herdsman of Avi-Lanche Jerseys, a facility the Shermans and daughter and late son-in-law, Jennifer and Richard Avila, were constructing. There Walter was involved with the start-up of the operation, as well as employee management, protocol development and other day-to-day operations.

“I have seen Walter grow and mature as a young man and Jersey breeder over the years,” penned Benny Rector, Dalhart, Texas, Walter’s manager while at D&E and Avi-Lanche. “Because of what I have seen in Walter, I have entrusted the management of my own herd to him.”

In 2007, Walter and his wife, Claire, seized the opportunity to move back to Illinois and join the family partnership at Clover Farms. With assistance from young farmer loans, Walter and his family were able to purchase about 200 cows and heifers over a two-year span from Jersey Marketing Service sales.

Walter has used his California and west Texas experiences to begin streamlining processes on his family’s farm. A few examples of these improvements were computerized record management systems, installation of headlocks, routine herd checks and standardized vaccine protocols.

In 2009, the farm built a four-row freestall barn. Walter incorporated design elements into the building to make cow comfort and ease of care a priority. Something else he attributes to his past experiences. Later, they expanded the milking parlor to a double-18 parabone. In 2014, a second four-row free stall barn was added. Today this REAP herd is milking about 1,200 cows on the operation.

In a letter of support, Brad Barham of RedLand Dairy Consulting, Hughson, Calif., wrote, “Times in the dairy business haven’t been great over the last 4-5 years, but in that time frame Clover Farms has managed to grow in cow numbers and cow quality—both under Walter’s daily guidance.” Barham went on to praise the Graves family because as well as expanding the operation, they have sold over 800 milking cows for dairy in the past two years.

With the addition of the freestall barns, Walter had the segway he needed to choose specific genetics for an easy transition. The facilities allowed the family to grow the herd internally, but when their milk cooperative implemented a milk quota in 2016, the planned growth of the farm came to a halt.

“During this time, we were able to recognize the benefits of a proper breeding program, [one] where you are breeding for the ideal cow and not just for another milk cow,” Walter said in his application. “This restriction on our herd size has allowed us to make genetics a priority in the animals we choose to keep on the farm.”

Walter knew he wanted to focus on genetics when he returned to the farm in 2007. And focus he has. “I recognized that it was under utilized and needed to be made a priority to achieve its untapped potential,” he wrote.

Soon the farm began using embryo transfer, using sexed semen on heifers and having mating standards for bull selection. Currently, the farm uses approximately 70% young sires to service their herd. Their breeding focus has been placed on good udders, health traits and milkfat and protein levels.

The farm’s 2019 rolling herd average was 18,216 lbs. milk, 884 lbs. fat and 669 lbs. protein based on 1,281 milking individuals. Their August 2019 appraisal had a Very Good-80% appraisal score average across 555 cows. Eleven were appraised Excellent and 266 Very Good.

“Walter’s initiative to invest in genetics has allowed the herd to grow in profitability on an avenue outside of milk harvesting,” wrote Illinois Jersey Cattle Club President Tara Bohnert, Gilson, Ill. “We have watched the Clover Farms name emerge into the spectrum of elite genetics—elite genetics that perform in a commercial environment.”

For the future, Walter has many goals. He would like to see their focus on genetics and use of embryo transfer to result in matings that make top individuals and develop males of caliber to send to stud. He also would like to host a sale as his family did in the past, the 3M Sale in the 1990s, where the farm showcased and sold their genetics.

On a farm basis, Walter would like to further improve efficiencies by installing a rotary milking parlor and updating the heifer facilities.

“My philosophy for dairy farming has always been to take care of the animal that is going to take care of you,” said Walter. “By putting cow comfort and well-being as a priority, the return will always be worth what you put into it. When you choose certain genetic characteristics, you are setting the tone for your farm and the care of animal from start to finish is based on that.”

Most importantly, Walter would like to establish the farm for the next generation to continue the family’s passion for excellence in Jersey genetics.

“My children (Bobby, Bailey and Belle) are at the age where they are starting to help on the farm and show at the fair just as I did. My hope is that someday, they will want to be part of this legacy and the genetics that helped get us here,” said Walter in the closing of his application.

Herby Lutz, Chester, S.C., sire analyst for Select Sires Inc., stated in his letter of support, “I think Walter Graves exemplifies what the AJCA Young Jersey Breeder award stands for as he is a minority in the dairy industry, being a young, energetic individual that is willing to serve and be involved to ensure the voice of agriculture is heard and maintains its prominence in the eyes of the world.”

 

Derrick and Kaycee Josi

Many recognize this Young Jersey Breeder for the online presence he has created with his platform, TDF Honest Farming. However, members of the Jersey community have known the qualities and have seen the dedication of Derrick and Kaycee Josi, Tillamook, Ore., of Wilsonview Dairy for much longer.

As long as Derrick can remember, his family has been active in the Jersey community. His wish came true when he purchased his first heifer, “Danny Lou”, after begging his parents for years to be able to own a Jersey. He credits Dan Bansen, Dayton, Ore., of Forest Glen Jerseys for speaking up on his behalf. “Danny Lou” went on to be appraised Excellent-92% for Derrick.

From there, Derrick immersed himself in Jersey youth programs, 4-H and other local youth organizations, from which he received several awards. He purchased animals through many national sales, as well as the Pot O’Gold Sale in Louisville, Ky. One of these purchases, Rebob Berretta Bionca, Very Good-83%, allowed Derrick to sell a bull into A.I. and from there he was hooked on breeding and owning Jerseys.

After attending Oregon State University, Derrick returned home to the family dairy and formed a partnership with his parents in 2010. During that time, they transitioned the herd from 275 mixed breeds (Jersey, Guernsey and Holstein, all 100% registered) to an all Jersey herd. About then, they began leasing a neighboring farm and milked an additional 100 Jerseys there.

Today, this REAP herd consists of 600 Jersey cows and the family raises all of the heifers on farm. They have been testing their herd since 1976 and had a 2019 actual rolling herd average of 20,307 lbs. milk, 911 lbs. fat and 689 lbs. protein based on 585 milking individuals.

Derrick met and married his wife, Kaycee, in 2015. Together, they have three children: Bryson, Addison and Reagan Rae. Derrick and Kaycee have already began getting the children involved with Jersey youth programs, such as the Pot O’Gold Sale and production contest.

Kaycee attended Montana State where she was an outstanding member of the women’s softball team. She broke and set many records while on the team, as well as was named player of the week numerous times for the Northwest Conference. After graduation, she coached women’s softball and taught freshmen health at Billings West High School.

Derrick wrote in their application, “We were set-up on a blind date by her aunt. I am indebted to said aunt and she knows it.” In the first years of their marriage, Kaycee coached the Tillamook High School’s women’s basketball and softball teams, as well as the equestrian team. However, she has now transitioned to becoming a full-time mom to their kids and helps with the farming operations as needed.

Derrick and Kaycee are members of the Tillamook/Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Dairymen’s Association, Tillamook Working Lands and Water Coalition, have chaired the Young Cooperatives in Tillamook, and been on the board for the National Young Cooperatives. Derrick currently is on the board of the Tillamook County Creamery. Kaycee is a third generation member of Western Horseman of Oregon (WHO), the Oregon Barrel Racers and Canby Race Club.

Derrick and Kaycee have just sponsored a link to bring agriculture back into classrooms. He has also passionately shared his story in Louisiana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon and Washington D.C. He also was able to address the Mid-West College Farm Bureau.

Derrick’s efforts to promote agriculture, the dairy industry especially, have not gone unnoticed. In 2018, he was nominated for Citizen of the Year for Tillamook County and was awarded the Tourism Excellence Award. Jersey Canada recognized Derrick in 2019 for his part in telling the dairy story.

“Derrick and Kaycee are making a difference for us all by promoting dairy farming in a very positive light,” said Tom and Jennie Seals, Beaver, Ore., of Legendairy Farms.

Over 327,000 people ‘follow’ TDF Honest Farming on Facebook with additional audience members on Twitter and Instagram.

Nan Devlin, Executive Director of the Tillamook Coast Visitors Association, wrote in support, “Derrick has helped, in an educational and charming way, bridge the gap between those who make their living in agriculture and those who are two or three generations removed from farm life. His tutorials on caring for his Jersey herd encourage questions that he answers with both humor and applied science.”

In the future, their goals are to buy the family farm from Derrick’s parents and expand the herd while continuing to build/improve their genetic base. They are also looking to build a new facility to maximize efficiency, while attaining the highest quality cow comfort.

With phase one of the rebuild complete, Derrick hopes to start the second phase this summer. It is his desire to either invest in a robotic milking system or a robotic rotary parlor with freestall barns.

“Once our new facilities are done, I plan to capitalize on my online presence to facilitate agricultural tours of our facilities,” wrote Derrick. “My hope is to showcase animal welfare and give the public a firsthand look at a modern dairy.”

 

Kevin Krejci and Lisa Demmer

Jersey breeders worldwide have heard the names “Jewelene,” “Escape” and “Jaguar” announced inside showrings. These individuals, along with many others, all have the Discovery prefix, compliments of their breeders, Kevin Krejci and Lisa Demmer, Ellsworth, Wis., of Discovery Genetics.

Kevin and Lisa met at the 2004 Wisconsin Jersey Spring Spectacular. They had the shared goal of someday showing in the Jersey Jug Futurity sparked by watching the event during FFA or 4-H trips to the All American. In their application, the duo wrote, “The green shavings and rosettes lit a fire in both of us, sparking our goal to breed and exhibit a winning cow at the All American Jersey Show.”

Lisa grew up on a registered Holstein farm in Minnesota, but always wanted to own a Jersey. She made this dream come true when she purchased Thomsen 4226 Cadillac Jay, Excellent-95%, from a complete herd dispersal in Michigan. In fact, 75 percent of the Discovery Genetics herd consists of descendants of “Jay.” Some of the standouts include a National Grand Champion, Jersey Jug Futurity Winner and many other show front-runners.

Kevin did not grow up on a farm, instead he spent every day at his grandfather’s dairy farm, just a mile from his parents’ house. 4-H sparked his desire to own great cattle. He purchased his first prominent Registered Jersey as an embryo at public auction. This resulted in Bridon Vindication Evelyn-ET, Excellent-92%. Her daughter, Discoverys Tequila Escape-ET, Excellent-95%, won the 2016 National Jersey Jug Futurity.

In a letter of support, Norman Nabholz of Nabholz Farms, West Union, Iowa, penned, “For the Jersey breed, perhaps the greatest part of this story is these two were not ‘Jersey People’ from birth, but are now the biggest proponents of the ‘Little Brown Cow’ and what can be done with her. Their success is a storybook advertisement for the breed for which all Jersey breeders capitalize.”

The couple started out farming with Lisa’s father in southern Minnesota. In 2017, they designed and constructed their own dairying facility in Ellsworth, Wis. The 35-cow REAP herd is milked in a modern tie-stall and box-stall barn. Cow comfort, ventilation and to be both cow and worker friendly were integral in the design.

“Our goal was to build a facility that was efficient and still allowed us to provide utmost care to the cattle,” the couple wrote. Both Kevin and Lisa work full-time jobs off the farm. Kevin as a manufacturing engineer and Lisa as a veterinarian. Presently, they do not have any hired employees.

Approximately 80 Jerseys call Discovery Genetics home, all of them homebred. Their new facility includes the milk cow barn, as well as calf and heifer facilities. Youngstock are born and raised on site. They also farm 50 acres of grass and alfalfa hay, along with an additional 20 acres of pasture.

Kevin and Lisa take pride in breeding and developing their cattle. The fruits of their labor have been on display and recognized by dairy enthusiasts around the globe.

The most notable individual, and granddaughter of Lisa’s “Jay,” is the 2017 National Grand Champion, Discoverys Tequila Jewelene, Excellent-96%. 2014 was another big year for “Jewelene,” as she won the National Jersey Jug Futurity and was named Intermediate Champion of the International Jersey Show in Madison. Many family members have been successful for Discovery Genetics or new owners.

Another standout individual for this duo is Discoverys Verbatim Jaguar, Excellent-95%, the third-place individual in the 2017 Jersey Jug Futurity. Kevin and Lisa are privately marketing semen from sons out of “Jewelene,” “Escape” and “Jaguar.”

The duo has received Premier Breeder and Exhibitor banners at the Minnesota State Fair, Minnesota State Jersey Show and Wisconsin Spring Jersey Show. In addition, they were the Reserve Premier Breeder of the 2016 All American Jersey Show. In total, they have bred and exhibited over 30 ABA All-American nominations.

Their current herd consists of 15 Excellent and 20 Very Good cows with a herd average score of Very Good-89%. They have a April 2020 actual rolling herd average of 13,925 lbs. milk, 670 lbs. fat and 507 lbs. protein on their 35-cow herd.

Kevin and Lisa complete tasks mostly on their own, but their show crew consists of themselves and a few close friends. “We find that we make a great team together since we do all the daily care, fitting and presentation of our animals in the ring ourselves,” they said. “Win or lose, we love the feeling of accomplishment we get from being able to complete it all on our own.”

Discovery Genetics’ business plan is to market Jersey genetics and produce high-quality milk for consumers. They can be seen advertising in the Jersey Journal and regularly on social media. They have marketed animals privately, as well as at public and JMS sales. Those sale opportunities have allowed them to develop relationships with people from all over the globe.

Their herd’s milk is marketed with Ellsworth Creamery Cooperative. They strive to have a low SCC (70 is their average for 2020) and high butterfat.

Kevin and Lisa feel it important to give back to youth. For the past 10 years, they have helped youth get their start in the dairy industry by selling or leasing them heifers. They also teach them about life on the farm and the show development process.

“In addition to supporting the youth, we feel it is important to be involved with promoting the Jersey breed and dairy industry as a whole,” they stated. The pair assists with Breakfast on the Farm, host 4-H and collegiate dairy judging teams for practices, coordinate a local junior dairy show and sit on both the World Dairy Expo and All American Show committees.

“Kevin and Lisa have been instrumental in giving the kids extra help as their interests have grown in showmanship and dairy judging,” wrote John and Lisa Bruns, Blooming Prairie, Minn., in a letter of support. “The dairy program is very strong in Steele County and the leadership of Kevin and Lisa is an integral part of that success.”

In the future, their goal is to continue to breed and develop cattle with good pedigrees that are both profitable and can be appreciated in all aspects of the Jersey industry. They are also proactively looking to improve their overall milk quality and production. To achieve this, they are taking a two-way approach with the bulls they are using within their genetics program and the forage quality their cows are consuming.

“We will forever thank the Jersey cow for bringing us together,” they wrote in their application. “The Jersey breed has taken us places and opened doors that made goals and dreams a reality. We credit the Jersey cow for helping us achieve this and being the breed of the future.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *