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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.