The Board of Directors of the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) has named three recipients of the Young Jersey Breeder Award for 2021. They are Matthew and Lauren Evangelo, Kingsburg, Calif., Amy Maxwell, Donahue, Iowa, and Alana Peterson, Viroqua, Wis.
The first Young Jersey Breeder Awards were presented in 1976. Since then, more than 280 producers have received this award, including this year’s recipients.
The Young Jersey 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 AJCA and National All-Jersey Inc. (NAJ) programs, and leadership in Jersey and other dairy and agriculture organizations.
The honorees will be recognized at the Young Jersey Breeders Banquet to be held in conjunction with the AJCA-NAJ Annual Meetings in Bettendorf, Iowa, on June 23, 2021.
Matthew and Lauren Evangelo
Matthew and Lauren Evangelo partner with his mother, Teresa, in Bar E Dairy, a mixed herd of 600 Jersey and 400 Holstein cows.
A mutual love of cattle brought Matt and Lauren together for the first time in 2004 at World Dairy Expo. He was competing with the dairy judging team for California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and she was attending with family and friends. The next year, their paths crossed again with a reversal of roles, with Lauren judging for Cal Poly. Fate brought them together again when he returned to dairy with his family, and she moved to Hanford for an internship with Farm Credit West.
They married in 2008 and purchased their first big ticket item as newlywed―Tiaro Nevada Jazzle―with Blake Renner as a heifer calf from the Spring Valley 7th Edition. She was named Honorable Mention Junior Champion at World Dairy Expo in 2009 and placed 8th in the five-year-old class at the show in 2012. She is appraised Excellent-93% and has been a cornerstone of the merchandising program at Bar E Dairy.
Black and whites were the leading ladies in Matt’s life initially. He grew up on D & E Dairy, a Registered Holstein farm owned by his parents in Hanford. When he was eight, Jerseys came to the farm as project heifers for him and his brothers. Matt found success in the ring with brown cows and grew the Evangelo Jerseys herd. After he graduated from Cal Poly in 2005, he returned to the dairy full time and evaluated cows part-time for Semex as well. In 2014, his parents helped Matt and Lauren start a second dairy. Three years later, the herds were merged to establish Bar E Dairy.
Amy Maxwell and her family own and operate Cinnamon Ridge Jerseys, a diversified farming operation, in Donahue, Iowa. The dairy farm on which she grew up was very different than the one she now manages. But it was time in the tie-stall barn working with 40 cows two decades ago that laid the foundation for her success milking 210 cows with robots today. For Amy, success hinges on a strong work ethic and quality care for the cows, be the herd small or large.
Amy has pursued opportunities to learn and network from the onset. She attended the inaugural Jersey Youth Academy in 2009 and worked as an intern at High Lawn Farm, Lee, Mass., in the summer of 2011 as recipient of the Fred Stout Experience Award. She was a member of the dairy judging team for Iowa State University in 2010, where she was exposed to a variety of management styles at farms that hosted team practices. The following year, she earned a degree in agricultural business and economics from Iowa State.
Amy spent the next several months working at other dairies around the country to gain knowledge she would bring to back to Cinnamon Ridge Jerseys. A six-month internship at Forest Glen Jerseys in Dayton, Ore., brought proficiency in breeding and experience caring for a large organic dairy herd. She was responsible for inseminating the 2,000-cow herd and helped with vaccinations, newborn and postpartum care, and veterinary visits. She also spent time at two dairies that used Lely and DeLaval robots to learn the pros and cons of each manufacturer and determine a best fit for her own situation.
The Maxwells settled on Lely robots because of proximity to the local dealership and compatibility with sand bedding. They began milking 80 cows with two robots in November 2012, then added another two robots in March 2013. They purchased bred heifers from the Cedarcrest Dispersal to grow the herd. With trial and error, they found the current herd size of 210 cows to be ideal for maximizing production per cow.
Alana operates Peterson Jerseys, a 50-cow Registered Jersey dairy in Viroqua with the help of her parents, Dean and Pat. Ownership of the farm has been passed through four generations of the family, with Alana purchasing it from her parents in June 2016.
Like most kids “lucky” enough to grow up on a dairy farm, Alana spent a great deal of time in the barn at a young age. That experience was the springboard for dairy youth activities, pursuit of a dairy science degree and a career decision to return to the family farm.
Alana first showed at the Vernon County Fair when she was five and owned her first Jersey, a 4-H project, at the age of nine. She was making mating decisions for her cattle at 14 and involved in all aspects of the farm as a high schooler. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a degree in dairy science management and a minor in coaching then returned to the family farm.
For her to continue dairying, it was clear changes needed to be made to the labor-intensive, tie-stall barn of her predecessors. Alana did her research and settled on a design that was efficient and affordable and would help her meet goal one: cow comfort. In the fall of 2012, construction was begun on a 12-stall stanchion barn with lever locks and six milking units and a 50 x 100-foot barn with a bedded pack and two calving pens. They began shipping Grade-A milk in the spring of 2013. The pack barn is used as a holding pen for milking and housing during the winter.
Cows are rotationally grazed during the summer. They are fed from bunks and a round bale feeder on a cement pad during the winter. Another facility improvement included a switch from H-bunks to bottomless metal feed bunks to reduce waste and aid feed removal. For young stock, a fence line feeder was purchased and stalls in the old barn retrofitted for smaller animals. Corn silage was ensiled in bags to increase quality and reduce spoilage. On her list of future improvements is a cover for the cement pad and a second pad to reduce feed and bedding costs.