New World Fat Record for Jersey Breed

A Registered Jersey cow owned by Logan and Autumn Courtney of Chouteau, Okla., has produced the new world record for butterfat production among Jerseys.

Lyon Renegade Barb completed a record of 35,716 lbs. milk, 3,072 lbs. fat and 1,382 lbs. protein in 365 days to become the new world butterfat champion.

The seven-year-old matriarch is the breed’s first world production champion to be milked by a robot for the duration of her record. She assumes the title from former world fat champion, Norse Star Hallmark Bootie, who produced a record of 2,827 lbs. fat in 2007.

“Barb” was bred by Lyon Jerseys of Toledo, Iowa.

Professional photo of Lyon Renegade Barb.

This fiercely independent boss lady at Courtney Farms is a hard worker who knows her job. Wide-bodied, wide-muzzled and super enthusiastic about food, she lived up to her high-component, production-bred genetics and made a butterfat record that more than triples breed average. From the butterfat queen’s world record, one could produce enough Cheddar cheese to top 136,540 cheeseburgers or butter for 125,000 biscuits. Based upon federal order pricing, the gross dollar value of the lactation was $11,042.

In the journey of making the world record, there was little fanfare for this no-frills diva, just a solid ration of premium forages and grain and a management style that enabled her to do her thing.

“In all honesty, ‘Barb’ is the kind of cow you forget about,” said Logan of his production superstar. “She despises any kind of pampering, causes no problems, has no health or mobility issues and thrives in an environment like ours, where she may have to walk a quarter mile to graze.”

“She is a dairyman’s dream. We wish we had 30 more just like her.”

Barb at her home in Oklahoma as a dry cow in March 2020.
The Making of a World Record

“Barb” came to Courtney Farms in June 2018 with a group of other cows, hand-picked from Lyon Jerseys as foundation genetics for expansion of the herd. She was finishing up her fourth lactation and due to Guimo Joel-ET, GJPI -34, in October. She celebrated her sixth birthday on September 4, then freshened on October 19 with a bull calf to kick off the record.

Consistency was key to the stellar performance. She gave 94 lbs. milk for her first test in November, with component tests of 9.3% fat and 4.0% protein. She gave 91 lbs. milk for the tester in January and 92 lbs. milk in March, then broke triple digits with 109 lbs. milk in April.

“Barb” peaked at 258 days-in-milk in July with 121 lbs. milk and component tests of 9.9% fat and 3.4% protein. Her only monthly milk test under 90 lbs. was the 66 lbs. she produced in October 2019 at 358 days-in-milk.

She produced a 305-day record of 30,748 lbs. milk, 2,587 lbs. fat and 1,199 lbs. protein. Her extended 365-day record is 35,716 lbs. milk, 3,072 lbs. fat (8.6%) and 1,382 lbs. protein (3.9%).
“Barb” is not a one-hit wonder. She has lifetime credits of 114,776 lbs. milk, 8,584 lbs. fat (7.5%) and 4,486 lbs. protein (3.9%) in 1,634 days. This equates to 70 lbs. milk, 5.25 lbs. fat and 2.75 lbs. protein per day in milk across five lactations.

An Excellent-90% daughter of BW Renegade-ET, she is now dry and due in June to Cowbell Big and Rich, GJPI -67, a young herd sire at Courtney Farms. To improve their odds of marketing her genetics, the Courtneys will perform in-vitro fertilization on “Barb” this summer. As well, they are raising the young bull who sold in-dam, Lyon Belmont, for their bull-marketing venture.

Working on a Dream

At first glance, it might look like beginner’s luck for 23-year-old Logan to develop a world production champion. However, this young man has been working on his dream for more than two decades, after he first announced to his mother, “Someday I’m going to milk Jersey cows” when he was just two.

This isn’t out of line for a dairy farmer’s son. But Logan and Autumn grew up on a commercial cow-calf and grain farm. Not deterred, Logan got a loan from the bank to purchase a pair of Registered Jerseys in partnership with his sister to start the dairy herd at 12 years-of-age.

The two traveled to Kansas to choose their favorites from a heifer grower’s group of 150 calves. Vanryn Achilles 32087 and Vanryn Nomad 32153 {2} proved his eye for good cattle as they appraised Excellent-90% and Very Good-88%, respectively, and have descendants in the herd today.

When Logan graduated from high school and made the decision to milk cows full time at the family farm, the herd numbered 44 cows. Milked in a stanchion barn with buckets, their milk was fed to calves and hogs.

With plans to upgrade facilities and ship milk, Logan’s first inclination was to purchase a used parlor. However, at the advice of their dairy supplier, he penciled in the cost of installing a robot.
“Surprisingly, it was less expensive to install a robot than to buy used equipment because we were starting from scratch,” Logan commented. The first dairy in the state to use a robotic milker, cows began to go through the Lely robot in April 2017.

“I essentially jumped 100 years in dairy technology, moving from buckets to robots in a matter of months,” Logan noted.

“The move has been ideal for us. We don’t need to hire any outside labor to operate the farm. My mom and dad, Autumn and I run the entire farm, including the livestock and crops business. This setup also allows us to grow as needed. We can add another robot when we expand down the road.”

“And the robot is great for the cows too. Higher-performing cows can be milked more often, which puts less stress on their udders and allows them to eat more, food more frequently, which results in more milk. Last year, our top milker was milked six times a day at her peak.”

“The robot is the next best thing for individual cow management to a tie-stall barn, with far less labor and far fewer headaches. You still have to manage cows with the robot, but cow behaviors you manage look differently than they do with parlors and tie-stall setups.”

The Courtney family, Autumn, Logan, Nora and Tim, with another favorite Jersey cow.
Jersey Community

The Courtneys have long understood the value of learning and community involvement. Both Logan and Autumn have been active with 4-H and youth organizations. Logan attended Jersey Youth Academy in 2015 and is now active with the Young Cooperator program at Dairy Farmers of America.

Near and dear to his heart are Registered Jersey pedigrees. This passion sparked friendships with pedigree buffs across the country and purchases from leading Jersey breeders, including American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) Young Jersey Breeder, Tim Covington of Leon, Iowa, and AJCA Master Breeders, Lyon Jerseys and Ratliff Jerseys of Garnett, Kan.

A friendship with a fellow Jersey lineage enthusiast, the late William A. “Bill” Maness, proved to be especially rewarding and fruitful to Logan. The pair sifted through piles of information on the Lyon Jerseys herd to purchase their best when the family began selling off the entire herd in 2018.

“Though he could never remember ‘Barb’s’ name, he told me, ‘You’ve got to get that high-test Renegade.’ He would be so proud of her today.”

“She was a hard worker in the Lyon herd and from one of their deep production families, so we knew we wanted her too.”

Her dam Lyon Action Breena, Excellent-90%, has an average fat test of 5.5% across seven lactations and two records over 20,000 lbs. milk. Her Very Good-87% grandam has a fat test of 5.9% over six lactations. The next two dams, appraised Very Good-86% and Very Good-87%, respectively, are high producers as well, with average fat tests over 5.0%.

“Barb” is not the only superstar from the Lyon Jerseys herd. Five others produced fat records in 2019 that are ranked on the current National Class Leader list. The high milk producer at Courtney Farms, Bachelor Lyon Lennox Eola-ET, Excellent-93%, made 35,060 lbs. milk, 2,311 lbs. fat, 1,296 lbs. protein and 4,483 lbs. cheese yield, the second-high 305-day milk, protein and cheese yield record for 2019. She is out of Bachelors Sambo Emmy 661, Excellent-94%, two-time Overall Premier Performance Cow of The All American Jersey Show and 2002 National Jersey Jug Futurity Winner. “Emmy” was owned in partnership with Bachelor Farms, Angola, Ind., and spent her final years at Lyon Jerseys.

“Barb,” second left, holds her own, but gets steep competition from her peers at the feed bunk at Courtney Farms. She is pictured here with other Hall of Fame cows, including Courtney Farms Tuxedo Rosamund, Lyon M362 Lumar, Kane-Lane Valentino Shelly, Lyon Nevada Arlene, Covington Gold Mindy-P, Courtney Farms Tuexdo Zinnia {3}, Ratliff Sambo Veanna-ET, Courtney Farms Valentino Sylvia, Lyon Premier Jerry, KaneLane Topeka Grace, Lyon Legal Lacosta, Puzzle Vanna-ET and Lyon Bold Avert {6}.

Another Lyon-bred purchase from Post Time at the Ratliff’s in 2017, Lyon Legal Lacosta, Excellent-91%, was the winner of division II of the 2018 National Jersey Youth Production Contest for Autumn. Her 305-day record 30,650 lbs. milk, 2,176 lbs. fat and 1,163 lbs. protein at 5-10 ranks #22 in breed history for fat.

Lyon Iatola Conlee, Excellent-93%, a matriarch that found her way to the Oklahoma farm at 10 years-of-age, made the National Class Leader record for fat in 2019, at 26,540 lbs. milk, 1,860 lbs. fat (7.0%) and 942 lbs. protein. Herd owner Eric Lyon, another mentor for Logan, was especially concerned about one of his eldest ladies, working with the family so she could live her final days in their care. She passed away in December and has lifetime credits of 206,131 lbs. milk, 11,089 lbs. fat and 7,327 lbs. protein in 2,950 days.

Lineage of Logan’s first homebred Excellent, Courtney Farms Tuxedo Rosamund, traces to another trusted advisor, Roger Mabry, Bentonville, Ark., owner of the former Butterfield Farms. Another milk wagon, her record of 27,640 lbs. milk, 2,145 lbs. fat (7.8%) and 1,062 lbs. protein ranks third for fat among junior three-year-olds on the current list of National Class Leaders.

In the Family Genes Too

Though dairy cattle were not on the Courtney farm in their early years, Logan and Autumn have dairy in their blood. Sixth-generation farmers, they are operating a business on a farm established by their great, great, great grandfather, Patrick Courtney, in 1863. The Irish immigrant set up shop in this country with milking cows and a milk delivery route. Milk cows were on the farm until 1953, when their great grandparents sold the herd of show-winning Ayrshires.

Farm founder, Patrick Courtney, with his milk delivery truck.

Management of the dairy herd is primarily Logan’s responsibility, along with help from Autumn, who studies applied technology at Rogers State University and works as a local librarian too. Their father, Tim, is entrusted with rations and mother, Nora, heads up the newborn program. Both are perfectionists about their duties and a good part of the reason for the success at Courtney Farms. The ration is top notch and Courtney Farms has lost but two calves since Nora assumed duties.

The milking string at Courtney Farm is fed a total mixed ration of primarily wheat or oat silage and a commodity grain mix. This is supplemented with long stem hay, which Logan believes helps with high components. About 80% of the ration is grown by the Courtneys on the home farm. Cows are pastured from early April through late November in most years. As is typical with most Oklahoma dairies, there are no housing structures. Shade and wind breaks are provided primarily by trees or temporary structures. Calves are raised in hutches or the old milk barn when weather is inclement.

Though the region typically averages 42 inches of rain per year, it has been inundated with more than 81 inches of precipitation in the past 365 days. Feed quality and quantity have suffered, so the Courtneys are grateful for last year’s bonanza harvest and hopeful for next year’s.

Opportunities abound for “Barb” and her herdmates and their caretakers in this region of the country. With a milk deficit, product is in high demand and the Courtneys are paid a premium for components. As well, consumers appreciate the rural lifestyle and legislative action is primarily positive for agriculture and dairy. Down the road, the Courtneys plan to add another robot and expand the herd to allow Autumn to join the dairy full-time.

To learn more about the breed’s other high-producing females, read the list of National Class Leaders on USJerseyJournal.com. The breed’s top 25 records for milk, fat, protein and cheese yield can be found in the March 2020 issue of the Jersey Journal.

Cows on pasture at Courtney Farms.