Holstein Association USA Honors Accomplished Breeders and Industry Icons at National Holstein Convention
Holstein Association USA honored members during the closing banquet on July 11 at the 2013 National Holstein Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. These award recipients have all worked for the betterment of U.S. Registered Holsteins® and been involved members of the Association.
Distinguished Young Holstein Breeders
Chad and Amy Ryan of Fond du Lac, Wis., were honored as Holstein Association USA's 2013 Distinguished Young Holstein Breeders. This award is given annually to a Holstein Association USA member or partnership of members between the ages of 21 and 40, recognizing the significant accomplishments of young Registered Holstein breeders, and their commitment to preserving the dairy industry and achieving excellence in their daily lives. Honorees receive paid travel and lodging expenses to the National Holstein Convention and a $2,000 cash award.
Ryan-Vu Holsteins consists of 95 Registered Holstein cows, milked twice a day in their tiestall barn. A Holstein COMPLETE® herd, the Ryans participate in the full spectrum of Holstein Association USA programs, which they feel help add value to their cattle and aid in their marketing efforts. They classify regularly and currently have a BAA of 111.9%, with 45 Excellent cows, 42 scored Very Good and three Good Plus, ranking them second in the nation for their herd size. The farm has received Progressive Breeders Registry recognition three years, have five cows who have earned Gold Medal Dam honors, and three Dams of Merit. Chad's parents, Mark and Mary, are involved with the farm on a daily basis, and Chad and Amy are enjoying introducing their two young sons, Dylan and Cameron, to their dairy farming way of life.
Chad and Amy enjoy moderate-sized cows with a balanced combination of dairyness and strength, who are functionally sound and trouble-free. Their ultimate goal for each mating is to develop an Excellent cow who will produce over 200,000 pounds of milk. Thus far, they have had ten cows achieve the 200,000 pound milestone, including an Excellent-92 Maughlin Storm daughter who made over 400,000 pounds of milk in 12 lactations. They believe that working with strong cow families on both sides of the pedigree is key to developing a long-lasting productive herd of cows, and have invested in some of the breed's greatest cow families, using embryo transfer and IVF to more rapidly grow their herd.
Chad and Amy enjoy giving their time to a variety of activities, especially those that involve working with youth. They are coaches of the Fond du Lac county 4-h dairy judging team, and Amy volunteers annually at the International Junior Holstein Show as a ringperson. Both active with their county and state Holstein Associations, Chad was elected to the Wisconsin Holstein Association board in 2010, and is currently co-chairing both the Midwest Spring National Holstein Show and Scholarship committees. The couple says, "As our sons grow up, we always see Registered Holsteins playing a large role in our future, as we look forward to guiding them and offering them the same opportunities this industry has brought us."
Elite Breeder Honoree
Robert Miller of Mil-R-Mor Holsteins in Orangeville, Ill., was recognized as the 2013 Elite Breeder award honoree. The Elite Breeder award annually recognizes a Holstein Association USA member or partnership who has bred quality Registered Holstein cattle, improving the overall quality of the breed.
Miller and his wife, Kaye, established Mil-R-Mor Farm in 1962 in Dundee, Ill., where they farmed for over 40 years, when urban sprawl led them to relocate to their current facility in Orangeville, Ill., where today they milk 140 cows, housed in two tie-stall barns. It's a true family operation, with three generations of the Miller family involved in the day-to-day management of the farm.
The hallmark of the Mil-R-Mor breeding program is high-scoring, long-lived dairy cows with admirable milk production, a product of the breeding philosophy established by Miller over 50 years ago. Bob's ultimate goal is to breed cows who will classify Excellent and produce 200,000 pounds of milk with four percent fat, as that is the kind of cow he believes will make money for any type of dairyman. Their current BAA of 110.3 on over 100 cows ranks them in the top 200 in the nation, and on their last classification, they had 48 Excellent, 50 Very Good, and 15 Good Plus cows. The Mil-R-Mor prefix can be found on at least 14 cows who have produced over 40,000 pounds of milk in a single lactation, and at least 23 cows with over 1,500 pounds of fat. With over 2,000 Registered Holsteins bearing their prefix, 194 are classified Excellent. Miller has bred 18 Gold Medal Dams and 30 Dams of Merit, and over the years, Mil-R-Mor Holsteins has had at least four national and 25 state production record leaders.
Bob can be credited with discovering the renowned Glenridge Citation Roxy, and his success in developing the cow into a two-time Queen of the Breed and International Cow of the Year is a legend in itself. He came upon Roxy in western Canada while working as a livestock photographer, and knew she epitomized exactly the kind of animal he wanted to work with. A deal was struck, and Bob was able to seal his place in Holstein history. Roxy is the only 4E-97 cow who is also a third-generation 200,000 pound cow, and she was also the first cow to have 10 Excellent offspring. In total, she produced 16 Excellent daughters and four scored Very Good, with none lower. Roxy and her sister, Glenridge Emperor Rocket EX-96, were the All-American Produce of Dam in 1977, 1978 and 1979, and were later voted the All-Time All-American Produce of Dam. Many household names trace directly back to the Roxy family, including the prolific bulls Hanoverhill Raider, Comestar Lee and STBVQ Rubens, as well as the 2005 International Holstein Show Reserve Grand Champion Scientific Debutante Rae EX-92, and Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red 4E-96, Supreme Champion at the 2005 World Dairy Expo.
Bob has dedicated his life to the dairy industry at all levels. He has served the Illinois Holstein Association as president and vice president, and chaired numerous committees, as well as being a delegate to the National Holstein Convention several years. Travelling both in the U.S. and abroad, Bob has visited seven different countries, speaking about his breeding philosophies and Holstein cows. Holstein Association USA director and fellow Illinois Holstein breeder Boyd Schaufelberger provides these thoughts, shared by many who have had the privilege of making Miller's acquaintance, "Bob's character is beyond reproach. I have never heard his honesty or integrity questioned. He is generous with his time and known for his encouragement of others. Bob is very humble, friendly to everyone, and easy to talk to. His walk is energetic and his enthusiasm, contagious."
Distinguished Leadership Award
Horace Backus of Mexico, N.Y., was announced as the 2013 Distinguished Leadership award honoree. This award is given annually to an individual who has provided outstanding and unselfish leadership to the Holstein Association, or dairy industry as a whole.
Often dubbed "the dean of pedigrees," Backus is widely known and respected around the country for his remarkable knowledge of Holstein genetics and lifetime of experience in the dairy sales arena. He began working in his father's Backus Pedigree Office at age 15, and grew his experience until he stepped into the box as a pedigree reader for the first time ten years later, filling in for his father, R. Austin Backus, who had fallen ill. Following his father's retirement, Horace and his brothers formed a company to continue the sale and pedigree business with the same values and integrity their father had instilled in them. The business was sold in 1983, and Horace continued, as he does today, as a freelance pedigree reader. In total, he estimates he has read pedigrees at over 3,000 sales and assisted with the preparation of over 5,000 catalogs, each sale receiving the same special care and attention as the one before it.
Backus is also respected as an author, having penned several books throughout the years, telling the story of many prolific breeding operations, and providing his personal insights on the Holstein industry. His home office is a treasure trove of Holstein memorabilia, with each item carefully catalogued, doing his part as a true historian for the breed, preserving important pieces of breed history which might have otherwise been lost.
Horace and his wife of 61 years, Doris Anne, have three children, Harry, John and Kim. A natural leader, Backus has never shied away from becoming more involved with the organizations and causes he is passionate about. He has served as an elder and Sunday School superintendent at the Mexico Presbyterian Church and sat on the Mexico School District board of education for 10 years, serving as president for five. Horace was elected to the Holstein Association USA board of directors in 1987, a seat which he held until 1995, and has also been involved with the Association's audit committee, and served as a delegate for New York for several years.
His extensive service and lifetime dedication to the industry has not gone unnoticed, and Backus has been honored numerous times over the course of his career, including being named World Dairy Expo's 2010 Industry Person of the Year, and being inducted as an honorary member of the Klussendorf Association in 2003. This year, he was the first-ever recipient of the Pennsylvania Holstein Association's Distinguished Supporter Award. Former HolsteinWorld publisher Joel Hastings summed up the way many view Horace, saying, "A case can be made that Horace Backus, more than any other single individual, has contributed to the growth in value of Registered Holsteins throughout his career as a sales manager, pedigree expert, association leader and advisor to hundreds in the industry. He is the epitome of all that is positive in our business, knowledge, respect and enthusiasm, with unwavering integrity in every single instance."