William “Bill” Peck, Sr., Schuylerville, New York, was awarded the 2018 Master Breeder Award at the American Guernsey Association National Convention in Dubuque, Iowa.
At the recently concluded National Guernsey Convention, numerous awards were presented for outstanding performance within the Guernsey breed. This year Bill Peck, Sr., of Welcome Stock Farm was presented with the Master Breeder Award. At 81 Bill may possibly be the only dairyman who has bred a #1 bull in two separate breeds, has had over 20 different Guernsey sires released in A.I. carrying his prefix, bred over 135 different ‘Excellent’ and ‘Very Good’ Guernsey cattle and possessed a record for the most sons in A.I. produced by one cow – all still while in a time that embryo transfer was an unheard-of technology.
Currently, the ‘Welcome’ prefix is widely-known for the high genomic and type Holsteins through Bill and his sons Bill Jr. and Neal. But the impact that ‘Welcome’ brought to the Guernsey breed by Bill Sr. is still extremely evident today. Most notable is Welcome Choice Admiral, who had an estimated 2,500 daughters and was the most popular son of Kellogs Minnies Choice. Admiral ranked #1 throughout the early to mid-1980s and many of his sons would later be tested and enter A.I. One son in particular, Nells Glow Admiral Magic, became extremely popular and sired one of today’s older bulls of choice, Four Winds Magicman. Admiral’s influence also was seen throughout his daughters, with Sharma Admiral Ellens Ella being one of the most famous. Ella was the dam of Sharma Victory Ellas Enhancer, a popular and proven bull from the mid-1990s to early 2000s. In addition to Admiral, bulls such as Welcome Flashs Hollirex and Welcome Winstars Fancy became widely used throughout the Guernsey world producing over one 1,000 recorded daughters.
Bill was an early adopter of new genetic tools and a collaborator in the development of new genetic research. He was one who understood the extreme importance of confirmation, and knew how to breed cows that could fill the bulk tank. He had a keen eye for purchasing the calves with great potential. Specifically the dam of Welcome Flashs Hollirex, Welcome Flash Watch, who classified Excellent, produced a total of 138,210 pounds of milk within nine lactations. While this may not be something many would bat an eye at today, this was a milestone in 1976.
In addition to ‘Watch’, Colebrook Farms Valor Fancy 4E was another cow that caught the attention of Guernsey breeders under the ownership of Bill. He purchased her as a calf and through her 11 lactations, she produced 201,251 pounds of milk, with 10 of her production records averaging 18,020 pounds of milk. In addition to Fancy’s outstanding production records, in 1976, she held the record for the most number of sons entered in A.I. – all of which who carried the ‘Welcome’ prefix and were born in a time before embryo transfer. He claims Fancy paid for more than half of the original freestall barn that currently houses Welcome Stock Farm animals.
In addition to Bill’s breeding accomplishments, his noble, modest character has made him an individual that many dairymen and women look up to throughout the dairy industry. When Adam Liddle, of Liddleholme Holsteins in New York, was asked to judge the 2012 World Dairy Expo Guernsey Show, there was only one person Adam would allow to serve as his Associate Judge – Bill Peck. When Adam initially asked him to judge, he told Adam that “he had been out of the judging arena too long and wouldn’t be any good”. But Adam told him he didn’t know a better Guernsey man to share a ring and this honor with.
Between his breeding accomplishments and his moral character, Bill has also garnered recognition throughout the industry on many different occasions. His most notable honor includes being a 2011 Inductee in the National Dairy Shrine as the Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder – an achievement only some of the most elite Guernsey breeders have achieved. In addition to being named a Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder, Welcome Stock Farm received the Gold Star Breeder Award from the American Guernsey Association 16 consecutive times.
Today, it is no secret that Bill Peck, Sr. is no longer actively breeding Guernsey cattle. However, like the true “Master Breeder” he is, his legacy and his passion for Guernsey cows has continued to live on both as a dairyman and in his children and grandchildren, and the offspring that go back to his outstanding breeding.
The American Guernsey Association is dedicated to the advancement and promotion of the Guernsey dairy cows. The American Guernsey Youth Association boasts membership of over 700 young people nationwide.