Nov. 8 2018 10:15 AM

We are investing in our kids' futures by helping them purchase their first heifer.

My husband, Scott, and son Jacob reviewing the Pot O'Gold sale catalog online.

After saving up money from bottle-feeding calves, bedding down calf hutches, and cleaning out our garage, our youngest son, Jacob, came up with enough money for a down payment to purchase his first heifer.

That meant his parents had better hold up to their end of the agreement; the same promise we made with his older brother and sister. That is, when our children are 8 years old, if they save up $250, then Scott and I will fund the rest of the cost to help them purchase their first Jersey heifer.

The Pot O'Gold sale in Louisville, Ky., is a sale that allows junior-aged kids to purchase a Jersey heifer. A percentage of the gross sales are set aside for the Pot O'Gold fund, which goes back to the juniors who purchased a heifer in this sale. The heifers are ranked on a mature equivalent basis in regard to their protein, butterfat, and other solids production after their first lactation.

For several days prior to heading south, Scott and Jacob reviewed the sale catalog. Scott explained how to read a pedigree to our third grader — concentrating on genomic value, components, and yield deviations. Jacob took note and wouldn't budge on any animal that failed to meet the criteria his father highlighted.

Jacob reviewing the sale line-up in Louisville.

Once we arrived in Louisville, Jacob reviewed the sale cattle. When the sale began, he was a bundle of nerves, but undoubtedly showcasing he is his father's son, his nerves turned over to excitement and Jacob eagerly began bidding.

Jacob and his new Jersey heifer, Virgo.

His new heifer, "Virgo," hails from my home state of Oregon. She will easily fit into our herd and into the heart of our son.

Our hopes for Jacob are to not only win the Pot O’Gold contest, which will help fund his college account, but for his heifer to be a launching pad for learning some of life's best lessons. Knowing from previous experience with his brother and sister, we are well aware that something magical happens when kids own and raise their own animal. They learn the highs and lows that come with owning livestock, and honestly, these lessons are hard to mimic anywhere else.

So, here is to cheering on Jacob's start of his Jersey herd. Without a doubt, it will be colorful and bright; reminding us that with the right amount of hard work, luck, and patience, Jacob will find that rainbow behind his pot of gold heifer.

Karen Bohnert

Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.

Join us for the next webinar on November 12, 2018:

"Economic and user experiences with automatic milking" presented by Larry Tranel
Sponsored by Cargill Animal Nutrition

Larry Tranel, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, presents “Economics and user experiences with automatic milking” on Monday, November 12, at noon (Central time). Automatic milking systems (AMS) continue to expand and user experience is growing. The webinar will focus on surveys and Tranel’s experiences working with producers who utilize robots, and it will cover economic variables that may help determine profitability and cash flow. Register here for all webinars.