SYRACUSE, NY — Monanfran Farms (www.monanfranfarms.com) is so into showing cows that they “borrow” willing youngsters to help out, such as at the recent New York Spring Dairy Carousel. Lilly Mills, 11, and Logan Mills, 8, live at the Canastota, NY operation; however, their mom, Jenny Mills, said that she was glad to have her cousin, niece and a young family friend also help showcase Monanfran’s animals at the show.
“It’s important to promote agriculture to non-ag dairy consumers,” Jenny Mills said. “It shows why and how we do what we do. We’re trying to produce a safe, healthy product.”
“Showing promotes our animals to other dairy producers. We usually sell show calves to other farms.”
It’s easy to see why. The youngsters in her charge did pretty well at the show. Lilly and her spring yearling, Heygoodlooking, won First Spring Yearling of the Red & White Junior Show, honorable mention, and Junior Champion of the Junior Show. Lilly also won third in Showmanship. When not in the show ring, Lilly’s usually on the skating rink, as she’s a competitive ice skater.
Logan and his calf, Cougar Prowl, placed 5th in the Winter Heifer Calf in the Junior Holstein show. Logan also placed 10th in Showmanship. This was Logan’s second year of showing. In addition to showing cows, Logan practices Tae Kwon Do.
“He helps out a lot and is on the farm helping with chores quite a bit,” Mills said.
The Mills’ “adopted” farm kids at the show were Kyra Phelps, 16, Zachary Jasmin, 6 and Bailee Kelsey, 5.
Phelps took home 6th place for her Summer Yearling, Be Playful in the Junior Holstein Show. Phelps became interested in showing four years ago. Like Lilly, Phelps also skates competitively. She wanted a new skating dress, which Mills said can run hundreds of dollars. Mills asked if she would help them with preparing and showing cows to earn the money she needed. Phelps, who lives in Baldwinsville, NY, agreed and she was soon hooked on cows and showing them.
“She’d never touched a calf in her life,” Mills recalled.
Now, she’s active in 4-H.
Jasmin, Mills’ cousin, who lives in Canastota, won 4th place showing a Red & White fall yearling and another 4th in the Junior Holstein Show. Jasmin enjoys singing in a choir, varsity baseball and soccer.
Mills’ niece Bailee Kelsey, is a little too young to show at age 5, but she participated in the Dairy Judging Competition where she won 5th in the novice division. She enjoys dance and lives in Canastota.
Mills’ mother, Amy Kelsey and sister, Justine Kelsey, helped chaperone the crew and taught the children how to clip them.
“There was lots of great competition,” Mills said. “The quality of the animals gets better and better. All our animals are home bred. It shows us where we are with our breeding program.”
Mills and her husband, Jon, farm with her parents, Maurice and Amy Kelsey. Mills’ brother and sister-in-law, Jason and Dakota Kelsey, also help on the farm, as well as her sister, Justine.
The Mills and Kelseys raise 160 head of milking cows and 300 acres of corn, 300 of hay, 90 of oats and 60 of soybeans, mostly as feed for the herd.
Off the farm, Jenny Mills works in sales at Elanco Animal Health. Jon Mills works full-time at the farm and consults about herd health.
The New York Holstein Association hosts the annual Spring Dairy Carousel every April. More than 100 exhibitors showed more than 100 cows April 7 to 10 at the New York State Fairgrounds. Next year’s show is slated for April 13-16.