SYRACUSE, NY — A few years back, when Tom Cull first spotted “Cameron,” a young Holstein, he sensed he had found a diamond in the rough.
A lifelong dairy farmer and breeder from Lomira, WI, Cull’s instincts proved right. The investment in Robrook Goldwyn Cameron has since paid dividends for Budjon Farms and additional owners, Peter Vail, St. Jacobs (Tim Abbott) and Clark Woodmansee.
Cameron won three blue ribbons in the International Holstein Show on April 14, the final day of the annual New York Spring Dairy Carousel at the New York State Fairgrounds. She won the 5-year-old class first, then went on to sweep the grand champion and senior grand champion titles.
“I’ve owned her since she was two,” said Cull, who bought her from a Canadian breeder to 650-acre Budjon Farms, which he operates with his wife, Kelli, and his father, John. “We’ve got quite a lot of money invested in her.”
As he bestowed the 5-year-old crown, Judge Paul Trapp declared that Cameron had a “good frame.” She also won the best udder title. However, Cull recalls that during a show last winter, another judge felt she was too narrow. “But she’s deeper now,” he said.
Kelli Cull said her husband’s interest in Cameron was due to her pedigree. She was sired by the popular and prodigious Braedale Goldwyn out of Robrook Dundee Constance. Goldwyn had sired five of the seven cows in the 5-year-old class at the Fairgrounds.
“Her pedigree is very solid,” she said. Cameron was the grand champion last November at the Royal Winter Farm Show in Canada and has earned All-American and All-Canadian honors three years in a row, Kelli Cull explained.
“We’re going to try to get her pregnant in May,” Kelli added. “This will certainly increase the value of her calves. Odds are we won’t sell her now, but we can recoup the money we have invested.”
In an interview following the show, Trapp said he admired Cameron’s height and width. In addition, her large udder shows a capacity for producing a good volume of milk.
“This is somewhat like a beauty pageant,” he said. “She has a good frame, outstanding udders. Some cows look better than others, but we were in agreement with this,” he said, referring to associate judge Lynn Harbough of Marion, WI. “We were on the same page.
“It (the grand champion decision) was close, but I know what I like,” added Trapp, who lives in Taylor, WI. “I’ve been practicing (judging) as a professional enough, ever since I was in 4-H.”
The Reserve Senior Champion and Reserve Grand Champion was Butz-Butler Gold Barbara-ET (Braedale Goldwyn), exhibited by M. Lager (DVM), Ernie Kueffner, River Valley and St. Jacobs of Boonsboro, MD.
Justin Burdette of Mercersburg, PA, won the aged cow junior division with Windy Knoll View Panini ET, a 6-year-old.
Budjon Farms was the heavyweight on the block, but victory was just as sweet for the Johannssen family of Mohawk, NY. Dithmarsia Black Ice Lara (Browndale Black Ice), exhibited by Kyle Johannssen, won the 150,000-pound class.
Ms-Savage Leigh Premier (Regancrest Dundee), exhibited by CLF LLC, Oldwick, NJ, was the runnerup.
Nine-year-old Lara seemed to kick up her heels as Kyle Johannssen led her from the ring. “She has a good personality,” he said. “She’s also strong-willed.”
Kyle Johannssen, 27, farms with his father, Paul, his uncle Pete, one sister and another brother. He said Lara is homebred and owned. “She’s never finished worse than second in the holstein show,” he added.
“She’s pretty high for her size,” he pointed out. “She has a tremendous udder.” Even though she has had only five calves lifetime, “She’s stood the test of time.”
Just like the Culls’ Cameron, a blue ribbon in the Dairy Carousel is a significant achievement for Lara, as well as Johannssens’ modest farm. “The big guys will come to us to get good cows,” said Johannssen. “They need us.”
As Kyle’s father, Paul, noted, “Her value has gone up. We plan to sell her if the price is right. You know if you get a nice price for her that the (new owner) will take care of the cows. He’s got a big investment in her.”
Paul admits he takes a personal interest in the well-being of his cows. “Purebred cattle get in your blood,” he said. “I worry about the cows. Sometimes I’ll get up in the middle of the night and look around and check on them.”
Paul Johannssen explained that the farm dates back many decades. Paul’s father came from the Schleswig-Holstein region of Germany as a teenager, he said, but he died when Paul was 17. Paul and his brother then began operating the farm. Now they have Paul’s three children, who take care of the calves, and a part-time milker. The Johannssens make their own hay and buy grain.
Whereas their father started with 20 cows, the brothers eventually expanded it to the current total of 100. Still, it’s small enough that they can monitor the breeding process, which is done by artificial insemination, and produce quality calves. Paul Johannssen said the secret of breeding is to “try to select a bull that will correct any faults the cow might have.”
Kyle is seeing first-hand the value of that breeding. Like his siblings, he has a four-year degree, but farming is in their blood and it’s their priority.
Patsy Gifford of the New York Holstein Association felt this year’s NY Dairy Carousel had a srong field thanks to the numbers. She said there was an overflow of participants and the organizers put 100 extra cows and cattle in the poultry barn.