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2024 Wisconsin Holstein Convention Results

Baraboo, Wis. – February 29, 2024 – The annual Wisconsin Holstein Association (WHA) Adult Holstein Convention, hosted by the Green County Holstein Association was held February 23 and 24 at the Chalet Landhaus Inn in New Glarus, Wis. Holstein breeders from across the state were in attendance for meetings, speakers and tours, and to receive recognition for outstanding accomplishments in 2023.

The convention kicked off late Friday afternoon with WHA committee meetings. Following these meetings, the group enjoyed social time with other members before the evening dinner awards. 

Here, the 2023 Wisconsin Top Performer cows were announced. Recognized were cows owned by Tom Kestell, Ever-Green-View, Waldo, Emily Stumpf of Appleton, and Valley Drive Holsteins, Campbellsport. The overall Top Performer was Valley-Drive Mctchn Snip EX-90 who at 7-08 made 51,796 pounds of milk, 4.9% and 2568 pounds of fat, and 3.4% and 1787 pounds of protein in 305 days. 

Also recognized were owners of cows that have produced more than 300,000 and 400,000 pounds of lifetime milk. There were 52 cows recognized for producing over 300,000 pounds and three cows that produced over 400,000 pounds in 2023. Outstanding advertisements in the Wisconsin Holstein News in 2023 were also recognized. Taking top ad honors for the year was Hi-Lo Springs Holsteins of Norwalk. 

Saturday morning’s early bird session featured a panel on robotic milking systems. Ryan Nigh of Lirr Farm and Travis Ullom, herd manager at Minglewood Dairy, spoke about their experiences with Lely and DeLaval robots respectively. John Gerbitz of Cow Corner, LLC was the panel moderator. Attendees asked many questions and were able to learn about each dairy and system. The topic and panel were well-received and informational for convention-goers. 

The annual WHA business meeting was held following the early bird session and included committee reports from board members and an update from Holstein USA board member, Tony Brey, Holstein USA CEO John Mayer, and Area Representative Chris Lyons. Four new members were elected to a three-year term on the WHA Board of Directors: Brian Coyne, Monona; Patrick Crave, Waterloo; Brenda Murphy, Poynette; and Todd Hoesly, Brodhead. 

During Saturday’s luncheon, the association honored 40- and 50-year members, outstanding juniors, and the 2024 Wall of Fame Inductees. This year's inductees were person, John Auestad; bull, Lirr Drew Dempsey; and cow, Inwood Taffy Apollo.  

 Wall of Fame Person – John Auestad

Born in Norway in 1923, John Auestad immigrated to Wisconsin two years later with his family. After first settling in Dane County, the family moved to a farm in northwestern Green County in the early 1930s. John purchased his first Registered Holsteins from the Elmerbrook herd in nearby New Glarus along with herd sires from Elmerbrook and Baltz Hoesly. AI was implemented in the 1960s. John’s breeding philosophy was to breed big, strong cows with dairy character. A couple of his favorite bulls were Proven Mtn., Ivanhoe Jewel, Sunnyside Standout, and Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation. He was a believer in the aAa philosophy.

John bred 22 Excellent cows at a time when 40 cow herds were the norm and it was rare for any herd to have more than a couple of Excellent cows. He bred seven Gold Medal Dams, eight Dams of Merit, 194 cows over 100,000 lifetime, seven cows over 200,000, and one over 300,000. He was a recipient of the Progressive Breeder Registry award multiple times. Cattle were exhibited at the Green County Fair, District 6 Show, State Show, Wisconsin Junior State Fair, and World Dairy Expo. The Inwood herd was dispersed in 1983 with an average of $3490 on 90 head. 

After the sale, John went into partnership with Gary Dammen and they farmed the Inwood-Hill prefix, developing another high-quality herd. Gary and wife Amy bought John out in 1993. 

Beyond being a Holstein breeder, John was a public servant. He was a 4-H dairy leader and served on several boards including Green County Holstein Breeders, Green County DHI, Federal Land Bank, AMPI and East Central Select Sires and the sire committee for Select Sires. He received the prestigious Pioneer Award from East Central Select Sires. The list continues with the Adams Township board where he served as clerk, Adams Lutheran Church Council and the Homestead Club. John was a selector for the Heart of the Wheel Sale for many years. 

 Wall of Fame Bull – Lirr Drew Dempsey

Lirr Drew Dempsey has sired multiple familiar show cows around the world as well as cows that breeders love to milk. Dempsey was bred by Ryan, Robert, and Randy Nigh of Viroqua. His Derry dam was bred by Brad Kerndt of Waukon, Iowa, and was purchased by Robert’s son Ryan at a Minnesota Spring Sale as a project heifer and would eventually score VG-88. Born in December of 2005, he was one of the earliest Goldwyn sons at Select Sires in 2006. Dempsey came on to the progeny-proven lineup in December 2010 and graduated as the #6 PTAT sire in the breed. With 36,484 scored daughters, Dempsey has made an impact on dairy breeding around the world. He sold 593,452 units globally in his career, making him Goldwyn’s most successful sire in history at Select Sires. Dempsey produced cows with extreme components and terrific udders. They were the kind that were good 2-year-olds but better 3- and 4-year-olds. Even today, Dempsey’s daughters can be found in the aged and production cow classes in shows around the world.

 Wall of Fame Cow – Inwood Taffy Apollo

Inwood Taffy Apollo became a foundation cow for Jeff and Kate Hendrickson of Jeffrey-Way Holsteins, Belleville. Jeff made the purchase of a lifetime in 1983 when his former boss and mentor, John Auestad, held a sale at his farm. Taffy was a second lactation Wayne-Spring Fond Apollo, out of a VG-88 Hagemans Tempo. Taffy developed into a great cow – classifying EX-93 and earning both Gold Medal Dam and Dam of Merit status. The branches of this family are vast and each has made an impact on the herd at Jeffrey-Way and around the world. 

 Taffy’s daughter by Walkway Chief Mark, Jeffrey-Way Mark Trudy, was EX-91 and the first cow to draw AI interest on the farm. Her daughter, Jeffrey-Way Mascot Tina-ET 3E-91 GMD DOM, kick-started the Jeffrey-Way marketing program with 22 sons going into AI and over 100 embryos sold. Three of her bulls went to Japan and she has 20 VG and three EX daughters.  

 One branch of this family stems from one of Tina’s daughters - EX-93 Luke Tripoli. From Tripoli was the EX-93 2E GMD DOM Format Tate, a Formation daughter. In 2006 Tate was nominated for Holstein International’s Global Cow of the Year. She had 10 EX daughters - two at 94, three at 93, two at 92, two at 91 and one at 90. One of those EX daughters was Manat Terra EX-94 4E GMD DOM with a lifetime record of 296,470 milk with 4.3% fat and 3.4% protein. Her bull Toplevel, sired by Bellwood Marshall, was in the Semex USA lineup for quite some time. Tate’s grandson by Goldwyn, Go-Farm Artes, had tremendous success in Italy.  

 Along with being top type and production cows, the T family has also produced show winners for the Hendrickson family and beyond. Jeff and Kate’s granddaughter Emma and Jeffrey-Way Drman Tavor-ET teamed up to win Junior Champion of the International Junior Holstein Show in 2021. Tavor was Junior All-American and HM All-American Summer Yearling that year. She’s a Doorman from a Corvette back to Format Tate. Jeffrey-Way Hard Rock Twigs EX-92 who is now owned by Doeberiener, Bowen, and Conroy of Ohio was nominated All American Senior 3-Year-Old and was Honorable Mention Grand Champion of the Royal Winter Fair. Twigs is from the Format Tate line of the family.  

The afternoon was highlighted by a tour of Kuhn North America and Rock-N-Hill-II Registered Holsteins. At Kuhn, attendees saw the inner workings of the facility. Rock-N-Hill-II Registered Holsteins in Juda is owned and operated by Chris and Kathie McCullough, their children Rachel and Mac, and Chris’ parents, Mike and Marcy. The farm is home to 60 milk cows and 90 heifers. The McCulloughs breed for cows that can achieve high scores and create strong cow families. 

Honored at the Saturday evening banquet was this year's Holstein Horizon, Distinguished Young Holstein Breeder, Marlowe Nelson Distinguished Service, and Distinguished Holstein Breeder award winners. 

 Holstein Horizon Award

David Sarbacker of Floydholm Holsteins, Edgerton, is this year’s Holstein Horizon Award winner. Sarbacker and the Floydholm prefix is probably most well-known for breeding Floydholm MC Emoji-ET EX-95, now owned by the Nehls family and La Femme Fatale Syndicate. In 2019, Emoji was the Intermediate Champion at both the International Holstein Show and the Royal Winter Fair. Emoji is a daughter of the foundation cow of Floydholm, Budjon-JK Damion Eklipse-ET EX-94 2E. Eklipse has also produced two daughters who were Reserve Champion Yearling at the Wisconsin Junior State Fair and two others who were named Junior All-American and Reserve Junior All-American. In addition to breeding and developing elite cattle, David has promoted the Registered Holstein through youth engagement, hosting fitting and showing clinics on their farm, and serving on the Dane County State Fair Committee. He has worked for CentralStar Cooperative for 26 years, currently as a Genetic Consultant. David and his wife, Candace, have three children, Lindsey, 23, Ashlyn, 20, and Cole, 17. 

 Distinguished Young Holstein Breeder

Tony and Jacob Brey grew up on their 100­cow Registered Holstein farm in Sturgeon Bay, Brey Cycle Farm. Today, the brothers manage 1,100 cows with a rolling herd average of 29,652 pounds of milk, 1246 pounds of fat and 942 pounds of protein and 43 Excellent, 204 Very Good and 324 Good Plus cows. The herd has been presented the Progressive Genetic Herd Award by Holstein Association USA for eight years. Tony joined the business in 2007 following college and purchased Registered Holsteins from herds in Illinois and Oklahoma to double the herd size. Jacob joined the farm full-time in 2015 after two years as a classifier for Holstein Association USA. The Breys use bulls with both pedigree and genomic factors when making breeding decisions for farm profitability. They have sold five bulls to AI, including Cycle McGucci Jordy-Red, a two-time winner of the Premier Sire award at World Dairy Expo. Tony and his wife Moriah have two children, Evan, 12 and Alexa, 6, who are getting involved with Registered Holsteins. Jacob and his wife Lauren also have two children, Rosella, 2 and Willem, 1.

 Marlowe Nelson Distinguished Service Award

Jim Rickert of Eldorado has been a leader in the Wisconsin Holstein industry as well as in his local community for many years. This year he was recognized as the Marlowe Nelson Distinguished Service Award winner. Jim served on the Executive Committee for the National Holstein Conventions in 2008 and 2019. In 2008, alongside wife Kelly, he was a co-chair for the National Junior Holstein Convention, and in 2019 they served as Transportation Chairs. Jim served on the WHA Board of Directors for six years where he was secretary for three and served a term as president. Additionally, for the past 18 years, he has served on the WHA Scholarship committee. On the county level, Jim has dedicated his time to the Fond du Lac County Holstein Association serving on the board and as a junior advisor. Outside of Holstein-related activities, he has been a board member for Badgerland Financial, Wisconsin DHIA and Fond du Lac DHIA. He’s active in the Eldorado Lions Club and in the Redeemer Church congregation. Jim farms with his wife and brother and their families at Rickland Holsteins. The family was recognized as the WHA Distinguished Holstein Breeder for 2022.

Distinguished Holstein Breeder: 

Mike and Marcy McCullough started farming in 1973 in Illinois with seven Registered Holsteins and nine heifers along with some pigs in a 34-stall tie-stall barn. They moved their herd and two children to Juda in December of 1976 where they purchased a 160-acre farm with a newer 48 tie-stall barn. About 80 percent of the current herd traces back to Mike’s first Registered Holstein calf, Taylor Knoll Suzie VG-87. Today, the herd includes 50 milking Registered Holsteins with a BAA of 110.9% and a rolling herd average of 24,331 pounds of milk, 962 pounds of fat and 753 pounds of protein. Mike has bred 103 Excellent and 237 Very Good as well as 32 cows who have produced more than 200,000 pounds of milk. Standout cows Mike has bred and developed include Rock-N-Hill AJ Ella EX-90 5E, Rock-N-Hill Gidget EX-94, and Rock-N-Hill Knucklebuck EX-94. The McCulloughs believe in breeding for high-type cows from 100% RHA bulls and have been a completely homebred herd for 20 years. Mike is a past president for the Wisconsin Holstein Association and the Green County Holstein Breeders. He’s also served on the Green County DHI board, Juda School Board, Green County Mutual Insurance Board and the Juda Fire Department. Marcy helped build a strong junior program in Green County, serving as a leader and dairy bowl coach for almost 20 years. She took seven teams from Green County to the national contest, earning two national championships. Mike and Marcy have five children and 11 grandchildren.

The WHA Board of Directors met to elect officers for the upcoming year. Ryan Weigel of Platteville will serve as president. Vice President will be Kurt Loehr, Eden, and Steve Maier of Jim Falls will serve as secretary. Krista Luedtke and Ty Hildebrandt were also elected to serve on the Executive Committee.


Photos of honorees can be found at this link:


The Wisconsin Holstein Association holds its annual convention each year in February.  For more information on this or other events, visit, or contact WHA Executive Director, Laura Wackershauser at 800-223-4269 ext 1 or


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