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Wisconsin Holstein members celebrate Registered Holsteins in Wisconsin Rapids

Baraboo, Wis. – February 28, 2023 – The Wisconsin Holstein Association (WHA) hosted the annual Adult Holstein Convention at the Hotel Mead and Conference Center in Wisconsin Rapids, February 24 and 25. Holstein breeders from across the state were in attendance for meetings, speakers and tours, and to receive recognition for outstanding accomplishments in 2022.

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 2022 Wisconsin Top Performer cows were announced. Recognized were cows owned by Tom Kestell, Ever-Green-View, Waldo; Wargo Acres, Lodi; and Valley Drive Holsteins, Campellsport. The overall Top Performer was Valley-Drive Mctchn Snip EX-90 who at 6-08 made 53,786 pounds of milk, 5.2% and 2807 pounds of fat, and 3.4% and 1782 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 54 cows recognized for producing over 300,000 pounds and three cows that produced over 400,000 pounds in 2022. Outstanding advertisements in the Wisconsin Holstein News in 2022 were also recognized. Taking top ad honors for the year was Mar-Linda-K Holsteins of Johnson Creek.

Attendees at Saturday morning’s early bird session heard from Erica Enright of Winright Holsteins, Winchester, Ontario. Erica shared her knowledge of raising elite show heifers with the group. She walked through the steps she takes from birth to weaning then weaning to entering a show program in terms of nutrition, housing, exercise and washing. Following her presentation, she answered questions from the group.

The annual WHA business meeting was held and included committee reports from board members and an update from Holstein USA board members, Bob Webb and Tony Brey, and Holstein USA CEO John Mayer. Two new members were elected to a three-year term on the WHA Board of Directors: Steve Maier, Jim Falls and Joe Meyer, Unity. Ralph Petersheim of Viroqua was elected to serve a full three-year term after completing a one-year term, and Kurt Loehr of Eden was re-elected to a second three-year term.

During Saturday’s luncheon, the association honored 40- and 50- year members, outstanding juniors and the 2023 Wall of Fame Inductees. This year's inductees were person, Eugene Halbach; bull, Ocean-View Sexation; and cow, Triple-J-Mac Bic Betty.

Wall of Fame Person - Eugene Halbach

The Halbach farm was started in Waterford by Eugene’s (Gene) grandfather H.W. Halbach in the 1800s as a prominent chicken farm with a few cows. The first registered cow came to the farm in 1906. One of these three cows was the granddam of Sir Fobes Ormsby Hengerveld, the only six-time All-American bull ever in the breed.

After graduating from UW-Madison, Gene went back home to farm for several years with his dad and uncle before going on the show circuit showing cattle. He then worked as a manager at Clyman Farms in Watertown where he greatly improved the herd.

Following the Clyman Farms Dispersal in 1949, Gene became a classifier at Holstein Association for several years then was hired by Bristol Farms as a manager. His goal was to breed big, deep, wide front-ended and wide rumped cows that made a lot of milk. The herd moved to Marana Dairy in Arizona in the 1970s. Gene passed away in 1997 and at that time they were the highest herd average for their size group in Arizona.

In Gene’s lifetime he bred or developed: 86 - 200,000-pound cows; 935 - 100,000-pound cows; 30 Gold Medal Dams; 44 bulls sold to AI; 251 Excellent animals including 7 - 4E-cows and 26 - 3E-cows; 40 All-American nominations with 3 All-Americans, 11 Reserve All-Americans, 9 Honorable Mention All-Americans, and 3 Junior All-Americans; 5 National Show Premier Breeder awards; and 2 National Show Premier Exhibitor awards.

Wall of Fame Bull - Ocean-View Sexation

The story of Ocean-View Sexation starts 60 years ago at the 1963 National Holstein Convention when Marvin and Vivian Nunes purchased Ideograph Burkgov Steps, the great-granddam of Sexation. They were impressed with Steps’ udder, feet and legs and overall dairy quality.

Once at Ocean-View, Steps was bred to Ida-Falls Stylemaster - an ABS contract mating that resulted in a heifer calf, Ocean-View Mistress Sonia VG-87, Sexation’s granddam. Sonia was then mated to Rosafe Citation R, a mating that produced Ocean-View Citation Sheri VG-86, the dam of Sexation. Sexation entered the Nor-Cal young sire program in December of 1974 through a lease agreement. Sexation’s type pattern and components made him popular amongst US and international dairy producers.

Early descriptions of typical Sexation daughters – they were black, good uddered, well balanced cows that wear extremely well. As of April 1989 Sexation produced: 672 Excellent daughters; 839 daughters with 25,000 pounds milk; 690 daughters with 1000 pounds fat; 1044 daughters with 800 pounds protein; 407 daughters with 25,000 milk, 1000 fat and 800 protein; 135 Excellent daughters with 25,000 milk, 1000 fat and 800 protein; and 31 Excellent daughters with 30,000 milk, 1000 fat and 800 protein.

Wall of Fame Cow – Triple-J-Mac Bic Betty

Bob and Karyn Schauf of Indianhead Holsteins, Barron, purchased Triple-J-Mac Bic Betty in 1977 at a sale in Kansas. She was a wide butted, wide muzzled calf sired by Milu Betty Ivanhoe Chief from a great, deep cow family. Bic Betty lived to be 19 years old and was the first cow in the breed to have 20 Excellent daughters in a time before embryo transfer gained traction. She was scored EX-94 2E along with being a Gold Medal Dam and Dam of Merit.

At one point, Betty, had 10 Excellent daughters in the barn. Below her picture in the Wisconsin Holstein History book is the line “the greatest transmitting cow at Indianhead.” She had progeny around the globe and at the time of Schauf’s dispersal in 2017 they were still breeding from her maternal line. At one point, 35% of the Indianhead herd descended from Betty.

As noted in an Indianhead ad in December 1996, Betty had 15 Excellent daughters, 15 high Very Good daughters, 3 Excellent granddaughters and 12 high Very Good granddaughters - with 24 of them in the herd at that time. There were over 20 different sires on these high scoring cows; her transmitting ability was really second to none.

The afternoon was highlighted with a farm tour of Grass-Ridge Farm and Gardner Cranberry and Badger Fruit Processing. At Grass-Ridge Farm, tour attendees viewed a great crop of Registered Holsteins bred by the Lippert family in Pittsville. The farm milks more than 600 cows and has an RHA of 30,447 milk, 1252 fat and 1007 protein. The herd is a Holstein Association USA Progressive Breeder Registry (PPR) herd. After visiting the dairy, the group toured Gardner Cranberry and Badger Fruit Processing where they learned about cranberry farming and product production. The business consists of four segments - Gardner Cranberry, Badger Fruit Processing, Gardner Cold Storage and Gardner Trucking.

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

Holstein Horizon Award

The Holstein Horizon was established in 2022 and recognizes those in the industry who are still involved in breeding outstanding Holsteins but may not be, or are no longer, milking cows.

This year’s honorees were Nick and Jessica Sarbacker of Heritage Holsteins, Whitewater. Both grew up on their family’s farms, Nick at Fischerdale Holsteins and Jessica at Agnew Farms. Twelve years ago they started Heritage Holsteins which quickly became a well-known name in the dairy show world.

Their first purchase was KY-Blue Gw Debbie-ET EX-94, who became the matriarch of their herd and is still around today at 14 years old. Over the years, Nick and Jessica have bred and or owned 18 Excellent and 34 VG cows, and have exhibited numerous All-Wisconsin and Reserve All-Wisconsin winners with having two Junior Champions at the Wisconsin Championship Show. They also enjoy helping others excel in the show ring, selling their best and helping friends achieve lifelong goals.

Marketing cattle is an area where Nick and Jessica excel. Nick is a talented photographer and graphic designer and they started, which gives breeders the opportunity to sell embryos and live cattle online.

The couple has also served as mentors to area youth and have both led efforts to organize the District 6 Show. Jessica currently serves as the President of the Rock County Holstein Breeders and Nick donated his talents to host the first Rock County Holstein online fundraiser on, raising over $4,000 for the group. Nick has also served as a delegate for Wisconsin at the National Holstein Convention.

Today, Nick and Jessica reside outside Whitewater on Jessica’s home farm where they have 35 head of cattle. Jessica works as the Vice President of the Crop Insurance Department for Lake Ridge Bank. Nick assists in operating Agnew Farms with Jessica’s father where they own and run 1000 acres of cash crops. Their two daughters, Madison and Melanie are just starting their story with Registered Holsteins and the future looks bright for this young family.

Distinguished Young Holstein Breeder

The 2022 Distinguished Young Holstein Breeder was awarded to Nick Kress and Amanda Knoener of Kress-Hill Dairy in Newton. The farm was started in 2010 when they purchased 150 grade cows from area farms. Over the next years they bought Registered Holsteins from various sales and started transitioning their herd to registered cows.

In 2012, they purchased Siemers Destry Sunny-Red-ET from the Siemers Showcase Sale at the Great Northern Sales Arena. This bred heifer went on to forever change Kress-Hill Dairy. Sunny became the foundation of their red and white breeding program. Over the years, she quickly produced many local, state and national level winners and also produced the #1 Red & White PTAT cow, Ms Kress-Hill Saphire-Red-ET.

In 2019, Saphire was named Junior Champion of both the open and junior Red & White shows at World Dairy Expo. She then went on to win Supreme Junior Champion of the Junior Show as well. With their showring success, Kress-Hill has been able to market their animals at numerous sales along with selling countless embryos nationwide.

Over the last few years, the Kress-Hill prefix has won numerous junior champions, group classes and class winners. They also have had numerous All-American and Junior All-American nominations and were named Premier Exhibitor and Breeder at the 2022 International Red & White Show.

Since 2010, they have made changes to the dairy to improve the overall herd. In 2013 they purchased the facilities and 200 acres of land. From there, they immediately began to make updates including using sand bedding in the freestalls for cow comfort and parlor technology updates to have individual cow reports.

Nick and Amanda have two children, Owen and Kendyll, who work side by side with them on the farm. In addition, they also have a few hired employees that help at both the shows and on the farm. Today, their herd is roughly 75 percent registered and they strive to continue improving their herd.

Marlowe Nelson Distinguished Service Award

The Marlowe Nelson Distinguished Service Award was awarded to Corey Geiger, past WHA and Holstein USA President and editor of Hoard’s Dairyman. Geiger served on the WHA Board of Directors with 27 other members while serving for nine years. He served three years as secretary, two years as vice president and two years as president.

While on the board he served on the finance, communications and scholarship committees and continued to serve for several years after going off the board for a total of 36 years served accumulatively on these committees. Geiger had the foresight to establish the nominating committee for board of directors and was the leader in establishing the Midwest Holsteins publication.

On a national level, he was elected to a director at-large role at the National Holstein Convention in Minnesota in 2010 and served six years. While on the national board he was on six committees, several of which as the chairperson for multiple years. Then in 2017, Geiger was again elected to the national board as vice president and then president. All of this service was done as co-chair of the 2019 National Holstein Convention here in Wisconsin, as well as his day-to-day position as Editor of Hoard’s Dairyman.

Additional volunteer duties include coordinating the National Intercollegiate Judging Contest at World Dairy Expo, serving as Holstein representative to the World Dairy Expo Board of Directors and serving on the Council for Dairy Cattle Breeding; along with authoring a book in his spare time.

Distinguished Holstein Breeder

The evening wrapped up with the announcement of the Distinguished Holstein Breeder, the Rickert Family of Eldorado.

Rickland Holsteins is currently operated by three generations of the Rickert family. Don and his late wife Lila, Greg and his wife Laura as well as sons Andy and Aaron, and Jim and his wife Kelly and their son Andrew. Don’s parents, Eldor and Edna, began their farming career in 1936. Don joined the operation after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC) in 1952. Jim and Andrew are also FISC alumni and Greg returned home after college as well. Don has always been progressive and incorporated the operation in 1981 after Jim returned home to give the next generation an opportunity to work into the operation, setting the foundation for the expansion and progression of the operation to what it is today as Rickert Bros LLC. At 88, Don still does the books and is still active in the operation.

Through thoughtful matings, the Rickerts have bred or developed over 110 EX cows, 37 GMD, 38 DOM, one Gold Medal Sire, received the PBR herd 10 years and have received the Progressive Genetics Herd Award for 27 years. This herd has sent 97 bulls to AI in their career and marketed genetics worldwide. The Rickerts also received the Master Agriculturist Award in 2017.

Notable cows from Rickland Holsteins include Horse-Pen Hill Leonette EX-5E and Rickland Ned Boy Pixiesue, VG-86 GMD-DOM, who brought the world to the farm, placed four sons in AI and embryos marketed internationally. Rickland Bell Perfect VG-87 was the dam of 7HO4161 Rickland Laban Projector-ET at Select Sires and shows up in many influential pedigrees. Later, Rickalnd Mandel Debut went to ABS but was unfortunately lost early. He also shows up in many pedigrees particularly through 7HO10849 Shamrock with his dam being a Debut daughter. More recently, Rickland Montross 5321 VG-87 was an influential flush cow yielding 13 offspring including one who sold for $200,000 to PEAK genetics.

They have incrementally expanded over the years from 104 cows in the 1980s to their current level of 1000 cows and 2200 acres. This herd has been a leader in their county for production for many years and has a current RHA of 30,241 milk, 3.9% fat, 1191 pounds of fat, 3.1% protein and 944 pounds of protein.

The entire Rickert family has served the Wisconsin Holstein Association as well as the greater dairy industry and their local community for decades through servant leadership.

The WHA Board of Directors met to elect officers for the upcoming year. Sara Feldmann of Sheboygan will serve as president. Vice President will be Kurt Loehr, Eden, and Erica Ullom of Bloomer will serve as secretary for a seventh year. Krista Luedtke, Hortonville, and Ty Hildebrandt, Hustisford, were also elected to serve on the Executive Committee.

Photos of honorees can be found at this link:


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