CHRISTIANA, Pa. — History was made June 27, 2019 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania when Golden-Rose Barbritzi B-Red classified EX-90 with a mammary score of 93. The Senior 3-year-old is the first in the world to complete 20 consecutive generations Excellent in the Holstein breed, and it happened one day before she and herdmates were auctioned, along with the farm and equipment at the Legacy of Golden Rose Sale Friday, June 28 in Christiana, Pa.
“Barbritzi going Excellent is the highlight of my career at the end of this chapter,” said her breeder Rusty Herr. “It’s something that has been a goal of mine to get to 20 generations. But to do it with a cow that we bred and that my father owns and to have it be a Red & White, makes it so special.”
She topped the dispersal at $15,500 to Ferme Blondin, St. Placide, Quebec, and her offspring were among nine of the sale’s top 12 animals that stayed in Pennsylvania, each going to different farms in the state.
“This is one of the best outcomes that could have been,” said Rusty. “Ferme Blondin does an incredible job with their cattle and their marketing, and they have the bull stud too. I couldn’t ask for a better home for her. It will also be great for the people who bought into the family. I think dad and I have a trip to Canada to plan in the future.”
Blondin is wasting no time, announcing they will begin working with her right away. “Rusty has done an outstanding job continuing this pedigree, but also adding in the Red, which makes it even more impressive,” writes Dann Brady with Ferme Blondin in an email response after the sale. “It isn’t easy to breed EX cows, but Rusty took on the challenge and has been adding to this already deep pedigree.”
An estimated 1000 people came and went throughout sale day. Fraley Auction Co. registered 253 buyers on site and 187 registered online through Cowbuyer — with most animals purchased by individual breeders in Pennsylvania and surrounding states taking home one or two animals as well as some going as far as Iowa, Wisconsin, Texas and Canada.
The sale included 50 descendants of Oakfield Pronto Ritzi EX-93 2E, but the 11-year-old matriarch, herself, is one Rusty has kept.
“I purchased her as a heifer, and that’s one thing I promised myself, I would never sell Pronto Ritzi,” he says.
As her great-great granddaughter BarBritzi stepped into the sale tent, Norman Nabholz talked about the great cows throughout the dam side of her pedigree while auctioneer Adam Fraley called the bids.
At the other end of the 20 generations EX was Audry Posch, born in 1937, with a long and storied pedigree to follow. Nabholz noted the impact of Apple on the sire side of Barbritzi’s dam, and the power of that mating in producing a Red & White two generations later to accomplish this milestone.
Holstein classifier Brian Sparling made time to do the very last classification at Golden Rose on June 27, and he was thoroughly impressed with Barbritzi’s udder.
“You don’t often see them this good,” said Sparling, praising her level udder floor and superior teat size, shape and placement.
She was fresh in March with her second calf, milking 100 pounds with 5.7% fat test.
The Red & White Barbwire was born in November 2015, shortly before Rusty downsized his herd in that dispersal preparing to move into the newly constructed Canadian-style tiestall barn where his dream was to focus on and showcase genetics.
Rusty explains that being just 10 days old at the time, and with her dam unclassified and her granddam still at 88, the potential was there, but who knew how it would blossom? The little Barbwire calf was purchased by Rusty’s father, Karl, along with Warren Buckman. And Rusty continued working with her. She was the first Red & White in the Pronto Ritzi family.
As her breeder — and breeder of the most recent four generations of Excellent in the 20-generation line — Rusty explains that he chose good proven bulls that complemented the dams and that could give him a high percentage chance to result in a good mating for the next generation based on the previous generations of really good cows.
But to accomplish it in nine years is significant, while bringing the Red in at the same time.
Barbritzi’s EX-94 Absolute dam was a big part of the equation. Golden-Rose ABS Ginger-ET was purchased by Mike Garrow in the 2015 downsizing sale as a 10-days fresh unclassified two-year-old. Her dam Goldrush was EX-91 (EX-93 today), but her second dam Shottle Royal was only VG-88 at that time (EX-91 2E today).
“Ginger maxed out each time she was classified,” Rusty notes. She scored VG-89 as a 2-year-old, EX-92 as a 3-year-old. She was then sold to Dick Witter and Ridgedale Holsteins, Sharon Springs, New York, where she continued to blossom and went right to EX-94 after her third calf.
“When we used Absolute, it was intentional,” Rusty explains. “We wanted to use a red bull with good type, and we knew it could take a couple generations, and within two generations that’s where we were. We were fortunate to have Red & White calves.
“You have to also have a little luck on your side,” he adds. “When we did the Absolute mating on Goldrush, she was a virgin heifer. Her dam was Shottle Royal, and she was just in her second lactation and had scored 88 points as a two-year-old. We didn’t have any classification on Goldrush yet. She was the oldest daughter of Royal at the time, so we wanted to work with the next generation possible without getting too crazy. We IVF’d a round early as a heifer and then bred them hoping to have a few daughters.”
Rusty had four Absolute daughters from that. Ginger was one of them. “All we did was breed her to Barbwire sexed semen as a virgin heifer, and her natural first calf was Barbritzi,” he recalls. The others were red carrier and sold in 2015 except Gloriana, dam of Golden-Rose Ladd Glory, red and polled, along with Rusty’s father and a cobuyer having purchased the Barbwire at the 2015 dispersal.
“Things fell into place as they have all gone EX as three-year-olds in that line after Royal, from Goldrush to Ginger to Barbritzi, and each one on a mating in the previous generation on a virgin heifer,” Rusty says. “That’s how we had to do it to expedite things, by choosing a complementary mating but also having some luck.”
This shows the strength of the cow families in the pedigree that goes back to the 1930s, and the breeders in various states who have added to it along the way.
Cow comfort and show case genetics were key to Rusty’s design of the Canadian-style 40-stall tie-stall barn as he had downsized the freestall herd in 2015 to focus on a genetic core group of animals. Prior to the Nov. 2015 sale is when he first tried Udder Comfort as a routine on fresh 2-year-olds, applying it 2x/day for 5 to 7 days after calving.
“I had tried other products without much effect, so I was surprised in 2015 when I first tried Udder Comfort on fresh 2-year-olds. It really brought out the udder quality and potential,” Rusty recalls. “It works faster and better than anything else, and it’s great for the skin, really softens the udders.”
While it has been tough to sell the herd, the farm, the dream, Rusty says he looks forward to the next chapter working in genetics on other farms, as well as a semen distribution company being formed. He has deep gratitude for all who have been part of this journey.
“The crowd we had at the sale — and the number of buyers taking animals home — shows us that good cows are still appreciated, and through all the numbers, indexes, genomics, good cows always rise to the top,” Rusty observes.
“It has been a long four years for us, and it has been a long four years for everyone attending our sale,” said Rusty of the dairy economics. “It is easy not to be happy. I try not to let my circumstances dictate my happiness and try to choose to be happy in spite of circumstances.
“The number one thing in my mind is gratitude for support and lessons learned. In hard times, we learn the most about ourselves, and I think about how this can make us be better and become stronger and how we have each-others’ backs. I have no regrets.”
Barbritzi goes to Ferme Blondin at $15,500. Her contending bidder was Bert-Mar Farms, Osseo, Wisconsin. Her yearling Avalanche heifer and Goldwyn granddam both went to new homes in Lebanon, Pa. — the yearling to Joel Krall, Furnace Hills Holsteins at $7700 and the granddam to Travis Zuck at $4200. Barbritzi’s Jordy calf was gaveled to James Hoffman of Slippery Rock, Pa. at $3900.
Second-high seller Golden-Rose Ladd Glory-Red VG-86, a polled three-year-old, brought $12,000 to Glory Syndicate, Smithsburg, Maryland.
The sale of 123 live lots totaled $219,555 for an average $1785 per head with the top 12 averaging $6446. The 13 embryo lots averaged $825 per embryo with Barbritzi’s Unstoppabull embryos fetching $950 each and embryos from Glory going for $900 each. Additionally, the net proceeds of food and drinks served was $4100 for a mission trip to Africa.
— By Sherry Bunting, Portions reprinted from Farmshine, look for more in an upcoming Cowsmo / Holstein World edition