NORTH LEWISBURG, Ohio — Nathan and Jenny Thomas both grew up showing registered dairy cattle. Today, their niche pursuing genetic excellence allows them to raise their children in this life they love — milking and showing Holsteins and Jerseys and caring for youngstock.
Triple-T Farm, North Lewisburg, Ohio is home to some of the top cows showing at the World Dairy Expo and Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
Among them is Meadow Green Abso Fanny-Red-ET EX96, with fans worldwide. She is owned by Triple-T with Frank and Diane Borba, Frank and Carol Borba, T&L Cattle Co. and Mike Berry. Her breeder is Meadow Green Farms, Ltd. of British Columbia.
At 9 years old and just 40 days fresh with twins in her 6th lactation, Fanny was reserve grand champion Red and White at the 2019 World Dairy Expo in Madison in October, where she was grand champion in 2017. She was elevated to a classification score of EX96 in October.
Then, in November, Fanny fans rejoiced when she was named grand champion of the 2019 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto for the third time! She was also grand of the Red and White show at the Royal in 2017 and 2016 and was reserve in 2015.
Triple T Farm is also home to the top two Jersey cows in both the 2019 World Dairy Expo and the 2019 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Bri-Lin Valson Spritz was grand at Expo. And, at just 24 days fresh, Showdown Justine was reserve. A month later, they reversed roles with 4-year-old Showdown Justine named grand champion of the Royal and 5-year-old Bri-Lin Valson Spritz in reserve. Both cows are owned by Vierra Dairy Farm, Hilmar, California and are housed and cared for at Triple-T Farm.
In October, World Dairy Expo Jersey judge Jack Lomeo gave the edge to the 5-year-old, saying it was her day that day, but noting the tough pick between the herdmates and saying that the 4-year-old’s 24-day-fresh udder was already blooming to make a statement in another month. And so she did. Nathan, who led Justine, had confessed in October that she was the one he favored of the two.
“We let cows be cows, and cows love Udder Comfort. So do we. Every fresh cow gets it,” says Nathan Thomas.
“We use a lot of Udder Comfort on fresh cows at home, and we use it before and after showing. It’s the best for comfort, to soften and soothe fresh udders — to get texture and quality back into them faster,” he explains. “We can’t afford not to use it.”
The work is ongoing, and June is when the fall show preparations begin in earnest. Heifers are washed twice a day and cows once a day.
“It’s us here every day with the cows. It makes for long days, but we love raising our kids this way, to have a niche in dairy and showing that allows us to do that,” says Jenny Thomas while tending show cattle in the barn at Expo.
She says 2017 was particularly memorable. Not only was Fanny grand champion at both the Expo and Royal that year, 2017 was also the first year of showing at Expo for their son Colton, now 11. That first year, Colton took his March Jersey calf that he owns and bred to second place and ninth overall. Quite a debut.
“This life instills the ethic of hard work and care,” says Jenny. “This business can be frustrating but also so rewarding.”
And Fanny has certainly provided the Thomas family with plenty of rewarding moments.
“This is a cow that has consistently done well for us, and in Madison she always runs into stiff competition,” says Jenny about Fanny-Red. “We feel she really developed and matured to come into her own. She’s a great milking cow and so consistent, calving back the same time every year.”
In fact, International Red and White judge Jamie Black called Fanny an aged cow in a youthful body. She’s a cow with a lot of power, and those Absolute udder traits also shine through.
Jenny notes that the industry is changing, and the genetics available are changing with genomics. “We like working with cow families that we have confidence in and find those genetics to better our herd,” says Jenny.
Cow families are the core of the breeding program at Triple-T, and bulls out of good cows are selected for matings that provide consistency. Seeing daughters, especially milking daughters, of the bulls they use is also a must.
Their T-Triple-T Platinum-ET EX94 2E was Holstein USA 2018 Star of the Breed! With over 150,000 pounds lifetime and her most recent 2x 365-day lactation 46,830M 6.5%P 3049F 3.1%P 1471P, she also does well in the show string. Platinum goes back to the T-Triple-T Dundee Paige 3E-EX96 family, a cornerstone of their herd.
Nathan and Jenny, along with children Colton, Kendall, and Camryn, have been part of the family operation since its establishment in 2006. Triple-T Holsteins has over 90 All-American and All-Canadian nominations in the last 11 years and many high scoring individuals and champions have called this farm their home.
–By Sherry Bunting