ATLANTIC, Pa. — Dreams do come true. For Michelle Morian and her family at Mish-Ro Holsteins and Jerseys in Crawford county, Pennsylvania, the dream has a name: Mish-Ro VIP Shabbat Shalom — their first open All-American Nominee, and a milking yearling to-boot.
‘Vip’ placed fifth in the milking yearling class at the competitive All-American Jersey Show during the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky in November. But the All-American nomination judges also look at photos sent in of animals being considered. That’s where her conformation and incredible udder did the rest of the talking.
‘Vip’ is the seventh generation bred on the farm. Her 7th dam was one of Michelle’s first 4-H animals that she showed multiple years and multiple generations. To Michelle, “Vip” was already special. She went to Louisville just over 40 days fresh and barely two years of age, with the udder quality and veination that added to her appeal.
Michelle describes her as an exceptionally well-made heifer overall and quite stylish. “But personally, for me, she embodies the culmination of hopes and dreams that you’ve been chasing. Even with her dam being EX90 at 2 years 11 months, you never expect this kind of heifer is going to come. It’s what we all strive and breed for – that kind of cow,” she says.
“This is an incredible moment for us.” Michelle and her sister Rose have been breeding the cows at Mish-Ro for years.
“Dad and Mom allowed us to take over breeding cows when we were 13 years old. Picking the bulls, we had free reign to learn from our mistakes,” she explains.
“It’s incredible to breed a heifer with seven generations behind her, to be there to prepare her from the day she is born to the day she calved in, to work with an incredible crew around and supporting me, and to get to actually lead her,” Michelle says about the Louisville show and 2019 All-American nomination.
She recalls the green shavings moment when ‘Vip’ was pulled for fifth. “The judge touched her rump to go forward on the final pull. Everyone at home was watching (on live feed), and they said they could just see the relief on my face,” Michelle reflects. It was only the second time she had led an animal on the green shavings of NAILE. The other time was 14 years ago in 2005 when she was helping someone from her county.
“I spent my life watching others and learning from mentors on this journey,” she says. “November was the first time for me to lay one of our own animals out there on the green shavings. I thought back on the things I’ve learned from so many mentors sharing wisdom and advice along the way.”
Then, a month after Louisville, the meaning of it all hit home when Mish-Ro had another defining moment: being notified of Vip’s 2019 All-American Milking Yearling Nomination.
“The only show she went to was Louisville,” say Michelle. “To be fifth there gave her a chance.”
She also gives some credit to Udder Comfort. “I honestly don’t believe we would have gotten there or that her udder would have the quality that it did (at 40 days fresh) without Udder Comfort,” Michelle reports. “I started putting it on the day she calved and continued each day after milking. We could see the way it softened her udder, bringing out the quality and veination. To see those veins pop was impressive. Some of it is genetic and some I attribute to Udder Comfort bringing out her potential.”
Mish-Ro Farms is home to 40 cows – registered Jerseys, Holsteins, Red and White and Brown Swiss. Asked about her favorite breed, yes, Michelle is partial to the Jerseys, and her sister Rose loves the Swiss and Reds.
“But I love all the cows and enjoy milking good cows,” Michelle relates.
Their parents Gary and Denise started the dairy together from scratch 31 years ago. The Morian family does all of the work, they grow the forages for the cows, and they feel blessed to market their milk to United Dairy.
While Michelle soaks in the defining moment for her homebred ‘Vip — the little Jersey she bred back 7 generations went on to earn a VG88 classification score at 2 years 3 months of age in February. She has a daughter by Magic Genie, and Michelle is flushing both Vip and her dam Mish-Ro Razor Shalom who scored EX90 at 2-11 and in February saw that raised to EX91.
In fact, of the farm’s 15 Jersey cows classified in February 2020, 10 scored Excellent.
Michelle is quick to point out that while ‘Vip’ is the farm’s first open All-American nomination, her sister Rose has had a couple junior All-American nominations in other breeds.
What does Michelle love about her life on the dairy farm, combined with doing art and ad designs for other breeders? It’s a multifaceted answer that represents every aspect of life well lived.
She has a unique vantage point, from caring for the animals in the barn and carrying on the family’s passion for breeding good dairy cattle to working together daily as a family, getting into the fields, seeing the crops grow, making forages for the herd, seeing calves born and watching them develop.
“Seeing the entire life cycle and knowing we are doing the best we can with our animals — along with the experience of working to improve them genetically — that’s rewarding,” says Michelle. Not only are these experiences an honor for Michelle in her own right, she also strives to uplift and honor the accomplishments of others in the designs she creates for other breeders.
It doesn’t matter if it’s for a first-year 4-Her or a globally recognized herd like Luck-E or Harvue… “No matter where they are on that spectrum,” says Michelle, “each design is an opportunity to honor the pride and effort and passion they put into what they do.”
— By Sherry Bunting (photos provided by Michelle Morian)