The homebred cow that put them on the map

Erin Curtis-Szalach with her homebred doublegrand champion 3-year-old Ayrshire, Cedarcut Burdette Clove Colata and her mother Diana and grandfather Jim Curtis. “Colata really is special in her personality. When she leaves to go to a show, it is empty at home without her,” said Diana. “These are the moments of life that you cherish.”

Update: Colata was EX90 as a 3-year-old milking 125 to 135 pounds per day. Today, in 2020 at age 8, she is EX94 2E with a 95 point mammary. She calved in May 2020 producing 150 pounds per day. Her lifetime production is 201,012M 7614F 6395P.

MADISON, Wis. – “I think we all cried when we heard her name, and Dad grabbed me and hugged me,” said Diana Curtis of the double-grand winnings of her daughter Erin and her Ayrshire Colata, at World Dairy Expo. That was October 2015.

Then 13-year-old Erin leads her then 3-year-old Colata to grand champion Ayrshire of both the junior and open shows at World Dairy Expo in 2015.

“Not only was she named grand champion, but she was also best bred and owned, best udder and the total performance winner, which matters a lot. We are so happy to have this cow. She milks like crazy, looks good, transmits, and has that special personality,” Diana adds.

Colata was one of two 3-year-olds from the East in 2015 topping the Ayrshire show at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Erin Curtis-Szalach of Cazenovia, New York, took her Cedarcut Burdette Clove Colata to a pair of top awards as grand champion Ayrshire of both the junior and open shows.

Of all her achievements, the 2015 World Dairy Expo that was most memorable, when Judge Mary Creek kept coming back to Colata, the 3-year-old intermediate champion that “puts it all together and then you come to that incredible udder,” she said.

Creek was partial to the younger cows — seeing in them “the potential for the Ayrshire breed of the future.”

Their story began when Colata was a calf. Erin had been showing since she was 5, and she has had homebred Colata since she was a baby. She went to her grandparents’ farm every chance she had. Diana came back to work at the farm within the past few years with her parents, Jim and Joan Curtis, brother Eric and sister Teri. The six grandchildren are the eighth generation at Cedarcut Farm.

“Erin has put a lot of time into this cow ever since she was a calf. They have a bond, and now she also has a daughter out of her, Chanel #5, that I suspect will be just as spoiled,” Diana said, pointing out how Colata’s success has been “a total team effort. We try to do everything as a team. Just because Erin is showing her doesn’t mean my niece didn’t help wash her.”

“It was interesting, Erin had to convince her Uncle Eric to sell Colata to her. They’ve just played together from day one,” grandfather Jim recalls, noting her accomplishments as a winter calf placing first at the New York State Fair and in the open class at the All-American that year as well as 4th place at World Dairy Expo in 2012. She did not show again until she was a 2-year-old, when she was first in her class at the New York State Fair, reserve grand in the youth competition and second place in her class in the fair’s open show.

“This year (2015) she really came into her own,” Diana confirmed. Erin and Colata hit the tanbark trail with a top 3-year-old placing in youth and open shows at the New York State Fair, as well as grand champion of the Ayrshire youth and open shows. At the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Colata was grand champion of the junior show and reserve grand in the open show.

Erin is most proud of the fact that at all three shows, Colata was best bred and owned, best udder and total performance winner.

“She’s the total package,” Diana observes, noting her 2-year-old 299-day lactation produced
just shy of 22,000M.

At home, the Curtis family runs Cedarcut Farm, where Ayrshires rule but a few Holsteins and Brown Swiss round out the herd of 65 cows and youngstock. Of the cattle at the farm, Colata was special as a calf. “We knew she would do well, just not how well,” said Erin about her multi-grand cow.

“She is just longer and taller than her stable mates,” her grandfather added. When Colata calved as a 2-year-old, and they saw her udder, that’s when they really saw her potential.

“She is a unique cow… stylish with great legs and a great mammary system, with a terrific foreudder, a rear udder that is high and wide and teats that are the right shape and size,” Diana described the farm’s top Ayrshire. “When she calved in as a 3-year-old, we saw her udder was just as strong in its attachments.”

Jim was all smiles when Colata went grand. “We didn’t know what would be out here, and our philosophy is always that the best cow should win. We just got her ready to be as good as she can be and let the judge decide the show,” he said about the improbable trail of his granddaughter’s homebred cow.

For Erin, the work to show a cow like this is constant. Keeping her clean, walked and fresh is part of what makes her stand out.

Udder Comfort was part of that journey. Diana recalls the All American Dairy Show that year, just two weeks before Expo. “She was bagged tight Monday night in Harrisburg after a long day in the junior show and needed to be ready by Wednesday morning for the open show. We milked, sprayed yellow Udder Comfort, waited a bit, then followed up by rubbing the Udder Comfort white lotion into the crease and around the rear and foreudder, and it really softened her udder.”

“At home, we rely on it even more after seeing the job it did for Colata after that long day at the All-American Dairy Show in Sept. 2015,” Diana adds.

According to Jim, they’ve been using Udder Comfort at Cedarcut Farm ever since the 2008 National Ayrshire Convention. “It’s amazing. We use it on every fresh cow after each milking for the first 2 to 7 days after calving. On prefresh heifers, we start when they show they are ready to calve. We have had great success relying on this as a preventive, which also improves quality.”

Ayrshires came to Cedarcut Farms when Jim bought his first Ayrshire in 1979 for daughter Teri to show in 4-H. The Ayrshires were then transferred to son Eric as he came up through the 4-H ranks, and now, in addition to granddaughters Erin and Kayla, Jim’s grandsons Tyler and Andrew are coming of age.

Asked if her friends at school understand why she’s missing days, Erin said they know what she is doing, but most of the kids at school don’t really understand it.

“Friends came to see Colata at the State Fair and my school is planning something when they heard how she did out here in Madison,” she replied.

With the heritage of farming going back eight generations and showing dairy cattle back two generations, Erin represents that heritage by using only her mother’s show halter on Colata. The
30-year-old halter still bears the name Diana on the side strap.

“I think it is good luck,” the shy 13-year-old proclaimed.

At 13, Erin has a desire to pursue a career as a large animal vet and hopes to go to Cornell. (She later was crowned the 2019-20 Ayrshire Queen.)

“Colata really is special in her personality. When she leaves to go to a show, it is empty at home without her,” said Diana. “These are the moments of life that you cherish.”

… After 2015, Erin and Colata went on to keep the title of World Dairy Expo grand champion Ayrshire of the junior show two additional years, 2016 and 2017, and were twice grand champion of the open and junior shows at the All American as well Supreme champion over all breeds at the 2017 New York State Fair. Colata was 2015 Unanimous Junior All American Sr. 3-year-old and 2015 Reserve All World 3-year-old with AA and Reserve AA distinctions in additional years. The Cedarcut herd of 65 cows, mainly registered Ayrshires has a 2020 RHA of 24,520M with a 4.0%F and 3.2%P, and SCC averages 43,000.

“Colata is still going strong, and Udder Comfort is still a staple here at Cedarcut Farm,” says Diana.

Above are some photos of Cedarcut Burdette Clove Colata from the Cedarcut Farm’s facebook page — in her working clothes at home, where at 8 1/2 years old, she freshened May 2020 and is milking 150 pounds per day with over 200,000 pounds lifetime. Below, her udder at the All American at age 4.

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