From Frosty to Footloose, and beyond

MADISON, Wis – During the 2022 World Dairy Expo, 2663 cattle were housed on the grounds, breaking the previous record in 2008.

The 2022 Expo also marked the first time in its 55-year history that a granddaughter of a two-time Supreme champion achieved Supreme honors herself on the colored shavings — after first being named first place 5-year-old, senior and grand champion of the International Holstein Show, where 508 Holsteins were judged by Pierre Boulet of Quebec, Canada.

2022 Supreme champion Oakfield Solomon Footloose-ET, now classified EX-96, is owned by Duckett Holsteins, with Vierra Dairy and Tim and Sharyn Abbott. She was bred by Jonathan and Alicia Lamb of Oakfield Corners Farm, Oakfield, New York — named premier breeder of the 2022 WDE International Holstein Show.

Footloose (below right) is the EX-96 granddaughter of world renowned Harvue Roy Frosty EX-97-3E-GMD (below left). The famous two-time WDE Supreme champion (2009, 2010) and three-time All-American (2007, 2009, 2010), Frosty was owned by Duckett Holsteins for many years. She was bred by the Hardesty family of Harvue Farms, Berryville, Virginia. In fact, during Expo week, the late Jack Hardesty was posthumously honored by the National Dairy Shrine as a 2022 Pioneer for his legacy in outstanding dairy cattle genetics. Frosty’s pedigree, and that of granddaughter Footloose traces back to one of Hardesty’s first cows.

Frosty has always been special to the Ducketts. She lived at Duckett Holsteins in Rudolph, Wisconsin, contributing to their genetics until 2016, when she passed away at age 12 with four 95-point daughters and a 95-point clone to her credit, not to mention other offspring like granddaughter Footloose.

“Frosty was the cow to put us on the map, the first bigtime cow to have done really well for us,” Mike recalls. “That was fun, but this time with Footloose, the most special part is that we were able to have our two kids with us, and they had a blast.”

Mike Duckett talked about this and other topics in the November 22, 2022 edition of The Dairy Show, a World Dairy Expo podcast. (Listen here)

From Supreme champion Frosty in 2009 and 2010 to Supreme champion Footloose in 2022, Udder Comfort has been there too, not just as sponsor of grand champion cash awards at World Dairy Expo, but also in the Duckett showbox and in the care of cattle at home.

“We do use a lot of it. Udder Comfort is great for increasing circulation on our fresh cows and keeping the udder quality on cows while showing,” says Mike.

“The every day routine care they get is so important, and we are fortunate to have some very talented people working for us,” Mike says about the care of the 60 to 70 cows on their farm, some owned and others boarded. “Cows are creatures of habit, nothing varies at this farm… and we have a great crew here to do it how we want it done.”

Of the iconic Expo moments for the Ducketts, Mike says, “This year when they named Footloose champion, it was special having our kids there… with Footloose being Frosty resurfacing again. That’s the one that means most to us.”

He says their son and daughter at just about 4 and 8 years old, respectively, “are fully invested, even fighting over who gets to feed.”

Mike and Julie met working with show cows at Louisville 23 years ago, convincing Mike, who hails from a commercial farming background in North Carolina, to move to Wisconsin.

The couple spent a year in Maryland working with Tom Mercuro. It was at that time they saw Frosty during a 2008 visit to Virginia after she had been reserve grand champion Holstein at the 2007 World Dairy Expo. They purchased her and brought her home to central Wisconsin and worked with her, going back and forth east to Trans Ova. Then, 11 years ago, they started Genetic Futures, a Trans Ova satellite facility located six miles from the Duckett farm in Rudolph.

Asked to compare the two, Mike noted their similarities in overall make up. “But I give Footloose the big advantage from the rear udder and that veination in the rear udder,” he says. “Frosty was modern before her time, an extreme dairy cow, with that openness of rib… But Footloose has that nicer rear view, that rear udder is just crazy.”

Also at the 2022 Expo, another cow at Duckett Holsteins was a crowd pleaser as well. Ms Beautys Black Velvet (below), owned by Duckett, Vierra Dairy and Triple-T Holsteins, was the first-place aged cow and became two-time bred-and-owned champion of the International Holstein Show with judge Boulet recognizing her as a remarkable 6-year-old with five calves, extreme dairyness and best udder. Black Velvet also recently scored EX-96, along with Footloose.

Among the cows in the 60-cow tie-stall barn with 10 box stalls at Duckett Holsteins are those with fan followings worldwide both in and out of the showring.

On the breeding side, Mike says, they use genomics to look at some things, and they like to spread things around, going for polled and for type and for performance.

He described the philosophy as embodied in “The Doc 8784” (below).

“Doc is probably the most famous cow here,” says Mike, noting they put her up for sale in June after receiving several serious offers to buy. After their great sale in 2021, while planning for the 2022 sale in June, they thought “there’s no better way to do it than to sell the best cow you’ve got.”

With daughters and sons over 3000 GTPI, S-S-I Doc Have Not 8784 (The Doc), along with a package of her pregnancies, made history in June, selling for $1.925 million in Duckett’s Summer Selections sale. Mike is happy to have gained new partners in her with AOT Holsteins, Kings Ransom and Tim and Sharyn Abbott.

She scored EX-94 96-MS in her third lactation and transmits genetics as evidenced by offspring GTPI. n the showring at the 2022 World Dairy Expo, she stood third in the very competitive 4-year-old class.

“Doc is the kind we are shooting for,” Mike explains in The Dairy Show podcast interview. “As much as we love going to Expo and to breed a cow that can win, we talk about balance, a cow that can do it all, that will make an impact and make a son breeders will use, that will go to a show and do well and also do well every day. She is that cow. She never has a bad day… and genetically, she does things a lot of cows don’t.”

Mike Duckett “absolutely loves judging,” and he had a full plate this year, judging the Eastern National Holstein Show in Harrisburg, the Jersey Jug in Louisville, and the Holstein Show at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Canada.

Judging puts him right in the middle of seeing the progress and the areas the breed can work on. He notes the importance of feet and legs. He notes that Lambda, Alligator and Unix were prevalent at The Royal. When asked about sires, he admits he missed the first wave of Lambda’s but is “catching up” by using him a good bit. They also use Doc’s first son ‘has it all,’ a high type and high production sire. Tatoo is a bull Duckett bred and they are using him “fairly heavily” along with Alligator; and to bring in the polled, Luster-P.

For those starting out, his advice is to “ask questions and have your eyes open and be critical of your own animal,” he says. “Be consistent in how you take care of them at home. It’s not as hard as some make it out to be. It all comes down to the care of the cow and having the right cow. There were years we showed and didn’t even get a ribbon, so don’t give up. Keep coming back.”

— By Sherry Bunting

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