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2012 Master Breeder Award Winners

2012 marks the third year that the Historical Society’s Master Breeder Awards have been presented. Winners are chosen by popular vote from a list of candidates nominated by the public. The Historical Award goes to either a deceased person or someone no longer actively dairying. The Active Breeder Award goes to a person(s) still actively involved in breeding Brown Swiss. The awards are sponsored by Leon N. Button, in memory of his father, Leon W. Button, New York.

Historical Master Breeder Award Winners
Jacob, Jake & Howard Voegeli
Monticello, Wisconsin

This year’s Historical Master Breeders share more than just the same last name or being born and raised on the same Green County, Wisconsin farm. They share Jacob’s vision that this sturdy Alpine cow from his parent’s homeland - which had been introduced into this country in 1869 and Wisconsin in 1886 - would do well on the open country farms and so carried on his tradition of a herd that was always progressive, but never ‘spectacular’.

Jacob was born in 1863 in the log cabin his father, Jost, had built for his family of 15 children. Starting with a homestead of 80 acres, the Voegeli family increased the acreage to 500 acres. When Jacob took over operation of the farm, the land not suitable for dairying was disposed of until 350 acres remained. Jacob built himself a cheese house and took the first step toward a Brown Swiss herd when he purchased a Brown Swiss bull to use in his grade herd and a grade heifer from T.H. Inman of Hanover, Wisconsin in 1892. Four purebred heifers followed in 1895 and then in 1901, eight purebred cows were purchased at the Mutt & Ayres Sale in Honey Creek, Wisconsin.

Jacob was a master builder and soon the Valley Grove Farm was known in the area for its impressive farm home, it’s landmark barn and it’s beautiful herd of Brown Swiss cattle. The barn is truly unique – 52 feet wide, 144 feet long and  59 feet high.

The herd grew to over a 100 head of purebred Brown Swiss before they had a setback in 1918 when they lost 80 head in an effort to clean up the herd from Tuberculosis. Undaunted by this reversal, they started over building another herd.

Jake was born in 1892 and began working with the herd at an early age. By this time, the local and state fairs were a good way for the purebred breeders to merchandise their bulls and cattle. The Voegelis would outfit a rail car each year and take in the state fairs, ending up at the National Show in Waterloo.

Some of the better animals bred were Ruth Freitag, the bull Vronicka’s College Boy, and June’s College Girl (both sired by College Boy). When Jake had taken over management of the herd, he had sold June to Dr. C. E. Osborne of Hampton, Iowa. In 1926, June became the Breed’s Champion Producer for Fat with a record at 5 years of: 365days 24,573m 4.3% 1062f. In 1927 she was Champion at the National Show at Waterloo.

Several events took place as 1930 rolled around. Valley Grove Farm became V.B. (for Voegeli Brothers - Jake’s brother, Walter, was in charge of the crops) or just Voegeli’s. Jake’s son, Howard, was born in 1930; and it became apparent that more than just being a good looking Brown Swiss was necessary to sell cattle. Therefore the Voegeli herd went on the Association’s Official Test (HIR) in 1934, making them the herd on longest continuous test in 2012.

The strength of the breeding was indicated by the fact that the Voegeli herd won both the National Show’s Premier Breeder and Exhibitor Awards in 1936. Stock sales remained high, although not so many calves were crated and shipped by rail. Times were changing.

During the war years in the 40’s, many shows were canceled and the National Show at Waterloo did not begin again until 1946 – just in time for young 15 year old Howard to get out of school to help with the show string. And he never missed another National Show!

The cattle market also changed with the Cuban and South American buyers combing the herds that showed for cattle to buy. Jake was heard to remark that in his lifetime he had gone from shipping calves in crates on the railroad to sending them out in jets.

When Howard graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1952, he came home and decided they were ‘going to go all out’ for a few years. They went on 3X a day milking for a time to get the bigger milk records. Even with their homegrown feed, the cows made good records. In 1958, V. B. Diplomat’s Regula was the Breed Champion for Fat with a record of:  9-10 365d 2x 4.8% 1249f.

With Jake and Howard working together, the herd amassed a string of awards for production: winning  the Ira Inman Herd Trophy in 1954, ‘56, ’57, ’58, ‘60, ‘62, ‘66 and the Division 2 Inman award for1973, ‘76, ‘77, ‘79, ‘87, ‘88 and 1991, They presented the world their 6 Cow Million Pound Herd in the 60’s. V B Vronickas Uanna is currently 18th for Lifetime milk with 280,920 pounds and 20th for Lifetime fat at 11,100 pounds all produced from 1962-77.

National Show Champions were attained in 1963 and 1966 with Norvic Mistress Mirth. Other Grand Champions at the Central National were V B Laird Uzalea in 1976, V B Banco Pluma Madora in 1978 and Hunziker Red Boots All Spice in 1984. Numerous All Americans accompanied their success. The Madora cow family, bred and developed by Howard, is the breed’s only 14-generation “Excellent” family.

National Show Breeder Banners were won in 1968 and at the Central National in 1971 through 1979, ‘81, ‘84 and 1986. Exhibitor awards were won at the National in 1963, and at the Central National in 1971, ‘72, ‘73, ‘74, ’76, ‘77, ‘78, ‘79, ‘81, ’84 and 1986.

Jake had ‘retired’ in the 60’s and so Howard was the architect of so many of these accomplishments. Howard also found the time to be active in his state association and served as District V National Director from 1967-72. In 1992, he received the Klussendorf Trophy. He was also named a Dairy Shrine Distinguished Breeder. But it was his work to bring the World Dairy Expo to Madison that has given him a special place in the Dairy World.

Active Master Breeder Award Winner
Darrell Worden
Wausau, Wisconsin

In November 1959, a 19-year old boarded the boxcars to help care for the Wisconsin state herd on the historic Swiss Capades trip. He was bound to be awestruck being around some of the great Brown Swiss of the day and their highly respected breeders and owners. Did Darrell Worden, Forest Lawn Farm, Wausau, Wisconsin, dream that one day he’d be considered one of “those” breeders?

The farm, home to Darrell, Cindy, Tim and Scott Worden and the Forest Lawn herd is where Darrell’s mother, Dorothy, grew up. It was on this farm that Clarence, Darrell’s father, started with Brown Swiss in the 40’s, so Darrell grew up working with and showing Brown Swiss.  In his teens he worked for Norman E. Magnussen at Norvic Farms and helped with sales for Brown Swiss Sales Service, providing a great chance to see many good cattle and zero in on the kind of cows he wanted to breed.

Darrell enjoyed traveling to local and regional shows along with state fairs. To quote Darrell “In the early days, they never did very well, especially at state fairs. I used to get the living snot knocked out of me,” he joked. The first animal he showed that won her class at the state fair was Forest Lawn Arthur’s Susan in 1961. Forest Lawn’s first All American was some years later - in 1974 with Forest Lawn Beau Peg.

In the early 80’s, the Wordens began to look for an “impact” cow that could become a brood cow with both production and type to lay a solid foundation at Forest Lawn.

In 1981, 2-year old Idyl Wild Improver Jinx was Grand Champion at the Western National. For a new owner, she was Grand Champion at the Eastern and Central Nationals in 1982. Jinx was then consigned to the 1983 Springtime Show Window Sale. She was the perfect fit for what Darrell was looking for. Bidding was brisk and when the gavel fell, the Worden family had Jinx for $60,000, the new record for a Brown Swiss female at public auction. (A record that stood for 20 years.)

In 1985 Jinx was Grand Champion for the Wordens at the Central National.  As the years passed she proved to be the great brood cow Darrell and family had been looking for.  Jinx had 23 offspring, 12 daughters and 11 sons. Seven daughters went “Excellent”.

While Jinx’s female descendants were a powerful influence in the Forest Lawn herd, the success of her sons was the most noteworthy. Seven went to studs in the U.S. - including Jinxs King, Rhythm, Jetway (M) and Jason (M).

Rhythm was the sire of a Central National Grand Champion; Jason sired a former World Record Brown Swiss. But by far the most influential was Forest Lawn Simon Jetway ET (M). Through the 90’s and 00’s, his daughters were show winners across the country. He was Premier Sire at World Dairy Expo from 1997 - 2006, - a record no other bull can touch. (Note - his reign was ended by his son, Top Acres Jet Pilot ET (M).)

The Wordens put lots of thought into their breeding program. Numbers are considered, but it has to be blended with good functional type.  Through the years they had Grand Champion Female, Junior Champion Female, Total Performance Winner and Champion Bull at the Central National.

As with all successful breeders, Darrell has never been afraid to sell some from the top. One such example is Forest Lawn Anthem Busy, most recently Grand Champion at the 2012 New York Spring Show.

A successful breeder is only one facet of Darrell’s contribution to the Brown Swiss breed. In 1976, he went to auctioneering school. In 1978 at the Arizona National Convention, he cried his first National Sale. He’s missed few in the 34 years since.

In 1982, the first Fun Auction took place in Iowa with Darrell as the auctioneer. He’s been the auctioneer for all but one in its 31 year history.

Active in the Wisconsin State Association, Darrell also served on committees for the National Association. One of his greatest honors was in 2004 when he received the Klussendorf Trophy.

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