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2013 Master Breeder Awards

This was the fourth year that the Brown Swiss Historical Society (organized in 2006) presented its annual Master Breeder awards during the national convention.

2013 Historical Master Breeders
Bill and Velva Notter

Seated: Velva Notter, Historical Master Breeder. Standing, L-R: Rich Hill and
Russ Giesy, Society committee; Jennifer and Marlin Kumm; Roger Neitzel, Society committee.

It would be hard to find any couple in any era of Brown Swiss history that has given more of themselves to the breed for over 60 years. Locally and nationally they served the breed well. Velva was at the convention to accept the award. Bill passed away in 2011. While neither of them were raised on a family farm, they both got involved in the industry while still in school. Bill started work at Lee's Hill Farm, New Vernon, New Jersey, when he was 13 years old (1941), working during vacations and on weekends until he graduated (1950) from New Jersey College of Agriculture in New Brunswick, NJ. It was at college that he met Velva Meyer who had taken the 4-H route to a dairy career. Her Degree in Dairy & Animal Husbandry (1948) was the first awarded to a woman in that venue at the College.

Following college, Bill was herdsman at High Meadow Farm in Wallingford, Connecticut. To widen the scope of experience, Bill then accepted the job of manager at the newly set up Hillwinds-Ladderlook Farm in Greenfield, Massachusetts, helping its owner establish a top-notch herd. The Notters depended heavily on these genetics when starting their herd.

The dream of their own herd was realized when the opportunity came in 1959 to rent a farm near Gladstone, NJ, starting with 23 Swiss and their son's 4-H calf.

In 1965, the herd was moved to Cobleskill, NY, when the Notters purchased a farm. Here for the next 11½ years, the herd grew and developed. With the Eastern Breeders Sale in Cobleskill each year, the Notters became unofficial hosts for activities and visitors as well as working committee members.

Production was paramount. In 1975 they pictured their “Five Cow Million Pound Herd” - 5 living cows with a total production of 1,076,778 pounds of milk and 45,203 pounds of fat within a herd of 55 cows.

Bill served as President of the New York Association and then as National Director from 1973 to 1978. Velva chaired the Cow Recognition Committee in 1975 that designed programs still in effect today. Bill later served as National President from 1980 to 1983. He was most proud that during his term the National Youth Program was established.

In 1978, the Notters gave up the fight with the urban development around Cobleskill moving the entire herd west to the high plains of Holyoke, Colorado. Environment changed many breeding decisions, but with generations of strong cows as a nucleus, the herd size increased to 350 head. The farm was incorporated to include Bill III and wife Pat, and daughter Jennifer. Velva served on the State DHI board and became Secretary -Treasurer of the Rocky Mountain Brown Swiss Association in 1980. She has served as an integral member of the Historical Society since its inception.

AI bulls bred by Notters include Ventures ESP Babaray (W) and Ventures Sunny Bruce (W).

When Bill developed some health issues in 1997, Venture-West held a reduction sale. The rest were merchandised privately or in sales until 2001. In 2000 they pictured their last “5-Cow Million Pound Herd” with totals of 1,076,960 pounds of milk, 41,382 pounds of fat and 36,411 pounds of protein.

One of the main traits of serious purebred breeders is their true love of working with their animals – making every generation just a little bit better than the last. No one loved their cows more or did it better than Bill and Velva Notter.

2013 Active Master Breeder
Roger Nierman

Seated: JoElla Nierman. Standing, left to right: Rich Hill and Russ Giesy, Society committee;
Roger Nierman, Active Master Breeder; Roger Neitzel, Society committee

Few family farms can claim a history back to 1857 and 4th, 5th and 6th generations involved in the current farming operation. In 1963, a young man joined his father’s dairy operation and developed it into one of the nation’s highly respected family-owned/operated Brown Swiss herds. It seems only fitting that 50 years later he was honored as the Active Master Breeder - Roger Nierman, Long Lane Farm, Brownstown, Indiana.

Roger’s father, Henry, brought grade Swiss to the farm in the late 1930’s when he started the dairy operation. The first registered Brown Swiss were two 4-H project calves purchased in 1947. Following high school graduation in 1963 and attending Short Course at Purdue, Roger returned home to join the operation full-time.

In 1958, the herd went on DHIA, classification began in 1961, and the herd has been on BSA DHIR for 42 years (1971).

In 1974, Roger and his wife, Jo Ella, purchased the farm and herd from his parents. Roger’s goal has been to breed for high production with functional type which would lead to longevity. Use of high PTA bulls helped the production jump from a 10,000 pound average in 1958 to 18,000 in the 80’s. The 1980’s were a great decade reflecting the success of Roger’s feeding and management practices.

In 1981 and 1983, Roger Nierman and Family were winners of the Group III PTPR Trophy. Niermans Stretch Luv won the J.P. Eves Award in 1982. In 1988, Luv’s daughter, Nierman Stylish Laverne, won the National Protein Award. Longevity of the herd was reflected in Niermans Stretch Melanie who showed at a state fair for 13 straight years including twice Grand at Kentucky and Total Performance Winner at the Southeast National. Many Honor Roll and Class Leader records were made during this period.

Following a reduction sale, the 90’s were a time of rebuilding and expansion. They had Grand at Indiana in 1993, 1994, 1995 and Grand at Kentucky in 1990. They were named Premier Breeder and/or Premier Exhibitor at each of the shows several times. In 1996 they were Premier Breeder and Exhibitor at the Southeast National.

In the 2000’s, Long Lane animals gained national recognition again. Niermans Prelude Farrah won the 2010 National Total Performance Award. In 2008 and 2012, Niermans Ringleader Paris was the Cow for All Seasons. Niermans Eventide Nifty is currently on the Association’s Lifetime Lists. She had 283,000 milk, 11,066 fat, 9615 protein (1992-2005).

From 1994-2000, Roger served as a national director of the Association. He also served on the Production, Cow Recognition, and National Show Task Force Committees.

Longevity - a key word in many ways at Long Lane Farm. Roger celebrates a lifetime with Brown Swiss as the 2013 Active Master Breeder Award winner.