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2017 Historical Master Breeder Award

Rex Mort - Mort’s Dairy

This year’s Historical Master Breeder lives in the Midwest. He took over his father’s Brown Swiss herd in 1957 when he finished school and spent the next 50 some years breeding “his kind of cow”. This year’s Historical Master Breeder is Rex Mort, Mort’s Dairy, Pierceton, Indiana.  Some famous cows have passed through Rex’s gates.

The Mort Brown Swiss story began when Rex’s father, Lester, purchased his first Swiss about mid-century. Lester retired in 1976 and Rex was on his own. He had a dispersal sale in 1992 and started a brand new herd of even greater magnitude. Rex’s two successful stories follow until his retirement and second dispersal sale in 2003.

Rex was never afraid to purchase a good cow. She needed to be a big, powerful, long dairy cow, the kind that last with good feet and legs and quality udders. These cows provide that rock solid foundation for future generations. This was Rex’s philosophy, and it is evident that it was a good one.

Rex’s first herd was initially heavily influenced by West Lawn Stretch Improver who Rex rated as a bull that could make the right kind. Mort Improver Lori “3E” was one of those Improver daughters with over 209,000 pounds milk lifetime and the mother of the famous Mort Matt Tammy “3E-Superior Brood Cow”. Tammy was an impressive cow herself but she became one of the special brood cows of the breed. She is one of four brood cows on the walls at the National Office. Her son, Mort Jade Starbuck, became a worldwide phenomenon as his daughters dominated the show ring, particularly in Switzerland, for many years. Starbuck had over 26,000 daughters in Switzerland alone and over 31,000 worldwide. In the 1992 sale, there were a number of Starbuck daughters, including the top of the sale, Mort Starbuck Sandy, who sold for $12,000.  A daughter of Tammy, Mort Simon Tanya “4E94/94MS-Superior Brood Cow”, who sold in the 1992 dispersal for $8500, established herself as a top brood cow. One of Tanya’s daughters, Sunnyisle Colby Twilite ET “2E93/94MS”, became Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo in 2006 for Jeffrey Boldt. Twilite was All American as a Sr. Two Year Old, Sr. Three Year Old, and Five Year Old.

After selling out in 1992, Rex went to work and started building a completely new herd. He again looked for powerful, long dairy cows to serve as foundation animals. In 1997, he purchased a group of four cows at the Ventures West Opportunity Sale. While Rex did not show much, he partnered with other breeders, particularly Blessing Farms, to showcase his cattle.

An earlier foundation cow purchase was We-Gotta Fragment Fancy Twin from Jerry Harkness in 1995. Bred to Blessing Jetway Tower, the resulting calf was Mort Tower Frisky.  Partnering with Blessings in 2000, Frisky became an All American as a Sr. Three Year Old, Four Year Old, and Five Year Old.  In 2001, Frisky took Madison by storm as a four year old and was declared Grand Champion. She went on to be Reserve Supreme Champion at WDE.  In 2002, Frisky was awarded the cherished National Total Performance Award.

When Rex decided to retire in 2003, the herd consisted of 70 total head with 27 of the 39 classified cows scoring “Excellent”. The rolling herd average was over 24,000 pounds of milk and 1000 of fat. The Mort Dispersal set a new record for a herd dispersal with 68 head generating an average of $7,928.67.

Mort Tower Frisky “E94/E95MS” started the sale. Jerland Farms, Barron, Wisconsin, made the final bid at $78,000 making Frisky the second highest selling female ever sold at public auction. Second high seller for the sale was Mort Adidas Cream, fresh 2 year old, selling for $52,000. Cream was All American Fall Yearling Heifer in 2002. Third high was Mort Form Tassel at $27,000. Later that fall many of the sale animals were at World Dairy Expo with seven animals from the sale placing third or higher in their classes.

Mort’s Dairy herd was a combination of type, production and longevity. Rex was enrolled in the Association’s official testing and classification program for 40 years, receiving his 40 year bar in 2003. His herd was the Group 2 PTPR winner in 1994, 1998, and 2000 and in the top three four other years. In 1994, Rex won the Group 2 Progressive Genetic Herd Award.

Rex hosted type classification conferences and each fall tour groups would visit the Mort farm. Rex’s cattle were recognized for high standards both domestically and internationally. Other national awards which were Mort bred or owned included two Cow For All Seasons awards: 2000 - North Lanes Mario Celine, owned by Mort & Blessing; and 2003 - Mort Ensign Tamara, owned by Tierra Verde Dairy.

Rex bred cows to improve the next generation, cattle that will handle the work load. This is evident by the number of 94-point cows that carry the Mort prefix. The first two reaching this achievement were Mort Tower Frisky and Ventures Blueyed Maggie. During the next 10 years, 6 additional animals carrying the Mort prefix or in partnership with Blessings were scored 94 points. Rex was truly a Master Breeder of Brown Swiss.

2017 Active Master Breeder Award

Ron and Renee Michalovich, R N R Swiss

The BSHS Active Master Breeder for 2017 has achieved several accomplishments and won many awards over the past several years. They have been active in both state and national activities. In fact, they won the National Young Breeder award in 1995.  This year’s Active Master Breeder is RNR Swiss, Ronald M. and E. Renee Michalovich of Lakeville, Ohio.

Ron and Renee are first generation Brown Swiss breeders, neither growing up on a dairy farm. You rarely see that in today’s world. Ron worked on a dairy farm in high school and enjoyed milking cows. Renee got hooked on Brown Swiss after seeing those beautiful brown animals at the fairs while they were dating.

They began their Brown Swiss career in 1979 when they bought two registered Brown Swiss heifers with their wedding money and RNR Swiss was established. In 1981, they started milking 10 cows on a rented farm. The herd continued to grow and in 1987, they moved to their current farm which they later purchased in 1994. Their son, Kevin, and his wife, Kari, are actively involved in the operation.

Currently, the herd consists of 175 cows and equal number of young stock. The herd has been on the Association official testing program since 1993. Their current rolling herd average is 23,919 milk, 1070 fat and 840 protein. Their herd has a classification average of 85.3.

The RNR Swiss herd began receiving national attention in 1998 when Kevin’s animal, RNR Aytola Reba, won both the National Youth Production and Cheese Yield awards. This was followed the next year when RNR Formula Peanut was the All American Futurity winner in 1999. That same year Peanut became their first bred and owned All American as a Sr. Two Year Old.  Kevin was also named the National Youth Achievement winner that year.  In 2006, Peanut’s daughter RNR Primetime Pistachio was Reserve All American Two Year Old.  Also in 2006, RNR Swiss won the Protein Genetic Herd award for having the highest PTA protein herd average for Group 3 herds (50-99 cows).

RNR scored again in 2014 with their second All American Futurity winner with RNR Brookings Peace taking top honors.  Also in 2014, RNR hit the jackpot with RNR Supreme Janna winning both the J.P. Eves DHIR trophy for the best 305 day actual milk record for the year as well as the H.R. Searles trophy for the top fat record for the year. Janna produced at 4-04 in 305 days, 2x, 42,410 pounds milk and 2870 pounds fat to win both awards. Janna continued in 365 days to produce a record of 50,830 milk, 3613 fat and 1632 protein. The fat record of 3613 stands today as the All Time Top Fat record of the breed as published in the June Bulletin.

The June 2017 Bulletin also lists the 2016 Living Lifetime Leaders based on Energy Corrected Milk. Number 6 on the list is RNR Prelude Dusty with 337,163 pounds ECM. Also on that list is RNR Fairdell Denver Mandy at 276,017 pounds ECM. And the beat goes on. RNR Vigor Patrice recently became the new Class leader for Milk in the Sr. Two Year Old 305 and 365 2x Honor Roll.

Not only do RNR cows produce, but their appearance is also top quality.  RNR scored their first 94-point cow in 2007 with RNR Denmark Brooke at “3E94”. In 2013, they had their second 94-point cow with RNR Prelude Dusty at “3E94”. Peanut‘s great-granddaughter, RNR Pierce Primrose, was 1st Three Year Old and Intermediate Champion at the 2017 Spring Dairy Expo.

High on the Available AI Sire Lists is RNR Payoff Brookings ET, son of the Brooke cow. Also on the top 100 PPR sire list is RNR Payoff Jagger Twin. Their current A.I. Young Sire is RNR A Kyrie.

Ron and Renee have been extremely active on both the state and national levels. Ron served as National Director for District 2 from 2006-12. Renee was co-chairman of the 2017 convention. They have hosted classification conferences, judging teams and participated in the Leasing Program.