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2019 Master Breeder Awards

2019 Active Master Breeder

The story goes that this year’s Active Master Breeder’s first calf was brought home in the back seat of his parent’s car.
L-R: Roger Neitzel, Kathy Demay, Gordon Demay, Russ Giesy

Drivers on the New York State Thruway that passed that car were amazed when they saw the calf looking out the back window. That calf was Kay Kay and this year’s Active Master Breeder is Gordon, Kathy and Jason DeMay, Palmyra, New York.

Gordon grew up on his parent’s Empire Farm. The DeMay family has owned registered Brown Swiss since 1950. Gordon farmed in partnership with his father, Maynard, until his retirement and dispersal. Gordon and Kathy then began their own Towpath Farm in 1979 and moved to the current farm Christmas Day 1979. Towpath was home to 120 registered Brown Swiss. In 2009, Gordon and Kathy had a sale selling most of their animals. Shortly thereafter, their son, Jason, his wife Amber and now 3 children, returned to the home farm with his herd. It is now operated as Towpath/Empire Farm, milking about 70 head.

The DeMay family has been very active participating in shows. While in partnership with his father and as a member of Coventry Swiss Syndicate, Gordon worked with some outstanding cows on the show circuit. One such cow that everyone will know was Vine Valley Paul LuAnn. Born in 1967, she was purchased by DeMays after she became All American 2 year old in 1970. LuAnn was classified 5E at 15 years of age, was a Superior Brood Cow and an “Elite” cow. She was Total Performance winner at both the Eastern and Central National shows and Reserve All American Aged Cow in 1974. She was the National Total Performance winner in 1979. Her lifetime production was over 232,000 pounds of milk and 10,000 pounds of fat. The current herd includes ninth generation “EX” Towpath Agenda Lark, and over 20 milking cows from this family. Luann’s headstone is located at Brigeen Farm where she spent her final days. DeMays also purchased her full sister Vine Valley Paul Patsy 5E 90. In the mid-90’s, half of the milking herd were descendents of these two cows. Approximately 30% of the herd traces back to their legacy.

In 1975, Gordon had the Eastern National Grand Champion with Maple Shade Stretch Gilda (Coventry Swiss) and followed in 1976 with the Eastern Grand again with Needmor Lyric J owned by Maynard and Gordon. Another cow of theirs, Little Hills Stretchy Ozzie, was the Total Performance winner at the 1975 Eastern Show. The farm has won Premier Breeder several times at the New York State Fair.

At the 1983 Pennsylvania National Sale, Gordon & Kathy purchased the high selling cow, Arnola Louie Jessie as a 4 year old. Bred by last year’s Historical Master Breeder, Roy Arnold, Jessie was developed into a 5E-92 point cow at 18 years of age. She was a Superior Brood Cow, Elite cow, and produced over 239,000 pounds milk, 9900 pounds fat and 8346 pounds protein. Her son, Towpath Telstar Aytola ET put his mark on the breed and was one of the most popular bulls in the early 90’s. Aytola was one of the top PTI sires and sired over 2500 registered offspring with 6745 daughters on test.

Most recently Cutting Edge T Delilah, WDE 2018 Supreme Champion, is a daughter of Towpath Agenda Dancer, who was sold as a calf at the Towpath Dispersal and purchased by Elite Dairy.

Towpath Emerald Wish 5E 91, owned by Jason, recently celebrated her 18th birthday. Her dam came from a pick of a flush from Whizbang in the 1999 national sale. 30% of the current herd is derived from her breeding.

Gordon is a graduate of the New York State Agricultural and Technical College at Alfred, New York, majoring in Animal Husbandry. Gordon has served as President of the New York Brown Swiss Association, was chairman of the National Type Committee, member of Dairy Shrine, Farm Bureau and the New York PDCA Board. He served as District One National Director for 6 years from 1980-1987. Kathy taught school for 30 years and then served as a principle for 14 years.

Gordon and Kathy have one son, Jason, who is now in partnership, using his grandfather’s prefix, Empire Farm and one daughter, Kelly. Kelly lives in Rochester and is Vice-Pres. at AXA Advisors. Kelly owned one of the first 94-point cows, Laubs Jade Sheree. Sheree is 5E- 94 with 252,000 pounds milk, 11037 fat and 8823 protein. You can see these cows produce and produce for a lifetime. Sheree was Grand at the 1997 NY state fair, 2nd Aged cow at the Eastern National in 1998 and Reserve Grand at the New York State Fair in 1999.

More recently, Shelburne Legacy Bonnie, owned by Jason, is another 94-point cow in the DeMay herd. She also has over 224,000 pounds of milk lifetime. Bonnie’s Victor daughter was sold at the National Sale.

Congratulations to the 2019 Active Master Breeder award, Gordon, Kathy and Jason DeMay.

2019 Historical Master Breeder

When you hear the name Harris, you immediately think of dedication to the Brown Swiss breed.

L - R: Roger Neitzel, Christopher Harris, Janet Harris, Russ Giesy
This year’s Historical Master Breeder is George G. Harris.

George G. was the third Harris generation to have a significant impact on the breeding, leadership and dedication to the improvement of Brown Swiss cattle in the US. As you are probably aware, George’s grandfather, George W. first owned Tuberose, born in 1874, granddaughter of Geneva, one of the first imports in 1869. He then imported several animals in 1882 and 1883 from the Burgi Farm in Switzerland to begin the Harris legacy.

The original farm was in Wethersfield, Connecticut. The farm was being run by George’s father, George M. and his uncle when George graduated from the Radcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture in 1954. Upon his father’s death, the farm was sold to settle the estate in 1958. George and his wife Vivian, bought 30 of the cows and moved them to New Milford, CT, to begin Harris Hill Farm. George continued the use of the bull Mandarin of Laurel Ridge whose progeny put the herd on the map. Mandarin sired Harris Hill Mandarin Mary who was on the Honor Roll and produced over 212,000 pounds of milk. She was the dam of Harris Hill Mary’s Victor, a Superior Sire.


George developed an outstanding herd of Swiss and furthered the industry by breeding the great Brood Cow, Harris Hill Tina L, as well as several other show-winning females. Tina L was classified 4E, a Superior Brood Cow, an Elite cow and produced over 140,000 pounds of milk. Tina L was a granddaughter of Mandarin. Her son, Harris Hill Tom Jones, was one of the elite sires of the day, a Superior Sire, and had over 2400 registered offspring. George also bred Harris Hill Laddie’s Sorrel, dam of Top Acres Elegant Simon.


In 1968, George was honored as Connecticut Dairyman of the Year. Harris Hill showed cattle at the local, state, and National level, taking Premier Breeder and Exhibitor at the Eastern States Expo.

After a successful breeding career and selling the herd, George continued his involvement with the Brown Swiss Association in 1981 as part-time Eastern Field Representative and later as Representative and a classifier. In January 1988, George became Executive Secretary of the Brown Swiss Association and moved to Beloit, WI. He retired from that position in 1994, and then spent the next 12 years as a classifier until 2006.

Moving back to the home farm in Connecticut, George and Vivian farmed 150 acres on which they grew 20 acres of pumpkins and 50 acres of hay. It was a Harris family operation. Their farm was open to the public with a small group of animals working with local schools and youth groups in explaining life on a farm. Animals were also shown at the fairs by their granddaughter, Sarah, and grandson, Christopher.

The current farm is owned by their son George O., and daughters Susan Harris Bailey, and Janet Harris. They continue to have a pick your own pumpkin patch during October and over 1200 school children continue to visit to learn about agriculture. They have some beef cattle but no Swiss at the moment.

George was involved with Connecticut and later New England Brown Swiss Associations serving on the Centennial Convention committee in 1980 as well as co-chair of the 2001 National Convention with his wife, Vivian. George was invited to judge shows in multiple countries. He also served as a member of the Brown Swiss Sire Committee for Eastern A.I.. Just last year George was honored with the Pioneer Award by National Dairy Shrine.

George was an ex-officio member of the initial Historical Society board. At the 2007 National Convention, guess where, New York, George presented the Society with its first Historical Artifact, a Brown Swiss bell with leather strap stitched with G.B. and Arth standing for G. Burgi & Sons, Arth, Switzerland. The bell had been in the Harris family since the 1880’s imports. I just might add that George took me to the 6th to last Yankee game in the old stadium.

We congratulate George G. Harris as the 2019 Historical Master Breeder.