September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Jody Nus is this year's grand prize winner of the Dairy Star Great Christmas Heifer Giveaway, taking home Sheeknoll Kingboy 2615, also known as Henny, a year-old heifer from Sheeknoll Farms in Rochester, Minn. Nus and her husband, Nathan, milk 40 cows on their dairy in Fayette County near Arlington, Iowa.
"I've never gotten a heifer for a Christmas gift so this is a great present," Nus said.
Nus initially signed up her husband for the drawing at their local co-op, Viafield.
"I thought it would be a nice surprise for him if he won," she said.
About a week later when she was back at the co-op, she decided to put her own name in the box.
"I was just hoping I would win a Dairy Star mug or something. I didn't think I would win the calf," she said.
The day of the drawing, her nutritionist called her down to the co-op.
"He told us to be there in 10 minutes because someone wanted to meet us," she said.
It was a representative from the Dairy Star to share the good news about her big win.
"I was very surprised," she said.
Henny will join the Nuses' herd, which consists of two Holsteins and four Jerseys with the rest being Milking Shorthorn, which they call Gold Mine Milking Shorthorns. All of their animals are registered and classified.
"Milking Shorthorns have been milked by our family since 1887," Nus said.
Nus grew up as the fifth generation on her family's dairy in Clayton County. After graduating from Iowa State University with a dairy science degree, she dairy farmed with her grandparents until she and Nathan were married in 2004. At that time, Nus moved her cows to Nathan's farm to join him. The couple works together with Nathan's dad and brother, who also milk 40 Milking Shorthorn and Holsteins in a separate barn; however, they run their 500 acres together.
Quality genetics is important to the Nuses.
"We believe in a balanced, well-rounded pedigree," Nus said. "Grandpa liked cows that milked and had high type so we try to follow that philosophy."
This year they sent three bulls to A.I. and currently have the No. 1 expansion type cow in the breed. They have also had many cows on the PPR list and own the No. 1 PPR Genetic Expansion cow along with being the breeders of the No. 1 PPR Herdbook cow that is owned by a breeder in Wisconsin.
"I do all the mating and breeding," Nus said. "I take that job very seriously."
Milk production is also a big factor in their breeding decisions. In the past, they have also been top in the country for production for the Milking Shorthorn breed. Their rolling herd average is usually between 21,000 to 22,000 pounds of milk.
"My husband is very meticulous with the nutrition, crop and forage details. He values high quality forages and every aspect of the ration is scrutinized. We work well together. Attention to herd health and cow-side practices are high priority," Nus said.
In addition to production, Nus said in the Milking Shorthorn breed they are also starting to focus on components.
Nus' experience with the Holstein breed is slim and focuses mainly on Red and Whites.
"But I love white Holsteins with black spots. I love Henny's speckles," Nus said with a smile.
Winning Henny and adding her to their herd will be learning experience for Nus.
"This is helping me expand my genetic knowledge of the breed," Nus said.
She has already started contemplating bulls for mating options and thinks Henny will make a good show heifer next season.
If that's the case, Henny will spend the summer at the Henkes family's farm in Luana, Iowa. The Henkes family and the Nuses are good friends.
"We're a closed herd and we don't show, but we sell a lot of high profile animals that do show," Nus said.
Regardless if Henny shows or not, Nus is excited to have her join their herd.
"I think she's great. I love her pedigree and it will be very complementary to our breeding philosophy," Nus said. "She will be well loved."
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