September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"My parents took me out to the barn every day," Hendrickson said. "I didn't have a baby sitter. I was always with them."
Hendrickson, now 22, remembers donning the ubiquitous white pants of a dairy cattle showman at the tender age of 4. That's when she led a representative of her family's Jeffrey-Way Holsteins herd around the ring at a district Holstein Show.
Since then, the University of Wisconsin-Madison senior hasn't looked back. She owns 20 head outright, along with several more in partnership with her mom and dad.
The first step in the building of Hendrickson's herd was taken several years ago. For Christmas that year, her parents gave her and three of her brothers and sisters the same gift. It came in a smallish, innocent-looking box. But the small box contained something that would prove to be a large and important part of Hendrickson's life.
"It ended up being the best Christmas present I've ever gotten," Hendrickson said. "It was a pedigree. We each got full sisters out of our parents' Formation Tate cow."
The calf Hendrickson was given is Jeffrey-Way Tish. The Durham daughter matured nicely and is now scored Excellent 93. Her dam, Jeffrey-Way Formation Tate, did very well, too, being nominated to receive the honor of "global cow of the year."
Tish, led by Hendrickson, brought home honors early. As a 3-year-old, the cow was selected as grand champion of the junior show at the state Holstein show. That same summer, Tish got the nod as grand champion in the Wisconsin State Fair Junior Holstein Show.
At 9 years old now, Tish is past her show-ring prime. But she still contributes to the bulk tank and has made more than 164,389 pounds of lifetime milk.
Tish is still contributing embryos, too. Hendrickson said a successful flush was recently performed.
"She is mainly what I've grown my herd from," Hendrickson said. "I've been lucky enough to have only one bull (calf) out of her."
Hendrickson adheres to what's known in her family as the "Jeffrey-Way rule."
"Our breeding philosophy is that we strive to go for high-producing and high-scoring cows that will have outstanding longevity and lifetime production. We implement the use of high TPI (total performance index) bulls in our herd," Hendrickson said.
She continued, "That philosophy has allowed us to be successful. When you walk into our barn, you not only see a great group of cows, but you also see cows you can take into the show ring and that are milking well for us."
Hendrickson and her 19-year-old brother, Brooks, pitch in with their parents on the farm. She said her mother handles much of the twice daily milking, while her father is in charge of the genetics. Hendrickson's specialty is the calves.
"I really love calf care and calf management, so I focus on that," she said.
The Holstein girl added that she believes in "starting a calf out right and treating her like a princess every day of her life, in order for her to be successful."
Proof of the Hendricksons' breeding, calf care and other management skills is found in the rolling herd average. Hendrickson said it's just shy of 30,000 pounds.
Hendrickson has been involved in the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association since she was 9, which is when she began attending the state conventions. She hasn't missed one since.
She has been involved in many association activities, including dairy quiz bowls and speaking contests. A highlight came in 2011 when she was crowned the Wisconsin Holstein Princess.
"It was something I'd dreamed of since I was a little girl," Hendrickson said. "I'd always looked up to the princesses and wanted to be an ambassador for the association because I think it's a great organization."
Last year, Hendrickson was designated a distinguished junior member of the Wisconsin Holstein Association. She went on to be one of 12 national semifinalists.
Hendrickson's Holstein Girl title was bestowed at the state junior convention in Wisconsin Dells, last month. The honor took her by surprise.
"I was shaking and my mom was crying. It was really cute," Hendrickson said with a laugh.
She is scheduled to graduate from UW-Madison this May, having majored in dairy science and life sciences communications. Hendrickson said her junior Holstein association experiences helped guide her to dairy science when she realized, "I can't leave this industry. I feel like I was put on earth to make a difference for the dairy industry."
Upon graduating, Hendrickson would like to be employed in some sort of agricultural marketing, and hopefully doing something related to dairying. She said she would also like to keep building her herd of registered Holsteins, have her own farm and own a dairy promotion business.
Hendrickson credits her junior Holstein involvement with molding her into the person she is today.
"I was a very, very shy girl, growing up," Hendrickson said. "I was one of those girls who was always kind of hiding behind my mom's leg. If it wasn't for the Holstein Association, I don't think I ever would have really gotten over that."
The main thing she learned was to get out and get involved.
"The people you meet are just amazing - the connections. I came to Madison, and now my closest friends grew up in the Holstein Association. So it's taking a chance and getting involved, and not being afraid to do something," she said. "Try it at least once, and if you don't like it, try something else."[[In-content Ad]]
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