September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"Everybody wants to breed the next greatest cow," Les Olson said.
Les and his wife, Jo, have achieved this in the production protein realm. Their cow, Thane Jesse Vigor Jessa, was recently awarded the 2012 JP Eves DHIR award and the PPE award which are, the top protein and production award in the Brown Swiss breed. The Olsons - who milk 275 cows, half of which are Brown Swiss and the other half Holsteins - will be presented the award in July during the National Brown Swiss Convention being held this year in Milwaukee, Wis.
In addition to having the most protein production in the breed, Jessa is No. 1 in protein, fifth overall in fat and second in milk in the three-time-a-day senior 3-year-old category. At 3-06 at 305 days, Jessa had a record of 42,640 pound of milk, 1,935 pounds of fat (4.5 percent) and 1,437 pounds of protein (3.4 percent).
"She's easy to deal with and an easy going animal. And she's a worker," Les said about her record.
It runs in her family.
"There's a lot of milk behind her," Jo said.
Jessa's granddam, IE Olson Thane Jane, was the first Brown Swiss in the world to make 50,000 pounds of milk in 365 days and still holds the record for pounds of milk produced as a junior 3-year-old milked three times a day.
"She came out of nowhere," Jo said about Jane and her achievement.
Jane was the first cow into the parlor everyday.
"She didn't like attention. She ate, she slept and she milked," Jo said.
"We knew the day she was sick because she was the second cow in the parlor," Les said.
At 5 years of age, Jane died of hemorrhagic bowel syndrome.
Jessa's dam, CIE Thane Denmark Jesse, also did well milking.
"Her mom's no slouch either," Jo said.
Jesse has also been recognized nationally for her production.
"But she was a big baby. She liked attention more than her mom did," Jo said about Jesse.
The Olsons admitted to spoiling her a bit.
"She could have used more of the aggressiveness of her dam," Les said.
When Jessa came along, the Olsons were glad to see more of the characteristics of her granddam.
"She has more of her grandma's aggressive nature," Jo said.
Although the Olsons give all their cows special care, they admit that they give their elite Brown Swiss cows a slight advantage by housing them in a compost barn they constructed about seven years ago.
"It's been awesome. It's really helped the Swiss. Some of those girls can weigh about a ton," Les said.
Other than the differences in housing, all cows are treated the same.
The compost barn can hold about 50 cows at one time, housing the elite Brown Swiss cows along with other cows that need special attention, older cows and fresh heifers. The rest of the herd is housed in sand bedded freestalls.
"We seldom do DA surgeries anymore. The (compost) barn has really helped with that," Jo said. "The sand is really nice, too."
Cows have had fewer hock and leg injuries.
Cow comfort is one aspect the Olsons attribute to their production success. The compost barn has helped with this aspect, especially longevity.
"Older cows wouldn't last in the freestall barn," Les said.
Another reason for cows with good production is having good feed and forages.
"It's important to us to put up good feed every year," Les said.
The Olsons also give credit to their employees for helping with the achievements.
"They do a really good job," Jo said.
Their seven employees help the Olsons with the three-time-a-day milking schedule.
Along with employees, family helps out when they can. Their son, Aaron, does chores on the farm when not working at his off-the-farm job. Aaron's son, Nomee (Age), has also taken an interest in the farm and has been showing the Olsons cattle in 4-H. Although their daughters, Katie, Kelsey and Nomee, live away from the farm, they like to help when at home visiting.
In addition to Jessa's family, the Olsons have had other cows that have had successful production records, including Olsons Melodys Park Morgyn, IE Thane Kaysie KC and Thane Monopoly Mitzy, who has been the mother of their genetics herd.
Along with production, the cows in the Olsons' herd have also won awards for type in several local, state and national shows, including World Dairy Expo. The success in both type and production has given the Olsons the opportunity to market bulls to A.I. companies. To date, the Olsons have had 10 bulls in stud.
Through these ventures, the Olsons have been able to meet a lot of people from across the nation and around the world.
"It's fun to meet other dairy farmers and see their perspective," Jo said about one of her favorite aspects of being involved in the dairy industry.
In addition to selling bulls to studs, they also frequently sell females and top genetics to other producers.
"We want people to be happy with what they get from us. We always stand by our animals and want to give others our best," Jo said.
It's all a part of their mission to strive for the best in their herd.