September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Owned by Pat and Carol Ruzic, RoVin Acres is home to 40 Milking Shorthorn cows and a total of 360 acres. The farm was purchased in 1971 by Pat's parents, Vince and Rozanne Ruzic, who began milking their herd of Milking Shorthorns soon thereafter.
"My dad had a few [Milking Shorthorns] that he kept for beef before he started milking," Ruzic said. "He loved their temperament."
The first Milking Shorthorns on the farm were purchased from a farm in 1974 in Portage, Wis. Ruzic admitted that the family has tested their luck with other breeds, including Holsteins, Jerseys, Ayrshires and Brown Swiss, but they always came back to their favorite.
"Everything would eventually get weeded out," Ruzic said, "but we always kept our Shorthorns."
The Ruzic family has had a continued love for the breed due to its calm demeanor and their continued success in breeding. Ruzic enjoys breeding all his own cattle, due in part to his family's love of the show ring.
"We breed for the same things anyone else would; we focus on components, good udders, excellent rear legs and have a big focus on polled animals," Ruzic said.
Showing Milking Shorthorns is a family affair. While their extended family's ability to show has slowed down in recent years due to expanding families, the Ruzics have been a part of many shows. They are preparing for a busy show season, with plans to attend the Jackson County Fair, the Central Wisconsin State Fair, Minnesota State Fair, the National Milking Shorthorn Junior show and World Dairy Expo.
"We've won many local fairs, as well as both Wisconsin and Minnesota State Fairs," Ruzic said. "We've had class winners and the grand champion of the junior show out at Expo, too."
Ruzic recalled growing up in a family with show cattle. He said many times, it was a way to get off the farm and felt more like a trip than a competition.
"I love being with other cow people. It's like our own version of a vacation," Ruzic said.
Ruzic milks his herd in a 33-stall tiestall barn. Because they have been switching six to seven cows per milking, and soon will have heifers ready to enter the barn, the family decided it was time to sell a couple out of their herd. That decision led to the ultimate choice to try something unique at the national sale during convention.
As a part of the American Milking Shorthorn National Sale on Saturday, June 20, the Ruzics decided to host a pick of the herd sale. The choices within the herd included many ET females, females carrying sexed embryos, several excellent cows and 20 polled females.
When he explained their motivation for the sale, Ruzic said, "My dad wanted to do it, but the rest of us were a little hesitant. A herd in California and a herd in Iowa did similar sales in recent years, both of which had their success, so we decided to roll with it and see how it [went]."
Prior to the sale, the Ruzics opened their doors to the 250 convention attendees as an open house to look at their cattle. Participants of the convention were able to examine cattle, review records and set their sights on the animal of their choosing.
The day was complete with a luncheon and wagon rides held on the farm. Ruzic said a lot of work went into making the day and the entire convention successful.
"My role was right here, making sure the farm was cleaned up and ready to go," Ruzic said. "I helped to initially get the convention in this area, but other local shorthorn breeders are who made the convention possible."
The annual convention has taken place all across the country. Ruzic's parents have attended nearly every national convention since it began, while he has been to five. After discussion and preparation, Ruzic and some fellow local breeders were ready to host it themselves.
The convention drew in a total of nearly 300 Milking Shorthorn breeders and enthusiasts from across the country. The convention included farm tours, the National Junior Heifer Show, a banquet, awards ceremony and the national sale held at the Jackson County fairgrounds. The national sale featured 50 live lots and six embryo lots from across the country.
Ruzic and his family appreciated the opportunity to network with other breeders on their farm and look forward to continuing on with the breed.
"I hope to keep improving my cattle, improving my herd's components and to breed overall great Milking Shorthorn cattle," Ruzic said.
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