December 12, 2020 at 5:27 p.m.
“It was a pretty fun experience,” said Cole Remiger, son of Becky and Pat Remiger.
Cole won the calf in the Dairy Star’s annual Great Christmas Giveaway in 2017 and went home with Newalta Light My Fire 9945, who joined his family’s herd of 120 cows near Wood Lake.
“He was going to take her to the (Lyon) County fair the next summer,” Becky said. “When we were trying to break her to lead, she would flat out refuse. She would fall over and just lay there. It took forever. She would not walk. We tried everything. She would just dig in, fall over and then just lay there so we nicknamed her Possum.”
Eventually, they were able to make her comfortable with the halter, and Cole showed her at the Lyon County Fair twice – in 2018 as a fall calf, and in 2019 as a fall yearling. As a yearling, Possum earned Cole a trip to the state fair, but Cole ended up taking another animal.
“She was a very pretty heifer,” Cole said. “When I brought her (to the fair) the second time, she still remembered all her training so I didn’t have to break her in again.”
Now 3 years old, Possum’s biggest struggle has been reproduction.
“To get her bred the first time, we bred her numerous times,” Becky said. “We ended up using a red polled (beef) bull onsite we use as a clean-up bull. She finally stuck so she had her first calf in November of 2019.”
Currently, the family is waiting to confirm if she is pregnant.
“She’s been a hard one to get bred back,” Becky said. “She hasn’t had any major health issues, but she’s definitely a taller, lankier cow than the rest of ours are. So far, she’s been a decent milker.”
Becky used to do all the vet checks on the farm and does all the bookwork and most of the record keeping, but now spends her days at school.
“I started teaching a couple years ago when (milk price) got really bad,” she said. “This is year three for me off the farm.”
Her father-in-law, Steve, does all the breeding and checks now, but Becky is glad she can stay involved by helping keep the records.
As for Possum, her heifer calf was a cross beef animal and finished out as a beef animal.
“We were bummed she’s a hard breeder,” Becky said. “We were hoping to get a heifer out of her we could keep showing.”
Cole had input on the bull she would be bred to, to make a nice show animal, but Possum was not interested. This was a divert from the typical genetics the farm considers, which are more production-based.
“She’s a good cow to have in the herd,” Cole said.
Similarly, in 2016 Jonathon Job was the lucky winner of Dairy Star’s annual Great Christmas Giveaway calf and went home with the family’s first brown cow. She is the only Brown Swiss animal in the Job family’s herd.
At the time, then 10-year-old Jonathon was ecstatic to bring home Eachibon Jessa R Jamaica to his parent’s dairy farm. Jonathon’s parents, David and Alice Job, milk 55 cows near Freeport.
“She’s not exceptionally big or anything, but she looks like the type of animal that could last a long time,” David said. “When she was growing up, we treated her as a pet. She would eat feed out of our hand.”
Jamaica is 4 years old and has had two heifer calves.
“We lost both calves due to pneumonia problems so I’m still trying to get more out of her yet,” David said.
Her personality leaves something to be desired as well.
“She has an attitude problem,” David said. “The first year we milked her she was fine, but the second year we milked her, she likes to throw feed up against the wall. Then, it sticks to the wall and makes a mess on the wall and window. We just put up with it because we want to get a few more calves out of her and see what we can get.”
As far as production, she keeps up with the rest of the herd.
“She looks like the type of animal that could last a long time so I’m hoping to get a few more out of her and keep them alive just to see what they can do,” Job said.
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