July 12, 2021 at 1:02 p.m.
The farm was a stop during the 100th annual National Milking Shorthorn Meeting and Convention June 16-19 in Fort Atkinson. Milking Shorthorn breeders toured the barn that houses bovines from all breeds, except for Ayrshire and Guernsey currently.
Before starting Maple-Leigh Futures, Schmaling was on the road fitting animals full time.
“I had the opportunity to farm with my dad on our 120-cow commercial dairy, so I came back home,” Schmaling said. “I started Maple-Leigh as a way for us to diversify the operation. I wanted to still be able to work with show cattle, and I also wanted to get in on the genomics market, which is where the industry is headed.”
Appearances are important at this full-service show facility, which provides personalized care and 24-hour attention to a select herd of cattle. Animals are kept in tip-top shape and treated to the finest in accommodations in a state-of-the-art barn featuring spacious box stalls and pens and eight tie stalls where cows stand on deep bed packs and lounge upon waterbed mattresses. Wood-framed signs bearing a cow’s name, lineage and show winnings adorn the pens and stalls.
The barn also includes an IVF room with a connected lab for Maple-Leigh’s embryo team, as well as a conference room/entertainment area, office and bathroom with laundry and shower. A pipeline runs above the tie stalls and box stalls, and milk is sent to a pasteurizer in the milkhouse before being used to feed calves at Schmaling Farm. Schmaling’s parents, John and Jill, have a registered Holstein herd and run about 500 acres of land as well as custom crop another 500 acres for a neighboring farm.
Schmaling operates the farm business with help from herdsmen, Korey Oechsle and Taylor Haeft. Dagmara Schroeder, a veterinarian with IVF experience from Stateline Veterinary Service in Darien, provides Maple-Leigh’s day-to-day veterinary care. Maple-Leigh is affiliated with Boviteq and SVS Repro, and Dan Gander of SVS Repro does most of the farm’s IVF work.
“We focus on results,” Schmaling said. “Whether it’s achieving a certain number of embryos or winning a show, we’re very goal-oriented.”
Schmaling and his crew compile data on each animal, including average daily gains, monthly weights, body condition scores, oocyte quality and production, and treatment protocols.
Diets are closely monitored to optimize donor performance.
Keeping everything clean and well-maintained is part of the daily routine at Maple-Leigh which houses 45 donors and a couple dozen show cattle, some of which are owned in partnership by the Schmaling family.
Maple-Leigh Futures houses grand champions, international show winners and all-Americans.
Their tenants grace the rings of the Midwest Spring Show, Wisconsin state championship show, World Dairy Expo and the Royal Winter Fair.
Providing year-round care to show cattle, Schmaling and his team manage each animal’s show schedule during her career and provide pre-show prep, transportation and onsite care at the show. A donor cow’s stay is usually more temporary.
“We have a steady influx of donors coming and going,” Schmaling said.
Maple-Leigh also works with one-day donors that are not housed at the facility.
“We usually get a couple haul-ins every week that just come in for the day for collection,” Schmaling said. “Many of the cows in our show program are also IVF donors. It is very seasonal for making show-aged calves as well as timing IVF around the show season. We also work with a couple bull studs on the donor side of things.”
Maple-Leigh specializes in IVF but also does conventional flushing. Oocyte collections are done every two weeks on Mondays and Wednesdays. Oocytes are then sent to the Boviteq lab in Madison for fertilization. Younger donors average over seven embryos per collection following fertilization.
“Maple-Leigh has a couple donors right now producing in the range of 70 to 80 oocytes,” Schmaling said. “One donor here once had 180 oocytes, setting a Boviteq facility record for a dairy donor.”
Schmaling’s show barn is seeing success due to the efforts of the team at who operate with precision. Their hard work and dedication into a special endeavor of type and genomics is producing results for the farm’s clients.
“We pay a lot of attention to detail because it’s the small things that really make a difference,” Schmaling said.