June 14, 2021 at 3:16 p.m.
HIXTON, Wis. – When they first married, neither Vince nor Rozanne Ruzic planned to be dairy farmers, but they made the decision 47 years ago to take that path in life. And, they said the decision is one they have not regretted.After teaching school for several years in the late 1960s and 1970s, Vince decided he was ready for a change. In 1974, the Ruzics made the decision to begin dairy farming on the small farm they purchased near Hixton. “We just decided we would go milking cows instead,” said Vince said of the decision. Dairying was not a completely new concept for the couple. Vince was raised working with his parents in their cheese factory, while Rozanne grew up on the dairy farm where her father was employed as a herdsman. The purchase of two Milking Shorthorn cows led the Ruzics down paths they might not have expected. The Ruzics founded the RoVin Acres Milking Shorthorn herd, and on their small Jackson County farm, they raised four children: Pat, Sara, Katie and Carla, all of whom are involved in the dairy industry. “Many of the people we have met through our involvement in the Milking Shorthorn breed have become good friends,” Vince said. “We have a lot of good memories throughout the years. Our kids were all involved with the cows, and now our grandkids have the same opportunities.” Those first two cows were purchased from Wisconsin Milking Shorthorn breeder John Woodard, who Vince said planted the seed that grew into the family’s involvement in both the state and national breed organizations. “John really encouraged me to get involved with the breed,” Vince said. “Once we got started, we never stopped.” Throughout his years as a Milking Shorthorn breeder, Vince has served in various capacities on both the state and national Milking Shorthorn association boards of directors. In the mid-1980s, he became involved in running the annual Wisconsin Milking Shorthorn sale, an activity his children have all taken leadership roles in as well. “As breeders, we need a place to market and showcase the genetics we are developing in our herds,” Vince said of why he devotes so much time and effort to the Wisconsin sale series. “If I think something is important, I am going to spend the time to try and make it the best it can be.” For Vince, an avid competitor regardless of the field of play, good was never exactly good enough. He worked to grow and develop his herd until it was completely registered. With each generation, he worked to better the herd and increase profitability. “We were in the business of making and selling milk,” Vince said. “The cows needed to be profitable, and they were. At one point, we had the herd average over 21,000 pounds of milk with high components.” In the late 1980s, Vince took an interest in the niche area of breeding polled Milking Shorthorns that encapsulated his desired traits of dairyness and style. In 1988, he purchased a polled Holstein heifer sired by Skagvale Olympian and began breeding her to Milking Shorthorn bulls, working to develop polled offspring with the traits he desired to increase the purebred percentage with each generation. Thirty years later, the Ruzics are still working on perfecting polled animals that hold steadfast to the type and production traits. “Homozygous polled is kind of a tough one,” Vince said. “You can find them, but they usually have some old dual purpose blood in them, and they have kind of short heads and necks. We want to develop homozygous polled individuals that have dairy character and style.” Genetics from the RoVin herd have impacted the breed, and the RoVin prefix is found in many of the pedigrees that fill sire and sale catalogs throughout the country. “The sire of the 2018 World Dairy Expo champion was the son of one of our cows,” Vince said. “She was one of the first Iron Grandma cows of the breed to make 10,000 pounds of fat and 200,000 pounds of milk.” Vince purchased semen from a son of that Expo champion in hopes of making a polled bull calf that is A2A2. Every dairy farmer has a favorite cow that has passed through their barn, and for Vince, that cow is RoVin Alise Clay Ali-P EX-93. He said Ali was one of their highest scored cows, and they flushed her several times. Her daughter, RoVin Lira Allison EXP-P EX-92, garnered reserve all-American honors as a fall yearling in 2012 and was the honorable mention all-American fall calf in 2011. Allison is the dam of the popular polled bull, RoVin Mega All Abner P. One particular Abner daughter of note is the 2019 reserve all-American senior 3-year-old, RoVin Abner-P Sue Sada EXP-ET. Sada placed second at World Dairy Expo after being selected as the intermediate and grand champion of the Minnesota State Fair that year for granddaughter Bailey Larson. Despite the myriad of successful cows that have walked through the barn doors, Vince counts the memories of raising his family on the farm with the red, white and roan cows as the greatest gift the breed has given him. “My kids and now my grandkids have all had the opportunity to grow up on a dairy farm,” he said. “There is no better way to raise kids in my opinion. I am so proud of them all. They have all become good, successful citizens. They don’t just follow anyone else’s lead. They know what they want, and they think for themselves to do what they want to do.”
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