November 10, 2022 at 4:03 p.m.
“Zorah is a member of one of our oldest cow families,” Bryan Voegeli said. “There are a lot of good family members in this tree, including show-quality cattle with high components. These are the kind of animals we like.”
Zorah comes from the elite herd of Brown Swiss found at Voegeli Farms near Monticello. Here, Voegeli and his son, Chris, and his brother, Jim, milk 135 registered cows and farm 1,300 acres. Bryan and Jim are the fifth generation on Voegeli Farms while Chris is the sixth. Hailing from Switzerland, the Voegeli family tradition of breeding Brown Swiss began on this farm in 1895, and the herd has remained pure Swiss ever since.
“I like the Brown Swiss breed,” Voegeli said. “That’s our niche. I think Brown Swiss have such a great temperament, and I certainly like their milk quality. We’ve had success over the years and like to create whatever opportunities we can – whether with genetics, genomics, type or simply producing a good, functional cow.”
Offering a complete package of type and production, generations of homebred favorites run deep in this Z family. Zorah is backed by cows that have done well in the rings of some of the largest shows and at home, including a winner of the Brown Swiss Total Performance Award, which Voegeli said was a great honor to earn.
“The Total Performance Award takes into consideration a cow’s production record and show record,” Voegeli said. “It is one of the most prestigious awards in the breed.”
Born Sept. 6 and sired by Brown Heaven C First Choice-ET, Zorah splits her genetics with a twin sister. The calves’ dam is V B Tequila Zah VG-87. In her second lactation, Zah made 27,940 pounds of milk with 4.9% butterfat, 1,363 pounds, and 3.4% protein, 939 pounds, in 365 days.
“Zorah and her twin sister are really nice calves, and their mother is a really nice cow,” Voegeli said. “We’re hoping one day she’ll go Excellent.”
Zorah’s granddam is V B Braiden Zarinah VG-85. Zarinah’s best record was made in her second lactation when she produced 33,100 pounds of milk, 3.7% butterfat, 1,241 pounds, and 3.2% protein, 1,043 pounds, in 365 days. The great-granddam is V B Bush Zarihah EX-90. Her best record came about as a 4-year-old when she produced 35,530 pounds of milk, 4.5% fat and 3.3% protein in 365 days.
“We’re trying to make a profitable cow, but what I think sets us apart is that we try to breed cows that can show and also produce large quantities of milk for a long time,” Voegeli said. “Chris is focusing more on genomics these days. Now that we’re smaller, we have to be even more diversified. But, we still like to show and have an opportunity to make a show cow.”
The farm’s rolling herd average is 23,000 pounds of milk, 4.4% butterfat and 3.4% protein. The Voegelis began milking with two robotic milking units in September after downsizing their herd from 220 cows to 135 cows.
“With the next generation securing a foothold in taking over, the robots are part of our succession plan and a reinvestment in the farm,” Voegeli said. “There are certainly some advantages to robots. The technology and the info they provide are incredible. We’re excited about the labor savings and will hopefully get a boost in production as well.”
However, letting go of so many good cows has been challenging, Voegeli said.
“We’re virtually cutting the herd in half and still have more cows to sell,” he said. “But I’m thrilled the next generation and the one behind that still have opportunities to be in the industry. We’ll see where the farm goes.”
Brown Swiss have always fit with the Voegelis’ mission, and they are happy to share their genetics with a young person looking to make their own mark in the industry.
“Zorah has a good pedigree that includes some nice show-winning cows, and we’re hoping for someone to continue with that,” Voegeli said. “We like deep pedigrees, and this family follows that. My dad always said, ‘The further back you can look in a pedigree, the further ahead into the future you can look.’ I like that statement; I think it’s true. We’re not breeding just a one-generation wonder.”
Youth ages 17 and under are eligible to enter the drawing.
“Kids have so many opportunities these days, but I think winning a calf is a special opportunity in life,” Voegeli said. “I want the youth to be successful, and I want the calf to be successful and for the pair to be able to showcase their successes. This is a chance to experience the responsibilities of owning a calf and perhaps get involved in a different breed while having a calf to show.”
Excited about Zorah’s future, Voegeli said his greatest victory in showing is getting to experience the shows with his kids.
“People score victories differently, but when we came back from World Dairy Expo having done well, I was happy with that, but the interaction I experienced with my kids is what I enjoyed most,” Voegeli said. “I wish that for some other kid and their family.”
To Submit an Event Sign in first
No calendar events have been scheduled for today.