October 14, 2022 at 7:02 p.m.

Brown Swiss enthusiasts gather

Wisconsin welcomes breed’s world conference
Brown Swiss stand at a feeding alley Oct. 2 during a World Brown Swiss Conference tour at Hilltop Acres Farm in Calmar, Iowa.                                                      PHOTO BY EMILY STUMPF
Brown Swiss stand at a feeding alley Oct. 2 during a World Brown Swiss Conference tour at Hilltop Acres Farm in Calmar, Iowa. PHOTO BY EMILY STUMPF

By Danielle Nauman- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

MADISON, Wis. – After being delayed two years by the coronavirus pandemic, Brown Swiss breeders and enthusiasts from around the world gathered Oct. 1-5 in Madison for the 11th annual World Brown Swiss Conference.
The conference, hosted by the Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders’ Association of the USA, welcomed visitors from 16 countries to take part in farm tours, listen to conference speakers and attend the 55th World Dairy Expo, including the International Brown Swiss Show and World Premier Brown Swiss Sale.
The tour traveled to Waukesha Oct. 1 to visit Cozy Nook Farm, operated by Tom and Joan Oberhaus and their family, Dan and Britney Gerrits and Charlie and Amie Simac.
Cozy Nook Farm is home to 75 registered Brown Swiss and Guernsey cows. The farm also grows 20 acres of pumpkins, corn, gourds and squash to operate a fall market.
Cozy Nook Pronto Twlyght 4E-92 laid the foundation for the herd’s breeding success in the Brown Swiss breed, having raised many influential bulls.
Following the tour of Cozy Nook Farm, the conference tour bus traveled to Freeport, Illinois, to visit Triangle Acres Farm, operated by John and Wendy Korth and their children Ben and Becky. The Korths have help from longtime employee Tim Ritschard.
Triangle Acres Farm has been in the Korth family for more than 75 years. They milk 87 registered Brown Swiss cows.
The most impactful cow family in the herd is one that descends from a cow named Collection Polly. The family has placed two bulls into stud.
The final stop for the first day of tours was Voegeli Farms LLC of Monticello, which is owned and operated by Bryan, Jimmy and Christopher Voegeli and their families. Home to 250 milking cows, the farm’s milk is used for the creation of Chalet Cheese Cooperative and Yodelay yogurt. The Voegelis recently installed a robotic milking system.
Strong and successful cow families are the cornerstone of Voegeli Farms, and the herd boasts more than 250 All-American nominations over their long history. One highlight of the herd is the Madora cow family, which has produced a string of 16 generations of Excellent cows, with several more generations of potential Excellent cows on the ground.
To top off the day of touring, a social was held on the farm that featured Jimmy Voegeli’s band, The Jimmys.                                                                           
For the final day of farm tours, conference attendees crossed the Mississippi River Oct. 2 to head to Hilltop Acres Farm of Calmar, Iowa. A seventh-generation farm owned by Dennis and Barb Mashek and their sons, Josh and Tanner, Hilltop Acres is home to 450 milking cows.
Well-known in the Brown Swiss breed for the genetics produced by their herd, the Masheks give much of the credit to two cows: Hilltop Acres Blend Jillette and Hilltop Acres Jetway Dixie. Both families have produced several sires as well as daughters with breed-leading genetics.      
Conference speakers were the mainstay of the agenda for the third day of the conference, Oct. 3.
Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Randy Romanski welcomed the international guests as well as those from other parts of the U.S. He said the Brown Swiss breed plays an important role in Wisconsin’s vital dairy industry.
“Agriculture and the dairy industry are our strengths,” Romanski said. “In Wisconsin, 90% of our milk is made into cheese, and 90% of that cheese is exported out of state.”
Romanski also said high-component milk is important to the state’s economy.
Speakers from Europe, South America and the U.S. shared intriguing topics and ideas.
Martin Rust, vice director of Switzerland’s Braunvieh Schweiz, spoke about the opportunities of increased genomic testing; while Franciska von Fedak, of Columbia, spoke about the value Brown Swiss cattle have for those dairy farming in warmer climates, making them an ideal breed for dairy farmers in Central America and South America.
Other speakers included Dr. Reiner Emmerling of Germany, Urs Shuler of Switzerland, João Durr of Brazil, Enrico Santus of Italy, and U.S. speakers David Erf, David Kendall and Kevin Ziemba.
A global breeder panel – featuring Clément Servin of France, Jonny Lockhead of Scotland, Josef Müller of Germany, Tanner Mashek of Iowa and Joe Loehr of Wisconsin – allowed conference attendees to hear of how management practices vary.
The final two days of the conference were spent at WDE where those in attendance witnessed Cutting Edge Thunder Faye repeat as the grand champion selection of judge Gerrit DeBruin of Lake Mills.  
Following the show, the World Premier Brown Swiss Sale took place and averaged nearly $8,000 on 27 lots. Six embryo packages averaged $9,750. Buyers came from nine states as well as Canada. The high-selling individual, consigned by Dennis Mashek of Hilltop Acres, was Hilltop Acres J Promise ETV, which sold for $28,500 to STgenetics.
Typically held every four years, this year’s World Brown Swiss Conference marked the first time since 2000 that the event has been held in the U.S. According to Norman Magnussen, the executive secretary of the Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders’ Association of the USA, American breeders were enthusiastic to host the event.
“The global breed interest is a direct result of component pricing, heat tolerance, calm temperament, milk quality, sire selection and a pure love for the Brown Swiss cow,” Magnussen said. “Demand for Brown Swiss genetics is at an all-time high with a world population of well over 5 million head. We want to keep that momentum going. It is more important than ever to hold onto our critical role in improving dairy genetics worldwide.”


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