Wisconsin Brown Swiss sets national fat, protein records

Sue earns titles for 6.8 fat, 3.6 protein

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MARKESAN, Wis. – A cow who milks and looks good doing it is how Ron Kelm describes Cutting Edge Stratus Sue 3E-94/95MS, a cow he calls a dairyman’s dream. Sue claimed the top national fat and protein records for the Brown Swiss breed.

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Kelm owns Power Line Brown Swiss and milks 50 registered Brown Swiss on his family’s Green Lake County farm near Markesan.
Sue completed a 365-day lactation that earned her the two national titles, making 4,097 pounds of butterfat and 2,208 pounds of protein. She was milked twice a day and made 60,546 pounds of milk. She averaged a 6.8% butterfat and 3.6% protein test. The lactation was her sixth and commenced at 9 years and 6 months of age.
The previous national fat record was for 3,613 pounds of butterfat, while the previous national protein record was 2,031 pounds of protein.
While her latest lactation is in the books, Sue is still milking on that lactation and has garnered a lifetime production of 266,870 pounds of milk, 14,869 pounds of butterfat and 9,938 pounds of protein.
“Sue is so smart, so intelligent, and she is so very tough,” Kelm said of his favorite cow. “She has come through some adversity in her life, having two big sets of twins, getting very sick each time.”
Kelm purchased Sue at the 2016 National Brown Swiss Convention Sale in Owatonna, Minnesota. She was consigned by her breeders, Ken Main and Peter Vail of Elite Dairy in Copake Falls, New York. She was the second high seller in the sale, with Kelm placing the final bid of $15,500 to bring Sue home to Wisconsin.
“I was in the market for a cow like Sue, and she had been a young cow I admired at the time,” Kelm said.
Kelm recalled calling Main and asking about Sue.
“He told me they couldn’t keep all of the good ones,” Kelm said. “I learned she was one of Ken’s favorites, from what he considered one of their best transmitting families at the time. He didn’t seem real anxious to let her go. That made me want her that much more.”
Sue already had two All-American nominations under her belt. As a senior 2-year-old, Sue received honorable mention recognition following a win at the All-American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and a third-place finish at World Dairy Expo in Madison.
“I saw Sue at Tammy Voegeli’s farm on her way to the sale in Minnesota,” Kelm said. “Tammy called me and told me there was a cow I needed to come look at not knowing I was already interested in Sue. I went to Tammy’s farm and saw Sue, and I just fell in love.”
Sue was due to calve in July, less than a month after the sale. Kelm took her home to calve and began paving the way for Sue to make her third appearance on the colored shavings at WDE as a 4-year-old. The sailing for Kelm and Sue was not smooth.
“She had a big set of mixed twins, and she went down and got terribly sick,” Kelm said of a summer six years ago. “I really thought I was going to lose her. I babied her all summer long. I wasn’t sure if I should take her to Madison, but another breeder convinced me to take her and at least give her the chance to make the ring.”
While he had learned of her toughness in July, Kelm learned of Sue’s determination in October.
“She is the kind of cow who really knows it is game on when she gets to the show,” Kelm said. “She did remarkable things to get ready that week and placed fourth.”
That fourth-place WDE finish earned Sue her third All-American nomination.
With her health problems, Kelm gave Sue her 5-year-old year off and instead focused on flushing the cow.
“I learned she had chicken-like tendencies,” Kelm said. “She flushes very well.”
Sue was bred back to calve as an aged cow to head back to Madison for another crack at the colored shavings. Kelm made the decision to board the cow at nearby Budjon Farms in Lomira to prepare her for WDE.
Sue was the choice of judge Steve Wagner of Richfield, Vermont, to win the aged cow class, and she was named the reserve grand champion of the show. That year she was named the unanimous All-American aged cow with her fourth nomination in the contest.
Sue will celebrate her 11th birthday in September, and Kelm does not plan to breed her back to calve again. Instead, he plans to put Sue on a regular flushing program. To date, Kelm said Sue has 13 daughters on the ground, including her oldest daughter, Power Line Thunder Storm-ET EX90/92MS, who is also in the herd.
“We’re going to focus on making some babies,” Kelm said. “Sue has nothing left to prove, and with her age and tendency to have twins, there is no reason to take the risk.”

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