EmilyAnn stands in the cowyard at Harbaugh Haven Holsteins near Guttenberg, Iowa. EmilyAnn is described as having a docile demeanor.
EmilyAnn stands in the cowyard at Harbaugh Haven Holsteins near Guttenberg, Iowa. EmilyAnn is described as having a docile demeanor. PHOTO SUBMITTED
    GUTTENBERG, Iowa – When kids who visit Harbaugh Haven Holsteins want to try their hand at the halter of a cow, Brianna Lucey has no problem handing over the rope of her favorite bovine, EmilyAnn, despite the cow’s large size.
    “I call her the babysitter,” Lucey said. “She’s a big cow. I’m 5’9” and my head is barely above her withers. She knows she can be stronger with me if I’m on the end of the halter, but if you put a little kid on there, she’s something else. She sees where they go and follows.”
    This docile demeanor is part of what makes this 6-year-old Holstein special to Lucey and her family who milk 22 cows on their dairy near Guttenberg.
    “Originally EmilyAnn was my uncle’s cow, but usually any cow I show becomes mine because they’re so spoiled,” Lucey said. “But she’s pretty close and dear to everyone’s heart.”
    Lucey farms together with her uncle and grandpa, Craig and Richard Harbaugh, while also attending school at Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar where she is studying animal science and agricultural business.
    “I’ve been on the farm since I could walk,” Lucey said.
    During the school year, Lucey works for a nearby 300-cow dairy and travels home on the weekend to help her family with chores.
    “EmilyAnn is always the first one to greet you,” Lucey said. “You can yell at her to come into the barn, and she’s right there at the gate and will walk in like a dog. She’s been shown all her life.”
    Sired by Bradnick, Harbaugh Bradnick EmilyAnn was born Sept. 1, 2013. Her dam is a Jasper daughter scored Excellent-91.
    “I was always the Jersey girl in the family, but EmilyAnn clicked differently with me out of the heifer group at the time,” Lucey said.
    During the show season, Lucey works with show animals at least four days a week for one hour daily. When training EmilyAnn in her younger days, Lucey said EmilyAnn was a natural on the halter.
    “The only work I really had to do with her was keep her head up,” Lucey said. “She knew which leg to put back and how to keep her front feet square. I barely had to touch her back to get her to move over. She’s pretty easy to work with.”
    Because of this ease, Lucey chose EmilyAnn as her showmanship animal.
    “She liked being on the halter,” Lucey said. “She knew she was pretty. We were always in a rhythm when walking.”
    Even though EmilyAnn did not always earn first in her classes, Lucey liked bringing her to shows.
    “You always have to have the one animal to have fun with no matter what,” Lucey said. “EmilyAnn was that cow for me.”
    However, EmilyAnn always stood at the top part of her class because of her type.
    “I think she’s pretty close to the ideal powerhouse dairy cow,” Lucey said. “Just maybe a little more depth of rib and she’d be set to go.”
    Lucey also said EmilyAnn has a good udder along with strong feet and legs. Plus, she has good health traits including always settling on her first or second service, and she has never had big issues with illness.
    At Harbaugh Haven Holsteins, Lucey works closely with Craig to analyze each cow and carefully select a mating based on that cow’s qualities. The pair emphasizes type, udder composite, and feet and legs. They also look at conception rate.
    “We breed a lot on type because I am still actively showing, and we’ve always liked the (high type) cows,” Lucey said. “But feet and legs are big to me. You want a cow that will last, but if she doesn’t have good feet and legs underneath her, a lot of things can go south in a hurry.”
    Pounds of milk is not a big factor for Lucey and Craig when choosing the right sire.
    “You get paid more in components anyway,” Lucey said.
    Lucey likes the genetics aspect of dairy farming.
    “I like watching the cows you’ve bred and the calves grow through their lifetime and watch your (herd’s) genetics expand,” she said. “You put in all this hard work just to hope you get a special animal. It’s always a goal to do better the following year.”
    EmilyAnn is now on her fourth lactation after calving with her fourth calf and third daughter, Harbaugh Tattoo Esme, in November. Her first two daughters – the first sired by Reginald and the second by Aftershock – are now on other farms after Lucey’s family had a dispersal in 2017. Her third calf was a bull.
    “She’s been healthy,” Lucey said. “She’s pushing the milk.”
    Plus, she makes her presence known in the barn.
    “My uncle let’s her have her way,” Lucey said. “All cows have their own stalls, but if she came into a stall that’s not her own, she gets to stay and everyone works around her. She is queen bee.”
    Despite her good type, EmilyAnn is now a permanent barn cow, walking the show ring for the final time the summer of 2017.
    “She is showing her age quite a bit,” Lucey said.
    But growing older only amplifies her calm presence.
    “If I’m having a bad day, she’s the first cow I go to,” Lucey said. “If she’s laying down, and I go up against her, she’ll wrap her head around me. It’s almost like she’s human in a way some days – she just knows what I need.”
    And when Lucey has visitors or a demonstration on the farm, she knows which cow she can trust.
    “If the kids want to see a big cow, I can let the kids be around her,” Lucey said.
    She calls in the babysitter, also known as her cow, EmilyAnn.