Employees, Heriberto Media (left) and Jessica Meneses, talk with Sheri Danhof about calf care at Regancrest Holsteins in Waukon, Iowa. Danhof checks in daily with employees who manage calves at her family’s dairy.
PHTOO BY SHERRY NEWELL
Employees, Heriberto Media (left) and Jessica Meneses, talk with Sheri Danhof about calf care at Regancrest Holsteins in Waukon, Iowa. Danhof checks in daily with employees who manage calves at her family’s dairy. PHTOO BY SHERRY NEWELL
    WAUKON, Iowa – Sheri Danhof, of Waukon, Iowa, is receiving the Holstein Association USA Inc. Distinguished Young Holstein Breeder Award at the 2019 National Holstein Convention June 23-28 in Appleton, Wis. The award will be presented during the evening banquet June 27.
    Sheri will serve as a delegate representing Iowa Holstein Association during the National Holstein Convention. She serves on the Holstein Association international marketing and type committees.
    Sheri is quick to say she did not earn the distinction on her own.
    “There are many young Holstein breeders that are very deserving of this award and I feel very honored and fortunate to have been this year’s recipient. I got lucky,” Sheri said.
    Sheri returned to the family farm – a 1,000-cow dairy named Regancrest Holsteins LLC – in 1998. She and her husband, Jason, have also built a genetics business, Danhof Holsteins.
    Regancrest Holsteins was started by Sheri’s grandfather and passed on to four brothers: her father, Frank Regan, along with Bill, Charles and Ron Regan. In 2012, Sheri and her relatives – Brian, Sean and Mitch – became the third generation a part of the business.
    The dairy has 17 full-time employees. The crop operation is a separate family-owned entity which sells feedstuffs to the dairy.
    Sheri was invited back to the business by Frank to manage the business office after she completed business courses following high school. Her interest in genetics flourished from there.
    “I made myself Dad’s protégé,” Sheri said. “I did the details.”
    Those details included assisting with special events, like a series of cattle sales featuring Regancrest’s top animals. She registered calves and prepared merchandising materials for Frank’s travels selling genetics.
    Along the way, she became focused on further development of the Regancrest genetics that produced bulls like Regancrest Elton Durham, who has sired the most Excellent cows in the United States according to the United States Department of Agriculture.  
    “I used to read and study pedigrees, see where the faults were, decide what sires to use,” Sheri said.
    Her work was both with live cows and on paper. But, Sheri also observed how the genetics business was changing.
    “As it changed, I was young enough and ambitious enough to know that if we were to continue our legacy, we had to adapt,” Sheri said. “We used to select a few young bulls to progeny test and cold call breeders to use semen. We did more ads and promotion and used our reputation to sell cattle.”
    Sheri said it is highly unusual to sell a cow from the herd these days. Instead, her work is focused on genomics that lead to bull and embryo merchandising.
    “The registered Holstein business has changed quite a bit since genomic data became available,” Jason said. “As we progress, the landscape continues to change from daughter-proven bulls to those that meet a certain parameter, and that’s where Sheri got more involved.”
    The Danhofs are proud of having co-bred the highest genomic total performance index bull in the world: 3049 at the time of evaluation. Regan-Danhof Gamechanger semen was released in April.
    “If we just bred cows, that gets kind of mundane,” Sheri said. “Our niche is genetics, and it’s made us substantial money over the years.”
    The individual roles each of the Danhofs play include duties less glamorous, too. Sheri runs payroll, works with the herdsman, enters computer data on fresh cows, and takes part in the herd checks, while Jason does reproduction tasks for 500 heifers and manages flushing work.
    And, the couple still has tremendous respect for Frank’s knack for picking out cows.
    After all, it is the Regancrest legacy that has given Sheri a chance to accomplish what has led to the Holstein award.
    “Some people work a lifetime and don’t have this opportunity,” she said.
    Steve Berland, of GenElite LLC and one of those who wrote a nomination for Sheri, said he has watched her make the most of that opportunity.
    “Sheri is committed to excellence in everything that she does,” Berland said. “She is in tune with the latest trends in breeding; she utilizes all of the tools and technology available to breed and merchandise breeding stock of the highest quality.”