Editor’s note: Dairy Star will recognize a cow each issue that is special in the eyes of its owner. From high production and components along with longevity to a good-natured cow with quirky habits, we want to know about a cow that stands out in your barn. To submit a cow for consideration, email krista.k@dairystar.com.
    LESTER, Iowa – Ever since Rodney Metzger introduced his children to milking, there has been one cow they can count on being in the parlor with a full udder. After 15 years, not much has changed.
    “We really didn’t realize it until a few years ago, but Fanny has put over half of the milk in our bulk tank,” Metzger said.
    Fanny – 17-year-old Summetz Stephen Fence Fanny – is Metzger’s favorite cow on his family’s 250-cow registered Jersey farm.
    Metzger and his wife, Polly, and their five children –Emma and Tyler Moser, Vance and Janae, Eric and Abby, Neil and Mattie, and Toby – are the owners and operators of Summit Farm Inc. near Lester, Iowa. In addition to dairy farming, the family also runs 800 acres of cropland.  
    Fanny is the oldest cow in the herd on the farm, which was started in the 1960s.
    “The boys were about 5 years old when she was born,” Metzger said.
    Fanny celebrated her 17th birthday March 1. Two weeks later, she had her 15th calf – a heifer sired by Irwin. Fanny’s longevity has surprised the Metzgers as her sire was a young bull. She really does stand alone.
    “We really didn’t expect her to live as long as she has,” Metzger said. “At 8 years of age, we knew she was a nice cow but never even dreamed that she would be 17.”
    Fanny’s longevity has not gone unnoticed at the dairy.     
    In January of 2018, she placed ninth in milk production for the American Jersey Cattle Association’s Leading Living Lifetime Production Contest. This year, she topped that in a span of 4,571 days of production - producing 271,884 pounds of milk, 11,964 pounds of butter fat, and 9,675 pounds of protein. These values earn her a rank of fifth highest in the nation for milk production, seventh for butter fat and sixth for protein for the Jersey breed.
    That was only a start for Fanny - she also scored an Excellent 94 points this year.
    “To maintain high production and score that well is rare and really special in a breed like that,” Metzger said.
    Surprisingly, Fanny has few challenges for her age, namely one or two bouts of mastitis in her entire lifetime.
    “She’s a little slow, but hasn’t had any definite challenges,” Metzger said. “She’s just a really healthy cow.”
    Once the Metzgers realized this cow was producing so well at 17 years old with little to no difficulties, they decided it would be best to put her in loose housing away from the other cows.
    “She can still get up in the freestall barn, but she’s just so old we thought it was the best decision,” Metzger said.
    Twice a day at milking time, Metzger and his children still count on seeing Fanny in the milking parlor with the rest of the herd. She is always ready to put a full udder’s worth of milk into the bulk tank.
    Of Fanny’s 15 calves, only five have been heifers. Two of those are still in the herd today.
Despite her age, the Metzgers are trying to get her to cycle right now.
    “She’s just been able to breed back so well, usually there are a lot of problems in our herd if they don’t,” said Metzger, who attributes Fanny’s long lifespan to her health and fertility.
    The Metzgers plan to see how long they can maintain Fanny and keep her milking. She is a family favorite and herd underdog, having grown up with the Metzgers and proving her worth on the dairy.
    “I would really like to see how long she can live and what she does with the rest of her time here,” Metzger said.