DUBUQUE, Iowa - Young breeders shared their perspectives during the National Holstein Convention in Dubuque Iowa. Five panelists answered questions June 27, dealing with the obstacles they face, their goals, and what they see as the keys elements to success.

Ashley Abbott, New York
Ashley Abbott, Fort Edward, N.Y., works as a herdswoman and tends the 65-head Joyride Farm herd of her and her husband. She has a degree in animal science from Cornell University. Abbott said the main focus on her farm is breeding for high-type cows and managing them for production.
She did not grow up on a farm, since her parents sold their herd when she was quite young.
"But I had a love of registered Holsteins instilled in me from an early age," Abbott said. "I had my first calf when I was there (on the farm) and fell in love with that."
Her biggest obstacle starting out was taking on a lot of debt and starting from nearly nothing, with only six heifers and three cows. Along with the debt, Abbot said, she struggles with trying to figure out how to balance everything - a full-time job, raising a family and working on the farm.
One of her goals is to buy the farm that's now being rented. She said, "That will give us a little more stability and we'll be a little less dependent on other people."
The Abbotts also want to merchandize more cattle. All their youngstock now have Very Good or Excellent dams behind them.
"That's something we want to keep up with and improve," she said. "In a few more years, when we sell calves, they will have a little more value. We put a lot of money into our animals, so we really need to get it out at the other end."

Dan Bolin, Iowa
Dan Bolin, Clarksville, Iowa, has a dairy science degree from Iowa State University. He lived in for Turkey two years, and now works with his parents, milking 65 cows. He is constructing buildings at a new place where two robots will handle the milking.
Bolin, along with his wife and parents, milks registered Holsteins, Guernseys and Jerseys. Their main focus is breeding for production.
"We want to get as much genetic potential as possible into our cows and then unleash that potential," he said.
Asked why he became a farmer, Bolin said, "It's one of those unique professions where your children can tag along while you're doing your work. It really is a joy to be able to work with your children."
Bolin went on to say that his time in Turkey convinced him to farm.
"The more I talked about dairying, the more something inside me said that I really want to actually do it, rather than just talk about how to do it," he said.
On the topic of obstacles, Bolin said, "I'm facing some big challenges right now, working through the lending and the bankers and convincing them I'm a good investment and my new barn is a good investment."
Another challenge is keeping the home farm running smoothly while building another one. Bolin likened it to remodeling an airplane while it's flying.
Bolin said he wants the new place set up right so that 20 years from now he isn't regretting anything. He said he wants to establish a herd of 250 to 300 cows, use mainly family labor, and have a stream of international interns working and learning on the farm.

Diesel Hitt, New York
Diesel Hitt, Adams Center, N.Y., graduated from Cornell University and went on to buy Windsong Dairy, with the partners involved in Scipio Springs Dairy, where Hitt worked after college. Hitt manages the 600-cow Windsong Dairy.
He expressed his gratitude to his partners for helping him become established.
"When I graduated from college. I really had nothing but a whole lot of debt," he said.
Hitt offered two reasons for becoming a dairy farmer. He said he liked the work - helping deliver calves and taking care of sick cows. And he wanted to make some money.
The biggest obstacle he said he had to clear to get going was "an extremely conservative banking industry.
"If you don't have a lot of money, they don't want to loan you any," he said.
Another obstacle was his dearth of knowledge, since he did not grow up on a farm. That meant he needed to learn how day-to-day things are done.
Turning to goals, Hitt said he and his partners, who are 20 years older than him, can one day retire. A herd expansion, he said, might let the farm generate more money, hire more labor, and let the older partners transition out.
For him, a key to success was partnering with someone who was already successful. He urged people who are in the situation he was in to find mentors and other people who can provide advice.

Brent Schuler, Pennsylvania
Brent Schuler, Fleetwood, Penn., has an animal science degree from Penn State University. He minored in agricultural business management.
After college, Schuler was a dairy cattle fitter. He is now a partner in Schuler Farms, where 100 cows are milked. Schuler has bred numerous cattle that were nominated for All-Pennsylvania and All-America honors.
Schuler said forming a limited-liability corporation (LLC) was a way for his father and uncles to bring him into the business. He said part of his focus is on eventually buying out his relatives.
Asked why he wanted to farm, Schuler said "the gratification of a hard day's work. You work hard all day to get the hay put away, and you lay in bed at night and hear the rain pounding on the roof, and you know you got it all in."
He noted the monetary rewards of dairying, too.
"If you make smart business decisions, there is quite a bit of money to be made in the dairy industry, and you can live a pretty comfortable life-style," Schuler said.
Schuler acknowledged that he did not have to deal with lenders to get started farming. But, with a farm that has been in a family several generations and change is hard, he said. Sometimes it's not easy to convince the older generation why changes are needed - or even that they are needed. "I think that's something every farm goes through," he said.
Schuler Farms is in its sixth generation and supports four families. A key to doing that is growing as little forage as possible and instead selling corn and soybeans to help offset years of lower milk prices.

Jeff Brantmeier, Wisconsin
Jeff Brantmeier, Sherwood, Wis., earned a dairy science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is an owner of Hilrose Dairy, where the 90 cows carry a rolling average above 31,000 pounds. The farm has been designated a Holstein Association USA Herd of Excellence five times.
Brantmeier farms with his older brother and father. Their focus is on cows that are high for type and production. They've bred cows that have gone over 300,000 and 400,000 pounds lifetime.
He said he chose dairying so he could work with cows on a daily basis and work with his father and brother. And, Brantmeier said, he enjoys producing "that next show cow.
"Forming a limited-liability corporation and becoming a partner "gave me a little more satisfaction and made me want to try harder to do a better job with the cows on a day-to-day basis," Brantmeier said.
Brantmeier said his goals include maintaining and improving the herd. He wants to still be milking in 20 years.
It will be difficult to add cows in his part of eastern Wisconsin, since the farm is landlocked.
Still, he said, "I guess I feel we have a pretty good niche market with the cash crop sales, exporting embryos and selling 60 to 70 fresh animals a year."
Keys to success, Brantmeier said, are patience and perseverance. His father reminded him that breeding an Excellent cow is not easy.
"You have to work at it," Brantmeier said he was told. "This doesn't happen overnight."