GLENCOE, Minn. — Spots of red and white can be found all around Sunkist Acres were Nate Donnay raises heifer calves that he shares with youth.
Watching a heifer leave Sunkist Acres is nothing new to Donnay, who finds himself raising calves that will hopefully make quality show animals for others to buy.
“We have a sale every year for show heifers,” Donnay said. “We try to give a lot of opportunities to the youth and have them purchase their own calf with a good pedigree.”
Donnay, of Glencoe, is providing a Red & White Holstein heifer, named Layla, for Dairy Star’s Great Christmas Giveaway.
Sunkist Rompen Layla-Red was born Sept. 11 to a long bloodline of show cattle. Sunkist Doorman Lennox is the dam of Layla, and Trent-Way-Js Rompen-Red-ET is the sire. Sunkist Airlift Lively EX-95, who is Layla’s great-grandam, was a two-time reserve grand champion at the Minnesota State Holstein Show and was shown at multiple national shows in addition to being nominated junior All-American in 2019.
Lively can still be found on Sunkist Acres along with her daughter Lenin, granddaughter Lennix and great-granddaughter Layla, who is the fourth generation to be born on the farm and registered.
“We’ve always been a registered herd going back to when they first started to register cattle,” Donnay said.
However, they did not always have the Red & Whites on the farm. It happened after Donnay’s grandparents and parents used a few bulls that had a dormant red carrier gene in them.
“(At first,) it would always be a surprise when a Red & White one would show up because it would just be from two red carriers,” Donnay said. “When I was younger, I always took a liking to the Red & White ones.”
Donnay continues to raise both Holstein and Red & White heifers that they will eventually sell. Throughout the breeding process, Donnay said he tries to have every calf that is born on the farm be a heifer in order to provide more opportunities to the youth. While keeping calves to raise and include back into their herd, Donnay is still able to supply about 25 to 30 heifers for people to buy and finish raising that they are then able to show.
Sunkist Acres has been in the Donnay family name since 1900 and was passed down through the generations until it reached Donnay and his siblings — Alex, Mitchell and Nicole — who are the fourth generation on the farm. Donnay’s parents, John and Connie, are active on the farm and help with daily tasks. The Donnays milk 50 cows, with a mix of Holsteins, Red & Whites and a few Jerseys.
Growing up with cattle, Donnay discovered showing, which he said changed his life’s path.
“By showing cattle, I knew exactly where I wanted to go to school,” Donnay said. “Senior year, I missed about 30 days of school, and it was all (because of) dairy things.”
Besides working full time on the farm, Donnay also began a full-time job five months ago. In the past few years on the farm, Donnay has been focusing more on the genetics of the Red & Whites, which includes Layla, because they have become more popular for showing.
Donnay said Layla’s sister, who is sired by Mr Blondin Warrior-Red-ET, was named All-Minnesota fall calf. She was also shown at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, and placed in the middle of the class. Donnay said he knows that Layla has the potential to follow these footsteps.
“She’s a strong calf,” Donnay said. “She will make a good show animal.”
Donnay also gave words of advice to youth who show cattle.
“Find a good mentor and ask questions,” Donnay said. “I am willing to (mentor) whoever gets Layla.”
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