An unparalleled experience

Beukema exhibits homebred calf to World Dairy Expo champion honors

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NEW RICHMOND, Wis. — Over two weeks later, Haley Beukema is still pinching herself, checking to make sure that everything she experienced at this year’s World Dairy Expo was not just a dream.

“It was a whirlwind of emotions packed into just a few days,” Beukema said. “I’m still not sure everything has sunk in yet.”

Beukema’s bred-and-owned Guernsey calf, CB VG Jack Dont Forget Me-ETV, accomplished something during the International Guernsey Show in Madison she never dreamed possible. The calf topped the winter calf class before being named junior champion of both the open and junior divisions.

“It was so special for me,” Beukema said. “Her mom was the cow that did it for me, and now her daughter did it all too.”

Beukema owns Dont Forget Me and her mother, Dix Lee Kojack Dont Doubt Me-ETV, in partnership with Brynn Grewe and Lauryn Weisensel. Dont Doubt Me calls the Grewe family’s Valley Gem Farm in Cumberland home, while Beukema and her parents, Paul and Liz, care for Dont Forget Me and other show heifers on their small New Richmond farm.

“Once Dont Forget Me was pulled in first, I started to get a little nervous,” Beukema said. “From there, I was just praying she wouldn’t get dropped down. Once the class was over, I didn’t think the week could get better.”

When the pair went back into the ring for the selection of the youth show junior champion, Beukema said she was elated to receive the handshake from associate judge Ted DeMent.

“This was my last year showing as a junior,” Beukema said. “When Dont Forget Me was named the junior show junior champion I was freaking out. I couldn’t believe it.”

Beukema said she figured the ride was over for her and Dont Forget Me.

“At that point, I really could not have imagined it getting any better,” Beukema said.

 Then the calf got the nod from official judge Kevin Hartmann to stand in contention for junior champion, and Beukema said the butterflies fluttered in her stomach in earnest.

“I glanced up at the screen and saw how she looked, and then I realized the judges were standing there, talking about my calf,” Beukema said. “Then, the nerves really kicked in.”

While Beukema presented the homebred calf as best she could, Hartmann viewed her as an impressive winner and offered the final handshake of the heifer show to Beukema.

“What a great calf; she is extremely hard topped and has that tremendous depth and openness of both fore and rear rib,” said Hartmann in his reasons as he named the calf junior champion.

“I almost think I was in shock,” Beukema said. “It really hit me later that night when the junior champions went back out for the selection of grand champion. The enormity of standing out there with those cows was amazing.”

For Beukema, the opportunity to participate in the supreme champion ceremony is one she will never forget.

“Most people will never have the opportunity to walk under the spotlight like that,” Beukema said. “The rarity of the experience does not escape me. It is really once in a lifetime.”

Dont Forget Me is a Springhill Jack Daniels daughter of Beukema’s show-winning Dont Doubt Me and was the result of in vitro fertilization.

“Dont Doubt Me IVFs really well for us, and we have had good luck getting daughters out of her,” Beukema said. “This spring, we sold a full sister to Dont Forget Me in the Shades of Excellence II sale, and she was the top-selling Guernsey in the sale.”

Beukema said it was hard parting with that calf, named Dont Tempt Me, last spring, but the partnership members were committed to offering their best animals for public auction.

“Last spring, Dont Forget Me was a little on the smaller side,” Beukema said. “She always had a ton of rib, but she needed more time to put everything together.”

Dont Forget Me made her show ring debut at the Midwest Spring Guernsey Show held in April in Madison, where she placed fifth in the class. By the time the Midwest Summer Guernsey show rolled around in July, Dont Forget Me had continued to improve and placed second in class, while being named junior champion in the youth division and reserve junior champion in the open division. 

“I was really happy with the way Dont Forget Me developed throughout the summer,” Beukema said. “All year, the winter calf class has been a really tough class in the Guernsey breed. Last spring, I never imagined we would get to this point this year.” 

Dont Forget Me’s Monday night triumphs were not the only highlight of Expo week for Beukema. At the conclusion of Sunday night’s awards banquet for the National Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest, Beukema learned she was a part of the national championship team from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Because of her involvement in the judging contest and Monday’s noon start time for the Guernsey show, Beukema had to leave the pre-show preparations of Dont Forget Me in the hands of her partners.

“It was hard not being there at the beginning of the week to see how she was coming along,” Beukema said. “I am blessed with terrific partners and a great show family who were there to get her ready.”

Beukema said it was an odd experience for her to just show up on show morning.

“I’m usually a lot more involved with preparing my animals for the shows,” Beukema said. “But even though I didn’t make it to the barn until 4 the morning of the show, I couldn’t have dreamed of a better week.”

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