This million-dollar Supreme Champion performs in the clutch
Many topflight, professional athletes could easily feel a sense of kinship with Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy, the five-year-old Holstein who captured Supreme Champion honors at World Dairy Expo in 2011.
Just like the star-quality quarterbacks in the NFL or the marquee pitchers in Major League Baseball, Missy has experienced the pressures and expectations that go hand in hand with having a group of people invest a significant amount of money in you in the hopes of one day realizing a big-time payoff.
In 2009, Missy generated headlines throughout Canadian dairy industry circles and beyond when Morsan Farms Ltd. of Ponoka, Alberta, her owner at the time, sold partial stakes in the animal to a syndicated partnership. The price of $1.2 million (Canadian) was the second highest amount ever paid for a Canadian dairy animal.
The buyers included Van Ruinen Dairy Ltd. of Lacombe, Alberta; Mark Butz of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Gert Andreasen of Ponoka, Alberta. Morsan Farms was invited to stay on as part owner and look after the management of the cow.
Morsan Farms had purchased Missy as a two-year-old from Valleyview Holsteins on Canada’s Prince Edward Island in 2008. Missy’s sire, Braedale Goldwyn, was one of the most popular sires in the world at the time. Her dam, Stadacona Outside Abel, had a track record of producing outstanding daughters.
"We liked [Missy] as soon as we saw her," says Chris Parry, marketing manager for Morsan Farms. "She’s extreme dairy with lots of frame to her. What really got us interested, though, was that she came from such a great cow family."
Missy put together a string of impressive show wins in 2008, including being named first Junior Two-Year-Old at World Dairy Expo. She repeated her success the next year, capturing top honors in the Junior Three-Year-Old class at Expo. She was also named Reserve Intermediate Champion at the 2009 World Dairy Expo and All-American Junior Three-Year-Old.
To get Missy in prime condition for a run at a World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion title, her ownership team decided to take a year off from the Showring during 2010. "We wanted her to calve in the spring of 2011 so that she would have plenty of time to get ready for Expo," Parry says.
"Also, because of the large monetary investment that had been made, we needed her to generate some progeny and pay a few bills."
After Missy calved in April 2011, the spring and summer went along without a hitch. "She just continued to milk and develop," Parry says. "She did everything the way we wanted her to do it."
While the owners were happy with Missy’s progress as Expo week approached, Parry admits there was some apprehension. "We knew she was a contender, but the nerves were definitely there," he says. "There are just so many other high-quality cows at Expo. You never really know how things are going to turn out once you get into the Showring. It all comes down to taking care of the details."
|The partners in the syndicate that owns Missy celebrated her win as Supreme Champion at last year’s Expo. Less than two months later, Missy went on to be named Grand Champion and Supreme Champion at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
Missy’s high profile in dairy breeding circles, created by her 2009 selling price, added to the pressure. "The year before [Missy’s Supreme Champion win], we had the Reserve Supreme Champion at Expo (Blondin Redman Seisme, a Red & White Holstein), but we didn’t feel a lot of pressure heading into that show. She was an unknown cow for the most part, so nobody really expected her to do so well. It was entirely different with Missy."
"Unbelievable" and "thrilled" are the words Parry uses to describe his immediate reaction when Missy was named Supreme Champion on Saturday night of Expo week.
"None of us had ever experienced anything like this," he says. "For the partners in the syndicate, it showed that the choice they made to invest in this cow had been the right one. For Morsan Farms, it was great to see a payback for the time and effort we had been putting into our breeding program for the past decade or so."
Missy’s 2011 accomplishments didn’t end with the Supreme Champion title at Expo. Less than two months later, she captured Grand Champion and Supreme Champion honors at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
"I guess you could say that she had a pretty good year," Parry quips.
Missy’s ownership team decided to give her another year off from the Showring this year. Parry says the current game plan is to bring her back to Expo again in 2013.