She came into her own to capture the 2013 Supreme Champion title.
Ask cattle breeder Tyler Doiron, of Ty-D Holsteins in Cap-Sante, Quebec, what it takes to capture the most coveted title in dairy cattle show circles, and he’ll likely come back with a quick and immediate response.
"You have to be patient; it’s as simple as that," says Doiron, co-owner of Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn, the six-year-old Holstein cow who captured the Supreme Champion title at World Dairy Expo in 2013. "If you’re not patient in this business, you won’t go anywhere."
Doiron and his wife, Ysabel Jacobs of Ferme Jacobs, decided to become part of Maya’s ownership team (which also includes Drolet & Fils and A. & R. Boulet Inc.) after seeing her as a two-year-old at a cattle show about an hour’s drive from home.
"There was just something special about her," Doiron says of Maya, who is out of Bonnaccueil Maya Thunder and sired by Braedale Goldwyn. "She was so balanced with length and dairy strength. She looked the way a two-year-old should look. To us, she looked like she had everything she needed to be one of the great ones."
It took some time for Maya to truly come into her own. When her new owners took her to Madison for the first time a few months after purchasing her, she came in 19th in the two-year-old class. Although disappointed, the ownership team wasn’t about to let that finish shake their belief in Maya’s potential.
Doiron gives special credit to Ysabel and her brother, Yan, for persevering with Maya, who is housed at Ferme Jacobs. "They balanced all the day-to-day management, stayed on top of the feeding program and did what needed to be done to keep her healthy and developing. When it comes to show cows, they’re extremely patient people," he says.
"It must be what Olympic athletes feel when they step up onto the podium to receive a gold medal," says Tyler Doiron, of Maya's win.
The patience began to pay off in the showring in 2012. Maya racked up a string of impressive accomplishments including 2012 reserve All-Canadian five-year-old, reserve grand champion of Quebec’s Three Rivers Expo Show, second place five-year-old at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, third place five-year-old at the 2012 Quebec International Fall Show and fifth place in the five-year-old class at Expo.
Decision to return
"When we decided to bring her back to Expo in 2013, our feeling was that this was going to be the year for her or it was not going to happen," Doiron says.
He describes the summer leading up to Expo as uneventful. "After Maya freshened in early June, she just did everything right from that point on. She milked well (producing around 33,000 lb., calculated on a 305-day average). She ate well and she stayed healthy."
Maya arrived in Madison on the Thursday before Expo, a 27-hour trip from Quebec. "Some show cows will lose their appetite when they get to a show, but not Maya," Doiron says. "She just handles everything that comes her way and keeps right on eating. She’s always been a great cow to work with that way."
The management team responsible for getting her ready for the show, led by Ysabel and Sam Drolet of Drolet and Fils, also stayed on an even keel throughout the week at Expo.
"We were hopeful about doing well and felt like Maya looked the best she had ever looked," Doiron says. "But we didn’t feel a lot of pressure, probably because she really wasn’t expected to win. We were in a position where we felt like we didn’t have anything to lose but everything to win."
When it was time to enter the Coliseum for the International Holstein Show on Saturday morning, Doiron admitted that he was feeling a bit nervous.
"That’s to be expected whenever you’re at a major show," he says.
"This is a cow with great dairy strength, a tremendous udder and overall style and balance," said Judge Justin Burdette, after selecting Maya as Grand Champion in 2013.
In commenting on his selection of Maya, an Excellent 95-point cow, as Grand Champion of the International Holstein Show, Judge Burdette noted some of the characteristics that had drawn Doiron and his partners to the cow four years ago. "This is a cow with great dairy strength, a tremendous udder and overall style and balance," he said.
As the day progressed, though, he started to get a feeling that Maya was about to accomplish something very special. Along with winning the six-year-old and older cow class, Maya also was named Senior Champion and Champion Bred and Owned. "The day just kept getting better and better as it went along."
By the time Doiron stepped back into the Showring with Maya for the Expo Parade of Champions Saturday afternoon, the jitters had vanished.
"It was just unbelievable. I don’t know how else to describe such a special moment. It was the moment of a lifetime," he says. "We had worked so hard to make it happen. It must be what Olympic athletes feel when they step up onto the podium to receive a gold medal."
Later, when Judge Justin Burdette tapped him on the shoulder and offered his hand in congratulations, Doiron was overwhelmed.
The win in Madison has brought plenty of attention to Maya and the respective farms involved in her ownership team. "We’ve had so many international visitors," Doiron says. "So many people want to get a firsthand look at this very special cow and her herdmates."
Maya won’t be back to defend her title at Expo in 2014. "We were considering it, but we weren’t able to get her bred back in time to get her ready for this year’s show," Doiron says. "But that’s fine. We need her to make some babies and start paying some bills. But if she stays healthy, there’s a very good chance she’ll be coming back next year."