Canadian Holstein captures top honors at 2012 World Dairy Expo
RF Goldwyn Hailey went on a winning streak in 2012. On Oct. 6 at World Dairy Expo, this six-year-old cow piled up an impressive string of honors in the 2012 International Holstein Show.
Along with capturing first place in her Six-Year-Old & Older Cow class, she earned Senior Champion and Grand Champion titles. At the end of the day, she was named Expo’s Supreme Champion.
A little less than a month later, Hailey notched the Grand Champion title at the Quebec International Fall Show in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec (Nov. 3). Then, for an encore, she brought home Grand Champion and Supreme Champion honors from the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto (Nov. 9).
"It was a pretty exciting time for us all the way around—the kind of year you dream about," says Mario Comtois, Hailey’s owner and owner/manager of Gen-Com Holstein Ltd. in Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil, Quebec. Founded in 2009, Gen-Com specializes in Holstein breeding and working with heifers, cows and embryos with high genetic potential.
The feeling of winning at Expo was just unbelievable," says Mark Comtois, Hailey’s owner.
Comtois purchased Hailey as a four-year-old at a Cowtown Holsteins sale in Derby, Vt., in July of 2010. Bred by R&F Livestock and Chilliwack Cattle Co., of Warman, Saskatchewan, she is out of Mellholm Louie Hanah (the Honorable Mention All-Canadian Senior Two-Year-Old in 2005) and sired by Braedale Goldwyn.
At the Cowtown sale, Comtois, in partnership with Jeff Butler, had already purchased another high-profile cow, Idee Goldwyn Lynley. But when Hailey entered the sale ring just a few minutes later, Comtois knew that he had to buy her, as well.
"She was so feminine yet powerful," he recalls. "She had so much dairy character, excellent udder texture, a young face, strong body and fancy legs. Her style was just fantastic. She was born to be a winner."
Comtois ended up paying $100,000 for Hailey. "It might sound funny to some people, but what really sold me on her were those big eyes," he says. "She looked so healthy, so alert. There was just something special there. I told myself, ‘If I can buy that cow, I will be a very lucky man.’"
Several months later, when Comtois brought Hailey to Expo for the first time, he started to question his luck. Two days after arriving at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Hailey became seriously ill and was rushed to the Veterinary Medicine Hospital at the University of Wisconsin.
Over the next two days, she underwent two operations for an intestinal blockage. "It was a very stressful time," Comtois says. "I can’t even begin to explain how concerned I was when she got sick and how relieved I was when she came through alright."
Despite the scare and the disappointment he felt, several good things came out of the 2010 show for Gen-Com. Five cows that Gen-Com brought to Expo, along with Hailey, were nominated as All-Americans. Best of all, while recovering from the surgeries in Madison, Hailey remained pregnant.
After calving the third time in June 2011, Hailey finally had the chance to strut her stuff on the international stage.
She was named Reserve Grand Champion and Best Udder of Show at the 2011 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and Reserve All-Canadian and Reserve All-American Five-Year-Old for 2011.
At the 2011 International Holstein Show at Expo, she placed third in her class. At the Quebec International Fall Show that same year, Hailey placed first in the Five-Year-Old Cow class and second at the Quebec Expo.
In the months leading up to Expo 2012, Comtois started to get "a strong feeling" that good things were in store for Hailey.
"You could just tell that she was feeling comfortable," he says. "After she calved in June, she got back into form very quickly."
As much as anything else, Hailey’s appetite signaled to Comtois that she was approaching peak. "She is a very nice cow to work with overall," he says. "But when it’s meal time, she is very aggressive. After she eats, she calms right down. At one show last summer, we even had to bring in some lower quality hay to keep her from eating too much."
Comtois is quick to point out it’s those eating habits that make Hailey more than just a pretty face in the Showring. During her third 305-day lactation as a five-year-old, she produced 39,172 lb. of milk with 3.8% fat and 3% protein.
Hailey, the first and youngest Goldwyn daughter to be scored Excellent-97-2E as a five-year-old, was in top form when she arrived at Expo in 2012.
"So many people loved this cow," Comtois says. "They kept coming up to me in the barn and telling me that she was the Expo favorite, the cow to beat. I felt the pressure building. I was nervous and having a few doubts. Expectations will do that to you."
On Saturday night, when the announcement was made that Hailey was Expo’s Supreme Champion, a flood of memories rushed through Comtois’ mind.
"It’s a moment I’ll never forget. In the span of a few seconds, I found myself thinking about my family and friends—how supportive they had been, about all the hard work that went into achieving this, about what the future might bring and about that scare we had in 2010 when she got sick," he says.
"The feeling of winning at Expo was just unbelievable. I thought I was going to fall over on the ground. It really took a day or so for me to realize what all of this meant."
Hailey was the first and youngest Goldwyn daughter to be scored Excellent-97-2E as a five-year-old. "