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Race to Indy 2013 was the theme of the National Holstein Association Convention, July 7-11, at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indiana. Race cars, photos and memorabilia could be found throughout the entire convention. <br />

Race to Indy 2013 was the theme of the National Holstein Association Convention, July 7-11, at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indiana. Race cars, photos and memorabilia could be found throughout the entire convention.

Ryans awarded national Holstein honors

July 18, 2013 | 0 comments

Race to Indy 2013 was the theme of the National Holstein Association Convention, July 7-11, at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indiana. Race cars, photos and memorabilia could be found throughout the entire convention.


For Chad and Amy Ryan of Fond du Lac, being named the Distinguished Young Holstein Breeders at the Wisconsin Holstein Convention in February and having the opportunity to represent Wisconsin on the national level was truly an honor and a dream come true.

It was even more exciting when they learned they had earned that same honor during the National Holstein Association Annual Convention, July 7-11 at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indiana.

They joined the ranks of several other Wisconsin breeders who have received that same award in years past including Mark and Angie Ulness, Valders, in 2008; Bruce and Brenda Long, New London, in 2006-07; Andy and Lynnette Buttles, Lancaster, in 2004; Scott Pralle and Pamela-Selz-Pralle, Humbird in 2000; Gary and Rose Boyke, Fond du Lac, in 1993 and Elmo Wendorf, Jr., Ixonia, in 1991.

In accepting the award, Chad commented, "This is something you don’t do by yourself." He then introduced his mom, Mary, who attended the convention, and thanked his dad, Mark, who stayed home to take care of the day-to-day responsibilities on their family’s farm. "They are two of the hardest-working people I know. They are a true inspiration to Amy and I."

He also added he has the privilege of working with his best friend, Amy, side by side, every day. Amy thanked her family, Carl and Ruth Hagenow of Reedsville and the late Kathryn Hagenow for all their support and mentioned it was a humbling experience to earn this award.

The Ryan-Vu herd dates back to 1975 when Chad’s parents, Mark and Mary, purchased the farm just south of Fond du Lac. At that time, the herd consisted of all grade animals. About five years later, they purchased their first registered Holstein under the Ryan-Vu prefix.

Today the herd of 95 Registered Holstein cows carries a BAA of 111.9, ranking them second in the nation for herds with 76-100 cows. This includes 45 Excellent cows, 42 scored Very Good and three Good Plus.

Their 2x Rolling Herd Average sits at 23,863 pounds of milk, with 892 pounds of fat and 718 pounds of protein.

The farm has received Progressive Breeders Registry honors three years, have five cows who have earned Gold Medal Dam honors, and three Dams of Merit. They have sent nine bulls into A.I. through the years.

This year’s Distinguished Young Holstein Breeders have worked to build on this dairy farming legacy established by their parents, and are using Registered Holsteins to secure their own place in the industry.

Started at a young age

Chad himself became involved in the herd at a very young age. He applied for the Fond du Lac County Herd Builder Award in 1985, a program that offered junior Holstein members $500 to purchase an animal; this interest-free money was then paid back once the animal calved.

Chad used those funds acquired from the award to invest in his first registered Holstein calf from a neighbor. When this young entrepreneur was just nine-years-old, he secured his first loan to purchase two more calves in sales.

He continued to build his herd this way by exchanging labor on the farm for feed and a small allowance, to help pay back the bank loan. In addition, money earned from bull calves was also saved and reinvested in cattle.

Amy also grew up on a Registered Holstein farm as well, known as Chris-Carl Farms, which dispersed in 2001.

Both Chad and Amy were actively involved in Junior Holstein activities growing up, a passion which eventually brought them together. Interestingly, they both received the highest honor from the Wisconsin Holstein Association – the Outstanding Boy and Girl award, at the culmination of their junior careers.

Shortly after graduation from high school and while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, Chad began his career as a cattle fitter.

As a cattle fitter, he took advantage of the opportunity to invest in genetics, while observing how other dairy producers managed and developed their herds.

In addition, the Ryans purchased cattle both in sales and privately, some with partners, that has helped them build the Ryan-Vu herd to what it has become today.

Chad and Amy’s philosophy has always been to invest in solid-pedigreed individuals with unique bloodlines that allow them to market genetics.

The couple believes that working with strong cow families on both the maternal and paternal sides of a pedigree is key to developing a long-lasting, productive herd of cows.

With that principle in mind, they have invested in some of the breed’s greatest cow families. In addition to careful buys, they use embryo transfer and IVF extensively to more rapidly grow their herd.

To date, the Ryan family is home to 10 cows that have produced over 200,000 pounds lifetime milk, with one achieving over 423,000 pounds as a 15-year-old. They have earned numerous All-American and Junior All-American nominations.

Giving back to the industry

They both agree getting involved is a great way to give back to the dairy industry what the industry has afforded them. Both were actively involved in 4-H, FFA and the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association, and they now have continued to volunteer on the adult level.

The couple continues to take part in numerous county, state and national activities such as the Fond du Lac County Holstein Association, where Chad served two three-year terms on the board of directors, residing as president and vice-president during that time.

The couple also served on the State Holstein Convention Executive planning committee when Fond du Lac County hosted the convention in 2007, with Amy serving as secretary of the committee.

In addition, they were actively involved in the planning of the 2011 Wisconsin Championship Show, also hosted by Fond du Lac County.

On the state level, the national award winners have both attended the Wisconsin Holstein Association (WHA) Adult Conventions since their graduation from the junior association.

Chad was elected to the WHA Board in 2010 and currently serves as the Midwest National Spring Show co-chair, Scholarship Committee co-chair and is member of the Sales and Merchandising Committee.

In addition, Chad has represented Wisconsin as a Delegate to the National Holstein Convention six times and was on the National Show Committee from 2007-09.

They both have assisted with coaching the Fond du Lac County 4-H Dairy Judging team, with Amy taking a step back when their children, Dylan, 5, and Cameron, 4, were born.

Both the junior and senior teams have competed successfully, with the highlight coming back in 2011 when the senior team won the state 4-H Contest, earning them the right to compete at the National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest at World Dairy Expo, where they finished an impressive third, just four points behind the winning team. This top-three finish allowed them to compete in an International Judging Contest in Scotland. "Being involved in all these activities and organizations has helped us develop a new appreciation for the industry and the hard-working people who are making a difference," they stated.

They continued, "Our involvement on the county and national levels has helped us meet new people and learn valuable skills that will help us be good leaders and volunteers in the dairy world and the community."

Chad noted both of them grew up with Registered Holsteins so their impact on them and their lives has been an incredible experience.

He explained they both share a passion for the dairy cow and primarily showing and breeding outstanding individuals. This passion brought them together during their showing days at the Wisconsin Junior State Fair and still unites them today.

Chad concluded, "As our sons grow up, we always see Registered Holsteins playing a large role in our future as we look forward to guiding them and offering them the same opportunities this industry has brought us."

Their strong work ethic, focused breeding program and selfless dedication to the industry they love has allowed them to achieve impressive results, and lays a solid foundation for their future.

Other Convention highlights

Two other prestigious awards were presented during the convention banquet Thursday evening.

The Distinguished Leadership Award went to Horace Backus, Mexico, NY and the Elite Breeder Award to Robert Miller, Orangeville, IL.

The National Convention Sale Wednesday evening averages $9,847 on nearly 100 lots,

The top seller for the evening was Lot 1, for $70,000, featuring a choice of two Shamrocks, one carrying a +2476 GTPI and the other +2555GTPI, the highest genomically tested cows ever offered at public auction.

They were consigned by Select Sires of Plain City, OH and are the daughters of Seagull Shot Mindy.

In addition, Corey Geiger of Fort Atkinson, WI, was elected an at-large director on the National Board.

The newly elected president is Glen E. Brown, UT and vice president, Gordie Cook, MA. Other directors elected were: Region 1 - Peter B. Waterman, ME; Region 4 - Gayle Carson, TN; and Region 6 - Mark Kerndt, IA.

Iowa will be hosting the 2014 National Holstein Convention.

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