From the time I was eight years old and attending National Holstein Conventions, the cheers of “O-H-I-O” could be heard at the Junior dances. These “Buckeyes” were certainly passionate about their home state and the dairy industry that they were a part of. The conversations with my fellow Juniors provided insight into the Ohio dairy industry, and of course Ohio State football was brought into the conversation (They are faithful fans to say the least)! With over 3,200 dairy farms and 272,000 cows in the state, these were just a sampling of the enthusiastic Juniors that represent Ohio’s dairy industry.
Currently ranked as #11 in the country for milk production, Ohio produced over 4,560 million pounds of milk last year. It is also noteworthy to consider that over 99% of the dairy farms are family owned, and average herd size is around 83 cows. The number of cows has continued to increase in recent years however, the number of farms have declined much like the national trend. The farms that remain though strive to produce farm fresh milk on a daily basis and help to contribute to the dairy product value chain. Also, many of the elite cattle that grace the tanbark at the Spring and Fall shows hail from the great state of Ohio.
One such herd that has been making headlines in recent years is Springhill Dairy located in Big Prairie, Ohio. The herd is home to show-winning Brown Swiss, Guernsey, and Holstein cattle, with one such standout being Dix Lee Tiller Joke EX-93. Joke has been at the top of her class in recent years and was named Grand Champion of the National Guernsey Show in Louisville, KY in 2009. The herd recently dispersed in December of last year, with over 230 quality lots selling. Cattle still remain at Springhill Dairy, with an emphasis towards high-end genetics and type. We will undoubtedly see cattle from Springhill in the show ring this Fall and being competitive in their respective classes.
Starmark Farm, located in Wooster, Ohio, is also another herd that has found success in the show ring and in selling top-quality cattle to breeders. Starmark is a partnership between the Laney and Davis families who share a similar passion for cattle and have the “show fever.” The farm is mainly comprised of Holstein and Red & White cattle, but also has elite Ayrshire and Brown Swiss. They have bred and owned many All Americans and continue to turn heads at the shows with the entries that they exhibit. Starmark Farm Hope Floats (Ayrshire-now owned by Chupps Farm) and North Lanes Jetway Corina (Brown Swiss) are just two standouts of the Starmark herd.
A thriving program in the state that many farmers utilize is the Extension Program that is part of The Ohio State University. The Extension Program has been in existence for over 100 years and has continued to evolve into the successful program that it is today. With research materials available, as well as the assistance of Extension Educators, there are great outreach opportunities that farmers can utilize and implement on their farms. The program also helps to publish the “Buckeye Dairy News,” which is published bi-monthly and contains the latest news on happenings in the dairy industry. With industry support available through Extension, and the number of quality cattle residing in the state, the youth of Ohio certainly have reason to shout “O-H-I-O” loud and proud for all to hear!