“Breeding good cows in many colors” – that’s the slogan of Hi View Farm of Orangeville, Illinois, and the Dinderman family works hard to uphold that standard. Brian and Kristi Dinderman own and operate the herd of 80 cows and 80 young stock, divided among three breeds – Ayrshire, Guernsey and Holstein. The Dindermans, along with their three children – Alaina, 10, and twins Amery and Aidan, 8, are the sole employees on the farm.
Like many multi-breed farms, Hi View Farm began as a merger between Kristi’s family’s Ayrshire and Holstein herd and Brian’s family’s Guernsey herd. In 2002, Brian and Kristi began dating after meeting at a county fair, and they were married in 2004. Brian’s Guernseys joined the Ayrshire herd after their marriage, and the Dindermans became partners with Kristi’s parents in 2005. In 2007, the year Alaina was born, the Dindermans bought the farm from Kristi’s parents. “We couldn’t have asked for the transition to go any better,” says Kristi. Although her parents had moved into town and were no longer financially involved, they still routinely helped out around the farm, especially through the birth of the twins in 2008. Kristi has some good advice for making a family transition as smooth as theirs: “Bring in a financial planner or someone similar that can help come up with a plan that both parties agree to. Then, set a timeline and stick to it.” An outside mediator can prevent the process from becoming too emotional or personal, Brian advises. “It takes respect and open minds from both sides for the plan to go well.”
Currently, there are approximately 30 Holsteins, 30 Ayrshires and 11 Guernseys in the milking herd. The cows are milked in a tie stall barn, although the Dindermans like to utilize their free stalls as well as pasture as much as possible for housing. In the barn, the cows are fed grain and hay, and outside they are fed corn silage and haylage. The current RHA for the Guernsey herd is 19,485M 4.5% 857F 3.4% 663P and they are milking three Excellent Guernseys. Their SCC for 2016 was 68,000 on the whole herd. Although Brian and Kristi handle most of the daily duties of the farm, they give credit to their children for feeding calves in the evenings and pitching in on weekends, as well as their siblings for helping when in need.
The Tanbark Trail is an important aspect of Hi View Farm. Brian and Kristi met by showing at multiple county fairs as juniors. In fact, their first date in 2002 was after exhibiting at the same county fair. Brian says he didn’t think it was a date; he was just hungry so he agreed to go! The prefix Hi Guern View is no stranger to Guernsey breeders who’ve attended the World Dairy Expo in the past several years. In 2016, Hi Guern View Dancing Diva-ET EX-94 was the winner of the Four-Year-Old class at Expo and later claimed Reserve All-American honors for the year. Diva has also accomplished many more titles in previous years, along with full sister Hi Guern View Dancers Delite-ET EX-91. Both are daughters of Adams Creek Regal Dancer EX-92, who also has multiple All-American titles to her name.
Besides World Dairy Expo, the Dindermans also enjoy exhibiting at their local Stephenson County Fair and the Illinois State Fair. In 2015, they took their first string to the North American in Louisville, and came away with the Grand Champion Ayrshire title with Hi Ayr View Budette Andie! They hope to continue showing there in the future. To prepare for the show season, heifers are separated to be fed a special diet, and cows are taken off silage for national shows.
Now that the Dindermans’ children are entering 4-H, showing has truly become a family affair. Despite many successes on the national level, Brian and Kristi name the “shining moment” of their show season when son Aidan, who has cerebral palsy, was able to exhibit an Ayrshire calf at the county fair for the first time. With his parents’ guidance and a lot of hard work, Aidan was able to pull off first prize with his short-aged calf, much to the crowd’s excitement. And, much to Aidan’s excitement, the local TV station was there to cover it!
It’s no wonder that the Dindermans’ breeding program emphasizes type and good cow families, considering their success in the show ring. However, they do have one strict philosophy, which Brian notes: “We have never bred for a great show heifer, we breed for great cows,” she says. “Many of our best show cows were never shown as heifers.” For their Guernsey mating decisions, type and cow families, as well as strength and an increased emphasis on health traits, guide them. Balance is important to the Dindermans as well. “With both breeds we want a cow that can compete in the show ring but also is profitable in production,” says Kristi. Some bulls they are currently using include Boman, Copper, Novak, Titan, Bucky, Aarons Levi and Bo.
Brian and Kristi also utilize embryo transfer and in vitro fertilization on their top genetics. Diva, as well as her Levi daughter Hi Guern View Diva Designer, were their most recent Guernsey donor dams. Designer is due with her first calf this spring.
The Dindermans are proud to market animals of all breeds privately and through auctions. They frequently consign Guernseys to the convention sales and Upper Midwest sale, as well as the Junior Champion of the Kentucky National Spring Sale & Show last year. In addition, they have sold many Ayrshires who have gone on to do well for new owners, including a Reserve Junior All-American. The RHA for the Ayrshires is 20,153M 3.9%F and the Holsteins’ is 26,071M 3.7%F. They are milking 12 Excellent Ayrshires and 9 Excellent Holsteins, with a Holstein BAA of 108.1.
As if operating an 80-cow dairy and raising three children isn’t enough, both Brian and Kristi are very active off the farm in various roles. Both teach a class at the local Highland Community College – Brian teaches the AI class and Kristi teaches Dairy Evaluation and coaches the judging team, who took home first place in Ayrshires at Louisville under her expertise. “Working with dairy youth is something we both enjoy,” said Kristi and Brian. “We have had some great mentors and coaches and just try to give back.” Brian is also a board member for the American Guernsey Association, an Illinois Guernsey director and sits on the county Holstein Board and Farm Bureau board. Kristi is an Orangeville FFA alumnus and is on their church’s board of directors.
When asked about balancing their busy lives, Kristi says, “It is difficult! We try to make weekends family time.” She also recommends having a good support group of family and friends. This was especially crucial in December 2008, when the twins were born, and the Dindermans spent six months travelling back and forth to the NICU an hour away. Kristi’s mom began milking full time and siblings and friends stepped in to ensure chores were done and Brian and Kristi could spend ample time with their newborns.
Between Guernseys and Ayrshires, kids and the farm, teaching careers and community leadership, the Dindermans are certainly used to being pulled in many directions. However, with family teamwork and a commitment to their breeding program, they have enjoyed many successes. Under their direction, the Hi View prefix is sure to be a familiar one for years to come.