From the May Guernsey Breeders' Journal
New York Guernsey Breeders have scheduled an array of tours and activities that virtually everyone will find something to pique their interest! Two tours to choose from are offered prior to the official convention start on Tuesday.
Guernsey Pre-Convention Tours
Tour A - Ripleys –Ripley Farms is a seven-generation family farm established in 1892 by Roland Ripley’s great-great-grandfather. The first Guernsey arrived on the farm in 1945. Ripley Farms has been home to many great Guernseys since that day.
Ripley Farms currently employs, and supports, three generations of Ripleys with the day-to-day operations being overseen by Tom and Dan Ripley. Tom’s sons, Seth and Kyle, work on the farm full-time and Dan’s son Daniel works part-time while in high school with plans to return to the farm after college. Roland is still very active on the farm from April through November. All of the wives are vital to the operation as well working both on the farm and in the processing plant. Family is very important to the Ripleys and you can frequently find Roland and Patty, all five children and up to four generations at Guernsey shows throughout the year.
The farm currently milks 500 cows, 190 of which are Guernseys, three times a day in a double-12 parallel parlor. The current Guernsey herd average is 19,800M 881F 642P. They work 1330 acres; 700 in corn and 630 in an alfalfa/grass mix. All young stock is raised on the farm. Calves are fed pasteurized waste milk and are housed in coverall barns. Heifers are then grouped according to age and moved through the series of heifer barns. All Holstein heifers are implanted with embryos before being bred by a Guernsey bull.
In the spring of 2016 the Ripley family purchased a milk processing plant. Milk is processed once a week under the name Hillcrest Dairy. They produce white and chocolate milk, five varieties of raw milk, cheese and butter. They are developing a label to market 100% A2 Guernsey milk and cheese. All the Guernseys in the herd have been DNA tested to confirm their A2 status and a second bulk tank was installed specifically for A2 Guernsey milk.
Tour B – Adirondack Regional Tour
Tour B begins Tuesday morning at Toolite Farm, owned and operated by Richard and Jason Tooley of Granville, New York. The farm is spread out over 500 scenic acres near the Vermont border, only about 150 of which are tillable. The Tooleys rent and lease additional land and raise all their own crops.
130 Holsteins and 20 Guernseys are milked in a double-5 parlor and housed in free stalls, with a few special cows in box stalls. The cows are fed a TMR in one group. Milk is shipped to DFA and the farm was under 100,000 SCC for 2016. The Holsteins average approximately 25,000M and the Guernseys 20,000M in 365 days. In March 2017, the entire herd averaged an impressive 4.3%F and 3.2%P.
Jason is the fourth generation on the current farm, and manages the cows entirely, while father Richard handles the crop work. They also employ one full time employee and three part-time employees. The cows of Digligle farm are also housed part of the year at Toolite Farm, and will be at the farm for the convention stop. Jason also owns several animals in partnership with Richard and Eloise Giddings.
There are many cows that convention goers can look forward to seeing at Toolite Farm, including Toolite Valeries M Valeska VG-87, a Mentor daughter who was the winning Junior Two-Year-Old at the Eastern States Expo in 2016. Valeska’s daughter, Toolite Mints Vivian, was the winning Fall Calf and Reserve Junior Champion of the New York Spring Show this year, and sells in the National Convention Sale! Another exciting cow of a different breed is Miss Roxys Recovery-Red EX-91, a Roxy descendant owned with Lucy Stockwell who has been part of the Tooleys’ flush program.
Following the Toolite Farm tour, a two-hour steamboat cruise will be taken along with lunch at the Lake George Steamboat Company on Lake George. Enjoy the cruise operated by one of the longest running steamboat companies in the U. S. On April 15, 1817 a company was incorporated by the New York State Legislature to operate commercial shipping on Lake George. The first Lake George steamboat, christened the James Caldwell, was launched in 1817.
Following the Civil War, through a series of transportation consolidations, the Steamboat Company became part of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad System, serving as a link in that company’s New York City to Canada operations. The D&H railroad owned and operated the Lake George passenger boats for 68 years. For more information visit the website: http://lakegeorgesteamboat.com/
The day will conclude with a visit to Fort William Henry. In 1755 Fort William Henry was constructed to command the southern end of Lake George. It was a British outpost to protect the colonies farther to the south and to serve as a launching site against the French held northern end of the lake protected by Fort Carillon. Its short history and violent end has been retold, although inaccurately, in James Fenimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans.” For more information visit the websites: http://www.fwhmuseum.com/.
Thursday is tour day during the convention and New York Guernsey breeders have provided an opportunity to see some of the areas finest dairy cattle in the Hudson Valley.
Coon Brothers Farm, LLC., is a family owned and operated farm is located in the beautiful Smithfield Valley. Coon Brothers , home of Smithfield Guernseys, is a family-run business with three generations currently working on the farm. Garrison and Dirck Coon founded Coon Brothers Farm, located in Amenia, New York, in the fall of 1953. Today the farm is owned by three generations of Coons. Partners include Dirck, with sons David and Peter, and the youngest partners include Amos and Isaac, both sons of Peter. David is married to Kim and they have two children, Caitlyn and Andrew, both attending college. Caitlyn attends Sage College of Albany, New York while Andrew is an Animal Science major at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Peter and his wife Alice have five grown children, Lisa, Teri, Isaac, Laura and Amos, and five grandchildren. Both Isaac and Amos are married and have two young children.
Coon Brothers is always working towards environmental stewardship, and has received honors in regards to it. The farm began as Smithfield Guernseys, but Coon Brothers is the farm and business as a whole. They currently manage over 2,200 acres, most of which is cropped for alfalfa hay to feed the cattle along with rye, corn and soybeans for grain. Ninety percent of the feed the cows eat are grown on the farm. Extra corn is harvested then sold to several local feed mills and a large chicken farm. Soybeans are marketed as a commodity leaving the New Jersey port for overseas destinations. Half of the land is actively protected from development. They milk more than 350 of their 700-head herd of Holsteins and Guernseys and ship almost 22,000 pounds of milk daily. The milk is bought locally through Hudson Valley Fresh and also through Cabot Cooperative in Vermont.
They often show their Guernseys at the Dutchess County Fair in New York State and at the Eastern States Exposition.
Following the trip to Coon Brothers, the tour heads south to world-renowned Arethusa Farm. The current Arethusa Farm was established in 1999 when George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis purchased the Litchfield, Connecticut, property with the intent of starting a dairy farm and bottling milk for sale to the local community. It was first established by the Webster family in 1868. The family had long since sold the property and over the years it had fallen into disrepair and was slated for development. With Malkemus and Yurgaitis’ purchase, however, new barns were built and old ones remodeled, and a new plan started to take shape. Along with the production side of the dairy, George and Tony became interested in the world of show cows. Arethusa’s overwhelming show success from the historic Supreme and Reserve Supreme Champions at the World Dairy Expo has led to major growth on the farm, including state of the art calf, heifer and milking facilities. Their genetics of their Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss cattle are exhibited at several national shows each year. The herd core principal is “Every cow in this barn is a lady, please treat her as such.” That care and philosophy is carried through to the product she provides as well.
“It was this exceptional milk that ultimately led us to build a small dairy plant in the historic Bantam firehouse; it seemed only fitting that we use a building steeped in history to create ‘milk like it used to taste.’ Following the dairy’s success, we opened the award-winning restaurant Arethusa al tavolo in 2014 and, more recently, the bakery ‘a mano.’ Finally, just when we thought we were done, the opportunity arose to add a second dairy store in downtown New Haven. As our family of businesses continues to grow, each new endeavor is driven by our desire to share the quality of Arethusa Farm with our friends and neighbors.” Excerpts are from the www.arethusafarm.com website.
The Guernsey youth or families who want to enjoy a day of thrills, chills and laughs have the option of visiting Six Flags Great Escape and Splash Water Kingdom. The Great Escape is home to over 135 rides, shows and attractions. From thrilling coasters to rides for the little ones, a waterpark, dining, shopping and more, it will be a day to experience and bond with other junior Guernsey enthusiasts!
Saratoga A Tour: Exploring Saratoga Horses - Enjoy Friday afternoon touring Saratoga’s National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, the Saratoga Racetrack and McMahon’s Thoroughbreds. In 1863, gambler, casino owner, ex-boxing champion and future congressman John Morrissey organized Saratoga's first Thoroughbred meet a month after the Battle of Gettysburg. Although Saratoga Race Course is considered the third oldest race track/course in the U.S., by many accounts, it is the oldest organized sporting venue of any kind in the country. McMahon’s Thoroughbreds is one of Saratoga’s most famous thoroughbred farms. Founded in 1971, the early 2000s put McMahon’s on the map with the racing world as the birthplace of race champion, Funny Cide.
Saratoga B Tour: Exploring Saratoga’s History - Visit the Saratoga Battlefield and Saratoga History Museum at Canfield Casino and explore the “Turning Point of the Revolution.” In 1777 during the American War for Independence, American troops battled and beat a British invasion force, marking the first time in world history that a British Army ever surrendered. This crucial victory secured essential foreign recognition and support, fomented world-wide wars, affirmed United States independence and changed the face of the world. Take a tour by bus and have a walk through the battlefield. The museum tells the story of Saratoga Springs history from the beginnings through modern day.
Friday morning Niche Marketing Panel
For those looking for niche marketing opportunities to drive income and enhance their current operations, a niche marketing panel will be held Friday morning. Dairy businesses whose niche marketing operations have become extremely successful will discuss their operations and provide their thoughts and philosophies to those attending the morning discussion. Panelists include Amanda Freud from CowPots which are a patented, environmentally friendly product that is made from nutrient-rich manure and exported to gardens. Also on the panel will be Jan King, a partner with his brother in King Brothers Dairy. They glass bottle milk to the local market from their nationally-known Holstein herd, Kings Ransom. The third panelist will be Kevin Ziemba, a Genetic and Reproductive Advisor for Select Sires but also a successful Holstein breeder and marketer of his family’s herd, Ziem-Barb Way. He will discuss how they market cattle with genomics and the future genomics can play in the Guernsey breed.