Reprinted with permission from Summer 2017 Milking Shorthorn Journal
By: Katie Henson
What do the names Tahoe, Snickerdoodle, Poppy, Fire Maid and Fireball have in common? They all have been under the expert care of Dale and Deanna Bendig of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and each garnered a Champion banner (or two) at National Shows.
Dale and Deanna own and operate Spungold Holsteins where they milk 65 cows in a flat parlor. The farm sits on 80 acres and houses every breed except Jerseys. The Bendigs board several elite animals for breeders across the country in their 60-stall free-stall barn along with a loose housing pack that holds 15 cows. “We do things with more hand labor,” said Dale about their older facilities.
The barn has only one box stall that is used for cows in heat so that they always have competition for food and are never alone. Currently, the barn has no cows scored below 82 points, with 10 being scored Excellent and 40 Very Good.
The cows are fed silage and hay, which is grown on the farm. The show cows will be taken off silage in July and fed only a hay and grain diet to prepare them for the fall shows.
Both Dale and Deanna are third-generation dairy farmers; Dale being raised with Guernseys in Maryland and Deanna with Holsteins in Pennsylvania. The couple each credits their parents for being important mentors throughout their lives and giving good, sound advice.
Dale’s father always told him to stand behind what he sold. Dale and Deanna have done just that, as they have sold many animals of all breeds to breeders across the country in public and private sales. Dale has been heading up and working on sale crews for over 20 years.
The couple have a knack for seeing the potential in animals and are always willing to help out the younger generation, whether through selling them a calf for 4-H, hosting a dairy judging practice or by having him or her help with their show string.
The Bendigs and their boarding clients exhibit at many local and state shows, as well as the All-American Dairy Show, World Dairy Expo, The Royal Winter Fair and NAILE. Don’t be surprised if you find their string with 25-40 animals.
|Fire Maid & Tango|
Dale, Deanna and their crews are known for their excellent care and preparation at every show they attend. The Bendigs are known for their welcoming and friendly personalities and having a relaxed atmosphere, and are a common stopping point for good conversation and a laugh. Dale said, “you get where you are by the people you surround yourself with.”
Hard Core Prem Fire Maid VG-88 and Peach Kist Total Tango VG-89, a Brown Swiss owned by Lindsey Rucks of Florida, are two of the current barn favorites. Dale and Deanna say they are easy cows to work with, “just as long as they can get along with each other!”
Fire Maid has been housed in Gettysburg since she was purchased in 2014 by Peter Vail (NY), Hillpoint Partners (WI) and Frank & Diane Borba (CA). Fire Maid was the Unanimous All-American Senior Two-Year-Old after being named Intermediate Champion at the Eastern and International Shows in 2016. Most recently, she was named Grand Champion at the New York Spring Show.
A family member of Fire Maid’s, HC-HP Red Rob Fireball ‘2E91,’ is also housed at Spungold and owned by Vail and Hillpoint. She’s a multiple-Nominated All-American cow and was named the second Five-Year-Old and Honorable Mention Senior Champion at the New York Spring Show in April. She was behind a granddaughter of Gold Mine Poppy’s OT Kay ‘2E95.’
Poppy made a name for herself at Spungold being the Reserve Grand Champion at the World Dairy Expo in 2005 and holding the milk record for the Milking Shorthorn breed with several records over 40,000M with a lifetime over 200,000M. Poppy has several offspring in the herd and others that have sold and done well for other breeders.
Dale and Deanna agree that their biggest accomplishment was breeding and owning the Grand Champion of the 2002 World Dairy Expo, Spungold Tahoe-Red EX-93. That same year, she was named the Futurity Supreme Champion. Tahoe anchored their show string for many years and has records over 30,000M.
Another red cow they were successful with was Meadovue Factor Saki 2E93. She had records over 40,000M and was Nominated All-American 125,000 Pound Cow in 2006. Her Redman daughter, Salsa 2E93, was sold in their 2012 sale to Roy Thompson and the late Jeremy McDonald, both regular members of their show strings.
Old Mill E Snickerdoodle ‘5E94’ and six-time Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo was always under the watchful eye of Dale and Deanna. Deanna and Snickerdoodle seemed to be a perfect pair in the show ring as the two always floated along the shavings and garnered banner after banner.
The farm does about 30 IVF flushes a year between their own cows and their boarding clients. Once their recips are confirmed pregnant, they will be sent back to their owners where they will calve them in. Some heifers make their way back to the farm for Dale and Deanna to spend that extra time with them and prepare them for the shows.
This past year at the 50th Celebration of World Dairy Expo, Dale and Deanna were honored to become part of an illustrious group of cattlemen by winning the Klussendorf- Mackenzie award. This is the first time a husband and wife have won the award together. The couple exemplifies the characteristics of the winners: having character, sportsmanship, ability and endeavor. Dale was also presented with the A.C. Whitey Thompson award at the 2014 World Dairy Expo.
Another mentor to Dale and Deanna has been Wayne Sliker, owner of Top Acres Brown Swiss and Modern Associates of Ohio. Dale has been on many of Wayne’s sale crews over the years. “Dale and Deanna are a fun couple totally dedicated to quality cattle care, both home and away, 365 days a year,” said Sliker.
While in Gettysburg this summer for the National Convention, be sure to give Dale and Deanna a call and set up a visit. They’ve got a barn of great cows, whatever color you might like!