As Marathon County hosted the Wisconsin Holstein Association (WHA) Convention, Feb. 22-23, committee member Brian Fust quipped, "I thought I knew everything that was going on at this convention, but I guess not."
That was his reaction when he and his wife, Wendy, were recognized as the Distinguished Breeders during the Association’s Annual Banquet, held at Stoney Creek Inn, Wausau.
Eyes filled with tears, Brian stressed family and friends are very important to us - he was proud that his mom, Darlene, was at the banquet, and mentioned his dad, Roger had passed away about 1 1/2 years ago, noting he was a mentor and sounding board for him.
He proudly turned to his wife and stated that his better half works side by side with him on a daily basis.
In making the presentation, long-time friend and Marathon County Holstein breeder Dan Cnossen stated, "I can think of no one else more deserving of this award...this award goes to a team, they built their farm together and tonight are surrounded by family and friends."
Cnossen added, "The Fusts are very humble people and passionate about the Holstein cow."
The Fusts were married in 1976 and started with 30 young registered cows. They continued to invest in their herd, purchasing animals with the right pedigrees - combining type and production with popular bulls.
To date, the Fusts have earned 21 consecutive Progressive Genetic Awards, and have bred 33 Excellent cows, 42 Dams of Merit, 15 Gold Medal Dams and five Gold Medal Sires.
The Fustead prefix is recognized around the world for the many bulls proven in the AI industry.
In fact, during the WHA Convention, Fustead Emory BLITZ-ET, a bull bred by Fusts, was named to the Association’s Wall of Fame. Blitz produced and sold nearly 1,600,000 units of semen, making him the number one bull of all-time for sales and production for Select Sires. This milestone is achieved by very few sires.
In addition, they also took an interest in helping develop the Wall of Fame Cow - Nectarlin Billie Bob Mark.
Brian and Wendy’s son, Brad, showed a keen interest in the showing end of the dairy cattle business so they purchased an Eland daughter, Seefeldt-Acres Eland Emma, from their neighbors, the Seefeldts, who grew into an Excellent cow.
Emma was flushed to Durham and out of that flush emerged Fustead Durham Evelyn EX-93. As a junior 2-year-old, Evelyn was ready for the tanbark trail when tragedy struck and Brad was killed in a car accident.
To honor Brad’s memory, the following year, in 2009, the Fusts took Evelyn to Expo, where she stood sixth in the junior 3-year-old class and was the winning bred-and-owned entry. Later that year, she was nominated All-American junior 3-year-old.
The family has established the Bradley Fust Memorial Scholarship Fund to help other juniors succeed in following their dreams.
During this year’s Wisconsin Convention Futures Sale, held Friday evening in conjunction with the WHA Annual Meeting, the Fusts donated a first choice Guthrie female out of Evelyn. The proceeds from this lot benefit the Bradley Fust Memorial Scholarship Fund. The lot sold for $3,500.
In addition, immediately following the Annual Banquet Saturday Evening, a live auction netted over $16,000, with proceeds split between the Bradley Fust Memorial Scholarship Fund and the WHA Scholarship Fund.
Brian and Wendy’s son, Tyler, works full-time on the farm, and their daughter Jennifer can be found milking almost every night. Both Tyler and Jennifer are married. Another daughter, Nicole, will be coming home this summer to be married.
The Fusts are actively involved in their community. In addition to helping coordinate this year’s WHA Convention, Brian is currently serving as their county Holstein president and both are supporters and members of the New Hope Community Church.
Distinguished Younger Breeder Award
In making the presentation for the Distinguished Younger Breeder Award, Craig Carncross said of this year’s recipient, "This will be one of many awards to come for this young couple as they continue to carve their business in the Holstein industry."
The 2013 Distinguished Younger Breeder Award went to Chad and Amy Ryan of Ryan-Vu Holsteins, Fond du Lac.
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 100 registered cows carries a BAA of 111.9, ranking them second in the nation for their herd size.
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.
Shortly after graduation from high school and while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course, Ryan 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.
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 and have placed a number of bulls into AI organizations.
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.
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.
In accepting the award, Chad commented, "This is something you don’t do by yourself." He then introduced his mom and dad, Mark and Mary, adding, "They are two of the hardest-working people I know. They are a true inspiration to Amy and I."
He added he has the privilege of working with his best friend, Amy, side by side, every day. He also thanked everyone in the room, saying it was an honor to call you all friends and so many have been mentors.
Distinguished Service Award
Presenter Ray Kuehl, Waunakee, tried to keep the crowd in suspense as he began introducing the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. The award, established in 1981, is awarded to an individual behind the dairy industry who offers their talents as a volunteer to the Wisconsin Holstein Association (WHA).
Kuehl said this year’s award winner has been very involved in the Wisconsin Holstein Association, serving as a District Show Chairperson for a number of years, committee member for the Spring Holstein Show and Holstein Futurity, and a National Holstein Convention delegate.
She also served on the committee when Milwaukee hosted the National Holstein Convention.
In addition, this year’s recipient has chaperoned at the Wisconsin Junior State Fair, Junior Holstein Conventions and National FFA Convention.
She is a World Dairy Expo volunteer, and previously served as a board member and president for the Rock County Holstein Association.
The 2013 Distinguished Service Award winner, Barb Kayser, broke the mold and paved the way for other women as she became the first woman elected to the WHA board.
She was a former Wisconsin Farm Wife of the Year and she and her husband, Alvin were named AMPI’s Outstanding Young Couple three times. As a Purebred Dairy Cattle Association certified judge, Kayser can be found in the show ring putting her knowledge and skills to work judging shows throughout the state.
Her pride and joy is her family and the herd she and Alvin developed in Janesville. Kayser Holsteins was the home of the 1975 All-American 4-year-old, Dunco Kayser Happy Barbara, EX-94 3E DOM.
After over 50 years in the Holstein business, the Kaysers had a dispersal in November of 2003.
Their children include Cindy and her husband David Cooper , Diane and her husband Greg Kudrna, Dale Kayser, and the late Dwayne Kayser.
Upon accepting her award Barb commented, "I enjoy working with kids and cattle and I don’t intend to stop getting involved."