Brown Swiss program helps kids purchase reg.animals

Jan Shepel
Grant Lahmers poses with one of his Brown Swiss heifers during the dairy show at the Coshocton County Fair. The program – which is open to youth from all dairy breeds as long as they reside in Wisconsin – aims to help young people interested in working with dairy cattle gain hands-on experience with high quality registered Brown Swiss.

Lake Mills — For the fifth consecutive year the Wisconsin Brown Swiss Association will make it possible for young people to get grants toward the purchase of a purebred Brown Swiss animal.
            The program, run by the state organization, was made possible by a bequest from Nelson McCammon, who asked the state’s Brown Swiss Association to find a way to make it possible for more young people to get involved with the breed he loved.
            The deadline for applications for the Nelson McCammon Youth Heifer Program is Feb. 1.  Winners will receive their grants at the Wisconsin Brown Swiss annual meeting March 4 in Fond du Lac.
The program – which is open to youth from all dairy breeds as long as they reside in Wisconsin – aims to help young people interested in working with dairy cattle gain hands-on experience with high quality registered Brown Swiss.
“By working with Brown Swiss in this manner, it is our hope that youth will learn to appreciate the many outstanding qualities and rewards the Brown Swiss breed offers,” states the mission statement of the program.
The committee intends the youth participant to carry the animal as a 4-H, FFA or breed-sponsored youth activity for two years and they want the animal to be shown at the local county fair or youth show. The young people are encouraged to exhibit the Brown Swiss cow or heifer at any local, state or national Brown Swiss show. If the animal chosen is a milking cow, it must be on DHIA testing.
At the end of the two years during which the grant recipient has developed their animal, they can either sell the animal, with 25 percent of the proceeds going back to the heifer committee’s fund, or they can submit a report stating their intention to continue developing the Brown Swiss animal in their herd.
 Norm Magnussen, a member of the heifer committee explained that the committee intends for this to be a two-year program with applicants being youth between the ages of nine and 19. Applicants may choose to purchase cows or heifers and must be residents of Wisconsin.
As part of the program they must become members of the Wisconsin Junior Brown Swiss Association and the National Junior Brown Swiss Associations. They are encouraged to participate in other dairy activities besides showing, like junior outings that help them learn about the dairy industry, he said.
Award recipients will receive a grant for half of the total purchase price of a registered Brown Swiss female -- up to $1,000. They will also get at least one adult and one junior member of the association to act as mentors as part of the program.
The registered Brown Swiss female for which the grant is used can be any age. So far nine Brown Swiss heifer calves have been purchased through the program.
Applications and project reports will be due to the McCammon Youth Heifer Program Committee by Feb. 1. They can be sent to Norm Magnussen, Box 146, Lake Mills, WI 53551.
Each year by Feb. 1, the earlier recipients provide the McCammon Youth Heifer Program committee with an annual report of what they have accomplished with their Brown Swiss female and of their personal growth in the Brown Swiss/dairy industry. They also should tell the committee what their plans are for their next year’s project.
Magnussen said there’s more information about this and other programs, including application forms, at the Wisconsin Brown Swiss Association website at

Generous benefactor

            The man who made this program possible, Nelson McCammon, was born in 1919 and died in 2012. He was raised on a diversified dairy farm in southwest Indiana and attended Purdue University. He earned a Bronze Star during his four years of service in the 38th Infantry Div. of the U.S. Army while stationed in the Pacific, New Guinea, and the Philippine Islands.
After his military service, McCammon worked at a dairy operated by the Curtiss Candy Company in Chicago for seven years, taking care of their show cattle and taking over the role of herdsman for their Brown Swiss and Holstein cattle.
He later managed Rolling Acres Guernseys in Illinois, CB Farms Brown Swiss of Connecticut and Indiana. Nelson was in charge of the show herds for Norvic Farm Brown Swiss in Lake Mills as well as Cold Springs Brown Swiss in Monroe and Red Brae Brown Swiss in Eagle.
Later, he and his wife Lois bought her parents’ farm in Clarno Township near Monroe, and established their own Nelsland herd. There he bred and developed several All-American award-winning Brown Swiss cows.
In 1959, he won the prestigious Klussendorf award at World Dairy Expo which honors ability, character and sportsmanship in the dairy show ring.
McCammon was a mentor to many, and was always willing to help youth interested in Brown Swiss, Magnussen said.

Continued support

He spearheaded the Wisconsin Brown Swiss Breeders Share-A-Heifer program which gave Wisconsin youth a great deal of practical experience with cattle. He also annually supported national youth involvement through the Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association.
            In his will, McCammon stipulated that the Wisconsin Brown Swiss Association get $50,000 to keep this kind of mentorship going.
            “We put together a committee to help kids purchase these high-quality Brown Swiss animals. We ask that they become a member of their local Canton (district) show if they purchase one of these heifers or cows,” Magnussen said.
            He explained that the committee wants to mentor youth who have a long-term interest in the dairy industry and the program is open to anyone in any breed but the grants apply to the purchase of a registered Brown Swiss animal.
            The program, he stressed, offers grants, not to be confused with loans. The youth owners of these Brown Swiss cattle do not have to pay the association back if they sell the animal, he added.
            Of the nine Brown Swiss calves that have been purchased by youth through this program, all but one of them have been retained by their youthful owners. And now some of them are producing their own heifer calves to further promote the breed, Magnussen said.