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MENASHA – Forty-two buyers from nine states purchased cattle, semen, or equipment at the Don Mielke family's complete retirement dispersal sale on June 10.

As he broke down several times when speaking to the crowd of potential buyers, friends and neighbors, and dairy sector observers before the start of the auction, Don Mielke described his passion for dairy cattle, which started with registered Holsteins and then gravitated to Jerseys.

Retirement reflections

Mielke recalled how, when working for an artificial insemination firm, he made multiple trips to several countries around the world on behalf of improving dairy cattle genetics and management practices.

One of the proud achievements that Mielke often shared was receiving his first milk check at age 14 in April of 1970. A copy of his patron milk statement from the nearby Brookside Cheese factory was included in the sales catalog. It indicated a milk shipment of 1,429 pounds for the month at a price of $4.25 per hundred.
 
After winning numerous Holstein Association progressive breeder and genetics awards, Mielke began to add Jerseys to his herd in a 52-stanchion barn in 1998 – first for show cattle and then for production, feed efficiency, and income from high butterfat and protein components in their milk. He was honored as Wisconsin's Jersey Breeder of the Year in 2013.

In part because of his avocation for Jersey cattle in the past two decades, Mielke nurtured a friendship with the monthly Milkweed publisher and editor Pete Hardin, whom he invited to share a few observations just before the start of the auction.

Hardin commended Mielke for his “forward looking” practices such an emphasis on producing milk with high percentages of butterfat and protein.

He credited butter with being a dairy market driver today for both domestic consumption and exports and noted how the processors in milk surplus areas are skimming the cream from the excess milk before it is dumped.

By the second week of June, the spot market price for AA butter at the CME Group in Chicago was approaching $2.50 per pound. Hardin predicted that it would hit $3 per pound yet this year.

As to what's ahead, Mielke said, “I've got some grandkids who want to go fishing.”

Lake Winnebago is within two miles of Mielke's farm.

Top sales

The 96 lots of all registered Ameri-Milk Jerseys and a few Holstein cows from the retirement sale brought an average of $1,531.51 per head, according to Jersey Marketing Service of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, which managed the sale. Including the semen and equipment, the average selling price on 115 lots was $1,359.

On the cattle sales, six of the top seven prices were paid by buyers from Wisconsin. The top price of $8,400 was paid by D & D Jerseys of Newton for JX Ameri-Milk Grabmycup Georgett ET, calf born on March 10, 2017. Pedigree reader Dan Bauer pointed out that the calf ranked number 520 in the Jersey breed in the most recent round of genomic trait tests.

Jason and Leah James of Mineral Point paid $5,000 for JX Ameri-Milk Eusi Twinkle, a heifer born on November 7, 2016. Other top purchasing prices were $3,900 for the two year-old Ameri-Milk Apple Paisley by Gary Schwefel of Fond du Lac and $3,550 for the two year-old JX Ameri-Milk Texas Tribute by Ryan Gartman of Cedar Grove.

Completing the top seven sales prices were $3,350 for the four year-old Ameri-Milk Sam Atta by Jason Cast of Beaver Crossing, NE., $3,300 for the two year-old Ameri-Milk Crit Victoria by David Wagner of Maribel, and $3,000 for the three year-old Lost-Elm Tbone Eryn by Brianna Glaeser of Valders.

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