Ayrshire cattle owners form cooperative to promote breed

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Ayrshire cattle
A group of Ayrshire cattle (Farm and Dairy file photo)

SALEM, Ohio — A group of Ayrshire dairy cattle owners who want to advance the red and white breed have formed a special outreach program.

Known as the Ayrshire Ambassadors Cooperative, the group hopes to promote the advantages of raising and milking Ayrshires while also promoting their own farms.

John Rodgers, a member from Belleville, Pennsylvania, described the effort as “a group of breeders who feel like we can do more to market Ayrshires.”

Gaining members

There are about seven ambassador members so far, but the program was just announced July 26, and the list is expected to grow as word gets around.

Rodgers said members will focus on promoting the qualities of the breed — including milk production for cheese, pasture hardiness — and hopefully increase the breed’s population.

Rodgers said the ambassadors want to especially work with niche farmers, and those who are interested in Ayrshires but maybe need more information, or a mentor.

“The objective is to hopefully find people who are really interested, who maybe have a couple other cows and want to try Ayrshires,” he said.

Membership fee

To become an ambassador, a farmer must pay a $250 membership fee, and would then be able to promote and advertise his or her herd in the organization’s directory. Members would also have full access to the directory of other members, and would have access to information about marketing and owning Ayrshires.

Retired Ayrshire breeders can become members for $50, and ag-related organizations can join for $500, and receive additional benefits.

Rodgers said the organization is not meant to compete with the U.S. Ayrshire Breeder’s Association, a national organization based out of Columbus.

That organization charges $25 a year for membership, but provides a different focus than the newly formed cooperative.

National organization

Becky Payne, executive secretary for the U.S. Ayrshire Breeder’s Association, said the two are separate entities, but the association supports the efforts of the cooperative.

She said she expects it will take on a regional focus, mainly in New England states.

“The more people we have out there supporting the breed the better,” Payne said.

She said the founders of the cooperative are active in the association, and she thinks both entities can benefit each other.

Growing the herd

Dan Baumgardner, an Ayrshire dairy farmer from Dillsburg, Pa., said he thinks the program will be beneficial for young farmers, who often have questions and need someone more experienced, for the answers.

“Most of all, it will improve the Ayrshire cow and get more Ayrshires out there,” he said.

According to information provided by the cooperative, Ayrshires are listed among the endangered livestock watch list by the Livestock Conservancy. Registrations for the breed, which originated in the county of Ayr, in Scotland, have been reduced by half since 1970.

“The founders are eager and determined to turn this trend around and leave a growing legacy for Ayrshires,” according to a statement issued by the cooperative. “We are recruiting like-minded individuals, families, farmers, and others to join our cause.”

To learn more about the cooperative, including membership options, visit ayrshireambassadors.com.

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