NORTH CANTON, Ohio — It’s the 150th anniversary of the American Jersey Cattle Association.
Hundreds of Jersey cattle breeders are coming together, nationally and internationally, June 27-30, for the annual meeting in the home state of the American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) and National All Jersey Inc. (NAJ).
To kick off the week, over 200 breeders and families gathered last night at MAPS Air Museum in North Canton for the Presidents’ Reception and Jersey Breeders’ Banquet.
There have been 50 presidents between the AJCA and NAJ and 10 were able to travel to the reception to be recognized, according to Neal Smith, executive secretary and chief executive officer for AJCA and NAJ.
As each of the presidents came forward to accept their awards, many took a moment to address the crowd, noting the importance of the board of directors guiding the Jersey breed to where it is today.
In between the honors and accolades, a special reveal of the official Jersey portrait, a rendering of the ideal Jersey cow, was unveiled by the artist, Bonnie Mohr.
The painting is the sixth official portrait of the Jersey cow and includes two additional portraits, a head-on view and three-quarter view, along with the traditional side view of the Jersey breed.
“This is really the pinnacle of my career,” said Mohr, 55, who added she was honored to be asked to be a part of this project.
Three service awards were presented to individuals who have represented the Jersey industry and made notable contributions to the advancement of breed.
Dr. Ole M. Meland, of Ocala, Florida, was awarded the meritorious service award for his work with Jersey genetics.
Meland’s career spanned for more than three and half decades, starting at Tri-State Breeders/Accelerated Genetics to serving as an ambassador for U.S. genetics in his retirement as a consultant for the National Association of Animal Breeders and World Wide Sires.
Two awards were presented for distinguished service to the association: Chris Sorenson, current president of the AJCA, and David Endres, current president of the NAJ.
Both hail from Lodi, Wisconsin, and both presidents announced their retirement from their positions this year.
Kelvin Moss, district 11 director for the American Jersey Cattle Association, introduced Endres as a, “recovering Holstein breeder.”
In 1990, Endres purchased his first Jersey and introduced it into his herd.
“It didn’t take long for the Jersey virus to take hold,” said Moss. By 1992, Endres had fully converted to Jerseys.
“That first Jersey really aggravated me,” said Endres about the cow’s stubbornness. “But here I am today, a big advocate of the industry as a whole.”
Today, he and his family milk 850 registered Jerseys.
“We might be the only two presidents from the same state, from the same area and retiring at the same time,” said Sorenson as he accepted his award.
Sorenson said his family had to disperse their herd two years ago, one of the hardest decisions he had to make, but, he said, “My love for the Jersey cow will never fade.”
He and his son continue to raise heifers on the family farm.
Smith noted both Endres’ and Sorenson’s have led their respective boards through some challenging times and decisions for the Jersey industry.
“Their passion tells you how much (the Jersey cow) means to them,” Ron Mosser, senior appraiser for the American Jersey Cattle Association, said as he introduced Ron and Christy Ratliff, of Garnett, Kansas, as the master breeder award winners.
Christy purchased her first registered Jersey calf at 9 years old, as a 4-H project and continued to expand her herd from local breeders.
“This has been a lifetime dream of mine,” said Christy. “Like they say, it just happens.”
Christy said she had an agriculture education teacher tell her once, “You can sit and watch the world go by, or you can get up and do it.”
Christy wasn’t about to let the world pass her by.
She placed a heavy focus on carefully selected genetics which, over time, earned her various championship titles including three national champion titles in a row with Ratliff Price Alicia — the only Jersey in the breed to accomplish this.
Ron and Christy are eight-time premier breeders of The All American Jersey Show and seven-time premier breeders at the World Dairy Expo.
They have bred more than 180 cows appraised Excellent-90 percent or higher, including seven at 95 percent or higher. Ratliff D Dean Allie-ET is the highest homebred cow at Excellent-96 percent.
“We also sell a lot of genetics to other breeders and I love to see them do well,” said Christy.
“The Jersey cow breed is so amazing.”
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