Pa. Holstein Association honors many who built breed

Holstein dairy cows.

STATE COLLEGE, PA. — The Pennsylvania Holstein Association held its annual convention March 1-3 at the Park Inn by Radisson, West Middlesex.

Among the top awards presented, Ken and Marilyn Umble, and Kirk Hillegass received the association’s Hall of Fame awards.

The Umbles

Ken and Marilyn Umble have been involved in the Holstein industry for more than 40 years. When they got married, Ken had assumed many of the breeding decisions on the home farm, owned by his parents, Harold and Lena. In February 1981, they officially became owners of the farm and purchased the herd.Pa. Holstein Association, dairy,

At that time Glen-Valley Star was the No. 1 PTA bull of the breed, so Ken and Marilyn opted to retain the Glen-Valley prefix, and have developed some well-known bloodlines.

One of their most renowned cows was Glen-Valley Win Caprice, EX-93 3E Gold Medal Dam and Dam of Merit. She has 3 Excellent and 14 Very Good daughters while sending 11 sons to AI, including Glen, whose balanced proof helped him achieve recognition as Select Sires highest volume bull sold in 2008.

The Glen-Valley herd has received 22 Progressive Breeder’s Registry Awards, bred or developed over 100 Excellent cows, 27 Gold Medal Dams and 11 Dams of Merit. They sent over 50 bulls into AI and exported embryos and heifers to seven countries.

In March 2012, Ken and Marilyn hosted their final dispersal, with 150 head averaging just shy of $3,000.

Ken has served as president of the Pennsylvania Holstein Association, and also served as a state director, on the sale committee, and is serving as finance committee chairman of the 2020 National Holstein Convention.

Ken maintains a few “hobby” cows including an 18th generation Glen-Valley homebred line descending from his father’s original purchase from Canada and a few Caprice family members.

They are active leaders in the community as well. Ken served on the West Fallowfield Christian School Board, and they have hosted numerous 4-H and FFA judging practices and county field days. They also both volunteer at the Parkesburg Pointe and are active in the Maple Grove Mennonite Church.

Ken and Marilyn are parents of three sons, Brandon, Jordan and Scott. Following Jordan’s death in a motorcycle accident at age 22, they started the Jordan Umble Memorial Missions Fund, which annually sponsors applicants to go on short- or long-term missions around the world.


Somerset County dairyman Kirk Hillegass and his Hillmont prefix are well known in Holstein circles around the state, the United States and the world, as Hillegass-bred cows have won championships at local and regional championship Shows, the All-American Dairy Show and the World Dairy Expo.Pa. Holstein Association, Hillegass

A graduate of Delaware Valley College, Hillegass returned to Somerset County and joined his father on the home farm in Berlin, in 2001.

He built a new greenhouse barn and parlor in 2002 and began milking there in 2003. Currently, he helps with finances, registers calves and mixes feed, while making breeding decisions with his son, Luke, and daughter-in-law Dani. They are milking 65 head.

After their son Alec passed away in 2007, Kirk Hillegass and his wife Tina established the Alec Hillegass Memorial Award, a rotating award given to the Best Bred and Owned animal in the junior division of the Somerset County Black and White Show.

According to the Holstein USA website, there have been 50 Excellent cows bred with the Hillmont, TKT, and Luth-R-Le prefixes, all of which Kirk has been an active member. Almost 200 Very Good animals carry the same prefixes.

In 2007 and again in 2009, Hillmont Durham Lyndi EX-96 was named grand champion of the International Junior Holstein Show at World Dairy Expo.

Hillegass was an early adapter of embryo transfer and IVF, using these methods to develop his cow families.

In 2011, Kirk and Luke constructed a bull barn on the farm so he could breed his own quality bulls and collect them for AI use. He also sells young bulls locally for clean-up bulls.

Distinguished Young Breeder

Jarrod and Marsha Burleigh from Muncy, Pennsylvania, received the Distinguished Young Breeder award.

They have two children, Alexander and Madison.

Their Holstein herd, Scarlet-Summer, was established in 2002 shortly after their marriage. The Burleigh family currently manages their herd, doing all the milking, breeding, herd health and calf work. Marsha’s family owns the farm and does all the field work and supplies the forages.

Today, they milk 88 registered Holsteins and 10 registered Brown Swiss, with a rolling herd average of 25,203 pounds milk; 941 fat; and 807 protein. The herd includes 50 Excellent cows, 24 Very Good cows and 8 Good Plus cows and a BAA of 112.5.

They have bred nearly 150 Excellent cows and received the 2010 Holstein USA Star of the Breed Cow with Scarlet-Summer RB Gwendelyn EX-95 2E.

Jarrod also has a dairy nutrition business.

Memorial award

The Pennsylvania Holstein Pioneer Memorial Award was presented posthumously to Roy F. Miller, of Lebanon County.

Roy was very involved in the dairy community in Lebanon County and served as a 4-H leader for over 40 years. Many active dairy farmers in Lebanon County today got their early instructions in fitting and showing dairy cattle from Roy Miller.

He also served on the dairy committee for the Lebanon Area Fair for over 20 years and they have named the Roy F. Miller Fit-Out Award that recognizes a young member for their excellent work in fitting and showmanship at the Lebanon Fair.

He also was on the Lebanon County Holstein Association sale committee for over 20 years, and worked many show strings at the All-American Dairy Show, World Dairy Expo and local and regional shows all across Pennsylvania and the northeast United States.

He also worked for Backus Sales, Hanover Hill Farms Sales, Brethren Disaster Relief Sales and Harry Bachman Auctions. For many years, Miller was the main fitter at New Holland Sales Stables, preparing cattle for their weekly dairy sales.


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