We revisit an article featuring Brown Swiss herd, Brown Heaven Farm, which was featured in our Winter 2016 edition.Winning at class at World Dairy Expo is something all breeders and exhibitors aspire to achieve. The last 5 years Brown Heaven Farm from Verchères, Quebec, have made the World stand up and take notice with their 4-time Brown Swiss class winner, Brown Heaven Glenn Fantasy EX-95. Starting her World Dairy Expo record as a Junior 2 Year Old in 2012, Fantasy has since added a second and three more firsts to a long list of impressive results. Winning the 4 Year Old class and Reserve Grand Champion in 2014, Fantasy’s big accomplishment was coming back in 2015 at 540 days in milk to claim Grand Champion. Repeating in 2016, Fantasy was the first ever Canadian Brown Swiss cow to be 2X Champion at World Dairy Expo providing a lot of excitement for Dave Rousseau and wife Josée Charron.
This dynamic duo’s incredible story started 10 years ago with two individuals who had little experience with the Brown Swiss breed. Using their breeding philosophies, passion, determination and hard work they have quickly rose to the forefront in the breed. Starting with a group of grade Holsteins from her father Gilbert’s farm approximately 13 years ago,[AP1] [LW2] [LW3] Josée started registering and classifying to improve the herd. The purchase of two Brown Swiss cows and some encouragement from friends, Josée’s love for the Brown Swiss breed grew. Dave’s love for farming and the Brown Swiss cow was developed through Agriculture collage and his internship at Fred Mathys, Swiss Dream Farm in Manitoba. Meeting at the Royal in 2006, Dave and Josée brought their passion for the Brown Swiss cow together.
Starting with 13 kilograms of quota (now at 38 kgs), Dave and Josée in partnership with Gilbert have transitioned their herd to 99% Brown Swiss. In 2010 a new 36 cow tie-stall barn with 9 box stalls for show cows and heifers was built to accommodate their growth and passion for showing. Dealing with all the paperwork, milking and day-to-day farm management Josée shares the breeding decisions with Dave. Helping with chores morning and night, Dave’s job at La Coop as a feed nutritionist keeps him busy throughout the day. Gilbert’s contributions in the feeding and fieldwork remain extremely important while part time help and relief milkers allow for Dave and Josée to attend shows a few times a year. Dave’s brother Dany along with a number of other fitters and friends, Olivier Demers, Jessie Favreau, Francis Bilodeau, Marie Pier Allard and Elyse Pelletier, make up their incredible show team.
Known for their show ring presence and passion for showing, Brown Heaven is also admired for their #2 Herd status for milk in Canada and top indexing females. Our goal from the beginning has been to change the perception of the Brown Swiss breed. I didn’t want to follow what everyone else was doing I wanted everyone to think of the Brown Swiss as dairy cows with good udders, said Dave. Three initial purchases have provided Dave and Josée with deep pedigreed successful families to build on.
Purchased in partnership with Roger Vannod at the Sale of Stars as a March calf, Swiss Dream Agenda Faith EX is backed by 5 VG or EX dams. Faith captured several Junior Champion titles in 2009 and four Grand Champion banners throughout 2010 and 2012 with her most notable year as the Reserve All-Canadian Junior 2 Year Old in 2010. Since then her biggest contribution has been through offspring.
Faith’s most notable daughter Fantasy is the #1 Type cow in Canada at +17, #11 GLPI Cow, #26 Milk, #34 Fat and #17 Protein, adding to her long list of show winnings in the USA and Canada. Already proving she has brood cow potential, Fantasy’s daughter Brown Heaven J Fancy VG-88 is the #2 Type cow at +16 and #56 for GLPI. The 4th Milking Yearling at World Dairy Expo in 2015, Fancy was the production winner while standing 8th Senior [AP4] 2 Year Old at this year’s WDE. Fantasy also has 2 VG Bonanza daughters and 1 VG-88 Manchester. Brown Heaven Lebron Faith VG-87, a rising star was 1st Milking Yearling and Reserve Intermediate Champion at Supreme 2016. Faith and Fantasy also captured 1st place Progeny of Dam. With 5 full sisters to Fantasy born in 2015 and 2016 along with another VG-86 Vigor daughter, Faith continues to have a big impact on the Brown Heaven [AP5] herd.
Hometown Cartoon Beauty EX-94 3E is backed by 4 generations VG or EX and is the dam of Brown Heaven Jongleur Butterfly EX-92. Butterfly’s impact continues to show up in the top GLPI Heifer list with the #1 Type Heifer at +18, Brown Heaven Blooming Bluberry and +1674 GLPI heifer Brown Heaven B Little Biver. She has 2 Very Good milking daughters with the most prominent, Brown Heaven Thunder Betsy VG-87, the Reserve Grand Champion from the Supreme Dairy Show in 2015.
Last but not least, Berjour Tokyo Dally EX-90 is the grand dam of Brown Heaven Traction Sweet Dally EX who is the #57 GLPI cow and has embryos contracted worldwide. Dally has also been All-Canadian twice in milking form and was Reserve Grand Champion at the 2016 Supreme. Sweet Dally’s daughter, Brown Heaven Biver Snodally is the #8 GLPI heifer over 9 months of age and was the 4th Winter Calf at WDE. She also won her class and captured Junior Champion at the Supreme Dairy Show in November.
Today any cows purchased are bought with the total package in mind: pedigree, type, index and production. Using bulls from a number of AI units including Swiss Genetics in Switzerland has allowed Brown Heaven to breed balanced cows with good frames, rumps and great udders. I really admired the Swiss Dream herd and Fred Mathys has been a great mentor for me. He always said to breed for what I believed in. That philosophy and our search for good udders has led us to use a fair amount of Swiss Genetics in our breeding program, said Dave. We also have focused more on production and components over the past few years in order to become more cost effective and efficient in milk production throughout a cow’s lactation, if type results that’s a bonus. We hope we can create that complete package, something everyone has been dreaming about, says Josée.
Always looking to create the next great cross, Dave and Josée do about 20 flushes per year on their best cows with mostly young sires from well recognized families. Both cows and heifers from the herd along with rented recipients make up the recipient pool while 60-70 embryos are sold worldwide each year. Falling into line with their breeding program are goals of being more efficient, improving genetic sales and being known as one of the top herds in the World.
Herd visibility has been accomplished through showing at two to three shows a year including their National Show in Quebec (Supreme) and World Dairy Expo, along with picturing, website, Facebook and in print advertising. Capturing Premier Breeder and Exhibitor banners at the National show for the last couple of years along with their class successes continues to gain them international recognition for breeding and developing top genetics. Our philosophy is that showing is the best marketing tool regardless of where you stand in the class. If the cattle are at the show people see them, said Dave. A past Dairy Herd Improvement nutritionist, Josée admits, I believe DHI and classification have been very useful tools for us when it comes to marketing. Both have allowed us to compare ourselves to others and improve more quickly in those areas.
Selling top genetics from their best cow families has also proven to be successful way to market the Brown Heaven name. Two animals sold to Bradner Farms have yielded great results. A daughter of Butterfly, Brown Heaven Bloom Bublegum was Reserve All-American Spring Calf in 2015 and was the 2nd place Spring Yearling this year at Expo. Fantasy’s twin Bonanza calf Frosty, now VG-87, sold at the World Premier Sale two years ago was third in the WDE Junior 2 Year Old class this year.
While success has come relatively fast for this young couple, Dave and Josée both admit some of the most rewarding things for them has been to raise their children, Alyson (4) and Markus (1.5) on a farm doing what they love. They both whole heartedly believe that surrounding themselves with the best people, whether it be at the shows or at home, is what has helped them to achieve their success. We feel it is important to remain humble. We have been lucky to achieve what we have in a short amount of time but aligning ourselves with some incredible people has provided us with not only a lot of help at shows but some of our best friends and biggest supporters.
Complete Package – Genetics & Type
– 30 All-Canadians, 25 Reserve All-Canadian, 15 HM All-Canadian
– 3 All-American, 2 Reserve All-American & 5 other nominations
– 10 top 16 heifers for type in Canada
– 8 Cows in top 150 GLPI Cows
– 5 Cows in top 50 Type Cows
– 6 Heifers in top 50 and 9 in top 100
– Milk 30 Brown Swiss and 1 Holstein
– 36 Cow tie stall barn
– 9 EX, 24 VG, 1 GP with 88.1 pt classification average score
– #2 in Canada for Milk with DHI Average 10,743 Milk 4.4% Fat 3.6% Protein
– BCA 281-311-285
– Milk quality award for 10 years
– Sires currently using (Winning Formula, Genox Boy, Nescardo, Biver, Big Star, Norwin, Fabulous, Calvin – Crop 400 acres mostly Corn & Soybeans
– Feeding protocol: Calves receive milk for 2 months along with grain. Grain fed until 4 months of age along with hay. 6 Months also receive a top dress with hay until calving. Cows receive corn silage, haylage, dry hay, crack corn and top dress.