Located 30 minutes north of Guelph, ON, in the town of Orton, is Sharplane Farms, which is home to the Darwell Holstein and Locust Edge Jersey herds. Les and Darlene Sharpe received their first Master Breeder Shield for their Darwell herd at the National Convention in Quebec City last week.
Give a brief History of your operation. How did you get started in purebred cattle? How have the facilities changed over the years?
In 1998, Darlene started our breeding program by registering her family’s 10 grade animals by percentage recording. From these she continued to breed animals, which have led to the herd make up of Darwell. Darlene’s family was one of the last families to ship cream before the cream quota was abolished. We formed a joint venture with the Thompson’s of Elmlawn Farm. When the Thompson’s dispersed their herd, we continued milking at the Thompson farm and started to increase the size of their herd and purchase quota. By 2013 we were at capacity at the Thompson farm and we made plans to build a new tie stall barn and move back to Darlene’s home farm.
Who is currently involved in the operation? What are their roles?
Les and Darlene Sharpe are the owners and operators of the farm and decisions are made jointly between them. Darlene mainly milks, feeds calves and looks after all the paperwork, while Les handles the feeding and the cropping work.
How many cows do you milk? What is your current herd classification and herd production average?
We milk 40 cows – 32 Holsteins & 8 Jerseys. Our current herd classification is 7 ME, 6 EX, 28 VG and 7 GP. Our current BCA is 235-239-242.
What bulls are you currently using? Do you do any embryo transfer or IVF?
We are using Brewmaster, Kingboy, Beemer, Undenied, Tatoo and Doc. We have done some embryo transfer work in the past.
How many acres do you manage? Do you grow all the crops you need or do you buy and sell feed as well?
We own/rent 250 acres in total, consisting of hay, corn silage, oats, peas, barley and soybeans. We purchase straw and some hay. Our milk cows get a TMR of balage, corn silage and complete grain pellet. Dry cows get triple mix balage and corn silage, while heifers receive hay/balage, silage and heifer supplement. We feed our claves whole milk, calf starter and hay.
What cow families have most impacted your herd and contributed points to this shield?
Precision Leaha was from the original group of grade cows that Darlene started working with. She produced Darwell Fabulous Caramel VG-87, who is the dam of Darwell Astronomical Coffee EX 2E. Coffee also has an excellent daughter to her credit, Darwell Sanchez Cream EX, as well as a VG daughter by Impression. Les & Darlene’s first homebred Excellent cow, Darwell Charles Gladis, can also be traced back to Leaha.
Glen Elda Leader Martha VG 2*, has also had a great impact in our herd. Her great granddaughter, Darwell Goldwyn Monster EX-93 4E, was the 2nd place Mature Cow at the Ontario Spring Discovery show in 2014. Monster’s daughter, Darwell Ferrari Merry EX, is now the 4th generation of Excellent to come from that family.
The “N” family has also been important for us and can be traced back to Alona Nadia Augusta VG-87. Although she only had one Good Plus daughter herself, Nadia has had numerous granddaughters and great granddaughters that have scored very well, including Darwell Astronomical Noodle EX-91 2E 2*.
Describe your thoughts on winning this award! Is this something you’ve always had as a main goal for your breeding program?
It has always been a goal of ours to become a Master Breeder one day, but that day came much sooner than we expected! Our future goals are to continue to improve our herd and now work on Shield #2!