“Sell the best and keep the rest” is a bold statement for any breeder to make; Stranshome Holsteins means it. Any person following show tabloids does not need much more proof than taking a look at recent news from the colored shavings. The 2014 International Red and White and Black and White Show results either bred and owned or bred and sold earlier this year from Stranshome included Grand Champion of the International Red and White Show, Honorable Mention Junior Champion of the Junior Show, two class winners and six top five class placings; in addition to a second place in the International Junior Brown Swiss Show.
They clearly not only make this promise of making quality cattle available, but deliver on it. More than just a guarantee about the quality buyers are bringing home on their trailers, it represents confidence in a breeding program capable of continuing to develop the great ones.
The Stransky family has built a tremendous reputation for selling elite, deep pedigreed cattle capable of competing at the highest levels. All while building on foundations of great cow families; making buyers come back for more.
“I think every registered Holstein breeder’s dream is to keep building and keep improving to the point where you can show cattle at the World Dairy Expo or sell cattle of this caliber,” said Reid Stransky. “However, they don’t always need to be show cattle; just sell cattle people can take home and breed from and have success with. You want them to be able to breed from the cattle you sold them.”
Stransky and his wife, Daria, are partners with Stransky’s parents, Joe and Evelyn Stransky, in owning and operating Stranshome Holsteins. Founded in the 1960’s, Stransky’s four children, Joseph (14), Zach (12), Jerome (9) and Darian (8), are the sixth generation to be involved on the farm. The farming operation employs five full time employees: a full time man in charge of mechanics who also helps with cropping, three Hispanics and a herdsman, Blake Schmidt.
Located in southern Minnesota, Stranshome Holsteins is amongst the industry leaders for depth and quality of their cattle marketing and breeding program. They are proud to have been home to several of the industry’s Holstein All-American and Junior All-American leading ladies and have had over 40 All-American nominations in four breeds. They have provided many opportunities for industry members to invest in their genetics. They host tag sales held every spring, have coordinated two notorious Luau consignment sales and are consignors on many other sales. On average, they will sell 30-40 head per year on sales throughout the United States. “It is just as fun and just as rewarding to be on the side line watching something you raised do well as it is to be leading it yourself,” said Daria.
“When they turn out really good at the show, it makes it all worth it,” added Joseph Stransky. “That is why you are in the business.”
Much of the Stranshome success in quality cattle can be attributed to their commitment to building on strong maternal lines. “We value cow families and deep pedigrees,” said Daria. “They are the ones that day in and day out do not disappoint you. You know what you are getting.”
Stransky agrees the bottom side of the pedigree is a factor that does not always get enough credit in breeding programs. “There is a lot of money spent on the sires. But, recently, you see some of the bull studs buying dams, which has never been done before. I think [bull studs] are realizing the importance of the bottom side of the pedigree,” said Stransky. “Some of those special cows should get promoted as much as the bulls do. If we look at some of the best type bulls around in recent history, I think a lot of it is the maternal side of the pedigree.”
Stranshome has an impressive portfolio of leading cow families they are working with today. In 2006, upon the completion of a hoop barn specifically built to house show cattle, goal oriented Stransky set his sights on being competitive in the show ring and registered cattle business. He recognized from the start the most strategic way to each his goals would be buying into promising type families. “Daria’s dad [Larry Jerome of Jerland Holsteins] was a huge help. He helped us get into the Roxy’s and Renita’s,” said Stransky. “Then we got into the Ashlyn’s, Elegance’s and Barbara’s – all cow families that have done really well for us.” From Daria’s home farm, the Stransky’s incorporated three influential brood cows: Scientific Grace-Red-ET EX-91, the first 8th generation Red Roxy, Tri-Day Delectable Adeen-ET EX-94, full sister to 2004 World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion Tri-Day Ashlyn-ET EX-96, and Jerland Rubens Nan-Red-ET EX-93, 2009 Unanimous All-American Aged Cow.
Both Stransky and Daria quickly acknowledge Stranshome’s “best family right now by a country mile” as the Jen-D Devil Tiffany-Red EX-95 line, with good reason. Tiffany, owned with Jennifer Dingbaum, has been one of the hottest Red and White cows walking shavings this past year. She has acquired a spectacular list of show earnings in milking form. The six time All-American nominee partnership started with friends helping a friend following Dingbaum’s parent’s dispersal of R-Sher Holsteins in 2007. “Tiffany was a calf at the time and [Dingbaum] really wanted to keep her,” said Daria. “That is how she ended up becoming part of our herd.”
Not only is Tiffany making her mark with a collection of banners, but also transmits like a dream. This is most evidently showcased in her daughter, Jen-D Tequila-Red-ET EX-91, being tapped Grand Champion of the 2014 International Red and White Holstein Show.
Tequila, now owned by MilkSource LLC, was causing excitement leading up to the fall shows that gave her breeders and new owners strong indication she was going to be a special one. When Tequila was named the 2014 Minnesota State Fair Supreme Champion, Tiffany and Tequila made history in the Supreme Champion parade as the first dam/daughter pair to both win Grand Champion; Tiffany of the Red and White show and Tequila of the Black and White show. Daria says this memory is certainly one of the highlights of their registered Holstein career. “Being able to have paraded a daughter and dam through the Supreme Champion drive is probably an accomplishment that is not going to be easily repeated.”
Tiffany’s success as a brood cow has gone above and beyond all expectations. “Her daughters Jen-D Tequila-Red-ET EX-91 and Strans-Jen-D Taffeta-Red-ET VG-88 are just three year olds and they are her oldest daughters,” said Daria. This pair was the 2013 Reserve All-American Red and White Produce of Dam.
“We have more exciting young daughters out of Tiffany that are up and coming for next year,” said Stransky. Tiffany has proven to be that really extra special show cow and is a family I am very excited about. They have become the forefront of our breeding and marketing program.”
However, the Tiffany’s are by no means the only family registered breeders need to be watching at Stranshome for the next great ones. “We are still very excited about the red Roxy’s. We have an 11th generation excellent Roxy, Stranshome Conten Gaysha-ET EX-90,” said Stransky.
Zach Stransky seconds Gaysha as one of his barn favorites. “She was the first Holstein cow I ever showed. She was nominated Junior All-American as a summer yearling and was my first bred and owned showed at Expo.”
“We have a lot of daughters from her coming. Some are possibly 12th generation excellent red Roxy’s,” said Stransky. “That family has been very good to us and very good to the business; it just continues to get better and stronger the farther out it gets. [Roxy] is definitely in a league of her own as far as the number of great offspring going back to one cow.”
The lineup of deep, renowned families continues with the investment in member of the Quality-Ridge Stormi Hazel family, Quality-Ridge Ruben Sandy-ET EX-94. “Sandy has produced a lot of great daughters no matter who she is crossed with,” said Daria. Five of Sandy’s daughters, from five different mating sires, have placed as national show winners.
“For me, that is a special achievement to have five daughters out of five different bulls out of one cow do well at larger shows like that,” said Stransky. “I am looking forward to developing the next generation and working with that family even more.”
Another prominent family in high demand is the line from Budjon Stardust Anisa-ET EX-96. The first and second the top sellers on the Luau II Sale were daughters of Lake-Prairie Kite Anika-ET EX-90, who is a great granddaughter of Anisa. They have more daughters coming out of her and believe the two sold on the Luau II will continue to be very competitive in their classes this fall. First high seller, Stranshome Gold Annice-ET, purchased by Jeffrey Butler of Illinois, was Honorable Mention Junior Champion of the Junior Show at the 2014 International Junior Holstein Show and first place fall calf of the open and junior show. Anika’s first natural calf and the second high seller, Ms Stranshome Alltheway-Red EX-90, now owned by Gene Iager and Craig Walton of Maryland, was Reserve Grand Champion of the 2014 All American Red and White Show.
“I hope as a breeder and as a seller that animals will go on to do well and be competitive for their new owners,” said Stransky.
Stransky attributes his second secret of success, besides working with great cow families, to the opportunities in vitro fertilization (IVF) technology has created. The odds of making good offspring, if breeding good cows, are greatly improved when you go from making one heifer at a time to fifteen with IVF. The farm has an on-site flush room and has been using solely IVF; the last conventional flush was done in 2009. “We have been very happy with the technology with conception rates and sorting semen,” said Stransky. “We milk 140 cows; about 10 of them will get flushed and 130 will carry embryos.”
“The thing that pushed me over the edge to go exclusive IVF is, when we were flushing conventionally, I totaled 70 of those calves on the ground were bulls that year. I sat back and said look at those numbers of what that is costing.” In 2009, Stransky estimates an IVF heifer calf out of the cows being worked with and bulls being used were worth about $2500 the minute they were on the ground, compared to a $100 bull calf. “A $2400 difference times 70 head is $170,000 that cost me that year not using IVF. The way I look at it, I just couldn’t afford not to anymore.”
Stransky is not afraid that quality cow families will lose value from flooding the market with IVF calves. “At the end of the day, good cattle sell. Bottom line.” He recognizes marketing purebred cattle is a constant game of always getting into new families. “In any business, your marketing program can never stay the same. You have got to run with what is hot when it is hot; it is not going to be hot forever,” said Stransky. He admits that families can become over populated, but counters a good marketing program and staying in front of the curve of what is on the market can be very profitable.
“You try to make the next generation and work with her. If you keep flushing the same cow forever, you are not going to make that new generation. You have to have those new generations to make the next generations that will be the top of your flush program or else you are going to be left in the dust.”
A strong advertising program is also crucial for a successful marketing program. “Advertising is money well spent; not just in agriculture, any successful company that sells a product has good advertising,” said Stransky. Both Stransky and Daria agree the best form of advertising for their product is the show ring. “Showing is the best from of marketing cattle there is; that is where they see them, that is where they read about them in the show results,” said Stransky. Stranshome also identifies other channels of advertising such as ads in publications, ads on websites, the farm website (www.stranshome.com) and social media. “Social media is very important for sales; whether it is linking it to your website or drawing customers in [to the brand],” said Daria. “It obviously reaches people. Everybody might not be ‘liking’ it all, but there are many people seeing it.”
Stranshome has already reached some significant benchmarks in a fairly short timeline, yet are driven to continue moving forward. “Once you achieve goals, you work to set new goals,” said Stransky. He is thankful for the opportunities his and Daria’s parents presented them with to be able to merchandise and buy into genetics at the level they are today. “My goal is to present my kids with the same opportunity that I was presented with,” said Stransky “That is part of one generation building on another. It is a neat thing if you can keep it going.”
The Stransky Family beyond Registered Holsteins
The Stransky’s have grown a portfolio of various, yet all highly successful, activities and entrepreneurships the family not only engages, but excels in.
- Daria laughingly recalls her dad’s description of his farm: “the 4-H project that got out of hand.” In addition to breeding purebred German Shepherds, studying turkey feather pattern genetic variances and developing All-American nominated Holsteins, Larry Jerome provided his seven children the opportunities to show beef steers, market lambs, market hogs and horses.
- Daria has been showing Arabian horses since she was five years old and has given her boys the chance to explore this show world as well.
- Joseph and Zach have both shown Arabians very competitively on national levels. Zach, who rides English pleasure, has won three national top ten placings. Joseph has six national top ten placings in Western pleasure.
- Riding lessons, lasting about four hours each, typically take place two to three times per week.
- Joseph’s advice to younger riders interested in becoming involved in the sport is to “start while you are young – it is easier to learn. It is a lot of training and a lot of practice.”
Stransky Farms Cash Crop Operation
- Approximately 3,500 acres
- Primarily farm corn and soybeans
- Owned and rented land
Feeder Steer Operation
- Majority are dairy steers
- About 450 head located on three sites
- Cattle are fed out to finish cover and sold to numerous outlets
Let’s Ride Boots and Apparel Clothing Store
- Located in Owatanna, Minnesota, about seven miles from Stranshome Holsteins home site, Reid and Daria Stransky are co-owners in a 10,000 square foot western apparel store.
- The couple has just as good of taste in clothing and boots as they do in cattle based on the brands they stock in their constantly updating inventory. The following list is merely a sample of the head turning, in demand labels carried:
- Clothing: Big Star, Cinch, Cruel Girl, Grace in LA, Miss Me, Roar, Rock and Revival, Wrangler
- Boots: Ariat, Justin, Corral, Lucchese
- The only time the store goes on the road is with the cows to World Dairy Expo. Their extensive selection of show whites is greatly appreciated that week!