The Thrill of a Lifetime for a Wisconsin Dairy Family

Attending World Dairy Expo is nothing new to Amanda Knoener and Nick Kress of Newton, WI. But this year’s trip is one that Amanda and Nick, along with their children Owen (10) and Kendyll (6), and their employee Savanah Barts will never forget, as their heifer, Ms Kress-Hil Saphire-Red-ET, was not only selected as Junior Champion of the International Red & White Open and Junior Shows, but also Supreme Junior Champion of the Junior Show!

Amanda fondly recalls attending Expo as a little girl, “Our family would tour World Dairy Expo and watch the show. Ever since going to Madison on those fall, crisp days, it was always a dream to just show something on those shavings. Never that as a farmer, we would own the animal!”

Amanda and Nick started Kress-Hill Dairy in January 2010 with 150 commercial cows. Today, the herd averages nearly 28,000 lbs. milk 3.8% fat and 3.1% protein. Over the last 8 years, they have purchased several Registered Holsteins at local sales, with their most notable purchase being Siemers Destry Sunny-Red-ET in Spring 2012 as a fall calf. Backed by a VG-85 Advent then 4 EX dams, Sunny was shown extensively and was the family’s first animal exhibited on the colored shavings. She was nominated Junior All-American R&W as a 2, 3, 4 & 5yr Old, claiming Jr All-American status as a Senior 3yr Old and 5yr Old. Sunny is classified EX-93 95-MS and was flushed heavily, and already has 1 Excellent and 6 Very Good daughters to date.

By far though, her most exciting daughter is one that caught the attention of the entire crowd at World Dairy Expo this year. Saphire is sired by Avalanche, one of the hottest red bulls of the moment. Kendyll showed Saphire at the Midwest Spring R&W Show where she was 1st and Junior Champion of the Junior Show, also 2nd and Reserve Junior Champion Open Show. “Saphire grew faster than Kendyll, so Savanah took the reins,” commented Amanda. “Raising our kids on our farm has been the most rewarding thing we could ever offer to them as parents,” she added. “Kendyll and Savanah love working with the show animals together as well!”

Savanah, who grew up in the city, has always had an interest in caring for animals. She started working at Kress-Hill during high school and then attended Lakeshore Technical College after that. Savanah led Saphire to Junior Champion titles at the Wisconsin District 10 Open and Junior Shows and Reserve Junior Champion of the Wisconsin State Red & White Junior Show.

Savanah admits she was nervous when it came to showing at World Dairy Expo. “The first time walking on the colored shavings was the most incredible, nerve-wracking experience. Just knowing how many world-famous animals have been exhibited on the shavings before was an emotional feeling. After only showing for 3 years, being trusted to show an animal at this level was a lot of pressure, and I wanted to make Amanda and Nick proud.”

And Savanah did just that. Saphire stormed the ring and walked away with a whole new collection of awards. Saphire was 1st Fall Calf (Open and Junior), Junior Champion (Open and Junior), and was named Supreme Junior Champion of the Junior Show to conclude this unforgettable week. “To be able to have the opportunity to fulfill my dream of showing on the colored shavings and then to win on top of that is unbeatable,” remarked Savanah.

“We are overwhelmed with love and support from friends, family and quite frankly people we don’t even know! I always thought this as a dream; we like to compete, but winning? Winning in Open Class? I remember when I was in high school and Budjon was big with Elegance. I would read every article, go on their website, and just think how famous they are and tell myself ‘one day.’ I am so proud; proud of the industry, that we can be involved, proud of my employees, proud of Savanah. I just feel like all the days that I’m at the farm 14-16 hours, waking up and checking on fresh cows/heifers at 1am, feeling like I’m going to die from heat exhaustion or hypothermia–this is why! It’s an incredible feeling–we bred her, we raised her–she has been with us since day 1–and what a thrilling ride it has been!” commented Amanda.

Amanda concluded, “This is not possible without the support of our crew! First and foremost, my employees are the rock of it all-everything at home and at the shows-we appreciate more than they ever will know. Brandon Ferry and Luke Lensmire – their support, guidance and mentorship is top of the line-to all the fine details of the show and preparation. The people that support us and congratulate us, we are so humbled to be part of this great industry. Our family and friends have been our rock–both of our dad’s help out at the farm, people watch the kids when needed, get drinks and dinner with us when the days are stressful and long…the list could go on. Thank you, doesn’t seem like the ‘right'” words, but from the bottom of our hearts–Thank you!”

Congratulations again to Amanda and Nick, Owen, Kendyll & Savanah on a week none of them will soon forget!

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