Being two points away from winning the Premier Breeder at the 2016 World Dairy Expo Red & White Show was quite the accomplishment as there were just six Cleland prefixed animals at the show this year. More intriguing, only two of those animals were owned by the Cleland family and the other four entries were each exhibited by a different owner.
“Being Premier Breeder for a half hour was pretty sweet – It was the coolest 30 minutes,” shares Jason Cleland. “Standing high at Expo is a pretty awesome feeling – That’s pretty neat.”
Initially, a calculation error led to the Cleland prefix being announced as the show’s Premier Breeder. However, the Cleland prefix still took home the Senior Best Three Females award (second year in a row) and first place Produce of Dam from the show. As the breeder, the Cleland’s commend the hard work and dedication of those that now own Cleland animals because of the effort they put in to take the
animals to the next level.
“We only have so much space here. We have a couple of boxstalls, so we can only keep so many. We only have so much time, so we can only do so much,” shares Jim. “It’s hard work and we are appreciative that others can do it with the animals they buy from us.”
“It’s easier to let them go when you know they are going to a good place. Because their new owners are going to give them really good care and take them to the next level,” Jason echoes. “It’s exciting that cattle carrying our prefix can go on and do that good for their new owners on the halter.”
“It’s nice when people that do well take an interest in your cattle and what you have to offer,” notes Jim.
Building a Foundation
The Cleland farm is nestled in Clinton, Wisconsin, on 15 acres. The 60-cow herd has a 36-stall barn and pack, to allow for switching. Jim and Vicky have called Clinton home since 1979, previously renting facilities, until they purchased the current home to the Cleland cows in 2003. In addition to the 15 acres of buildings and pastures, the Cleland’s also rent around 200 acres to raise the crops needed to feed the
herd all year long. The Cleland’s son Jason works on the farm with Jim and their son Nolan does calf chores before he goes to his job off the farm. Vicky works off the farm full-time and also does the bookwork and details that keep things running smooth.
Originally from northern Illinois, Jim grew up working with registered Holstein cattle and Vicky grew up on her family’s commercial Holstein dairy operation. When they married, they worked to build equity in a herd, farming on halves. When it was time to make their first leap venturing out on their own, they only had half of a herd.
I grew up farming. It’s what my dad did and what I knew. Vicky likes cows, I like cows, and we could be our own boss,” Jim recalls as he talks about getting into farming on their own. “And then we had a barn to fill.”
That’s when Vicky made a purchase that would be the building point for the Clelands. She purchased three springing Southwind Bell of Bar Lee daughters from Dr. Art Mueller and Don Cunningham in 1992, among them was Weeks SBBL Krista 6-ET with three VG dams behind her.
“I’m pretty sure they only wanted to sell one, but I wanted all three,” smiles Vicky.
“They were nice heifers. And then all three happened to be red factor – What are the chances of that?” remembers Jim. “We started with mostly grades and a few registered cows along the way. It was just a coincidence that they were red factor. When we had had all black and then get a red one – That seemed pretty unique. So we decided to see where it could go.”
A purchase designed to help fill the barn become the foundation for the Cleland’s focus on red and white breeding and over half the herd can trace their lineage back to Southwinds through the Cleland’s ‘K’ family.
“It seemed when someone was looking for a sale consignment, they wanted something red. So it’s another reason to stick with the reds,” echoes Jason.
With the red and white focus soon came the polled trait, another happy coincidence. Nolan had a cow that he wanted to breed to Lawnboy. This mating led to the first Excellent scored red factor Lawnboy, Cleland Lawnboy Cassie. She went on to be EX-92 3E with lifetime production of 3,008 days making 190,045 pounds of milk, 3.6% 6,763 pounds fat, and 3.0% 5,760 pounds protein. She also flushed well and is a big impact on the Cleland’s having polled genetics in the herd – In fact, about a third of the herd is polled.
While breeding quality cattle has been an accomplishment for the Clelands, marketing and selling good cows and heifers that develop and get better and better for their new owners is becoming a trademark.
Here are a few of the recent families to make a spark on the tanbark with new ownership:
Cleland SS Alexis EX-94 DOM goes back to Tri-Day Adeen II-ET EX-91 2E as her 3 rd dam. Alexis has been a line that Jason has been working with and enjoys showing as he bought her dam, Young Love of Rosedale, as a yearling at a Prime Time sale during
Expo. His September Storm mating on the family yielded VG and Excellent daughters, with the best being Alexis as a three-time nominated All-American
R&W. Alexis was nominated All-American R&W 125,000lb Cow in 2014 & 2015 and was the 2014 Nasco International Type & Production Award at World Dairy Expo. Together with her daughter Alexia, they were the 2015 All-American Red & White Dam and Daughter. Alexia and her Contender sister Aliya made up the 2016 Produce of Dam winning entry at the International Red & White Show.
Alexis has made her mark quite clear through production, both with milk and her offspring. Alexis’ 5-07 305d record was 38,520 pounds of milk, 5.4% 2072 pounds fat, and 3.1% 1206 pounds protein. Her lifetime production reached 2,058 days with 192,661 pounds milk, 4.8% 9,231 pounds fat, and 3.1% 6,065 pounds protein. Having been flushed heavily, she has daughters by Advent, Contender, Mr. Burns, Diamondback and Absolute, and granddaughters by Defiant, Redburst, Armani, Diamondback, Absolute, Avalanche and Integral. Alexis is still in the herd at ten years of age and is still on a flush program.
“It’s neat to see a cow carry themselves through that many calves and have that much production. It seems like our cows do better with more calvings. They develop with two or three calvings and then they are ready to compete,” reflects Jason.
Alexis’ Advent daughter, Cleland Advnt Alexia-Red- ET EX-94 EX-96 MS was sold at the National Holstein Convention Sale in 2012. Earlier that spring she was the Intermediate Champion at the Midwest Red & White Spring Show and the 1st place Senior 3-year- old for Jason. She went on to be nominated All-American R&W Sr. 3-Year- Old that year. Her new home is just a few miles across the Wisconsin-Illinois
state line at Golden Oaks Farm in Wauconda, Illinois. With Golden Oaks, Alexia has had notable accomplishments as the 2016 Reserve Senior Champion and 1st 125,000lb cow at the International Red & White Show. She was the 2015 Unanimous All-American R&W Aged Cow as she earned Honorable Mention Senior Champion, 1st Aged cow and Nasco Type and Production Winner at World Dairy Expo,
and also took Senior, Grand & Best Udder honors at the Midwest National R&W Spring Show 2015.
“She’s done really well for them,” comments Jason. “It’s really nice to see their success with her.”
The Cleland’s have two milking Redburst daughters from Alexia as well as a full sister to Alexia on the farm, including Cleland Advent Admire-Red EX-90. Admire is a good flush cow and also has a nice group of young calves and one milking daughter in the herd.
The Cleland’s also have six maternal sisters to Alexia. Cleland Cntndr Aliya-Red- ET, a VG-88 Contender Sr. 3-year- old, was the first Bred & Owned and 3rd place entry in the Red & White 2016 World Dairy Expo International Futurity. Her full sister is also VG-88 and is also the dam of Cleland Absltly Awesome-Red VG-86. Awesome is an Absolute and was the 4th place Jr 2-year- old at the 2016 International Red &
“I was shocked she stood fourth. Excited and appreciative, but shocked,” shares Jason. “We went to Madison with pretty low expectations. She’s a really nice cow, but she’s not big. She has a really nice udder and a good leg, but I didn’t think she would be big enough to compete.”
Cleland Advent Korie-Red- ET EX-94 was the 4 th place 5-year- old at the 2012 International Red & White Show. The Cleland’s sold her walking out of the ring that day to Ryan Lauber & the Stransky family. For her new owners in 2013, Korie took Reserve Supreme Champion of the Junior Show at World Dairy Expo after being named the Senior and Grand Champion of the International Red & White Junior Show and first Aged cow. Also in 2013, Korie topped her class and went on to be the Grand Champion of the Minnesota State Fair Red & White Show earning her the accolades of Red &White All-American Aged Cow and Red & White Jr All-American Aged Cow in 2013.
Korie sold this spring at the Hammer Time at Heritage. She was back on the colored shavings and earned the 2016 Reserve Senior Champion honors in the International Red & White Junior Show for her new owners Ashley & Andy Gruenes of Richmond, Minnesota. She placed 1st junior and 4th overall in the
125,000lb Production Cow class.
“We first showed Korie as a spring calf at Madison, then as a junior 2, and then as a 5-year- old,” recalls Jason. “It’s amazing what she has done with the Lauber and Stransky’s and now the Gruenes kids.”
The Cleland’s have four VG and EX milking Barbwire daughters from Korie, as well as a VG-87 Reality-Red. Also from the Korie family is Cleland Defiant Kailene-Red. Kailene is a stylish fall calf that was 2 nd at the
International Red & White Junior Show fall calf class this fall for Cole, Ava, Campbell and Royce Booth of Plymouth, Wisconsin, after they bought her at the RedFest sale held by Crescentmead Farms. Kailene was also 2nd Junior at the 2016 Midwest Red & White Spring Show and was 2 nd at the Wisconsin Junior State Fair Red & White Show. Kailene was sold after Expo and is now owned by Grady and Lane Wendorf
of Ixonia, Wisconsin.
“The Booth kids did really well with her all summer long,” accounts Jason. “Joel Kietzman picked her out of the pen last winter when he was selecting for RedFest. And then she came out looking like that at Madison – It was like holy smokes, that’s awesome.”
Kailene’s dam is a Ladinodale Astroid-Red- TW daughter – Cleland Astrid Katapult-Red VG-88. Katapult is fresh again this fall and ready to flush and Defiant is back on the mating list. Additionally they have Korie granddaughters to enter the barn soon by Moses, Heztry, Defiant, Altitude, Malone, Lotus and Topgun.
Korie is out of a VG-88 Redman that is followed by seven generations of VG back to one of the original red carrier Southwinds they purchased.
Cleland Absolute Coleen EX-93 was purchased by Stranshome after the Midwest Spring Show when she stood 2 nd as a second calf 4-year- old in 2014. Exhibited by Joseph, Zach, Jerome and Darian at the 2015 International Red & White Junior Show, she was the 1st 5-year- old and was named Grand Champion of the Junior Show.
“She came out of the blue. We were like where did she come from when she calved in,” recalls Jason. “She was a nice surprise.”
One of the exciting things about the Cleland herd is that the different cow families they work with have the ability to make great calves and even better cows. Their focus on breeding for quality red & whites and polled animals has taken these different families to the next level. The next surprise heifer or cow could already be there waiting for her chance in the ring.
The Cleland’s typically consign to the local Green Rock Sale each spring, RedFest, and Jason and Nolan’s alma matter’s UW Platteville Pioneer Sale. With their focus on red, the Cleland’s are currently using Addiction-P- Red; Ammo-P*RC; Absolute-Red,
where they can; Defiant*RC; and Hypnotic*RC.
“We just want to breed good cows. We want her to have a big frame, but they have to have strength and have good legs and really good udders. Where it starts and ends is on the business end of the cow,” comments Jason.