Kruse’s GK Swiss – Built on Balance

Featured in our Spring 2019 issue, Kruse’s GK Swiss will be offering their entire herd in their Kruse’s GK Spring Opportunity Sale on May 18th. Read about the exciting herd that was built on balance!

Over the last 30 years, Gary and Karen Kruse have grown their herd of Brown Swiss to national recognition. They have done this by making sound breeding decisions and having consistent goals for the herd. In the Brown Swiss world, Kruse’s GK Swiss of Dyersville, IA, is known for quality cows and the people are some of the best around. And while the herd has never looked better, Gary and Karen have made the decision to disperse their herd on May 18. For some that may seem like the end of the road, but the Kruse family is excited about offering their genetics to
friends and fellow dairymen and the opportunities that others will have to grow the families they have spent the last three decades developing.

The Kruse Family LtoR: Bethany & Brad, Andy, Karen & Gary, Alan, Ray & Jennifer. Photo supplied.

Gary and Karen Kruse were married in the fall of 1988 and started their farming career the following spring. The herd started with 12 Brown Swiss from Gary’s father, Larry Kruse, and six from Karen’s family. They also had an 80-sow farrow to finish operation. Over the next few years, they continued to grow both their herd and their family, adding four children – Ray, Brad, Andy and Alan – to the mix.

In 1994, they purchased a 120-acre farm which was designed for a hog and beef operation. They made the decision then to focus their efforts on a complete dairy facility and built a 56-cow tie stall barn and in time, built heifer sheds and remodeled several of the other buildings to meet their needs. Since then, the herd has doubled to 60 milking and 50 heifers. The herd has an RHA of 18,399 lbs. milk 4.41% 812 lbs. fat 3.3% 611 lbs. protein. All the cows, except four, that are selling this spring are classified Very Good and above, including 15 EX cows. They have
received numerous quality and SCC awards throughout their dairy career.

Breeding Philosophy
For Gary and Karen, the most important fact they look at when choosing mating sires is a bull’s pedigree. “The bull has to have a solid deep cow family,” noted Gary. “Numbers change every day but solid cow families
live on. Those are the cows that showed up every day and bred back every year.”

Gary clipping at World Dairy Expo 2018. Before he and Karen purchased their own farm, he traveled the country fitting at shows. Photo © World Dairy Expo.

They have used genomics as a tool to focus on health traits, such as longevity. “Due to the rising cost of raising replacements, we need to focus on longevity and efficiency to offset the feed cost.” They also focus on corrective mating to achieve quality udders, functional feet and legs, and high components, which is seen in their classification and tank results.

The two most successful bulls they used in the herd were Kruses Lazer Frontier and Kruses Jade Vision, both bred by Gary’s father Larry. Other bulls used in the past include La Rainbow Bfly Dynamite-ETV, La Rainbow B Moonlight-ET *TM, Twinkle-Hill Cadnc Allstar *TM, Voelkers TD Carter *TM and Shiloh Brookings Cadence-ET *TM. Current sires include Triangle Acres Carter Juke, Double T Carter Vengeance, Hilltop Acres Dairystar-ET and Brown Heaven R Famous.

“We have really focused on breeding and raising marketable animals that have a balance between type and production while maintaining a profitable bottom line,” said Karen. Each year, they consign to the Iowa State Brown Swiss Sale and sell animals privately.

In 2018, they consigned Kruses GK Stuart Linsey, the winning Summer Yearling from the Midwest Spring Show, to the Iowa National Convention Sale where she sold for $4900 to the Anderson Family, NE. She went on to place 1st at the Southeastern Fall National Junior Show, 2nd in the Open Show at Louisville and 8th Junior at Expo. She is backed by six Very Good and Excellent dams from 2X World Dairy Expo Grand Champion Kruses Beautician
Vixie 5E.

“We have really focused on breeding and raising marketable animals that have a balance between type and production while maintaining a profitable bottom line.”~ Karen on their breeding philosophy

The family’s first EX-94 cow, Kruses GK Vengence Tippy, was Grand Champion at the Midwest Spring Show in 2018.

Success in the show ring
Gary grew up showing cattle with his family, a tradition he passed along to his sons. When Gary was younger, Kruses Beautician Vixie 5E was his 4-H heifer. He also had the great honor of leading her to two Grand Champion
wins at World Dairy Expo in 1980 and 1981. When Gary and Karen started farming on his own, they started their wn branch of that family from an embryo from Vixie. That embryo resulted in Kruses GK Jade Fantasy Vix-ET 4E-94, who was also a 2X Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo in 1993 and 1995. They are one of the few mother/daughter duos that has been Grand Champion at World Dairy Expo, and the only Brown Swiss duo to earn that accomplishment.

Vix and her daughter, Jetway Fashion, are also one of the few mother/daughter duos to both be scored EX-94.
Since 1990, the Kruses GK string has exhibited on their own at World Dairy Expo, with great success, earning numerous All-American honors. Kruses GK Sensation Sandy EX-90 was All-American Senior Calf in 1991
and followed up at HM Senior Yearling the following year. Kruses GK Jetway Jane was Reserve All-American Spring Yearling in 1996 and sold to Brazil later that year. She is the dam of an EX-94 daughter in Brazil, who Gary believes in the highest scored Brown Swiss in that country.

Tippy pictured at World Dairy Expo where she placed 10th in the Aged Cow class.

Jane was not the only animal the family exported. Kruses GK Patrick Dusty was the 2012 Grand Champion Bull at World Dairy Expo. He was sold to Argentina after Madison that year. Kruses GK Turm Cindy-TW and Kruses GK Turm Cathy-TW each earned their turn in the spotlight, with Cindy named All-American Winter Calf in 2005 and Cathy being Nominated as a 4yr Old in 2010. Their dam is Kruses GK Formula Misty EX.

One of the most exciting cows they have ever worked with is Kruses GK Vengence Tippy EX-94. She is backed by a 2E-92 Victor and was Gary and Karen’s first EX-94 animal. She was Grand Champion at the Midwest Spring Show in 2018 and also had a top 10 finish at World Dairy Expo. She had a 7-00 completed record of 25,536 lbs. milk 4.5% 1137 lbs. fat 3.4% 874 lbs. protein. She is fresh again in January and sells at their dispersal in May. Her VG-88 Medallion daughter also sells.

Another leading cow family is Kruses GK Vision Jazz EX-92. “She was a balance between type and production,” said Gary. She made nearly 23,000 lbs. milk with 4.1% fat and 3.2% protein. She was a great transmitter, and numerous animals from this maternal line will sell. Of special note is her 10yr Old daughter sired by Kruses Ponente Franklin, who is EX-92 and has had eight natural calves. Two of her daughters also sell.

Starting the next chapter
Gary and Karen have always strived to improve their herd of Brown Swiss, whether in the show ring or the milk tank. “We could not have asked for any better way to raise our children and have them work with us in our dairy operation,” Karen said. With all of their kids now off the farm involved in other agricultural related jobs, Gary and Karen have decided to move on from milking cows. Their youngest son Alan is going to start a show heifer boarding business while also working with ET and IVF animals, and Gary is going to help manage that operation.

“We’ve met some really wonderful people,” commented Gary, “people we never would have met if we weren’t in the cow business. Each year when we attend World Dairy Expo, the cows are what bring us there, but the people are the glue that holds us together, as one big family.”

Excited is the word that the family has used to describe Kruse’s GK Spring Opportunity Sale. “We are excited to see our cows make other breeders and buyers as happy as they did for us the last 30 years. We are excited about the future.”

Kruses GK Vision Jazz EX-92 was a balance of type and production for Kruses GK Swiss. Photo Supplied.

Written by Julie Ashton