Approximately 30 minutes north west of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, lies the little town of Dalmeny (pop. 1830), which is home to Alley Holsteins and the Leyenhorst family. Albert, Heather, Logan and Kaetlyn are very excited to be receiving their first Master Breeder Shield from Holstein Canada at this year’s National Convention.
Give a brief History of your operation. How did you get started in purebred cattle? How have the facilities changed over the years?
Albert and Heather Leyenhorst have been farming in Dalmeny since 1997. They started out in Alberta in a tie stall operation in Strathmore, followed by a freestall barn in Lacombe before moving to Saskatchewan. Albert has always appreciated the idea of good cattle and so he focused on always using the best bulls right from day one. It took him 20 years to get his 1st EX cow, but since then he has bred just over 40! In 2014 Logan came home from university and took over management of the dairy and the breeding program. While some things have changed, Logan has held on tightly to the goals and principles set out by Albert. There are now 160 cows milking in a free stall and pack barn.
Who is currently involved in the operation? What are their roles?
Albert is in charge of the grain side of the farm and helps when needed in the barn. He is also a huge mentor for Logan. Heather helps with feeding calves. Logan is in charge of the dairy and all the decisions pertaining to it, he also manages all of the farm employees and helps with the grain side when needed. His wife, Kaetlyn, also helps out with the calf feeding.
How many cows do you milk? What is your current herd classification and herd production average?
Currently we are milking 160 Holsteins and 1 Jersey and we have around 25 dry cows. Our rolling herd BCA is 291-294-289 and our current herd classification is 30 EX, 115 VG and 50 GP.
What bulls are you currently using? Do you do any embryo transfer or IVF?
We are using Chill, Unix, Control and King Doc, and we haven’t done any ET or IVF work.
How many acres do you manage? Do you grow all the crops you need or do you buy and sell feed as well?
We manage 1800 acres of barley, alfalfa and oats for feed, as well as canola and peas for cash crop. We grow all of the feed we need for our herd and are able to sell hay on the side as well.
Our milk cows receive a TMR ration based on alfalfa silage, barley silage, oat hay, alfalfa hay, rolled barley, whey and supplement. Older heifers are fed an alfalfa/oat silage mix and free choice alfalfa hay, while younger heifers are fed an alfalfa and grass hay mix and pelleted calf grower. We feed our calves milk replacer 3X per day and calf starter for the first 12 weeks.
What cow families have most impacted your herd and contributed points to this shield?
Redtower Astre Colleen VG-85 6* bred long lasting, high producing cows with many receiving Superior Production awards from Holstein Canada. One of her most popular daughters in the west is Alley Goldwyn Collet EX-92, who is owned by Westcoast Holsteins. Collet was Grand Champion at the summer show on Vancouver Island in 2015 and was Intermediate Champion at the BC Fall Harvest Show in 2012, earning her All-Western Jr 2 Year Old that year.
The Alley Sam Nanny VG-86 4* family is one that breeds cows with high type numbers and good production as well. Her two Excellent daughters, Alley Shottle Nana EX-92 2E and Alley Goldsun Nakayla EX-91, are now the 3rd generation EX from this family.
Belle Riviere Jakob, a Summershade Igniter son, is a sire that has had a tremendous impact in our herd. We used this bull to add some strength and fat and he gave us 7 EX daughters, 6 of which are Multiple EX. One of those daughters, Alley Jakob Bella EX-91 3E 4* has already provided 2 multiple EX daughters of her own. Jakob only has 12 daughters scored EX in the country and 7 carry our prefix.
Describe your thoughts on winning this award! Is this something you’ve always had as a main goal for your breeding program?
We were shocked! We really didn’t expect to get it. Being a Master Breeder was always kind of a background goal. We have always tried to breed good cows and give them a place to live that was comfortable and would let them achieve their maximum potential. So, although it was a goal, it’s not the only thing we were striving for.
Our future goals include continuing to breed a profitable herd of Holsteins and to continue to provide them with a healthy comfortable environment, so they can maximize their potential. We also hope to raise and teach the 3rd generation to grow up and love cows and farming as much as we do!