Located approximately 45 minutes Southeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is the small community of Blumenort. Right on the outskirts of town is a striking red barn which is owned by Larry and Eleanor Penner, and is the previous home of the Pennview herd. Larry and Eleanor are very proud to be receiving their second Master Breeder shield this year.
Give a brief history of your operation. How did you get into purebred breeding? How have the facilities change over the years?
My dad started Pennview and later my brother Leo and I (Larry) owned it. In 1983, my wife Eleanor and I took over sole ownership of the farm. Registered Holsteins started at Pennview when my dad bought some registered cows from his brother in 1958. From there we kept adding animals until we had a completely registered herd. The barn is a tie-stall facility and was remodeled four times since 1958 in order to accommodate our growing herd at that time.
Since selling out in 2011, what have you been up to? What prompted you to sell?
Since selling I’ve spent time cleaning up the barns and other things around the farm and going for coffee more often. I enjoy volunteering at our church bible camp and doing more fishing in the summer months and I’ve been trying to improve my woodworking skills in the winter months. I also do some very part time work for my nephew in road construction. Eleanor and I have also been blessed with 5 grandchildren since 2011, so we both enjoy playing with them.
We dispersed our herd because I was getting older and the girls were not genuinely interested in dairy farming. We probably would have sold out sooner, but we had a great herdsman, Stuart Reimer, who we really enjoyed working with, so he and I carried on side by side a bit longer than expected. We also sold because we felt we’d achieved many of our dairy farming goals, which were: breeding an Excellent cow, selling a bull to AI, marketing embryos and obtaining a Master Breeder Shield. In our dairying career we bred many Excellent cows, sold several bulls to AI, sold embryos to 26 countries and earned our first shield in 2001. We’d never even dreamed of getting Master Breeder shield until we received our first one!
How many acres do you manage?
Eleanor and I still live right on the farm and we own about 150 acres. We rent out the tillable land to the neighbour.
What cow families have most impacted your herd and contributed points to this shield?
The “I” family is easily the most prominent cow family in our herd. When we sold in 2011, the “I” family made up 90% of the cows in our barn and definitely contributed the majority of the points to this shield as well as our first one. The family began in 1983 with the birth of Pennview Citamatt Ideal, a very small twin who had a bit of a rough start. She went on to become VG-86 7*, finished 9 lactations with 145,408 kgs of milk and produced 5 VG daughters. The most famous of the “I” family was Pennview Rudolph India EX 17* who was nominated for Holstein Canada’s Cow of the Year in 2006 at 9 years old. Her next two dams combine for 18* and then Citamatt Ideal. The “I” family also put several bulls in AI including Income, Instamatic, Ice Pack, Image and Intruder.
The last load of calves to leave our farm were 9 maternal sisters, all born in 2011 and all out of Pennview Bolton Iria VG-87 13*. That load was purchased by Art Pruim of Plum Blossom Dairy in Saskatchewan, and of those 9, four scored Excellent and 3 scored VG. Interestingly, another one of the 2011 calves out of Iria, Pennview Jordan Ingholm, who would later score EX-90 2E, was sold to Alley Holsteins, who will receive a Master Breeder shield this year as well. All of these daughters sure contributed a lot of points since our dispersal. It has been very rewarding to see the “I” family continue their success in other herds and continuously contribute points for us.
Describe your thoughts on receiving this award! How has the experience of receiving your 2nd shield differed from the first time?
It was very exciting to get the phone call from Holstein Canada about receiving this shield! The experience has been very different then when we got our first shield. At that time AI companies were starting to buy more and more bulls and the embryo market was very good for us. Then our main goal was to get better and better, so receiving our first shield was a major accomplishment towards that goal. This time it is still good and exciting, but it’s just a bit different because we don’t work and breathe cows every day!