A feature article in our 2021 Early Spring issue, written by Julie Ashton.
With one of the highest BAAs in the nation and All-American Nominations accumulating at a rapid rate, the Boop family of Millmont, PA, is determined to breed and market the kind of cows they enjoy, and others want to purchase. And not afraid to let the good ones go, the Heart & Soul prefix is becoming a household name throughout North America.
Nestled amongst the trees and mountains of central Pennsylvania, the Boop’s century-old farm spans 250 acres and is home to three generations of the Boop family. Gerald and Kathy registered their first J&K-Vue Holstein in 1977 and eventually bred 26 Excellent and 74 Very Good cows. Doug married Jennifer in 1995 and took over ownership in 2012, establishing the Heart & Soul prefix on the farm. Doug and Jen’s boys, Doug Jr and Matt, round out the Boop family on the farm.
Today, the farm is home to 40 cows and 60 heifers, representing nearly all of the purebred dairy breeds. The farm philosophy is simple: breed cows made for the show ring with pedigrees to market from. And this is just what the Boop family has done. Since the boys took an extreme interest in the show world, they have focused on high type matings achieving a 113.9 BAA, while maintaining a 27,000 lb. RHA. That BAA is the highest in their region, #10 overall in the United States and #2 for their herd size (26 to 50 cows). To accentuate that fact, they currently have 30 Excellent cows in their tie-stall barn including 8 EX-94 Holsteins and 1 EX-94 Jersey. The remaining cows are all Very Good, with most of them being first lactation.
While those numbers alone are impressive, adding in the 55+ Junior All-American Nominations and 15 Open All-American Nominations in three breeds is staggering. Over the last 15 years, the ribbons and banners the family has also achieved is countless and the dollars in marketing revenue is plentiful. However, all these accolades wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and passion that every one of the Boop family members have for the dairy.
Dairy runs deep for the Boop family. Doug and Jen met at a 4-H district show and began their relationship. Dou worked for a local feed mill while Jen earned her degree from Penn State in Ag Science. Since then, Doug has transitioned to a role with Renaissance Nutrition while Jen is full time at the farm. Doug Jr graduated from Penn State in 2018 and now splits his time between the farm and clipping at shows and farms. Matt graduated from high school in 2017 and is a Pioneer seed salesman along with his duties at the farm. While the entire family’s main focus is the dairy, the “off-farm” jobs allow them to keep the herd small.
Over the last 15 years, Doug and Jen have made improvements to their century farm. The new tie-stall barn was built in 1999 and a sturdy built calf bar in 2007 and a pack barn following in 2008. While Pennsylvania has always been a strong dairy state, Jen and Doug recognized the need to diversify and in 2012, built a 40,000-hen layer house on the farm. “We needed a way to make the farm pay for itself,” commented Doug. “We didn’t have the land base to expand the dairy, so layer hens were an easier fit.” These hens lay eggs for vaccine manufacturing, so biosecurity is key, and they are inspected on a regular basis. Their contract is per bird, per year, with the layer house full roughly 8 months a year. Nearing their 10th year of operation, the layer house has more than paid for itself, and has actually paid for a second 40,000-hen layer house to be built in this spring.
With their marketing goals always at the forefront of their operation, they have utilized IVF for a number of years. When Trans Ova was looking for a satellite location in central Pennsylvania, the Boops jumped at the opportunity. They built a new lab and converted part of a commodity shed for short-term donor housing. Trans Ova schedules all of the collections, which happens twice a week, while the Boops assist with moving animals, etc. Jen handles the majority of the Trans Ova business. In the beginning, animals would be at the farm short-term, but seeing a need for longer-term residents, they built donor housing in 2020. Most of their clients are genomic animals, with some beef mixed in.
Even with these numerous facets of the farm, the main focus is still on breeding and marketing high quality show cows. And many of those cows they market from can trace back to two of the Boop family’s early purchases.
Gerald and Kathy purchased Miss Spirit Goo Goo in the Maryland Convention Sale in 2001. She scored VG-88 EX-MS but was lost shortly thereafter. Her only daughter, J&K-Vue Encore Gina (EX-93 2E), became the brood cow that defined the Boop herd. With 14 Very Good and 6 Excellent daughters to date and with more to calve in, the future is still bright. Gina’s family has earned numerous All-Pennsylvania and All-American awards, with J&K-Vue Goldwyn Glamour out-earning her sisters. Glamour was the Boop’s first EX-96 cow, and has been Supreme Champion three times at the Premier National Junior Holstein Show.
Glamour has two Excellent and three Very Good daughters to date with daughters by Dempsey, Solomon, Unstopabull, Awesome, and Vogue coming. To date, her most well-known daughter would be Heart&Soul JK Dempsey Glitz (EX-93), who has been at least Nominated Junior All-American every year since Spring Calf: Nominated 4-Year-Old in 2002, Reserve Junior 3-Year-Old in 2019, HM Junior 2-Year-Old in 2018, Nominated Spring Yearling in 2017 and Reserve All-American in 2016.
Heart&Soul JK Dback Gold-ET, is owned by Weeksdale and Frank and Carol Borba and Frank and Diane Borba. As a fall calf, she was Reserve Junior Champion of the Atlantic Summer Holstein Show and placed 18th out of 51 in Madison. Heart&Soul JK Solm Glitter (VG-87) was Nominated Junior All-American Spring Yearling in 2018.
J&K-Vue Sovereign Gem is a granddaughter of Gina’s and is also scored EX-96. She is owned by Todd Whittier, MA, and was Grand Champion of the Massachusetts State Show in 2011.
Doug and Jen purchased Garstlyn Broker Reba as a young cow in 1997. She eventually scored EX-93-2E DOM and has four Excellent and two Very Good daughters. Her daughter, J&K-Vue Durham Roxy-ET (EX-90 DOM) was the first bred and owned animal for the Boops that won a class at a national show. Roxy had seven Excellent (2 @ 94) and six Very Good daughters.
Some of the family’s most memorable accomplishments comes from the “R” family. A granddaughter of Reba, J&K-Vue Sept Storm Raine-ET was the winning Fall Yearling at the 2007 International Holstein Show and was then named Reserve Junior Champion. Heart&Soul Dempsey Raelynn (EX-92), a granddaughter of EX-94 Roxanna then Roxy, was Intermediate Champion and Bred & Owned Champion of the 2019 International Junior Holstein Show and was purchased by Milk Source LLC after she left the ring Junior Show day. She then went on to place 4th in the Open Show, earning her an All-American Nomination. She was named Junior All-American Summer Junior 2-Year-Old for the Boops. In 2020, she placed 8th at the North American Open Dairy Show.
With the show results that the family has earned, the Boop name has become recognizable around North America. Beyond showing for themselves, Doug Jr. and Matt can also be spotted at local, state and national shows all year long. It was a trip to a local show in Pennsylvania that started a new venture for the family.
Doug Jr. was clipping at a local show when Ron Hembury asked if he and Matt would be interested in partnering on Cherry-Lor Ladd Ripple-Red. A Polled Ladd daughter, she was backed by 4 generations and Very Good and Excellent dams and looked like a promising 2-year-old at the time. The Boops went ahead with the deal, thus starting their boarding business.
Ripple, now scored EX-95, has gone on to win in milking form every year at Harrisburg, claiming Grand Champion honors of the Premier National Junior R&W Show and Senior and Reserve Grand Champion at the International R&W Show in 2019. Those results along with impressive placings at several open shows earned her a Unanimous Junior All-American R&W and Reserve All-American R&W 5-Year-Old titles for Matt and Cael Hembury. Ripple had repeated success in 2020 claiming Grand Champion honors at the R&W Junior Show in Louisville and was named Reserve Junior All-American Aged Cow.
Ripple’s highest scored daughter to date is Cherry-Lor Awe Rippy-Red-ET (EX-94). She was Grand Champion of the Central PA R&W Championship Show and HM Senior Champion at the North American Open Dairy Show in Circleville in 2020, earning her a Junior All-American R&W Nomination in the 4-Year-Old category.
Cherry-Lor Dbk Robin-Red-ET (EX-91) was Reserve Junior All-American R&W Summer Junior 2-Year-Old in 2019. After a win at Circleville, she was named Junior All-American R&W Junior 3-Year-Old in 2020. The group of Ripple, Rippy and Robin were also named HM All-American R&W Senior Best Three Females in 2019.
While Rippy and Robin have already made names for themselves, there are numerous other family members on the rise. Cherry H&S D Romance-Red is a Defiant who was named Reserve Junior All-American R&W Summer Yearling that is fresh for 2021. They also have more Awesome daughters on the ground with Warrior and Analysts pregnancies.
The Fraley family of Muncy, PA, has also become one of the largest boarding clients for the Boops. Knapps Kringle Tappy-ET (EX-90) has lived at Boops since calving as a 2-year-old. She is a 2X Reserve All-American and was most recently Grand Champion at the National Guernsey Junior Show in Louisville, earning her Unanimous Junior All-American recognition in 2020. More impressively, her daughters composed the Unanimous All-American Junior Best Three Females group in 2020, with Twin County Whats On Tap-ET anchoring the group and named Unanimous Junior All-American Winter Yearling. Tappy and Whats On Tap were also named Reserve All-American Dam & Daughter. Numerous other daughters have earned Junior All-American recognition for Landree Fraley.
Round Hill Talant Wilona-ET (VG-88) is owned by Ron and Emily Heffner, MD. She was Reserve All-American Fall Calf in 2017, Nominated in 2018 and was Reserve Intermediate Champion at Harrisburg in 2019.
As the Boops have expanded their business, they’ve also had the opportunity to invest of some cow families of recent. In 2016, Doug and Jennifer visited Lookout Holsteins during one of their Tag Sales. It was then they spotted Lookout Fortune 500. At the time, she was only scored VG-87, but as a daughter of Marlau Comerica Fabienne (SUP-EX-94-3E), and a maternal sister to MB Lucky Lady Feliz Navidad-ET, Doug and Jen saw the potential in buying a cow with that kind of resume. And that purchase has certainly paid off.
Heart & Soul Fizz Faith was sold in the 2018 Best of Triple-T & Heath Sale to Cole and Mazzaro, OH. Now maxe scored at EX-91, she was never been beat in class as a heifer and was named Unanimous All-American Winter Yearling in 2019.
Three Fortune 500 daughter, Fizz Fine Wine, Fizz Flame and VIP Fan Club, made up the HM All-American Junior Best Three group in 2020. Fizz Flame was sold privately to Austin Baker, NC, in early 2020. She was Junior Champion at the Georgia Dairyland Classic and Virginia Summer Showdown and stood 4th at Louisville, earning her a Open and Junior All-American Nomination. Fine Wine and Fan Club each earned Junior All-American Nominations, along with their maternal sister, Shut Up & Get Freaky. The Boops have high hopes for more Fortune 500 daughters coming by Fireman, Andreas, Venetian and Fizz.
Over the July 4th holiday, Doug and Jen made the trip to Borderview Genetics with one cow in mind to purchase. Lot 9 in the Fireworks at Borderview Sale was Idee Goldwyn Lucia (EX-92), dam of All-Canadian Idee Windbrook Lynzi (EX-95). The Boops appreciated Lynzi’s show record, along with what other family members have done in the show ring. Lucia already has pregnancies coming by Denver, Doorman and Geno, a Diamondback son of EX-96 Glamour.
However, they didn’t leave Vermont with just Lucia. They also partnered with Nathan King of Kings-Ransom Farm, NY, on Ms Laurels Crush Lydia-ET, a Summer yearling daughter of Sunny Plains Dempsey Laurel (EX-94). Lydia went on to place 5th in the Junior Show at Circleville and then was the winning Summer Yearling and Junior Champion of the Grand National Junior Holstein Show in Louisville, earning her a Junior All-American Nomination.
As much as 2020 was a hard year for people around the world, the Boops saw one of their most successful show years to date. In total, they earned 13 All-American or Junior All-American Nominations, with another three Nominations bred by them (8 Jersey, 3 Holstein, 5 R&W). And yet, these successes just push them to work harder to achieve the same level of success in the future.
As they prepare for 2021, the barns are full, and they have committed some of their best to sales around the country this spring. And, always looking ahead, they already have plans for their next project: buying a small farm down the road to raise the Wagyu they have purchased with the Cloninger family.
The Boop family has dedicated years to breeding the kind of cows they want to milk and develop and won’t let industry trends change their way of thinking. Genomics will never be a factor for them, and they are just fine with that. Proven bulls from proven cow families are what work for Heart & Soul, and what has worked for breeders who have invested in those genetics over the last 15 years.