A feature article in our Late Summer 2021 issue written by Julie Ashton.
2021 has been a year of firsts for the Haeni family of Lone Pine Jerseys, Didsbury, Alberta, Canada – breeding their first All-American, earning their first Master Breeder award, hosting their first cattle sale and finally starting the first 100% Jersey creamery in Alberta. While this year has certainly been rewarding, the Haenis know that it’s the nearly 30 years of diligent management and animal care that have led them to where they are today.
Adrian and Vreni Haeni immigrated to Alberta from Switzerland in 1993, after Vreni’s parents, Marie-Louise and Kurt, visited family there and fell in love with “wild rose country.” Adrian and Vreni purchased a farm near Didsbury that included a small Jersey herd. “When we purchased the farm, we didn’t know anything about the Jersey breed,” commented Adrian. “The idea was to start with Jerseys and then move into Holsteins after a few years. However, the Jerseys quickly convinced us, and we decided to stay with the breed.” Shortly thereafter, Vreni’s parents moved to the farm, and Adrian and Vreni added four sons to their family – Michael, Samuel, Jonas and Nils.
Today, Lone Pine Jerseys is one of the largest purebred Jersey herds in Canada, milking around 110 cows. The herd is milked by two DeLaval VMS robots and averages 8231 kg milk, 5.9% fat, 3.9% protein (BCA 272-286-282). With milk and components like this, the cows of Lone Pine have earned their fair share of Production awards: 30 Lifetime, 464 Silver, 167 Gold and 28 Platinum. And while the Jerseys certainly know how to produce, they look good while doing so. The current herd average 87.3 classification with 43 ME, 21 EX, 67 VG and 17 GP cows. Over the last 18 years, they have bred 145 Excellent, 210 Very Good cows and 73 Star Brood cows as well.
With stats like this, it comes as no surprise that Lone Pine has received two Constructive Breeder Awards (2009 & 2016) and their first Master Breeder recognition in 2021 from Jersey Canada. “Winning this award is a great honor, especially when you look at the list of previous recipients. To be included in this group is truly special,” commented Adrian. “It felt great, yet the journey towards becoming Master Breeder was always the goal. Bettering our herd every day continues to be our mission.”
The Haenis grow all their own forages, comprising about 60% of the milk cow TMR with the main energy source coming from barley. Milk cows are also on pasture for six hours a day and heifers are on pasture throughout the entire growing season. They currently buy their grain ration and robot pellet but have plans mill their own grain as the boys become more involved since they already cash crop grain on their 800 acres.
The herd objectives are simple for Lone Pine: breed a uniform group of animals that appeals to other breeders. They focus on conformation, production and longevity, with a slightly higher focus on conformation. “Our train of thought is that you can always manage for production,” Adrian said. Current sires in the tank include: Caspian, Casino, Jordan, Contour, Tekashi, Nuance, Chocochip, Askn, Grandious, Matt, Video and others.
Genetics are important to Lone Pine, and several cow families have become standouts over the years.
Cover girl Lone Pine Irwin Monique scored EX-95-3E in June 2020, during the same time that she was leading the herd for milk production. She was a 2019 Single Hall of Fame Winner and was 3rd in the WestGen Pursuit of Excellence Dairy Show in 2020. She has 6 daughters to date, with her first two daughters sired by Velocity and Showdown scored VG-85 and VG-86 respectively. Monique’s dam is Lone Pine Kobalt Martina (EX-90 3*) then seven more Very Good and Excellent dams.
Lone Pine Giller Donna (SUP EX-94-7E 5*) just finished her 10th lactation and has produced over 93,000 kg Milk lifetime with 6.7% fat 4.0% protein (BCA 257-321-265). She is the 2021 President’s Cup Winner for Butterfat from Jersey Canada. Donna was also Nominated Jersey Canada Cow of the Year in 2016. Donna has traveled the Western show circuit, with champion recognition several times. She has 4 Very Good and 3 Excellent daughters in the herd, all from natural births. Her daughter, Joel Donnybrook (VG-89) was named Reserve Intermediate Champion at the 2020 Westerner Dairy Showcase, helping secure Premier Breeder and Exhibitor honors for Lone Pine for the second year in a row.
Lone Pine Sambo Luna (SUP EX-95-4E 4*) produced over 63,000 kg Milk in 7 lactations with 5.6% fat 4.0% protein. She is backed by four generations of VG and EX dams including Gloamin Gems Rosie 7M (EX-95) and has 3 Very Good and 2 Excellent daughters. Luna, a barn favorite at Lone Pine, calved in 2013 with a mixed set of twins. The family was disappointed that the heifer would most likely be a freemartin, but luck was on their side, and Cavalia Lookout was indeed a fertile heifer! Lookout has checked all the boxes for the Haeni family, calving in regularly, with solid production and outstanding type.
Lookout was Grand Champion of the 2018 Calgary Dairy Classic Jersey Show and calved again in December 2018 with her fourth calf. The classifier visited Lone Pine the following July. “To be honest, we thought she was going to score 95, because 96 is something that you only ever dream of!” commented Adrian. “When she calved looking the way she does, our excitement was heightened to say the least.” Not only did Lookout classify EX-95, she exceeded expectation and scored EX-96 at just 7-09.
A very easy-going cow that thrives in Lone Pine’s freestall set up, she is what many would refer to as a “dream cow.” With one exception though – “Just like her mother, she is not a big fan of getting clipped,” remarked Adrian. Lookout’s first two daughters by Barnabas and Victorious are scored VG-87 and VG-86 respectively, and she has Matt and Jordan heifers as well.
Lone Pine Iatola Twilight (EX-90 3*) was never an outstanding producer herself, but her proof as a great brood cow as shone through her offspring. She only had three daughters, but all have exceeded expectations. Grandious Thunder (EX-95-2E) is a Canadian Class Leader for fat as a 5-year-old. Her average BCA is 343-386-365 and she was Grand Champion at the 2017 Calgary Dairy Classic Jersey Show. Her daughter, Victorious Thunder Struck scored VG-87 at 2-05 and sold for $16,000 CDN in the Avonlea Summer Showcase to Unique Stock, Zimmer, Robella & Benbie.
Eclipses P Twister (EX-92-3E 1*) is another daughter of Twilight. Twister was a Single Hall of Fame Winner in 2018 and 2019 and has a 5th lactation projection of 13,612 kg Milk, 5.9% fat (BCA 381-426-371). Her first two classified daughters are VG-88 and VG-87 with Video and Touchdown daughters born in 2020.
Twilight’s youngest daughter, Joel Twist (EX-94-2E), is +13 Conformation with an average lifetime butterfat of 6.3%. Her BCA last lactation was 316-339-327. She was a Hall of Fame winner in 2018 and 2020 and was Nominated All-Western Intermediate Cow in 2017. Her only daughter is a Megapower classified EX-91 that was HM Grand Champion at the Westerner Dairy Showcase in 2018. Twist is also the dam of Touchdown, a Dragon son that Lone Pine has used heavily in their herd. “We are excited about the early milking daughter of Touchdown,” commented Adrian. “The first 12 are all classified GP or better, with 7 Very Good 2-year-olds!”
Making the Lone Pine prefix famous in the U.S. is Lone Pine Joel Jugojuice 9807. Jugojuice is from an unscored Redpath dam that was lost in her first lactation. Her dam is Sambo Jenny (SUP-EX-90-6E) that produced over 61,000 kg Milk lifetime with 5.5% fat. Jugojuice, scored VG-87 @ 2-03, was the winning Junior 2-year-old at the Westerner Dairy Showcase in 2018, where she caught the eye of Tom DeGroot of T&L Cattle. Tom brought in Mike Berry and Triple-T as partners, and Jugojuice relocated to Ohio that winter. She calved in July 2019 and earned a max classification of EX-91 just a week before World Dairy Expo. She stood 5th on the colored shavings and sold to R&R Dairy, Franchise & David Jordan after the show. She traveled to the All American Jersey Show, standing 2nd in the Junior 3-Year-Old class, earning Reserve All American status from the American Jersey Cattle Association.
Jugojuice was at Franchise in Ohio when Misty Meadows spotted her in early Summer 2020. They purchased her dry and she calved in June. She was exhibited at the Western National Jersey show, taking Reserve Grand Champion honors. She was also named Grand Champion at the North American Open Jersey Show and classified EX-93 a few weeks later. Jugojuice was overwhelming voted as the ABA All-American 4-Year-Old after a top 7 finish at the All American Jersey Show. She started off 2021 right winning the Spring Dairy Expo Jersey Show 5-year-old class and has hopes of the returning to the show ring fresh again this fall.
Without a fine-tuned marketing plan, Jugojuice’s story may have been different. Lone Pine sells about 70 milking cows per year, attracting buyers of all sorts of makes and models. Because of a strong market, they rely heavily on sexed semen to keep an inventory on hand. “Our marketing program directly revolves around customer value and satisfaction,” commented Michael. “We calve out every single animal that goes through our system. Calving out every animal allows us to assess what role more accurately or more specifically where these cows will spend the rest of their lives.”
Lone Pine has three major marketing avenues for their cattle: herd cattle, family cows and nurse cows. Michael explained: “Our lower production/type cows take on families in seek of higher fat, un-pasteurized/un-homogenized milk. These cows usually end up being our more timid cows. The lack of compete means we work with them a lot in our two-stall robotic system and in-exchange, their temperament works out for the families and calves they will be supporting. Our higher tiered, more productive cows usually get marketed to other herds. We classify them as robot-ready, long-lasting cows that will compete for a spot in your herd. Calving out every animal certainly has its downfalls, especially in a robotic system where training time is something that cannot be overlooked. However, that assessment at two weeks in milk has allowed us to have long lasting relationships with customers that come back.”
Between their farming operation and the cows, everyone in the Haeni family is involved in some way. “All four of our boys have interest in agriculture and the dairy,” commented Adrian. “However, to what degree this involvement and the future holds has yet to be seen.” Michael, 27, is full-time on the farm and has a degree in Ag Business; Sam, 25, is at the farm and a Primary Care Paramedic; Jonas, 23, has an Ag Management diploma and is full-time on the farm; and Nils, 21, has his Class 1 trucker license and plays junior football. “Our biggest success is making a living farming for 27 years and raising a family that admires the farm just as much as us,” reflected Adrian.
With four adult sons, the Haenis needed to look at the future of the farm and how they would provide for everyone. The idea of an on-farm processing facility was the answer to their question. Ground broke in July 2021 and they hope to have Alberta’s only 100% Jersey creamery open by the end of the year. “The creamery will include a product line of 100% wholesome Jersey products that will be marketed under the Lone Pine Creamery label,” remarked Adrian. “This is an exciting, yet very uncharted opportunity for us. One thing will remain unchanged, our philosophy will always be to improve our herd’s longevity and production. Those benchmarks have always insinuated comfortable cows and healthy management practices. We honestly believe that when this environment is achieved it can create a very tasty product.”
While the focus lately has been on the creamery opening, the family also undertook another adventure – the Fall Fantasy Online Sale. The sale is hosted with Wendon Holsteins and takes place October 12-14. “It all started when we received a call from our good friends at Wendon,” said Adrian. “We have always respected and admired their herd and the Chalack family’s excellent cow-sense. Our children also had the privilege of looking up to Lindsay, Logan and Jillian all through 4-H and local shows. So, when the call came, it was an absolute no-brainer. We are also both in a position right now where our pens are full of an exciting lineup of animals, so we are excited about the prospect of a successful sale!”
Between breeding cows that are earning international recognition, diversifying the farm or marketing cattle worldwide, life is in full swing at Lone Pine. Over the last 27 years, the cows of Lone Pine have increased their value and marketability, and the Haeni family has earned the respect of breeders across the world. It seems ever fitting they are Jersey Canada’s 2021 Master Breeder and racking up more success as the year goes on.