by Harold Tompkins
On Thursday, April 20, Grenville County Milk Producers gathered at the Roebuck Community Centre for its annual awards nights. Winning awards were Rideauside Farms, Kemptville; Gerann Holsteins, Cardinal; Fairmile Farms, Spencerville; Kenora Farms, Spencerville; and Tom Liezert, Cardinal.
The evening included special recognition for one of their own, Allan Hess of Kemptville. On April 8, Allan, owner of Hessholm Holsteins, was awarded the highly coveted Master Breeder Shield at Holstein Canada’s Master Breeder Gala, held in Richmond Hill, Ontario. The national award is given in recognition of a herd of cows bred by a member of the Association that have shown superior production, outstanding conformation, combined with longevity in the previous 20 year period compared to all Holstein herds from across Canada. This award cannot be achieved quickly or without a lot of work, knowledge and the ability to breed many superior animals generation after generation.
The Hess family have owned the current operation near Heckston since 1914. Allan’s father, John, took over the farm in 1955 which included a grade, lower producing herd. Over the years he used breed improvement programs available to him, including artificial insemination which allowed him access to better genetics.
John and his wife Jean raised five children on the farm. In their youth, John, his children and grandchildren were active on the farm and in the 4-H calf club winning awards in their own right. John’s commitment to the industry extended beyond the farm as he served as a director and president of the Grenville Soil and Crop Improvement Association; member of the Grenville Milk Committee; and from 1969 until his passing in 2006, was a director of the Grenville Holstein Club serving as president in 1987. Not only did he serve locally, but was also a director and president of the Ontario Branch of Holstein Canada.
In 1984 John’s son David came home to farm in partnership with his father. By 1994, it was time to pass the torch to the next generation. Sons David and Allan formed a partnership taking over the farm and quality herd built by their father. 1986 saw their first cow classify Excellent (only 0.5% of cows in Canada attain this rating) with many more since that time. Holstein Canada gives special recognition for cows that have produced at least 60,000 kilograms of milk in their lifetime. Hessholm have had many cows achieve this level of production, with a number over 80, 90 and even 100,000, including Hessholm Aero Early Matinee who produced 128,336 kilograms of milk, was classified Excellent six times and lived to be 15 years of age. Hessholm animals have also been successfully exhibited at local and regional shows on a regular basis. David and Allan have also served on various committees.
The Master Breeder program was established in 1929. Hessholm Holsteins is only the fourth herd in Grenville County to earn this prestigious award in the past 87 years. Canada is recognized internationally as a leader in Holstein genetics and management practices. Top breeders from around the world understand the dedication, hard work and ability required to breed and develop a herd to the level required to earn the Master Breeder Shield. Hessholm Holsteins have now earned their respect.
Since David’s passing in October of 2015, Allan continues operating the farm with full time help from his son Cassidy and part time help from younger son Parker now in grade 7.