By MELISSA HART
MORENCI, Mich. — The coveted Master Breeder Award is the highest honor given to a Holstein breeder in Michigan for leadership, community service, breeding philosophy, herd management and industry impact.
This year the Michigan Holstein Assoc. (MHA) honored two influential breeders with the award: Roger Wolf of Morenci and, posthumously, Jim Cook of Lowell.
Wolfland Farms on the Michigan-Ohio state line is where deep-pedigreed cattle were produced and quality Holstein genetics were honed. Milking 100 cows on their 600-acre farm, Roger and Karen Wolf and their three children were all involved in the farm.
With genetics as his passion, Roger looked with anticipation at the next generation to see if the breeding choices he made produced the progress he desired – and they did. His success included breeding 10 excellent cows to EX-94 as well as developing many more excellent cows. But the genetics didn’t stop with the females; he bred three EX bulls as well.
Perhaps the bull that really put Wolfland on the map was Woodbine Pearl Comet, a bull the Wolfs bought and developed, and later sold to Select Sires as a proven bull. Roger had an eye for purchasing the right cattle as he bought and developed Great View Morning Star, EX 95, who also had a full sister in EX 95; certainly one of the breed’s rare pairs of full sisters, both 95.
No stranger to the show ring, Wolfland Farms already had a trophy case full of awards, having bred and shown several All-Michigan and Reserve All-Michigan animals throughout the years.
In 1994, the Wolfs decided to disperse the dairy herd, but Roger’s passion for breeding the next good one took him into the beef industry. “When we sold the cows, I felt lost, not because I wasn’t milking anymore, but because I wasn’t breeding cattle,” he explained.
In 1995, 50 beef heifers from Wyoming were delivered to Wolfland and they were the foundation of its present 65-cow beef herd. Roger and his son market club calves, breeding heifers and steers from their Angus crossbred herd of mother cows.
“I enjoy going out in the pasture and looking at the calves and seeing what breeding decisions were good ones and what we need to change,” said Roger.
He has the distinguished honor of his photograph being permanently displayed at the MSU Livestock Pavilion after winning Michigan Dairy Farmer of the Year from Michigan State University in 1991. He has also won the Purebred Breeder Registry award twice.
Roger served as MHA president in 1985 and 1986 and was vice chair of the National Holstein Convention in 1997 when it was last hosted by Michigan. He has also been president of MHA District II.
He is an accomplished dairy judge, having judged many county and district fairs. He is also a former chair of the Morenci United Methodist Church administrative board. The Wolfs have 3 children and 11 grandchildren.
For the first time a posthumous MHA Master Breeder award was handed out to Cook, of Lowell, Mich. He and his wife, Berdie, in partnership with Jim’s parents, Jim and Dora, operated Janeland Farms in Lowell, where they milked 180 cows and farmed 1,100 acres.
Jim (the younger) was a passionate Registered Holstein breeder and showman. He was an active member of the MHA for many years. He and Berdie were named the Michigan Milk Producers Assoc. Outstanding Young Dairy Couple in 1979 and had three children: Jamie, Jennifer and Cindy.
They sold their cows in December 1992, which allowed Jim to focus on his successful auctioneering business. Jim and Berdie were married 38 years when he passed away in December 2005.