Friday, 08 July 2016 10:24

An Udder Success

By Maureen Werther | News
An Udder Success
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City Center was host to 75 male and female calves and more than 1,300 attendees last week for the National Holstein Association’s annual conference. These animals were not your average heifers. In fact, the cows in attendance were literally outstanding in their field. Holsteins are the top breed in the dairy industry, and breeding and bloodlines are just as important to dairy farmers as they are with thoroughbreds. Similarities to the Fasig-Tipton yearling sales don’t end there. After a week of education, entertainment, business conferences and sight-seeing, attendees geared up for the real reason they were here: to buy and sell the bovine “cream of the crop.” A preview of the high-class heifers was held on Thursday at 4 p.m., and the Holstein auction went from 7 p.m. Thursday to Friday at 1 p.m. In addition to live bidding, online bidding was also available for buyers from other states and other countries. On the night of the sale, attendance swelled to more than 2,000 people from 40 states and 8 different countries, according to Saratoga Springs City Center president, Mark Baker. The cattle were kept in air-conditioned tents in one half of the City Center’s parking lot on Maple Avenue during the convention, where they were fed, bathed, groomed and generally pampered in preparation for their entrance into the auction hall. The other half of the parking lot housed their feed, bedding, grooming supplies and heavy-duty transportation vehicles. Total sales for the event were $1.8 million. According to Jeff King of King’s Ransom Farm in Schuylerville and co-chair of the convention with his wife, Rebecca, the highest priced calf at the auction came from another Schuylerville farm. Clear-Echo Modesty 3817-ET, a female, was consigned by Kevin Peck and family of Clear-Echo Farm in Schuylerville and purchased by Peak Genetics from Wisconsin for $180,000. Other local farms that sold cattle at auction include Kyle Getty, partner of Cookie Cutter Holsteins at Ideal Dairy Farms in Hudson Falls, whose female calf, “Handwrit,” sold for $36,000. National Holstein Association headquarters is in Brattleboro, Vermont and the week-long convention is held in a different city each year. Baker noted that the bidding process to bring the event to Saratoga Springs took place four years ago. “That’s very typical for national conventions,” said Baker. The convention was in Chicago last year and will be in Washington State in 2017. “We must wait another four years before being eligible to bid again to get them back into town,” he said. There is good reason to bring the conference back to Saratoga County. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Saratoga County is home to 34 dairy farms, most of them family-owned and operated, that produce nearly $40 million annually in milk sales. The Holstein convention took over the entire City Center and adjacent Hilton hotel. Attendees also stayed at the Hampton, Marriott, Holiday Inns and other local motels. Convention-goers went on frequent off-site visits to the Saratoga Battlefields, Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom, Saratoga Polo Club, as well as participating in tours of the Oklahoma track and historic homes of downtown Saratoga.
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