Meet the 2023 International Ayrshire Show Judge, Kurt Wolf
An Ayrshire aficionado since his early 4-H days, Kurt Wolf of Guttenberg, IA is gearing up for his most prestigious assignment yet. In early October, he will serve as Official Judge of the 2023 International Ayrshire Show at World Dairy Expo.
It’s no coincidence Kurt was elected by his peers to judge the largest Ayrshire show in the world. He’s a talented breeder, developer and marketer of Ayrshire genetics internationally. Since 2009, he and his partners have bred, owned or sold 181 All-American nominees, including two Grand Champions at World Dairy Expo and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON. Additionally, champion cows have come from Kurt’s string at NAILE, All-American Dairy Show, Midwest Summer National Ayrshire Show, the Wisconsin State Ayrshire Show and multiple state fairs.
‘Old-Bankston’ is the prefix Kurt, and his wife, Michelle, an Ohio native, are using to build their Ayrshire empire. While he works full-time as an AI Technician for Cannon ABS, Kurt’s own herd of elite show cattle keep him busy at home when he’s not on the road breeding. Kurt and Michelle have a three-year-old son, Cooper who enjoys time in the barn just as much as his parents. The farm is a small acreage that’s been converted into a facility for working with cattle of all ages for show and sale prep. In addition to the show animals housed at Kurt and Michelle’s, Wolf Dairy is located about 10 miles away, just outside of Bankston, Iowa. Wolf Dairy is owned and operated by Kurt’s mother, Kim and Kurt’s brothers, Ted and Scott. The farm milks 250 cows, and farms 400 acres.
Of course, every Official on the colored shavings needs an equally critical and qualified Associate Judge. For Kurt, it was an easy decision. “I wanted someone that has been around Ayrshires, has some experience judging and just a person I can feel comfortable out in the ring with,” Kurt explains. “Steve Searles was the man that first came to mind!”
Steve, a Minnesota resident, has a resume as good as any, having bred or exhibited many All-American nominees over the years under his ‘Stillmore Cattle Co.’ farm name. This includes the 3x World Dairy Expo Grand Champion, Valevue BBK Minerva EX-96. “Steve took care of my very first World Dairy Expo class winner for me years ago and is now a part of the Old-Banskton show crew. I feel we know the kind of cattle we like and will work well together to sort the animals on the colored shavings.”
The show ring is only one side of this business, but when it comes to Kurt, he’s found as much success outside of the show ring as he’s had in it! He and his partners have bred and sold countless sale toppers over the years, including the all-time high selling Ayrshire. Old-Bankston- AL Wynonna-ET sold for $67,000 to Misty Meadow Dairy at the 2021 Quest for the Franchise Kind Sale and prior to that, Kurt and partners held the high selling breed record at $25,000 with Old-Bankston JC Bri’s Bikini EX-94.
When it comes to marketing, Kurt says there is one tactic that has worked best for Old- Bankston. “They are all for sale! They just might not be on sale. Nobody wants to buy just average heifers or cows anymore, they want your good ones. We sell them and just make more!” Kurt also adds the importance of full pedigrees, high scores and show type. When you put that all together, you just can’t go wrong, and Old-Bankston’s track record is living proof.
Kurt’s career with Ayrshires thus far has been filled with bucket list items year after year — from exhibiting numerous national Grand Champions to now judging the International Ayrshire show.