A Hidden Gem in Central Wisconsin - Honey-Pine Holsteins

A Hidden Gem in Central Wisconsin – Honey-Pine Holsteins

This article was featured in our Spring 2020 issue and is written by Doug Urban.

Pat and Mary Ledden of Honey-Pine Holsteins

One can sense the pride that Pat and Mary Ledden, the owners of Honey-Pine Holsteins, near Auburndale, Wisconsin have in their herd as they show you the cows in their 90-cow tie stall barn and for good reason.   The herd consists of a mix of stylish young cows with well-attached udders and many older EX cows with deep bodies and deep pedigrees.  The latest classification resulted in 17 EX, 44 VG and 19 G+ cows.  The barn at Honey-Pine is usually a flurry of activity as their son Neil and his wife Katie milk the cows, keep tabs on their sons Tucker (2) and Connor (11 mos.), lead their show animals and feed the calves and chickens.  Pat assists with feeding

Neil, Katie, Tucker and Conner Ledden

and the crops.  The Leddens also have 2 part-time employees.  Katie also works at Provision Partners, a feed and crop supply cooperative near Auburndale.

Pat started dairy farming with grade Holstein near Arpin, Wisconsin in 1973.  His interest in Registered Holsteins began in the early 1980’s as he gradually purchased Registered animals to replace the grade cows as they left the herd.  The farm was located on poorly-drained soil and it was always a struggle to get crops planted and harvested in a timely manner.  In 2005 they purchased a beautiful farm with rolling hills and well-drained soil.  When asked about the difference between the two farms Pat said, “Nice land makes a difference in the profitability of the farm, especially in years with low milk prices.”  The herd has a rolling herd average of 24,500 M 912 F 750 P.

The Ledden family enjoys showing dairy cattle and has shown at the very competitive Central Wisconsin State Fair in Marshfield for 34 consecutive years starting in 1985.  Their show box is usually surrounded by the Ledden clan and grandchildren and neighbor kids who want to show a calf.  Neil has worked as a fitter at district and state shows and at World Dairy Expo in Madison for several years.   The highlight of their 2019 show season was a

Honey-Pine Doorman Trin VG-88 was Reserve Intermediate Champion at the District 4 WI Holstein Show in 2019.

homebred Junior 2-Year Old Honey-Pine Doorman Trin VG-88 who placed 1st and was Reserve Intermediate Champion at the District 4 Holstein Show. Neil and Katie entered her in the International Holstein Show at World Dairy Expo where she placed 17th.  She is due in June and hopefully will be part of the show string again this year. Trin is a daughter of Val-Bison Doorman-ET and out of Rob-Cri Gold Chip Tippy-ET EX-92 by Mr Chassity Gold Chip-ET.   The next dam is an EX daughter of Sunnylodge Linjet named Talk-About Linjet Try.  Tippy also has more daughters by Doorman and Walnutlawn Solomon-ET in the heifer pens.  Pat states without hesitation that, “Tippy is the best-transmitting brood cow I have ever owned!”  Tippy was bred by Robert and Christine Barden of Plover, WI.

Honey-Pine Snchz Carly-ET was the 2nd cow saved in a devastating barn fir in 2014, and would later score EX-95 in February 2019.

Another highlight of 2019 was having a homebred “committee” cow.  In February Honey-Pine Snchz Carly-ET was scored EX-95 by a committee of classifiers.  Carly is a daughter of Gen-Mark Stmatic Sanchez and out of Wil-Wen-Brook Lnjt Cheetah EX-92.  Her grandma was a Good Plus-84 Hanoverhill Raider-ET daughter.  Carly has 3 daughters by Regancrest Elton Durham to look forward to.  When asked about the achievement of breeding an Excellent-95 cow Pat said, “It is important to have a good sire stack, but it also takes a lot of luck.”  In March of 2014 the Leddens found their barn on fire early in the morning due to an electrical problem.  They were able to get some of the cows out of the barn, but lost 42 head in the fire and an additional 20 head later on due to complications from the fire.  “The fire was devastating due to the lost genetics, but they were “lucky” in one way.  The future 95 point cow was on the end of the barn where they started to get cows out and Carly was the second cow out,” according to Pat.  The Leddens milked the surviving cows in the barn of neighbors and rebuilt the barn and 54 days later were milking cows at home again.  They replaced the herd with cows that they thought would score Very Good or better.  They were successful having 12 of the replacement cows score Excellent and many Very Good.

Roc-Cri Gold Chip Tippy EX-92, the dam of Trin, has heifers by Doorman and Solomon that look promising.

Other cow families that they are breeding from include Kingsmill Annamarie VG-88 by Golden-Oaks ST Alexander-ET a granddaughter of Tri-Day Ashlyn-ET EX-96 GMD DOM who has some Durham daughters.   Rob-Cri Sid Shasta EX-91 by Pine-Tree Sid-ET and out of Rob-Cri Tribute Shimmer with Solomon daughters.  Another favorite is Our-Favorite Live It Up VG-85 who is sired by Scientific-B Defiant-ET *RC and a daughter of Our-Favorite Endless-ET EX-94 by Doorman and comes from the 95 point Atwood daughter Our-Favorite Unlimited EX-94.  The next dam is Our-Favorite Obvious EX-93 by Picston Shottle.   A lovely red cow is Rob-Cri Abslut Mantaray –Red VG-87 by Apple Absolute-Red-ET and her dam Rob-Cri Redlou Mermaid-Red by Fieldhouse Redlou-Red-ET.  The next 5 dams are an EX-91 KHW Kite Advent-Red-ET, a VG-88 STBVQ Rubens, an EX-90 GMD Hanoverhill Skybuck, a VG-89 Hanoverhill Inspiration *RC and a VG-88 Art-Acres Ned Boy Oscar.  Another red cow that they have shown is Honey-Pine Jumanji-Red-ET EX-91 sired by Andross Sterling-ET *RC and out of a VG-86 Advent.

In-vitro embryo production is utilized on their best cows to improve the genetics of their herd. Current service sires include Doorman, Gold Chip, Brenland Denver, Cycle McGucci Jordy-Red, Mr Blondin Warrior Red-ET, and Lirr Drew Dempsey.  They have daughters of Solomon and Mr D Apple Diamondback starting to calve and say that they look promising.

Honey-Pine Jumanji-Red-ET EX-91 is an exciting RW the Ledden family is working with.

The future looks bright at this Central Wisconsin dairy farm.  The box stalls in the barn have show heifers sired by Doorman, Solomon, Diamondback, Gold Chip and Jordy-Red.  Neil and Katie work with them daily preparing them for the show season.   Neil and Katie are part owners of the LLC and hope to purchase the remaining shares.  Pat says, ”I love what I am doing here on the farm, but Mary and I are looking forward to some free time.”  Neil and Katie will continue the legacy of the farm using the “Irish-Spring” prefix.  They also have four Jersey heifers and one cow.  The cow has their prefix and is named Tolduso Merica Justice VG-87 2y.  When asked what his goals are Neil stated, “I hope to breed some All-Americans.”  With hard work, using good type bulls and a little luck these young dairy farmers are well on their way.

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