A feature article from our Spring 2022 issue written by Kathleen O’Keefe.
Sometimes it takes a little nudge to set you in the direction that you didn’t know you needed to go! That’s just what happened when a young Landree Fraley was showing at the 2015 Lycoming County Fair in north central Pennsylvania. The Fraleys (Adam, Gina and their twin children Landree and Dakota) exhibited a number of dairy breeds, but when judge Dave Trotter spoke with them after the show, he emphasized that they needed to add a Guernsey to their string. You may recognize Dave as being part of Trotacre Farm in Enon Valley, PA – a world-famous Guernsey herd. Dave is a former President of the American Guernsey Association, so he certainly had a not-so hidden agenda in promoting the breed to the family.
That seed of an idea planted in the summer of 2015 sprouted into reality in the spring of 2016 when Adam Fraley reached out to Cara Trotter and asked her to locate a good Guernsey heifer. She told Adam that a really good heifer had just sold in the Pennsylvania Blue Halter Sale, the annual state Guernsey sale. She reached out to the buyer and a deal was struck. Knapps Kringle Tappy-ET, a fancy winter calf, was headed to the Fraley heifer barn in Muncy, PA – the first Guernsey at the family operation.
When you’re venturing into a new breed, it’s always a good idea to purchase one from a well-known, well-respected cow family, and that’s just what the Fraleys got in Tappy. A Kringle daughter out of an EX-90 Regis dam that made 27,000M and 1238F, who was a full sister to the Knapps’ famous show cow – Knapps Regis Tambourine EX-95. Tambourine was a three-time Unanimous All-American with records over 40,000M and 2055F, a three-time Reserve Grand Champion at Madison, and the 2015 Global Guernsey Cow of the Year. The next dam is Knapps Ace Tamera EX-93, a true brood cow with over 50 Excellent and Very Good daughters. Tappy’s third dam is Sunrise Luxury Tami EX-93, the matriarch of the extensive T family at Knapp Guernseys in Epworth, IA, that has produced numerous show winners and All-American nominated individuals. It’s a family that is no stranger to the show ring and also regularly tops the performance lists – just what the Fraleys were looking for in their new project animal.
But sometimes it’s about more than just what’s on the paper; sometimes that heifer also captures your heart. Gina Fraley remembers the day Tappy arrived. “Landree and Tappy had a special bond from the moment she got off the trailer. She was so easy-going and followed Landree anywhere.” Undoubtedly, they had high hopes, but may not have dreamt how far Tappy and Landree would go as a team. A successful first show season wrapped up with Tappy being named HM All-American and HM Junior All-American Winter Calf in 2016.
In 2017, the pair brought their A-game to the show ring. Tappy was named Junior Champion at the Premier National Junior Show and All-American Dairy Show; Reserve Junior Champion of the Junior Show at World Dairy Expo; and Junior Champion and Reserve Supreme Junior Champion at the NAILE Junior Show in Louisville. “Tappy was the first heifer Landree had that earned a spot in a Supreme pageant. They really were a good team together – we always called them our Dynamic Duo,” recalls Gina. Tappy was named Unanimous Junior All-American Winter Yearling and Reserve All-American Winter Yearling at the close of the show season.
When she freshened as a two-year-old, Tappy moved to the Boop herd in MIllmont, PA. She continued her winning ways – nominated as a Senior 2-Year-Old in 2018, and named Unanimous Junior All-American and Reserve All-American 4-Year-Old in 2020, with Landree showing her every step of the way.
“We were thrilled with how Tappy did as a show heifer and show cow, but I never dreamed the extent to which she would breed on. We’ve owned some really good cows, but I’ve never had a cow that transmits like this. The American Pie cross was really a home run – we haven’t had a bad one.”
ADAM FRALEY ON TAPPY’S TRANSMITTING POWER
Tappy, who had been flushed as a heifer, continued to be a prolific embryo producer as a cow. Adam thought the perfect cross for her was to Indian Acres American Pie, the extremely popular son of World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion, Indian Acres MM Pistachio Pie EX-94. They sold the resulting #1 embryos and used the #2 embryos to make show heifers, a strategy that paid off over and over, as the embryos always brought good prices, and the pregnancies they made turned into fancy calves.
“We were thrilled with how Tappy did as a show heifer and show cow, but I never dreamed the extent to which she would breed on. We’ve owned some really good cows, but I’ve never had a cow that transmits like this. The American Pie cross was really a home run – we haven’t had a bad one,” says Adam. Her two milking Pie daughters have show ring resumes that rival their dam.
Twin County What’s On Tap claimed the ‘Triple Crown’ as a winter calf – winning the three big fall shows at Harrisburg, Madison, and Louisville on her way to being named the Unanimous All-American and Junior All-American Winter Calf in 2019. She continued in 2020 as the Unanimous Junior All-American Winter Yearling and HM All-American Winter Yearling before calving in 2021 and being nominated Junior All-American Junior 2-Year-Old.
Not to be outdone, her younger full sister, Twin County Pies Love Tap-ET, won that same Triple Crown as a Junior 2-Year-Old in 2021 – 1st at the three biggest shows led to her Unanimous All-American and Unanimous Junior All-American Junior 2-Year-Old titles (she was also the Reserve All-American Spring Calf and Reserve All-American Spring Yearling in preceding years). Unlike Tappy, the Fraleys kept Love Tap at home for her 2021 campaign. “We milked her everyday here at our place and we were really happy with how she developed. We’re going to give her this year off, and bring her back as a 4-year-old next year,” explains Adam.
The burgeoning cow family at the Twin County Farm has left lots of memories with the family. “One of the special shows that sticks out is the 2020 National Guernsey Show in Louisville. Tappy was Grand Champion of the Junior Show and What’s on Tap was Junior Champion of the Junior Show – the mother-daughter duo that swept the show,” smiles Gina. Tappy daughters made up the All-American Junior Best Three that year, and Love Tap and What’s on Tap were the Reserve All-American Produce of Dam in 2021.
Sadly, the Fraleys lost Tappy earlier this year in January. “She calved early with twins, went down and couldn’t get up. We took her to the veterinary hospital at Cornell, but she passed away. It was pretty hard on all of us, and Landree particularly,” says Adam. “The one thing that helped was having her heifers in the barn, and we’ve got about 20-25 #2 embryos in the tank from her, so her story isn’t done. Her legacy will be continuing for the next few years as we make more daughters from her. We have March and December calves from her now as well as Summer and Spring yearlings in the barn, and we know of a good September calf of hers that we might try to buy. We’ll have a full slate of Tappy daughters to show this year.”
Though they continue to have a barn full of many colors, Tappy and her offspring made the Fraleys enthusiasts of the Guernsey breed. “The Guernseys have come so far in the last ten years – they’ve really made strides in adding more width back to the breed, in their feet and legs, and udder quality. Landree really loves them – I think they may be her favorite breed. They are really nice cattle to work with temperament-wise, very gentle and they love to be loved,” notes Adam.
Tappy may not be standing in the barn any longer, but she will always have an outsized place in the family’s affections, according to Adam. “She was our first big-time show heifer. She was the first heifer Landree showed at World Dairy Expo that did well. She had so much success for our family and now her daughters are doing the same. She really took us to the next level and we’re really grateful we had the chance to work with her.”