Shannon Mason, Jefferson, N.Y., will receive one of seven Young Jersey Breeder Awards given by the American Jersey Cattle Association in ceremonies on June 27, 2014, during the association’s Annual Meetings in Alexandria, Virginia.
The Young Jersey Breeder Award is presented to individuals or couples who are at least 28 years old and under the age of 40 on January 1 of the year nominated, who merit recognition for their expertise in dairy farming, breeding Jersey cattle, participation in programs of the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All-Jersey Inc., and leadership in Jersey and other dairy and agriculture organizations.
Shannon is the sixth generation to operate Danforth Jersey Farm, which was established by her great-great-great grandparents, Nahum and Esther Danforth, in 1817. With her grandfather’s passing in 2004, most of the cows were sold, but Shannon held on to the young stock and a handful of deep-pedigreed cows. Two years later she began milking the 20-cow herd after working with her uncle, Russell, to learn about dairy herd management. Shannon now does milkings and barn chores daily and a majority of the haying during the summer.
Today the herd consists of 48 milking cows with a 2013 lactation average of 20,321 lbs. milk, 924 lbs. fat, and 734 lbs. protein. Danforth Jersey Farm ranks among the top 25% of REAP herds in the nation for average Jersey Performance Index™. The herd has an average appraisal score of 85.3% with 11 Excellent and 26 Very Good cows. Five of the Excellent cows were bred by Shannon, while the others were bred by her uncles, Alan and Russell, using the farm’s prefix.
In addition to overseeing the operation of the dairy herd, Shannon is also in charge of design, marketing, sales, communication, and promotion for Cowbella Creamery. The creamery, established in 2010, was inspired by Shannon’s great-great grandmother who made award-winning butter during the late 1800s. The Queen of Quality® producer makes butter and yogurt that is sold in 32 locations and used in half a dozen restaurants. Shannon plans to begin bottling skim and whole milk next year.
The American Jersey Cattle Association, organized in 1868, compiles and maintains animal identification and performance data on Jersey cattle and provides services that support genetic improvement and greater profitability through increasing the value of and demand for Registered Jersey™ cattle and genetics, and Jersey milk and milk products. For more information on the association’s complete line of services for dairy business owners, visit the website at www.USJersey.com or connect at Facebook.com/USJersey.