Sometimes you have a heifer born and you just know they’re going to be a special one. Other times… they take you by surprise and, if you’re lucky, even exceed your expectations. When Todd Bricker kept Bricker-Farms Gibbs Carvella back from getting on the pot load with the rest of the herd during the Bricker Farms sellout in April 2016, he had no idea what the split-second decision would mean for his family in the coming years.
“She was just an average heifer – not huge – but super correct with a good set of feet and legs. Not one we would be wanting to show that year as a summer yearling,” Todd’s wife, Lynsey, remembers.
It wasn’t until she calved in and put an udder on that the couple realized Carvella was, in fact, ‘average’ no more. Over the next few years, the Brickers hauled Carvella to numerous local shows in the Salem, Ohio area. Year after year, show after show, she was recognized as a stand out competitor. Judge Phil Topp said “you can drive a lot of miles to find a cow as balanced as this one” as he tapped Carvella Reserve Supreme Champion at the county fair as a two-year-old.
Todd and Lynsey knew Carvella needed to see steeper competition. They, along with many other fans, believed she could handle it. The time had come in the Fall of 2019 – Carvella was fresh right and ready to rock at the Mid-Atlantic National Ayrshire Show in Harrisburg, PA… or so they thought. Carvella ended up catching an illness and, unfortunately, never made it to the ring. “I prayed she could make the trip home, where we then dried her off,” Lynsey explains.
All the stars finally aligned in 2021, when Carvella earned her first All-American nomination as an aged cow, and she’s been shining bright since. Just a few of her show ring accolades include the 2021 Reserve Grand Champion and 2022 Grand Champion at New York Spring Show, 2021 Reserve Grand Champion and 2022 Grand Champion at Ohio State Fair, and, in 2023, Grand Champion of the Junior Show at the International Ayrshire Show in 2022. Carvella finished off last year’s run with another All-American title in the Component Merit division.
“She’s such a fun cow to work with. She has her people she likes and people she hates. She gets herself ready and doesn’t really like being a show cow,” Lynsey admits half-jokingly.
Carvella is the type any dairyman or woman can appreciate – she’s accomplished in the show ring, exhibits impressive longevity, excels in milk production (she finished her last lactation just shy of 33,000 pounds!), and is all around just a really sound, functional cow. Just when the Brickers thought she had done it all, Carvella had another surprise in mind, becoming the the only living Ayrshire to be EX-95 (with an EX-96 mammary). This accomplishment was achieved due to the breeds recent switch to the multi-breed program administered by Holstein USA. Prior to this switch in June, 2023, an Ayrshire cow would max out at 94 points.
“Just when we think she’s done all we could ever ask of her, she says watch this! None of this would be possible without the people that care for her day in and day out from bagging her, filling her, clear down to clipping. It takes a team and we have a damn good one! LadyLuck Holsteins is the cow palace and we’re so thankful for her day to day care. She lives like the queen she is,” Lynsey wrote in her post-classification Facebook announcement.
Carvella has already worked up quite the resume, but her impact on the Ayrshire breed is clearly just ramping up. Though many of her natural calves have been bulls, her current daughters on the ground look promising. Bricker-Farms King Cinderella, a Kingsire daughter from Carvella, sold at the 2023 Shades of Excellence for $7,800 to Josh & Samantha Fairbanks and Adam Ludwig, IA and just topped the winter yearling class at the 2023 Midwest National Ayrshire Show.
At the 2023 National Ayrshire Convention, Todd and Lynsey sold a Carvella granddaughter sired by Champion who went for $4,750 to Zach Damrow & Abby Porte, ID as well as the rights to a Carvella IVF session, which was the first opportunity of its kind to sell at public auction for any Ayrshire breeder, that brought $4,700 and was purchased by Peter Vail, NY. Carvella embryos by Kingsire, Reynolds, and Prime have also been sold. The Brickers will continue flushing Carvella with plans of making more daughters available in the future.
For as much success as she’s experienced in recent years, Carvella’s best days may just be ahead. Fresh again in March 2023, at eight-years-old with her sixth calf, Carvella was just named Grand Champion at the Ohio State Fair Ayrshire Junior Show and Reserve Grand Champion in the Open Show. She’s gearing up to make another appearance on the colored shavings at World Dairy Expo in early October along with her Reynolds March calf.
Carvella’s story is sweet, but it is far from complete. For now, Todd and Lynsey, along with their four girls – Carli, Allison, Lacey and Kinslee – are still relishing in the fact that their homebred girl is the Ayrshire breed’s first to wear an EX-95 score. “Honestly, it hasn’t set in all the way yet that we have bred and owned the breeds most recent EX-95 point cow,” the couple humbly points out.