PA-based upstart has world’s only son of Co-Vale Dempsey Dina 4270-ET EX96
By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, July 12, 2019
LEBANON, Pa. — Genetics is the multifaceted red-hot topic with nuances that vary across the spectrum of dairies, from small to large, breeder to commercial — and everything in between. It’s objective and subjective. Art and science. Logic and passion. Fact and opinion. All rolled up into one subject that can keep you talking for hours, if not days.
What cuts across all, is managing progress — finding ways to move a herd forward in an environment of rapid change in the face of economic constraints.
For Kendra Nagle, with the help of her righthand man Brandon DeLong, and her father Ken Reist, Top Notch Genetics LLC is that labor of love.
“Our goal is to keep the dairy farmer moving forward in their genetic progress,” says Kendra, about the genetics company based from her home in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and launched March 1, 2018 — two years after starting Got Embryos.
Friday’s ‘Dynamite’ release has ignited some bullishness, and there’s more to come.
“The most exciting thing yet is Dynamite from Bob Landis. He’s by Kenosha out of the famous Dina,” Kendra reports. “We are super excited to get him out there and get people using him and hope to see babies in the next nine to 12 months. We’re excited to see how they look.”
Bob Landis of Landis Marketing and Landis-MRK Holsteins already knows how Dina’s daughters look, he’s working with many of them already.
“We’re convinced Dynamite will make pretty show babies,” says an obviously excited Kendra.
Top Notch owns bulls, leases bulls and partners on bulls. Their catalog is growing, and they offer some services that put eyes on cattle — not just the numbers and pedigrees — with linear scoring for matings based on what is, not what should be. They even help farms better utilize what’s already in their own inventory.
And they are handling bulls from all over. The bulls are housed and collected at two locations in California, and Brandon, who lives in Lebanon and hails from a dairy farm in Michigan, travels to the Midwest every other week, north once a month and throughout the Mid-Atlantic on the days in between.
“Brandon finds the bulls, he does the research, talks to the farmers, sets up the leases. He is an encyclopedia of cattle, especially in the show world — knowing sires, daughters, families. He knows it inside and out,” Kendra relates.
Recently, two representatives in Lancaster County have been added — James Mast, Morgantown, and Joe Wivell, Columbia — just in time for Dynamite.
Jordan Zimmerman of Misty Z Holsteins, East Earl, Pa. was the first to light that fuse, and others in Lancaster County are also getting in. It’s not every day that the son of an internationally-renown cow with some local heritage is offered, available and approachable for everyone.
In addition to Dina’s ‘cool local story,’ her fans are worldwide with international interest coming in for the only son in the world by three-time All American Co-Vale Dempsey Dina 4270-ET EX96.
Dina made her mark on the international stage in 2017, when she was reserve grand champion of the International Holstein Show at World Dairy Expo and grand champion Holstein of the Canadian Royal Agricultural Fair. That year she was also unanimous All-Canadian and All-American 4-year-old.
She came back last fall as first place 5-year-old, best udder and best production cow of a very large and competitive International Holstein Show at the 2018 World Dairy Expo.
And in January of this year, Dina was upgraded to EX-96, after unanimous consideration from multiple Holstein USA classifiers.
Since 2017, Dina has been co-owned and exhibited by Milksource of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, where she lives today and was visited by the Pennsylvania delegation during the National Holstein convention in the Dairyland State in June. Ransom Rail, Perry, New York is also a co-owner.
But her story has a twist for the locals who have followed her for all of her five years. Whether in the showring or attending cattle auctions and Holstein events, Lancaster Countians had a front-row seat for Dina’s development as the 4-H show calf of Bob’s granddaughter Olivia Gold.
Born in Preble, New York and bred by the Cates family of Co-Vale Holsteins, the Ex-96 black beauty’s story started here when Bob and his granddaughter purchased Dina as a calf at a GTPI Type Sale in 2013.
When she calved in 2014, Bob reports that he and Olivia sold half-interest to the Dueppengiessers of Ransom Rail. Nominated fall yearling in milk that year, she went on to be undefeated at World Dairy Expo in Madison and at the Royal in 2015. By July of 2017, Bob had sold his half to Milksource at the Radiance of Ransom Rail.
Dynamite will be pictured this fall, and Kendra says he’s tall, strong and deep with “a great foot and leg score and great udder traits.” What also makes him special is as a cross with no Doorman in his pedigree.
“We were thrilled when Bob called and asked if we would be interested in carrying him,” Kendra recalls. “He’s the only Dina son in the world right now being collected and available for everyone.”
For Kendra, it’s all about relationships and access. She built an international network through Got Embryos, and that’s how she met Brandon. “We launched the genetics business, started the catalog, kept collecting and growing and hitting the pavement,” she says. “We’ve been through four proofs since we started, and are streamlining, getting better genetics and seeing opportunities open up.”
The bullishness continues. Kendra reports another Lancaster County bull from Bob Landis will debut this week.
“Denali has a cool story too,” she says. He carries Bob’s prefix, but Gary Martin is his owner with Bob and Top Notch buying-in for collection.
Bob had Denali’s dam at the Martin farm for calving, and when she had a bull calf, Bob said ‘keep him’ as toward payment. Gary is a smart 17-year-old.
“He liked the pedigree and saw some interesting things behind the little bull calf, so before making any decisions he got Denali genomic-tested, and he came back +4.06 for Type,” Kendra recounts. “He called Bob and said, ‘so, I’ve got this thing to tell you.’ Bob was surprised and called us right away to see if we would be interested in carrying this Crush son. His dam is a Byway out of Gold Chip Dina and out of Gold Deb EX-95.”
In addition to Dynamite and Denali from Landis-MRK, Top Notch is working with bulls from Luck-E and others in the Midwest, and Waddell, Penn England, Tom Mercuro, Ladys Manor, and Cool Lawn, just for example in the East. The bulls they are collecting span from Pennsylvania, New York, New England and Virginia to Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Washington and even Canada.
On the sales side, internationally, they’ve worked with herds in Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Peru and the Middle East and are working on Europe and Canada.
“We don’t sleep, especially when proofs come out,” Kendra confesses.
She’s driven by wanting to help dairy farmers get the genetics that best fit their herds, even as she, herself, has been searching for her ‘fit’ since 2011, when the cows on her parents’ farm were sold.
Kendra is understandably proud of the conception rates they are seeing above the average by 4 to 15%. “We listen to farmers, do our research, work out of my home, and try to keep prices affordable so farmers can use higher net merit and GTPI bulls,” she explains.
And there are no strings attached: “All of our bulls are free agents. Farmers can use a 2900 GTPI bull to make a heifer or bull and do what they want with them.”
She’s learned some lessons in these three years. “The biggest is that genetics move really fast,” she says. “Those numbers move and they change. So it’s important for us to learn and listen for what our farmers are wanting, and to match that — to be comprehensive, competitive and smart when picking genetics, to look at genomics, scores, net merit, but also cow families and to make sure the other things are there, like daughter pregnancy rate and calving ease, and to have a good offering across the board.”
Kendra loves being around dairy cows and working with the farmers. Her passion is contagious.
“I think I’ve found my fit,” she says.