Empty pastures an ‘emotional day’ for Ediger
THURMONT, Md. — In April, the last 15 animals of Dr. Raymond Ediger’s Green Spring Farm herd of Shorthorn cattle were dispersed at public auction. The remaining herd consisted of seven cows with calves at their side, four yearling heifers, and four yearling bulls and were examined and studied by a huge crowd of repeat buyers, local and national Shorthorn enthusiasts and friends.
The top-selling cow, RDE Bonnie Bee 701, a four-year-old daughter of JSF Broker 157Z sold for $12,800 to Mark and Will Iager of Jefferson, Md. She had a beautiful three-week-old roan heifer calf at her side sired by RDE Lancelot 901. The second high-selling cow, RDE Loretta 303, a daughter of RDE Raymond David 946, and granddaughter of TPS Coronet Leader 21 sold for $5,500 to Robert Boden of Hagerstown, Md. She had a 6-week-old white bull calf at her side sired by RDE Lancelot 901. The top-selling yearling heifer, RDE Vanessa 100, daughter of RDE Lancelot 901, sold for $3,800 to a junior member Cora Coblentz of Thurmont, Md. The top-selling yearling bull RDE Diesel 107 sold for $3,900 to Donna and Michael Buck of Ijamsville, Md.
“It was an emotional day when I viewed the empty pastures,” Ediger, 86, said, “but I couldn’t help but be happy knowing that these incredible animals were going into herds where I hoped that they would give their new owners as much pleasure as they have given me over these many years.”
The April sale caps off Ediger’s notable career in breeding Shorthorn cattle.
The hallmarks of Green Spring Shorthorns are soundness, productivity, and docile nature. Several of the cows were recognized as Dams of Performance. A small number of animals reach this distinction but in the Green Spring Herd, a number have attained this exclusive status.
Ediger enjoyed being around cattle since his childhood in Oregon, but since 1976, the Shorthorn breed of cattle specifically has been his passion.
Working as a veterinarian then, Ediger visited Holly Hill Farm in Ijamsville, Md., then owned by the late Robert Richie. At that time, the Holly Hill herd was one of the largest purebred shorthorn herds in Maryland, building it from Virginia Tech’s performance-based Shorthorn herd.
During the 1976 visit, Ediger noticed a cow with twin heifer calves, but only one calf had been accepted by the mother. Wanting the orphaned calf to have a chance to thrive, he bought the calf from Richie
Ediger and his wife Louise cared for the calf on their porch until it was strong enough to stay in the barn. She was named Countess Mari-Ann x3617563 and became the foundation of Green Spring Farm’s Shorthorn herd.
From the beginning of the Green Spring herd, performance was the primary emphasis in the breeding decisions with special emphasis on feet, legs, udders, and dispositions.
Many AI performance-based sires have been used over the years, but only three genetically out-crossed females have been added to the herd. All of the other cattle trace back in some way to the original Mari-Ann.
Mari-Ann had five sets of twins and her daughters also had multiple sets of twins. She stayed in the herd until 19 years of age.
Most of Ediger’s sales from his herd were to 4-H and FFA members for livestock projects. Youth who purchased Green Spring Cattle went on to show many champions, and rate-of-gain and carcass winners. Many of these purchases resulted in new Shorthorn herds or Shorthorns to compliment crossbreeding programs.
In 2009, Dr. Ediger disbursed 185 head at a public sale with cattle going to 9 different states.
Ediger has served as a leader for close to 60 years
Ediger has been the recipient of numerous awards including Building of the Breed 2011, the Top Hand Award from the Maryland Cattleman’s Association, the Maryland Governor’s Citation for Bravery for saving the life of a man being gored by a bull, the Maryland Veterinary Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2021, he was named the Keystone International Livestock Exposition Show Honoree.
Many years ago, the Western Maryland Veterinary Medical Association created the Dr. Raymond Ediger Award for Excellence in Agriculture awarded annually to students who demonstrate excellent scientific work in agricultural science.