Kueffner, Smiths inducted into Maryland Dairy Shrine at annual banquet
WEST FRIENDSHIP, Md. — Ernie Kueffner of Kueffner Holsteins and Jerseys and South Mountain Jerseys in Washington County and Robert and Mary Smith of My Lady’s Manor Farm in Harford County are the 2023 Guests of Honor to the Maryland Dairy Shrine.
The dairy breeders were welcomed into the shrine during the Maryland Dairy Awards Banquet April 29 at the Howard County Fairgrounds.
Kueffner has built a successful career around breeding, buying, showing, flushing, selling and promoting some of the finest cattle that exemplify the Holstein and Jersey breeds.
“Kueffner’s involvement in the dairy industry, outside of his own work, is a testament to his passion and knowledge of the ideal dairy cow,” said Matt Iager, Maryland Dairy Shrine treasurer who presented the awared to Kueffner.
Kueffner’s roots go back to Wisconsin, where his family built the Fullpail Sale Barn that he eventually purchased. He managed all aspects of the business, including auctioneering alongside his father, Ernie Kueffner Sr., and acquired his first two farms in Wisconsin in the 1970’s before relocating to North Carolina to manage two dairies for Buttke Dairy Enterprises. He then spent another 10 years with a herd of his own, which he sold in 1996.
In 1997, Ernie, along with his partner and wife, Terri Packard, moved to Boonsboro, Md., and started their Jersey herd, South Mountain Jerseys, named after the beautiful landscape and view of South Mountain. Their Boonsboro home, barn and outbuildings were built in the early 1860s and were once considered a hospital during the Civil War’s Battle of Antietam.
Kueffner hosted many sales over the years including the 2004 Legends of the Fall Sale where history was made at the Washington County Ag Center when Huronia Centurion Veronica was sold as a dry cow for $85,000.
Veronica would later become Supreme Champion at World Dairy Expo for Arethusa Farm in Litchfield, Conn., score Excellent 97, and become one of the most famous brood cows for type in Jersey breed history. Kueffner and Packard seized the opportunity to work with Arethusa Farm and in 2004, they moved there to manage the farm full-time. In 2013, the Kueffners returned to Maryland, where they continue to breed and develop Holsteins, Jerseys and the occasional Brown Swiss. Kueffner’s cattle sales over the last decade have sold nearly 1,000 head.
Throughout his career, Kueffner has bred more than 600 Excellent females and males in the United States and Canada (6 were scored Excellent 96 and 27 were scored Excellent 95).
Embryo Transfer has played a significant role in Ernie’s development of generations of household names in dairy cattle. He has exported thousands of embryos worldwide to over a dozen countries.
“Ernie’s career in the dairy industry has spanned across the Midwest, South, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, but Boonsboro, Md., has always been his ‘home.’ Maryland’s breeding excellence has benefitted greatly from the talent of Ernie Kueffner and his legacy will continue through generations of elite cattle around the world.”
Kueffner’s breeding philosophy is centered around the utmost care for the cow, Iager said. In developing generations of superior dairy cattle, Kueffner strives to improve the faults of the individual while maintaining the positive type traits that exist. Kueffner does not use any mating programs: he has always tried to see the milking daughters of a bull in person before using him.
Kueffner has received numerous honors and played a role with innumerable winners at World Dairy Expo, Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, All-American Dairy Show and many national shows across North America, yielding numerous All-American and All-Canadian awards. Ernie received the A.C. “Whitie” Thompson award in 2002, honoring a herdsman who exhibits exemplary leadership and sportsmanship throughout the World Dairy Expo. In 2022, Ernie was recognized by National Dairy Shrine as the Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder.
Accepting the award, Kueffner first thanked Packard.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in this business that can survive without a good partner,” he said.
He added coming to Maryland amidst a tradition of high-quality cattle, pushed them to succeed in breeding.
“The people here are very competitive,” he said. “That’s why we moved here, 26 years ago because of the competition and great cattle and it’s been 26 great years.”
The Smith family’s My Lady’s Manor Farm is one of the few farms that have succeeded in both the non-genomic era and the genomic era. Cows are well taken care of and are consistent in the large open-framed cows that look like and do milk, said David Hill, Maryland Dairy Shrine president who presented the award.
He added superior udders and excellent feet and legs have been a focus of the breeding program.
Nestled in the rolling hills of Harford County, Robert and Mary “Sam” Smith, owners of the world renowned prefix, My-Ladys-Manor milk about 400 cows in Monkton, Md. They have been laser-focused on breeding some of the best female lines in the Holstein industry. Their five-generation dairy farm has bred over 200 Excellent cows, developed 45 Gold Medal Dams and 118 Dam of Merit award winners.
My Lady’s Manor has won the Premier Breeder title 14 times at the Maryland State Fair and been the Premier Exhibitor nine times. My Lady’s Manor boasts as many as nine generations of bull mothers using an intensive embryo transfer program to make their herd better.
In addition, My Lady’s Manor have produced over more than 400 bulls for artificial insemination centers around the world.
The impact to the dairy industry continues with nearly 500,000 milking daughters in 30 countries sired by Ladys-Manor bred bulls. Household names of dairy sires found their beginnings at My Lady’s Manor. Bulls like Ladys-Manor Alta Wildman, LadysManor Ruby D Shout, Ladys-Manor Winchester, Ladys-Manor Shamrock, Grafetti and AltaAugust have over 10,000 daughters on DHI test worldwide.
Robert and Sam have two children Justin and Jarod who work on the farm. Robert’s parents, Ross and Jeannette Smith still live on the main farm.