Balancing Breeding with Business – Alpina Dairy Farm – 2X Master Breeder
In the 14 years since receiving their first Master Breeder Shield, a lot has changed! Now semi-retired (more management, less physical work!), Rudy and Trudy Russenberger join the prestigious list of 38 BC Masters, who since 1930 have been awarded the highest honour bestowed upon a breeder of Canadian Holsteins.
Now with their second shield awarded, Alpina joins the ranks of BC multiple shield winners that include two time winners, Youelldene, Telford, Cedarwal, Sunnyhome and three time winner Langview! Only a handful of BC breeders have reached this breeding pinnacle of excellence.
Just like their first homebred excellent, the first Master Breeder shield was exciting and memorable, while the second shield came as an unexpected surprise. “It shows you are still doing it right. People strive their whole life to win a Master Breeder shield,” explains Rudy. To win it once is quite an achievement but to win it twice? Perhaps this explains the couple’s low key interview and our challenge to tease out the details!
The dairy duo are quick to stress that winning their second shield was indeed a ‘team effort’, sharing their award with their herdsman Henry Booy and Ron Rempel, who have been employees with Alpina for many years. The Russenbergers are happy to have Debbie MacKinnon on the team as a fulltime milker. Son David, a mobile welder, joined the farm fulltime in February and daughter Kristal lives on the farm with her family and milks every second weekend.
“We are Alpina Dairy Farm, with the emphasis on Dairy. While breeding has always been important, it has always been our focus to balance the breeding with the business. If you treat your farm as a business, it will provide a great way of life.” With cash flow as tough as it has ever been, this philosophy has worked to provide the Russenbergers with a lifestyle rich in family time, charitable work and industry input.
While at the Holstein Canada National Convention, Rudy was asked to participate on a breeder panel as part of the Young Adult program and he was asked about his favourite cow and he realized that his favourites are his so called “invisible” cows. The last favorite being a cow that had seven offspring in eight breedings! “The cows I like are the ones that I don’t notice. They are just hardworking, good looking cows that contribute to the bottom line.”
“I never thought our herd was too good to use young sires, now I use more genomic sires but still prefer proven sires.”
Rudy has been involved in many aspects of the dairy industry; he has served as his local Holstein club President and also as a BC Branch Director and a member of Holstein Canada’s Classification Advisory Committee. Currently, Rudy serves as a Director on the Westgen Board.
The best part of winning their second Master Breeder Shield? Rudy smiles, “Going to get it! The whole experience of it, being treated like royalty and getting to know the other Master Breeders better, especially the fellow BC Master Breeders Linda and John Tamis of Lindrian Holsteins and John and Colleen Ricka of Brooknook Farms!”
What is exciting about being a Master Breeder? “Things like seeing an embryo that you sold go on to win Intermediate Champion at the International Dairy Week in Australia!” (Murraybrook Goldwyn Candace.) In the years since being awarded their first shield, Rudy and Trudy have built a new barn, adopted their son Woody from Haiti, had two of their children get married and are now at two grandchildren (with the third due in September 2013)! As the years go by, they keep their attention focused on providing a great environment for their cows, their employees and their families while surrounding themselves with dairy industry people who they know and trust. Seems like a great formula for both business success and personal contentment. What could be more important at the end of the farm day?
Livestock gets off to a great start in the well-lit, well-functioning calf barn.
An impressive shot of ALPINA DOLMAN SWANNIE VG 87 (2yr) in front of the barn.
ALPINA GOLDWYN CYRUS VG 87
ALPINA RAPTURE EX