Barn Fire Kills Holstein Record-setter Gigi and 29 Other Cows

A barn fire on a Wisconsin dairy killed a record-setting cow and at least 29 of her herd mates.

According to WISC-TV the fire started around midnight on Sept. 19 at Bur-Wall Holsteins outside Brooklyn, Wis. The fire trapped 60 cows in the barn which also contained hay and straw. First responders were able to evacuate about half of the cows from the barn.

The Behnke family owns and operates the registered Holstein dairy. Members of the family did not speak with camera crews, but in an over the phone interview they thanked their local community for their support and prayers. 

A cause of the fire is not known, but the hay and straw made it difficult for fire fighters to put out. The barn was a total loss with fire crews using at least 120,000 gallons of water to fight the flames, double what a residential fire typical takes them to use.

Of the approximately 30 cows the fire killed, it included Bur-Wall Buckeye Gigi, a cow that broke the national milk production record in 2016 after a record setting 2015. Gigi produced 74,650 lb. of milk in 365 days, with 2,126 lb. of fat and 2,142 lb. of protein in 2015. 

When the nine-year old Gigi set the new record John Meyer, CEO of Holstein Association USA, Inc., said the cow represents what is great about the Holstein breed.

"The national milk production record is a true credit to not only Gigi, but to the Behnke family’s breeding and management expertise. What the Behnkes have accomplished with Gigi exemplifies why the Holstein cow is the most efficient producing dairy animal," Meyer said.

Bob Behnke said Gigi was a "diva" when speaking to the Holstein Association USA about his record breaking cow.

"We’re really sure that she’s a complete cow—her width and length, her feet and legs and udder are out of this world and she really likes to milk," Behnke said.

Gigi’s record was broken in 2017 by Ever-Green-View My Gold-ET, after producing 77,480 lb. of milk. My Gold was bred and owned by the Kestell family’s Ever-Green-View Holsteins in Waldo, Wis. who also raised the previous record holder Ever-Green-View My 1326-ET before Gigi’s new record. Ever-Green-View My 1326-ET milked 72,168 lb. in 2010.

The Behnke family planned to start in-vitro fertilization flushing on Gigi in 2016 following her record setting year to help preserve her genetics. 



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