The ninth annual Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award was awarded to Wendon Holsteins of Innisfail, Alberta, Canada. This honor was presented at the 51st World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. The prestigious award recognizes a well-managed breeder and herd that has been successful at showing and judging, and it emphasizes all qualities of the Klussendorf Award, including ability, character, endeavor, and sportsmanship.
Established in 1976, Don and Wendy Chalack combined their interests and passions to form their prestigious herd featuring 65 milking Holsteins and a small herd of purebred Black Angus on 900 acres just outside of Innisfail. Don and Wendy farm with their son-in-law Scott Hastie and daughter Jillian and their children, Marshall and Maddyn. Oldest daughter Linsey and her children, Paige and Nathan, help out when they can, and both children are involved in 4-H. In July 2016, Don and Wendy’s son, Logan, lost a battle with cancer and was known for his love of breeding and marketing cows. Fortunately, Logan’s wife, Charity, and daughter, Chloe, live close by to the family.
Starting with a 50-cow tie stall operation in 1976, the herd recently converted to a 60-cow free stall robot barn in 2015 with 12 tie stalls for show cows. The original tie stall barn is now a more efficient and spacious calf barn. The herd is 90 percent homebred with a classification breakdown of 24 Multiple Excellent, 15 Excellent, 62 Very Good, and six Good Plus cows. Their current rolling herd average is 27,557 pounds of milk, 4.0 percent fat, and 3.3 percent protein.
Wendon Holsteins has bred 14 All-Canadian nominees as well as received two Holstein Canada Master Breeder shields in 1995 and 2008. They have also been honored with the Small Business of the Year Award in 2000, Alberta Breeder of the Year Award in 2004, and the County Farm Beautification Award in 2012.
Don served as the Alberta Holstein president in 1989 and 1990 and as a director on the Alberta Holstein Branch from 1980 to 1992. He was also one of the founders of the Western Canadian Classic program 33 years ago. In addition, Don joined with a few neighboring herds in the early 1980s to bring the first show string from western Canada to World Dairy Expo. Passing on their love for cattle and hard work ethic, their three children were a part of dairy and beef clubs and the Western Canadian Classic junior show. Don has judged shows in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Columbia. Logan and Linsey also gained their official judge’s status from Holstein Canada.
Their breeding philosophy is based on breeding cows with deep pedigrees and show type. Wendon Holsteins has bred 55 Star Brood cows (13 of those being greater than 4*), 102 Excellent cows, and 391 Very Good cows. The Wendon prefix has also won numerous recognitions in the All-Canadian contest with two winners, two Reserves, six Honorable Mentions, and four more nominations. In addition, they have bred one All-American winner.
Prominent cow families include Wendon Triump Alaska EX-91 2E 4*, Wendon Gibson Prudence EX-92 5E 5*, Wendon Starbuck Renette EX 3*, Wendon Triump Divine EX-94 4E 7*, and Tolamika Goldwyn Mercedes EX-94 2E. Wendon Goldywn Allie EX-95 2E, daughter of Alaska, gained popularity after winning first-place 5-year-old at the Royal Winter Fair and World Dairy Expo in 2012, as well as All-American and All-Canadian for owners Ferme RayDor.
With a strong flush program, Wendon Holsteins sells embryos, females, and bulls each year. They market their high-quality herd through print advertising, a farm website, and Facebook page. The Chalack family is the epitome of dedication, strength, and a love for cattle that make them a deserving winner of the McKown Master Breeder Award.
Past winners of the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award include: Ferme Jacobs Inc., Cap-Santé, Quebec, 2016; Walk-Era, Wisconsin Dells, Wis., 2015; Pond View Farm, Danville, Vt., 2014; Quality Holsteins, Vaughan, Ontario, 2013; New Windsor Farm, New Windsor, Md., 2012; Moondale, Monona, Iowa, 2011; Snider Homestead, New Enterprise, Pa., 2010; and Windy Knoll View, Mercersburg, Pa., 2009.
The Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award was made possible by the family and friends of the 1992 Honorary Klussendorf honoree. McKown joined the Holstein World staff in 1956 and became widely respected as he traveled nationally and internationally, reporting on shows, sales, meetings, and other Holstein events. The 1987 National Dairy Shrine president also developed MooKown Holsteins in Belleville, N.Y. McKown had a great admiration for the farmer breeder.
The Klussendorf Association, considered by many as the Hall of Fame for dairy cattle exhibitors, began in 1937 in memory of Arthur B. Klussendorf, who was considered to be an outstanding dairy cattle showman of his time. Each year, the Klussendorf Association votes to add a new dairy cattle exhibitor to its ranks with lifetime membership for their cumulative work, including ability, character, endeavor, and sportsmanship.