In 1936, a couple emigrated from Holland to southern California. In 1939, the 2016 Historical Master Breeder was born - Pete Vanderham.
Upon his arrival in the U.S., Joe Vanderham got a job as a milker at a local dairy and eventually started his own herd. The first Brown Swiss were grades purchased in 1944. By age 18, Pete was milking half the herd, twice a day.
Pete’s showing career began at 13 when he showed Holsteins in 4-H and FFA at the local city fairs. In June of 1957, Pete attended the first ever Great Western Dairy Show in Los Angeles. It was then Pete met Orville Kurtz who was there with his herd of Brown Swiss. At the show, Pete bought a cow from Orville - Rancho Rustic Lavanity - Pete’s first registered Brown Swiss female.
In the next several years, Pete spent time at the shows with Orville Kurtz and another Brown Swiss breeder, Pete Gerger. The two men had a strong influence in teaching Pete to breed the “right kind of cow”.
Pete Vanderham purchased Butte Meadows Juanita OCS as a 3 or 4 year old cow from Mr. Gerger. Born in 1958, she was bred by Orville and out of a Rancho Rustic sire and dam. In 1964, Pete purchased Butte Meadows Jane as a heifer from Mr. Gerger. He paid a total of $410 for the two animals.
In 1967, Pete and his older brother, Corrie, formed a partnership and purchased their father’s herd of 290 cows. In 1975, the Norwalk property was sold and land was purchased near Mira Loma, where Pete currently lives.
The new acreage was split in half with each brother developing their on herd in mirror-like facilities. The partnership dissolved in 1978 and Pete Vanderham Dairy, Inc., was established. Pete’s 32 acres included corrals, a parlor, a calf facility and house. The herd eventually grew to around 1100 cows with about 10% registered Brown Swiss, All feed was purchased.
In 1968, Pete decided he had a two year old that could compete and win on the national level. She was Bridge View R. F. Joanne, from the aforementioned Butte Meadows Juanita OCS. Joanne traveled to World Dairy Expo for the national show with a Milking Shorthorn herd. Orville Kurtz was on hand to show her for Pete. Joanne was named Grand Champion.
In September 1969, the LA County Fair hosted the Southwest Centennial Brown Swiss Show judged by Norman E. Magnussen. He made the two year old Bridge View Aristocrat Jolene Grand Champion and noted she had the best udder he’d seen since Jane of Vernon. urged Pete to take Jolene to the National Show - that year in Columbus, Ohio. Jolene traveled to Columbus with Pete in a converted horse trailer and went on to place first and win Grand Champion.
Jolene’s dam: Butte Meadows Jane. Pete’s $410 investment had given him two National Show Grand Champions in the very next generation.
In 1970, the National Show returned to Columbus as did Jolene where she was again Grand Champion. Three consecutive years - three consecutive Grands at the National Show.
And thus began a long history of National Shows, Grand Champions and All Americans. During the next decade as the multiple National Shows came into play, Pete and his family exhibited annually at the Western National. In 1971, he was Premier Exhibitor at the Western National and was Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor at the Western National in 1972, 77, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85 and 86.
At the 1980 Centennial National, Pete traveled again to Madison. He was Premier Breeder of the show and had the winning Best Three Females.
At the 1981 Western National, a two year old was named Grand Champion. Following the show, Pete purchased the cow, Idyl Wild Improver Jinx., from a junior exhibitor. In 1982, he took her to the Eastern and Central Nationals. She was named Grand at both shows. The following spring, Jinx sold in the Springtime Show Window Sale and became the highest selling Brown Swiss at $60,000.
In 1986, Pete returned to Madison, won Premier Breeder and tied for Premier Exhibitor. In 87, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 97 and 98, Pete was Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor in Madison at the Central National. He was Premier Breeder in Madison in 99, 2001 and tied in 2002.
Through the years, Pete accumulated over 200 All American Nominations, 58 All Americans and 44 Reserve All Americans. Frequently winning the Best Three Class, he had All American Best Three 15 times. He had nine cows named Grand Champion at a National Show.
From such a strong breeding program evolved some high profile bulls. Most influential across the U.S. was Bridge View Elegant Jade, sire of numerous All American honorees and show winners and Premier Sire at multiple national shows. In 1985, Pete Vanderham Dairy topped the Group II division of the Ira Inman PTPR Award.
Pete was elected National Director in 1986 and served through 1989. In 1994, he was elected National President and served one term.
The Bridge View Brown Swiss herd was dispersed in 2009.
The 2016 Active Master Breeder has spent his entire life with the Brown Swiss breed. His involvement and contributions have been well-rounded from show winners, high index cows, top PPR bulls, active in the state association, on the National Board and serving two terms as National President.
This year’s honoree is Charles Voelker, Voelker’s Brown Swiss, Perryville, Missouri.
Charlie and his family are the fifth generation to farm land that was homesteaded by the Voelker family in the 1860’s. Their first Swiss were purchased in 1948 and during the 1960’s, it became a 100% Brown Swiss herd.
On January 1, 1983, Charlie and his wife, Nancy bought the 42 cow herd from his parents. The herd size grew, increasing in both production and type and numbering around 150 in the milking herd at the moment. The current Rolling Herd Average on 132 cows is 20,659 pounds.
Today’s work force includes Charlie, his son, Chad, and two full-time employees. They own 260 acres and rent an addition 100 for a total of 360 acres. Feed is home grown wheat for balage, corn for silage, and alfalfa for hay.
In 1991, Charlie showed at the Missouri State Fair for the first time. In 1993, he had Grand Champion with Voelkers J King Ida and in 1995, he was named Premier Breeder for the first time at the state fair. Voelkers have shown there every year since 1991. There have been numerous Champions and many Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor banners to take home to Perryville. 2004 was a banner year for Voelker Denmark Fergie. She was Grand Champion at the Central National Junior Show, Grand at the Southeast National and Honorable Metnion 4 Year Old. Voelkers were Premier Exhibitor and Premier Breeder at the Southeast National in 2004 and 2005.
Voelkers Migel Candidwas the first 5 year old at the Central National in 2009 and All American that year. Candid was scored “4E94/95MS” with a high record of 33,090 milk. Voelkers Wndt Chilli Pepper, her son, by Top Acres C Wonderment ET, has been one of the post popular sires in recent years.
Candid’s daughter and full sister to Chilli Pepper, Voelkers Wndt Carabella, is “E90” with a high record of 32,300 milk. In 2011, Carabella was 4th on the PPR Lists while Candid was tied for 8th. Carabella is the dam of Voelkers TD Carter and Voelkers Galaxy Cosmo. Another popular sire, Carter is currently top of the PPR Type List at +1.03.
Charlie served two terms as president of the Missouri Brown Swiss Association and co-chaired the 1994 National Convention hosted by Missouri. From 1994-2000, he represented District VI as a National Director. From 2004-2008, Charlie served the National Association as its president. He also served many years on the National Type Committee.
The entire Voelker family was involved in the work growing up and all the kids showed their Swiss bringing home many blue ribbons, championships and Bell Ringer winners, state and national. Charlie and Nancy have five children, Chad, Suzanne, Dayne and Grant.
Chad has joined the operation, and Voelker dairy is currently undergoing a major expansion and construction upgrade. Ten years ago, a 160 cow compost barn was built. In the 2016 upgrade, a 40 cow compost barn is being added along with a new double 10 parallel parlor. RFID tracking is being installed to identify each cow as they enter the parlor and will aid in monitoring cow health and performance. The plan is to increase the milking herd to 190-200 head.