Prize-winning cow moves into top spot

She travels in an air-cushioned vehicle with a team of attendants, is the undisputed queen of her industry and has been attracting media attention from around the world.

She travels in an air-cushioned vehicle with a team of attendants, is the undisputed queen of her industry and has been attracting media attention from around the world.

And Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy lives near Ponoka, at Morsan Farms.

The five-year-old Holstein dairy cow was named grand and supreme champion last weekend at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

The previous month, Missy earned the same honours at an even bigger stage: the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.

“Those are the two biggest shows in the world,” said Chris Parry, the marketing manager at Morsan Farms.

Other cows have earned the dairy industry’s double crown, he said, but they’ve been “very few and far between.” And this year, the competition at both shows was particularly stiff.

Of the approximately 2,600 cows exhibited at the World Dairy Expo, about 14 were considered supreme champion material, said Parry.

“It was the competition of competitions, because all these big high-profile cows came together.”

Missy faced well over 1,000 cows in Toronto, said Parry, although her triumph in Wisconsin elevated her to the status of favourite.

Still, nothing was certain when the judges began scrutinizing the cow from Ponoka.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the teams to get their cows in the best condition, and you never know what happens,” he said.

Missy travelled to Toronto with nine other animals from Morsan Farms and a second breeder. They rode in an air-suspension-equipped cattle liner with a half-dozen handlers, making frequent rest stops at farms along the way.

“The logistics have to be well-planned,” said Parry, adding that the trip to Toronto took 4 1/2 days to complete.

Once in the Ontario capital, Missy attracted plenty of attention.

“I spoke to the press division at the Royal Winter Fair and they had more calls and requests from the general public to come and see Missy than any other exhibit on the show.”

Born in Prince Edward Island, Missy was acquired by Morsan Farms in 2008. The following year, she was sold for $1.2 million to a group of investors: Van Ruinen Dairy, Gert Andreasen and Georges Uebelhardt of the Ponoka area, and Mark Butz of Wisconsin. Morsan Farms also retained a share.

Missy’s success in the show ring should “dramatically” boost her value, said Parry. In addition to her eye-appeal she’s proven herself a prolific milk producer and breeder.

“She’s got 36 female offspring and 22 male,” he said, with these in high demand.

“She just sold a daughter at the auction at the Royal Winter Fair for $85,000.”

Parry anticipates that Missy will continue to produce calves for another three to four years, and that her status will remain high.

“She’s the epitome of the modern day dairy cow.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com