FORT ATKINSON, WIS. — The Jersey breed has been the foundation of Spring Valley Farm in Westminster, Md., for nearly 100 years. The farm is owned and operated by third generation dairymen, brothers Allen and Wayne Stiles, and included their nephew Michael Heath until his sudden passing earlier this year. In honor of their hard work and success, they were selected by the Klussendorf Association as this year’s recipient of the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award. This prestigious award honors exemplary breeders who have been successful at showing and judging cattle. Winners embody qualities associated with the Klussendorf award, including character, ability, endeavor, and sportsmanship.
The Spring Valley herd came from humble beginnings when Wayne and Allen’s grandfather N.C. Stiles, a Holstein breeder, purchased his first Jersey in 1924 to boost butterfat content in fear of losing his milk market. These days, the farm is home to 120 head of Jerseys. The family has owned many outstanding Jersey animals, including Pleasant Valley Prime Heather, E-96; Edgeview Renaissance Jane, E-96; and Pinesmith TJ Mindy, E-94. Some of these high-caliber maternal lines have made an impact in breeding programs through their sons, including SV Jade Hired Gun-ET and Chilli Action Colton-ET.
Allen and Wayne’s nephew, Michael Heath, did not keep his unmatched eye or knowledge for cattle to himself as he made a living as a cattle merchandizer. While he owned animals from many prominent Jersey and Holstein cow families, he also helped others by finding “diamonds in the rough” and developed them into highly sought-after animals. Heath was a promoter of registered cattle and began hosting sales in the 1980s. In recent years, he had joined forces with Nathan and Jenny Thomas to create the Triple-T and Heath sale. Their efforts added value to registered animals in a top-averaging sale.
Success for the family did not stop at breeding and developing cattle; it continued into the Showring. The Stiles and Heath families have been a mainstay at the Maryland State Fair, World Dairy Expo, the All-American Jersey shows, and all 50 All-American Dairy Shows. Their passion for showing cattle has resulted in hundreds of champions along with Premier Breeder and Exhibitor banners in the last 70-plus years. At the National Jersey Show, the farm has exhibited the Junior Champion in both 1983 and 1986, Grand Champion in 1993, Best Bred and Owned in 2019, Reserve Grand Champion in 2020, and more than a dozen All-American or Reserve All-Americans.
The Spring Valley family eventually put their eye for great cattle into action by judging them. Generations of the family have been members of the Maryland State 4-H dairy judging team, including, Wayne, Allen, their two brothers, their father John, and Michael. Wayne has judged the Jersey show at the Eastern States Exposition and the Pennsylvania and Maryland Holstein Spring Shows. Michael judged cattle at the local, state, and international levels, including the Holstein, Jersey, and Milking Shorthorn Shows at World Dairy Expo, the Canadian National Jersey Show, the Royal Ulster Show in Ireland, the Mexican National Holstein Show, and the Quebec International Fall Holstein Show, just to name a few. He set himself apart as a judge by using unique reasons terms to explain the classes. Heath was described as a true friend whose drive and passion for cattle were unmatched. He was known to see more potential in both cattle and people than anyone else.
Wayne and Allen’s father, John Stiles, sparked the family’s tremendous support for 4-H and youth programs by inviting the Maryland 4-H dairy cattle judging team to the farm to practice in 1962. The brothers have hosted an annual practice for youth from around the state every year since, as well as the Maryland Judging School. John also made sure youth in his community had similar opportunities as his own children, often filling a trailer with project animals and including them in the Spring Valley showstring free of charge.
In any spare time, the family continues to serve their community in leadership roles. Wayne, Allen, and Allen’s wife Kay are all past presidents of the Maryland Jersey Cattle Club. Allen has served as the county dairy judging coach and helped with the Carroll County 4-H and FFA dairy show for 40 years. He is the president of the Maryland State Grange and served as the chairman of the Agriculture Committee at National Grange Session. Kay is currently a National Grange officer.
The Stiles and Heath families have made great strides over the years with success in many parts of the dairy industry. Still, they have not forgotten the importance of helping the people around them. Their dedication to the Jersey breed and dairy industry are commendable and has earned Spring Valley Farms and Heath Jerseys the title of 2023 McKown Master Breeder Award winners.
Past winners of the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award include: Palmyra Farm, Hagerstown, Md., 2022; Cutting Edge Brown Swiss, Copake, N.Y., 2021; (no winner named in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) Woodsmansee Holsteins, Preston, Conn., 2019; Ovaltop Holsteins, Richfield Springs, N.Y., 2018; Wendon Holsteins, Innisfail, Alberta, 2017; Ferme Jacobs Inc., Cap-Santé, Quebec, 2016; Walk-Era, Wisconsin Dells, Wis., 2015; Pond View Farm, Danville, Vt., 2014; Quality Holsteins, Vaughan, Ontario, 2013; Windsor Manor Farms, New Windsor, Md., 2012; Moondale, Monona, Iowa, 2011; Snider Homestead, New Enterprise, Pa., 2010; and Windy Knoll View, Mercersburg, Pa., 2009. No award was given in the pandemic year of 2020.
The Robert “Whitey” McKown Breeder Award was made possible by the family and friends of the 1997 Honorary Klussendorf honoree after his passing in 2009. 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 McKown Holsteins at Belleville, N.Y. He had great admiration for the farmer breeder.
The Klussendorf Memorial Association, considered by many as the Hall of Fame for dairy cattle exhibitors, began in 1937 in memory of Arthur B. Klussendorf, considered the outstanding dairy cattle showman of his time. Each year, the Klussendorf Association votes to add a new dairy cattle exhibitor to its rolls with lifetime membership for their cumulative works.
Photo Caption: The Stiles and Heath families won the 14th McKown Master Breeder Award. Shown from left to right: Bill and Betty Heath and their son, the late Michael Heath; Marcia Molesworth and Wayne Stiles (front); and Kay and Allen Stiles (back). Brothers Wayne and Allen and their nephew Michael were the winners of the 2023 McKown Master Breeder Award.