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Hidden Hill Farm Shorthorns

Roy & Diane Lovaas

3264 Harbor St.,  Isle,  MN  56342   ph.#320-679-5035    email: rlovaas@hotmail.com

 

In 1998, at the urging of a handful of breeders who recognized that Shorthorn genetics, which originated in the Tees river valley of Northeastern England, were fast becoming diluted by the infusion of other bovine genetics, the board of directors of the American Milking Shorthorn Society established a “Native Shorthorn” program, for the separate designation of animals, whose entire ancestry traces back to the 1822 Coates Herd Book or the 1830 Clay importation, excluding even the Irish Shorthorn, the Lincoln Red, and the Illawarra genetic strains. In 2008, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy listed “Native Shorthorns” in the “Critical” category, which means, that fewer than 200 animals are registered annually and the global population is estimated at fewer than 2000 animals.

With selection criteria being complete and entire traceability regardless of type and function, “Native Shorthorns” come in all three of the types of Shorthorns of the past, Dairy, Beef, and Dual Purpose, which were intentionally developed to provide the average farmer with Milk, Meat, and Power for the farm. The largest source of “native” milking Shorthorns, is under the stewardship of Cantagree Milking Shorthorns in Utah and the two largest sources of “native” beef/dual shorthorns, are under the stewardship of Albaugh Ranch in Nevada, and Haumont Shorthorns in Nebraska.

In August of 2007, two men from Minnesota, Dennis Hoffrogge and Roy Lovaas, both new to the “Native Shorthorn” concept, made a marathon trip to visit Mary Bell Cooksley, proprietress of Haumont Shorthorns, with the intention of acquiring some “Native Shorthorn” females. This goal was accomplished with the purchase by Hoffrogge of 4 heifers; 2 Rosabells, a Lilac Lady, and a Cherry Blossom along with the bull, Clara’s Chief ’07, and the purchase by Lovaas of a Cherry heifer and a Maid of Promise cow. About 3 months later, Hoffrogge would add 4 more Haumont cows to his inventory; 2 Cherry Blossoms, an Helianthus, and a Secret Beauty, as well as a Maid of Promise jointly owned with Lovaas. This was the beginning nucleus of a “Native Shorthorn” preservation and propagation project embarkation by Hoffrogge and Lovaas.

Having bred and raised non-“Native Shorthorns” with an emphasis on functionality for 20+ years, and under a low-input, environmentally sorted system for the last 8 years, Lovaas viewed the “Native Shorthorns” as being able to produce the right kind for a low-input, grass based system. Having acquired “Native Shorthorn” females of the present, the imminent task and challenge before Lovaas and Hoffrogge was, now, to locate and acquire semen on bulls from the past that would nick with them. Through numerous contacts, not only was a significant variety of old semen located and acquired, but other breeders became intrigued by the preservation project as well.

The end of 2007, saw the launch of Lovaas’s website, rlshorthorns.com, which was designed by fellow “Native Shorthorn” enthusiast Chris Carlson of Kentucky. Early summer of 2008 saw the addition to the website of a Hoffrogge section. While Lovaas concentrates solely on “Native Shorthorns” as well as his well proven performance Shorthorns, Hoffrogge added Lincoln Reds to his repertoire by the purchase of two heifers, Pedelty Tortilla and Pedelty Tao, from the inventory of Larry and Sarah Pedelty at The Pines in Minnesota, as well as older Lincoln Red semen.

Rarity of most of the “Native Shorthorn” semen, and much of the older Lincoln Red semen available, presented the need to maximize its utilization. With Lovaas’s daughter, Dr. Bethany Funnell, DVM, as chief embryologist and cow/calf management veterinarian of the beef research herd at the University of Minnesota North Central Research Station located at Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the research station was contracted to work with the project. In December 2007, the entire “Native Shorthorn” compliment of females, as well as the 2 Lincoln Red heifers, had completed transition to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where the Shorthorns are flushed to the rare “Native Shorthorn” bulls, and the Lincoln Reds to the Lincoln Red bulls available. Contracted recipients from the University herd are used for direct transfer of fresh embryos, and those which are frozen are cryogenically stored for future use. It is hoped to have a number of “Native Shorthorn” and Lincoln Red calves on the ground in spring of 2009.

With the need for the preservation and propagation of “Native Shorthorn” stock imminent, and having already done extensive DNA testing on his performance Shorthorns, Lovaas recognized how critical “Native Shorthorn” genetics would be in the establishment of an accurate data base against which to measure future progeny. Working with a prominent geneticist at a major university, Lovaas arranged to provide Shorthorn DNA with which to establish a “Native Shorthorn” DNA base which has not been infused with outside genetics. Lincoln Red, Irish Shorthorn, and modern day Shorthorn genetics were provided as well, to establish differentiations and exclusions in what may be the most thorough bovine DNA mapping done to date.

Press Release Sept. 1, 2008