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A boy and his dream heifer

‘Lana had a beautiful udder’

Darren Mueller’s dream of owning and exhibiting a prize Holstein cow has come true — thanks to a youth loan from the government and hard work by Darren.

Darren, son of Ron and Kaylene Mueller of Tampa, received a $5,000 Farm Service Agency youth loan in March 2006 and immediately began searching for his dream Holstein cow.

A junior-to-be at Hillsboro High School, he was but an eighth grader when he found a 2-year-old heifer at the Kansas State Sale at the fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

“Lana had a beautiful udder,” he recalls. “A lot of folks thought at the time she was too small and wouldn’t mature into a show cow — except for me. I just knew she’d become the cow I’d always dreamed about.”

Darren’s dairy eye proved good as Lana developed and began making her mark in Holstein shows in Kansas and other states.

He started showing Lana as a 3-year-old in local shows. When Lana turned 4, she really began to blossom as a show cow.

In the Kansas State Show last year, Lana placed third.

At the National Junior Spring Show in Stillwater, Okla., Lana was in top form for the biggest day of her — and Darren’s — life.

With Darren nervously holding Lana’s halter, the judge scrutinized the class and finally placed Lana first, ahead of a competing $20,000 cow.

“The judge said he fell in love with Lana’s looks and dairy character the minute she came into the show ring,” Darren said.

By show’s end, Lana had emerged as grand champion and Darren had his first major trophy for his showcase.

It was the first of many wins and honors. 

Darren continued showing Lana successfully through summer and into fall.

On Lana’s first official classification by the American Holstein-Friesian Association, she classified “Excellent-92” points, with an “Excellent-94” points for her mammary system — an achievement reached by about 20 cows per year nationwide.

Then came time for nominations for the Junior All-American contest sponsored by the Holstein World magazine.

Darren sent Lana’s entry pictures to the committee that picked the cows. Lana placed fifth in the nationwide competition for 4-year-olds.

In addition to the show ring, Darren’s cow made her mark in the dairy barn when she produced 40,076 pounds of milk in 365 days of production with 4.2 percent butterfat and 3.1 percent protein.

Over the years, Lana has proved no slouch in the calf production department, either. Her first four calves have all been bulls, and two are being used in other dairy enterprises.

Darren’s Holstein herd now consists of six producing cows and four heifers.

Darren is a member of the Hillsboro FFA chapter and has been a member of the Tampa Triple T’s 4-H club.

He is also a member of the Hillsboro wrestling team and the Kansas Junior Holstein Association. He plans to attend the national Holstein convention this summer in California.

Darren also knows his way around a dairy judging contest.

He recently placed fifth in the Kansas FFA dairy judging contest in Manhattan and will be a member of the Kansas FFA team participating in the national FFA dairy judging contest this fall in Indianapolis.

While he’s exceptionally happy with the achievements of his dream cow, Darren hopes for two more milestones to complete the story.

“I’d like for Lana to eventually be classified as Excellent-95 points, and I hope she has a heifer calf next time so I can keep showing her progeny.”

Loans like the one Darren received are available from the FSA Emporia office to those ages 10 through 20 to finance agriculturally based, income-producing projects.

“It is so rewarding to see a young person realizing his dreams through the use of the FSA youth loan program”, said Jane Armitage, farm loan manager for FSA in Emporia.

For more information on youth loans contact her at (620) 343-6944.

Last modified June 11, 2009

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