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Holy cow! Area man sells Holstein for $69,000

by Franny White

STAFF WRITER

There was a flurry of activity in the middle of a downtown Columbus, Ohio, convention center on July 1. And there was 30-year-old Anmoore resident Jason Poth, proudly standing by his record-breaking cow.

Poth had just sold his 3-year-old Holstein cow, Tolare Rudolph Cupid-ET, for $69,000 to a fellow dairy farmer in Ohio.

As far as cows go, Cupid is the "Cindy Crawford of Cows," Poth said. At the 2000 National Holstein Convention in July, Cupid was given a score of 88 out of 89 for such qualities as leg angle, udder strength, milking history and ancestry and was ranked the 26th best cow in the nation.

But how Poth got this "udderly" impressive mammal was "like playing the lottery," said Poth's mother, Sheila.

"It doesn't always work this good," Poth explained. Cupid was just one of many cows Poth had raised that was a result of artificial insemination. That's right. Poth used a cow sperm bank to create Cupid.

Although it may sound bizarre, bovine artificial insemination is quite common and simple. The sperm and eggs of choice cattle are combined, the resulting embryo is frozen and then implanted into a surrogate cow. In nine months, you might have a future prize-winning cow grazing in your fields.

Poth initially paid $3,000 for scientifically bred Cupid.

Before the third-generation Anmoore farmer pocketed that profit, Poth had received calls from Japan, the Netherlands, Mexico and French Canada wanting a piece of Cupid's action. He sold four embryos for $1,500 each to Canadian farmers and five other embryos to Japanese farmers for $2,000 a piece. He also raised and sold seven bulls and one cow that came from Cupid's eggs, taking in an additional $115,000.

Thomas Moses, chief operating officer for Holstein Association USA, chuckled and said Cupid's $69,000 price tag was "a healthy price."

According to Moses, the average 2- or 3-year-old registered Holstein sells between $1,300 and $1,500. The priciest cow he could remember went for about $1.3 million in the 1980s, when buying cows was both a fad and an investment scheme for Americans.

"But that's unheard of now," Moses said. "A $100,000-plus (cow) you might see every once in a while now."

At the time of Cupid's sale, she was 2000's priciest cow sold. But a week later, a cow in New York was sold for $75,000, Poth said.

"Everybody was surprised," Poth said. "I didn't know she'd sell for $69,000. I figured maybe $50,000."

A month later, Poth's still basking in the distant glow of his famous white and black-spotted milker. Beyond his 250 heads of existing cattle, Poth also will have 20 calves from Cupid's eggs up for sale.

"This is the best thing I've done so far," Poth said.

"Now I want to repeat what I've done with her daughters. Hopefully, by the time this is done I'll be rolling in the dough."

Although Poth earned some cash with Cupid, he admits it's still hard being a dairy farmer.

"Everywhere, dairy farmers are going out of business," Poth said. He said his now-deceased father used to tell him stories of Harrison County as being the dairy farmer's dream, but now very few dairy farmers remain. The sudden and unexpected rise and fall of milk prices make it even more difficult, Poth said.

"You just have to watch what you're doing -- watch your spending," Poth said.

Despite his high-tech tendencies and one cow that brought in a good profit, Poth said he still subscribes to the dairy traditions of his forefathers.

"I'm milking pretty much the same number of cows that my father and grandfather did," Poth said. "I'm just trying to make it better."

Staff writer Franny White can be reached at 626-1443.

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