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Danof honored with 'Whitie' Thomson Award

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 10/30/2013 4:19 PM

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WAUKON — Jason Danhof said he was totally surprised when he received the A.C. "Whitie" Thomson Memorial Award from the Whitie Thomson family during the Supreme Ceremony at the World Dairy Expo Oct. 5.

The award is presented each year to the herdsman/showman who exhibits exemplary leadership and sportsmanship throughout the show.

This year marked Danhof's 25th consecutive year at World Dairy Expo.

World Dairy Expo officials said Danhof "treats his fellow exhibitors with integrity and friendliness, resembling those characteristics of A.C. Whitie Thomson," an Illinois dairy promoter, judge and auctioneer.

"I was shocked," said Danhof, of Waukon. "World Dairy Expo president Mike Holschbach ties cows with our show string, and he told me he wanted me to come the ring for a picture the newspaper was taking of all the people who help him. Mike's daughter ties with us, too, and we came to the ring. You don't argue with Mike. When the announcer started talking about the award, I figured out what it was all about. I was very honored."

Danhof and Chad Ryan, of Fond du Lac, Wis., have managed a World Dairy Expo show string together for 10 years. This year's string included 26 cattle owned by 15 breeders mostly from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. They also took care of the 43 head in the World Classic Sale.

"It was a good year," Danhof said. "We had top-notch employees."

Danhof, 37, grew up in Marshfield, Wis. His grandparents raised Guernseys that his father, Tom, showed as a boy.

"My grandparents were no longer on the farm when I started 4-H, but I wanted to do the dairy project, and so I got a Guernsey calf because that's what my dad showed," Danhof said.

While he was in high school, his father ran a small Guernsey operation, and Danhof, his two siblings, his father, and mother, Renee, exhibited animals at the Minnesota State Fair, World Dairy Expo, the North American International Livestock Exposition and local and state shows.

"We milked about 10 cows," Danhof said. "It was an overgrown 4-H project."

Danhof graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996 with a degree in dairy science. While exhibiting at World Dairy Expo, Danhof has shown class winners in three breeds, including the 1996 Grand Champion Guernsey of the Junior Show, Dannys Frank Peaches. Dannys was his grandparents' prefix.

"As I got older, I liked showing, and I liked clipping my own cows, and eventually, I got pretty decent at it," Danhof said. "I realized that it was a way to make money. I paid my way through college clipping on weekends."

After college, he worked in Mexico and other places around the world.

Danhof describes what he does this way: "I help people market dairy cattle. I help them prepare their cattle for shows, help them breed their cattle and help them make decisions about breeding. You want cows that look good, live longer and make a lot of milk."

He has worked with many top registered dairy cattle breeders throughout the United States and 16 countries. He also works with several artificial insemination organizations and other merchandising professionals.

"It's been great because I get to see the world, meet a lot of people and see a lot of types of setups," Danhof said.

The most unique place he visited was Sao Miguel in the Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

"There are more cows than people and some people deliver their milk to the processing plant with a horse-drawn carriage," Danhof said. "I went with a photographer and helped her do professional pictures. We had a great time."

Danhof purchased his first Holstein heifer while in college.

In 2008, he married Sheri Regan.

Working closely with Sheri's home farm, Regancrest Holsteins Inc., they have managed a series of successful consignment sales. Under the Danhof prefix, they have bred more than 70 animals and own more than 300 head in various partnerships.