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How a dairy diva helped me see the big picture

Progressive Dairyman Editor Peggy Coffeen Published on 23 February 2018

Being an editor for a national dairy magazine has a few perks. On occasion, I get to meet “celebrities,” from renowned dairy scientists to professional football players and even a few political figures.

Most smile nicely for the camera and exchange a few pleasant words. However, my most recent brush with fame was a little more hostile – but in the end, I took much more than a picture away from this photo shoot.

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I set out to photograph a world-famous lady, but it turned out she was not very photogenic. In fact, she put up a bit of a fuss, refusing to pose for the camera. She wouldn’t even crack a smile. It was clear she would rather be someplace else. However, 30 minutes of making monkey sounds and 150 snapshots later (a special shout out to my noisemaker, Nathan, a PDPW mentor student visiting the farm that day), I managed to capture one decent frame that accentuated her authentic beauty.

You’re probably dying to know which diva would behave this way. Her name is Selz-Pralle Aftershock 3918, and she is the cover girl for this issue of Progressive Dairyman, accompanied by the Pralle family (from left to right): Nicole, Pam, Scott and Jessica.

Pralle family

This Holstein currently holds the world milk production record, with 78,170 pounds of milk in 365 days. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by this cow, not only for her amazing milk output but also for her work ethic. She’s really not a drama queen; me showing up to take her picture was merely an annoying interruption to her daily routine.

Pam Selz-Pralle has called 3918 the “blue collar” cow, and that title fits her to a tee. She’s a worker, dedicated to her job. Scott Pralle told me she has never appeared on the sick list nor has she visited the treated pen.

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She’s not a super-flashy or extreme cow, yet her wide chest gives way to an incredible engine of efficiency. Monitoring data reveals her silent secret: While the rest of the herd ruminates eight hours a day, she spends 10 hours and 20 minutes turning each bite of feed into nature’s most perfect food.

3918 is a cow that shows up every day and goes to work: eating, ruminating and making milk – lots of milk. Fresh Nov. 30 and averaging 226 pounds of milk a day, Pralle says she hasn’t even hit her peak yet. With a multitude of milk veins and well-supported fifth-lactation udder, she’s the dairyman’s dream.

No doubt, 3918’s success can be attributed to her genetics, management and low-stress environment (read more about that on page 58), but I think there is more to it. Taking one little photo helped me to see a much bigger picture: This cow achieved something great because she knew her purpose and never lost focus of living up to her full potential each day, consistently. Can you say you’ve done the same?

I admit, I envy this cow’s ability to discern her calling. When it comes to being an amazingly abundant milk producer, I bet she never once boxed herself into beliefs based on the past. Had she let her previous lactation dictate her performance, 3918 would have missed out on almost 20,000 pounds of milk. Not to say a four-year-old record of 58,800 pounds isn’t impressive but, clearly, this cow was destined to achieve more, beyond expectation. Does it make you wonder what you’ve missed out on?

How easy it is to get distracted and lose focus of our purpose. Whether it’s a stack of bills that need to be paid, a battery of emails clogging your inbox or the temptation to compare your worst moment to someone else’s picture-perfect post on social media, it can be easy to get caught up in drudgery and drama. And that’s when we lose sight of what really matters and deviate from doing what God has called us to do.

Stepping back and looking at the big picture, what if we were all a little bit more like 3918? What if we could turn down the noise and tune into our true calling? Perhaps we would also experience greatness and glory that exceeds our wildest expectations, or maybe even set a world record.  end mark

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PHOTO: The Pralle family proudly poses with world record- holder Selz-Pralle Aftershock 3918. From left to right, Nicole Pralle, Pam Selz-Pralle, Scott Pralle and Jessica Pralle. Not pictured is son Ryan Pralle. Photo by Peggy Coffeen.

Peggy Coffeen
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