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Trio of Topp brothers to tap World Dairy Expo champions

Rachel Coyne for Progressive Dairy Published on 23 September 2019
Phillip Topp family

Brothers Eric, Keith and Phillip Topp are no strangers to the colored shavings at World Dairy Expo, where each is taking a turn judging the international dairy cattle shows.

At the 2019 World Dairy Expo, Keith will serve as the official judge in the Milking Shorthorn ring, while Phillip will officiate in the Ayrshire ring. Keith jokes, “Phillip does a great job. He’ll just have to keep moving along so I can get to judging the Milking Shorthorns since they’ll follow the Ayrshires.”

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This is not the first time the Topp brothers have had the opportunity to judge on the colored shavings in the same year. In 2016, Eric served as the official judge of the Milking Shorthorn breed, while Phillip was the associate in the Jersey breed. “We’re always happy for each other when one can judge the big dance,” Keith says.

keith topp family

Phillip says,“It is really awesome for our mom too. She is incredibly proud and excited for us.”

The brothers grew up on their parents’ Topp-View Farm. When it began, Topp-View was a 25-head Holstein herd. Unfortunately, they lost their father in 1986, but their mother, Mary Lou, kept the farm going. Eventually, the Topp trio bought more cows of different breeds and ran the farm with their mother. Eric says, “Topp-View was started by our dad, so we work every day to keep Dad’s tradition alive.” 

Present day, Eric milks mainly Brown Swiss and Holsteins at the home farm and works as a territory sales manager at Semex. Just a few miles down the road on his own farm, Phillip milks cows of all seven breeds and owns a fabricating business. Keith works with Phillip both on the farm and in the fabricating business.

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eric topp

While eldest brother Eric will not be judging on the colored shavings this year, he will be exhibiting nine head. Eric and his wife, Mary, have three kids: Madelyn, Mackenzie and Grant. “As a judge, I think it is pretty special to see a little kid on the halter, so I teach my kids to be hard workers and carry on the traditions instilled in us by my parents,” Eric says. Success in the show ring has been prevalent for Eric and his family this year, as they were named Premier Breeder of the Holstein Show at Ohio State Fair and earned eight All-American nominations last year. 

Middle brother Keith takes pride in having bred World Dairy Expo champions and raises show heifers at his home. “To me, it’s worth more to breed a good one than buy a great one,” Keith says. He and his wife, Kindra, have two kids: Keaton and Kinley. Both kids grew up actively showing and judging. This year, Kinley’s FFA judging team won the state contest in Ohio, with Keith serving as the coach. Kinley will also show one calf this year in the International Brown Swiss Show.

Phillip and his wife, Carrie, have three kids: Aubree, Aiden and Alaina. Phillip milks 35 cows, some of each breed. Phillip states, “This year, we took animals in each breed to the Ohio State Fair and are excited to be exhibiting at Harrisburg for the first time, since judging at Madison makes it harder to show many.” Happy to involve youth, Phillip coaches his kids in dairy judging and actively involves them in showing. At the 2019 World Dairy Expo, Aubree will show her Guernsey cow. 

eric topp family

“Growing up, we showed mainly at the county and state fairs. Sometimes we showed at Louisville in the fall,” Keith says. “After high school, I was on the road fitting professionally for two years and bought into some good cows to show and breed from.”  

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In 1998, Topp-View began exhibiting at World Dairy Expo. Just one year later, the Topps found incredible success. 

“The expo memory that sticks out most is winning Grand Champion Brown Swiss with Hill-N-Dale Conquest Juana in 1999,” Phillip says.

As the Topp trio found more success in the show ring, they were given more opportunities to stand in the middle of the ring as judges. 

Eric has judged at numerous national shows across the U.S. in multiple breeds. However, it’s hard to beat judging the big dance. “Nothing beats officiating the 2014 International Brown Swiss Show. It was my first World Dairy Expo judging experience. What a rush,” Eric recalls.

grassland speedy

In 2013, Keith was the associate judge of the International Ayrshire Show and was the official judge of the International Brown Swiss Show in 2017, which he credits as his favorite judging experience. “Everyone who judges wants to eventually judge at Madison. Now heading into my third time, I feel incredibly fortunate and honored,” Keith says. “It’s a different game when you step into the middle of that ring. Every animal is good.”

Phillip reminisces on his first World Dairy Expo judging experience: “I have Chris Lahmers to thank for asking me to be his associate of the International Jersey Show in 2016. Prior to that judging experience, everyone knew my brothers as great judges, but I wasn’t as well recognized. The experience opened a lot of doors for me in the judging world.” As for being the official judge of the 2019 International Ayrshire Show, Phillip says he, “was honored to even be nominated.” He continues, “Judging at World Dairy Expo was a goal that at 20 years old I never thought I could achieve, and now, I am crossing it off of my bucket list. It truly is a dream come true.” 

The value of judging was not lost on Phillip. “I judge because I enjoy meeting new people and placing good cattle, so I hope to continue to do that and be a good judge, wherever that may take me.” 

As for sharing the honor of judging on the colored shavings, all three brothers share the same feeling: “It is an awesome experience for the whole family; our mom is honored.”  end mark

Rachel Coyne is a freelance writer and a student at University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. 

PHOTO 1: Phillip and Carrie Topp are pictured with their children, Aubree, Alaina and Aiden. 

PHOTO 2: Keith and Kindra Topp are pictured with their children, Kinley and Keaton, at the 2018 Ohio State Fair after a successful junior show day. 

PHOTO 3: Eric Topp judges on the colored shavings in 2016. 

PHOTO 4: Mary and Eric Topp are pictured with their children, Madelyn, Mackenzie and Grant, at the North American International Livestock Exposition. 

PHOTO 5: Unanimous All-American and Topp-View’s first 95-point cow is pictured. Photos courtesy of the Topp family. 

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