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World Dairy Expo exhibitor feature: Grai-Rose Cattle Company

Progressive Dairy Editorial Intern Madison Leak Published on 20 September 2021
Mandy and Graisson

As a cattle exhibitor, you dream of one day being recognized on the biggest stage in the industry, World Dairy Expo.

If that recognition comes in the form of winning a banner, a top ten medal, one of the breeder awards or having your prefix on an animal that wins a class, you will be proud of all the time, energy and money spent marketing your herd.

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Of the many household names in the registered cattle industry, Grai-Rose is quickly making its presence known. Associated with many successful cow families of the western U.S., Graisson and Mandy Schmidt’s Grai-Rose Cattle Company has made a name for itself as a marketing and consulting business, having bred, owned or developed many banner winners throughout North America.

Established in 2017, Grai-Rose, based out of Petaluma, California, oversees cattle all over the U.S., assisting in mating decisions, outlining conditioning protocols and providing a marketing service for their clients. Their business has also taken them internationally, reaching as far as Jordan for consulting and Japan and South America with embryo sales.

Graisson called Indies-View Holsteins home in Wisconsin during his youth. He credits his grandfather, Don; and father, Jerry, for instilling in him a passion for registered cattle. He spent 10 years fitting professionally, developing a keen eye for high-end cattle. On a day-to-day basis, Graisson currently trades commercial cattle and works closely with Arizona Dairy Company as a consultant on their genetic herd.

Mandy grew up on a beef operation in northern California, and she learned to love the dairy industry through participating in shows and various 4-H activities. With the support of her parents, Manuel and Jody Brazil, she eventually invested in her own small herd of Holsteins which were milked at her grandparents’ dairy. Mandy is a genetic consultant throughout North America for ABS Global, using genetics to enhance productivity in milking herds.

Fate introduced the two at the California state show in 2012 – and after reconnecting at World Dairy Expo later that year, the pair started dating the following summer. Graisson and Mandy married in 2017 and welcomed their first child, Oliviana, in June of 2021.

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While Graisson was still fitting, he and Mandy wanted something to call their own. Partnerships here or there with various individuals didn’t hold the same value of something with your prefix on it. Enter Grai-Rose Cattle Company, something to call their own and a tribute to the couple’s names, as it is a combination of Graisson’s name and Mandy’s middle name, Rose.

Their show ring success started to build in 2010 when Graisson owned part of the winning Holstein, Spring Calf, at World Dairy Expo. Grai-Rose Cattle Co. has bred, owned or developed 30 All-American or All-Canadian nominees, most of those nominations within the past five years. The Schmidts were responsible for sourcing and developing junior champion of the Red and White Show at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF) in 2019, and have bred, owned or developed 10 champions of the Western Spring and Fall National shows. Ms Unstopabull Beauty-In-Red, a homebred heifer, won the spring Red and White calf class at the RAWF in 2019 and placed in the top three at nearly every show during her yearling campaign. Graisson received the Al Hay Memorial Award, nicknamed the Klussendorf of the West, in 2019 at the Western Spring National show. Grai-Rose assisted in reviving and co-managing the RuAnn Fiesta Sale in 2020, one of the highest-averaging type sales that year.

Social media has proven to be a useful tool in the company’s success, as they have been able to connect with various clients this way. They’ve also been able to provide show tips and tricks to individuals who might need additional resources to start their own dairy project.

“What we want to do is be an open resource,” says Mandy. “I think there are a lot of kids who want to be more competitive in the show ring but don’t have resources such as someone in their life who really knows those things or to be able to go to workshops. Social media gives us the opportunity to reach them.”

Helping mentor younger people who have been very successful for themselves has been rewarding for the Schmidts, as they like to see kids who are passionate about the industry have the same opportunities they did.

“My full-time job with ABS allows me to see the commercial side of the industry,” says Mandy. “But there are so many large progressive dairy owners who still remember having their first calf or grabbing those whites to go into the show ring. I’d like to think that having those show experiences are something that stick with people no matter what business path of the industry they go down. It seems like many of the most passionate dairy business owners [who] exist today are the ones [who] started out in the show ring.”

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Grai-Rose has several active campaigns that focus on helping individuals looking to improve their show string, the most popular being #GraiRoseShowTips, tips and tricks that cover everything from nutrition and bedding to getting the extra edge in a showmanship class.

Their services don’t stop with the show ring. Grai-Rose offers consulting in large progressive herds as well by sourcing cattle on their behalf that will help improve genetic potential.

“To me, it’s an accomplishment and honor to be trusted to represent these large dairies and be their ‘eyes’ when picking out their future herd replacements,” says Graisson. “I spend time developing an understanding for what kind of cow or heifer is most profitable for my clients’ individual operations. When I go to select cows and heifers to add to their herd, I try to make sure they will be individuals that will make my customers money and last a long time in their herd.”

Seeing their clients’ success is extremely rewarding for the pair, as they are happy to help those they work with achieve their goals.

“I work closely with Arizona Dairy Company and assist with their genetic program,” says Graisson. “I’ve been impressed watching the changes they have made transform their herd. They went from a herd that didn’t invest in genetics to a herd that focuses on profitable genetic progress in every aspect of their breeding program. I really see the quality difference in their first-calf heifers that have been made through their embryo program.”

The couple notes that social media has also helped them expand their consulting business, allowing them to be found by potential clients and putting them in contact with other professionals in the business.

“I think it’s the future of marketing,” says Graisson. “Both on the registered side and the commercial side. It’s the future within the dairy industry, whether we like it or not. I think it’s something producers should embrace and set themselves up to be part of it rather than be left behind.”

When it comes to breeding their own cattle, Grai-Rose focuses heavily on functionality and marketability.

“We like to look at cows with deep pedigrees and the right traits,” says Graisson. “What do we think is going to transmit? How marketable is that? Being forward-thinking with sire selection and what the next generation will look like is what we try to do.”

Just because a bull might look good on paper, it might not be the right answer for your program.

“I think people tend to just look at generic industry indexes instead of looking at the individual traits the animals need or the cow families behind it,” says Mandy. “I’d like to think we’ve stuck with that pattern of looking at traits that are actually needed rather than just looking for high index values as a ‘one size fits all.’”

With several animals in their programs competing on the colored shavings this year, you’ll be hearing the name Grai-Rose a few times during WDE.

Follow Grai-Rose Cattle Company:
Instagram @grairosecattleco
Facebook at Grai-Rose Cattle Co. end mark

PHOTO: Mandy and Graisson had their engagement photos taken under the willows at World Dairy Expo. Photo by Danae Bauer of Farmgirl Photography.

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