Contact Us   |  
Generations of cows and people thrive at Breezy Knoll

By Melissa Hart

Four generations of Copes have called Breezy Knoll Farm in Salem, Ohio, their home. Milking predominantly Registered Holsteins, one side of the tie-stall barn that was renovated in 1968 was designed specifically for the Jersey herd.

“My grandparents, Willard and Esther Cope, bought the farm in 1942 and because they were big into the Jerseys, when they renovated the barn they made one side shorter for the Jersey herd,” Grant Cope explained.

Staring out, they milked 30 head; today Grant is managing the herd of 60 cows while he also farms 500 acres with his parents, Tom and Louanne.  Extra help is never far away with Grant’s brothers: Clark, who lives nearby and is always willing to lend a hand, and Carlton, who owns The Tractor Depot and is happy to work on the family farm equipment - and is literally a stone’s strong throw up the hill from the farm.

Grant’s wife, Ann, is well versed in the dairy business, coming from an area Jersey farm, Ufashion Jerseys. Their three children – Cam, 9, Cora, 8, and Coy, 6 are poised for chores when they are needed, as well. Grant is full-time on the farm while Ann is a registered nurse and teaches nursing at the local college.

The Breezy Knoll Story

After beginning their farm in the 1940s, Willard had an off-farm job from time to time, but “Grandma was a full-time schoolteacher in the local schools and taught until she was in her seventies; my dad even had her as a teacher,” Grant said.

JC Jersey
Willard (left of the heifer) and Esther (left of Willard) exhibited the Junior Champion Jersey at the 1968 North American Dairy Show held in Columbus.

Jerseys were a passion of Willard’s, and it burned red-hot when the family had the Junior Champion Jersey in the North American Dairy Show in 1968 held in Columbus, Ohio. “That year there were 65 head in the Fall Yearling class,” Grant noted. “Back in that day, all the men wore suits and ties and the women wore dresses and fancy hats; that was impressive. We still have the silver platter that they gave him for Junior Champion.”

In 1976, the farm was transferred to Tom and Louanne; knowing he now had the operation to pay for, Tom ramped up the Holstein herd. “When he bought the farm, Dad just bought the Holsteins and Grandpa kept the Jerseys. Dad always said, ‘I’ve got a farm to pay for and I need to get as much milk as I can get.’”

Tom worked at Cope Farm Equipment when he could, and Louanne is still working on her fourth decade at the local grocery store and her third decade driving a school bus.

Today the herd consists of 60 head, including 15 Jersey cows and the remainder Registered Holsteins. Jim Morgan of Morgan Jerseys owns most of the Jersey herd with the Copes. “I milk all of the cows and Morgans take care of the Jersey show heifers. Even though they live in Urbana, we make it work,” Grant said.

Continuing to milk in the tie-stall barn, they also have a pack barn for the older cows and fresh cows, in addition to a freestall barn with a rubber floor. The cattle are bedded with straw to stay in most of the winter and are pastured during the warmer months. “Because we have freestalls, tie-stalls and a pack barn, we can adapt to what each cow needs,” he added.

The feeding program at Breezy Knoll consists of corn silage, haylage, high-moisture corn and a top-dress 28% protein pellet. “We feed a lot of dry hay and the only feed we buy is the pellet. I have never been a big fan of TMR because I’ve visited a lot of herds that feed a TMR, and their cows give a lot of milk, but they also get that greasy fat look to them. And I never liked that, for as much as I like to show.”

The barn is filled with small squares of hay and recently Grant purchased a big square baler that has made his life easier when it comes time to bale.

The cows at Breezy Knoll are not pushed hard. “Our motto is, ‘Don’t buy your milk if you don’t have to.’ We try to feed as well as we can, but not have a big feed bill. If we can take a little less milk and have higher components, that will pay for itself.”

How they Breed Cows

The Copes’ breeding philosophy is to breed for great udders, good feet and legs, type and longevity. Their current sire list includes Eyecandy, Thunderstruck, Warrior, Unstopabull, District and Bullseye. They have four Red & Whites, three of them descendants of Quality Quest Cinda Red EX-94, and an Altitude heifer they purchased out of the Triple T and Heath Sale for Coy.

Keeping the type and milk in check, Grant noted, “We have to breed these Holsteins like we breed our Jersey show cows - we have to throw a little bit of milk at them now and again or we get lazy on them. It never hurts to throw a good milk bull in there that’s not going to hurt the herd.”

IVF on Quality Quest Cinda-Red produced an Addiction-P that he thinks will turn into a nice brood cow. She had an Awesome daughter, Breezy Knoll Aw Carmen-Red, that was second-place Winter yearling at the Ohio State Fair Red & White Show. In addition, the Warrior daughter out of Cinda, Breezy Knoll Warrior CJ-Red, was the second-place Spring Yearling.

While the Jerseys get to Columbus more often, the Copes continue to annually support the District 1 & 2 Holstein show. “If you’ve got one bangin’ in there in the top 5 at that show, then you’ve got something,” Grant observed.

The herd is one hundred percent registered because when it comes to merchandising, he said it’s easier to sell animals when they are registered: “It’s important to know what you’ve got and be able to look back through the pedigree.”

Classifying every seven months, their current BAA is 109.6. “My goal in life is to get above 110, and we are close,” he noted.

The First Home-bred EX-95

Breezy Knoll JW Missy was his first EX-95 homebred Jersey. A Rapid Bay Just Wait daughter, Grant took her to Spring Dairy Expo in Columbus and she was Reserve Grand both as a four-year-old and again as an aged cow. She was also the first cow he took to Madison, Wisconsin, and she ended up in the top 10 in her class.  They put her down about a year-and-a-half ago, but before that an IVF session produced three No. 2 embryos.

They put two of those embryos in an Angus crossbred, and nine months later they had twin Joel heifers in the pasture. “The kids have had a lot of fun with those heifers,” Grant added.

“This year we took a string to Madison, and everything was in the top 10 except for two of them.” J-K Excitation Fuzzy EX-95, an Excitation daughter that goes back to the Harmony Corners Fozzy-ET EX-95, was third-place Aged Cow while DKG Applejack Kelsey, a Summer Junior two-year-old purchased from the Mill Valley Dispersal, was second.

Over the years, Grant has enjoyed friendships and support from other dairymen, including Nevin L’Amoreaux and Jim Beardsley. “Jim has been a big supporter in my life, as far as if you ever had a question about a sick cow or anything, you always called Jim,” he said. Grant enjoys judging and he was honored when friend and fellow breeder Keith Topp asked him to be his associate in judging the All American Jersey Show at the North American International Livestock Exposition in 2019. “I was grateful that Keith asked me, and I would love to do some more judging if the opportunity comes up,” he added.

 “I would love to have my children take over the farm, but I won’t push it on them. I’ve seen the struggles, and you almost have to have off-farm jobs to make it work. Our family has been very supportive - my wife will milk in a pinch and my mom will come to the barn if we are out doing hay and she knows what to do to start chores.”

Grant added, “I’ve known from a young age what I wanted to do, and I’m happy I get to do it surrounded by family.”

 cope family

 Grant and Ann are raising the next generation at Breezy Knoll from left in front: Cora, Coy, and Cam.


Reader Comments
Comments posted do not express the viewpoint of Dairy Agenda Today or its staff members.