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Velcro named All American bovine

In the cow world, Velcro is an MVB (most valuable bovine).

Velcro is a three-year-old Holstein owned by Henk and Bonnie Van Dyk of rural New Richmond.

A few days ago, the Van Dyks learned that Velcro had earned "All American" status at a recent national competition, sponsored by Holstein World magazine.

This was the 82nd year that Holstein World has conducted the All-American contest, with a panel of judging selecting winners in 16 different age classes and three group classes. Winners are selected from six animals nominated as the top animals for each age category from across the United States.

Willows Edge Farm, operated by the Van Dyks, has had many champion cows over the past 20 years, but this is their first All-American winner.

"It's as good as it gets," Bonnie Van Dyk said. "This makes her much more valuable, and it will make her offspring worth a lot of money."

Bonnie estimates the All American honor means Velcro's value is at least $50,000. Velcro actually defeated a bovine favorite at this year's competition whose owner was offered $300,000 for the cow. The owner declined the offer, thinking he might be able to find a better offer.

The big bucks compare quite favorably with your average cow, which might be worth $2,000.

The champion cows have to be worth more, Bonnie said, because so much work goes into getting them ready for show.

The top-quality cows are often washed four times a week, to keep them clean for future shows. They are fed a special diet and they are groomed on a regular basis. They even are required to have a professional photograph taken, at a typical cost of $150 per cow.

"You just have to put so much time into them," Bonnie said.

Bonnie said she was optimistic about Velcro's chances prior to the competition, but there's never a guarantee.

"We thought she was getting better as the show season went on," Bonnie said. "But the competition is so significant, you can never anticipate winning. It all depends on the judges' opinion."

Velcro was one of six finalists being evaluated for the top honor and she had many positive selling points. But so did the other cows in her class.

"It's a beauty contest, that's what it is," Bonnie explained. "They look at functionality, body structure and style of the cow. Velcro has the complete package."

On top of the All American honor, Velcro also holds the national title as the "Best Uddered" and "Best Bred and Owned" cow in her class.

As a registered cow, Velcro also has one of the strongest pedigrees a bovine can have. Her mother, grandmother and great grandmother were all noteworthy show cows with top honors.

"She was bred to be good," Bonnie said of Velcro.

The national honors have been piling up for Willows Edge farm in recent months. The local farm was named the top herd in 2007 for producers with more than 100 head of cattle, and they have received numerous national honors for the quality of their herd in previous years.

"You establish a reputation for your farm," Bonnie said.

That's important, because a significant portion of the family's farm income comes from the sale of high-quality cows during their auction sale held every other year.

Velcro wasn't the only individual cow from Willows Edge to do well at this year's show.

Lapel, a heifer shown by the Van Dyk's daughter, Claire, 13, was named Reserve Junior All-American Calf. Lapel was previously named Reserve Junior All-Wisconsin Fall Calf and placed second in the International Junior Holstein Show at the World Dairy Expo.

Also nominated for Junior All-American was 15-year-old Jordan Van Dyk's junior two-year-old cow, Virgo. Virgo placed third in the Midwest Fall National Junior Show and at the International Junior Holstein Show at World Dairy Expo.