A mid-sized dairy in the hills of the southeast corner of Logan County is home to a cow that most producers only dream of having the privilege of owning. However, the renowned bovine that resides at the primarily Holstein operation of Henry farms is not black and white, but is instead a Brown Swiss.
Officially titled Glad Ray EJ Paris, but known as just “Paris,” the over 16-year-old cow is the current Lifetime Production Leader in milk, fat, and protein for the entire Brown Swiss breed, according to the Brown Swiss Association.
Mark Henry is the leader of the family dairy operation and is the cow’s primary owner.
“Paris is our oldest cow on the farm currently and has produced the most milk in her lifetime of any cow we’ve ever had,” he said. “She’s been here for over 12 years, she’s had eight lactations, and currently, her lifetime production numbers are 429,000 pounds of milk, 18,400 pounds of butterfat, and 14,300 pounds of protein. That’s not the only the highest we’ve ever had on this farm, but the highest for any Brown Swiss of all time in all three categories.”
To put those numbers into perspective, Paris alone has produced over 807,500 glasses of milk in her lifetime. Her achievements are nothing but spectacular with the Brown Swiss Association’s records putting her nearly 100,000 pounds in front of the second-highest Brown Swiss, and listing her as the first American cow to break the 400,000-pound barrier.
According to Guinness World Records, the highest recorded world lifetime yield of milk by any cow is 478,163 pounds by the Holstein “Smurf” of Ontario, Canada. With that being said, Paris’ fat and protein numbers may possibly be good enough for a world record of her own.
“We’re curiously trying to find out whether her numbers as far as butterfat and protein would place her among dairy breeds for all time,” Henry said.
Paris is also thought to be the leading Brown Swiss for lifetime milk production on the international level, surpassing numbers set by a recently deceased Switzerland cow.
The record numbers aren’t yet settled as Paris is still going strong in her eighth lactation, and according to her owner, her most recent lactations have been, “something of an anomaly.”
“She’s milking about 50 pounds a day currently, which is down, but she’s been milking for over three years on this lactation. It’s miraculous that she’s been able to continue to milk that long without calving,” he said.
The lactation she is currently on has lasted well over 1,600 days and started when she produced her most recent calf back in 2010. Her seventh lactation lasted an astounding 740 days.
Henry says her key to success over the years has been consistency, good health, and not standing out. Her love of the dairy’s daily routine has helped to put her among the top of all cows in history.
“She’s always been a really good production cow,” Henry said. “In her last lactation, she peaked at 145 pounds a day and held that peak for almost four months. In this lactation, which she was 12.5 years old when she began, she peaked at over 135 pounds and held that peak for several months as well.”
In addition to her consistency, Paris’ flawless health record has been a major contribution to her success.
“She doesn’t really have any issues. We haven’t treated her for anything at all. As long as I can remember, she’s never had any foot issues or any health concerns. She just goes about her business every day,” he said.
Henry also thinks that Paris’ attitude has been important to her longevity, saying she has never let other cows push her around, but has also never been one to cause problems.
“Well she’s always been a cow with a lot of spunk. She’s not one to really let you go up and put your arm around her and pat her on the head or anything. She just likes to be one of the cows,” he said.
Though she’s old enough to get a driver’s license, Henry says she remains being a milker’s dream.
“She’s still going very well. She’s healthy and she still runs to the parlor every day when we open the gate from her pen,” he said. “It’s kind of exciting to have her here. It makes what we do worthwhile to see cows reach their potential and that’s what we like to do.”
Though she is privy to a special, open pen where only the best cows on the farm reside, Henry said there is nothing about her treatment that stands out when compared to the other cattle.
Henry Farms milks about 500 cows three times a day, including a replacement heifer herd that brings the entire dairy to nearly 1,000 head at any given time. Paris remains the only Brown Swiss left on the farm.
“It’s fun to have her and we hope to keep her around for a good bit of time to come,” Henry said.