Showing Brown Swiss dairy cows is in their blood.
Brothers Ryland Nierman, Brayton Nierman and Camdyn Nierman are continuing a longtime family tradition of preparing the cattle for the show arena, and their hard work has resulted in some big honors.
At the 2022 Indiana and Kentucky state fairs, they earned several banners for their winning efforts.
During the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, Camdyn, 12, a sixth-grader at Lutheran Central School in Brownstown, brought home reserve grand champion in the 4-H Brown Swiss dairy show with Lacey, and Brayton, 13, an eighth-grader at Lutheran Central, was named intermediate 4-H showmanship champion with Lucy.
“It’s more how you as an individual show your animal,” their dad, Brian Nierman, said of showmanship. “They don’t judge the animal. They judge how you show your animal.”
The divisions are junior, intermediate and senior, all based on the age of the 4-H’er. Brian said there were around 15 kids in Brayton’s division.
“He has just learned from watching other people show, and we gave him some pointers through the years, and his older brother, Ryland, he has done well and he has given him some tips, some pointers,” Brian said. “It’s just something that he has grown up with, and he knows some stuff about it.”
In the open class show, the brothers won grand champion with 4-year-old Dartmouth out of 120 head of Brown Swiss.
“We were excited, we were happy because it’s a lot of work,” Brian said. “It just doesn’t start the day of the show. This is like a month’s worth of planning and getting things ready for it. I’ve always told the boys ‘If you work hard, you’ll eventually get some payback from it or some reward for your hard work,’ so they’ve learned how to work, too, over the last year or two. It takes a lot of work to be successful.”
The Niermans also won intermediate champion with Jade, a 2-year-old Brown Swiss, and she went on to be honorable mention grand champion.
The next week at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, Lucy won grand champion and Dartmouth was reserve champion in the Brown Swiss open show. Brian said there were 130 cows entered.
He said the success this past summer stems from earning grand champion at a North American show in Louisville in November 2021, which drew 180 head.
“That’s where it all started. It has continued through the summer here now,” Brian said.
While Brian was there for support, he said his three sons did a lot of the work.
“If you work hard and you have some goals that you want to strive for, you can reach those goals with dedication and hard work,” Brian said.
“Over the last couple years, they’ve got some passion for the Brown Swiss and the dairy cattle,” he said of his boys. “Our cattle are registered, so they have names, and there’s pedigree. … The boys have gotten into that, and they enjoy it. It’s kind of like sports, but you’re showing cattle. You have to be competitive. It isn’t something that you can do in a week’s time. You have to start planning this months in advance.”
Recently, the Niermans sent four cows to the weeklong World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Brian said that’s the biggest dairy show in America.
He’s glad to see his boys maintain an interest in something that started in the 1940s when his grandfather bought some Brown Swiss and began breeding them. Then his grandfather and father started going to the state fairs in the 1960s, his father showed in the 1970s and Brian and his brother showed in the ’80s and ’90s.
“Now, it has continued with my boys, so we’ve been showing there for a long time,” Brian said. “We’ve only missed maybe one or two years of showing at the state fairs over the last few years. It’s like an annual thing. It’s a family tradition. It has been part of the family for a long time. If the boys want to continue to do it, I’ll be there for their support and help them with it.”