A lifetime of service

Burket earns Pioneer Award

Dave Burket, 86, who operates Burket Falls Farm, Claysburg, with his son, John, will be recognized with the Pioneer Award by the National Dairy Shrine for his lifetime service in the dairy industry. Mirror photo by Walt Frank

CLAYSBURG — Winning prestigious awards is nothing new for Dave Burket.

Burket, 86, who operates Burket Falls Farm with his son, John, has been recognized as a Pennsylvania Holstein Hall of Fame member, a Larry Moore Distinguished Breeder by the National Red and White Dairy Cattle Association and a recipient of the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Farm Award.

On Oct. 4 in Madison, Wis., he will be recognized by the National Dairy Shrine for his lifetime service with the coveted Pioneer Award.

Burket, a well-known cattle breeder, has dedicated over 60 years to the development and promotion of quality breeding, becoming an internationally recognized leader in developing polled (hornless) and red and white Holstein cattle.

What started out as a fringe area of interest to some in the dairy industry, the incorporation of polled genetics has exploded into the mainstream application, from Burket’s work and effort in promoting the benefits of polled cattle to dairy breeders around the globe.

“I made a trip to Wisconsin in 1960 with a neighbor. We bought a trailerload of Holstein springers. We each bought 11, one that I bought dropped a calf with no horns. … At that time, we knew nothing about polled,” Burket said. “It is better to be lucky than good. We were not smart; it just happened.”

Burket is one of the first breeders to place a polled registered Holstein sire into an artificial insemination organization in 1975 when Burket Falls ABC became available through American Breeders Service. Today, researchers have determined that about two-thirds of the present polled Holstein population traces to this bull.

Burket Falls has developed outstanding genetics over the years, including red and white and black and white holsteins and breed changing polled cattle. Over 150 Burket Falls-bred animals have been classified Excellent. Over 65 have been designated Gold Medal Dams and Dams of Merit as well as numerous All American nominations in both black and white and red and white Holsteins. The number of cattle sold to fellow breeders has only built the legacy of Burket Falls genetics.

“We have sold semen, embryos and live cattle around the United States and around the world. Our goods are in about 50 countries around the world,” John Burket said.

John Burket is proud of his father.

“Dad was a pioneer. He knew that down the road some day this would be advantageous to the dairy industry. He focused on it and took a lot of criticism. He never deviated from his goal that some day the Holstein breed would be polled, and he played a role in it,” John Burket said. “It is an honor to have your father recognized with a prestigious award like this.”

Others agree that Burket is truly a pioneer.

“Dave Burket has truly been a pioneer in dairy cattle breeding by developing a new Holstein breeding philosophy that includes red and whites along with polled genetics. Dave is a very humble man whose personal characteristics of honesty, hard work, commitment, integrity and faith echo throughout his life and the cattle he has bred. Dave has always been willing to share knowledge, contribute to his fellow man and be a positive force for improving the dairy world,” said David Selner, executive director of National Dairy Shrine.

“Dave has had the fortitude to carry on as a true pioneer by breeding polled and R&W cattle and provide genetics, both female and male, for the world of progressive Holstein breeders. In earlier days when polled was not being aggressively marketed by bull studs, Dave took it upon himself to commence marketing semen from his own Burket Falls bulls. Later he convinced a couple of bull studs to promote polled. Doing so has surely changed the interest and industry to recognize the importance of polled genetics” said Dick Witter, the founder and owner of Taurus Service, a breeding company in Pennsylvania.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.