Daryin Sharp hopes to focus on the genetic side of dairy cattle production

A passion for the dairy industry and dairy cattle has taken 18-year-old Daryin Sharp around the world.

Daryin was a member of the Missouri 4-H Dairy Judging Team that spent a portion of last summer touring Scotland, England, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, where he and his teammates judged at the International Youth Dairy Judging Tour.

“That was one of the high points of my life,” Daryin, the son of Erron and Delores Sharp of Bolivar, Mo., said. “Going across the pond is a pretty big deal, and to do it not only representing the United States, but Missouri and the dairy industry back home is a big deal. It was really great to represent southwest Missouri dairy farmers because we’re a dying breed.”

The team was invited to participate in the youth dairy tour after a third-place finish in the 2017 National 4-H Dairy Judging Contest at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. During the tour, Daryin and teammate Grant Groves of Billings, Mo., won first at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“There is no way I would have ever have been able to do the things I have done without my involvement in the dairy industry,” Daryin said.

Daryin owns 15 cows and about 20 heifers that are part of his grandparents’ Polk County, Mo., dairy herd.

“I was raised on this farm,” Daryin said standing in dairy barn of the farm his grandparents, Donnie and Nora Sharp, have operated since 1973. “This is what I love. There was a time I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I have always wanted to milk cows wherever I went, even if I owned the cows and leased them out to someone.”

The Northeast Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, Okla., freshman takes great pride in being the fourth generation in his family to be a part of the dairy business. Daryin credits Donnie for instilling a love for the dairy industry and for passing on his knowledge of dairy cattle.

“When I was little, I would follow him around,” Daryin recalled. “When I was 12, he taught me how to AI. He’s been doing AI for more than 40 years, and he taught himself how to do it; he’s very skilled in it. Once I got into high school and FFA, I saw how much I liked judging and he helped show me how the cows break down and how the scorecard breaks down, and that landed me my trip to Europe.”

After his time at NEO, where he earned a scholarship on the wrestling team, Daryin hopes to transfer to Oklahoma State University or the University of Missouri-Columbia to obtain a degree in genetics, with his ultimate career goal to begin working in the field of embryo transfer and artificial insemination.

“I really want to come right back here and take over the dairy and open up a clinic right here on the property,” Daryin said. “I really like the breeding and genetic side of the dairy industry. I like seeing what you are going to breed this cow too and improve that next calf. I like showing, but I’m not really big on it, but this past year I had the reserve grand champion at the open show at the Missouri State Fair, so I’m excited about that… Me and grandpa have talked and there’s really not much I want to change about the farm, but I would really like to milk about 100 good cows. It’s not going to be anything soon, but by the time I’ve lived my life, I would have liked to have taken a few cows to the Dairy Expo. I’m excited about it, but my grandma tells me to go do other things and not milk cows, but I think with the embryo work and the AI, it will be all right.”

His eye for quality dairy cattle has helped Daryin envision his ideal cow. One of the ways he’s working to establish that “perfect cow” is with the purchase of an aged, but productive, Holstein in Pennsylvania.

“She’s got 350,000 pounds in her lifetime in milk,” Dariyn said. “At that same sale, they sold five of her daughters; two were Excellent and two were Very Good, so she transmits that to her daughters and I would really like for her to be the foundation of my herd.”

If he manages to get a bull calf from one of the flushes of the cow, Daryin hopes to retain it for a sire, putting more milk in the tank.

“Grandpa always says production pays the bills, but type tells how long,” Daryin said.

The first daughter Daryin’s cow produced for him was the reserve champion at the Missouri State Fair.

Daryin’s attention is not focused solely on dairy cattle. He was a finalist at the 2018 National FFA Convention in the Agriscience Fair in Division 5 Animal Systems, ultimately taking fourth in the nation. For his project, Daryin implanted nursing beef calves to study the effect of growth on those calves. Daryin’s experiment compared the use of Ralgro and Elanco implants.

His wrestling skills earned Daryin a scholarship, but after his career at the two-year college, he plans to concentrate on his education and future in agriculture.

“I wanted to go to college and be a four-time national champ, just like any other kid,” he said. “I’ve realized that wrestling isn’t going to pay the bills, so my main focus is my education and wrestling is second.”

Daryin feels fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue his goals in the dairy industry, an industry that has taken many hard hits over the years.

“I don’t think it’s something people look at and think, ‘I’m going to go milk cows every day, twice or three times a day for the rest of my life.’ I don’t want this farm given to me, but I’m going to bust my butt to buy it, but at least there’s a farm for me to buy. This Polk County farm just calls to me, but I don’t see grandpa quitting anytime soon.”

While Daryin knows he will face struggles, he’s up for the challenge.

“In the dairy industry, you’ve to be milking several hundred or 1,000 head to be going strong, or you have to be doing the genetics side of it and showing cattle; that’s what I want to do. I never really wanted to milk a bunch of cows, but I just like going out in the mornings and seeing good cows in the barn,” he said.


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