R. Peter Heffering

R. Peter (Pete) Heffering achieved fame as a breeder of Holstein cattle and Standardbred horses. His Hanover Hill Holstein herd was arguably the most famous Holstein herd in the world for many years. When breeders visited Canada, Hanover Hill was a must see. His Tara Hills Stud Farm (Standardbred pacers and trotters) started in 1996 and was the leading stud farm for the number of mares bred in Canada. With both businesses, his breeding judgment and his business acumen set him apart from his contemporaries.

Pete was born in New York State to Canadian parents. He earned a degree in Animal Husbandry at the State University of New York at SUNY Canton. In 2004 he received the first ever honourary doctorate awarded by SUNY Canton in Animal Science.

In 1962 Pete formed a partnership known as Tara Hills Farm with James Houlihan, a New York advertising executive. This herd became well known for its Canadian bloodlines and was dispersed in 1968 with one animal selling for a record $44,000. The trend continued with the establishment of the Hanover Hill herd in Amenia NY, dispersed in 1972 with another record sale of $122,000. Hanover Hill Triple Threat was sold for $60,000, a world record for a red and white Holstein.

Pete always had great admiration for Canadian bloodlines and the breeders that developed them. He recognized what Canadian Holsteins had to offer and in 1973 purchased Hanover Hill in Port Perry. Hanover Hill proved 177 bulls in Canadian AI and became the only herd to have bred nine Class Extra sires. The most successful was Hanover Hill Starbuck with over 60,000 daughters in Canada alone. The influence of Hanover Hill bloodlines is obvious as 92 per cent of all heifers born and raised in Canada in the five years up to 2009 carry the pedigree. Hanover Hill was very successful in show rings throughout North America, being the only herd to win six Supreme Champions at World Dairy Expo at Madison, Wisconsin.

In 1968, Pete and his partners Steve Briggs and Dave Younger began Hanover Hill Sales and Service, managing many high profile consignment and dispersal sales. The Hanover Hill herd dispersal in 1985 attracted more than 2500 people who witnessed the sale of the Charity cow, who although not bred by Pete, sold for a world record $1,450,000.

In 1988 a long-time friend gave Pete his first Standardbred race horse. Pete has since enjoyed much success in racing and breeding horses. He was voted Owner of the Year in 1991 when his horses earned over $3 million.

No matter what breed of livestock, Pete, his family and all those they worked with, made it a priority to raise the bar when it came to genetics, farm management, or marketing.

Nominated By:
  • Canadian Livestock Genetics Association
  • Holstein Canada
  • Holstein Journal
  • Semex Alliance