The Andersen Family of American Falls, Idaho knows what it means to focus on family generations. Thirty-five family members strong. Including twenty-five grandchildren, they have the perfect resources to build a dairy team. Currently that effort is headed by Dad Alan, who is the CEO and Mom Norma, the CFO. Son Greg manages Seagull Bay Dairy which is a 600 cow freestall operation with about 80 registered Holsteins while son Ben manages a 1500 cow commercial operation, Andersen Dairy, Inc. which supplies 1800 replacement heifers for both dairy operations.
With thirty years experience, Alan knows exactly what their success has been built on, “Our goal is to breed elite sires and females that will benefit other breeders and commercial dairymen as well as ourselves.” This strong focus on the people side of the business complements the cattle knowledge that is the foundation of Seagull Bay Dairy. “We like cows that excel in production of milk components (pounds of protein and fat), have quality mammary systems, and are low maintenance.” By each of these measures, the family business is topping the charts but, in the end, it always comes back to people, “We like to sell animals that can make a nice profit for their new owners and generate repeat business that will last for generations.”
Seagull Bay Dairy has had outstanding success. Let’s look at Shauna, Daphne and Minnow who are three outstanding examples:
Alan starts the role-call of the generations with Ammon-Peachey Shauna who is a VG-87 Planet X VG-86 Shottle X VG-86 Oman X EX-92 Rudy Missy. Shauna is probably the top genomic bull mother in the breed right now with her top 6 sons averaging over 2450 gtpi and 3500 GLPI. Of five sons now released, she has two top 5 GTPI (Seagull-Bay Supersire & Seagull-Bay Headliner) and two top 5 GLPI (Seagull-Bay Sargent & Seagull-Bay Shaw). Her two snowman sons (Seagull-Bay Platinum & Seagull-Bay Diamond) 2512 GTPI & 3728 GLPI will be a year old this summer. Shauna has a total of 13 sons already accepted into AI with eight of them coming available later this year. Of course, this generates a ripple effect for Andersen’s dairy business, “Shauna and her daughters are undoubtedly our most sought-after females at this time. We have requests for embryos or sale consignments weekly.” Keeping up with demand is a great problem to have. “Shauna’s only Windbrook daughter (Seagull-Bay WNBRK Sunday) sells as Lot #1 in the Canadian National Convention Sale April 19th.” Looking ahead he reports, “Shauna’s oldest daughters will begin flushing in the next couple of months. We have daughters here from Shauna by Snowman, Robust, Plato and Gerard.”
Alan then moves on to another performer, Pine-Tree Sharla Daphne (VG-87 2yr). Daphne is also from the Rudy Missy’s and is the #1 GTPI Die-Hard of the breed. She boasts a sire stack of Die-Hard X DOM Shottle X VG-87 Outside X EX-92 Rudy Missy. For Alan her popularity is based on three things, “She offers a unique pedigree with nearly 3 PTAT points and is milking very well.”
You might think these first two cows could justifiably explain why Seagull Bay is showing up more and more frequently on top dairy breeders’ radar. However, the growing generations of great cattle don’t stop there and Alan shares another notable success story. “We are proud to have developed the Minnow cow family here at Seagull Bay. Lynmead Celsius Minnow (EX 91) had a lifetime total of 255,000 lbs and produced 49,500 lbs as a 4 year old.” He goes on to explain the developing generations which is the Andersen family breeding goal. “Minnow has transmitted outstanding production and type through several generations of her offspring. We now have nine and ten generation VG & EX lines in the Minnow family. Since purchasing Minnow as a milking two year old in 1994 her offspring have consistently risen to the top at Seagull Bay and in several other herds through the years. Just a few highlights include her granddaughter Seagull-Bay Oman May EX-92 as one of Oman’s highest scoring daughters. Oman May is the dam of Seagull-Bay May Pauline, the (VG-86 EX MS) Planet that is the #11 NM cow of the breed.” These are excellent stats in everyone’s measure, but there are more to come. “Minnow’s daughter Seagull-Bay Manat Mirage is the dam of 1 EX and 19 VG daughters so far at Roorda Dairy in Iowa. From the December GTPI lists you could find Mirage and Minnow in 10 of the top 25 GTPI females of the breed. Six females were sired by Mirages grandson Robust while 4 heifers were from the #1 GTPI cow in December Roylane Shot Mindy (VG 85 Shottle X VG-86 Oman X EX Mirage X EX 91Minnow).” Great stats but, lest you think Minnow family members are only on the genomic charts, Alan adds these great numbers, “Mirage’s Oman son Seagull Bay Mano is the current #17 proven sire andMirage is the grand dam of Major (7HO9471) who is the #8 UDC bull of the breed. The currentU.S. cow lists show 3 Minnow family members in the top 50: Roylane Shot MIndy #3, Seagull-Bay Oman Mirror #11 (@ 7 years old), and Seagull-Bay May Pauline #43.” This family has got what it takes and buyers are happily demanding to be part of the success which Seagull Bay strives to meet. “From the Minnow family we have Roorda Observer Majic15272 (GTPI 2422) who is now being flushed. Also flushing are 2 daughters of T-C-G Shottle Minnow (VG-89 1st lactation and All-Idaho Sr. 2) Shottle X VG-87 Toystory X VG-87 Oman X EX Mirage X EX-91 Minnow) by Super (GTPI 2257) and Observer (GTPI 2203).”
A recurring question among dairy breeders is whether to use young sires or proven bulls. “We use both young sires and proven bulls on our top cow families.” Says Alan Andersen. “If you look closely at Shauna’s offspring most all of them are sired by daughter proven bulls. Now that Shauna has increased in reliability with a great score and production record, we are more comfortable mating her with young sires. We use the young sires to accelerate the genetic progress while realizing there is risk as well as reward.” Timely decision making is working for Seagull Bay.
Proven Sires currently used at Seagull Bay Dairy: Planet, Man-O-Man
Young sires currently used at Seagull Bay Dairy: Supersire, Headliner, Sargeant, Shaw, Numero Uno, Mogul, Lithium, Mayfield, McKutcheon, Lexor, Punch
In the same way that all breeding tools are scrutinized by the Seagull Bay team, genomics is carefully considered, “While we believe that the top group of genomic sires will be better than the current top group of proven sires, the obvious risk is that a chosen mating sire for our top females will turn out to be a disappointment. If a hot genomic bull falls out of favor when milking daughters enter his proof, then you have a hole in a previously solid pedigree.” The Andersen’s identify the possible impact of this risk but go on to say,” We continue to use genomic young sires as mating sires because we believe the potential genetic progress outweighs the potential failures. On a cow like Shauna, through IVF we are able to use several different young sires in order to lessen the risk involved if we were only using 2 or 3 different sires to breed the next generation of Shaunas.” Careful planning.
The same care is taking in choosing sires. “Simply speaking, we use the highest bulls available that have pedigrees and predicted linears that match well with our donors. We also use bulls that have pedigrees that we are excited about. For example, we never used the Facebook bull because his dam is sired by Airraid. While Airraid sires great udders and great components, his stillbirth percent is so high that
we wouldn’t use him even though his TPI is extreme. We will also use the predicted linear of a young bull to protect a cow in an area that needs attention. Young bulls with strong maternal lines will also receive an advantage over bulls with similar indexes but less proven cow families. We used Robust on Shauna because we knew the cows behind him so well that it gave us confidence in him. So far it looks like a great decision and we are pleased to have two breed leading bulls (Supersire & Headliner) and two outstanding heifers (Miss America & Miss Universe) with Seagull Bay on both sides of the pedigree.”
This family team is generous in sharing their experience with cattle breeders. Alan warns against following trends. “I wouldn’t advise breeders to change their breeding philosophy too much if what they are doing now is working and bringing them satisfaction. I foresee the genomic predictions continuing to improve. While I think the breed is benefiting from an increased rate of genetic progress with genomic predictions, I also appreciate breeding from strong maternal cow families with several generations of high producing VG & EX cows. The top young sires could have hundreds of daughters in their first crop proof so the production and type data from these daughters will help in the genomic predictions of all bulls. Top sires with outcross pedigrees will continue to be very important as well. As genetic progress accelerates with genomics so will the increase in the breed’s inbreeding percentages. If someone would like to try using genomic young sires then I would advise them to use several sires and try to match complementary pedigrees and linears. Remember that the reliabilities of genomic sires are better than just a parent average but are still well below daughter proven bulls with over 100 daughters. Certainly their proofs will change over time. We just don’t know how great of a change will occur.”
“Mating the best available sires to the best available females will on average produce the elite of the next generation. We enjoy working with good cows and always strive to make the next generation better not only for ourselves but for the breeders we do business with” Alan Andersen, Seagull Bay Dairy, Idaho.