The dairy cattle business is built by people who have the passion and persistence to bring their dreams to reality such as Butlerview Farm of Chebanse, Illinois. Butlerview, which is owned and operated by Jim and Jeff Butler and their mom Joyce, is a state of the art facility, where brood cows and show animals are on display at all times in one location. It is the realization of a family dream based on their passion for cattle.
Field of Dreams Facility
The original facility from the 1970s has undergone major renovations, with utmost attention to cow management, comfort and presentation. From hutches, through the heifer facility, to the box stall barn, every detail has been carefully considered to provide the best environment and allow the animals to reach their full potential. Separate housing for bulls and complete federally approved flushing facilities round out this field of dreams cattle genetics business.
Build It and They Will Come
Years of experience in sales and marketing and a passion for cattle have come together in this start to finish home for the production and marketing of elite dairy genetics. Jeff admits that attracting clients can be a two step process. “Type brings the foot traffic to the farm. But genomics and pedigree get them buying.”
Growing Pains: Challenges and Opportunities
Jeff acknowledges the challenges they face. “Like most businesses that are going through rapid expansion, there are certainly growing pains along the way.” The logistics alone require constant attention to detail.” We need to turn our animals 2.5 times per year for proper facility utilization. That means keeping most newborn animals no more than 4-6 months. This means we have to plan what sales animals are going to, contact people that have purchased 1st choices from us and get them to pick their animals, decide what bulls studs the qualified males will go to and arrange all of the proper testing.”
Butlerview Success Formula: People, Talent and Time Off
Even though the vision is quite large the success formula is quite simple explains Jeff. “We try to have the best employees we can find because they are the most important asset we have. We teach them how we want things done and then let them do their jobs without micromanaging them.” He adds that, “It is important to make sure that employees get some time off to prevent burnout in this type of environment.”
Marketing Strategy says “No!” to the Familiar and “Hello Wow Factor!”
The environment Jeff is referring to is the one where every animal and client benefits from the facilities and expertise offered by Butlerview Farm, Jetstream Genetics and Butler Fellers Auctions. These are the three pillars of success according to Jeff. “I think what helps the success of Butlerview is that there are synergies between having the farm and having the auction company in Butler-Fellers to market the animals.” He points to the advantages. “This allows us to have a pulse and relationships with the buyers and sellers in the marketplace.” Each auction is an event in and of itself but Jeff doesn’t leave out the additional benefit of having the Jetstream bull stud. “This provides another avenue to market some of our bulls.”
Buyers Come Through the Door for Type but Stay for Genomics and Pedigree
A keen observer of the marketplace, Jeff homes in on what is most important to clients. “For show cows the most important thing I look for is the udder. The other things I look for are style and show appeal, width of rump, openness and angularity, functional feet and legs and great front ends, with smooth blending of shoulders and long necks extending upward out of the shoulder. If they have all of that, then I look at size and length of body to make sure they are big enough.” On the genomic side he has priorities as well. “For genomic animals, I look at three things in order: 1 Cow families and maternal lines; 2. Conformation of the individual; 3. GTPI score. Milk, fat, protein and high Type are the most important numbers that I look at. When trying to market offspring from them, I think those are the most important characteristics that the majority of our customer base looks at.”
Butlerview Seeks to Provide Exclusive Genetics
The team at Butlerview never loses sight of the fact that the goal is to be a world leader in top-ranked genomic and breed-defining type sires. “For type and show cows, we are using Gold Chip, Atwood, Brokaw, Sid, Colt 45 and Numero Uno because we really like the calves. We anticipate using Licorice’s 2 sons that will be coming out in early 2013 at Jetstream Genetics: a red Destry son and a RC Goldwyn Son.” He outlines how they are approaching the genomic sires. “For genomic sires we are using Cashcoin, Cashmoney, Colt .45, Numero Uno, Supersire and have also ordered some Liquid Gold semen that we will be using.”
World Vision for Butlerview
These are exciting times to be in the dairy breeding business and Jeff offers this opinion. “Probably the two biggest game changers have been the ability to IVF animals which allowed a much quicker and more profitable ROI on the purchase of elite animals and then the invention of genomic testing which provides a tremendous tool for identifying the elite animals.” He looks ahead to an exciting future with three important developments: “I see the value of high genomic males increasing for farmers as they move closer to 2013, when they will be able to test their own bulls. I see high genomic males topping public auctions much like high genomic females currently do. I see the price of early semen from the high genomic bulls increasing rapidly in price, which will greatly benefit farmers.”
Butlerview Shares Advice With Young Breeders
Jeff’s passion for the industry extends to everyone who shares his enthusiasm and particularly those just starting out. “When it comes to acquiring animals, I would encourage young breeders to look very closely at the maternal line.” His reason is based on years of experience.” It is much easier to market an animal when people around the world recognize the cow family that you are trying to market from.”
Innovation Changes Butlerview. Butlerview Innovates Change
If you stand still as the industry changes, eventually you will be left behind. Through his new endeavours and keen eye for analysis Jeff talks about how modern marketing is based on engaging with the customer. He advises, “I would use the social media such as Facebook, print media and websites to get your message across to people.” He adds. “Today’s market is truly a global market. You have to design messages that will reach and appeal to people all around the world.”
Bullvine Bottom Line
As Butlerview moves toward an exciting future Jeff is enthusiastic. “There are unlimited possibilities ahead.” They look forward to working to grow their own business and those of their clients.