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Top Ten Most Influential Holstein Breeders of All-Time

The great thing about the North American dairy breeding industry is how passionate breeders are about what they do.  This is what makes most dairy farmers get up in the morning to do hard work that many would not.  Over the years there have been many great breeders that have dedicated their lives to advancing the breed.  The following is our top 10 list of the ones who the Bullvine feels have had the biggest impact on the North American Holstein industry.

#10 Ferme Gillette

Like many entrants at the start of our list, Ferme Gillette is still building their name.  Master Breeder shields, Class Extra Sires, males and females at the top of the genomic list, honor list producers, All-Canadian awards, two Canadian cow of the year awards, and even a Guinness World Record.  The Patenaude family has already achieved many great achievements.  Ferme Gillette is owned and operated by Dr. Gilles and Lorette Patenaude, their four sons Marc, Louis, Vincent, and Mathiea and their families.  Numerous headliners call Gillette Farms home including offspring from these prominent maternal lines: Baler Twine, Roxys, Jericho, Juror Faith, Spottie, Elegance and more.

#9 Markwell Holsteins & Regancrest Farms

Markwell Holsteins and Regancrest Farms, like Gillette is continuing to build their legacies.  Both farms are built around strong foundation cows.  For Regancrest that is Snow-N-Denises Dellia and Queen of the Breed II.  Leading the way is the Remarkable Raven recognized for her brood-cow status.  Her genetics are among the most sought after around the world.  This cow family has produced such great daughters as Durham Daisy EX92, the honorable Mention All-American SR 2-YR Old in 2002.

#8 Rosafe Farms

In fleeing his turbulent Argentina Hector I. Astengo came to Canada and purchased the outstanding A.B.C. farms.   During its time Rosafe produced such great breeding stock as Temple Farm May, A.B.C. Inka May, A.B.C. Pontiac Pathfinder and the great A.B.C. Reflection Sovereign, probably the biggest contributor to their success.  While it was impossible to buy a Rosafe animal at private treaty, they did sell many animals through reduction sales.  Genetics from these sales have percolated down to every contemporary major league pedigree.  The success of the Rosafe herd, particularly in the show ring, was the propelling force behind one of the major movements in breed history.

#7 Romandale Farms

In the 1960’s and 1970’s the Romandale Farm’s herd owned by Stephen and George Roman was a commanding force in Holstein affairs.  In its glory years, it fielded North America’s leading show herd.  For a decade, it claimed the history setting record for All-Canadian bred and owned.  Romandale Farms was the home of show ring conquerors, potent brood cows and sires of vast influence. Promoted enthusiastically and merchandised with consummate skill.  The Romandale Holsteins were, in effect, a money press.

#6 Comestar Holstein

The bloodlines developed by the Comestar herd have wielded major impact on the Holstein world.  Through Comestar Laurie Sheik and her descendants, Comestar has made a name for themselves world wide as a force to be reckoned with.  Marc Comtois has never wavered in the kind of cow he wanted to breed and work with.  “She must have dairyness, good bone quality and good texture to her udder” – all the trademarks of the Laurie Sheik family.  Through such bulls as Stormatic, Lee, Lheros, and Outside it’s hard to find any pedigrees that have not been touched by Comestar.

#5 Roybrook Farms

As a result of his line-breeding (inbreeding when it works), Frederick Roy Ormiston rode the high crest of success and affluence. Often called “The Holstein Man’s Holstein Man”, an informal poll in the late 1980’s by Holstein World, voted him North America’s most admired breeder. Dismayed with the artificial insemination industry’s increasing reliance on statistics at the expense of common sense, he described some of the materials that the geneticists were placing before the Holstein public as “an insult to the human race”, Roy used his common sense to breed three of the most influential sires in history, Telstar, Starlite and Tempo all of which were line bred to Balsam Brae Pluto Sovereign.

#4 Mil-R-Mor Holsteins

No list can be complete without including the home of Glenridge Citation Roxy, two time Queen of the Breed.  Probably the greatest impact Mil-R-Mar has achieved was through Mil-R-Mor Roxette, dam of Hanover-Hill Raider and his full sister Hanover-Hill Star Roxy EX-92 2E, twice nominated All-American and producing four EX-94 offspring, three daughters, and one son.  These days we see the Roxy’s all over the world with great results in the show ring, bulls hitting the top Genomic rankings and family members selling for sky-high prices at auctions. All of them were out of different branches, which trace back to the one and only QUEEN; Roxy!

#3 Carnation Farms

The belief that quality milk came only from quality cows eventually led Elbridge Amos Stuart, owner of the evaporated milk company Carnation, to establish his own breeding farm, known as Carnation Farm. On his breeding farm, through practical science and application, Stuart was able to continue improving the quality and production of milk from his Carnation cows. In fact, Carnation cows held the world milk production record for 32 consecutive years. One cow in particular, Segis Pietertje Prospect, produced 37,381 pounds of milk during 1920. So proud was Stuart, he erected a statue of the cow to honor this record for milk production that held top honors for 16 years. It was through such accomplishments that Stuart was able to make significant contributions to dairy science while helping to improve the world’s food supply.

#2 Mount Victoria

The invincible blood that pumped through the veins of Thomas Basset Macaulay lead to the Mount Victoria herd having affected cattle populations in every land under the sun.  Macaulay an insurance executive actually got into Holstein cattle more by chance than by design.  When he discovered the farm he had purchased was more of a sand pile than great crop land he starting purchasing livestock.  Macaulay had very definite ideas on the subject of genetics.  His studies in corn breeding were more advanced than any that had been made at that time.  Over time six of the Mount Victoria females became known as “The Big Six”. They where Oakhurst Colantha Abbekerk, Ingleside Piete Posch, progenitors of the Abbekerk and Pietje families, Dixie Calantha Hartog, foundation dam of the Hartog family and Lady Meg Posh and Bohnheur Abberkerk Posch 2nd, cornerstones of the Posch and Bonheur tribes. Combined with the purchase of Johanna Rag Apple Pabst, Macaulay would go onto to change the Holstein breed as we know it.

#1 Hanover Hill Holsteins

Herds that have been able to create their own genetic brand name have been few and far between.  At Hanover Hill, a new bloodline was forged, not only through Starbuck, but also through the eight other class extra sires (often line bred) and a whole host of superior females.  Peter Heffering and Kenneth Trevena formed the greatest cattle breeding and marketing partnership the breed has ever known ( To learn more read Hanover Hill Holsteins” Peter Heffering 1931-2012).  It took the unique characteristics of each to make Hanover Hill great.  Peter had an eye for cattle and was a master marketer, but he would have been nothing without Ken Trevena taking care of the cattle at the home front.  Starting in the US and then moving to Canada the pair have had an immense impact the world over.  They were able to develop powerful cow families that combined high type individuals who shattered production records and produced potent sons and daughters.  They produced Holsteins that set the pace for many decades.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While I am sure we could go further back and include herds such as Pabsts and Paclamars, I am wondering what herds you feel are the greatest of all time?  People are what make this business great.


  1. Interesting… there will be many opinions on this. I think it is a toss up betwen two breeders, not moneyed companies…Regancrest and Hanover-Hiil. In a close placing, I prefer Regancrest… because their current hot cow family the Barbie’s came from their B family, that they have been breeding for decades and of course a dtr of the bull they bred Durham(son of Dellia),the sire of more 95 pt cows than any other.

  2. I agree about a better position for Regancrest….but not so close to Hannover-Hill, and for me it’s a little too soon to speak about ferme Gilette, they are working in a amazing way, but it’s the “first Gillette generation” and It has been with (excellent) purchases. So for me today Gilette Owners are great cow people, but not one of the top influencial breeder of history.
    In my opinion Paclamar need a position in the top 10, for what it does in USA and because it has been the main genetic source of a full holstein country (when Italian herd Salone bought the full “paclamar” herd and starts to build Holstein in Italy and Europe)

    • Great points Marco,
      I would agree with the Gilette factor, but it was tight between about 5 or 6 herds for the 10th spot. As far as Paclamar goes I can see your point, though do to the technology at the time, we wondered if they had as much influence as some of the more recent herds.


  3. Good comments by both.  The one thing I have noticed is herd after the introduction of A.I. have been able to have a much larger impact than those before.  Hence the challenge of what to do with Paclamar.  Though Marco you make some great points about the effect the purchase by Salone as helping them.  Was trying to measure it based in impact on North American Genetics.  

    As far as Regancrest goes, I think there is a room for a lot of debate here.  My question to you would be what has been there impact outside the type breeder market?  Hence why we left them and Markwell in a tie.

    • Every herd listed is primarily built on type. Regancrest has bred many top bulls besides Durham. As far as brood cows… Laurie Shiek may be close, but certainly not better than Dellia… or better than Roxy. Would you call Lheros a good bull? He is one of the breeds worst for somatic cell score..Regans have a top TPI bull now Altaiota No.8 on the top 100 TPI list .MAC was a high TPI bull also.Dellstar is a aAa legend. 

      De-Su is higher than anyone by far…on number of top Genomic, males & females

      • Ron,

        What I am looking at is not how much good per bull, but rather all net effect.  So Since Lee, Lheros and Outside have far outsold Durham, AltaIota and Dellstar the have had a greater impact.  And yes Mason was a somatic cell nightmare, and helps prove the fact we make in yesterday’s article of how heritable and important High Immune Response is.

        De-Su is very high, but until the have a sire that has had the impact of even Lee or Durham it would be impossible to compare them on this list at this time.


        • Are you sure the Comestar bulls have sold more semen than the Regancrest bulls?
          But even if they did,which I doubt…, that’s like saying GM is better than Porsche and Mercedes -Benz combined….because they sold more volume.

          This millionaire status was a way to get people diverted from the best quality… arising from the winners in the old Holstein Intl… Most Promising Young Sire contest,,that the big bull studs could never win……Thus quantity over qualty…. is the new buzz word..

  4. A’s Ron says there Will be Many different opinion ón this subject! In My opinion the two farms hanoverhill and regancrest are the most influential herds in the history, along with of course the Comestar farm!
    To Andrew, what the impact is outside the type market from regancrest?
    Let us start with dellias! Mother to One of the greatest Bull ever in the herd, Durham! Durham the bull that have produced more cows over 95 than any other bull!
    Barbie the breed leading type cow in the holstein herd today! Grandaughter Chassity the global cow of 2011! Again dellia family As some of the higest GTPI animals at the time! Yes the regancrest are type leading family, but Can also make the High genomic indexes!

    And what is the stormatic, Lee, Lheros, in My opinion just High type Bulls! Just My opinion
    But it is good that we not All have the same sight ón the things :-)

    • Morten,
        I appreciate the comments and understand what you are saying.  It’s more comparing net effect, as opposed to bull vs bull, that would make a great debate as who is the greatest sire of all time.  What we are talking about here is the breeding programs and net impact. 

      I think a better discussion might be did we put Comestar too high, though the did seem to dominate through the ’90’s.  We did try to identify the most dominant herds in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s and 90’s.  We then included Gillette most because they are dominating Canada just now, though only time will tell if herds like De-Su, or Seagull bay may take over.  

      That was one of our hardest parts of this.  Not making herds who mostly dominated in the past.  Until you dominate for a 5-10 year period I think its hard to compare with the likes of Hanover Hill, Romandale, and Mount Victoria.


  5. Personally, I think Sunnylodge should be up there in the top 10, reason being is that they are responsible for the Sunnylodge Chief Vick family. From this family, some of the greatest brood cows and studs have stemmed from this line, Such as Braedale Gypsy Grand, daughters of Gypsy Grand (Second Cut/ Baler Twine). The influence of Goldwyn is felt on a worldwide scale as well, the sons and daughters from Gillette Blitz 2 Wind. All these animals and more greats come from this influential family. The list goes on…. The Spottie family can not be forgotten, though their impact on the Holstein world is on a much lesser scale than that of the descendants of Chief Vick, but regardless the daughters of Spottie and her descendants were great. I think the influence of Spottie will be felt again once more through the high genomic Goldwyn sons, Toc-Farm Goldsun, and Goldfish plus others, whom stem from Sunnylodge Tab Ann, Spotties only Ex daughter. I am sure there is more I have missed or not touched on. I guess in my own opinion the Holstein breed would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for Sunnylodge through the great influence of their cow families. 

    • Kegan,
      The challenge I have with Sunnylodge is that for the most part it comes down to one cow, and seems like most of the work since has been done by other herds. So its hard to give credit just to them for the success the family has had.


  6. My response is somewhat late since I just subscribed to your blog, great blog!
    I definately think that Wally Lindskoog from Arlinda deserves a place in the top10 breeders.I realize not many type breeders liked his philosophy and breeding but you can not ignore the tremendous influence his bulls had on the breed. To start with Pawnee Farms Arlinda Chief and than later such great bulls as Arlinda Rotate and Melwood. In the 80’s and 90’s almost every stud had some Arlinda bulls in their lineup. I dare say most high producing commercial cows have some Chief blood in them. It is so easy to recognise bulls/herds that deliver great show cows, but for most dairy man, great commercial cows make you the money.
    Wout vanderGoot

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