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When US President Donald Trump launched scathing attacks against the Canadian Dairy industry last week, the world took notice. But does this battle between these two countries really exist or are there other issues underneath the surface that most don’t realize? In true Bullvine style, we decided to take a closer look and find out the story behind the story.

Earlier this month, Grassland Dairy Products Inc. of Wisconsin, which produces and sells UF (ultra-filtered) milk, announced that it would be canceling 75 of its contracts with US dairy farms starting May 1 because “the Canadian government has put in place several regulations to prevent this trade from continuing.” Diafiltered milk, also known as ultrafiltered milk in the US, is milk that has been finely filtered through a membrane in order to target its protein content. The resulting product has a similar consistency to coconut milk and has a very high protein content (greater than 40 percent).

One of the key issues is that the Americans, Australians and New Zealanders insist that this new pricing class has locked them out of the Canadian dairy market. All three have mentioned that they plan on challenging the new pricing regulations at the World Trade Organization. In recent months the U.S. dairy industry has started a fierce letter-writing and lobbying campaign, both at the state and federal level, to urge their representatives to take action against Canada. Canada’s dairy industry has repeatedly said that the strategy meets their WTO trade obligations.

What really happened was that the US had been taking advantage of a loophole in the NAFTA trade agreement. Most dairy products when imported to Canada are subject to substantial tariffs, but ultra-filtered milk from the U.S. wasn’t subject to those tariffs because it did not start getting used until after NAFTA was approved in 1994. This meant that for many years American dairies could send their ultra-filtered milk north of the border without being subject to tariffs. Until last year when Ontario dairy farmers agreed to sell ultra-filtered milk to Canadian processors, such as Saputo Inc. and Parmalat Canada Inc., at prices competitive with international rates. Other Canadian provinces soon followed suit. The move by Canadian producers has cost U.S. farms upwards of US$150 million, according to a report from the Washington Post.

Part of the challenge with this is that Canada has a supply management system. The supply management system in Canada is administered by the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC). The CDC, a crown corporation, serves as a secretariat to the Canadian Milk Supply Management Committee (CMSMC), which measures consumer demand for milk and sets the national target for production (of butterfat) accordingly. Each farm owns a number of shares in this market (quota) and is required to increase or decrease production according to consumer demand. Because production is in sync with demand, overproduction is avoided. Farmers can earn a predictable and stable revenue directly from the market, not from subsidies. Often producers will have as much equity tied up in quota as they do in the rest of their operation combined. With this supply managed system, Canada does control the amount of total milk production there is in the country. They also control how much and what types of milk products can be imported into the country and any applicable tariffs. The result is dairy producers in Canada receive a fair and stable milk price and agree to not export subsidized milk into foreign markets. The benefits of this are that while many farmers around the world are losing money at current milk prices, Canadian producers can maintain operations and their livelihood.

Trump, the controversial US president who loves to see his name in the headlines, was as much posturing for his America First agenda as he was for truly standing up for the American dairy farmers. You see “The Donald” loves to fly off on any subject he thinks will advance his agenda. So even if he is ill informed, if he sees a chance to promote his agenda he will certainly take it. A few facts that he is missing is that Canada opens 10% of their market to imports while the US only allows 3%. The US has a $445M trade surplus in dairy with Canada. Some other key metrics are that there are 41,809 herds in the USA with 9,520 of them in Wisconsin alone. In comparison, Canada has 11,280 herds.

While I feel for the forty-four, Wisconsin dairy farms producing about 500,000 pounds of milk per day, that are still hunting for a market home for their milk, the US needs to look inward to solve these issues. Currently, the world dairy market is oversupplied with milk thanks. This is a result of overproduction in many countries and relative declining consumer demand for fluid milk because of the rising popularity of beverages like almond milk and soy milk. You see despite all the rhetoric you might hear, the fact remains that Canada is not putting tariffs on this milk but rather Canadian producers decided to cover domestic demand, and they agreed last year to sell ultra-filtered milk to Canadian processors at prices competitive with international rates. Canadian milk processing businesses are still free to choose their suppliers, just like American companies do.

The issue is that the US has an oversupply of milk, especially in fluid form. In March the National US milk production was up yet another 1.7%, year over year, despite decreased demand and price. This over production will only cause greater pressure on US farm gate milk prices and create more hardships for US dairy farmers. The issue is not that Canada is putting tariffs on milk imported from the US, but rather the US continues to produce more milk than its domestic demand and is now running out of foreign markets to export to or to sell the surplus milk products to. The 75 herds affected by this changed represent less than 0.8% of the US marketplace. That means that the US increase year over year in production alone would account for the difference.

It is not the fault of the forty-four producers (twenty-six have found alternate processors) who are finding themselves without a place to ship their milk to. The fact remains that the US dairy market needs to right size. There is no question that most Dairy farmers around the world are struggling. Recently Australia approved a $450 million bailout package for its dairy industry. In July, the European Union has offered its dairy farmers €500 million in additional support. Sonny Perdue, the new United States, agriculture secretary, who grew up on a dairy farm, was recently grilled with questions during his confirmation hearing about how a government could help ease the hardship of their dairy farmers, who are experiencing historically low prices. The challenge is that the American agricultural industry is heavily subsidized. In 2012 the U.S. paid out $3.84 billion in direct payments to producers as was reported in WTO filings. Also, the U.S. has several dairy price support programs that have paid out millions in support for the sector.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

If this right-sizing does not occur, more finger pointing headline news will be coming. Processors have reached their limit in processing capacity and just don’t have a market for the excess milk. Yes, US President Donald Trump will continue to make outlandish comments. However, the dairy industry including the marketplace needs to find long-term solutions. In the EU, governments have started to develop programs that actually encourage less production not more. But from what I hear from my American friends is that they do not want government doing their farming for them.

 

 

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Here at The Bullvine, we have the opportunity to hear and read about many new and exciting dairy topics. We take sharing these as our responsibility to our supporters to help the industry move forward.  We encourage our readers to go beyond their current approach, situation, or mindset and consider how to create the future.

But Things are not Always Positive

That’s a fact of life. The Bullvine writers also encounter dairy folks that look back to the good old days which, by the way, weren’t so good and we’ve heard that song before, and that is definitely today’s old news.

Just this week I heard from a few sources how their chosen breed of dairy cattle used to be longer lived, were pure, had greater market share and had higher component percentages. They reminisced about how buyers lined up to buy bred heifers at the farm. In those good old days, heifer rearing was a net income source, and there was demand for any and all progeny of a Grand Champion. Then the whining started about how genetic indexing has ruined the breed. …. And on …. And on.

So, I asked myself the next question …”Am I missing something or have these good folks not kept up with the times?”

Leave the Past Behind

Nothing is so passé as old ways or old technology. Who would want to go back to party line telephones or having to pay $1.25 for three minutes to talk to you cousin fifty miles away?

Which dairy cattle breeder would want to go back to cows that only milked seven months after calving? Or having to hand milk five cows before you went to school?  Or having to hand load mowed dry hay in the field and then pitch it off into the mow?

Times have changed for everything, whether we’re talking about businesses, consumer food demands or society. So too have farming practices and so must our breeds and breed societies change.  The cows of the last century and the rules, regulations, and programs of breeds from then will not take us forward into the future.

Yes. We need to stop revering the past. It’s time to stop using old methods, practices, and programs. We’re getting down to the wire, and it’s time to put significant effort into creating the road ahead for our cattle breed organizations.

What’s Involved?

Even though we have new and expanded information on our animals, everything still revolves around leadership. The people leading and working for our breed organizations will make the difference in the future.

New ideas, new technology, new programs, new services, … all these need a serious re-consideration.

The People Side

Here are some Bullvine thoughts for breeders to consider:

  1. Elected Leaders
    It is 2017 and breeders need to elect leaders that are prepared to focus on setting direction, establishing dynamic policies and ensuring breed organization financial health. Breed Boards of Directors need to follow the much talked about practice of removing two regulations for every new one added. Boards need to eliminate out-of-date or little-used programs and services. Culling at breed offices, like herd culling, is important.
    Our elected leaders need to be actively involved in the industry and forward looking. The best of these leaders will not be able to take the time to leave their farms for days on end but in this virtual world committees or task forces can take an hour once a week to discuss concepts and make recommendations for staff to develop further and bring back reports. Electronic committee reports or recommendations can be shared with the Board for feedback and fine-tuning so the Board approval can occur without the need for a Board to meet face-to-face.  Breeders are familiar with these concepts of time use and duty allocation.  That is how their successful farms operate.
    Boards of Directors need to identify one area a year where breed members can be served by the breed by collaborating its efforts or services with another organization. In many cases, the breeders will be better served.
    Elected directors will need their own local breeder advisory group with which they routinely virtually share information, ideas and questions. Hard copy and quarterly meetings no longer get the messages exchanged completely enough.
    Breeders will find it a breath of fresh air when they elect progressive visionary leaders to their breed board of directors.  Directors will find that their time is well spent in moving the breed
  2. Employed Leaders
    The Board of Directors of a breed usually hires only one person, the CEO. That person then hires all the other staff. It is extremely important that the CEO is a visionary corporate leader that works well with the Board to ratify the goals, policies, plans, programs and to keep the organization financially viable.
    When you have a CEO who works well with the Board, it does not mean someone who always agrees with the Board. Status quo is as deadly for breed associations as it is for managing a dairy operation.
    The CEO will have program and service leaders reporting to him/her. These people need to be good administrators, and as well they need always to be looking for ways to do things in an improved way or more completely for the betterment of the breed and its members.
    One matter sometimes not considered by breeders and directors is the need for a budget for staff training and skills development. Organizations that grow their staff grows their organization. Ones that don’t develop their staff stagnate and fall behind.
  3. Breed Members
    Youth and young adult programs are a must have for breeds. Finding the resources for such programs is often a challenge for breeds but teaming up with other like-minded organizations is one solution. One key to such programs is the need to make them broad and comprehensive. Limiting them to people interested in shows only is not enough. With young people so interested in social media, this is a good area for a breed to ‘go social’ in reaching out to youth.
    Young breeder training with the view to having these breeders trained and ready to run for election to the breed board is an excellent plan. This is an area where a breed could work jointly with a state extension service and/or other agricultural organizations.

The Program / Services Side

Here are some Bullvine thoughts for both breeders and breed boards of directors to consider:

  1. Herd Improvement Plans
    No two herds are the same when it comes to their needs in genetics, nutrition, technology and management. Breeds should have a range in herd plans that breeders could follow or adapt. A key component of such programs is to contain the business side of dairy farming, including revenue generation and cost control. If such plans are not provided, then beginning breeders may find the benefits from breed membership are limited. There is little doubt that in the future breeding companies will be providing such programs with or without breed
  2. Animal Data
    The sooner that breeds discontinue judging which data is ‘official’ and only publishing third-party verified data, as it is called, the better it will be for everyone – the breed, animal improvement, and the breeders. Breeds need to provide all the facts and label the data source for the information. The people reading and using the information will decide if the information is useful or not for them.
    The industry is just starting into a very expansionary era regarding the amount of information that will be known on every documented animal. Genomic indexes were just the start. Breeds will need to find ways to collaborate with other documenting If they don’t do this, the relevance of the breed data files could be very limited.
  3. Cows of the Future
    The Bullvine has written extensively on this topic. Other articles to refer to include The Secret to Breeding the Dairy Cow of the Future…, What Will The Cow of The Future Look Like? and 5 Things You MUST Know about the Future of the Dairy Breeding Industry

Breeds need to plan for fast-arriving modern dairy herd realities such as the following:

  • Cows that regularly complete 5+ lactation on average;
  • All heifers are not registered in the breed herdbook (no fee paid);
  • Over 95% of the milk production coming from herds where owners are not concerned about breed purity;
  • DNA profiles are able to identify, at 90+% reliability, the complete genetic merit of animals;
  • Gene editing is a reality; and
  • Specialized lines of animals (for traits and breed make-up) existing within a breed.

All of these will impact the viability of the breed, with or without breed associations.

  1. Research and Development (R&D)
    Breeds and breeders have been known to consider the responsibility for genetic R&D to be too costly and have let others carry out this role. This is not a wise off-loading. If breeds do not, at least, participate in breed related R&D, then the outcomes of the R&D investment will accrue to others and not the breed or its members.
    If breeds are looking for areas to consider for R&D they might look at 1) if a visual image of a cow, captured by an on-farm system, could be used to evaluate body conformation for genetic purposes; 2) should all bulls entering A.I. have their DNA profile expanded so that their genomic indexes are 95% REL; 3) which animals/families/breeding lines in the population are the most desired for fertility, health, and immunity; and 4) how will animals that are the result of gene editing or other means of adding genes be documented and recognized within the breed.
  2. Business Approach
    Breeds need to consider how matters of volume discounting; value pricing and other common business practices will be addressed. It is more than likely that average herd size will more than double over the next decade. Duplication of services provided by producer directed organizations and the sharing of similar service will continue to be a matter that Boards of Directors will need to consider as costs are likely to outpace income for breed organizations.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The Bullvine is positive about breed organizations where breed boards keep up with the times and ensure that the breed services are relevant, appropriately priced and supported. The dairy cow will be improved to provide farmers with efficient converters of non-human foods to human foods that consumers will buy. Breed organizations need to be visionary, bold and dynamic about their role and the services they provide. Otherwise, the world of dairying will pass them by.

 

 

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“I am still feeling the spirit of the New Year because it’s a time when change and renewal fills the air, and we celebrate the bright new beginnings taking place as we begin 2017.” New faces. New headlines. Here at The Bullvine, we are right on trend as we look to expand our team and our coverage of the dairy industry. We don’t have a crystal ball to forecast the unknown, but we do know that we will be providing many more real-time pictures! And that means introducing you to our new intern, Emily Goins of Kentucky.  This 20-year-old is eager to make dairy photographer a big part of her plans for the future.

Cowtographer Emily “The Thrill is in Capturing the Special Moments.”

Even though Emily is not yet a seasoned pro, she already identifies with the thrill of creating images that capture unique moments in the dairy ring. “I absolutely love getting to capture special moments for people to save and look back on. I really enjoy being behind the scenes of events. There is so much more than just pointing a lens and pushing the shutter button. I love how much detail and effort is put into getting a great photo.

Emily Goins: “Getting Up Close to Cows Inspired This Photographers Passion.”

Passion for the dairy showring is often a spark that is passed from generation to generation and, occasionally, ignites what will become a different but related version of the flame. “My dad and granddad (names if Emily would like) showed Ayrshires when they were young. So it was expected that when I was old enough to join 4-H, I was next up in the family to show Ayrshires. When I turned 9, I got my first 4-H calf and began the journey. I absolutely hated showing at first, but I pushed through and started to enjoy it. I showed Ayrshires for nine years before I switched over to Jerseys. Valentines Day 2015, my boyfriend Logan bought me my first Jersey cow from Keightly and Core Jerseys here in Kentucky. I’m glad that I stuck through all of the many, many 4-H meetings in my nine years because I wouldn’t have had the incredible opportunities that I have had and I wouldn’t have gotten to meet some of the greatest people. I’m looking forward to next show season which will be my last time in the ring as a junior.” For Emily, there is always a new beginning just beyond each ending.

Emily Goins: “It only takes a spark to get an album growing.”

At the same time, as she had her first 4H calf, she also was introduced to cameras. “I got started in photography when I was nine years old and joined 4-H. I was in my county’s 4-H photography program for one year but then decided to stop the classes and experiment on my own. I got my first camera when I was about seven years old and it was a tiny, hot pink, Sony digital camera, I thought I was all that and a box of crackers. I got out of taking pictures for a while, then when I saw photos from the Bullvine, it sparked the passion again, and I had to get back behind the camera, so for my 18th birthday I got my first DSLR, a Canon EOS Rebel t5.”

Emily Goins: “Emily is on the Hunt for Photographic Skills.”

There are many opportunities to be inspired in this modern age of technology, with its access to worldwide communication twenty-four hours a day.  Sometimes a seemingly small moment can have a significant impact on our career choices.  Emily explains how this connection happened for her.  “Andrew Hunt has helped me develop my passion for photography. I fell in love with his photos when I discovered him on Facebook just a few years ago. I love the new idea of the lower shots that he introduced to the show photography world. I was super anxious to meet him in person; he is a superstar in my eyes! Andrew is very, very helpful with any questions I have or if I need advice. I really enjoy getting to work for him.” It is great to see Emily setting out on her own adventure.

“Emily’s Career Time Frame is Clicking Along “

There can be many reasons for what makes a picture great. In Emily’s case, it doesn’t have to do with setting, lighting or camera angle. Her choice isn’t about the picture itself, but it’s about the feeling that is captured.  She explains, “My favorite photos are the ones that really show the emotion between the cow and the lead person.” For Emily, the story of photographic success in the show ring isn’t about reproducing a true-type-model moment.  For her, it is about telling the story of success so that everyone looking at the photograph feels connected to the moment and the people and animals that moment represents. “I’m in love with getting what once was “the slap, ” but I reckon now it’s “the handshake” pictures. I was thankful enough that my first time taking photos was at Expo and I was able to really improved my timing to get a great handshake shot in the first few days of shooting. I also really like taking pictures of my dog Lulu. He’s very photogenic.”

“Emily is Keeping Her Focus While Studying and Hoping for Big Picture Opportunities.”

“I am majoring in Photojournalism and minoring in Agriculture at Western Kentucky University. I hope to improve my photography skills majorly and also take a few writing classes while I am there. I would love to continue working for The Bullvine because it has absolutely been a dream come true getting to shoot for my favorite photographer. I hope to have my own photography business covering dairy shows and other events such as beef shows, rodeos, and weddings later in life.” It’s a big undertaking, but this young photographer is glad she can take the first steps. “

I just want to thank Andrew for his help and support with starting this new photography adventure. I really appreciate getting to learn from the best in the business.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Emily Goins photography journey, like the beginning of each new year, is a story waiting to be told.  No doubt her story will continue to be recorded in pictures that shoot for the heart of the dairy showring.  We encourage her to keep on shooting.  Like her, we are committed to our dream by providing expanded coverage for our passionate dairy followers. “Good luck Emily.  You inspire the dairy dreamer inside all of us to keep on growing.”

 

 

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Dairy producers are the first to acknowledge that proper functioning farm equipment is critical if they are to run a dairy farm successfully.  Robots, tractors, harvest equipment and milking parlors are kept in top condition to produce the healthy milk that sustains our business. The same is true of our own equipment – also known as mind and body.  Like our dairy equipment, as we age, some parts, for us our mind and body, start to wear out. It is unfortunate when we accept this as something we can do nothing about. 

One particular ailment – namely Alzheimer’s – is not only overlooked it is often underdiagnosed and dangerously ignored. 

There are many of us in agriculture, who have watched memory loss or dementia gradually take its toll on a family member, farm worker, supplier or consultant. The loss is personally devastating, but we put our heads down and continue on.

Show Me the Numbers

In dairying, we live by numbers: the number of cattle, the production numbers… You name it numbers are important.  When it comes to health issues, numbers have a lot to say about where we find ourselves. In 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease facts and figures reported, “An estimated 5.3 million Americans have AD; 5.1 million are age 65+ years, and approximately 200,000 are age <65 years and have younger-onset AD. By mid-century, the number of people living with AD in the United States is projected to grow by nearly 10 million, fueled in large part by the aging Baby Boom generation.”

Two major fears. Fear of stopping dairying.  Fear of asking for help.

Because of lifelong dairy connections, farmers could end up in a double bind if they begin to have problems relating to mental health. Traditionally farmers continue working long after usual retirement age. On the one hand, problems like dementia can become particularly acute for farms in terms of operating and managing both the business and physical sides of the operation. As well, fear of negatively affecting the dairy business, farmers are even more reluctant to ask for help.

What is Dementia? 

Dementia is characterized by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving abilities, and other cognitive skills that affect a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is the number one cause of dementia, and an estimated 5.4 million Americans had Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.

The Farm and Rural Connection

As we become more knowledgeable about things that impact the environment we live in, studies are beginning to suggest possible links that are associated with agriculture.  The following statistics were reported in Iowa Farmer Today in August of 2013. There might be a connection to farming and rural livelihoods. Although the causes of Alzheimer’s have not been fully determined, there is scientific evidence growing up in a rural area may double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

A meta-analysis of how growing up in rural and urban areas affects the development of Alzheimer’s, published by University of Edinburgh and London researchers in 2012, indicated nonurban people had twice the chance of incurring Alzheimer’s later in life. The researchers theorized access to healthcare, socioeconomic well-being and exposure to unknown substances could be contributing factors.

The impact of Insecticide Exposure

Here are some updates on research in the area of insecticide exposure.

“A review of 2.6 million death certificates by Dr. Robert Park of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health indicated a greater risk for degenerative brain diseases, especially Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, among farmers and persons in several other occupations where chemical exposures were likely to occur.” (for more see ‘Five Occupations Linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s).

“Other studies of farmers, in particular, have suggested exposures to commonly used agricultural insecticides in the organophosphate and chlorinated pesticide families and certain fumigants are well known to contribute to the onset of Parkinson’s and may be precipitants to Alzheimer’s.

Not enough research has been conducted to adequately sort out the relationships, but a body of confirmatory research findings is developing.”

Research is Growing a Worldwide Data Base

There are several studies underway which are adding valuable data regarding dementia. One such study is underway at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom. They found that memory loss can be especially destructive to farmers and their families.

Another study is underway in Canada. Professor Andria Jones-Bitton, Department of Population Medicine at the University of Guelph, analyzed more than 1,100 responses nationwide to an online stress and resilience survey, conducted on agriculture producers from September 2015 to January 2016. Early findings report that stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, and burnout are all higher among farmers than among other groups.

Dementia Can Be Dangerous on the Dairy Farm

A serious concern is especially relevant relating to farmers who contract Alzheimer’s or Dementia and present a danger to themselves and others as they attempt to continue working with animals and large equipment. Adding to the problems, are the additional stresses of trying to care for someone with dementia.

Farmers in Jeopardy Because of Isolation (of mental health issues)

Farmers may be especially susceptible to escalating mental health issues because they tend to be reluctant to ask for help. Here are some reasons that farmers acknowledge have delayed proactive progress when farmers face Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

  • Stigma
    It is difficult to open up about their symptoms or need for therapy.
  • Severity
    Waiting too long to seek help, means that the issues are deeply entrenched.
  • Getting Started
    Many are unsure of how or where to start.
  • Time and Energy
    It takes time and energy to deal with treatment options. Both are hard to find after the full days put in on farm operations.
  • Money
    Therapy can be costly, and options and accessibility may not be widely known in rural communities.

There can be other reasons to avoid treatment, and any or several of them can lead to isolation and hiding problems from the outside world.

Medical Disclosure Practices Could be Adding to the Problem

There are times when the health care system and patients are at odds with each other – perhaps unintentionally. Research reports that “Among people with a diagnosis of AD or another dementia, fewer than half report having been told of the diagnosis by their health care provider. Though the benefits of a prompt, clear and accurate disclosure of an AD diagnosis are recognized by the medical profession, improvements to the disclosure process are needed. These improvements may require stronger support systems for healthcare providers and their patients.”

Need to Ask for Help

The Bullvine encourages anyone dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts to find someone to talk to and to ask for help.  It’s a fact that farmer suicide rates are among the highest of any occupation. (Read more: Thinking about Ending It All).  The most important part of dealing with depression is talk.  Talk removes of smashes apart stigma and brings new ideas, proper advice and sources of help.  Talking about depression in farming at agricultural shows and events also helps.  We know depression affects farmers.  We need to bring the issue into the public as a workplace health concern that is talked about at these venues.  The old saying, “The more you know…” goes a long way in dealing with depression.

We need to ask for help and talk.

Good News

in researching this article for The Bullvine, I fell into a common defensive mode and began looking for some glimmer of light in this bleak forecast.  This led to a reference in Scientific American Mind (June 2016) which reported regarding an article entitled, “Banking Against Alzheimer’s.” Among other things, one part takes a longer view of the disease. “Choices we make throughout life, from learning a second language or studying music in childhood to finding purpose and remaining physically, intellectually and socially active in retirement, can build a cognitive reserve and dramatically reduce the risk of developing dementia.” This is not a cure, but it is something to actively share and discuss with the next generation.

Taking Action

The real key is to take action when and where it is needed in the present. A cure for AD and Dementia will take considerable time, money and research.  In the meantime, understanding and reaching out for proactive resources for dealing with mental health issues is something we can do right now.

One such plan is being undertaken by previously mentioned Prof. Andria Jones-Bitton, a Professor in the Department of Population Medicine. “We are building a team of producers, industry representatives, veterinarians and mental health professionals to create, deliver and evaluate a mental health literacy training program for farms.” She reports that this program is intended to train people to recognize and respond to mental distress and reduce the stigma around mental health issues in Ontario’s agricultural sector. “We need to do something,” she says.  “Farmers want help, and we’re going to find ways for them to receive it.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Our mental health is one of our most precious commodities. It should never be taken for granted. We all recognize farmers as being the first ones we can turn to when we need help.  Now we need also to recognize that keeping our farmers healthy is important for everyone. 

 

 

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(Note: Click here for Are You Breeding for the Correct Conformation to Produce the Greatest Lifetime Profit?)

There is no question that Dairy Farming at the best of times is one of the most stressful jobs.  Add in low milk prices, an uncertain future and the stress of day-to-day dairy farming, and it’s enough to cause even the best of us to feel exhausted.  The Bullvine asked members of The Milkhouse how do they deal with stress on the farm. Here are 10 ways that dairy farmers have found to cope with this stress:

  1. Spend time with your children/family
    For many dairy farming is not just a job it is a way a life. A way of life that also includes your families.  Doing chores and tasks with your children can be some of the most rewarding times of your day.   “I go home, lay on the floor with my little girl, and play, and let my worries go for the day, realizing not everyone’s got that.” Shares Andrew Kammerer from Alexandria, Pennsylvania. Keith England from Williamsburg, Pennsylvania, comments “Anyway, stress relief for me includes family time, working out several times per week, watching a movie, taking long hikes, taking a rare day off (1-4 days per month) among other things yet these things I enjoy as well as vacations are either interrupted or ruined because of others.” Ashley Bridges McMurry from Polkville, North Carolina, adds “if we are having a crappy day or lost an animal or lots of money…please don’t take it out on your children. Find other ways to deal with the stress. I find taking a long drive with the windows down, and loud music helps me!”
  2. Laugh a lot
    “Aside from my children sharing time in the barn together, laughing helps a lot, trying to find something funny or know people that are hilarious and make you laugh helps a lot. Also swearing, it releases my stress. Just my honest opinion!” – Craig Sperberg, Shawano, Wisconsin
  3. Ask for help
    Sue Sellers from Belleville, Pennsylvania , adds “the farmer has always been portrayed as the eternal optimist. But sometimes it just doesn’t get better, and I think we all need to be able to admit that we are struggling, we can’t get up in the mornings or sleep at night, our tempers are short and the list goes on. Please know that it’s OK to ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness!! Us old farmers are tired, young farmers are broken hearted, and their spirits are being broken. I don’t have the answers, all I can offer is an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on, but I’m here if anyone ever needs to talk.”
  4. Find a hobby
    Bridget Achterberg shares “I have hobbies aside of the farm. Hay burners to be exact. When it’s been a long, hard day and nothing seems to look up, going for a ride usually takes care of the extra stress. Otherwise, coming home just to relax. I think the key is that at some point there needs to be some form of escape from the harsh reality of farming.”
  5. Misery loves company
    Most times, we are very isolated people who would rather stay home tending to our work and avoid society. So, Kristin Pfaff from Alma Center, Wisconsin recommends “Start Thirsty Thursday. Invite a few farming neighbors over BYOB. Sit around chat and laugh. Very low stress”.  Jeff Wriglesworth from Hepburnia, Pennsylvania adds “I’m by myself a lot of the time here on the farm and appreciate the short conversations with the AI technician, milk hauler, nutritionist and anyone else that might stop by. Can take your mind off of a bad day and often turn things around.” Rob Anderson  from Atlantic, Pennsylvania  adds “I spend time talking (venting) to other farmers. People that can relate to the struggles and give you the incentive to hang in there.” Cheryl Irwin DeMent adds “CPNO. Cow people night out. 5 of us local couples that have cows get together for supper about once a month. Great to socialize and chat to realize you aren’t the only one struggling or to be doing great…whichever the case at the time.”  Good advice comes from Cody Mullikin from Waldo Wisconsin “Surround yourself with positive influences. Being there with people who were negative influences and it’ll make it worse. Sometimes just walking away and keeping mind off the subject is the best manner. Come back the next day, with a positive go get it mindset.”
  6. Spend time with what hooked you
    Ryan Schaufenbuel shares “For me, I go back to what got me hooked… the damn cows. Spend five minutes with them (especially heifers), and you can’t help but smile, laugh and shake your head when they are displaying their personalities. Brings it all back into perspective.”
  7. Get Social
    “Conversing with other farmers. Whether it is on here or other social media outlets. It lets your problems go with people who can understand them and maybe help.” Comments Bruce Hill from Ottawa, Ontario. “We’ve been somewhat in limbo for a year now. Luckily I have a few FB friends that I can talk to about whatever is going on.” Adds John Kiser. “We have found that since launching the Milkhouse the members of the group have been amazing at supporting each other. An excellent example of this was Kipp Hinz when he was going through a tough time. (Read more: Dairy Farmer Shares His Loss With Dairy Community on Social Media)”
  8. Get off the farm
    “There are many many farmers out there who struggle and there should be no shame. Just because our ancestors thought that depression or mental illness was weakness doesn’t mean we should. It seems most of the farmers I know deal with stress by working harder or shutting down mentally and working by rote. My hubby does For me, it helps to do something off farm, not necessarily something time-consuming, but just away. Also, church does help- because it does give you a different perspective on life.” Shares Beth Foster from Fishersville, Virginia.
  9. It’s a marathon, not a sprint
    “I always look at it as a marathon rather than a sprint. I agree that there are days where everything seems to go wrong, but I realize if I’m going to be in it for the long haul then accept when things go wrong and move on. Losing a cow or having a calf DOA makes me mad at that moment but I have to realize that’s a part of the industry. Like others, I’m lucky to have a wife, children, and other family members to get my mind off of things but in the end, I realize the sun will come up tomorrow and bring a new set of challenges. But they’re challenges I accept as part of dairy farming.” Comments David Brand from Waterloo, Indiana.
  10. Let GO and Move On
    “Years ago, a lot of years ago, I realized that stressing or being pissed about things I cannot change was just not worth it. You need to learn how to let go of emotions and move on, quick. It’s not easy.” Comments Cindy Gallagher Bahr from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

No doubt, many dairy farm families are going through some difficult times right now and are challenged by their financial situation. We can talk or read about low milk prices and the economy to the point of extreme stress or create even more anxiety for ourselves.  Keeping friends close, expressing gratitude and channeling anxiety and stress in healthy ways will go a long way to having a positive influence on your relationships and will help you deal with the difficult economic situation you and your family may be facing. (Read more: THINKING ABOUT ENDING IT ALL… and DOING NOTHING CAN BE FATAL TO YOUR FARM)

 

 

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Are show ring standards for type relevant in most dairies? The Bullvine looks to the future and the question in 2017 is expanded to: “Are show ring standards providing relevant prototypes for the ideal conformation for the cow of the future in most dairy operations?” The Bullvine has written on this topic on numerous occasions in order to stimulate breeders to think, discuss and help influence adoption of the most scientifically correct conformation standards for their dairy operation. (Read more: What’s Needed in Type Beyond Udders, Feet, and Legs? and She Ain’t Pretty – She Just Milks That Way!) For forward-looking Bullvine readers here is some additional food for thought.

Classifier Looks to the Future

Recently the Bullvine asked Tom Byers for his thoughts on the type of cow for the future. Tom is currently a consultant to Holstein Canada. He was previously its head classifier and was instrumental in bringing type classification for all Canadian dairy breeds under one program. (Read more: TOM BYERS: “THAT’S CLASSIFIED!”) The Bullvine found his thoughts interesting on the conformation of young cows. Remember that the classification data for first calf females is the basis for conformation bull proofs and cow indexes in most countries.

Tom shared the following pictures of models developed a decade ago.

Young First Calf Heifer Model

True Type Mature Cow & Heifer Models 

Tom commented of the young cow model as follows:

  • The young cow model is not a true type but rather a model of the young cow that Holstein Canada believes has the correct conformation to grow into the mature true type model cow
  • This young cow is 22-24 months of age and 30-60 days in milk
  • She is lower in her front end than in her rump
  • She has correct body depth for her age and stage of lactation
  • Her rump angle is sloped from hips to pins
  • Her loin is very strong
  • She has depth of heel and a symmetrical shape of foot
  • Her udder is very well attached both fore and rear with a high rear attachment
  • As she ages, calves for future lactations and matures, she will be “the cow for the future

Let’s Reflect on Byer’s Comments and the Young Cow

Some points that Tom did not mention but that are obvious on the young cow model include:

  • She has enough volume of udder, length, width and depth, to carry a large volume of milk
  • She will walk straight on both fore and rear legs
  • Her thurls are placed mid-point so she can walk properly
  • Carries very good body condition
  • If she is 54-56” at the rump (135-140 cm) at 22-24 months, she will be 58-60” (145-150 cm) at maturity
  • She is long from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail

It appears to The Bullvine that these black and white models could be painted red & white, all brown, all fawn, all black and even all brindle and they could be the model for any dairy breed. Functional correctness and longevity are desired for all breeds and for crossbreeds as well.

Breeders Look to the Future

As 99% of the cows and 99.9% of the milk produced in the future will come from profit focused production herds, let’s listen to what leading spokespersons for commercial breeders say about what they want their cows’ conformation to be:

SeaGull Bay Dairy (Idaho): In conversation with Alan Andersen, he reported that “My ideal two-year-old would probably score not more than 80-82 points because she isn’t tall enough or sharp enough to satisfy the present program. They are the ones that work hard for us and stay around for profitable lifetimes.” (Read: Charting The Course at SeaGull Bay Dairy)

North Florida Holsteins (Florida): Don Bennink states (Read: North Florida Holsteins – Aggressive, Progressive and Profitable) “Particularly in the current genomic era and with the advancements to come in knowing more about the DNA makeup of our dairy cows, breeding for conformation is putting the cart before the horse. Example: The cow with the best rump is the cow with the best calving ease (MCE), the highest fertility (DCR, CCR, HCR), the most mobility and with plenty of room for a capacious udder (length & width). We need to breed directly for the characteristics commercial breeders need rather than breeding a rump that we “think” might get us there.”

Rosy-Lane Holsteins (Wisconsin): Lloyd Holterman states that they have ceased classifying their cows. (Read: Rosy-Lane Holsteins “Don’t Follow the Herd!”) For Lloyd tall, pretty and infertile does not cut it for them any more as an essential part of their farm’s mission statement is “maintain an economically viable business unit with future potential.” Using the type classification program was not helping their farm achieve that mission. Lloyd ‘s states that their ideal cow is “A cow that calves like an Oman, has the disposition like a Shottle, breeds back like a Freddie, has high lifetime like a Ramos, has high fat and protein per lactation like a Supersire and has an immune system like an Uno. This type of cow shows that desirable genes come from around the world.”

Breeders that follow their friends on Facebook will know that Cliff Shearer (New Zealand) and Eric Silva (Oregon) routinely picture Jerseys that yield large volumes of milk solids and are able to do it entirely from grass or in a modern large herd environment. Both Cliff and Eric show their preference for functional trouble free cows that do not need to have the style, stature and blending of parts of the show winning cows.

Sire Selection Is Important

Holstein USA recently released information on sires with the most recently registered progeny – “Robust’s legacy dominates the top registrations in the USA”. In fact, six of the current top ten sires with the most newly registered Holsteins were Robust sons or grandsons. (Read more: ROBUST’S LEGACY DOMINATES THE TOP REGISTRATIONS IN THE USA) Table 1 is the profile for Robust daughters at 99% REL.

Table 1 Roylane Socra Robust 7HO10254 (Socrates x Oman x Manat x Celsius x Melwood x Secret x Mars Tony)

So today’s US Holstein breeders are aware of and are breeding for the conformation they want their herds to have in the future. Breeders are breeding for productive, healthy and long-lived cows without the need for them to be tall, large, deep rear ribbed, stylish and smoothly blended.

An interesting note is that the Andersen’s of Seagull Bay bred both Robust’s dam, SeaGull-Bay Oman Mirror, and Robust’s top son, SeaGull-Bay Supersire (Robust x Plant x Shottle x Oman x Rudy Missy) #1 NM$ and #2 TPI for proven US Holstein sires. Supersire leads with the largest number of recently registered progeny in the USA.

The Preferred Cow

Don Bennink says it this way “The preferred cow for the most profitable dairymen is the cow that gives the most milk, the most protein and the most fat per unit of body weight with the desired health traits. Negatives are too much size and cattle that are sharp and angular. Thin cattle result in: low fertility; more animals that don’t show heats; higher somatic cells counts; less disease resistance; and poor foot health”.

 In Alan Andersen’s words “Our goal is to breed elite sires and females that will benefit other breeders and commercial dairymen as well as ourselves. We like cows that excel in production of milk components (pounds of protein and fat), have quality mammary systems and are low maintenance.”.

Evaluation Standards

It incumbent upon all type classification programs when setting standards and guidelines to remember Don Bennink’s statement “We believe that the function of a seed stock producer is to produce the animal that is the most profitable for the commercial dairyman.”

For The Bullvine the young cow model shared with us by Tom Byers goes a long way toward satisfying the cow conformation needs of commercial dairy people. After thirty-fours of evaluating the conformation  of dairy cows, Byers recommends some changes: 1) calling the program Conformation Assessment; 2) discontinue assigning a final class to animals – assign only an overall point score; 3) Conformation Assessment need to first a breed improvement rather than a marketing tool; and 4) when assigning point scores to body parts consider age, stage of lactation and lactation number. For example, an 88 point Mammary would visually appear much different on a young fresh, 23-month-old, first calver compared to a mid-lactation sixth calving eight-year-old cow.

Allan Andersen shared his thoughts on the young cow model – “I quite like the model of the young Holstein cow. I would say that for me the height of rear udder is a little more extreme than necessary for functionality and less height of rear udder would probably match the shorter animal better.”

Lloyd Holterman looks at this way – “The industry needs to continue to focus on the development of the most profitable cow. The Canadian young cow model is interesting for me. In my view, it is way more practical than any of the previous models that I have seen. The first thing that I noticed is that she has more body conditioning – those cows stand up and produce better in hot weather and bounce back quicker after an illness.  The comment about foot angle perhaps needs further study and thought.  Average foot angle with slightly spread toes is where research is headed. This was certainly a shock to me when I first heard it.  And it was tough to embrace as no one wants to breed average for any trait even if it is what is optimal. Another place to optimize is size. Rosy-Lane’s target is 58 inches at the hip for mature cows with a range of 56-60 inches.”

Pictures of SeaGull-Bay Oman Mirror and the Holstein USA Ideal Cow appear below. In The Bullvine’s opinion there all many similarities amongst the pictures of Mirror, the Ideal US Holstein Cow, and the Canadian Young Cow except for the moderate height of Mirror’s rear udder attachment. Definitely, as conformation is assessed in the future, it should be a matter of Form Following Function, instead of Function Following Form.

Seagull-Bay Oman Mirror VG-86 DOM Dam of Roylane Socra Robust

Holstein USA Ideal Cow (Painted by Bonnie Mohr)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Breeders can expect to have genetic indexes for many new and economically important traits over the next few years. The information for these indexes will come from both farm data and DNA profiles. Some of these indexes will provide a greater knowledge of the correct cow conformation to compliment high lifetime profit. It is time to leave the past perceptions about the correct conformation for cows behind and adopt the new.  The downside for breeders that stick with the past ideals for conformation is that they will be faced with their herds becoming museums that do not generate adequate breeding stock or milk revenue to remain viable.

 

 

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I have recently read on Facebook and have heard over the past six months that many breeders and judges want today’s dairy cows to have more strength. Dairy Strength that is. Not pulling or pushing strength.

However, on milk production farms is more dairy strength actually what is needed?

Yes, functional udders, feet, and legs are definitely needed. But, beyond those appendages, do milk producers need any other body type traits improved or changed from what currently exists?  And if they need those traits, how do milk producers select for them?

Only 1/3 of Type Scorecard

With Udder, Feet and Legs taking up almost 2/3 of the total points in the dairy cow scorecard that leaves only about 35 points to cover everything else from the muzzle to the tail head. There are already twelve descriptive body or associated functional traits assigned by Canadian classifiers or collected by Canadian milk recording supervisors. Therefore, even for purebred breeders, let alone milk production focused dairymen, there is very little emphasis that can be placed on any single body part.

The Milk Producers Champion Cow

Here at The Bullvine we have produced articles on: a) what the milk producer, who also likes to breed for high genetic merit, needs in his ideal two-year-old (Read more: The Perfect Holstein Cow); and b) what the cows that make the most lifetime profit are like in their first lactations (Read more: She Ain’t Pretty, She Just Milks that Way). Even though we gave our ideal model index cow considerable capacity, our findings when we produced the second article were that extreme capacity was not a must have in first lactation cows.

Every breeder or enthusiast has their favorite cow.  And every milk producer can tell you exactly how their very best cow performed in their herd. No doubt everyone has their own Grand Champion in their barn. All these cows have their own strong points from head to tail, and perhaps limitations, but each is still a champion to their owner.

What Do Sire Proofs Tell Us?

CDN has studied the 4310 bulls proven in Canada between 2000 and 2015 and published the correlations between the indexes for all traits. Assuming that all milk producers want long-lived cows, the following are the correlation between the body type traits and herd life (HL). HL is the same trait as PL is in the United States.

 Body Traits Positively Associated with Herd Life

                Daughter Calving Ability (aka  MCE in USA)           +0.43    

                Body Condition Score                                                     +0.27

                Thurl Placement                                                               +0.18

                Rump Angle                                                                        +0.12

                                                                               

Body Traits Negatively Associated with Herd Life

                Body Depth                                                        -0.28

                Angularity                                                           -0.12

                Pin Width                                                            -0.08

Body Traits with About Zero Correlation with Herd Life

                Loin Strength                                                     +0.04

                Chest Width                                                       -0.04

                Stature                                                                0.00

                Height at Front End                                         -0.02

                Dairy Strength                                                   -0.05

From this study of fifteen years of Canadian proven sires, longevity can only be affected by selecting for daughter calving ability, body condition score and thurl width (aka rump width) and selection against deep bodies. Minor consideration can be given to proper rump angle but against too much angularity. The small negative correlation (-0.08) between pin width and length of herd life will surprise people trained in show ring judging, where it is considered to be a big positive.

Alta Genetics studying US proven sire indexes found that stature sire indexes have a -0.45 correlation with productive life (PL). That compares to a correlation between stature and herd life of 0.00 in the Canadian data. For PTAT and PL sire indexes the correlation is -0.18. All that leading to the conclusion that type traits sire indexes are not good predictors of length of productive life of their daughters.

Think Ideal For Age

Often when dairy people evaluate the body conformation (excluding udders, feet, and legs) of dairy animals, I think we fail to take into consideration age, age at first calving and number of calvings. We overlook /don’t give enough weight to the fact that the breed ideal females are usually mature cows and often younger animal’s body parts are inappropriately compared to those of the ideal.

Like the human race where teenagers, late twenties, and forty-year-olds have different body dimensions, yearlings, first, lactation and mature cows have different widths, depths, heights, and lengths. Therefore breeding for increased stature over the past half century has resulted in animals taking longer to develop total capacity.

For breeders not interested in the show ring, the ideal body structure for heifers is fast growth with good body condition, adequate width, and proper thurl placement. Once calved at 1-10 to 2-00 years they will develop into cows capable of consuming and processing large volumes of their diet. As noted above being concerned about stature, chest width and height at front end should not be a concern in having a herd, where at least half the cows reach their fourth lactation.

Let’s Talk Individual Cows

Huntsdale Shottle Crusade EX-95-3E 2*
2017 Nasco International Type & Production Award Winner at World Dairy Expo

The Bullvine writers have the good fortune to have bred the #1 Lifetime Production Cow, Huntsdale Shottle Crusade, at the 2016 World Dairy Expo. When she left Huntsdale Holsteins as an open yearling, she carried very good body condition, was average for width of body, ran downhill, had a strong loin and shallow body … definitely she was not the EX95 that WDE spectators saw in the ring. Benbie Holsteins have taken that raw heifer and developed her into an outstanding cow. She has gone from a GP84 for body as a first calver (shallow and round ribbed) to EX95 for body as a fifth calver having produced 107,000 kgs (235,000 lbs)of 4.0%F, 3.2%P milk in five lactations

The writer had the good fortune to see Glenridge Citation Roxy EX97, the Queen of the Breed, as a three-year-old at her breeder’s farm in Saskatchewan. At that time her body was slightly shallow with above average width, and she carried very good body condition.  I am sure most Holstein enthusiasts will agree that Roxy has earned her queen status from what she accomplished. Over time she developed the width and depth necessary to be a star in the barn and in the progeny she produced.

How To Select the Sires Milk Producers Need to Use

Selecting the top NM$ or Pro$ sires will get the job done 90% of the time. Don’t over complicate sire selection. When it comes to body parts, select the very top NM$ (at least 750 NM$) or Pro$ (at least $2000) Holstein sires and eliminate those below average for maternal calving ease, rump angle, thurl placement, thurl/rump width and body condition score. Definitely avoid Holstein sires that leave deeper rear ribbed daughters. Simply using Dairy Strength or Body Composite is not an accurate predictor for breeding long-lived cows.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Milk producers want neither cows that are oxen or reindeer. When it comes to body parts, there are only four to five linear body part or associated functional trait indexes that need to be considered. The conformation of today’s dairy cows is in good shape and that allows milk production focused breeders to put their attention, when selecting sires, on production, health, and fertility.   Dairy Strength is not a must include when breeding for longevity in milk production herds.

 

 

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Exactly 75years ago, on 7th December 1941; the world changed forever. The following day, US President Franklin D Roosevelt (FDR) declared the attack on Pearl Harbor to be “a date which will live in infamy.”

Without a doubt, Britain, Europe, and the free world as we know today, would not exist without the events inflicted by the Empire of Japan one Sunday morning on a lagoon harbor in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Perhaps, Europe would now be 75years into the one thousand year Third Reich.  The resulting mass mobilization of US forces, industrial might, innovation and technology and one million fighting men; turned the US into the world’s first superpower. The role of US farmers and growers is often overlooked; and without a doubt, the role of women who replaced men on the farm; in fields and in the factories.

After Pearl Harbor; millions enlisted in the US military. However, US farming was propelled into an agricultural revolution. Nothing like this had happened before – or since. Before that, Britain, fighting alone in Europe against Hitler’s tyranny, had strained under the U-boat threat, and with only six weeks food supply left, was being starved into submission, and was literally fighting for her life.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, in 1940, the FDR administration introduced Land-Lease, effectively; a food export program to Britain, resulting in the US government buying up surplus US food commodities and shipping by Atlantic convoy to her British Allies. However, by 1940 FDR had already stated the US to be “The Arsenal of Democracy.”

During Prime Minister Churchill’s lengthy speech to the House of Commons on 4th June 1940 after the Dunkirk evacuation, Churchill outlined the enormity of the path ahead. The peroration is perhaps the best-known part of the address to the British nation.

“We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Despite this being June 1940, 18months before Pearl Harbor, the next part of the speech is often overlooked by historians, but even then, Churchill realized the freedom of Nazi Europe depended on others. He continued: “and, if which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

Churchill knew without US involvement; Britain could not defeat Hitler – or free Europe from his tyrannical regime. From September 1939 to September 1940, US food exports had fallen to 40% below the average ten-year level of the Great Depression. Due to Land-Lease, from 1940 to 1945, US net farm incomes increased from $4.4billion to $12.36billion, and average farmer income increased from $700 per annum to $2,000, albeit only 57% of an equivalent urban income.

By 1945, 16million men and women had been drafted into the US military, from a working population of 75million. The US farmers and women, who were left behind to farm the land, fed not just the entire US population – but the Allied forces as well as Britain – and subsequently aided France. At that time, Britain was only 33% self-sufficient in food production and relied on imports from the British Empire and Commonwealth countries.

 However, Britain also “Dug for Victory.” Every scrap of land was turned into a garden or allotment; town spaces were turned into makeshift gardens. Controversially, some farms were requisitioned by the British Government’s “War-Ag” department and owners forced off their farms for failing to comply with Government policy mainly, failing to plow-out land for human food production.

The rarely mentioned US Food policy produced unsung heroes and heroines of the land, and allied to an incredible 20million homespun US Victory Gardens; US citizens collectively grew 10million tons of produce, equal to all US production of fresh vegetables. Pork production increased, sales of Spam doubled to 15million cans per week, with 90% of Spam produce being destined for the armed forces.

In 1940, 21% of US labor force was employed on the land and one farmer grew enough produce to feed nine people. Within a decade, 18% were employed on the land and one farmer fed 15.5 people. By 1960, the US farm labor force was down to 8% and one farmer supplied enough food for 26 people. In 1980, 3.4% were employed on the land and one farmer fed 76 persons. Since 2000, less than 2.5% of the US population is employed on the land and one farmer feeds 100 people; a tenfold increase in 60 years.

There is no doubt that Britain would not have been able to fight on against Hitler and his deluded Nazi regime – without US military intervention. It’s also true to say the US came out of the Second World War as the winner – and a truly globally economic superpower. As a consequence of war; the US supplied the food as well as, the military hardware and equipment to execute operations.

The global scale of the Second World War damaged every major economy in the world except the US. Effectively, the war ended “The Great Depression” which had seen 11.5 million US citizens being unemployed in 1932. In 1940, 5.3million were unemployed in the US and rates dropped from 14.6% to 1.2% by 1944. The US became the center of the post-war world economy by ensuring the economic reconstruction of West Germany; France, Britain, and Japan to the US import and export needs.

Following a post-war background, Britain maintained food rationing until June 1954. Britain and Europe were effectively bankrupt; Norway had suffered severe malnutrition, and by 1945, her food consumption per person had fallen from 2,500 to 1,250 calories per day.

Severe malnutrition occurred in Occupied France as part of the surrender terms with Hitler. Massive food supplies were sent East to feed Hitler’s expanding armies, and French citizens succumbed to a 1,250 calorie per day diet. Too often, we forget lessons from history and the gratitude owed to those who ensured that freedom and democracy prevailed by the military, industrial and agri-economic means.

True political leadership was demonstrated in the 20th century; FDR policy saved the world twice; economically – through the 1930s and in the face of tyranny in the 1940s. It could be said; FDR was the greatest US President of all time. Arguably, based upon being perhaps the greatest peacetime President during the Great Depression as well as, greatest war leader or “wartime President.” Others may cite Washington or Lincoln, but FDR operated on a global war front.

All this happened as a direct consequence of the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941. Previous to Pearl Harbor, the US had a policy of isolationism. Without Pearl Harbor; and without US involvement, Europe would have undoubtedly remained in the yoke of Nazi tyranny.

 On Wednesday 11th December 1941, four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on the United States. Japan had initiated the biggest disastrous decision of all time by attacking the US (before officially declaring war) Within days, Hitler, in the act of delusion and sheer “madness” usurped Japan, by declaring war on the US. It was the beginning of the end of Hitler. And thus… the world was changed forever.

 

 

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2017 – The Year Ahead

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

With the inauguration of billionaire reality TV star, Donald Trump, as the new U.S. president, 2017 already promises to be full of off-the-wall events.  While no one can predict Trump’s actions, we here at The Bullvine are certainly planning for a great year.

Sure, we could be heading to a world war or a least a social war between the egos of Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. With elections in France, Germany, and the Netherlands coming, there is certainly going to be lots of uncertainty in 2017.  While the dairy industry is looking to rebound from one of the worst years on record, we here at the Bullvine are very excited about the future.

Before looking ahead, let’s take a moment to look back at historical benchmarks. It was 500 years ago, this year, that Martin Luther committed perhaps the most historic act of vandalism when he nailed his 95 theses onto a church door in Wittenberg. He fearlessly criticized the Catholic Church’s practice of selling indulgences (allowing people to buy their way out of sin).  Luther’s translation of the Bible from Latin into the vernacular meant ordinary people could read the Word of God with priestly interpretation – a truly revolutionary idea.  Centuries later and at the other end of life’s spectrum, we launched the Bullvine five years ago, to bring a voice to what most breeders and producers were thinking about but afraid to say.  And while we certainly can’t compare to the centuries of religious turmoil ignited by Luther, we have indeed generated a great deal of heated discussion.  By adding to opportunities such as The Milkhouse, the Bullvine has plans to develop even more revolutionary platforms for the dairy industry to network, communicate and come together around our shared challenges. (Read more: Introducing The Milk House – Dairy Breeder Networking on Facebook)

In a similar vein, it was ten years ago that Apple launched the iPhone, with the slogan “This is only the beginning” That declaration proved to be an understatement.  The same goes for the start of The Bullvine.  Not content to follow the path others have taken and then to ultimately face failure, the Bullvine will continue to blaze new paths in 2017 encouraged by more support than ever. 

The Bullvine has changed the game, and in 2017 we plan on changing the game again.  

This year we plan to continue to stay five years ahead of our competitors, with many new ways to cover the hottest issues and events in the dairy industry.  This will include an unprecedented full coverage of 27 dairy shows from around the world and more webinars and dairy events than any other publication in the world.  Next week we will inaugurate the 2017 dairy year with our one-of-a-kind coverage of the Swiss Expo Holstein Show.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While much of this would have sounded like the boastings of an evil Frankenstein to many of our competitors five years ago, they now find themselves struggling to stay afloat in 2017.  Sometimes life has a way of turning what seems like science fiction into reality. Who would have imagined that scientists would ever perform a human head transplant? However, in 2017, an Italian neuroscientist will carry out this operation on 31-year old Russian Valery Spiridonov.   

The Bullvine specializes in ways of making what was unimagined become the familiar.   In 2017 we plan to continue this door-opening trend.  When others zig, we zag. As others contract and are trying to figure out how to keep their doors open, The Bullvine enjoys an ever-expanding worldwide audience. With those dynamics firmly in place, 2017 is already shaping up to be another breakout year of growth for The Bullvine.

On behalf of all of us here at the Bullvine, I want to say a heartfelt, “Thank You!” for your support on this journey. We invite you to join us in boldly forging ahead in 2017. Strap yourself in, it’s going to be an exciting ride!

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Every day we are actively researching and creating articles that we believe followers of The Bullvine will benefit from reading. Then, every December, we take an enjoyable look back to see which Bullvine articles were the ones we felt resonated most with our readers.  Here are our top 12 from 2016. They were arrived at with a little bit of head counting but also by including that indefinable something that made 2016 a year we think was best defined by the word “more”. Please enjoy this look back, as you prepare to continue your dairy journey into 2017. We hope you will agree that each one has something more to offer.

#12. Dairy Cattle Show Photographs Are Not Free

Dairy Cattle Show Photographs are NOT Free

When choosing only 12 articles, it’s easiest to start with ones that come instantly to mind.  In this case, let’s start the 2016 selections off with an article that illustrates a little more of the tough love that The Bullvine is known for.  In 2016 we continued to break new ground in providing more and better coverage for the dairy industry and that meant putting great pictures right alongside our interviews, analysis and behind the scenes coverage.  The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” was proven to be true over and over again. At the same time, it was also true that those pictures are not free and having them stolen or misrepresented was something their increasing popularity meant that The Bullvine had to defend against.

#11. The Winds of Change Are Blowing Hard

The Winds of Change Are Blowing…Hard

Death and taxes are often named as the only two things we can be absolutely certain about.  In 2016, political change became such a certainty that it became almost normal to hear on a daily basis about some previously unheard of situation arising as accusations, scandals and upheaval rocked the leadership and elections of more than one country around the world. Although we would sometimes like to run for cover, the dairy industry is not immune to change. In this article, we called for the courage necessary to face change. “Breeders will need state-of-the-art animal and herd improvement services. The vision and actions of breeder and industry leaders are critical. Advancement will occur even if current organizations do not adopt and adapt the future technologies and systems.”

#10. Genetic Evaluation Reviews and Highlights

US – August 2016 Holstein Genetic Evaluations Highlights

Sire Proof Central April 2016

The Busy Dairy Breeder’s Guide to the December 2016 US Genetic Evaluations

The repercussions from the United States election are far from settled.  We are learning far more than we ever thought we needed to know about methods of analysis and how much we can rely on statistics, trends or advertising slogans.  With much less drama and challenge, the dairy industry has been steadily moving forward with regular genetic evaluations and proof reviews.  This type of information service would not usually rank high on an “editor’s choice” list of published articles, but in 2016 they asserted themselves as a worthy tool for making informed decisions and The Bullvine analysis of the highlights are welcomed, discussed and acted upon by breeders seeking to be on the leading edge. Here are two that provided “more” analysis.

#9. Genomic Testing Discovers New Cow Family

Genomic Testing Discovers New Cow Family

Everyone loves to hear success stories.  Even better we love to hear stories that seem to beat the odds in some way.  That is the story of Alexerin Dairy and Oman 993 who can best be described as every breeder’s dream. By using genomic testing, Alexerin Dairy found that they had a breed outlier who’s DGVs exceeded her pedigree index by an astronomical amount. The Bullvine headline read “Genomic Testing Discovers New Cow Family.” The outstanding result was not expected, maybe even unusual. However, getting results from hard work, focused breeding, and a clear vision are the keys to Alexerin’s success. You simply can’t ask for more!

#8. An Open Letter to All Dairy Farmers

An Open Letter to All Dairy Farmers

Sometimes being an industry information provider means taking an unpopular position.  Such is the case with #8 on our Editor’s Choice list. The article was an open letter which began, “To the hard-working dairy farmers who get up before dawn every day so that the rest of us can enjoy wholesome, healthy milk on our cereal and in our morning coffees, “Please sell your cows!”  This call to action arose from simple fact that production is far outstripping consumption, even though the world’s population is growing. Sometimes facing more challenges means being able to say “Goodbye!”

#7.  Gen Com Live Stream and Holstein World Conference Video

Gen-Com: Crown of Roses Sale Results

Why NOT to Crossbreed – 2016 Holstein World Conference Video

Sometimes it’s simply too hard to choose only one representative from many that were presented.  Such is the case when it came to new ways that The Bullvine is expanding beyond the written word. The live streaming of the Gen Com Crown of Roses Sale brought immediacy to Bullvine coverage.  In the same way, when The Bullvine presented real time video of the Holstein World Conference, hosted in Argentina, it marked another step forward in news that was relevant, in real time and accessible to an audience that otherwise would be limited to after the fact, word only reporting.

#6. Stud Wars Episode IV the Force Grows Stronger 

Stud Wars Episode IV: The Force Grows Stronger – 2016

What started as The Battle for A.I. Supremacy back in July 2013, has seen many changes in the power struggle when it comes to sire lineups. Many of the smaller A.I. units have been purchased by larger genetic players, and the rate of change has accelerated considerably. This Bullvine article provided more behind the scenes perspective on who is coming out on top and who is falling behind in the genetics race.

#5 The Subtle Art of Not Caring What Everyone Thinks

The Subtle Art of Not Caring What Everyone Thinks

We all enjoy popularity and The Bullvine is energized whenever those times occur.  The danger is that in seeking more approval we might be losing more relevance.  The goal is to provide what breeders and readers need.  It’s not a popularity contest.  That’s why #5 for 2015 highlights the article Andrew produced about being true to one’s own vision despite resistance or challenges. “Those times I have not given in have made all the difference.  Since starting The Bullvine, I have tested my ability to keep the eye on the ultimate goal and not care what people think about us, but rather understand what we are trying to achieve.  As we enter our fifth year, I am very proud of the work we have done and the actions we have taken, because it has led us to the position we are at today.  A voice for breeders during uncertain times.” Perhaps less comfortable.  Definitely opening The Bullvine to more criticism and controversy.

#4 Introducing The Bullvine All-North American Awards

Introducing The Bullvine All-North American Awards

As we look back we move from not caring what everyone thinks of us to an article that is very concerned about what our readers care about. With a five year developing tradition of not pulling any punches, The Bullvine never shies away from finding ways to put more thought and action into one of the most passionate areas of the dairy industry – namely, the recognition of animals that represent “the best of the best”. In 2016 that meant more innovation from the editor of The Bullvine. In his own words he wrote, “There is no question that North America has some of the greatest show cattle in the world. They have All-Canadian awards and All-American awards, but those are little more than sales tool for two print magazines.  Their nomination processes leave most people scratching their heads and the results are pretty much just a rubber stamp of the results from World Dairy Expo and The Royal.  So, in order truly find out who are the best in North America, the Bullvine is excited to announce the All-North American Awards.” The result was even more than we expected.

#3. More Ways to Communicate and Connect

Throughout the year, we inaugurated new ways to get our stories in front of our dairy industry peers (i.e. Live streaming. See #7). We are convinced that one of the best ways to learn how to improve our herds, dairy operations and the dairy industry happens, when we can learn from those who have found ways to reach the success we are aiming for.  The Bullvine was honored to interview individuals, breeders and companies that are finding more and better ways to move the dairy industry forward. These are the leaders we want to emulate. 

The next two stories brought so much more to all of us than mere words can convey.  These final two selections on our 2015 editor’s choice list rise to first place because they affect us at every level of our passion for dairy cattle.  They are stories about people.  They are stories about courage in the face of adversity.  They are stories about digging deep to set goals, live passionately and achieve dreams.

#2 Inspirational Little Girl and a Medical Miracle

This is a story of heroes, courage and medical miracles. Reese Burdette celebrated her 9th birthday at home after almost two years in Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where she was recovering from the severe burns she suffered in a fire at her grandparents’ home over Memorial Day weekend in 2014. There will be much to celebrate for the Burdette family and caregivers.  “Reese’s treatment will soon be featured in medical journals. It is discussed already at conferences about the machines that supported her heart and lungs as they healed. She spent longer with ventricular assistance than any other known patient.” Reese loves the farm and her favorite Holstein calf and set an astounding example of giving everything to an almost insurmountable task because of her desire to get back to those places and times. Her dedicated doctors, who joined her extended family, were constantly amazed and reported that. “She persevered and succeeded at everything we asked of her.” May more wonderful benchmarks continue on her journey to health and happiness at home!

Reese Burdette: An Inspirational Little Girl and a Medical Miracle is Going Home

#1 There are MORE IMPORTANT Things in Life Than a Cow Show  

There are more important things in life than a cow show

Take a lesson from Logan Chalack and use your strength to live well and be an inspiration to others. It certainly reminded all of us all that there are more important things in life than a cow show, but also how a cow show can certainly help in the healing process. Logan Chalack passed away on June 28, 2016 at the age of 32 years. As with Reese Burdette, Logan was not defeated by fear of the future but was totally focused on what is possible in the present.

The Bullvine Bottom Line for 2016

More international.  More connected.  More relevant. Here at The Bullvine we have thoroughly enjoyed giving more effort to achieving those goals in 2016.  Please accept our heartfelt thanks to you, our readers, for being with us during another wonderful year.  We are looking forward to 2017 and hope you continue to share our passion for, commitment to and active pursuit of excellence in the dairy industry.  

May your holiday season be filled with more special memories and together let’s continue wanting and achieving “MORE” in the New Year!

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Top 16 of 2016

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

The Bullvine team is pleased to once again bring you the Top 16 most well-read articles of the year 2016. This list reflects content published from November 30, 2015  through December 1st, 2016 and is based on Google Analytics with over 1,831,218 monthly views from over 1,000,000 unique yearly visitors.

  1. US – August 2016 Holstein Genetic Evaluations Highlights
    More than just the list’s the Bullvine’s sire proof central brings you in depth review of all the top new sires as well as the latest analysis of the August 2016 Genetic Evaluations.
  2. It’s Time to Make Dairy Shows Relevant, Again
    Show supporters can quote many reasons for why the time, effort and resources that they put towards exhibiting cattle are positive. At the same time, there are detractors who question why breeds and sponsors should support cattle shows. The detractors see no benefit to dairy cattle improvement from the show circuit.
  3. Are daughter-proven sires still popular?
    A quick look at the US Holstein sires with the most registered daughters would have you believe that proven sires are still more popular than genomic sires. Currently all three of the top-3 with the most registered daughters are daughter-proven bulls (Mogul, Supersire, and Yoder). However, coming to the conclusion that proven sires are therefore more popular, would mean that you don’t understand how much the dairy artificial insemination industry has changed with the introduction of genomics.
  4. Yellow Briar Farms: The Cows Are Sold But The Memories Are Priceless!
    “Yellow Briar Ayrshire Farm isn’t on TV or listed in travel brochures of Southern Ontario but at eleven o’clock on Saturday morning it was the center of dairy farming not just for the Stephens family but for their friends, neighbours and farming colleagues as fifty years of dairy farming saw 70 head go under the auction hammer in Troy.”
  5. The Winds of Change Are Blowing…Hard
    Services in the dairy cattle improvement industry have been gradually expanding since WW II. Three main areas have fueled that growth: (1) program participation levels; (2) usage of top sires; and (3) the evolving uses made of data. Almost every dairy producing country in the world has developed an industry organization infrastructure involving breeds, milk recording, artificial insemination, and genetic evaluation centers.
  6. An Open Letter to All Dairy Farmers
    To the hard-working dairy farmers who get up before dawn every day so that the rest of us can enjoy wholesome, healthy milk on our cereal and in our morning coffees, “Please sell your cows!”
  7. Dairy Cattle Show Photographs are NOT Free
    So next time you are snagging that picture from Facebook or creating that ad with pictures you “Found online,” I would like you to try this, next time you’re at dinner, tell your waiter you’ll tell all your friends how good the service was if he gives you dinner for free.
  8. Select Sires – Sire Tour 2016
    In a Bullvine video exclusive join Select Sires Holstein Sire Analysts, Kevin Jorgensen & Herby Lutz, as they tours us through some of the top proven sires at Select Sires. Including MOGUL, SUPERSIRE, MONTROSS, IRWIN & VALENTINO. See these amazing bulls as the parade around the Kellgren Center.
  9. Why NOT to Crossbreed – 2016 Holstein World Conference Video
    Join Dr. Tom Lawlor, Executive Director of Research and Development for Holstein USA as he debunks the many myths about crossbreeding and provides an alternative genetic strategy that not only provides maximum genetic gain but does so while maintaining purebred status. This presentation was part of the 2016 Holstein World Conference held in Argentina.
  10. Introducing The Bullvine All-North American Awards
    There is no question that North America has some of the greatest show cattle in the world. They have All-Canadian awards and All-American awards, but those are little more than sales tool for two print magazines. Their nomination processes leaves most people scratching their heads and they results are pretty much just a rubber stamp of the results from World Dairy Expo and The Royal. So, in order truly find out who are the best in North America, the Bullvine is excited to announce the All-North American Awards.
  11. Stud Wars Episode IV: The Force Grows Stronger – 2016
    What started as The Battle for A.I. Supremacy back in July 2013, has seen many changes in the power struggle when it comes to sire lineups. Many of the smaller A.I. units have been purchased by larger genetic players, and the rate of change has accelerated considerably. Let’s see who has come out on top this year and who has fallen behind in the genetics race.
  12. Genomic Testing Discovers New Cow Family
    When genomic testing came on the scene in 2008, it was hoped that genomic results would make possible the identification of new top cow families. That remains a concern for the vast majority of traditional cow family breeders. However, for Alexerin Dairy, owned by the Nixon Family of Manotick Ontario it is a reality. Here is the story of their success despite not being traditional cow family breeders.
  13. The 2016 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show – The show everyone will remember for all the wrong reasons
    By all accounts, the 2016 Holstein Show at The Royal should have been a celebration of the many great moments that occurred. Instead, it will be remembered for one incident that many wish they could forget.
  14. No Slapping at World Dairy Expo
    Not since Sydney Poitier was slapped “In the Heat of the Night” has there been a more controversial slap as the ones that are given at most cattle shows around the world.
  15. Reese Burdette: An Inspirational Little Girl and a Medical Miracle is Going Home
    It has been 662 days since Reese Burdette entered Johns Hopkins Hospital fighting for her life after being pulled from a house fire. She has spent almost two years in Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, recovering from the severe burns she suffered in a fire at her grandparents’ home over Memorial Day weekend in 2014.  But in early March Reese was able to go home.
  16. There are more important things in life than a cow show
    There is no question that most members of the dairy industry are very passionate about the sector we work in. Often we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we occasionally lose sight of ourselves. No better example of this is what happens when it comes to the show ring. Breeders and Exhibitors and even ringside enthusiasts can get emotionally wrapped up in the industry we are very passionate about. Having said that, events over this past week have made me pause and reflect that there are more important things in life than a cow show.

Added Bonus

Top 16 Shows of 2016

  1. Trois-Rivières 2016 Holstein Show
  2. 2016 Ontario Summer Holstein Show
  3. Ontario Autumn Opportunity Holstein Show 2016
  4. Premier National Junior Show 2016
  5. Wisconsin Holstein Championship Show 2016
  6. Expo Printemps du Quebec – Holstein Show
  7. Midwest Spring National 2016
  8. Northeast Fall National Holstein Show 2016
  9. 2016 European Championship Holstein Show
  10. International Junior Holstein Show – World Dairy Expo 2016
  11. New York International Spring Holstein Show 2016
  12. International Red & White Holstein Show – World Dairy Expo 2016
  13. International Jersey Show – World Dairy Expo 2016
  14. Supreme Dairy Show – Holstein Show
  15. Canadian National Holstein Show 2016
  16. International Holstein Show – World Dairy Expo 2016

Top 16 News Stories of 2016

  1. Global milk supply crashes
  2. Jury finds Genus ABS infringed patents
  3. Vandals set hundreds of cows loose at Maine dairy farm and 1 dies, police say
  4. Family devastated after cow tramples 8-year-old to death
  5. 500 animals sold at Cradenhill must be resold, says Sherriff
  6. Holstein breeder seeks advice after teat tampering shock
  7. Chilliwack Dairy Farm Faces 20 Counts Of Animal Cruelty After Undercover Video
  8. Texas Dairy Farmers Are Swimming in Cow Corpses
  9. Royal Winter Fair Judges Named
  10. Bull semen sexing battle leads to $330M award
  11. 17-year-old Wisconsin girl injured in Dairy farm accident
  12. Farmer Killed While Fixing Equipment
  13. One bull sired 14 percent of U.S. dairy cows and gave them all a deadly mutation
  14. Dairy Farmer Shares His Loss With Dairy Community on Social Media
  15. Texas blizzard kills 30K cows, creates dairy shortage
  16. Over 1,225 Dairy Farmers Call It Quits in 2015

The Bullvine Bottom Line

A lot has changed since 2012, (Read more: The Top 10 of 2012 – The most read articles of 2012) in both the dairy industry as well as here at the Bullvine.  Looking ahead to 2017, I am sure things will continue to change.  It certainly has been a very busy year and these 16 articles were among the most talked about in the industry.  Thanks again for your continued readership and support.

 

 

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Bruce Jobson’s Road to The Royal

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

All roads may lead to Toronto in November, but perhaps the journey now starts at the Supreme Dairy Show at St-Hyacinthe, Quebec. Overseas visitors should now consider taking the time to visit the event which occurs the week prior to the Royal Winter Fair.

rg-award-1

Bruce and Jenny present Russell Gammon with the International Friendship Award

The Supreme has developed within a few years from a Holstein Quebec event into a major all-breeds attraction. There is something unique about the show… it has a “Quebec” atmosphere; a different cultural identity – and importantly for the genetics industry; is a dairy show only. Arguably, the event is only going to develop further and grow in significance.

The Supreme Show has developed from 200 Holsteins into 750 entries from Holsteins, Red Holsteins, Jerseys, Ayrshires, Brown Swiss and Canadienne animals. There is the capacity to increase entries further according to show organizer Jenny Henchoz. “The new show ring facility and existing housing facilities will allow the show to expand further; possibly up to 950 animals.

“This year, we had cattle entries from the USA (Rivendale Farms, Pittsburgh) and in the new show ring building at the BMO Centre, we have created a dairy-hub. We can house trade exhibitor booths and kiosks close-up around the ringside. This helped create an atmosphere with lots of visitors in close attendance and clearly created a buzz of excitement throughout the event.”

The Board of Directors have a clear vision for the future and as to how to address the needs of Quebec producers; and the advantages of hosting a six-breed event. Almost 50% of Canada’s 11,683 dairy farmers reside in the Province, and the format included a sale of top quality animals. There is undoubtedly a need for a specialist dairy event within Quebec and Canada, encompassing dairy cattle, the trade-industry and importantly, knowledge, technology, and education. (Read more: Russell Gammon Honoured with International Friendship Award at Le Supreme Laitier)

dsc01706The event also included a Friday evening Cocktail and Genetics session hosted by Sexing Technologies on the development of sexed semen and the increasing advantages Sexed Ultra technology is having on dairy programs within Canada and the USA. The comprehensive session included a panel of speakers; tested by questions from moderator Andrew Hunt of The Bullvine. (Watch recording – STgenetics Canada Present’s GENETICS INVESTMENT OR EXPENSES?)

JEFO CONFERENCE AND TOUR

The global dairy industry faces the same challenges; no matter the market conditions. As dairy cow milk production increases and herds continue to increase in size, this situation presents continued challenges such as animal health, nutrition, fertility, and reproduction.

St Hyacinthe-based specialist nutrition company, Jefo, hosted an excellent conference and tour aimed at international experts from Australia, Brazil, China, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. The St-Hyacinthe conference reviewed technical and results driven data from a line-up of internationally renowned speakers, combined with practical on-farm application visits to leading herds within Canada such as Comestar; Drapeau, Gillette, and Donnandale.

helene-leclerc-jefoThe second part of the conference was held at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto, and it is worth focusing on a presentation on protected B vitamins by Jefo I&D ruminant manager, Helene Leclerc. The research was extensive with results from the Universities of Guelph; of British Colombia, Laval University, California-Davis and Parana (Brazil) as well as, field studies in Canada, USA, and others.

Research demonstrates that protected B vitamins provide animals health and reproduction solutions that have a wide-range economic benefit within dairy cow populations. The financial benefits of protected B vitamins start during the 21day pre-calving dry cow transition period and throughout an animal’s milking lactation.

Feeding B vitamins improves energy balance and increased dry matter intake before calving by 13% (U. of Guelph). Beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) levels were reduced by 33%, and mastitis was reduced by 87%, aligned with less metritis incidence (UK research estimates up to 40% of animals in dairy herds have metritis related conditions).

Subclinical ketosis was reduced by over 50% in problem herds and the commercial trials (herd size 800 – 1500) demonstrated that Choline alone does not provide sufficient response. There was also a 62% reduction in incidences of mastitis within large herd commercial trials (herds over 1100 cows), the Veterinary costs alone in Canada are estimated at $300 per case.

Reproduction remains a concern for dairy producers and the inclusion of protected B vitamins in 2 nutrigenomic studies demonstrated that the follicle is preparing earlier for ovulation, the oocyte is of better quality and the endometrium cell adhesion was improved– resulting in increased success in pregnancy. A trial involving a control group versus protected B vitamin group (U. of Parana, Brazil) resulted in cows being bred eight days earlier.

As cows became pregnant earlier in a California trial, this resulted in fewer services required per pregnancy. Conception rate trials (U. of California) at first service increased by 13%; more cows stay pregnant at 200 days (Figure 1.), and culling rates were reduced by 20%. In commercial trials (Mexico) conception rate increased by 19% at first service and more cows were pregnant at 120 and 150 days-in-milk.

Figure 1. Effect of a blend of protected B vitamins for Lactation1 on first service conception rate

bjrtt-figure-one

 1Protected folic acid, B12, pyridoxine, panthothenic acid and biotin

Milk production increased by 5% with the inclusion of protected B vitamins (U. of California-Davis), and in commercial trials, milk fat and protein concentration increased by 3.4% and 2.2%, respectively. Feed efficiency also increased from 2.5% to 5.2%. The presented results demonstrated beneficial increases that help provide increases in overall production, animal health, reproduction and farm profitability.

Clearly, nutrition science will play an increasingly important role in dairy cow management and overall farm profitability. Over the past two decades, the industry has seen huge advancements in nutrition and dairy herd management; likewise with genetics. And as global population increases, animal nutrition is set to play an ever-increasing role in helping feed the world.

The global dairy industry faces the same challenges; no matter the market conditions. As dairy cow milk production increases and herds continue to increase in size, this situation presents continued challenges such as animal health, nutrition, fertility, and reproduction.

COMESTAR REVISITED

comestar-barn

Having traveled the back roads of Quebec for the past 30 years, visiting Comestar was a regular occurrence whilst acting as a marketing consultant to Semex UK. Revisiting the modern facilities is a reminder of how far Comestar has developed. Unquestionably, Comestar and other modern Canadian herds are now much bigger, and investment has continued to increase throughout Canada. (Read more: Top Ten Most Influential Holstein Breeders of All-Time)

 The Comestar story began in 1976, when Marc Comtois and his wife, France, purchased Princeville Farm and its original cross-bred herd. Just over a decade later, the business moved to its current location at Victoriaville.

comestar-marc-comtois-bruce-jobsonBy then Marc was involved with pedigree Holsteins and his most famous home-bred cow, Comestar Laurie Sheik VG88, transformed the Canadian Holstein breed as well as international breeding programs. Born in 1986, Laurie Sheik produced a “golden cross” onto Blackstar that produced Comestar Leader as well as, three full-sisters.

The mating propelled the herd to global prominence with numerous subsequent descendants including the likes of Comestar Lee; Lheros, Outside, and Stormatic. The rest, as they say, is history. However, Marc Comtois takes immense pride in helping develop the Holstein breed in the UK, Canada and globally, through the Laurie Sheik bloodline.

He said: “Our AI bulls had a tremendous influence with over 400,000 units of Comestar semen being sold in the UK. Comestar and numerous other herds also sold embryos and live cattle sired by our bloodlines. We developed 14 Class Extra sires and four “millionaire” selling bulls and Comestar Lee produced over 1.8million units.”

The Comtois family have had several business partners including Freddie and Nicole Steen and today the family has six family member owners. The farm labor force also includes 12 employees covering various aspects of the business, which is a far cry from the origins of the herd. Overtime, Comestar has expanded by acquiring neighboring farms, to feed the herd, now totals 1,245 acres.

The herd has 350 milking cows housed in three barn locations comprising a 120 tie-stall barn; a 150 free-stall barn and a 70cow free stall barn for milking recipient animals. The herd averages 12,302kgs milk at 4.1% fat, and 3.3% protein, and today 40% of turnover comes from the sale of genetics in the form of embryos, female calves, and bulls.

The ET program is now an important cornerstone of the Comestar business with on average over 130 flushes being performed annually over the past ten years. In 2015, the herd undertook 50 ET flushes and 50 in-vitro flushes and is currently performing an in-vitro embryo flush every two weeks explains Marc. “We are using a combination of bulls for specific market criteria. Including 30% high type genomic sires and 70% proven sires.

“The embryo program is results driven, and we have to ensure our donor and recipient animals are in top condition. For the past nine years, we have been working closely with Jefo Nutrition to ensure we have high-quality embryos and high pregnancy rates. On average, we are getting 8 grade A embryos per flush.

“B vitamins play an important role in helping cows produce more embryos as well as increasing conception and pregnancy rates. On our scale of operation reproduction is important, just increasing the flush by one embryo or one pregnancy; can result in huge financial benefits. Last year alone, we had 82 Goldwyn heifers registered.

“We mainly use sexed-semen to increase the number of female calves born. We incorporate genomic testing as a routine part of our procedures to identify the next generation of elite male and female calves. High genomic male calves or high type male calves are sold to AI units or private breeders,” he said.

The new facilities were constructed in 1998, and almost 20 years onward, the family is in the process of considering the next stage of development. The potential to expand and incorporate the herd in one large barn that contains specialist pens for donor and show cows as well as flushing facilities will be scrutinized moving forward. The investment for construction of new facilities would run at $7,000 – $10,000 per cow place (£4,400 – £6,250)

Besides the farming operations, Marc has judged shows all over the world and is extremely proud to have judged the Holstein classes at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto in 1998. Lightening has struck twice, and 28 years on, Marc was invited to judge the 2016 Royal Winter Fair. “To judge once was fantastic, but to judge twice, is an incredible honor,” he says.

GILLETTE REVISITED

ferme-gillette

Over the past 30years, perhaps the two most frequented Canadian herds on my travels have been Comestar and Gillette; somewhat unsurprising due to the number of AI sires developed. The association with the Patenaude family began in November 1994, following a fire that destroyed the 314ft milking barn and killed 205 cattle. (Read more: Gillette Blitz 2nd Wind: 2011 Canadian Cow of the Year NomineeDr. Gilles Patenaude – “Simply the Best” and Top Ten Most Influential Holstein Breeders of All-Time)

The devastation was immense as was the human emotion involved. Understandably, the family were beyond distraught, and one could hear the raw emotion while speaking to Louis’s wife, Anne Patenaude; and subsequently wrote an article about the cataclysmic event; culminating with the following words. “Out of the embers, a ‘spark’ will grow. And like a Phoenix from the ashes – Ferme Gillette will rise again.”

ferme-gillette-louis-patenaude-bruce-jobsonAnd over the intervening years, that “spark” has seen the Patenaude family re-establish Ferme Gillette as a major force within Canadian and global genetics. Today, the family milk 600 Holstein cows at three locations on three times per day milking. The herd’s current rolling average is 11,609kgs @4.2% fat and 3.28% protein.

Amongst the many great cows and bullmothers, Gillette Blitz 2nd Wind VG88 stands out with over 100 ET registered progeny within Canada as well as being the dam of famous sires such as Gillette Stanley Cup; Windbrook, Wildthing, Willrock, and Windhammer.

Furthermore, the world-famous Gillette E Smurf Ex91, the Guinness Book of Records Lifetime Milk Production holder (214,686kgs milk) are just two of the globally renowned animals produced within the herd.

Gillette operates an intensive program to maximize reproduction and herd health. First inseminations take place between 60 – 70days in milk with 75% inseminations based upon heat activity. Approximately 25% of the milking cows are synchronized, and 50% of virgin heifers are synchronized for ET programs.

Like many of today’s progressive farmers, the Patenaude’s predominantly flush maiden heifers alongside some older elite females as part of the breeding program. Reproduction and herd health are important considerations according to Louis. He said: “We’ve been using Jefo products for the past 12 years and have had excellent results.

“The results of the cow flush program incorporating protected B vitamins produced one extra embryo per cow, at a time when we were performing over 120 flushes per year. We also incorporate Jefo Dairy Fat to increase milk component values and incorporate Transition VB pre-and-posting calving, to help eliminate ketosis and other reproductive issues such as metritis.”

The business introduced a solar panels in 2008 with the assistance of government grants – have about 1000 generating between 23 to 28000$ a month depending on the weather. Free stall use beddingmasters. Ferme Gillette has developed much over the past 22 years because of resolve. It is how Ferme Gillette has risen from the embers of adversity; that undoubtedly defines the Patenaude family.  

The Royal

marc-comtois-gives-his-reasonsMuch has been written and even more spoken about the 2016 RWF. Sometimes, but not always, its best to have a distant or even different perspective and not be involved in the controversy. Some would even say its having a subjective or an objective opinion. (Read more: The 2016 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show – The show everyone will remember for all the wrong reasons)

There was a consensus from the Supreme Dairy Show at St-Hyacinthe that Wendon Dempsey Prude was not the type of Holstein cow that this year’s judge, Marc Comtois, would run with at Toronto. This was the opinion of astute cattlemen. And similar phrases were being echoed around the cattle lines at the RWF. (Read more: 2016 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show Preview)

Sometimes it’s about picking the right cow, for a judge, weeks before the show, rather than the judge picking someone else’s perception of the “right cow” on the day. Judging the Royal is not a bovine popularity contest or a reality TV program, where viewers or the audience vote for their favorite contestant. At the Royal: only one man’s opinion matters.  (Read more: Canadian National Holstein Show 2016)

A leadsman pulling that appeared to be place 16th and then deciding to pull her back in at the bottom of the class a few feet away from 2nd last animal was not in the true spirit of the Royal or of showmanship etiquette. The decision by Judge Marc Comtois not to pull this cow into his top six lineups appeared entirely justified – on the day.

Displaying, what may have been or appeared to be a “fit-of-pique” does not have any place in the show ring. Perhaps organizers should consider a temporary banning order on any leadsman doing this type of activity. The problem is, having set such a perceived example, the next time another or, perhaps a younger leadsman feels aggrieved at the judge’s placings; similar action could be repeated, not by one person, but by several leadsmen. Anarchy would rule the show ring.

The wrong message may have been sent out. And the wrong headlines written, twittered, texted or posted. But the REAL message was there for ALL who wished to see and learn. Truly, “In the land of the blind – the one-eyed man is King.”

Forty years after starting his multi-award winning herd and producing 14 Class Extra sires and twice judging the Royal Show, people should read the judge’s words over and over, and over again. Marc Comtois left a Holstein breed legacy by announcing his Grand Champion, Jacobs Gold Liann, “the cow of the future.”

 

 

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Categories : The Bullvine

There is no question that North America has some of the greatest show cattle in the world. They have All-Canadian awards and All-American awards, but those are little more than sales tool for two print magazines.  Their nomination processes leaves most people scratching their heads and they results are pretty much just a rubber stamp of the results from World Dairy Expo and The Royal.  So, in order truly find out who are the best in North America, the Bullvine is excited to announce the All-North American Awards.

a-na-poster2016

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Unlike other contests, where it comes down to who is buddies with whom or who will spend the most on advertising, the All-North American awards are a clear points system that take all the bias and political headaches that have killed the other contests out of the equation.  In the same way that Golf, Nascar and many other major sports determine their yearly winners, the All-North American system is designed to keep it simple, clear and fair.

The rules are simple:

  1. To be eligble all animals must be shown at either World Dairy Expo or The Royal
  2. In each class, the animals earning the top two positions on points will have their results compared head to head, to see how they did when in the same ring on the same day. If the 2nd highest point earner wins the head to head battle by two or more points, i.e.3 to 1 or 2, the 2nd highest point earner will be declared the victor.
  3. In classes where the judge or associate judge at World Dairy Expo or The Royal owned and/or bred one of the top three point earners, all animals in the top three will have their points compared excluding the show that the judge evaluated and the one with the most points will be declared the victor.

The shows that are eligible are:

  1. USA
    1. International Holstein Show (World Dairy Expo)
    2. New York International Spring Holstein Show
    3. Mid-East Spring National Holstein Show
    4. Southern Spring National Holstein Show
    5. Midwest Spring National Holstein Show
    6. Western Spring National Holstein Show
    7. Mid-East Summer National Holstein Show
    8. Midwest Fall National Holstein Show
    9. Northeast Fall National Holstein Show
    10. Eastern Fall National Holstein Show
    11. Mid-East Fall National Holstein Show
  2. Canada
    1. The Royal
    2. Le Supreme Laitier
    3. Autumn Opportunity
    4. Westerner Championship Show
    5. Eastern Ontario Western Quebec
    6. Atlantic Championship
    7. Ontario Summer Show
    8. Quebec Spring Show
    9. Ontario Spring Show
    10. Western Spring Show
    11. Atlantic Spring Show

Prizes Include:

  • Exclusive use of a customized logo for each of the top three animals in each class
  • A custom designed poster for the winner in each class

The point system is as follows:

  1. Regional National Shows
    • 1st = 7 points
    • 2nd = 5 points
    • 3rd = 3 points
    • 4th = 2 points
    • 5th= 1 point
  2. National Championship Shows (World Dairy Expo and The Royal)
    • 1st = 14 points
    • 2nd = 10 points
    • 3rd = 8 points
    • 4th = 7 points
    • 5th = 6 points
    • 6th = 5 points
    • 7th = 4 points
    • 8th = 3 points
    • 9th = 2 points
    • 10th = 1 point

Spring Heifer Calf

anaad-garay-awesome-beauty

anaads-glennholme-doorman-reggae

Winner: GARAY AWESOME BEAUTY
Top Points In the US: GARAY AWESOME BEAUTY & HEART & SOUL JK DEMPSEY GLITZ
World Dairy Expo Winner: GARAY AWESOME BEAUTY
Top Points in Canada: GLENNHOLME DOORMAN REGGAE
Royal Winter Fair Winner: GLENNHOLME DOORMAN REGGAE

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
GARAY AWESOME BEAUTY 17 14 31 4 7.8
GLENNHOLME DOORMAN REGGAE 0 21 21 2 10.5
Heart & Soul JK Dempsey Glitz 17 0 17 2 8.5
VERTDOR DOORMAN MORNING 11 6 17 3 5.7
MOUNT ELM FINGERS CROSSED 0 17 17 4 4.3
Quietcove Doorman Fiji 15 0 15 2 7.5
FRAELAND DOORMAN BONNIE 0 15 15 2 7.5
Pfaffsway DM Litle Leeza 13 0 13 2 6.5
GENDARRA BROKAW ADELE 0 13 13 3 4.3
Duhibou Doorman Padmay 7 0 7 1 7.0

GARAY AWESOME BEAUTY runs away with this class.  Not only did she win Expo but she also qualified for points at four major shows and logged a lot of miles this year. While Royal Winter Fair winner GLENNHOLME DOORMAN REGGAE scored points at two national shows, she would have needed to attend more shows, in order to get around Beauty.

Winter Heifer Calf

anaad-cobequid-windbrook-pirouette

anaads-budjon-vail-drmn-ashley

Winner: COBEQUID WINDBROOK PIROUETTE
Top Points In the US: BUDJON-VAIL DRMN ASHLEY
World Dairy Expo Winner: COBEQUID WINDBROOK PIROUETTE
Top Points in Canada: QUALITY SOLOMON LUST
Royal Winter Fair Winner: QUALITY SOLOMON LUST

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
Cobequid Windbrook Pirouette 14 14 28 3 9.3
Budjon-Vail Drmn Ashley 23 0 23 4 5.8
QUALITY SOLOMON LUST 0 21 21 2 10.5
All-Glo Gold C Kappucino 13 0 13 2 6.5
BROWNTOWN MARIO MARLO 0 13 13 2 6.5
PETITCLERC DOORMAN SYNERGY 0 11 11 2 5.5
MS DOORMAN GILL 10 0 10 2 5.0
CERPOLAIT BROKAW ANASTASIA 0 10 10 2 5.0
Ridge-Field Atlanta 6 4 10 3 3.3
Buroco Aftershock Alana 2 7 9 2 4.5

With her victory at Expo and a strong showing on both sides of the border, COBEQUID WINDBROOK PIROUETTE, takes home the victory.  BUDJON-VAIL DRMN ASHLEY, who earned points at four different shows, finishes in 2nd place. Rounding out the top animals is the Royal winner, and top Canadian point earner, QUALITY SOLOMON LUST, who went undefeated at the national and regional shows but needed to attend more shows in order to make it higher on this list.

Senior Heifer Calf

anaad-sicy-doorman-brie

anaads-ben301-cg-cheezie

Winner: SICY DOORMAN BRIE
Top Points In the US: PAPPYS DOORMAN ROUSEY
World Dairy Expo Winner: FROHLAND GALAXY CONTRAST
Top Points in Canada: BEN301 CG CHEEZIE
Royal Winter Fair Winner: BEN301 CG CHEEZIE

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
SICY DOORMAN BRIE 10 22 32 4 8.0
BEN301 CG CHEEZIE 0 26 26 4 6.5
PAPPYS DOORMAN ROUSEY 22 0 22 3 7.3
WINRIGHT GOLDWYN ELDORADO 20 0 20 3 6.7
PETITCLERC MCCUTCHEN SKY 0 15 15 2 7.5
MAPEL WOOD DOORMAN STELLA 7 8 15 3 5.0
TRI-KOEBEL A WILDCARD 15 0 15 3 5.0
FROHLAND GALAXY CONTRAST 14 0 14 1 14.0
VOGUE OCTANE SUNSTRUCK 0 14 14 3 4.7
LOOKOUT SID VOODOO 6 8 14 4 3.5

Being able to earn points on both sides of the border helped propel SICY DOORMAN BRIE over the Royal Winter Fair winner, BEN301 CG CHEEZIE.  The World Dairy Expo winner FROHLAND GALAXY CONTRAST, who only earned points at one show, dropped to 8th place in this All-North American class.  Coming in 3rd place was PAPPYS DOORMAN ROUSEY who earned the most points from US based shows.

Summer Yearlings

anaad-comestar-holiday-goldwyn

anaads-nordale-mccutchen-pigeon

Winner: COMESTAR HOLIDAY GOLDWYN
Top Points In the US: MS SID LEAP FROG
World Dairy Expo Winner: COMESTAR HOLIDAY GOLDWYN
Top Points in Canada: NORDALE MCCUTCHEN PIGEON
Royal Winter Fair Winner: NORDALE MCCUTCHEN PIGEON

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
NORDALE MCCUTCHEN PIGEON 7 30 37 5 7.4
COMESTAR HOLIDAY GOLDWYN 14 12 26 3 8.7
BARRVALLEY DOORMAN LIZ 10 15 25 3 8.3
MAROCH DOORMAN INDOU 6 12 18 3 6.0
MS SID LEAP FROG 15 0 15 2 7.5
KINGSWAY EQUATION GLOSSIE 2 12 14 3 4.7
ROBELLA BH DOORMAN LONESTAR 0 13 13 2 6.5
JACOBS MASCALESE BALZI 3 10 13 3 4.3
MS SAVAGE-BORBA LUSHY 12 0 12 2 6.0
MS BROOKVIEW SCAREDYCAT 10 0 10 2 5.0

NORDALE MCCUTCHEN PIGEON was the top point earner in this class.  This was a result of the fact that COMESTAR HOLIDAY GOLDWYN was not eligible to attend The Royal, as her breeder was the judge. This invokes rule #3 designed to prevent animals owned or bred by one of the two major show judges being discriminated against.  In doing so, we see COMESTAR HOLIDAY GOLDWYN with 26 points vs NORDALE MCCUTCHEN PIGEON earned 23 points, not including the Royal, hence the victory goes to HOLIDAY. 

Spring Yearlings

anaad-damibel-airlift-marisa

anaads-ms-listerines-luckylady

Winner: DAMIBEL AIRLIFT MARISA
Top Points In the US: DAMIBEL AIRLIFT MARISA
World Dairy Expo Winner: DAMIBEL AIRLIFT MARISA
Top Points in Canada: RIVERDOWN ATWOOD JIGGALEA
Royal Winter Fair Winner: MS LISTERINES LUCKYLADY

Name US TOTALS CDN Total Total     Average
DAMIBEL AIRLIFT MARISA 28 0 28 6 3 9.3
MS LISTERINES LUCKYLADY 12 14 26 6 3 8.7
RIVERDOWN ATWOOD JIGGALEA 0 22 22 6 3 7.3
SPALLVUE BROKAW ICE CREAM 14 7 21 6 3 7.0
CRAILA NC DOORMAN LUXURY 0 19 19 6 3 6.3
DROLIE DOORMAN MAYCY 6 12 18 6 3 6.0
MICHERET AMASOFT ACROBAT 0 14 14 5 2 7.0
BOISBLANC SEAVER ELMA 8 4 12 5 2 6.0
TRENT VALLEY ATWOOD ANETT 0 12 12 5 2 6.0
BROOK-CORNER DOORMAN WONDER 11 0 11 5 2 5.5

Riding the power of her victory at the EXPO , DAMIBEL AIRLIFT MARISA, takes the victory over, Royal Winner,  MS LISTERINES LUCKYLADY.  These ladies are followed by the top CDN show point earner RIVERDOWN ATWOOD JIGGALEA.

Winter Yearlings

anaad-smithden-hilton-izzy

anaads-duhibou-fever-piranha

Winner: SMITHDEN HILTON IZZY
Top Points In the US: DUHIBOU FEVER PIRANHA
World Dairy Expo Winner: DUHIBOU FEVER PIRANHA
Top Points in Canada: MILKSOURCE SID DESIRE
Royal Winter Fair Winner: MILKSOURCE SID DESIRE

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
SMITHDEN HILTON IZZY 17 29 46 6 7.7
DUHIBOU FEVER PIRANHA 28 7 35 4 8.8
MILKSOURCE SID DESIRE 0 33 33 4 8.3
DU PETIT BOIS GD SELSY 5 24 29 6 4.8
KINGSWAY GOLDWYN LIP BAL 7 15 22 3 7.3
T-TRIPLE-T PERFECT STORM 22 0 22 4 5.5
CROSS-WAKE MORE ANNALYSE 18 2 20 4 5.0
KINGSWAY GOLDWYN LADONNA 8 6 14 3 4.7
PLUM-LINE ATTIC KARMEN 12 0 12 3 4.0
BARRVALLEY WINDBROOK LIZZIE 0 11 11 3 3.7

While she did not win Expo or The Royal, SMITHDEN HILTON IZZY, did earn points at six different shows and used those points to take home the victory ahead of Expo Winner DUHIBOU FEVER PIRANHA.  Her dominant showing in Canada powered MILKSOURCE SID DESIRE into the HM spot.

Fall Yearlings

anaad-greenlark-lucille-atwood

anaads-sco-lo-coons-sid-aria

Winner: GREENLARK LUCILLE ATWOOD
Top Points In the US: SCO-LO-COONS SID ARIA
World Dairy Expo Winner: GREENLARK LUCILLE ATWOOD
Top Points in Canada: RUBIS GOLWYN REBEKA
Royal Winter Fair Winner: (No class at The Royal)

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
SCO-LO-COONS SID ARIA 27 0 27 4 6.8
GREENLARK LUCILLE ATWOOD 26 0 26 3 8.7
RUBIS GOLWYN REBEKA 0 12 12 2 6.0
HARVEST-ACRE ALERT THE MEDIA 12 0 12 2 6.0
STRANS-TOLA ABILITY BRIT 8 0 8 1 8.0
TRENT VALLEY GOLDWY ABRA 8 1 7 8 2 4.0
JACOBS GOLDWYN BUTTERSHOT 8 0 8 2 4.0
EASTSIDE DOUBLE CARMEL 0 7 7 1 7.0
WENDON GCHIP PLEASURE 0 7 7 1 7.0
CERPOLAIT DOORMAN ROSELYNE 0 7 7 1 7.0

Given that the fall shows in Canada don’t have this class anymore, it’s not surprising that this class is dominated by the US animals.  SCO-LO-COONS SID ARIA  earned one more point than Expo winner, GREENLARK LUCILLE ATWOOD. This is due to rule 2 that compares the top three animals in each class when exhibited head to head.  LUCILLE takes the victory, as they faced off head to head twice and each time she was the victor.  RUBIS GOLWYN REBEKA the highest CDN point earner rounds out the top three.

Milking Yearlings

anaad-highpoint-gay-ivory

anaads-duckett-doorman-brook

Winner: HIGH POINT GAY IVORY
Top Points from US Shows: DUCKETT DOORMAN BROOK
Expo Winner: HIGH POINT GRAY IVORY
Top Points from CDN Shows: HIGH POINT GAY IVORY
Royal Winner: HIGH POINT GAY IVORY

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Points Earning Shows Average
HIGH POINT GAY IVORY 14 21 35 3 11.7
DUCKETT DOORMAN BROOK 15 0 15 2 7.5
DESNETTE ADELICIA IMPRESSION 0 13 13 2 6.5
VALLEYVILLE GOLDWYN BISSY 0 13 13 2 6.5
MS APPLE ATARAH 5 7 12 2 6.0
ARETHUSA DARYL SIENNA 10 0 10 1 10.0
EMBRDALE EXQUISITE LAUTHORITY 0 10 10 2 5.0
VALE-O-SKENE GOLDWYN KARMILLA 4 5 9 2 4.5
EASTSIDE DOUBLE CARAMEL 1 7 8 2 4.0
WINRIGHT ATWOOD SWEETCAKES 0 7 7 1 7.0

Undefeated in 2016, including Expo and the Royal, HIGH POINT GAY IVORY, dominates this class. Coming in 2nd was the top US show points earner, DUCKETT DOORMAN BROOK. 

Junior Two Year Olds

anaad-trefle-chassep-doorman

anaads-idee-windbrook-lynzi

Winner: TREFLE CHASSEP DOORMAN
Top Points from US Shows: TREFLE CHASSEP DOORMAN
Expo Winner: TREFLE CHASSEP DOORMAN
Top Points from CDN Shows: IDEE WINDBROOK LYNZI
Royal Winner: TREFLE CHASSEP DOORMAN

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
IDEE WINDBROOK LYNZI 10 24 34 4 8.5
TREFLE CHASSEP DOORMAN 14 14 28 2 14.0
CANCO DOORMAN MAXIMA 6 14 20 4 5.0
JACOBS WINDBROOK DELAY 11 5 16 3 5.3
ROBELLA SANCHEZ MARABELLA 8 7 15 2 7.5
WEDGWOOD HERO PAULA 0 13 13 2 6.5
BUCKS-PRIDE PUMPKIN PIE II 12 0 12 3 4.0
ROYAL LYNN SID ZINNIA 7 4 11 2 5.5
PIERSTEIN ATWOOD GABIGAELLE 0 11 11 3 3.7
MS UBERCREST LAKE LAYLA RAE 9 0 9 2 4.5

There is no question that IDEE WINDBROOK LYNZI had an outstanding year.  The challenge is that, at the end of the year, she ran into TREFLE CHASSEP DOORMAN, who took home victories at both Expo and the Royal.  Under Rule #2 that compares the top two animals in each class head to head, CHASSEP takes home the victory.  While we certainly would have liked to see CHASSEP at more shows, winning both Expo and the Royal is also very impressive. Along with Ivory (Milking Yearling), Chassep is the only other animal that was able to accomplish that feat this year.

Senior Two Year Olds

anaad-lingle-gold-freaky-girl

anaads-leachland-atwood-megabyte

anaads-musthaven-goldwyn-jaelyn-p

Winner: LINGLE GOLD FREAKY GIRL
Expo Winner: LINGLE GOLD FREAKY GIRL
Top Points from US Shows: LINGLE GOLD FREAKY GIRL
Top Points from CDN Shows: MUSTHAVEN GOLDWYN JAELYN P
Royal Winner: MUSTHAVEN GOLDWYN JAELYN P

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
LINGLE GOLD FREAKY GIRL 26 0 26 3 8.7
LEACHLAND ATWOOD MEGABYTE 8 16 24 4 6.0
MUSTHAVEN GOLDWYN JAELYN P 0 21 21 2 10.5
SANTSCHI AFTERSHOCK HOLIDAY 4 14 18 3 6.0
JACOBS REGINALD KATE 7 11 18 3 6.0
HILLPINE B ANYA 10 6 16 3 5.3
KINGSWAY AIRLIFT GOSLING 6 7 13 2 6.5
MS ABSOLUTE BLISS 9 4 13 3 4.3
JACOBS WINDBROOK AIMO 0 12 12 2 6.0
T-TRIPLE-T PETUNIA 12 0 12 2 6.0

World Dairy Expo Champion, LINGLE GOLD FREAKY GIRL used her impressive performance in the US to shows, takes the All-North American title.  LEACHLAND ATWOOD MEGABYTE, who showed in both spring and fall, takes home 2nd place over Royal winner MUSTHAVEN GOLDWYN JAELYN P, who showed only in the fall.

Junior Three Year Olds

anaad-jr32

anaads-walkerbrae-doorman-locket

anaads-loyalyn-duplex-vanessa

Winner: JACOBS GOLD LIANN
Top Points from US Shows: CRAIGCREST RUBIES RACHELLE
Expo Winner:     COMESTAR LAMADONA DOORMAN
Top Points from CDN Shows: JACOBS GOLD LIANN
Royal Winner: JACOBS GOLD LIANN

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
JACOBS GOLD LIANN 7 21 28 3 9.3
WALKERBRAE DOORMAN LOCKET 8 13 21 3 7.0
LOYALYN DUPLEX VANESSA 6 13 19 3 6.3
CRAIGCREST RUBIES RACHELLE 17 0 17 2 8.5
JEANLU STANLEYCUP ALEXIS 2 14 16 3 5.3
RIVER DALE BRADY JINX 0 16 16 3 5.3
COMESTAR LAMADONA DOORMAN 14 1 15 2 7.5
CRASDALE DESTRY JENNIFER 0 14 14 2 7.0
MOSNANG SALOON LIQUOR 0 14 14 2 7.0
COMESTAR HODREE GOLDWYN 7 6 13 2 6.5

There is no question that JACOBS GOLD LIANN lived up to the title we gave her in our Expo show preview of being the best animal not at World Dairy Expo.  She proved it by adding victories at The Royal and Le Supreme Latier to her win at the Big E.  Coming in 2nd and 3rd on strong performances at multiple shows are WALKERBRAE DOORMAN LOCKET and LOYALYN DUPLEX VANESSA respectively.  They are followed by World Dairy Expo winner, COMESTAR LAMADONA DOORMAN, who even if eligible for Rule #3, would not have taken the victory, as she only had a 6th place at the Quebec Spring Show to go with her Expo win.

Senior Three Year Olds

anaad-beaverbrock-goldwyn-zoey

anaad-jacobs-jordan-carmel

anaads-winterbay-dude-guinness

Winner (Tie): JACOBS JORDAN CARMEL & BEAVERBROCK GOLDWYN ZOEY
Top Points from US Shows: WINTERBAY DUDE GUINNESS
Expo Winner: WINTERBAY DUDE GUINNESS
Top Points from CDN Shows: VERTDOR LAUTHORITY MATRIX
Royal Winner: BEAVERBROCK GOLDWYN ZOEY

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
BEAVERBROCK GOLDWYN ZOEY 13 14 27 3 9.0
JACOBS JORDAN CARMEL 10 17 27 3 9.0
WINTERBAY DUDE GUINNESS 21 0 21 2 10.5
VERTDOR LAUTHORITY MATRIX 0 19 19 3 6.3
KARNVILLA FEVER STELLAR 0 17 17 3 5.7
WALNUTLAWN MCCUTCHEN SUMMER 11 5 16 3 5.3
AROLENE GOLDWYN DIVINE 13 0 13 2 6.5
EASTSIDE LEWISDALE PERCISION 0 13 13 2 6.5
WENDON GOLDWYN ALLABUZZ 2 11 13 3 4.3
SILVER MAPLE GOLDCHIP RAELYN 12 0 12 2 6.0

In all our tie-break methods, Royal winner, BEAVERBROCK GOLDWYN ZOEY & JACOBS JORDAN CARMEL still end up tied with each other.  They both split the heads up battle and they both had the same average result from each show they attended.  For that reason, we have decided to name them co-winners over Expo winner WINTERBAY DUDE GUINNESS, who went undefeated this year, but similarly to QUALITY SOLOMON LUST (Winter Heifer) and GLENNHOLME DOORMAN REGGAE (Spring Heifer Calf), they only went to two shows and did not earn enough points.

Four Year Olds

anaad-tk-plain-view-ripley

anaads-bosdale-gold-lustre

anaads-jacobs-fever-cael

Winner: TK-PLAIN VIEW RIPLEY
Top Points from US Shows: TK-PLAIN VIEW RIPLEY
Expo Winner: WENDON DEMPSEY PRUDE
Top Points from CDN Shows: BOSDALE GOLD LUSTER
Royal Winner: BOSDALE GOLD LUSTER

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
TK-PLAIN VIEW RIPLEY 31 0 31 4 7.8
BOSDALE GOLD LUSTER 0 28 28 3 9.3
JACOBS FEVER CAEL 7 17 24 3 8.0
WENDON DEMPSEY PRUDE 14 7 21 2 10.5
KEYLAS SID ROXANNA 5 16 21 4 5.3
WINDY-KNOLL-VIEW PANTENE 15 0 15 2 7.5
ELMCROFT ATTIC RETA 0 15 15 3 5.0
MILKSOURCE GOLDWYN JENAY 0 13 13 2 6.5
QUIET COVE-W W FRIENCHKIS 12 0 12 2 6.0
ROBELLA GOLDWYN EDGELEY 0 12 12 3 4.0

While Royal winner, BOSDALE GOLD LUSTER, did go undefeated this year, she was not able to take the All-North American title from, TK-PLAIN VIEW RIPLEY, who won three shows and was 2nd at Expo. Consistent performer, JACOBS FEVER CAEL, who had two wins and a 2nd at the Royal finishes 3rd.  (Note: Under rule #2 she still remains third place as she was 2nd to Lustre at the Royal).  World Dairy Expo winner, WENDON DEMPSEY PRUDE, finishes fourth and her only other qualifiying show was The Western Canadian Spring Show / Canadian National Convention Show.

Five Year Olds

anaad-weeksdale-judges-harmony

anaads-brackleyfarm-chelios-cheerio

Winner: WEEKSDALE JUDGES HARMONY
Top Points from US Shows: GEORGETOWN ATWOOD MADEIRA
Expo Winner: WEEKSDALE JUDGES HARMONY
Top Points from CDN Shows: PETITCLERC ALEXANDER AMYCALE, HOLSBEC GOLDWYN PAULA
Royal Winner: BRACKLEYFARM CHELIOS CHEERIO

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
WEEKSDALE JUDGES HARMONY 21 7 28 3 9.3
BRACKLEYFARM CHELIOS CHEERIO 8 14 22 2 11.0
GEORGETOWN ATWOOD MADEIRA 22 0 22 4 5.5
ROSIERS BLEXY GOLDWYN 14 7 21 3 7.0
WEEKS DUNDEE ANIKA 10 10 20 2 10.0
T-TRIPLE-T PLATINUM 10 0 10 2 5.0
DUHAMED GOLDWYN ROSELINA 10 0 10 3 3.3
M-RIVERVIEW DESTRY KALIN 8 0 8 2 4.0
STRANS-JEN-D TEQUILA-RED 7 0 7 1 7.0
CROSS-CANYON PERFORM 7 0 7 1 7.0

In what has been a tightly fought competition for a few years now, this group of 5-year-olds has never failed to disappoint.  Combining 2 other victories with her Expo win, WEEKSDALE JUDGES HARMONY, takes home the All-North American title.  She is followed by Royal Winner, BRACKLEYFARM CHELIOS CHEERIO,  and then by a true road warrior this year, GEORGETOWN ATWOOD MADEIRA.

Mature Cows

anaad-butz-butler-gold-barbara

anaads-tc-sanchez-kristina

anaads-sheeknoll-durham-arrow

Winner: BUTZ-BUTLER GOLD BARBARA
Top Points from US Shows: TC SANCHEZ KRISTINA
Expo Winner:     SHEEKNOLL DURHAM ARROW
Top Points from CDN Shows: VALE-O-SKENE PURE GOLD ABIGAIL
Royal Winner: BLONDIN GOLDWYN SUBLIMINALE

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
BUTZ-BUTLER GOLD BARBARA 15 8 23 3 7.7
TC SANCHEZ KRISTINA 22 0 22 3 7.3
SHEEKNOLL DURHAM ARROW 21 0 21 2 10.5
BLONDIN GOLDWYN SUBLIMINALE 6 14 20 2 10.0
VALE-O-SKENE PURE GOLD ABIGAIL 0 18 18 4 4.5
LINDENRIGHT ATWOOD BOUNCE 0 15 15 3 5.0
MOR-YET GOLDWYN FAITHFUL 15 0 15 3 5.0
LOVHILL GOLDWYN KATRYSHA 7 7 14 2 7.0
QUIET COVE-W FUTURITY 12 0 12 2 6.0
KINGSWAY SANCHEZ ARANGATANG 0 11 11 2 5.5

In what was the closest All-North American competition of the year, BUTZ-BUTLER GOLD BARBARA uses the power of her victory at New York International Spring Show, as well as solid placings at both Expo and the Royal to take home the victory.  She is followed very closely by another cow that traveled a lot of miles TC SANCHEZ KRISTINA.  Expo Champion SHEEKNOLL DURHAM ARROW finishes in third as she only had one other qualifying show to go with her victory at Expo and that opened the door to others, when she did not attend the Royal.

Production Cow

anaad-loyalyn-goldwyn-june

anaads-huntsdale-shottle-crusade

anaads-jk-vue-goldwyn-glamour

Winner: LOYALYN GOLDWYN JUNE
Top Points from US Shows: J&K-VUE GOLDWYN GLAMOUR
Expo Winner:     DUCKETT ROSS PAMELA
Top Points from CDN Shows: LOYALYN GOLDWYN JUNE
Royal Winner: LOYALYN GOLDWYN JUNE

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
LOYALYN GOLDWYN JUNE 0 21 21 2 10.5
HUNTSDALE SHOTTLE CRUSADE 7 12 19 3 6.3
J&K-VUE GOLDWYN GLAMOUR 17 0 17 2 8.5
NIPPONIA R D LIZABETH 2 15 17 3 5.7
JACOBS MINISTER AIMA 0 15 15 2 7.5
DUCKETT ROSS PAMELA 14 0 14 1 14.0
MILKSOURCE GOLDWN AFRICA 6 7 13 2 6.5
LUDWIGS DG GOLDWYN EMMY 11 0 11 2 5.5
GLENWIN GOLDWYN CALYPSO 5 5 10 2 5.0
MILIBRO ROSEPLEX KELLSY 0 9 9 2 4.5

Fan favourite LOYALYN GOLDWYN JUNE takes home the production cow class on the strength of her victories at The Royal and Le Supreme.  Coming in 2nd, is a cow that holds a dear spot in my heart, HUNTSDALE SHOTTLE CRUSADE, who had an impressive year.  Rounding out our top three is the highest point earning animal at American shows, J&K-VUE GOLDWYN GLAMOUR. Expo winner DUCKETT ROSS PAMELA, only earned points at one qualifying show.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While no system is perfect, we are super excited to launch this competition and reward those animals that had outstanding years at North American shows.  Four of our winners did not win  at either Expo or The Royal. This highlights that it’s not just those two shows that determine who is the best of the best for the year. The Bullvine congratulates the hard work of all the exhibitors and we are proud to recognize the 2016 All-North American winners. 

We would love to know your thoughts.  Please enter them in the comments box below or email them to allnorthamerican@thebullvine.com

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Farmers are hard to buy for. The things they need, they buy for themselves. The things they want, have price tags with lots of zeros. While it’s hard to find that perfect gift for the dairy farmer on your list, short of finding 12 doses of Goldwyn semen or a higher milk price, here are 16 items that are sure to please your dairy farmer this Christmas.

  1. Prints by Bonnie Mohr
    For a long time, Bonnie Mohr has been the industry standard for great dairy Like many, our family has had the opportunity to appreciate Bonnie’s great work.  My wife has given me a Bonnie Mohr print every year on our anniversary.  That is why when we had the opportunity to interview Bonnie – Bonnie Mohr – Science and Art Together Creates a Holstein Love Story-; it was an honor for us.  Be sure to check out her website for more extraordinary fine art from rural America.
  2. The Chosen Breed and The Holstein History by Edward Young Morwick
    Anyone who appreciates history will enjoy either the US history (The Holstein History) or the Canadian History (The Chosen Breed) by Edward Morwick. Each of these books is so packed with information that they are each printed in two separate volumes.  We had a chance to interview Edward – Edward Young Morwick – Country Roads to Law Office and got a real sense of his passion and quick wit which also come shining through in his books.  Be sure to get your copies of this amazing compilation of Holstein history.
  3. A Great Pair of Work Boots
    Never underestimate the power of a pair of comfortable, warm work boots. When mucking around chasing that fresh heifer, who just doesn’t want to go into the robotic milker, nothing beats a pair of great work boots.
  4. 2016 World Dairy Expo and 2016 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show Photo Books
    Due to their extreme popularity over the past three years, we brought back the photo books for 2016. These 80 page 10”x 8” coffee table books each contain over 150 hi-resolution photos. You can relive all the action and excitement of the 2016 World Dairy Expo Holstein Show and The Royal Winter Fair 2016 Holstein Show with these one-of-a-kind photo books.  Check out these photo books here.
  5. A Special Lady from Steel Cow
    Although she is neither a dairy breeder nor a show ring competitor, artist Valerie Miller of Steel Cow is, nevertheless, completely hands-on in her relationship with cows. This passionate painter not only paints her girls larger than life but she also aligns their bovine characteristics with dear family members and friends. These paintings are admired by all and make a great Christmas gift for the dairy breeder on your list.  (Read more: Steel Cow’s Valerie Miller: Larger Than Life With Her Cow Girls)
  6. A Show-Cation
    This could be the Christmas to take relief milking to another level. How about giving the Tanbark enthusiast on your list a vacation, or as we like to call it – a Show-Cation to World Dairy Expo or The Royal? Better yet, maybe you can send them to IDW in Australia or the European Championship show in France. Check out our favorite showcations.
  7. Get the gift of maximum genetic progress
    Why not give the dairy breeder on your list some embryos from their favorite cow or even a gift card for semen for that young sire they have always wanted? Check out our mating recommendations section for some ideas, or Sire Proof Central to find that needle in a haystack sire that will change your breeding program.
  8. Paintings by Gary Sauder
    Since the first time I saw Gary’s work on Facebook, I was amazed by the super-realism of his paintings. His passion and understanding of what great dairy animals look like comes through in each and every one. We had the chance to interview Gary in our feature article – GARY SAUDER: The Muse in His Studio. To order some of Gary’s excellent artwork visit Cow Art and More.
  9. Coupons for relief milking
    It may seem silly to some, but dairy farming is a 365 day per year job, and sometimes they just need time to step away for dinner with their partner. Coupons for 2 or 3 milkings might just be the gift they never forget and greatly appreciate.
  10. Prints by Emma Caldwell
    Probably one of the most talented young artists I have ever come across, Emma Caldwell is well on her way to becoming a worldwide household name. Though just starting out in her career, she has already done some amazing paintings of Hailey, Smurf, and Francesca.  Check out our feature interview with Emma, Emma Caldwell’s Art Stirs Mind and Heart, as well as her many great prints available from her web shop.
  11. Legends of the Tanbark Trail by Tim Baumgartner
    Dairy cattle have been on exhibit for nearly 200 years and taking home the coveted title of National Grand Champion has always been a compelling force. Tracing the first 100 years of U.S. national dairy cattle shows, Legends of the Tanbark Trail is a remarkable account of the people, the places, and the magnificent and unparalleled animals that have graced the show ring throughout its history. Be sure to get your show enthusiast their copy of this special
  12. Facebook Page for Their Farm
    Instead of wasting hundreds of dollars on a web page that no one will ever read, give the dairy breeder in your life a Facebook page that will reach the world. The best part about it? It’s free!  That’s correct; it will cost you nothing.  All you need to do is download this simple guide,The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook and you will be well on the way to helping the dairy breeder in your life market to the world.
  13. The Dairy Queen: A History of the Jersey Breed Worldwide
    This 300-page book is a great Christmas present for anyone interested in the Jersey breed. It chronicles the origins and development of the Jersey breed through detailed text and photos.  Be sure to check out our interview “THE DAIRY QUEEN” HAS ALL THE ANSWERS! With Co-Author Derrick Frigot.  He tells how this book came to be and what makes it so unique.  Supplies are limited, so be sure to check out theirFacebook page and order your copy for the Jersey breeder in your life.
  14. Millionaires in the Cornfield: The Glory Days of the National Dairy Cattle Congress by Norman Nabholz.
    For me, Norm is probably one of the greatest cattle minds of the past 50 years. It only takes a few moments of chatting with Norm to recognize his passion for this business we all love.  His book is easy to pick up but hard to put down.  Not only does it recount the achievements of legendary breeders and showmen with words and countless pictures, the background information and this behind-the-scenes look are most entertaining and engaging.  The Bullvine had a chance to sit down and interview this multi-talented man in our feature article – HALTER, PEN and GAVEL.  That’s Just the Norm.
  15. A New Smartphone
    If there is one thing we have learned since starting The Bullvine, it is that Dairy Farmers love to check out the latest news on their smartphones. More than half our web traffic comes from a mobile device.  So, make life easier for the dairy farmer on your list and get them that smartphone that makes reading the latest news on The Bullvine, or gossip on Facebook that much easier.  While you’re at it, be sure to join the world’s largest community of dairy breeder discussion,The Milkhouse.  There are over 5,000 members, and 20-30 posts every day about all the issues that face Dairy Producers from around the world.
  16. A Subscription to The Bullvine
    For those that are tight on budget, go for a FREE subscription to the largest dairy breeder publication in the world. Filled with daily news items and feature articles, this subscription is the gift that keeps on giving year-round.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Yes! Christmas is getting closer. So, instead of buying that tie that they might only wear for weddings or funerals, or the work gloves that could get lost the first time they are worn, consider these 16 great gift ideas.  Not only do they connect them to their dairy passion, but also your thoughtfulness will touch your special dairy breeder’s heart and make lasting memories this Christmas!

photobooks

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Dairy Cattle Show Photographs are NOT Free

Friday, October 21st, 2016

This is probably one of the greatest show ring pictures I have ever taken.  It cost me $11,875 to produce, and it has been stolen over 1,000 times.

$100 in gas to go from home to Madison and back.  $175 in hotel room charges while I was there. The camera I took this with cost $4,800. The lens was another $2,300. The flash I used to take this picture cost $800. When I got home, I uploaded it to a computer that cost me $2,800 and then the program I edit this photo in cost me $900.

100+175+4800+2300+800+2800+900=$11,875

So when other dairy magazines, sales managers, AI companies steal it or ask if they can use it for free or in exchange for credit or “exposure,” I politely decline the offer. The Bullvine is the most read daily dairy publication in the world…I have enough exposure already. Your companies have an advertising budget, and this is what it’s for. You obviously don’t expect your writers to work for free, or your secretary, or your boss. No one is going to publish it for free. Just because the picture is digital doesn’t mean it was free to make.

Now some of you might be rationalizing that this single photo didn’t cost me $11,875, but if you wanted to create it, from scratch, that is what is involved. So I consider that to be the replacement value if it’s stolen, or how much my lawyer will send you a bill for if it’s found being used without my permission.

Similarly, I understand that it takes more than the $30 entry fee to exhibit the animals at the shows that I am taking the pictures of.  That is why I do make my photos free to those exhibitors and the breeders of the animal exhibited.  I understand that there is a cost to clip, prep, feed, truck, etc. the animals that are in the ring.  But that does not give permission to other exhibitors, sales managers, AI companies to steal the pictures.  In addition we have now changed our policy that if you are sponsoring the coverage of that show with one of our competitors our pictures will no longer be free for your use.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

So next time you are snagging that picture from Facebook or creating that ad with pictures you “Found online,”  I would like you to try this, next time you’re at dinner, tell your waiter you’ll tell all your friends how good the service was if he gives you dinner for free.

 

 

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United we stand divided we fall.  That simple statement explains the reason many milk producers are finding themselves at the short end of the stick.  Dairy processors understand that if they work together their fortunes rise, while dairy farmers seem to think, “As long as I just work harder and produce more milk, things have to get better…..right?” Wrong!

While a rebalancing of world supply and demand appears to be underway, with milk prices starting to rise around the world, there is still one major issue, at least from a producer standpoint that is holding producers down. Producers have no power.  You see producers are trying to do what they think is best from their viewpoint/operation.  The challenge is this micro perspective sometimes causes macro problems.  Stated simply, producers are trying to produce more milk to help drive revenue. In doing so, they are creating an oversupply to the industry and hence a lower overall milk price.

With increasing supply and static to decreasing demand worldwide, milk prices have plummeted.  But these losses have not been felt throughout the entire industry.  In fact, consumer milk prices worldwide have been stable, while prices paid to the producers have hit record lows.  So who’s making all the money? The processors.  Despite these economic conditions, many of the top processors in the world are reporting 60+% increases in profits.

Furthermore, certain markets have seen drastic reductions in the price at which milk is sold to consumers.  Such as Australia where milk is $1/L.  Everyone there wants to blame the grocery stores or the processors.  In fact, it’s the producers that are to blame.  We cannot blame the likes of Coles or Woolworths because someone had to sell them the milk in the first place.  You see they are not going to sell it at a loss, so someone had to sell it to them cheaper.  Then the blame shifts to the processors…. but, there again, someone had to sell them the milk cheaper in the first place.  And hence the challenge.  You see processors are more than happy to work together and drive milk prices lower, because they know they can drive prices lower to the producers and still protect and, in some cases, even increase their margins and profits.

The pain producers around the world are feeling is a direct result of the fact that we as an industry have always worried about our bottom line.  I find it interesting that as a community we are great about supporting each other and boast about how well we all get along. Yet its producers not working together that has lead to the processors having the power and the profits in our industry. Instead of uniting to give power back to the producers, we produce more milk trying to undercut our neighbours.  More worried about staying afloat ourselves than solving the bigger issue.

We are all waiting for someone else to solve the problem for us.  The thing is, the industry has shown us how they are going to handle this.  They are just going to drive the price down to consumers and ensure that their bottom line is protected.  And no matter how much consumption increases or decreases its always going to be the producer that is going to feel the pain.  We are takers, not dictators.  And hence we complain, but ultimately nothing changes.

Even now as we start to see a slight increase in milk prices. Milk processors and co-ops in New Zealand and Europe are beginning to increase payout prices to farmers. Producers will ramp up quickly with that price signal, and this would stall the needed supply contraction before it even gets started.  You see as long as the processors get enough milk at current low prices there is no incentive to them to increase farm gate milk prices significantly.

Milk prices are not going to change dramatically over the next few years.  Sure we see slight increases.  But that is just the market taking the decreased supply into account.  That means that we will see a one-time increase in price which we have, but this will not be a trend going forward.

One of the only changes I do see happening is that we are losing the next generation of dairy farmers.  Young people these days are seeing the cost to get into the industry combined with the long hours resulting in minimal income and are choosing to go work in other industries instead.  This is a problem we may never be able to overcome.  Sadly, it might result in less milk production long term, and it will have irreversible effects on our community as a whole.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

History has shown us that wars are not won by those who are the strongest.  They are won by those who can work together the best.  In the dairy wars, processors have proven they can cooperate to protect their bottom line.  This has resulted in even great producer pain as producers keep playing into the processor’s hands by producing more and more milk at lower and lower prices.  For a community that is strong in spirit, dairy producers are weak on economics.  We have proven to be easily divided and hence conquered. Until we start to direct our futures, we will always be feeling producer pain.

 

 

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Are daughter-proven sires still popular?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

A quick look at the US Holstein sires with the most registered daughters would have you believe that proven sires are still more popular than genomic sires.  Currently all three of the top-3 with the most registered daughters are daughter-proven bulls (Mogul, Supersire, and Yoder).  However, coming to the conclusion that proven sires are therefore more popular, would mean that you don’t understand how much the dairy artificial insemination industry has changed with the introduction of genomics.

To understand the trends in sire usage, you first need to understand semen production.  It is a well-known fact that young sires do not produce as much semen as proven sires.  A top producing young sire might produce 20,000 units in their first year of production, whereas a top producing mature sire can produce about 200,000 units in a year.   Young sires are much like teenage boys, who are full of “energy”, but have not yet reached maturity when it comes to sexual reproduction.  In fact, they are just learning how to regularly produce semen.  On the other hand, a mature sire has reached their sexual maturity and they not only produce more semen per ejaculate, but they can also be collected more frequently. On average mature sires produce up to 10X as much semen per year.

Thus we must conclude that the reason top proven sires fair well on the top registration lists has more to do with semen production than with sire popularity.  In fact, it is well known that a substantial production sire, with a decent type proof and who is also an excellent semen producer, will have much larger sales than most people would expect him to have. Die-Hard, the millionaire sire at ABS Global, is a great example of this.  Cost effective price setting, excellent distribution, and solid performance can all have a tremendous impact on an individual proven sire’s sales.

To answer the question of proven sires’ popularity vs. genomic sires’, you need to look at the overall sales.  While the US studs do not release their overall semen sales numbers, Canada, that has a very similar market, shows that Holstein genomic sires are the breeders’ choice, when it comes to usage.  Additionally, in Canada, the same pattern of sire usage also applies for the Ayrshire, Brown Swiss and Jersey Breeds.

Source: Trend in Genomic Versus Proven Sire Usage - Canadian Dairy Network 09-AUG-2016

Source: Trend in Genomic Versus Proven Sire Usage – Canadian Dairy Network 09-AUG-2016

Over the past four years, the ratio of Holstein Proven Sires to Genomic Sires in Canada has gone from 48:52 to 69:31.  That tells us that semen sales for genomic sires have risen from being equal almost 70% of the current market share.  This trend is in line with an August 2014 article in The Bullvine where we wrote that genomic sales would cross Malcolm Gladwell’s tipping point of 84% in the next two years. (Read more: Why 84% of Dairy Breeders Will Soon Be Using Genomic Sires!)

What the top registration lists in the US tell us is that there is a chance that we will continue to see Millionaire sires.  (Read more: Will there ever be another Millionaire Sire?)  However, they will be a different type of Millionaire than they have been in the past. It used to be that sires that came up with a  high proven sire proof and who were also high volume semen producers made this distinguished category.  The Millionaire sires of the future will be the sires that start with high genomic indexes. They will be able to stay in the top 10 TPI sires throughout their genomic test period. They will come out with a strong official daughter proof, when they can most capitalize on their increased semen production.  Another change will be that their sales, once they are proven, will most likely be to secondary markets. Today most major markets, similar to North America, will have moved to mostly genomic sire sales.  Fortunately for AI companies, there are still many countries that don’t yet allow genomic sires to be imported into their countries.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the dairy breeding industry is changing very rapidly.  As the AI companies have learned, genomics has been one of the greatest developments ever seen.  However, along with this great change, have come great challenges.  One of the biggest issues AI companies now face is the limited semen production from genomic young sires. For this reason, top lists can be miss-represented to say one thing, even though those that understand the dairy breeding industry know that genomic young sire usage is certainly more popular than proven sire usage. It won’t be long until the tipping point of 84% will be crossed!

 

 

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An Open Letter to All Dairy Farmers

Friday, August 5th, 2016

To the hard-working dairy farmers who get up before dawn every day so that the rest of us can enjoy wholesome, healthy milk on our cereal and in our morning coffees, “Please sell your cows!”

At first, I know that may be a hard pill to swallow.  Dairy farming for many is more than just a job. It’s a way of life.  The thought of not being able to help feed the world would make many of you sick.  But you see as an industry we are currently producing so much of the good stuff that we are killing the industry for producers everywhere.

Every day we see headlines in the news about record low milk prices.  Prices considerably below fair market rates and in many cases the cost of production.  Producers around the world have taken to the streets to protest.  However, none of us en mass have done the number one thing that will help solve this problem.  “Stop producing more milk than there is demand for.”

I am definitely not an economic expert, but I do remember a little from my courses in university.  The main message I retained is that “When supply is greater than demand, the price goes down.”

Sure there is the fact that many processors are making record profits. Trust me that makes me outraged at a time when there are producers that have gotten so desperate that they have taken their lives.  However, as an industry, we have given the processers this power.  Because we continue to produce more of the silky good stuff, and the processors, have been able to drive the price the average producer receives way down.

Now let’s not deny that there are many great reasons that we are producing more milk than ever:  An increased rate of genetic improvement (Read more: The Genomic Advancement Race – The Battle for Genetic Supremacy), the fact that sexed semen has lead to a greater number of females (Read more: Sexed Semen from Cool Technology to Smart Business Decision) or that our understanding of nutrition and environment have made significant advances over recent years (Read more: Dairy Herd Managment) All of these progressive improvements have contributing to this debilitating situation.

However, the fact remains that, unless we start producing less milk, we are going to continue this bad situation.  If we don’t start to produce less milk, the choice will not be ours to make.  You see as we continue to over-produce, farm gate prices are only going to go lower or, at best, remain at the current record lows.  This will lead to more producers going deeper in debt to the bankers, and in some extreme cases, cause more producers to consider the drastic measure of suicide. 

We have the power to right this situation.  Look at the oil industry.  When gas prices get too low, the major powers simply just produce less crude.  It’s not that they can’t produce more.  They understand how to maximize their revenues and when prices get too low, they simply produce less.  Prices increase and then they start to increase production again.  It’s a simple solution to a major problem.

Many of you will say, “Well if I produce less my neighbor is just going to produce more.”  Moreover, that’s true.  But unless we, as a group, start to work together, the processors will continue to have control over us, and we will always be in a poor situation.

So while I know it sounds harsh to decrease production at a time when the world’s population is growing,  the simple fact remains that rate of consumption is not as high as the level we have increased production to.  Until we change this situation, we are only going to see this situation get worse.  So I ask you….no we plead with you…please sell off some of your cows, maybe feed them a less potent ration.  Maybe even use some less productive genetics, but whatever you do, please start producing less milk. United we stand, Divided we fall.

Sincerely,

Andrew Hunt
Founder – The Bullvine

 

 

 

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Bovine Beauty Goes Viral on Facebook

Monday, July 25th, 2016

One of the perks of being a dairy enthusiast is the way it makes us look closely at the work we do every day.  You can’t be successful on a dairy farm or in the show ring by walking with your head down and not noticing the dairy girls who are are at work right beside you.  We all love it when something we are enthusiastic about goes viral on Facebook. Having said that, it isn’t any wonder that there has been huge enthusiasm and support for the “Bovine Beauty Challenge” which asked challengers to post a picture of a favorite cow for 7 days (and nominate 1 person each day) and, thereby to inundate Facebook with Bovine Beauty. When we see how much others appreciate the beauty inherent in raising cattle, it gives meaning to every day work and reminds us why we love doing what we do. Here are some highlights gathered from the stories, memories and pictures from “The Bovine Beauty Challenge” 2016.

This “Sassy” Bovine Beauty Sparks Priceless Friendships!

bbc-brent

One of the stories that highlights the reasons why we love beautiful dairy cows came from Brent Howe who gave the background behind his selection of “Howes BC Sassy”.  Of course, there are many who recognize her name and recall seeing that cow.  What makes this selection special, however, is Brent’s well told story of the friendships, both working and in the showing, that sprang directly from the breeding and sale of Sassy. The story flows smoothly from the interest in Sassy “by a young Frenchman”, Donald Dubois.  When Dubois, the breeder of Boulet Charles, came to the farm in Aylmer Ontario to see the heifer, Sassy definitely passed the test. Before he left, he had purchased Sassy as a springing heifer for $10,000.00 along with 3 other VG cows on top of that price!  Brent sums it up. “It was a very big deal for Howe’s Holsteins!”

“Sassy’s Beauty is Special for the Boulet Family Too!”

bbc Pierre Boulet

In a later posting on the “Bovine Beauty Challenge, Pierre Boulet who had accompanied Dubois added photos and his own comments about the transaction that began this journey. “I tried to drop your price and negotiate but you remained firm in your offer!  We went to lunch and the more I thought about it the more I wanted that Charles heifer to come home with me.  A heifer like that with a sire stack like she had (Starbuck, Sexation), there was no going wrong! So we shook on it and the rest was history!” Pierre credits her as being “my first big time cow and she took me on a ride I will never forget”.  To this day, a lasting tribute to her beauty and impact remains. ”The painting of her is still on the front of my barn, 23 years later.” Reports Pierre “I have lots of amazing cows but she will always have a special place in my heart.”

“Beauty Goes Beyond Financial Benefits”

Sassy definitely lived up to her potential. Brent explains in reporting Sassy’s result that spring, “1st Sr 2 and HM Champion at Quebec Spring show!” The icing on the cake was that Sassy’s picture was the centerfold in the Holstein Journal promotion by W.O.B.I. The fame and friendships continued to grow. “The Dupasquier family at Guelph had purchased a share of Sassy from Pierre and enjoyed success for some time also.  She was All Canadian & All American ’94,’ 95, ’96!!!” Without question, this obvious bovine beauty had tremendous impact on Brent.  He sums it up this way. “I learned never to be afraid to sell a homebred good one because she will always carry your prefix! 

Serenity’s bovine beauty was even greater because she met adversity and overcame it!  Sometimes the beautiful bovine is part of a journey that has many key events that we might not identify as they are happening.  That is the case with another nomination in the Beautiful Bovine Challenge. “Miss Triple-T Serenity is special to me.” Says owner Jennifer Thomas.  Her favorite cow nearly didn’t make the trip to Madison because she became sick. “We said she had to show several signs of improvement in order to go.  I am not going to lie. I sat in the barn and cried. She has kind of always been my pet and has never been sick before that.  She must have wanted to go to the show because she started to show improvement.  She ended up 2nd at WDE. Then in November, I was 8 months pregnant and took a truck and trailer with 4 Jerseys to Louisville with a curly headed 3-year-old in tow.  Thankful for Renee Pierick and her ability to help entertain Kendall!  Nathan was in Canada at the Supreme in Quebec and the Royal with the HOLSTEINS.  Serenity ended up Winning her class and Reserve Grand that day.  It was probably my proudest moment in the show ring. Thanks to my good friend and partner Cybil Fisher and to every else who helped me that week…it was a memorable one!”

Bovine Beauties Inspire Teamwork

bbc Richard Caverly

For Richard Caverly the “Bovine Beauty Challenge” inspired him to consider not one but two cows. He gives an interesting explanation of his double choice. “My choice is not because I have spent countless hours with either of them, or because I have made a difference in either cow’s legacy, but because of the people involved with these two cows and how their passion to see these animals succeed should inspire those who share their dream.”   He gives a basic outline of the events. “ The two weeks I spent with “Monique” and “Hot Mama” in Canada last year was two weeks getting to know some special people. They may not have had the biggest names on these cows’ registration papers, but they are the individuals that through countless hours of dedication, hard work, and never ending effort that put two cows in a light which sometimes casts shadows over those behind the scenes.”  Richard highlights that it takes everybody to make a winner. Their commitment to showcasing Bovine Beauty was achieved through hard work, talent and passionate determination to excel. This team which included the likes of “Joey” and Amber Price, Chris Curtiss, Eddie” Acesse MilkShow, and Mat Smith brought together an interesting array of personalities, who by sharing a common goal gelled into a dedicated team working towards a common goal of “team success”.

“Good Mothering is at the Heart of Bovine Beauty”

bbc Megan Hill

The nomination of Four-Hills Gold Jaslene-ET” given by Megan Hall provided yet another interesting perspective on the many facets of Bovine Beauty.  Megan points out, “I would be lying if I said she didn’t have a Goldwyn attitude, but she sometimes can be calm and loving.  These calm and loving traits comes from her mother, one of our family’s favorite cows, Sequa Linjet Jamie. I’m sure the woman who raised Jasmine also had a little something to do with this.  Sue Brown raised Jaslene when she was born prematurely and helped develop her into the wonderful cow she is today.” For Megan, it took two mothers to realize the full potential of one Bovine Beauty.

“Winning is Beautiful!”

bbc Katie Kearns

As Facebook filled with beautiful pictures and stories, it was easy to ask the question, “Which comes first Dairy Show Ribbons or Bovine Beauty?” For Katie Kearns the show ring was very important to her beautiful bovine nomination  “Ernest-Anthony Thriller EX 95 –on a gorgeous fall day in Springfield in 2010 won the Sr 3-year-old class, Intermediate Champion, Grand Champion, Best Udder and Bred and Owned at the Big E.” She balances that with acknowledgement of her other talents. “There were a lot of special memories with her including other show days and the day she scored 95.  It always puts a smile on my face when I think of her. A sweetheart to work with.”.

“The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express!”

bbc Abe Light

At the other extreme from the show ring is the type of Bovine Beauty described so eloquently by Abe Light. You won’t recognize the cow pictured below.  As a matter of fact, neither do I. In the past six days of recalling some of the best cows that have touched my life, it has reminded me of the many, many cows that shaped my life who won’t have a name or a face that is recognized through the years.  The cows that will never be seen by a kid flipping through an old Holstein Journal or World.  The cows who maybe never got picture, maybe never went to a fair, and maybe never had a special calf to carry on their bloodline.  The silhouettes in the horizon of our memories.”

Passion for Bovine Beauty Starts Young!

Abe treasures many cattle that some might call ordinary but one particular herd had a big influence on his dairy life. “  The cows of Dairysmith Holsteins were the cows that cemented my passion for the Holstein cow.  Citamatt Sapphire, and Skybuck Memphis are the first that come to mind, but at that time I could have given you a name and a pedigree for every one of those 106 stalls.  Jimmy V said a good day is a day that you laugh, a day that you think, and a day that you’re moved to tears.  By that measure, these two cows provided me with more than one Good Day, and I hope that one day I’ll have cows like them in my life again who bring out only the purest form of passion I’ve ever know’ the passion for good cows.” Abe was particularly moved by the responses to his posts. “One message really set itself apart from the other.  It was from a young person in Canada, who messaged to say they were loving the stories and hoped that they would have their own stories like mine to tell one day. Doesn’t get any better than that.  Keep passing the torch.”

 The Bullvine Bottom Line

And so we hope you too will pass the torch and share with dairy and non-dairy friends and neighbours all that is beautiful about the cattle we work with. After all, at one time or another we have felt like Brent Howe, who enthused, “She was the cow of a lifetime, a breeders dream and the opportunities and friendships she created were priceless.”

Our Bullvine wish for each of you is that you can find the BEAUTY in every BOVINE DAY!

 

 

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Show supporters can quote many reasons for why the time, effort and resources that they put towards exhibiting cattle are positive. At the same time, there are detractors who question why breeds and sponsors should support cattle shows. The detractors see no benefit to dairy cattle improvement from the show circuit.

What is Relevant Today?

What is seen as relevant differs over the entire spectrum of dairy cattle breeders?  Something that is relevant to one group is not as important to another.  The show competition is not about focusing on a win or lose for one of these groups over their differently focused peers.  It’s about having a showcase not only for breeders but the consuming public.  To stay relevant dairy breeders and breed associations must take the opportunity to be the kind of leaders and visionaries that advance the dairy industry. Being relevant requires that new ideas are continually being brought on board as times and circumstances change. The Bullvine offers some thoughts for dairy show organizers to consider in raising the bar for the future of the industry.

Minimum Production Required

Since type is the deciding factor in the show ring. Ways to include production in shows has been tried in numerous ways.  Over fifty years ago, The Honorable Harry Hays, Canadian Minister of Agriculture, initiated a federally financial supported program that required that cows or dams of heifers meet minimum production requirements. The program lasted for many years until a subsequent government looked for areas to reduce the federal government agriculture budget and eliminated the support. While it lasted, the program assisted with more official milk recording and breed improvement.

Just two years ago Holstein USA raised the minimum production from 125,000 lbs to 150,000 lbs for cows to be eligible for entry into Production Cow Classes at Holstein designated shows. This move reflects the increasing levels of production.

It was fascinating at the 2016 Swiss Expo to see a twenty-year-old that had produced 200,000 kgs. Back when she was a heifer she had been a class winner at the very first Swiss Expo. Now that is not a class that shows might consider, but it was interesting to see this grand matriarch paraded.

Best by Age

For perhaps two decades now, show have had an Intermediate Champion or Best Junior Cow. This category has been very well received. Could the champion categories be extended to have a Champion Calf and Champion Yearling?

Recently, at two high-quality North American Spring Shows, Junior Two Year Olds have been named Grand Champion Female. That has not been without controversy.

Often judges state that they give preference to mature females. The words often used are that ‘she has stood the test of time”.  And, by comparison, the more junior cows which have not calved as often will have their day in the bright lights when they mature.

So what is the purpose of naming the Grand Champion Female? Is it to reward age or to identify the best in the show without bias related to maturity. In fact, it may even be a question of using maturity for placings of first and second lactation cows.  It is our observation that lack of body depth in first and second lactation is not all that bad. Young cows should look like young cows.

Best by Index

The organizers of the recent Canadian National Convention Holstein show took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and introduced a class for genomically indexed heifers.  The show was organized by members of Holstein Canada from Western Canada. The concept for the class was put forward more than two years ago by Dr. David Chalack of RockyMountain Holsteins. An interesting side note is that Harry Hays and David Chalack, two show class innovators, both originate from Calgary Alberta.  The Hays and Chalack Families have been long time supporters of Canadian Holstein improvement and foreign cattle marketing. David puts it this way “Shows must be relevant to not only today but also in the future. Genomic indexes are twice as accurate as the old Parent Average Indexes. Our shows need to be leading by example in bringing out the quality of animals that will meet the future needs of all breeders”. He continues “ The show organizers considered making the requirements higher for individual parts of the LPI but in the end decided to set the LPI at a reasonable level. I was thrilled to see the interest in the class. Western Canada Holstein breeders throw the torch to shows, anywhere on the globe, to take the show ring to new heights.”

The class was truly a success. The top two placing heifers, with at least 2600 LPI, from the first five heifer classes paraded before the show judge. The Champion Index heifer was Barclay Doorman Cobra exhibited by Hamming Holsteins from British Columbia, and reserve was also exhibited by Hamming Holsteins. Winning both Champion and Reserve Index Heifer indeed gives this owner a great marketing opportunity.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

With much talk about shows becoming less and less relevant in dairy cattle improvement, it rests on the shoulders of breeds and show organizers to put in place new classes that extend the reach from type only to include all aspects of dairy cattle breeding which includes production, durability and health and fertility. The time has come for highlighting modern dairy relevance in the show ring.

 

 

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I am a huge fan of crime and punishment television shows.  The juicier the episode headline, the more I am prepared to make time to watch and learn how, in under an hour, murder and mayhem can be solved and the guilty parties brought to justice. Unfortunately, even TV shows are not maintaining clear distinctions between black and white, guilty and innocent.

One such program, “How to get away with Murder” leads you to believe one thing while something quite the opposite is closer to the actual truth. 

Which brings me to the charges that activist groups lodge against farming practices. Misdirection is one thing, as long as you have no personal stake in the outcome but when headlines imply “Farmers are Murderers” we are no longer spectators only.  It isn’t that long ago that undercover videos and animal right activists capturing headlines with their horrifying revelations, which would have been considered ludicrous when applied to the dairy industry.  Not so today.

We Can’t  Change the Channel or Wait for the Season Finale

TV series “How to Get Away with Murder” can win ratings by revealing the truth in the last episode.  Unfortunately, real life on dairy farms means you have to go beyond the Neilson ratings.  To remain viable, the ratings that our consumers apply to us really do mean life or death to the longevity of our dairy industry and our self-respect.

There’s No Easy Out!  Be Prepared to Answer Difficult Questions

Once you’ve managed to reign in that first desire to give back as good as you’re getting, it’s time to respond smartly. If you’re attacked on social media or through live news or written media, give yourself a cooling down period and then respond with something positive, something pro-active and, at the same time, recognize the position of the challenger. Don’t let negativity fill you with anger.  Taking attacks personally only allows your emotions to cloud your judgment. Nothing good will come of acting irrationally. Of course, all of this assumes that you are running your dairy ethically and responsibly.  There is never any excuse for cutting corners on human or animal health, care, and management.

A.T.T.A.C.K.  BACK

It rarely happens that an attack comes along when you have everything at hand to diffuse the situation. By their very nature attacks are meant to blindside you. Thinking on your feet when emotions are running high is difficult for anyone.  When you feel that it is unjustified, you are at an even further disadvantage.  Having a good game plan is one way to be prepared.  Sinking to the level of the accusers, is rarely successful, so let’s use the word ATTACK itself as a six-step acronym for the best response:

A: Always Answer and Acknowledge:

When it comes to attacks on farm practices, both producers and consumers have a vested interest in making sure that food is healthy and safe. Acknowledge that we share the same goal and attempt to answer their concerns.  Running for cover is not a solution.

T: Take Time.

When someone gives you the finger verbally or in actual fact, try your best to respond with a thumbs up. There must be something positive in the situation that you can build upon. At the very least, it is an opportunity to begin a dialogue instead of a beat down.

T: Tell the Truth.

Sometimes the simplest response is the best response. All dairy managers have put serious thought and effort into providing good conditions for their dairy herd. Honestly sharing the planning that goes into making it possible for each dairy animal to live up to their best potential is a terrific way to move toward less angry observers and to influence supportive dairy consumers.

A: Agvocate with Anecdotes.

We all have stories about the work we do. Anecdotes always gain more ground than anger. Tell stories that speak honestly to the concerns of the attacker.  When there is fear that you’re uncaring, respond with examples that they can relate to.

C: Connect and Change.   

Ultimately you want those who have attacked your farming practices to have a change of mind. The best thing you can do is to try to determine what is igniting their negative viewpoint. When you know the situation that is influencing their perceptions, you have an opportunity to answer in a way that doesn’t demean their concerns but, at the same time, helps them to grow their understanding.

K: Know when to quit

It is one thing to welcome, give and take viewpoints with those who have genuine questions and concerns, but it is important to know when to draw the line. If things get out of hand, and shouting or name calling begins, it’s time to stop.

Will you be able to fix everything? Probably not.  But a positive attitude and outlook can be a game-changer over time.

Many of the concerns raised by non-farm people stem from the fact that they humanize cows.

They attribute their feelings to the needs of the dairy cow. Rather than debate the inherent differences between people and bovines, it is a much better idea to build on the understandings they can relate to. Everyone understands needs for food, warmth and comfort.

Social Media and Angry Outbursts

The online dialogue we enjoy with most people on The Bullvine or through The Milk House is enriched by the varied perspectives of those who bring their concerns to the forum. When discussion goes too far, we have the ability to moderate the conversation or ban or delete those who merely want to use the page as a platform for their attack viewpoint. We have also had a face to face confrontations, where the only choice was to agree to disagree and excuse ourselves from the situation. The majority of our audience is interested in moving forward not tearing apart. Our time and energy is for those who consume the dairy products that dairy farmers are so passionate about providing. Walking away may leave the door open for better discussion another day.

Where Does Misinformation Come From?

Everyone is entitled to hold their own opinions and concerns, and that includes strong feelings about the way the food they eat goes from the farm to the table.  It is only natural to seek out information on how that happens.  Unfortunately, with all the benefits of modern day information exchange, there are opportunities for error. What sources do attackers use?

Newspaper headlines?  Undercover videos?  Emotional outbursts from activists? Only after getting a better grasp of where the question is coming from, you will you be able to give the best answers. The key to increasing their understanding is learning what practical experience they have had up until now.  If it’s all through media or hearsay, it would be great for you to set up an opportunity for them to visit a farm.

Reflect their concerns with examples they relate to.

For example, we are often asked why animals are taken from their mothers, raised in hutches, undergo clipping or hoof trimming and many other questions usually arising from seeing animals at local fairs or cattle shows.  There are numerous ways to relate each of these concerns to many of the health and safety protocols used by responsible parents.  The main goal is to manage bacteria, infection, and clean food issues in a farm setting — whether it’s in a barn or a field. Calves are not born in sterile hospital rooms and throughout their lives, decisions must be made to prevent them from being infected by environmental pathogens or by germs from other animals.  Nutritionists, Veterinarians, dairy staff, work 24/7 to give them the best opportunity for healthy growth and to eventually become producers of healthy milk.  Most people can relate to this responsible team approach.

Turning Foes into Friends

For the majority of activists, their hope is that they can sway public opinion away from supporting farmers.  Always respond with a calm, level head. You probably can’t change their opinions and can only hope that your responsible actions will be seen by those who are reasonable in their evaluation.  It is unfortunate that there are extremists who go beyond verbal challenges to tactics of harassment and intimidation, and this too greatly diminishes public support for their position.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

When you’re under attack, there is a rush of adrenaline in the hurry to defend and respond.  The key thing to remember when responding to attacks is to LISTEN. Always try to diffuse drama with dialogue.  After all, neither side wants the other to “Get away with murder!” Hear! Hear!

 

 

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There is no question that most members of the dairy industry are very passionate about the sector we work in. Often we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we occasionally lose sight of ourselves. No better example of this is what happens when it comes to the show ring. Breeders and Exhibiters and even just ringside enthusiasts can get emotionally wrapped up in the industry we are very passionate about. Having said that, events over this past week have made me pause and reflect that there are more important things in life than a cow show.

Logan Chalack 1,jpg

Now that may sound like heresy to some, but I came to this realization as I was getting worked up about having my credibility threatened on social media. I got so wrapped up in it I lost sight of a bigger picture. It took a phone call with a man I have great respect for to bring me back to reality. In talking with Dr. David Chalack of Rocky Mountain Holsteins & Alta Genetics, I realized that you know that there are bigger things in life than the show ring. David and I had been talking about the great day they had at the Canadian National Convention Show, about how they had held this first ever genomics class at a show. But what David and I had been discussing was how great a day it was for his Family and specifically for his nephew, Logan. And that’s when my world came crashing down, and I realized there are more important things in life than a cow show.

Logan Chalack 5

Back in December Logan found out that he has cancer throughout his body. Married just over a year, he and his wife Charity just had a beautiful baby girl.

I had been fortunate to know the Chalack family and Logan for nearly my whole life. Their western hospitality is legendary and something my family has had the good fortune to experience many times. The Chalack’s are among the nicest people you will ever meet. And to hear this sad news about Logan certainly forces you to put life into perspective, especially as a father of young children myself.

Logan Chalack 4

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said “There is no situation that is not transformable. There is no person who is hopeless. There is no set of circumstances that cannot be turned about by human beings and their natural capacity for love of the deepest sort.”

Logan Chalack 3

Nobody ever wants to die. But as far as I know no one has ever found a way to cheat Death. But I think there is a way to cheat death; I think if you can live on in the minds and hearts of the generations who will follow you is to cheat death. To make a difference through the way you live your life and show up is to find immortality. Watching Logan Chalack’s courageous battle with cancer has inspired everyone who knows and loves him. Logan is having an impact on his friends and family and members of the dairy community around the world. While at the recent Canadian National Convention Show his families Wendon farms bred not only the Grand & Supreme Champion but also the Reserve Grand of the Holstein Show the real champion was Logan. Logan was there despite being in a battle for his life, His being there was an inspiration for all those in attendance and members of the dairy community around the world. He was there showing all of us what is important.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

To paraphrase Mel Gibson’s character in the movie Braveheart, “Everyone of us will die. But so few of us really live.” Take a lesson from Logan Chalack and use your strength to live well and be an inspiration to others. Let’s all add Logan Chalack and his family to our prayers, this battle will not be an easy one, but it will not be fought alone. It will certainly remind us all that there are more important things in life than a cow show, but also how a cow show can certainly help in the healing process.

DONATE FUNDS directly to Logan & Charity...

1.) Visit your local ATB branch, & give to ‘Jillian Hastie in Trust’ account.
2.) If you’re unable to get to an ATB, make donation cheque payable to ‘Jillian Hastie in Trust’, & mail to: Jillian Hastie, 35261, RR273, Red Deer County, AB, T4G 0E2

(Photos by Barn Girls Photography)

 

 

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10462709_1021928441187387_967791446083398029_n[1]It has been 662 days since Reese Burdette entered Johns Hopkins Hospital fighting for her life after being pulled from a house fire. She has spent almost two years in Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, recovering from the severe burns she suffered in a fire at her grandparents’ home over Memorial Day weekend in 2014. Reese and her younger sister, Brinkley, were staying with their grandparents Patricia and Mike Stiles at Waverly Farms in Clear Brook, Virginia, when the fire apparently started with an electrical cord and quickly spread in the two-story home.

Patricia Stiles was a hero for running into the fire to save Reese. Both were burned and suffered smoke inhalation. Stiles was airlifted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Reese was airlifted to Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was burned on over 35 percent of her body and sustained damage to her heart and lungs from smoke inhalation. (Read more: PATRICIA STILES –DAIRY FARMER, GRANDMOTHER, HERO, FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE!) During her time in the hospital, she has endured five cardiac arrests, daily blood transfusions, internal bleeding, collapsed lungs, and surgeries to repair holes in her lungs. She emerged from a medically induced coma after almost four months, then ticked off a list of surgeries, recovery milestones, and therapies in her quest to return home.

Today is that day.

“I’m going to be in a parade,” said Reese.

Reese grew up on a dairy farm with one special heifer, Pantene; that gave birth this week.

“I want to go to the farm to see my cow,” Reese said Wednesday.  We were all touched when, earlier this year, the family brought Pantene on a surprise visit to see Reese at the hospital. You could not help but shed a tear when Pantene was named Reserve Grand at Pennsylvania’s State Holstein Show, and Reese was able to see it all.  Through the advances of mobile internet, she was able to watch the whole show through FaceTime. (Read more: EXTRA SPECIAL DAY FOR REESE BURDETTE – PANTENE WINS RESERVE GRAND)

Asked what she plans to say to the cow, Reese said her message will be “I miss you.”

That same sentiment is already being expressed by the hospital staffers who have grown to love the Burdette family. Close to 400 people were invited to a going-away party.

Dr. Kristen Nelson, director of cardiac critical care in pediatrics, cries when she thinks of not having daily interaction with the Burdettes. Nelson said she will carry Reese in her heart.

“I say to people: ‘I could retire today and be fulfilled,’ she said.

Reese’s treatment will soon be featured in medical journals. It is discussed already at conferences about the machines that supported her heart and lungs as they healed. She spent longer with ventricular assistance than any other known patient.

“She persevered and succeeded at everything we asked of her,” Nelson said.

Justin and Claire Burdette consider Nelson to be part of their family, as does Reese. That means the doctor can’t escape Reese’s trademark sassiness, like the eye-rolling that accompanies Nelson’s tears about the pending goodbye.

The Burdettes have split their time between the farm and hospital for the duration of Reese’s stay. They developed a schedule to ensure their daughter had a family member with her every moment.

“We wouldn’t do it any other way,” Claire Burdette said.

The family was called the hospital too many times in those first several months to say what doctors thought would be their goodbyes.   Reese’s first four months in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit was like a nightmare the family just could not wake up from.  They had no idea throughout those long months if Reese would still be Reese when she woke up.  It was suspected that all the heart attacks might have resulted in a loss of brain function. Would their spunky little girl who loves her family and friends, music, her cows, belly laughing and being in 4-H still be there? Yet, Reese is here today so full of spark and life; doctors say she is a miracle child.  For Reese’s father Justin, the turning point in her recovery — when he knew she would recover — was the successful open-heart surgery she had Dec. 7 to remove the ventricular assistance device.

Burdette said he knows being at home on a new schedule without the professional caregivers will present its own challenges.

“It’ll be a big learning curve for everybody,” he said.

The family hopes to take a few days of quiet, personal time before welcoming guests to the farm.

“I think that’ll be an adjustment because she’s a people person,” Claire Burdette said, pointing out that Reese has had people buzzing around her 24 hours a day for two years.

Those two years have changed many lives.

In situations like this, it is important to advocate for your child, keep the faith and work to keep strong your relationship with your spouse, Justin Burdette said.

“Never give up on hope. I could tell you stories all day long where God has shown himself,” Claire Burdette said. (Read more: THE BURDETTE FAMILY – TRIUMPH AND TEARS, PERSEVERANCE AND PAIN LEADS TO HOPE AND HEALING and GRACE UNDER PRESSURE)

Her school and the surrounding community have rallied around her all along, forming “Team Reese” and raising money for her medical expenses and just keeping her spirits up.  Burdette’s elementary school is also decked out in her favorite color, purple. Everyone, there is anxiously awaiting her return.

“I’m excited for her to come home because she’s been away for almost two years now and we just miss her a lot,” said Daisy Donahoe, Reese’s friend.

Despite the injuries and recuperation, Reese has been able to attend school at Mercersburg Elementary School using a virtual presence device to view what was taking place in the classroom. Reese has been using the robot since last October. This all came after Reese missed more than a year’s worth of school due to her injuries. Burdette’s resistance is teaching her teachers a lesson.

“I think that we all just see her as our hero because she’s been through so much and she’s just shown us that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything,” said Jaimie Pine, Reese’s teacher.

Initially, Reese was supposed to have several police and fire departments escorting her home from the hospital. According to Reese’s elementary school principal, Ryan Kaczmark, Reese decided that she didn’t “want to be tied down” and hold anyone up on the family’s way home, so there will not be any escorts until she arrives in Mercersburg.

“She declined her motorcade,” Kaczmark said.

However, Reese will be escorted by the Mercersburg Fire Department through town once her family arrives. The family will meet the fire department at Montgomery Elementary School first and will then head north, stopping at Mercersburg Elementary and then on through downtown Mercersburg before finally returning to her family’s home for the first time in almost two years.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

“It was sort of her goal this year to try and be home before her birthday,” said Mercersburg Elementary PTO President Kelly Sanchez.  Reese will celebrate her 9th Birthday this Sunday, at home. Happy Birthday, Reese we Love You!”

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Your Baby Is Ugly

Friday, March 11th, 2016

It’s not something many of us want to hear.  If you’re like most dairy farmers, your farm is your baby.  Moreover, hearing that your baby is ugly could be the hardest thing anyone could ever say to you.  However, it could be the best thing that ever happens to you as well.

IMG_1965-2

If you are like most dairy farmers or parents, the hardest thing you could ever admit is that your child/business is ugly.  We all want to believe that this entity that we have poured our heart and soul into is the most beautiful thing in the world.  But it takes that ability to realize that your baby/business is not perfect that allows us to help them/it become the best it can be. One thing I have realized in the many businesses that I have run, and now as a parent is, my baby is not beautiful, but it is amazing.  And it’s my job as the parent/business owner to do all that I can to make that ugly baby become the beautiful person/business I know it can be.

Sure dairy farming is a way of life for many, but it is also a business.  And maybe because we have trouble separating the two, is why most dairy farmers have a harder time understanding our baby is ugly compared to other industries. Well except 20 something tech startups, they all seem to think they have the next great Billion dollar idea, that they don’t realize is ugly until they have spent 2 million of their parents, grandparents and family members hard earned cash.

The weak among us, love to fool ourselves that everything is fine, everything is going to be ok.  The thing is everything is not fine.  Milk prices are low relative to input costs, and the industry is probably facing some of the toughest challenges it has ever faced.  However, we all want to believe that is external and that our baby is beautiful.  The thing is, those who are most successful understand that their baby is not beautiful.  They understand that their business that they are so passionate about is not perfect.  That there is opportunities to improve their business in order to make it beautiful.

IMG_0076

We can all see the flaws in other people’s babies, but yet can not even begin to understand the challenges our babies are facing. We all have the fear that if you react negatively to your own baby, it will die.  But I am not saying you can not love your business.  You have to.  This is a tough industry, and you have to love what you do.  But you also need to be able to look at your business objectively.

Because people are inherently nice. We all want to be loved and treated with respect, so we usually do the same for others. We all love to surround ourselves with those people who will tell us how beautiful our business/farm is.  What parent/business owner does not like to listen to praise about how pretty their baby is.  Even the meanies and shit-stirrers will wait until the parents are out of hearing range before turning to a friend to say, “Wow, that baby was fricking ugly!” The thing is you are cheating yourself.  The problem is that does not bring about change.  That does not force you to make the changes your business needs in order to be the best it can be.

You cannot see the ugly because it’s your baby. What you need is to surround you and your business with the people who are willing to tell you the truth and what you need to hear, no matter how uncomfortable. The best advisers help you understand the changes you need to make, why you need to make them, and how to make them in order to improve your results.

Over time, the businesses that are led by people who would rather hear what they want to hear run into big trouble. The baby gets uglier and uglier. After they limp along for a while, the responsibility to make a decision falls to someone who wants to hear what he needs to hear. If you are wise enough to listen to the input of others, you can determine which parts are pretty and which parts need some work.

IMG_0085

The difference between the literal baby and the metaphorical baby, your farm, is that the real baby cannot be changed.  You cannot alter a little human’s appearance, so pointing out his or her ugly traits won’t help anything, and just makes you look like a total asshat. But when it comes to something that can be changed, and when constructive criticism may save someone from wasting even more time and money, then does it make sense to speak up and give your opinion?

Dairy farmers need to have thick skin. They need to persevere. They can’t get too attached to their baby because it may very well be hideous. Dairy farmers need to be able to take all the feedback they can get—the positive and the negative—and keep driving forward along the most appropriate road. If someone building a dairy business runs home crying after their baby is criticized, then as far as I’m concerned, they shouldn’t be in business.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Your baby is ugly, but understanding that, and being willing to make the changes necessary help makes for a much prettier baby.

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We have all been there. We go to do something but, before we can even start, we begin to worry about what people will think.  That’s because everyone wants to be liked and accepted.  The dairy community likes to think of itself as an all friendly and happy community.  The challenge is that, when your goal is to bring about change, you need to understand that you cannot be liked by everyone.  You have to learn how not to be concerned with what everyone else thinks.  Here at The Bullvine, we don’t care what everyone else thinks.

Editors note: The orginial post used the word F*** due to respect to readers of all ages we have changed this public post to be appropriate for all readers.

I am proud to say that since starting The Bullvine I have been able not to not care.  I have not had to care what everyone else was doing, what others were saying about me, or what people thought about me.  That’s because I did not care about what they thought I was doing for since day one I have been clear about what I wanted to achieve.  (Read more: TWICE THE BULL – HALF THE S**T, I’m Sorry, But I’ve Had Just About Enough Of… and THE BULLVINE HAS BITE!) We wanted to make a difference in the dairy world.  We wanted to be different give dairy breeders a voice.

misinterpretNot to Be Confused with Indifference

Not giving a f* does not mean being indifferent, in fact, we have been anything but indifferent. There have been many issues over the past four years that we have been very concerned about.  From photo ethics to the future of the breeding industry and, of course to the challenges breeders face every day, we certainly have had a strong opinion on these issues from day one.  Moreover, we have not been afraid to share our opinion with our readers.  What it does mean is that we have to be comfortable with being different.  We have to comfortable when we go to cow shows, and some closed minded people snicker at you.  You have to be comfortable when people attack your very soul on Facebook.  You have to be comfortable not giving a care what other people think.

When most people envision giving no care whatsoever, they envision a kind of perfect and serene indifference to everything, a calm that weathers all storms. That is very misguided.  Don’t confuse my indifference for passion for our ultimate goal.  Indifference would mean that we don’t care.  That we are some form of couch potatoes just sitting here not willing to stand up for their goals.  In fact, we have been on the front line many times, slugging it out, for the very issues we are most passionate about.

Indifference is the other publications that were so afraid of what others thought of them that they were paralyzed to act and now find themselves struggling to pay their bills.  They didn’t want to say anything to offend anyone because they were not sure if it would cost them, advertisers.  Funny thing is by doing nothing it has led to that exact result. Some of their key advertisers, ones that they coveted, have now become strategic partners with us here at The Bullvine.

To Not Care About Adversity, You Must First Care About Something More Important Than Adversity

Success is achieved when you stare failure in the face and shove your middle finger back at it. We certainly have proven that we don’t care about adversity, failure or about taking heat for our actions. We just sucked it up and then did it anyway. We know what has to be done to achieve our ultimate goal. Sometimes you have to have the guts to stand alone.

Sure we have had the odd lawsuit or two.  But we have also brought about the change we desired.  We have given breeders a voice. We have spoken about the issues no one else would touch.  Moreover, along the way we have developed the largest community of dairy breeders who are actively talking about the key issues we all face.  (Read more: Introducing The Milk House – Dairy Breeder Networking on Facebook).

In life, our time must be spent on something meaningful. There is no such thing as not caring about anything. The question is simply how we each choose to a lot our time. You only get a limited amount of time to give over your lifetime, so you must spend them with care.  When we’re young, we have tons of energy. Everything is new and exciting. Moreover, everything seems to matter so much. We care about everything and everyone — especially about what people are saying about us.

As we get older, we gain experience and begin to notice that most of these things have little lasting impact on our lives. Those people’s opinions, which we cared about so much before, have long been removed from our lives. We realize how little people pay attention to the superficial details about us and we focus on doing things more for our own integrity rather than for others. Essentially, we become more selective about the time we’re willing to give. This is something called ‘maturity.’ It’s nice, you should try it sometime. Maturity is what happens when one learns to only care about what’s truly worth caring about.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

In my life, I have care about many people and many things. I have also not cared about many people and many things. And those times I have not given have made all the difference.  Since starting The Bullvine, I have tested my ability to keep the eye on the ultimate goal and not care what people think about us, but rather understand what we are trying to achieve.  As we enter our fifth year, I am very proud of the work we have done and the actions we have taken, because it has led us to the position we are at today.  A voice for breeders during uncertain times.

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Top 12 Editor’s Choice Articles 2015

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Today it is my pleasure to select a dozen personal favorites from articles published in 2015. The readers of the Bullvine are passionate about every area of dairying and they too have favorites that they appreciated with their interest, comments and feedback. Now I have the opportunity to dig deeper and reveal even more of the loves and even the un-loved issues that hit close to home for all of us this past year. With twelve articles in hand, I see that they appeal to me because they show how dairy breeders are seeking the best for their cows, their families and the dairy industry. I hope you will join with The Bullvine and be inspired by the heartwarming stories, passion and leadership that motivate our days all year round.

#12 – Smoking Is Good For You! 

I never know exactly what will be coming across my desk but it’s never dull and the titles regularly range from catchy to controversial.  That was the case with “Smoking is good for you.”   This article about Genomics put attention on what was one of the biggest recurring focus points of 2015.  It was noted that breeders feel that “AI companies ‘are forcing’ genomics down their throats, in the same way that the tobacco companies ‘forced’ smoking down the throats of millions, by using the weight of doctors’ credibility.” However, what I like best about this article is that everyone was encouraged to take a more reasoned approach, “Unlike cigarettes, where there is certainly no question left about the health risks of smoking, genomics and cigarettes are not interchangeable.  There is significant proof that genomics does, in fact, provide good ‘health’ for your dairy breeding program.”  To genomic detractors, The Bullvine asks “Where is your smoking gun? Where is your proof that genomics does not work?’ (Read more)

#11 – When Good Drugs Go Bad

Many of the issues in the dairy industry require each one of us to make a personal decision about how we feel about them.  Having said that, the health of our dairy cattle is less subjective and The Bullvine takes the reporting of accurate information as a serious responsibility and we always encourage breeders to act responsibly. “Regardless of who is the “most” right or wrong, if you are anywhere on the spectrum between production and consumption, you must share the responsibility. And the appropriate ACTION!” (Read more)

#10 – Dairy Girls ARE Making a Difference in the Dairy Industry

While The Bullvine doesn’t hesitate to put the spotlight on the controversial issues it is obviously much more satisfying to bring attention to positive and inspiring people and events.  Both came together at the Dairy Girl networking evening at World Dairy Expo in October. Laura Daniels Dairy Girl Network founder and president from Heartwood Farm in Cobb, Wisconsin welcomed one hundred and eighty women and expanded on the goals of The Dairy Girl Network.  It was exciting to applaud the many ways that dairy women are making a difference, not just because they are different, but because, especially when networking together, they share and expand the same dairy passion.”   (Read more)

#9 – Teardrops on My Work Boots

Spending most of your life working in and connected with the dairy industry, means that you directly experience a full range of the joys and sorrows connected with working with cattle.  The entire Hunt family has personal experience with those emotional times but Murray and I were particularly moved by Andrew’s heartfelt perspective on the sale of dairy cattle at Huntsdale. We loved the way he summarized the beginnings, development and ongoing legacy of Huntsdale Farms in a way that made us appreciate the life work and legacy of generations of our family. (Read more)

#8 – The Lighthearted Side of the Bullvine

Balance is important in cattle breeding and in life. The next articles that struck a chord with us both expressed the themes of love, marriage and humor – not necessarily in that order.  Last week we published “Take that Off!”which was a follow up piece to one we posted earlier entitled, “Take This Farmer and Laugh Ever After” Judging from the feedback received on both these pieces, it seems clear to me that there are many parts of the dairy community that everyone relates to.  That common experience brings us together and I am thankful that Murray is such a good sport and great husband.

#7 – Are Breed Associations Missing Important Breeding Signals?

It probably isn’t surprising that the next article, “Are Breed Associations Missing Important Breeding Signals”, continues to highlight how important relationships are in the dairy industry.  In this case, the issues move out of the family and into the leadership of the industry. Although it isn’t about marriage it is about trust and shared goals. “The relevance of “right” or “wrong” depends on where the reader sits.  It isn’t a battle to claim victory.  It’s an effort to initiate conversation and, where needed, promote active change.” (Read more)

#6 – Could Breed Wars Be Heating Up?

Change is difficult.  Change when it comes to the cattle we love is an even more threatening concept.  Having said that, a sustainable dairy industry will depend on how well we deal with issues that can help us grow, regardless of where our specific breed focus currently is. “Today breeds are more than color markings, unbroken lineage, and tradition. Breeds in the future, on a global basis, will be about their genetic makeup and how they serve the needs of the dairy food industry. “Accurate visioning, strategic planning, research and development and effective service provision are all integral to what breeds need to do on a continual basis. If that means there will be increased competition for market share amongst breeds, so-be-it.” (Read more)

#5– Rump. Is it Beauty or Utility?

Standing in fifth place in The Bullvine Editor’s Choice 2015 selection is “Rump. Is it Beauty of Utility?” One of the most exciting aspects of writing articles about the dairy industry happens when we are able to research the answers to questions raised by dairy breeders.  In this case, years of experience had us asking the question ourselves.  We brought together the information and summarized, ‘In short, the reason rump may be significant is because of its role in ‘getting the cows in calf and getting the calf out’. It does not require beauty to do that. It’s about utility when it comes to the rump. Why should breeders emphasize rumps at the expense of other body parts known to have more influence on profit?”  (Read more)

#4 Gene Editing – Is It the End of Dairy Breeding?

With so much access to and experience with the dairy industry, there is always a temptation to look into a crystal ball and forecast the future. “In 50 years the world population will require 100% more food and 70% of this food must come from efficiency-improving technology.  Unless someone discovers how to dairy on the moon, we are going to have to become significantly more efficient in our milk production methods.  Gene editing offers the potential to meet this demands.  Current genetic advancement rates will be hard pressed to meet in 50 years what gene editing can offer in under ten years’ time.  Sure a small number of very vocal consumers will be opposed to gene editing, but the masses want cheap, safe milk.  Gene editing, since it is not transgenics, offers this possibility.  This raises the question, “Are the dairy breeders of the future actually scientists sitting in labs?” (Read more)

The Top Three Editor’s Choices of 2015!

#3 A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Number 3 on my list is not actually inspired by the written word of an actual article.  In 2015 we at The Bullvine challenged ourselves to go to the next level in making information fast, informative and relevant for our readers. This meant attending meetings, shows, sales and dairy farms and, simultaneously, the creation of a huge data base of pictures, videos and audio interviews. I am always astonished at the way a great picture adds that real time reality that inspires even greater passion for dairying. You can write articles ‘until the cows come home’ but then it’s the pictures like the ones taken at World Dairy Expo, The Royal and Le Supreme Laiteir and more.

 

#2 The Bullvine as Hosts, Tutors, Students and Teachers.

When The Bullvine began, the goal was to initiate give-and-take with dairy breeders.  We have been honored and delighted to share the insights, questions, hard work and vision of dairy enthusiasts. In 2015 this communication became even more real time when we began hosting webinars.  This has been particularly effective in answering questions around Genomics.  Now those in the labs and those on the farms can raise their concerns and work together to make sure that everyone knows where the other side is coming from. Check out our webinars section to see how this new interactive feature allows us to give, receive and discuss information.

First Place On The Bullvine Editor’s Choice List Brings Us Back To Our Most Important Dairy Asset …. Dairy People!

#1 Oakfield Corners Dairy

With the 24/7 nature of dairy farming, all of us have been asked what keeps us going.  Of course, the cattle are at the center of everything, but the key to success is the people. Whenever there’s a challenge, we turn to those with experience.  Every year the most viewed articles and largest body of feedback is for those about people who describe the passion, methods and vision which has brought them to where they are today. At Oakfield Corners Dairy, Alicia and Jonathan Lamb and key team members Kelly Lee and Adam Dresser are a great team and they shared their perspective with The Bullvine. With 6000 cows and three dairies, it is fascinating to learn how they face the issues and challenges of modern dairying.  Through the video interview we can learn and be inspired (Watch video here)

The Bullvine Bottom Line for 2015

Throughout the year we loved reflecting the innovation that takes place in the dairy industry.  We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you all the best as we continue this amazing journey together in 2016!

 

 

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While we always try to be as forward thinking as we possible can, it’s at this time we take a look back.  Once again we had a record year with the largest number of visitors in the dairy industry.  While our innovative show coverage this year certainly attracted record setting visits with the top 10 viewed shows all receiving more views than the 2014 World Dairy Expo Holstein Show, here are the top 15 articles (non show results) from the past year.

#15 – Used Car Salesman, Ducks, and the Future of the Dairy Cattle Breeding Industry
If it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck and walks like a duck.…it is usually a goose. That is how I sometimes feel when I attend certain elite dairy cattle auctions. You attend some of these high-end auctions, and you see the top prices that some of these animals sell for, and you can’t help but be amazed. But, something just doesn’t feel right. You never see a complete buyers list from these sales. Heck, you sometimes don’t even see people actually bidding on these animals. And yet they get knocked down at $200,000+ for a 2-month-old? Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. It feels like you have been sold a lemon by a used car salesman. It just feels dirty. (Read more)

#14 – Australia misses its quota prices
Much has been written about what goes on in the market free-zone of the southern hemisphere. The truth in 2015 is that unless the farms have no mortgage, private price contracts with niche companies or no paid staff, Australian producers are as exposed as any other nation’s to low milk prices. It is hard to generalise on the producer’s position in the world’s third-biggest milk exporting country, because of its size and diversity. The state of Victoria produces 66% of the country’s total milk production (and 86% of the country’s export milk). So it is Victoria that gives the most complete focus to what the bulk of Australia’s dairy farmers face up to every day. (Read more)

#13 – Introduction to Genomics – Zoetis Webinar #1 Video
For decades, much has been known about the bull’s side of the pedigree while little information was available for dams. Now, genomic testing helps us discover much more about females. The first webinar in the series focuses on the basics of genomics to provide producers with a better understanding of the benefits of knowing more about their heifers. (Watch video)

#12 – Donnanview – The Culmination of a Lifetime Journey in Dairy Farming
The Bullvine sat down with Donny Donnan of Donnanview Holsteins to discuss his journey in developing this amazing herd that will be offered for sale next week. Donny and his wife Bev have spent their lifetime breeding great dairy cattle. Opportunities to invest in herds like Donnanview are few and far between. Not only a Master Breeder Herd, home of the 2014 Canadian Cow of the year, sires in AI, but they are also 90% VG and EX cows. These achievements have been built over years of intuitive, selective breeding choices. Not since the likes of Hanoverhill’s complete dispersal have we seen a herd of this size and quality, sell all at once in a public auction. Join us in watching this video as Donny explains how they have achieved this success and who has helped them along the way. (Read more)

#11 – 16 Sires That Will Help Limit Inbreeding – October 2015
Genetic diversity is a critical problem in the Holstein dairy cattle breeding industry. On the one hand, the rate of genetic gain has accelerated but also has the rate of inbreeding. With $23 lifetime cost per percent inbreeding, it is easy to overreact and try to avoid inbreeding at all costs. The trick is not to use sires that are inferior, but rather to have a balance of genetic improvement and enough of an outcross not to accelerate the inbreeding. These 16 sires will do just that and help control the rate of inbreeding in your herd. (Read more)

#10 – Immunity+ Does It Actually Work?
Since we first heard about High Immune Response, now marketed as Immunity+*, the Bullvine has been a big fan of the theory behind this research. But, as with all things that are proposed in theory, there comes a time when you need to put the numbers to it to validate the theory. As the saying goes “In God we trust. All others bring data”. So here at the Bullvine we did just that. (Read more)

#9 – Are Dairy Cattle Shows Holding Us Back?
Dairy cattle shows started out as a breed awareness tool. They then became an improvement tool. More recently they primarily function as a marketing opportunity for breeders and a training process for youth. Today many breeders are thinking that shows have gone beyond their best before date and are not serving a purpose for the vast majority of dairypersons. Let’s talk about show standards and show procedures. (Read more)

#8 – Select Sires – Sire Tour 2015
In a Bullvine video exclusive join Select Sires Holstein Program Manager, Charlie Will, as he tours us through some of the top proven sires at Select Sires. Including PLANET, MOGUL, EPIC, GOLD CHIP and BRADNICK. See these amazing bulls as the parade around the Kellgren Center. (Read more)

#7 – Roybrook Revisited
Legendary Holstein breeder Roy Ormiston celebrates his 100th Birthday in a few weeks hence. Bruce Jobson and Roy recount the legacy of Roybrook in an exclusive interview. In this unique conversation, Bruce included some additional datelines for reader clarity and understanding. (Read more)

#6 – Culling for $$$ – The Six Animals You Need To Cull Immediately
Today I drove past a crew of highway maintenance workers and one was pounding in a stake, one was holding the stake, one had a white hard hat and was obviously the crew chief and three were watching. Like most Bullvine readers, my mind reacted by saying – “Now isn’t that an inefficient use of our taxpayers dollars!” Fifty percent of that crew were taking their pay check but not giving back. You could be correct if you were to say that I judged too quickly. Perhaps I did not have all the facts. Most of us are quick to judge outside situations. However when it comes to our own milk producing work force are we business like, when it comes to the number of workers required to get the job done? (Read more)

#5 – Stud Wars Episode III – The Conflict for Control
There is no question when it comes to semen sales having a great product is key to financial performance. In the Stud Wars the battle for top sires is key to maintaining market share. With that in mind The Bullvine once again takes a look at just which artificial insemination companies have the power and what ones are falling behind. (Read more)

#4 – The 12 Sires You Should Consider Breeding Your Show Winning Goldwyns To
Let’s face it there are two undeniable facts in the international show ring; One, that Goldwyn has the most show winning daughters over the past ten years, And two, that if you have been using Goldwyn you were pretty much breeding for a unique show type animal. But the questions becomes what do you breed you current Goldwyn’s to in order to breed the next generation of show winners. With this challenge in mind the Bullvine took a closer look.  (Read more)

#3 – Grace Under Pressure
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Who we are as human beings presents itself more fully at times of adversity than at times of ease. I have had the pleasure of knowing the Burdette and Stiles families a long while know and always found they to be great people, but over this past year I have learned through their actions after the horrible accident that happened to them, that they are also people of extraordinary character.  (Read more)

#2 – Show Ring Ethics: Cheater’s Never Prosper….Or Do They
When we were young, we were always told to be honest and never to cheat. The phrase “Cheaters never prosper” was ingrained in us from an early age. But, as we grow older, we begin to wonder about this statement. We all know people who have cheated and were not caught and they sure seem to have prospered. This phrase also baffled me when seen in the show ring. At my local county show, the exhibitor that took all the big awards might also be known as one of the greatest “cheaters” in the history of dairy cattle showing. So how can we say that cheaters never prosper? (Read more)

#1 – The 16 Sires Available in 2015 That Every Dairy Breeder Should Be Looking At
With weekly evaluations now being released, it can be hard to sort out exactly what sires are available and which ones you should be using. To help you sort through the confusion, we have compiled the 16 sires that we think all breeders should consider using. Instead of producing one generic list, we looked for the four top sires in each key breeding area. (Read more)

Top 15 News Stories of 2015

With over 33,000 subscribers and the most daily subscribers in the world…The Bullvine Daily has become the #1 source for news in the dairy industry.

  1. The World’s Largest Dairy Farm Will Be Home to 100,000 Cows
  2. ‘Murdering’ farmer turns over new leaf
  3. Austin Ayars Killed in Farming Accident
  4. Dairy Farmers in China dumping milk and putting cattle down as milk prices plummet
  5. Three sisters killed in tragic farming accident
  6. World’s largest robotic dairy barn produces happy, high yielding cows
  7. Wisconsin father and son died after falling into a manure pit at their family farm.
  8. Animal abuse alleged at major dairy company
  9. Woman Made Her Favorite Cow a Bridesmaid at Her Wedding
  10. Reese Burdette and Patricia Stiles Update – June 22nd 2015
  11. Smurf Completes World Record Career
  12. 250 Animals Die in Barn Fire at Quebec Dairy Farm
  13. Washington and Oregon Dairy Farmers Evacuate Cattle After Rising Flood Waters
  14. Barn fire at Stoneden Holsteins
  15. Still no charges after video showed cows being beaten on dairy farm

Top 15 YouTube Videos of 2015

What a year for Bullvine TV. In the past year Bullvine TV had over 1 million viewers, that is almost 40 times the number of viewers as any other dairy publications videos.

  1. The Royal 2015 Supreme Champion
  2. World Dairy Expo Day 1 – Tuesday September 29th 2015
  3. Junior Champion 2015 Northeast Fall National Holstein Show
  4. Grand Champion — 2015 Northeast Fall National Holstein Show
  5. Intermediate Champion – 2015 Northeast Fall National Holstein Show
  6. Quality Farms – April 2015 – Dairy Breeder Interview
  7. World Dairy Expo – 2015 International Holstein Show – Post Show Interviews
  8. Gen-Com Holsteins – March 2015 Dairy Breeder Interview
  9. World Dairy Expo Day 5 – Saturday October 3rd 2015
  10. World Dairy Expo Day 2 – Wednesday September 30th 2015
  11. All-American Dairy Show 2015 Supreme Champion Parade
  12. World Dairy Expo Day 3 – Thursday October 1st 2015
  13. World Dairy Expo Day 4 – Friday October 2nd 2015
  14. Select Sires Sire Tour 2015
  15. Junior Champion Ontario Summer Holstein Show 2015

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We certainly appreciate all of those who have helped us make this year a record setting year in the dairy publication industry.  Without your support we could not deliver the most wide reaching thought provoking articles, interviews, videos the dairy industry has ever seen.

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Dairy Farmer Fashion – TAKE THAT OFF!

Friday, December 11th, 2015

I don’t consider myself a clothes snob of any kind. I even enjoy what some would call strange outfits.  I don’t turn up my nose at hand me downs. I shop discount racks.  I’ve been known to take scissors and re-design a dress into a skirt, a blouse, or even a shawl. I like to think of myself as being almost as creative as the blogger lady who wrote about turning a dog sweater into a skirt! Well. She goes a little further than I would, but you get the picture.  I am broadminded in the area of fashion.

Having said all that, today the point of my rant is my hubby’s clothes choices. As you know, he’s a senior citizen and his name is Murray.  However, if you are visiting Huntsdale or you are a neighbour within hearing distance (anything up to 4 km) you wouldn’t be blamed if you were convinced that his name is “IsThatWhatYou’reWearing?” “AreYouKiddingMe?” or “WhyIsn’tThatIntheWash?”

Now actually, Murray can appear to be quite attractive. But don’t let this trick you the way it does me. He has me fooled with his thick white hair and his twinkling eyes and his big smile. He is a great hugger, and 99% of our daily interactions are just right.  But today we are talking about his choice of barn clothes. That’s where the attractive part becomes challenged. Now … it’s only fair to acknowledge that for the last three months the fields and barns at Huntsdale have not held a single cow. Nevertheless, chores are still a major part of the daily routine. Every day Murray needs barn clothes.  Moreover, every day it becomes an issue between us, especially if I catch him before he gets out the door.

You are probably asking, “Does he have a choice?” Yes.  He has lots of barn clothes.  Six Rubbermaid tubs to be exact. All sorted by specific item: jeans, overalls, sweatshirts, t-shirts, etc. As well there are several wall hooks in his personal work changing room.  And, furthermore, a washing machine is the first thing that he sees, when coming in from the barn or when going out to the barn.  My point?  He lacks for nothing in the “How-to-have-clean-barn-clothes-department!” However clean barn clothes for Murray are as rare as a good hair day is for Donald Trump.

So how does this scenario happen so often you ask?

Well. Sometimes, it starts when he is walking rapidly past where I am involved in my daily routine and says something like, “Hey! I’m going next door to pick up some fresh eggs!” Helpful. Yes.  Eat local?  Great!  But…he has a strange pair of pants on … the legs look like they wear shortened using a dull knife …. They are held up with a belt (also too big) that he has tried to “tie” because there are no holes in the right place.  When he turns around … there is something fresh and fragrant hanging from the shirt that he’s been wearing for longer than my memory reaches back  It is obvious that  he didn’t quite clear the area when he was housecleaning in the newly cow-free stable.

“Are you going like that?” I ask.  “Of course!” is the short reply. “I’ve been working.  They are farmers too! No problem.”

Yes!  For Murray, when it comes to clothes selection, that “I’m working” part covers a lot of dirt, grime and dairy airs!”

And of course, he’s right. This egg picking up outfit is probably not a big deal.  But the same outfit, or one very like it, also makes the suitable list, when he heads out to the feed store, a fast food restaurant or choir practice!

If he saved pennies like he saves clean clothes, we would be laughing all the way to the bank, and I probably wouldn’t care what he was wearing! Wrong!  I would care.

However, he is only stingy, when picking out barn clothes … He refuses to change them before they are standing waiting for him jump in. His argument, “Why put on clean clothes, when I am only going to get dirty?”

My argument … the embedded dirt is so ground in by the time I get to it with my super Washing-Soda-Oxyclean-Tide” treatment that I’m fighting a lost cause.

In frustration, I have pointed out the choices folded and waiting and he says incredulously, ““But these are all good. Why would I wear them?” “Because they are clean.” I reply and add. “No one is going to whip their head around, when you go by and ask, “What is that smell?”

To give him credit, he keeps his hair tidy, his teeth clean, he helps in the house and provides social and work outings that are vastly entertaining …. But this smelly Freddy the Freeloader look alike always sends my wife meter into the danger zone. And it’s not that I don’t have ragged fragrant days of my own … But … the world is still sexist enough that when he looks so unkempt… I imagine I can overhear observers saying. “Poor Murray.  His wife obviously doesn’t keep his clothes clean!” Well, I would if I could get at them!

So what is the answer?  Well, I always say, “Name the problem and you have the solution”.  And I have a plan. Gradually those wretched barn clothes handed down from the cousin, father-in-law or uncle twice his size are gradually reducing in numbers until, like the cows that necessitated wearing them, they will eventually be gone to greener pastures.

But, so far, he isn’t fooled. I am now starting to hear, “You threw out my good overalls!”  “Would those be the ones with the binder-twine strap and the ripped off pocket?” I innocently ask. “Yes!” is the horrified explanation. “They were broken in just the way I like them! I loved those ones.”

So now it’s my turn to listen and be understanding and sympathetic. We all have our quirks.  It isn’t really too surprising that I find myself standing over a washing machine in an attempt to “break in” a load of blue jeans, coveralls and sweatshirts picked out for his role of a general handyman. They look and feel even older than they already are.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Who says there’s nothing new after 46 years and 4 months of married life? If old is what he wants … I am ready to become an expert at old looking. That’s what married teamwork is all about. He wears a better fit, and I don’t have a fit!  It’s a win-win!

 

 

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The 2015 Dairy Farmers Christmas Wish List

Monday, December 7th, 2015

While some would wish for 12 doses of Goldwyn semen or a higher milk price, with 18 days left till Christmas here are 18 realistic Christmas gift ideas for the dairy farmer on your list:

  1. 2015 World Dairy Expo and 2015 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show Photo Books
    Due to the extremely popularity over the past two year’s photo books, we brought them back for 2015. These 80 page 10”x 8” coffee table books each contain over 150 hi-resolution photos.  You can relive all of the action and excitement of the 2015 World Dairy Expo Holstein Show and The Royal Winter Fair 2014 Holstein Show with these one-of-a-kind photo books.  Check out these photo books here.
  2. Paintings by Gary Sauder
    Since the first time I saw Gary’s work on Facebook, I was amazed by the super-realism of his paintings. His passion and understanding of what great dairy animals look like comes through in each and every one.  We had the chance to interview Gary in our feature article – GARY SAUDER: The Muse in His Studio. To order some of Gary’s wonderful artwork visit Cow Art and More.
  3. Get the gift of maximum genetic progress
    Why not give the dairy breeder on your list some embryos from their favorite cow or even a gift card for semen for that young sire they have always wanted. Check out our mating recommendations section for some ideas, or Sire Proof Central to find that needle in a haystack sire to change your breeding program.
  4. A Special Lady from Steel Cow
    Although she is neither a dairy breeder nor a show ring competitor, artist Valerie Miller of Steel Cow is, nevertheless, completely hands on in her relationship with cows. This passionate painter not only paints her girls larger than life but she also aligns their bovine characteristics with dear family members and friends. These paintings are admired by all and make a great Christmas gift for the dairy breeder on your list.  Steel Cow’s Valerie Miller: Larger Than Life With Her Cow Girls.
  5. The Chosen Breed and The Holstein History by Edward Young Morwick
    Anyone who likes history, even in the slightest, will greatly appreciate either the US history (The Holstein History) or the Canadian History (The Chosen Breed) by Edward. Each of these books is so packed with information that they are each printed in two separate volumes.  We had a chance to interview Edward – Edward Young Morwick – Country Roads to Law Office and you get a real sense of his passion and quick wit and they also come shining through in his books.  Be sure to get your copies of an amazing compilation of Holstein history in these books.
  6. Prints by Emma Caldwell
    Probably one of the most talented young artists I have ever come across, Emma Caldwell is well on her way to becoming a worldwide household name. Although she is just starting out in her career, she has already done some amazing paintings of Hailey, Smurf, and Francesca.  Check out our feature interview with Emma, Emma Caldwell’s Art Stirs Mind and Heart, as well as her many great prints available from her web shop.
  7. Legends of the Tanbark Trail by Tim Baumgartner
    Dairy cattle have been on exhibit for nearly 200 years and taking home the coveted title of National Grand Champion has always been a compelling force. Tracing the first 100 years of U.S. national dairy cattle shows, Legends of the Tanbark Trail is a remarkable account of the people, the places, and the superb and unparalleled animals that have graced the show ring throughout its history.  Be sure to get your show enthusiast their copy of this special book.
  8. Prints by Bonnie Mohr
    For a long time, Bonnie Mohr has been the industry standard for excellent dairy Like many, our family has had the opportunity to appreciate Bonnie’s great work.  My wife has purchased me a Bonnie Mohr print every year on our anniversary.  That is why when we had the opportunity to interview Bonnie – Bonnie Mohr – Science and Art Together Creates a Holstein Love Story; it was an honor for us.  Be sure to check out her website for more extraordinary fine art from rural America.
  9. Millionaires in the Cornfield: The Glory Days of the National Dairy Cattle Congress by Norman Nabholz.
    For me, Norm is probably one of the greatest cattle minds of the past 50 years. It only takes a few moments of chatting with Norm to recognize his passion for this business we all love.  His book is easy to pick up but hard to put down.  Not only does it recount the achievements of legendary breeders and showmen with words and countless pictures, the background information and this behind-the-scenes look are most entertaining and interesting.  The Bullvine had a chance to sit down and interview this multi-talented man in our feature article – HALTER, PEN and GAVEL.  That’s Just the Norm.
  10. Facebook Page for Their Farm
    Instead of wasting hundreds of dollars on a web page that no one will ever read, give the dairy breeder in your life a Facebook page that will reach the world. The best part about it? It’s free!  That’s correct, it will cost you nothing.  All you need to do is download this simple guide, The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook and you will be well on the way to helping the dairy breeder in your life market to the world.
  11. The Dairy Queen: A History of the Jersey Breed Worldwide
    This 300-page book is a great Christmas present for anyone interested in the Jersey breed. It chronicles the origins and development of the Jersey breed through detailed text and photos.  Be sure to check out our interview “THE DAIRY QUEEN” HAS ALL THE ANSWERS! with Co-Author Derrick Frigot.  He tells how this book came to be and what makes it so unique.  Supplies are limited, so be sure to check out their Facebook page and order your copy for the Jersey breeder in your life.
  12. A True Type Model of their Favourite Cow
    Give them that special gift that will stand out for years to come. When ordering from Holstein Canada you can even get these items painted with the same markings as your favourite cow.
  13. A New Smartphone
    If there is one thing we have learned since starting The Bullvine, it is that Dairy Farmers love to check out the latest news on their smart phones. More than half our web traffic comes from a mobile device.  So make life easier for the dairy farmer on your list and get them that smart phone that makes reading the last news on The Bullvine, or gossip on Facebook that much easier.  While your at it, be sure to join the world’s largest community of dairy breeder discussion, The Milkhouse.  There are over 5,000 members, and 20-30 posts every day about all the issues that face Dairy Producers from around the world.
  14. We Need a Show – 50 years of World Dairy Expo
    World Dairy Expo will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016, and to celebrate this milestone, journalists have collaborated to create a historical book reminiscing on 50 years of Expo memories. The limited edition commemorative book, We Need a Show, gives insight into how the show began, explores the struggles and successes over the years, and looks into what the future might hold. Order Here
  15. Coupons for relief milking
    It may seem silly to some, but dairy farming is a 365 day per year job, and sometimes you just need time to step away for dinner with their partner. Coupons for 2 or 3 milkings might just be the gift they never forget and greatly appreciate.
  16. A Show-Cation
    Taking relief milking to another level, how about giving the Tanbark enthusiast on your list a vacation, or as we like to call it a Show-Cation to World Dairy Expo or The Royal. Better yet maybe you can send them to IDW in Australia or European Championship show in France.  If you cannot be there be sure to check out The Bullvine for coverage of all these great shows and more.
  17. A Great Pair of Work Boots
    Never underestimate the power of a pair of comfortable, warm work boots. When mucking around chasing that fresh heifer who just doesn’t want to go into the robotic milker nothing beats a pair of great work boots.
  18. A Subscription to The Bullvine
    For those that are tight on budget, go for a FREE subscription to the largest dairy breeder publication in the world. Filled with over ten daily news items and feature articles, this subscription is the gift that keeps on giving year round.
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Allergy Free Kids Need More Cows and More Dirt

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

An interesting hypothesis has come out of Ghent University. It suggests that farms have the best germs for preventing respiratory problems and allergic reactions later in life. The Bullvine and our readers will be happy to know that “it is statistically proven that growing up on a dairy farm is a good way to have fewer allergy and asthma problems than the rest of the population.”

Now granted I am a small sampling of one but until I read this article in The Post, I assumed that coming from a house construction and horse rearing family, I had much more hacking, coughing, and wheezing than anyone else in the whole world.  Miraculously after getting married into a dairy family I suddenly became wheeze free. I’ve always attributed it to love, but it could be that cows and dirt were just not in the right proportions in my earlier years.

The FACTS:  Seasonal allergies make an estimated 50 million people suffer.

The HOPE:  Early exposure to cows and dirt may hold the key to preventing allergies in children.

The Hygiene Hypothesis: More Cows + More Dirt = Less Allergies

This new perspective proposes the hypothesis that allergy and asthma result from a lack of exposure to microbes as a young child. While I am not ready to “roll kids around on the floor of the subway” as suggested by some microbiologists, I do recognize that it’s counterproductive health wise to insist on (germ-free).  In fact, there is growing data used as evidence that “farms have the best germs for preventing respiratory problems and allergic reactions later in life.”  As well, reports from Southern Bavaria and Switzerland report that only 25 percent of children living on farms in those countries reacted to allergens such as dust mites, pollen, animals, and mold.  In contrast, 45 percent of children in the contemporary general population reacted. Researchers also looked at the Amish and discovered that allergic reactions in Amish children are at an incredibly low 8 percent or less.

Research is proving that epithelial cells of the lungs are more important in the development of allergy responses than previously considered.

A report published in SCIENCE on September 4, 2015, under the heading, “Farm dust and endotoxin protect against allergy through A20 induction in lung epithelial cells.” In short, they feel they have pinpointed the mechanism for allergy protection.  In trials on mice, they concluded that the immune system isn’t the affected area to watch but, rather, the structural cells that make up the lining of the lung.

Furthermore, they have pinpointed A20 as the beneficial protein.

Do you remember how your body reacted the first time the air that you breathed in triggered an allergic response?  As we search for cause and treatment, we have tended to believe that the immune system is responsible for this unpleasant process. Now Bart Lambreht and Hamida Hammad of Ghent University proposed that the first receptors are not the immune system but rather the structure cells that make up the inside of the lungs. To prove this, they worked with mice.  They induced them with dust mite allergies and then by exposing them to dust from a dairy farm early in life they discovered that they were able to make them immune.

Building on this success, they studied what exactly was protecting the mucous membranes of the mice.  They identified a protein called A20 that was produced by the mice that were exposed to farm dust. When A20 was not present in the subjects’ lungs, the farm dust ceased to protect them from allergic reactions.

Of Mice and Men

Having tested the hypothesis, researchers had the impetus to go to the next level. They were able to test 2000 farm children.  Some children, despite their farm backgrounds, still suffered from allergies.  The breakthrough came when researchers were able to prove that these children suffered from a mutation in the gene related to A20. There is certainly much more to discover, but the first steps to a solution have been taken.  How allergies develop and finding ways to prevent them – especially in children — is a challenge that Lambrecht and his colleagues are eagerly seeking solutions for. They are hoping that the cells of the lung itself will get more attention in research. He proposes that “This could be a sign that allergy and asthma vaccines need to be administered by aerosol instead of injection to be truly effective. Moreover, it may mean that epidemiologists need to think twice before focusing on blood samples alone in their allergy studies.”

“It’s time to enjoy a roll in the hay OR drink from the well, the hose or the stream!”

So to experience the benefits, find that dusty haymow and have a cold drink from an old farm pump because it may be exactly what the allergy specialist ordered. Yes, it’s time to cut back on hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and take a deep breath of that dust-filled and smelly breeze blowing over the barnyard. Those fragrant airs laden with cow dander, dust, pollen, and bacteria could be carrying beneficial effects to your respiratory system. It may not be quite that simple. But it could be a sniff in the right direction.

The Good News and the Bad News

The good news is that early exposure to dust and cows may have a beneficial effect in protecting against allergies.  The bad news is that prolonged exposure to “non-allergenic” factors … for instance non-allergenic factors such as chemical exposure may modify that early protection. Nothing works in complete isolation from all other factors.  Finding the links and triggers is the challenge ahead.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It is time to stop stereotyping all germs as bad.  No one wants to see children suffer from allergies, so we constantly seek methods for reducing their discomfort and increasing their enjoyment of healthy living. Young and old both welcome the good news that suggests that there is a positive allergy suppressant between two things kids are already attracted to …. Cows and dirt.  Go out and start inhaling those dairy airs!

 

 

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As a sister, mother and grandmother, I am well-aware of the battles that can arise between siblings.  On the one hand, this frustrates me because I think it’s inherently a great thing to have a ready-made playgroup, captive audience or blood-is-thicker-than-water defender.  On the contrary, I don’t care who “started it” because I enjoy a good fight that moves things forward. Having said that, I hate arguments that are solely for the sake of a power trip by an individual or a group. To me, they are a complete waste of time! Furthermore, I don’t limit my position on proper fighting to family only.  I think a good fight is even more important in the business world.

How does the dairy industry deal with fighting?

Dairying is by its nature competitive in many ways.  We compete for genetics. We compete for sales. We compete for recognition. This can naturally expose us to many contentious issues. There is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, when two or more co-workers or competitors recognize a problem and have differing viewpoints, it sets up the potential for a solution that could end up being better for everyone. However when anyone puts their own interests above the dairy operation or the association or business they represent, fighting erupts and becomes counterproductive in every sense of the word.

How NOT to pick a GOOD fight

If we are looking for examples of how not to pick a good fight, we can all point to dairy industry operations or family farms, competitors or dairy suppliers, who are so single-mindedly focused on putting down their competition that they end up shooting themselves in the foot. When it’s all about, “Me. My job.  My people. Pay me”, it closes the door to sharing of progressive ideas that keep the industry as a whole relevant.

Agreement Masks Problems

We think we like it when everyone appears to agree. It might seem to be working when everyone is chummy all the time. After all, harmonious agreeable teamwork is a dream we would all like to live with on a daily basis.  However, there is a danger of becoming too agreeable and too loyal.  It backfires when people are content to follow even when they have concerns about the final destination. When harmony is the over-riding goal, signals of impending trouble will not be acknowledged.  Nobody wants to be the whistle-blower, drama queen or lone wolf. Everyone is afraid to point out the elephant in the room.

Beyond Contented Cows

A peaceful, harmonious milking line is the dream workplace for productive cows.  However, it can be the worst thing in the world for a progressive dairy business. While we want contented cows, complacency in other areas of our dairy business becomes one of the first indicators of trouble ahead. For example, why is it that we continually say the dairy industry is healthy when farms passing to the next generation are steadily declining? Or — Why is it so hard to find a pool of labor for agriculture? Maintaining a façade of harmony can become a mask for behind-the-scenes problems.  Essential work is overlooked because nobody wants to rock the boat.  Those who try to “fix” everything to maintain the outward look of teamwork, eventually burn out, as they become dissatisfied with the lost potential. Too much harmony doesn’t work.  Friction and in-fighting don’t work. It’s a fine line, and it’s one that is too important to be ignored.

How do you pick your battles?

There are ways to determine if you are picking the right fight.  First and foremost you must be fighting to gain value.  There are three value propositions that are worth fighting for:

  1. Saving 15% a year. This could be 15% of your resources.  It could be 15% of your time.
  2. Adding 10%. Will the change you’re fighting for allow you to charge more?
  3. Faster growth. The fight is a good one if it enables you to grow sales or market share faster than the current market.

If you answered “Yes!” to one of the above three questions, your battle passes the value test.  If all three answers are “No!” you need to reassess either your business plan or your action plan — perhaps both!

Are you ready to FIGHT for a change?

Change is a hard concept for everyone to get their heads around.  There used to be an advertisement showing a black-eyed smoker who said, “I’d rather fight than switch!” This has so many issues, but most of them are better addressed another day.  Today the key to knowing whether it’s better to fight can be solved with another 3 point checklist.

Will the change you’re fighting for

  1. Require the team, farm, board or business to work in a way that is fundamentally different than the current process?
  2. Will the change require new training, different perspectives or specialized knowledge that is not being used currently?
  3. Change always turns on communication. Will the proposed change require a different real-time information flow between various parts of the dairy operation, team or advisors than the way information is managed now?

You have picked the right fight if you answered “Yes!” at least once.  If all three questions earned a “No!” response, then you are ready for a task force, not a fight.

Turning pain into gain builds dairy strength

We all know that, if there is a fight, not everyone will win.  Winners and losers must both find the way to move on. Not all ideas are good ideas. Not all strategies work. Communicating the outcome to the ones whose position lost can be hard. How it is handled can damage relationships and affect the milking line, the board meeting or the management team. Good leaders find a way to turn disappointing news into an occasion for personal development.

Fighting the right fight is a discipline, not an event.

When one fight ends, the best leaders will be looking for the next fight. That’s not to say that the workplace should be an environment of constant turmoil. Progressive dairy managers know when to give people rest. But they continually seek ways to push people to the point where they find their energy and enthusiasm to seek the next way to move forward.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Always remember that in order to make dairy progress, “It’s not important whether you win or lose. Its how you fight to get it right that makes all the difference!

 

 

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We all recognize leaders when they are at the head of the line … but are we astute enough to pick them out when they are among the pack. Who is on your leadership short list?

What is the Short List?

Every group, industry or sport has a short list of people who stand above the rest. Who do you instantly think of when you hear the words baseball, money or politics?  Does it work when you think of dairy industry leaders?

Imagine that you’re sitting around the table discussing an upcoming sale or show booth design. “Maybe we can get Bonnie Mohr to design it?” Or you need an upcoming ad campaign for your selling your heifers, cows or embryos.  “Maybe Michael Heath or Charlie Will could give us an endorsement…” or if you’re having a downsizing sale, “Wouldn’t it be great if Norm Nabholz was reading the pedigrees and Brian Craswell calling the auction?”  Do you see the trend here? The shortlist are those folks who are recognized as industry “household names.” They’re known for excelling in their field. When you think about today’s dairy industry, who would you put on the shortlist of people who have that kind of recognition in their area of expertise? Who are the people who have achieved excellence and are setting an active example for the rest of us? ALL the time?

Let’s Identify Short List Leadership Characteristics

What do stubborn and trustworthy have in common, if anything?  They are two characteristics that put exceptional people on the S.H.O.R.T list of dairy leaders. Let’s look at the top five characteristics: 1. Stubborn 2. Humble 3. One-of-a-Kind 4. Resilient 5. Trustworthy.

STUBBORN:

Leaders are selectively stubborn.  There’s a difference between stubbornly moving … and stubbornly stopped! Leaders are stubborn about maintaining a sustainable level of improvement.

Lots of us are good at something.  Fewer of us are the very best at anything.  Leaders stubbornly work to continually improve the level that they perform at. For the rest of us, I think it’s a crime that we all stop short.  We never test how good we could have been. We GO BUST before we allow ourselves Reach BEST.  Getting to the shortlist is like your favorite cows in the milk line … it takes persistence.  Not only do they have the genetics but they have the will.  Not only do they have the potential but they show up and produce.

Only the persistent manage to achieve and maintain leadership.  It’s a daily job that requires working in the right-place-in-the right way day after day for a very long time. It takes the stubborn will to meet and outlast the challenges — not for just one year — but for a decade or three. Those who are running from confrontation or fearfully seeking the widespread consensus will forever find themselves detouring around progress. Valued leaders accept the harder road and stubbornly work through problems to the solutions.

HUMBLE

We don’t often associate leadership with humility. Often those who tell us they are leading … are merely emphasizing the size of their egos, not the distance they can take us toward the future.  Of course, recognized leaders are especially good at something but they are also exceptionally good at seeing what is great in those around them.  They aren’t threatened by others strengths … Nor do they seek to steal other’s work and claim it as their own.  True leadership recognizes everybody’s short list of strengths.  Whether it’s bringing out the best in cows, facilities, processes, employees or organizations, real leaders do so by example and work to raise everyone up to a better standard.  They lead by example and have very little concern for the title or badge.  Too often we experience the complete lack of results produced by those who want the badge before they’ve done the work.  Instead of seeking the number one solution, they are only interested in themselves being #1.

ONE OF A KIND:

Being “the same as everyone else” is NOT a short list trait. Take the daily very good and lift it to remarkable. They stand up, and they stand out.  They encourage others not to be the same as everyone else… or even anyone else.  Be better.   Dr. Seuss is right. “Why fit in, will fall when you were born to stand out?” You can’t walk where the crowd is and make the short list.  Regardless of how you measure ‘best’, it is almost never present in the thing that is the most popular.

One of the things wrong with today’s marketplace is that there is far too much rehashing of old ideas spun as new.  Great leaders aren’t copycats.  They abhor me too!  Leaders have no patience for the status quo.  They focus their efforts on shattering the status quo.  Game changers refuse to allow their organization to adopt conventional methods and bureaucracy.  They challenge norms, break conventions.  The encourage diversity of thought.

RESILIENT

They don’t cry.  They create.  Leaders don’t complain when times are tough.  They create, improve on and innovate in order for things to get better. While they believe in and develop best practices, they don’t stop there.  They move on to next practices. Have you ever wondered how some people come up with the proverbial big idea? To put it simply, “They never settle for the way things are today!” They are not stopped by those who say, “We don’t do it that way” or “it might not work.” They aren’t just dreamers; they are doers.  Successful leaders are persistent.  They are never stopped by the setbacks.  They realize that potential is of little value if said potential fails to be realized.

TRUSTWORTHY

You can get through anything if there is trust.  However, once that is broken, it’s hard to move forward.  Leaders have to communicate.  They don’t have to be perfect.  They don’t have to have all the answers.  But they have to inspire trust in the fact that they are doing the best they can and will always tell the truth.  That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the character to do the right thing. Some so-called leaders who are charged with confronting problems only grow them because of their lack of accountability and questionable motives.   Sometimes real leadership means changing direction.  People follow a leader because of trust.  That’s the real meaning of charisma.

DO WE NEED LEADERSHIP NOW???

If you hang around long enough, you get the thrill of experiencing the game-changing moments in the dairy industry. Those are the ah-ha moments when the industry takes a leap forward – and moves from ordinary to exceptional. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.

In the past, we had individuals!  We have them today, but we may be too timid to recognize them.  The industry is at a crossroads.  Leaping ahead because of science.  Held back because of economics.  World issues and local issues are each having impact on the way dairying is done. Today we need groups:

  • Scientists and researchers continually breaking new ground
  • Breeders acting outside the box
  • Boards of Directors investing in innovation

Yes, we need leadership.  We know we need it.  Do we know where to find it?

SOME LEADERS past and present STARTED ON THE SH*T LIST!

Being a leader isn’t easy.  It’s hard.  Until success is realized, many will label and malign you.  Some people, despite their potential for leadership, are so afraid of ending up on this short sh*t list that they will do anything to avoid landing there.  This ultimately undermines any chance to do something good for the industry, themselves or their dairy. If you are wondering where today’s potential is …. Who can you name that is being labeled “black sheep” “troublemaker” or “pot stirrer”?  Now. Name a leader you admire and respect.  Were they appreciated in their own time? When they started out? If not, why not?

WHO IS ON THE S.H.O.R.T LIST?

Now we have five punchy adjectives that at first glance might suggest that leadership characteristics overlap. While the characteristics are shared, the areas of excellence are varied.  It takes a broad range of talents to excel in dairying, and there is a need for excellence in every one of them. We need leaders in breeding, advertising, business, sales, showing and fitting, pedigrees and any of the myriad of details that inspire our passion to improve this industry.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Leadership starts with each recognizing and fulfilling a need.  Everyone in dairying needs to stand up for what will take us forward.  We can’t rest on what got us here.  Now we have to move in a dynamic growing direction.  Look for the leader that’s needed.  True leadership is a short list. Don’t be surprised if you find them – or yourself — standing alone. That’s where all the leaders are!!

 

 

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TAKE THIS FARMER and LAUGH EVER AFTER

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Today more than one of us at The Bullvine was interested in reading about “the jobs where people are most likely to marry each other.

We all liked the statement that “farmers, fishers, and lawyers are more likely to find true love among their own”. Having said that, I was a student from a construction family when I married a student from a dairying family. And two of my dairy offspring married outside the farm family. The other one married into a vegetable growing dynasty.  Nevertheless those of us who chose to “have and to hold” a farmer are always interested in having our choice validated. Will it last?  Are farmers good for the long haul?  Here’s my answer to the question, “Do you take this farmer?”

A Simple Love Story

More than a few know the story of me falling in love with my dear husband Murray at a very early age.  The legend is that at 12 I discovered he lived on the same road as I did, albeit at the other end and a whole county away. I then proceeded to chase him until he caught me.  For a while, it looked like higher education was going to win all his affections but just before he ended up with more degrees than a thermometer, I got the chance to marry my favorite farmer. That was a dream come true for Murray and Karen.

Moo-Roo and Kow-ren together forever.

Even though I knew from older and wiser family members that the “girls” in the barn would always be #1 on the list of his affections, I felt up to the task even if I did occasionally rank somewhere between number two and number forty. That positioning lasted until Murray was hired by Holstein Canada to run the Type Classification program.  At that point, the list of girls became much larger and spanned several countries. All that analysis.  The charts.  The computers. The True Type Models.  Believe me I learned never to ask, “Does this dress make me look fat?”

The only thing worse than being married to a classifier is aging alongside a former classifier.
A confirmed “boob” man, my husband, never ever looked me in the eye … but these days he’s looking so far down that people think he has fallen asleep standing up.  In fact, we both have concerns about failing and falling body parts, and it is showing up in our farm management.  When we named the last two genomic heifers “Plummet” and “Nosedive”, we recognized our growing preoccupation with gravity was affecting our marketing.

It’s A Stage We Are Going Through

What isn’t serious in our marriage is the fun ways we have found to adapt to life’s changes. After all, here was a cow loving geneticist married to a story telling carpenter`s daughter who is allergic to the hay, cows, horses and dogs.  It was soon evident that there would be many pratfalls taken during my extensive tractor and animal husbandry training.  From the calf pan to the ink pen, we both have learned to laugh at ourselves in the barn, in the house, and on the stage.  For 32 years, I wrote scripts for local musical comedy productions, and we both acted up in them. Of course back then inspiration was easy to find. It was simply a matter of taking my daily diary and setting it to original tunes such as the,”I Raise Couch Potatoes” waltz or “They Call Them Offspring because they Leak” symphony. These days I’m branching out into Seniors Stand-up Comedy and an exercise video entitled, “Stand up Vacuuming for the Dusting Impaired.”

There is once again excitement in being dairy farm comics.

We are always breaking new ground at Huntsdale, Wellspring, and the Bullvine. Just yesterday I was working on an improv piece entitled, “Looking like a Farmer!” that I thought might work for a skit in a talent show. I asked Murray for enlightenment. Do old farmers wear boxers or briefs? ” His clever reply? “Depends!” I think he is onto something there, as we both are fighting the continuous fashion feud better known as the battle between body and clothes.  Speaking personally, there was a time when a bra used to keep everything up where it was perky — now the holdups are slipping out under the wire!  Along with every other ailment, following fashion in your later years can make you sick. Murray says he’s spent more than sixty years trying to avoid furniture disease.  “You know! That’s when your chest keeps falling into your drawers!”

Even our faces betray us these days.

Have you ever had one of those busy days on the farm, when you had no choice but to sneak a little nap? Unfortunately, although you wake up refreshed, you have one of those deep lines across your face.  Inevitably, that’s exactly when the doorbell rings. It’s the veterinarian, “Are you all right Mrs. Hunt?”  he asks while staring at this new wrinkle.  Of course, I think humor will save face, so I reply, “It’s not mine. I’m wrinkle sitting for my mom.  She’s always losing things, so I offered to mind this one while she goes to Bible Study!”  This didn’t get far with the vet. I can’t imagine how it would go over with my daughter-in-law at the door.  She is a psychiatrist. (Note to self: Never answer her if she asks, “How are you today Mrs. Hunt?”)

Of course, farm wives have to live up to the fabulous cook reputation.

My recipes although not always tasty are earning a reputation for being legendary. For instance, there was the raspberry pie I made for visiting non-farming relatives. No one could get their forks to cut through the piecrust.  One gallant cousin tried so hard that his fork went right through the pie and sent the piece flying across the room. Mom’s Rocket Dessert has become a legend that is recounted at every family reunion.

So once again I’m sharing the errors of my daze.

Throughout forty plus years, I not only have stayed in love with my farmer husband but I’ve fallen in love with cows too! Because of course “Cows don’t shed like dogs and cats do…they won’t chase the cat or bark at the neighbors.  A cow will not bring you dead mice, or spend all night singing on the fence post!”  Here I am talking myself into loving cows, and we just sold the last twenty-one of them last Saturday.  Better late than never I always say!!

THE BULLVINE BOTTOM LINE – Laff Starts Here

With everyone focusing on picking the right mate and staying together longer, I think there are many years left in my adventure with animal husbandry. For the two of us, our marriage and our humor has benefitted just like our crops from being homegrown – or is that home groan?  We’re putting a “Laugh Local” sign at the end of our lane and, my answer to the question, “Do you take this farmer” is now and always will be:  “Yes. I do. Forever.”

 

 

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dairygirllogoNetworking with the hopes of starting or expanding your career opportunities is a nerve-racking experience for anyone.  But when you’re a woman in a man’s world, the tension can ratchet up even further.

Last week I was in Madison for World Dairy Expo and attended the Dairy Girl Network Dinner which was held off site. As a member of the media (The Bullvine) and representing a publication that positions itself as a somewhat radical, I was worried that some might have a problem with my Canadian loyalties or what they might assume them to be. My worries were the only thing about the whole evening that was proven to be narrow minded. At the end of the day, this networking experience was the enthusiastic start I needed to make my trip to “Dairy in our DNA” a success from both a social and a business leads point of view.

Laura Daniels Dairy Girl Network founder and president from Heartwood Farm in Cobb, Wisconsin welcomed one hundred and eighty women and expanded on the goals of The Dairy Girl Network. She explained “Dairy Girl Network is growing rapidly and working on future opportunities for women. A mentorship program will be starting soon to bring together women on both professional and personal levels.”  Laura then worked the room and made each one feel that they could have a personal impact on the future of women in dairying.

Dairygirlnetwork1

After that very enjoyable evening of introductions, I had common ground whenever I walked up to any of the “dairy girls” manning booths in the commercial buildings or seated beside me at the showring. I was never disappointed.  Ladies’ who work in agriculture were eager to share not only how they became involved with the companies they represented, but also how deep their dairy passion ran outside of work.  Many were raised on dairy farms or had tapped into their passion through romantic or educational connections. For several showing cattle — the premier feature of World Dairy Expo – has been the starting point for both careers and family. Agricultural jobs have wide open arms to those who can bring their expertise and put it into terms that are relevant to dairy farmers and their suppliers.

“If there’s anything that Dairy Girl Network can provide, it’s the confidence that dairy and agricultural connections offer an undeniable advantage when attracting clients or providing service to the dairy industry.”

Inside the large room at the Monona Terrace in Madison it was exciting to see that, along with the well-known champions of woman in agriculture, there was a whole platoon of enthusiastic girls that were drawn together. There was no question that it was planned to have a non-threatening agenda.  No one was required to stand up and account for their right to be there. Quite the contrary.  With enthusiastic encouragement from the energetic and personable Laura Daniels, we had as much time and freedom as we could use, to meet, greet and connect with other dairy girls. It was exciting to hear the variety and passion of the stories that brought girls from all over the U.S, Canada, and Europe to spend time together at the greatest dairy cattle show in the world.  It was proven time and time again over the next three days that those few hours of glad-handing were useful in making contacts relevant to my dairy work, and I’m sure the same was true for many others. Overall we soon recognized that “Everybody knows somebody and developing a colleague relationship allows us to share our list with others.”

Dairygirlnetwork2

Not only were the doors to friendship open, but the very relaxed nature of the setting also provided an opportunity to discuss problems or issues.  Along with the delicious hors oeuvres and dinner,  I learned how other peers are dealing with gender bias, salary issues and problems getting a foot in the barn door in a predominantly man’s world.  Some had no problems at all.  Others recognized that it could take time and would be up to them to earn respect.  Others said that being a girl could be an asset but that it had to be followed up with the knowledge and action that would build and support a long-term positive business relationship.

The entire evening and the days that followed were also a great opportunity to share valuable connections in media relations and problem solving.  It was inspiring to learn of the many other “value-added” services that woman are providing in the dairy industry.

At the end of the evening, my animal nutritionist daughter, Heather Hunt, and I felt that the event had been a real energizer.  We agreed that “It’s important that we understand how different stakeholders feel about different dairy issues.  Coming together from a broad range of dairy backgrounds and companies, it’s helpful for women who have been in different situations to share insights and solutions with other dairy girls. Kudos to The Dairy Girl Network for their plans to develop mentoring.  What a great resource sharing expertise. “It builds confidence to know that we aren’t one woman trying to make a difference on farm or in the boardroom.  We aren’t just wives and daughters but leaders with gifts and skills to share.”

Dairygirlnetwork3

Laura Daniels is enthusiastically receiving feedback and working with the first Dairy Girl Network Board of Directors to empower dairy women everywhere. “It has been a momentous year for the Dairy Girl Network.  We have truly moved the group nationwide.” From my point of view, it could become international.  Dairy girls from Canada and The Netherlands were also motivated upon hearing the plans as shared by Laura. “Our mission of connecting dairywomen across the nation becomes clearer every day.  I am proud of this network we’ve developed.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Dairy women are making a difference, not just because they are different, but because, especially when networking together, they share and expand the same dairy passion.  “It is exciting to look forward and imagine where the Dairy Girl Network will be five years down the road.” Better make that three!!! This group is on the move.

 

 

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Immunity+ Does It Actually Work?

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Since we first heard about High Immune Response, now marketed as Immunity+*, the Bullvine has been a big fan of the theory behind this research. (Read more: Your Cattle Are Under Attack!)  But, as with all things that are proposed in theory, there comes a time when you need to put the numbers to it to validate the theory.  As the saying goes “In God  we trust. All others bring data”. So here at the Bullvine we did just that.

With over 50 Immunity+ sires now with official proofs, we decided to take a closer look to see if the theory behind Immunity+ has proven itself.  When analysing the performance of health traits the key factors are specifically Productive Life (PL), Somatic Cell Score (SCS), Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) and Daughter Calving Ease (DCE).  For our analysis, we compared the top 10 current proven sires from two lists.  We first looked at the top 10 proven Immunity+ sires for NM$ to  the top 10 Proven NM$ sires and found the following:

Table 1 Proven NM$ Immunity+ Sires vs August 2015 Proven Sires

TPI NM$ MREL PL SCS DPR DCE
Proven Immunity+ for NM$ 2226 484 95 4.3 2.82 2.1 6.4
Proven NM$ 08/2015 2526 715 96 5.9 2.94 1.2 4.9
Immunity+ vs. Proven Aug 2015 -299 -232 -1 -1.6 -0.12 0.9 1.5
-13% -48% -38% -4% 42% 23%

At a quick glance we see some key trends.  Immunity+ sires have performed well for SCS, DPR and DCE but are  significantly lower in PL, TPI and NM$.  However,  since this is a comparison of current top proven TPI sires, it is unfair to compare the top Immunity+ sires with the top NM$ sires  because  no one could have 100% accurately predicted what sires would be the top 10 proven sires back in 2011, when most of these sires would have been used.  So instead we decided to compare the top current Immunity+ sires to the top Genomic Sires from December 2011.  In doing so, we found the following:

Table 2 Proven NM$ Immunity+ Sires vs December 2011 Genomic Sires

TPI NM$ MREL PL SCS DPR DCE
Top 10 Proven Immunity+ for NM$ 2226 484 95 4.3 2.82 2.1 6.4
Genomic NM$ 08/2011 2176 509 98 6.0 2.76 2.3 5.7
Immunity+ vs. Genomic 12/2011 50 -25 -2 -1.7 0.06 -0.2 0.7
2% -5% -41% 2% -11% 11%

In looking at the results, we find that the performance of Immunity+ sires compared to the top NM$ genomic sires from December 2011 was lower especially  for the key health traits PL (41% lower), DPR (11% higher) and DCE (11% lower).

We wondered if this performance only occurred with the top NM$ sires so we decided to compare the top Immunty+ TPI sires.  In doing so we found the following:

Table 3 Top 10 Proven TPI Immunity+ Sires vs August 2015 Proven Sires

TPI NM$ MREL PL SCS DPR DCE
TPI Proven Immunity+ 2241 471 95 3.9 2.81 2.1 6.1
Proven TPI 08/2015 2511 684 97 5.0 2.92 1.1 5.4
Immunity+ vs. Proven 08/2015 -270 -214 -2 -1.1 -0.11 1.0 0.7
-12% -45% -29% -4% 47% 11%

Similar to the comparison of the top current NM$ sires, we found that the Immunity+ sires performed pretty well for SCS and DPR but performed significantly lower for Productive Life and Daughter Calving Ease.  Again, as we pointed out earlier, it is best to compare these sires to the sires of 2011 to see how they really stacked up at the time of the breeding decision.  The results are as follows:

Table 4 Top 10 Proven TPI Immunity+ Sires vs August 2011 Genomic Sires

TPI NM$ MREL PL SCS DPR DCE
TPI Proven Immunity+ 2241 471 95 3.9 2.81 2.1 6.1
Genomic TPI 12/2011 2290 499 98 5.4 2.76 2.5 5.6
Immunity+ vs. Genomic 12/2011 -49 -28 -2 -1.5 0.05 -0.4 0.4
-2% -6% -40% 2% -21% 7%

Similar to the trend with the NM$ sires, the Immunity+ sires performed significantly lower for Productive Life and Daughter Pregnancy Rate.

For a complete listing of sires and calculations click here

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is no question that breeding healthier long-lived cattle is the ultimate goal of all dairy producers.  Ultimately, the most accurate measure of how long a dairy cow lasts in a herd is Productive Life (PL). (Read more: SHE AIN’T PRETTY – SHE JUST MILKS THAT WAY!)  In theory Immunty+ or High Immune Response sires should also be higher Productive Life sires.  The challenge with  the performance of the top current Immunity+ sires is  that they are performing over 29% lower than non-tested sires.

 

 

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*Immunity+ is a Trademark of the Semex Alliance 
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Teardrops on my work boots…

Monday, September 14th, 2015

27 years ago I stood videotaping the sale of our family’s Master Breeder herd, crying the whole time. It was especially heart wrenching when my first 4-H project (and the only one to carry our Huntsdale prefix) sold, I cried even more, but the heifer sold for twice as much as she was worth.   The sale would become the highest herd sale of the year.  I told myself that one day I would rebuild that herd and make my grandfather and father proud. Today, as the Huntsdale animals once again leave our farm for the last time, I find myself feeling very disappointed for not fulfilling the promise I made.

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When we sold in’88, we knew there would be animals coming back to the farm.  My older brother had already made arrangements to purchase some in the sale and keep them on our family farm.  We knew then that it was not the official end of Huntsdale, as there were three  young children (brother, sister and myself) that were so passionate about dairy cattle that we would rebuild and make our grandfather and parents proud.

IMG_0085-2To get an understanding of why I feel that I have failed my father and grandfather, you first need to understand why there is Huntsdale Farms exists in the first place. You see my grandfather was not a livestock farmer. His passion was never the cows.  It was the passion of his young son who loved visiting his grandfather’s mixed breed herd that led my grandfather to purchase his in-law’s farm and start a new career as a dairy farmer.  My father would visit his grandparent’s dairy farm so often s that he ended up spending more time there than he did on their own market garden operation.  Upon moving to the farm, they transitioned to Holsteins and Huntsdale Holstein was started.  While in University, and later when dad graduated, it was always dad who had the passion for the dairy cows and my grandfather for the crops.  At university his Masters thesis was entitled, “A.I. Breeding Schemes”. It included “The Dollar Difference Guide”, which was the precursor to the Canadian LPI system.  Dad’s Masters was implemented by Canadian A.I. organizations that went from sampling less than 50 bulls per year to over 400.

Like so many  talented youth, my father was recruited by the dairy industry side and dad started his career, working  for the Ontario Government in a division that would become the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement organization. He then joined Holstein Canada where he managed type classification and breed improvement for 18 years, Dad certainly was making changes in the dairy industry.  But that did not cause him to lose track of his first passion which remained the dairy cow.  In partnership with my grandparents, and some great hired help, Huntsdale Farms, had many great achievements, including Master Breeder status, class extra sires, many superior production awards and star brood cows.  But when the time came for my grandfather to retire in the late 80’s my father was traveling the world helping implement the Canadian Classification system in many countries, including  Cuba Australia, Argentina, and other regions.  He had to make the tough call to either leave that and start farming full time or sell the herd.  Though my parents did purchase the family farm and the Huntsdale prefix, the milking herd was dispersed.  Thus was born my dream that maybe one day, one of us children would continue the legacy.

IMG_0104My brother, who was about to start university, had big plans for building on the base that was provided by Huntsdale.  He started with 10+ animals that were purchased during the sale.  But once again plans changed. Upon graduating from University, Paul was offered the incredible opportunity to work with Dr. David Chalack and Doug Blair at Alta Genetics. An opportunity he could not refuse.  Twenty years later, Paul is still with Alta Genetics serving as their Chief Operating Officer with  key focus on projects in Russia and the Peak female program, very similar to the work that was my father’s Masters work.  He certainly continues Murray’s Dairy Industry Legacy.  My sister and I like to call him Murray and Karen’s “Golden Boy” who can walk on water.  Perhaps that frozen water will melt someday….

My sister, also the princess of the family, in true princess style  started out for 3 years of university with the goal of becoming an animal geneticist. Then in a last minute non-princess move, she threw her father a curve ball and ended up becoming an animal nutritionist.  Nevertheless, like all good princesses, she retained her shine and has developed a very successful career in a challenging and sometimes gender biased industry.  (Read more: IS THE DAIRY BREEDING INDUSTRY SEXIST?)

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As the third and last hope, the dream of being the 3rd generation Master Breeder at Huntsdale was certainly one that I have had over my lifetime.  As a teenager, I worked as a fitter, with the dream of one day showing a homebred Royal Winter Fair Grand Champion.  However, once again life threw us a curveball, and I developed such severe allergies that my eyes would swell shut and start to puss every time I was fitting cattle. This quickly ended my fitting career, although I did continue to fit for 4-H shows until I was done.  It was at that time that a new opportunity presented itself, I was contracted to do the marketing for GenerVations and their soon to be #1 LPI sire, Calbrett-I HH Champion.  From the start that I got with   David Eastman and Albert Cormier, I was able to build my first company.  Side note: it is for this reason it is fitting that the last Huntsdale cattle will sell as part of the final sale for Albert Cormier and his Cormdale herd.  It was also the lessons I learned from Albert during those days that helped me develop many companies over the years. In my corporate presentations, I like to credit Albert for helping me lose my inhibitions about starting a business.  I would say, “Albert Cormier taught me that if you can make a $1, start a business. If you can make $2, start two”. It is the motto that has helped me launch many successful companies.  (Read more: Cormdale Genetics Legacy Sale 2015) Then, it seemed like my dairy career was over, when I found the love of my life and we moved to Toronto, where I started doing demand generation for Fortune 500 companies.  (Read more: HOW I USED EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT ANIMAL BREEDING TO CHOOSE MY WIFE, THE OTHER WOMAN, THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTNERSHIP IN THE WORLD, THINKING ABOUT ENDING IT ALL…)It is the success that I found there that has provided me with the opportunity to launch The Bullvine and do my share in continuing the legacy my father started.  Ironically, it is also this legacy that has contributed to the end of Huntsdale Holsteins , as Murray is now a key member of our team here and that keeping the cattle on the home farm is actually very challenging, considering  the amount of travel required by The Bullvine. (Read more: THE BULLVINE – COMFORTABLE MAKING OTHERS UNCOMFORTABLE)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

And so, it is with mixed emotions that I will watch as the final Huntsdale bred cattle will sell once again at Brubacher’s Sales Arena.  While I am certainly very proud of the impact our family has had on the dairy industry around the world, a little piece of my dreams are going to die. .  As I reflect on this, I see this occurring on many farms these days.  Often the best and brightest get called to careers off the family farm, draining the dairy breeding industry of some of its greatest talent.  While there are certainly those that don’t answer that call and carry on  the passion on their family farm, for our family, the calling was too strong and thus  the Huntsdale prefix will end  shy of its next Master Breeder award.  Regardless of this turning point,   the impact that Huntsdale will have is far greater than any top sire or great brood dam could ever have provided

Murray loves to talk about impact and change.  How many “industry” executives can say that they were also Master Breeders and produced class extra sires and many sires into AI?  Often in his career he has had to make the tough choice that meant forgoing his own personal success and doing what was best for the industry as a whole.   While Huntsdale Holsteins will end, the legacy and impact on the industry will continue stronger and better than ever, with children living their dairy passion through AI, nutrition and the media industry.

This Saturday, at the  Cormdale Genetics Legacy Sale 2015, there will definitely be teardrops on my work boots once again as the last Huntsdale cattle are sold…but .I can promise you this, “The legacy has only just begun.”

 

 

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Could Breed Wars Be Heating Up?

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Various dairy media reports, including recent Hoards Dairyman and breed journal articles, have documented differences between breeds in both performance and trends. The question remains “What factors will influence breed choice in the future?”

Tradition Has Ruled

We often hear breeders and show judges say “A good dairy cow is a good cow no matter what the color.” Is that true? Do you agree? If passion determines your answer, then you will not likely agree with the ‘anything works’ philosophy.

Breeders are usually not color blind when it comes to seed corn, haybines, barn cleaners or computers. Our forefathers were not tied to breed when they started move from dual purpose to milk production breeds in North America, one hundred years ago.

For this article, I ask that you set passion aside and consider the factors that may determine the breed of choice in the future.

The Players

Although there may be ten or a dozen dairy breeds around the globe, it basically comes down to two breeds. Holsteins and Jerseys. These two now account, in North America, for just short of 99% of purebred animals on the farm.

Table 1 Percent by Breed of Cows on DHI

1988 2013
Ayrshire 0.6 0.2
Brown Swiss 0.9 0.8
Guernsey 1.4 0.2
Holstein 91.4 89.1
Jersey 5.3 9.5
Milking Shorthorn 0.1 0.1
Red and White 0.3 0.1

Source: www.cdcb.com

So the breed of choice is between the Holstein and Jersey breeds. Why have Jerseys gained in popularity? Was the gain because of what Jerseys did or Holsteins did not do? Why have the other breeds dropped in market share? Think about that – it could be a combination of many factors.

Jersey Breed Not Standing By

Almost twenty years ago Jersey Canada had a slogan ‘a brown cow in every barn’. Moreover, during the last two-plus decades American Jersey has put considerable resources into marketing of Jersey milk and promoting payment based on the component content.

In 2014, Jersey Canada and a University of Guelph economics professor published a study report that claimed that Jersey herds can be slightly more profitable in the Canadian supply management system. Recently Hoards Dairymen published an article showing Jerseys yield $66 more profitable per cow per year in the large herd environment of California.

Holstein Breed Satisfied

While Jerseys have been aggressive about competing for market share, Holsteins have seemingly looked the other way. Holsteins have been satisfied, confident and perhaps even complacent. They are assuming Holstein dominance will prevail without the need to: 1) promote the strengths of Holsteins; and 2) remove from their breeding population animals with significant limitations (i.e. negative DPR, negative PL, lower component yields, …, etc.).

Why Crossbreeding Happened

It is estimated that 4.5% of dairy animals on DHI test in the USA are crossbreds. The proportion may be even higher in non-recorded herds. Based on the numerous reports on crossbreeding it is obvious that cross breeding came about because of limiting factors of purebreds. Even though the benefits of heterosis are short lived, one generation or two generations when a three-way crossing program is used, crossbreds have provided dairy enterprises the opportunity to increase profit in a short period.

The F1 black beauties sometimes called Hojo’s, as the Holstein x Jersey cross is known, have been popular for dairy farmers focusing their attention on fertility, component percents, younger calving age for heifers, less time spent in dry cow pens and the cost of maintaining larger body mass animals.

If there was some way for Hojo’s to breed true perhaps both Holsteins and Jerseys would be challenged for market share. That could be possible once we know more about how to use the DNA information. Time will tell.

Future Challenges for Breeds

The future of dairy farming and the genetic makeup of animals on a global basis promises to be much different than in the past. How breeds prepare genetically, beyond solids yield and productive life, will be significant in determining which breed comes out ahead.

Here are a seven change makers to think about:

  • New Breed
    Some Holstein breeders currently will not use a sire that does not have 100% North American lineage. And it is only within the last few years that Jersey Island breeders have allowed the registration of animals sired by Jersey sires from outside of Jersey Island. Are breeds so sacred that they cannot be improved upon? Perhaps purebred breeders have missed an opportunity in the past to bring new genetic material into their chosen breed. Then again could there be a move to a new composite breed in the future? It has happened in beef, why not in dairy?
  • Genomics
    Gene level study of the gene makeup of animals is here to stay. Realistically it is even more than that. It will be the driving force to moving genetics forward at a very rapid pace. (Read more: Forget Genomics – Epigenomics & Nutrigenomics are the Future) From the Holstein Canada 2014 Annual Report, it can be seen that about 8% of animals being registered were also genomically tested. That percentage is far too low given that parentage can be verified, genetic defects can be tested for, 60–70% accurate transmission patterns are available and that in the future genomic information will be used to make feeding and management decisions. Breeds need to be progressive and move the percentage genomically tested up to 50% by 2020. This is the Information Age and the breed with the facts will have the advantage.
  • Animal Nutrition
    Considerable work has begun to study the role that genetics can play in enhancing feed conversion efficiency in dairy cattle. In 2014, Holstein USA started rating bulls for FE (Feed Efficiency) which considers the extra production of a bull’s daughters less feed and maintenance costs. We can expect to learn a considerable amount about the topic of feed efficiency over the next few years. Some believe that there are breed differences but as yet that is not proven. However, if one breed shows superiority for converting feeds to milk, then it could be a big leg up for that breed.
  • Reproductive Ability
    We already know that the Jersey breed, through the bloodlines they have used, out-do Holsteins reproductively. Jerseys breed at an earlier age and have higher conception rates. The race is on. For Holsteins to identify bloodlines that are reproductively superior within the breed ….. for Jerseys, through genetic selection, to improve their already lead position. It behooves both breeds to give reproduction added attention. If they stand still then, a composite breed might ride to the lead position for reproduction.
  • Environmental Factors
    Dairypersons are familiar with information on carbon footprint, pollution, water usage, heat and cold stress, nutrient management, the cost of transporting the water in milk… etc. Although today we do not have facts and figures on animal or breed differences on these matters, our industry can expect that we will learn more about them in the future. Breed associations need to assist in the development of animal and breed information in these areas.
  • Health & Immunity
    Breeders have, for some time, had information on animals and breeds about Holsteins have the advantage in number of breed leading sires that have low SCS ratings. Immunity to disease information on sires is now being used or watched by breeders. We are in the infancy of knowing more about breeds and their ability to resist diseases, including production limiting diseases. Breeds need to be prepared to retain accurate health and immunity genetic information on their data files and, no doubt, to include them in total merit indexes.
  • Animal Maintenance
    All breeders want a cow that does not require special attention. High maintenance pampered cows must be a thing from the past. We often hear about cow families that are promoted as low However, there is usually little hard data to support the promotion. If a breed can genetically identify that their cattle require less labor and attention across a whole herd, then it would have a selling point.

Breeding Strategies

Currently, Holstein and Jersey breeding strategies are mainly limited to production and conformation. The breed, which expands its breeding strategy to include some genetic information for the factors mentioned previously, will position itself for increased market share.

One total merit index (TPI, LPI, JPI, NM$, Pro$… etc.) will not satisfy all breeders within a breed. I read with interest the comment on The Milk House by Hei-Bri Jersey (Iowa, USA) “Jersey is a breed that is two breeds within one. The show or the go. We see an enormous drop in first lactation production when using showring bulls. I think producers that buy the wrong style for their operation are the ones missing out on the true Jersey cow.” Can the same be said for Holsteins?

The Immediate Future

Predicting the future, as to breed dominance, is not a perfect science. However, the proportion of current semen sales is a good indicator.

Table 2 USA Dairy Semen Sales*

2014
Holstein 83.50%
Jersey 12.60%
R&W / Red & RC Holstein 2.40%
European Breeds (3x) 0.60%
Brown Swiss 0.40%
All Other Breeds 0.50%

*Total sales 23.64M doses (Domestic 98.8% + Imported 1.2%)
Source: www.naab-css.org

Table 2 shows that Jerseys, at almost 13%, has the potential to grow in market share. Having said that it could be that a portion of the Jersey sexed semen sales may now be used on Holstein cows to produce crossbred females. At the very least, the increased proportion of Jersey semen sales should be taken seriously by the Holstein breed.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Today breeds are more than color markings, unbroken lineage, and tradition. Breeds in the future, on a global basis, will be about their genetic makeup and how they serve the needs of the dairy food industry.

Accurate visioning, strategic planning, research & development and effective service provision are all integral to what breeds need to do on a continual basis. If that means there will be increased competition for market share amongst breeds, so-be-it.

 

 

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Are Dairy Cattle Shows Holding Us Back?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Dairy cattle shows started out as a breed awareness tool. They then became an improvement tool. More recently they primarily function as a marketing opportunity for breeders and a training process for youth. Today many breeders are thinking that shows have gone beyond their best before date and are not serving a purpose for the vast majority of dairypersons. Let’s talk about show standards and show procedures.

Show Standards

The following standards may need revision or rethinking:

  • Stature: The show ring has moved to the stage where an animal must be extremely tall to place near the top at state, provincial or national shows. (Read more: Are Today’s Holstein Cows Too Tall? And 15 Strength Sires That Will Still Fit In Your Stalls) Often there are very high classifying cows, which are 58 to 62 inches tall, down the line that have high gTPI’s. In heifer classes the requirement for excessive stature is even more evident. From a spectator perspective, there appears to be a 25% emphasis placed on stature in the show ring that has a 5% weight in the scorecard. This over-emphasis is being challenged by many lifetime profit improvement focused breeders.
  • Mobility: Recently some judges have been placing emphasis on how an animal walks. That’s a good thing. Could we take this one step further and have judges designate the best in class for mobility, just like they do for best udder? (Read more: Mobility – The Achilles Heel of Every Breeding Program and Cow Mobility: One Step Forward or Two Steps Back?)
  • Maturity: As I listen to judges’ reasons for heifer and young cow classes I hear comments that one animal is placed over another for depth of fore or rear rib. Bullvine research (Read more: She Ain’t Pretty, She Just Milks That Way) shows that young animals do not need to have deep bodies at a young age to be long-lived and profitable. They do need good mammary systems and sound feet and legs.
  • Dairyness: It seems to me that exhibitors and judges confuse ability to produce large volumes of milk with an animal being railed off (skinny). There is a difference. Skinny cows do not have body reserves, usually do not get in calf easily, and cannot cope with hot weather, herdmate competition or other adversity. Placing a dairy cow 200+ days into lactation, and three months pregnant, down the line because she has put on some cover is not what breeders want or need. The definition of dairyness needs to be reconsidered by show judges.
  • Over Filled Udders: Yes we like to see a capacious well attached udder. But is that actually what happens? With more and more cows milked 3x or milked 4-5 times per day by robots do we need to show mature cows with 100 lbs of milk in their udders to demonstrate that they can produce a high volume of milk? On-farm the breed ideal is changing to a cow that can produce 4 pounds of milk per hour at 22 months of age or 6.5 pounds per hour at 72 months of age and be milked every eight to ten hours. Cows with over filled udders loose definition of cleavage, walk with difficulty and are under significant stress.
  • Cow Class Determination: Dairy cows exist to produce milk. It is our opinion that using age is an out-moded method to determine cow, After the first lactation classes, classes could be divided by pounds of milk already produced as follows: 1) 20,000 to 40,000; 2) 40,001 to 65,000; 3) 65,001 to 95,000; 4) 95,001 to 135,000; 5) 135,001 to 185,000; and 6) Over 185,000. Basing classes on milk produced would be a more appropriate method than birth date given the ideal of breeding for lifetime production.
  • First Lactation Classes: First lactation cows go through many stages from calving until day 305 of lactation. After calving, they have more udder depth, lack body depth, need more udder quality and are low front ended. By day 305 they will be markedly changed in all these areas. With many first lactation cows at most shows, it is the Bullvine’s opinion that having four classes would be an asset. The four groups could be determined by stage of lactation as follows; 1) Less than 75 days in milk; 2) 75 – 150 days in milk; 3) 151 – 225 days in milk; and 4) over 225 days in milk.

Show Procedures

Some ideas that may also enhance cattle shows could also include:

  • Information in Catalogs: Spectators want to know performance as well as pedigree as they assess the animals on parade. Without performance information it can be a quite boring exercise for all but the keenest. I want to know more and perhaps I can use my cell iphone to search for more details but that is costly. In today’s information age show catalogues can contain DGV’s for heifers or calving date, number of lactations and pounds of milk, fat and protein produced for Surely we are past treating spectators as mushrooms and keeping them in the dark when it comes to animals in the ring.
  • Message Delivered: Most shows have youth, domestic and foreign breeders and consumers watching. Why not have five of the 15 – 25 minutes while the class is being judged used to deliver a message about dairy farming. All shows have announcers who presently give a very limited amount of information. Why not have them deliver interesting and useful information? After all dairy farming is more that just watching a runway beauty contest. Awareness and education would be a great addition to the show.
  • More Winners: Presently beside the class winners, best bred and owned and best udder winners are awarded. Considering all the effort that breeders go to exhibit their animals, awards for mobility, milk, fat, protein, gTPI, etc would give exhibitors more opportunity to promote their animals. I fully understand that this takes more effort at entry and checking time but if exhibitors are going to the effort why not expand their marketing opportunities and, at the same time, educate and inform?
  • Milk Outs: At one-time milk outs were required for the top few of each milking class. That was abandoned due to the time needed and cows not having milk in their udders in champion parades. Milk outs have been replaced by ultra sounding of udders. The question should be asked is ultra sounding serving a worthwhile purpose? If so, why is ultra sounding not used at all shows?

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Shows and showing have remained quite static for the past twenty years during which time the breeding goals have changed significantly. With fewer and fewer exhibitors and interested, involved people watching the shows, it is time for a re-assessment. Not since the birthdays for classes were changed from January and July to September, December, March, and June and the milking senior yearling class was added have there been changes to align shows with genetic advancement. It is time that a North American across breeds task force be named and charged with the responsibility of bringing forward standards and procedures that will make shows relevant to the breeder needs for the future.

 

 

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When we were young, we were always told to be honest and never to cheat. The phrase “Cheaters never prosper” was ingrained in us from an early age. But, as we grow older, we begin to wonder about this statement. We all know people who have cheated and were not caught and they sure seem to have prospered. This phrase also baffled   me when seen in the show ring. At my local county show, the exhibitor that took all the big awards might also be known as one of the greatest “cheaters” in the history of dairy cattle showing.  So how can we say that cheaters never prosper?

I have come to the realization in life that you can tell the true measure of a person by what they do when they are under the greatest pressure.  Nowhere have I seen this to be truer than in the show ring.  As the stakes and intensity of the competition get higher, for some, their ethics begin to deteriorate.  Now there are those that say, as long as you don’t get caught, it’s ok.  But I wonder if some of the exhibitors who test these limits think about the bigger picture that is being created, whenever their ethics are being tested?

Media Headlines – Killers to our industry

Recently a headline from the Indiana State Fair, “Drugged animals disqualified, kids punished at Indiana State Fair” not only caught the attention of exhibiters but also the general public.  Those consumers  buy our milk and we are dependent on their good will.  Dozens of Indiana State Fair contestants have been disciplined in the past four years, after their show animals tested positive for drugs.  Most of those disqualified were top prize winners in the sheep, cattle and swine competitions. They earned an automatic disqualification for each “doped” animal and harsh penalties for the children who raised them. In some livestock categories, the drug problem among top contestants is considered epidemic – but, usually, it all happens away from the crowds and cameras and it’s not detected until long after each fair is over.

The Indiana State Fair started testing show animals for banned substances and illegal drugs in 1992 – and the program was strengthened a few years later in response to a cheating scandal discovered nearby.  After the 1994 Ohio State Fair, meat inspectors found that the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion steers were tainted with banned substances. One of the animals was injected full of vegetable oil to make its muscles appear larger (a violation of federal pure food laws),and the other tested positive for an illegal drug that makes animals gain muscle instead of fat.

Last year they detected two unapproved drugs in last year’s group of winning sheep. The first is Zilpaterol (brand name Zilmax), a common feed additive that builds muscle mass in cattle but is not approved for use in sheep.  The second is methylprednisolone, also known as Depo-Medrol that can be used to treat pain associated with arthritis, tendinitis and other musculoskeletal conditions in horses and dogs. It is not approved for use in lambs, where some competitors inject it under the skin to help hide and reduce wrinkles when sheep are sheared for competition. “Depo-Medrol to a sheep is like Botox to a supermodel,” explained an Indiana sheep breeder. “To a judge, the smoother the hide, the better,” he said.

When it comes to positive drug tests at the Indiana State Fair, sheep are not the only animals affected.  In 2013, the fair disqualified five champion beef and dairy cows for failed drug tests, and in recent years, multiple swine have tested positive too. Fair records show 42 animals were disqualified due to drug residues detected since 2011.  That represents approximately 3.7% of all the animals tested during that time – a small percentage, but still a significant concern.  The problem is not unique to Indiana. Information from state fairs and livestock expositions across the US,  such as Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas, Missouri, Utah and Louisiana all say they too, like Indiana, disqualified recent winners for failed drug tests.

It’s Not Just a Dairy Issue

The problem stems from the fact that anytime you have competition, you are going to have those people that will do whatever it takes to win.  Just like Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and the “Deflate Gate” scandal, or steroids in baseball, you are going to have those who push the envelope. Moreover, there will be those that step over the line.  But where is that line. Is it just when you get caught?

There is no question that when they do get caught  and it makes national headlines it’s very detrimental  not only to the show ring but also to the industry as a whole.  While the animals exhibited at shows only represent a very small portion of the industry, the effect this publicity can have enormous impact on the industry as a whole.   As an industry, we cannot afford to risk the public perception of the food we produce.

That is why the Indiana State Fair and 4-H spend about $16,000 each year to test for drug residues in livestock entries at the state fairgrounds, and why they’ve implemented strict guidelines and harsh penalties for violators.

At major dairy shows across North America, there are ultrasounds and other rule enforcement methods that are trying to protect, not only the equality and ethics of the competition, but also the industry as a whole.  It’s our job as an industry to not only keep a fair playing field for all but also to protect the food chain and the public perception of our industry.  But even severe penalties – losing significant prize money and being banned from future competitions – have failed to eliminate cheating from our industry.  Maybe the unwritten code among exhibitors is no longer enough? (Read more “The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Dairy Cattle Show Ethics”) There are many exhibitors over recent years that have not been able to exhibit at some major shows because they are banned from those shows due to ethics violations.  Sure they may not make the media headlines for these actions, but young people see these people win, and yet they never realize that they have been caught cheating and are now paying the price.  Instead, they think that these cheaters are hero’s and seen as “winners” something they also aspire to be.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Anytime you have intense competition, there are going to be those who want to push the limits.  Add to that the financial considerations and the pressure to perform increases that much more.    When you’re dealing with the potential to make six figures, and you’re dealing with that much pride and competition, some exhibitors will step out a little too far. I think the ones that do step over this line are forgetting that even if they don’t get caught and make the headlines, or even if they don’t have children of their own, they are affecting others. There are  young people watching them and those who are raising children. You want to teach them the right values and you want to make sure they do things the right way.  Most may never end up in the dairy industry, let alone showing cattle, but the values you are teaching them at this young age, are they values they will have for the rest of their lives.  We need to remember why we all love this industry and show cows in the first place. (Read more “For Love of the Ring!”)  Competition breeds jealousy in any business. We have  very gifted people in the industry, but sometimes the competition does drive some  to go too far and,when that happens, it does give a black eye to the industry and has long lasting effects on our youth.  There is no room for cheating.  I hope more attention on this issue will bring more awareness, more education and more confidence to our food supply. Without excuses.  Without exceptions. Cheating must be stopped!

 

 

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Grace Under Pressure

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  Who we are as human beings presents itself more fully at times of adversity than at times of ease.  I have had the pleasure of knowing the Burdette and Stiles families a long while know and always found they to be great people, but over this past year I have learned through their actions after the horrible accident that happened to them, that they are also people of extraordinary character. (Read more: WHY THE DAIRY COMMUNITY IS THE GREATEST IN THE WORLD….)

Robin Sharma once wrote, “Anyone can be positive, polite and kind when things are going well.  What distinguishes people with an extraordinary character character from the rest of us is how they respond when life sends one if its inevitable curves.”  Some would give up and surrender, some who claim woe and complain how life sucks.  But those people of extraordinary character don’t crumble, they don’t surrender.  Like the Burdette and Stiles families have exhibited over this past year, they reach deeply into themselves and present even more of their true nature to the world, and shine bright at times of great adversity.

This past week the family and friends of Reese, brought her favorite cow, Pantene , to come and see her and help her through her healing process.

This past week the family and friends of Reese, brought her favorite cow, Pantene , to come and see her and help her through her healing process.

Nobody is perfect, and nobody has the perfect life.  I am certainly not, and my life certainly isn’t.  We all face challenges on a daily basis that are both large and small. But when we are facing these challenges it helps to keep this in perspective.  Every minute of every day their are people dealing with the death of a loved one.  There are people dealing with problems much greater than the once that I face.  I find myself at times of great stress and challenge, having to step back and look at people who are dealing with these situations, and take perspective on life.  It’s at these times that people like the family of Reese Burdette that are watching their amazing little girl show such character, such strength, such grace going through something I can not even imagine.

justinfathersday

This past weekend I saw this picture of Justin Burdette holding his daughter, and I could not help but cry.  Crying tears of joy, tears of sadness and more importantly feeling inspiration.  I am inspired by the amazing character that the Burdette and Stiles families have displayed over this past year.  It’s starts at the top of this families, with Patricia risking her life to save that of her grand daughter, and it is exhibited daily by the class these families have exhibited in a time that must rock you at your core.  These families have rallied in support of Reese, they have also shown the world what makes them special.  It’s also at this time that the dairy community has also exhibited its extraordinary class.  Sure we may not be as “rich” an industry as others.  We may not all drive big fancy cars, or have billions of dollars.  But as a community we have shown to the world  through our support of these amazing families, that we are a group of people with extraordinary character.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

No one get’s through life without experiencing adversity.  But you and I have the ability to rise above these circumstances and show our true nature, like the Burdette and Stiles families have demonstrated over this past year.  We all have the ability to choose to be strong and positive when things fall apart.  We have the right to use our stumbling blocks as stepping stones to a greater life.  Over this past year the Burdette and Stiles families ability to show grace under pressure, and extraordinary character through a time that certainly it would seem much easier to give up.  What distinguishes these families and our industry is the extraordinary character we all are able to show when life sends us one of its inevitable curveballs. Grace under pressure.  Thats what separates leaders from followers and inspires all of us.

 

 

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