Archive for The Bullvine

Some might say that artist Andrea Jorgensen, of Webberville Michigan, is an overnight success.  You might agree, especially after hearing her say, “I didn’t start painting until the fall of 2015.” Since that time her paintings are drawing considerable attention and have given her the opportunity to build a career from commissioned pieces. The Bullvine recently had the privilege of interviewing Andrea and finding out about the evolving story behind her art.

Everyday Objects Are Given New Life

All good success stories must look back to the earliest beginnings. “I have always been artistic starting from a very young age,” says Andrea as she looks back to pastimes where creativity sprang from whatever was close at hand. “I can remember constantly creating random DIY projects with trash around the house, building nonsense wood pieces in my grandpa’s workshop, sewing anything I could think of with my grandma’s scrap fabric, and always drawing.” It is obvious that Andrea’s loving family surroundings impacted her artistic talents.

Studying Art Has Always Been a Happy Choice for Andrea

As a child growing up in Williamston Michigan, Andrea was drawn to the creative subjects at each different level of the school curriculum.” I took almost every art class possible all the way through high school. That was my time to really be myself and to create and to learn art with different mediums.” From the beginning, Andrea knew she had found something she enjoyed and excelled at. She recalls, “I mainly leaned towards drawing with a pencil because it came easiest for me. Even through college, I took art classes because it was fun and exciting.”

Through the Eyes of an Artist

Andrea Jorgensen now living and loving life on Ri-Val-Re Farm in Webberville, Michigan unexpectedly declares that her journey to becoming a bovine artist wasn’t the usual one of lifelong familiarity with cows. “I wasn’t raised on a farm, so the whole dairy industry has really opened my eyes.”   Andrea’s eye-opening experience has art also opened the eyes of dairy art lovers. Those familiar with her art, admire her eye for dairy anatomy and the way her paintings capture the nuances of the different personalities or her subjects.  From a single painting or a hanging of several pieces, it is easy to see what set’s Andrea’s work apart. Her unique, ultra-colorful paintings, are comprised of layers of bright acrylics that enhance and expand our usual perception of the black, white and brown dairy cows that dairy folk love to admire. (Read more: BREEDING RI-VAL-RE: Where Looking Good in the Stall Is Just As Important As Looking Good On Paper)



Andrea Began by Using Her Gift as A Gift

So, let’s return to consideration of the relatively short amount of time that Andrea has been painting. “I didn’t start painting until fall of 2015.” says Andrea giving the time and then goes on to explain the reason, “My husband, Jerry, had gone on a hunting trip and I had an urge to surprise him with a painting of one of his donor heifers, Hope. Plus, we had moved into our farm house earlier that Spring and I wanted a cow portrait in our living room. Next thing I knew I was painting a 4 x 6 ft. portrait of my husband’s beloved cow, Redwing.” She might just as well say the rest was history, because she explains, “After that Jerry really encouraged me to continue painting cows and that’s when I created Artwork by APJ.”

From One Love-Inspired Gift to Creator of Many Gifted Paintings

You might say that Andrea was inspired by a favorite from her husband Jerry’s stable and, as a result, Andrea has created a stable of painted favorites to send out into the world. Much of Andrea’s painting has been done on commission and frequently the products of her talent, like the gift she painted for her husband, become gifts given and shared between other dairy admirers.

“The World is My Inspiration!”

When asked who has been the biggest influence on Andrea, her answer is as unique as the pieces that she produces. “Art wise, I can’t really think of anything or anyone particular that has had a significant influence on me,” she says and then expands dramatically. “The world, in general, is my inspiration and influencer.” She shows her artistic awareness when she analyzes how that inspiration affects her work. “I can look at a bowl of strawberries and automatically get inspired to do a red scheme background.” I think having that perspective has really helped me find my known style.”

Andrea Paints Bold, Colorful Bovines

Andrea’s artwork is a bright representation of her subjects, and she doesn’t aim to be low key.  “Bold and colorful! The more colors, the better. My style also involves visible brush strokes with every layer I paint.” It is unique and immediately evokes a response.  For more of her work visit her website. Scrolling through Andrea’s canvases, photographs and projects will quickly highlight and showcases her love of animals, nature, family, home, and farming.

Love Inspires the Artist’s Journey

As we get to meet this artist, we are in the fortunate position of being able to use hindsight to discern what events were responsible for getting Andrea’s artistic career started.  Andrea gives credit for her introduction to dairy to one her husband Jerry Jorgensen, known to many as a successful dairy breeder and recognized dairy judge. “I probably wouldn’t be painting at all if it wasn’t for him. Not just because of the support and encouragement but because of the family dairy farm. I wasn’t raised on a farm, so the whole dairy industry has really opened my eyes. I always thought cows were dumb, stinky creatures before I met Jerry.” It is an understatement to say that he changed her initial perceptions of cattle, “Yes, they can still come off (as smelly) but I have a different respect for their beauty now.” 




Andrea Reveals Love That Goes Beyond Cows

At this point, I must make sure that my reporting does not limit Andrea’s artistic talent to cow portraits only.  As much as this is what drives The Bullvine, it isn’t fair to this gifted artist to limit the reporting of her talents to dairy only. Indeed, when asked to list her favorite works to date, Andrea responds the same way that dairy breeders, cattle judges and show string historians do, by first proclaiming what a difficult question that is. “It’s so hard to choose one! I have an attachment with all my paintings! There’s a top 5 favorites list which is constantly changing as I do more paintings.” Her diversity shows in the list she provided us with, which included what is hanging in her own home.” Right now, I would say my top 5 favorites are (in no particular order): Burt & Ernie (a painting of 2 pigs that is hanging in our living room), Antoine (a ram), Gizzard (a longhorn), Alfred (a rooster that is hanging in our kitchen), & Gatsby (a custom Jersey).

Andreas Goes Beyond an Exact Likeness to Painted Poetry

If, until now, you’ve never seen Andrea Jorgensen’s work, you are in for a treat. In a world of photographic realism and real-time animal videos, it is especially refreshing to find a talented artist who uses deft strokes to create unique portraiture.  She doesn’t target a perfect likeness. Her clients already know what the subject looks like.  What makes Andrea’s work unique is that it goes beyond the restrictions of a portrait or video frame to a composition that skillfully reveals a deeper understanding of her subjects. Which inspires the question, “How do you decide what to paint?” Andrea gives us a look behind the scene with her answer. “Ninety-five percent of my paintings are commissioned, so I work with the customer to get a good reference photo before I start painting. Otherwise, I will randomly find a picture on Facebook or Instagram that really catches my eye.” Andrea’s business portfolio “Artwork by APJ” continues to grow at the pace of her enthusiasm and growing recognition.

Andrea’s Advice

Whenever you see someone doing a successful job of using their talents to build a career, it is human nature to want to understand how they have managed to do it. As a successfully productive artist, Andrea is in the position of not only growing from her own life choices but also being able to help others who wish to start their artistic journey.  Her suggestions, like her art, are bold, forthright and forward looking. Here are the three that she urges others to use.

  1. DO NOT compare your work to other artists.
  2. Find your style
  3. Don’t be afraid to push your comfort zone

It seems obvious that artist Andrea also has talents to share as a mentor.

The Artist.  The Mother.

Now that we have glimpsed what goes on in Andrea’s studio, our natural curiosity leads us to find out more about Andrea herself.  Readers of The Bullvine can all relate to the fact that there are times in life when our passion for our work inspires our daily lives and prepares us for new pathways. This is true for the Jorgensen’s too as we learn from Andrea’s update. “By the time you read this, I’ll be working on something different. I have a few custom pieces I’m finishing before I have to take a pause, we are expecting, a little girl the first part of August. I’m also getting things organized for my dream-come-true-booth at World Dairy Expo.” We all look forward to seeing her at Dairy Expo, but her other life benchmark also has us applauding.

Congratulations to the Jorgensen Family

We are thrilled to join with friends, family and Bullvine readers in congratulating Andrea and Jerry on the arrival of their baby girl. Izadore Irvette Jorgensen was born on August 1st.  We wish you all the best as you hold this work of art in your arms and create a beautiful family together.  

Hand in Hand.  Romance.  Cows and Art.

Andrea concludes our interview with a special thank you for those who have helped her get this far in her career. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for my husband. He has encouraged me from day one.” It takes special support to pursue art the way Andrea has, and she is grateful. “A huge thanks to everyone that follows me on social media and those who have commissioned or bought a painting. Their support keeps me motivated to continue creating new pieces of art. It means more than they will ever know!” As a result, Andrea has built on this exceptional support, to grow an impressive following in just two years. She is justifiably enthusiastic about the future. ‘My goal is to keep creating colorful pieces of art for other people to enjoy. I hope to keep growing and evolving with all of life’s changes being thrown at me. I could not be more excited.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The Bullvine wishes Andrea Jorgensen all the best with her growing business and growing family.  We enthusiastically hope that she will continue to open her gallery doors and continue painting until the cows come home.




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Categories : The Bullvine

Jersey breeders read about their breed’s top genetic sires, the popular show ring sires and the most promoted sires. However, do they know which Jersey sires are producing the next generation of milking cows in the United States and Canada?  Even though the Jersey breed is garnering attention in commercial settings, The Bullvine is quite sure that even the most ardent Jersey breed enthusiast will not be able to list all ten of the sires with the most registered daughters. Just as we did for Holsteins, a few weeks ago, we have now studied the Jersey sires with the most registered daughters. (Read more: North American Sire Usage: Time changes everything)

Read on if you are interested in the recent genetic gains and what’s possible for the compact brown cows known for their high percentage of components, fertility, calving ease and heat tolerance.  

Data Sources

Off the top, thank you to the American and Canadian Jersey Associations for providing us with the lists of sires. The Canadian lists derived through a search of the female registrations by year. The US list was obtained by reviewing the annual Jersey Journal list of the forty sires with the most registered sons. Those Journal listings also contained a column on the number of daughters for those forty sires and we selected from those listings.

To cover the recent period of considerable change and breed improvement in dairy genetics, our study included three years, 2008, 2012 and 2016. We analysed the genetic indexes for the top ten sires from each of the countries and years. To make comparisons equal we used the genetic index details for all sires from the April 2017 index run as available from the Canadian Dairy Network, Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding and Accelerated (now Accelerated-Select Sires) files.

Which Sires Were Used

The ten sires from each year and each country are listed in tables 1 and 2.

Table 1 Sires with the Most Registered Daughters* – United States

      Sire           Sire Stack Interval**
Iatola Paramount x Barber x Tops 7.25 yrs
Jacinto Lemvig x Delco x Malcolm 7.25 yrs
Manny Perimiter x Haug x Index 10.5 yrs
Q Impuls IDE x BYG x Haug 9.75 yrs
Action Avery x Berretta x Venture 9 yrs
Abe Lemvig x Skyline x Legend 8.25 yrs
Rocket Barber x Berretta x Lyndon 9.75 yrs
Jevon Mecca x Daniel X Berretta 6.25 yrs
Matinee Angel x Haug x Index 7.25 yrs
Country Avery x Berretta x Lyndon 9.25 yrs
Average 8.5 yrs
      Sire          Sire Stack Interval**
Eclipes-P Action x Henery x Lemvig 6.75 yrs
Tbone Jace x Lemvig x Delco 4.75 yrs ***
Valentino Louie x Paramount x Lemvig 3.75 yrs***
Plus Iatola x Artist x Tanic 5 yrs ***
Riley Axtion x Paramoung x All A 6.75 yrs
Allstar Maximus x Berretta x Major 7 yrs
Abbott Lemvig x Hallmark x Berretta 7 yrs
Q Impuls IDE x BY x Haug 13.75 yrs
Premier Impuls x Jace x Berretta 3.25 yrs***
Action Avery x Berretta x Venture 9 yrs
Average 6.7 yrs
      Sire          Sire Stack Interval**
Lemonhead Samson x Renegade x Hallm. 6 yrs
Calypso Prescott x Headline x Iatola 3.5 yrs ***
Valentino Louie x Paramnount x Lemvig 7.75 yrs
MacKenzie Vinnie x Merchant x Impuls 3 yrs***
Harris Volcano x Garden x Rocket 4 yrs***
Dimension Renegade x Impuls x Param. 6 yrs
Archer Volcano x Champ x Jacinto 3 yrs***
Regency Visionary x Plus x Lexington 3 yrs***
Volcano Legal x Paramount x Abe 6 yrs
Reno Volcano x Maxim. x Ramus 3.75 yrs***
Average 4.6 yrs

* Listed in order of the ten sires with the most registered daughters
** Years from sire’s birth to the birth on July 1st, in the study year, of a daughter (in genetic studies known as Generation Interval)
*** Sire used based on genomic indexes

Table 2 Sires with the Most Registered Daughters* – Canada

      Sire           Sire Stack Interval**
Senior Councillor x Perim. X Gemini 7.75 yrs
Comerica Remake x Renass. X Bruce 7 yrs
Sultan Centurion x Jude x B Major 10 yrs
Legacy Perimiter x Renass. X Lester 7 yrs
Iatola Paramount x Barber x Tops 7.25 yrs
Country Avery x Berretta x Lyndon 9.25 yrs
Jamacia Councillor x Renass. X Bruce 7.5 yrs
Fusion Berretta x Fascin. X Fneva 10.75 yrs
River BigTime x Fusion x Montana 2.75 yrs***
Exploit Jade x Sambo x Lad 2.75 yrs***
Average 7.25 yrs
      Sire          Sire Stack Interval**
Legacy Perimiter x Renass. X Lester 11 yrs
OnTime Sultan x Delco x B Major 7.75 yrs
Iatola Paramount x Barber x Tops 11.25 yrs
I Pod Paramount x Parade x Delco 5.5 yrs***
Sultan Centurionx Jude x B Major 14 yrs
Habit Rocket x Remake x Jude 6 yrs
Blackstone Parade x Delco x B Major 9 yrs
Minister Jade x Fillpail x Pride 8.5 yrs
Kyros Avery x BigTime x Haug 6.75 yrs
Comerica Remake x Renass. X Bruce 11 yrs
Average 9 yrs
      Sire          Sire Stack Interval**
Joel Impuls x Paramount x Prize 5 yrs***
Beautiful Iatola x Prize x Delco 7.25 yrs
David Valentino x Impuls x Param’t 5.75 yrs
Bruce Branson x Impuls x Barber 4.5 yrs***
Matt Irwin x Tbone x Impuls 4 yrs***
Premier Impuls x Jace x Future 7 yrs
Valentino Louie x Paramount x Abe 7.75 yrs
Topeka Merchant x Nathan x Morgan 6.5 yrs
Tequila Primetime x Sambo x Regal 11 yrs
Colton Avery x Connect’n x Prize 6.75 yrs
Average 6.5 yrs

* Listed in order of the ten sires with the most registered daughters
** Years from the sire’s birth to the birth on July 1st, in the study year, of a daughter (in genetic studies known as Generation Interval)
*** Sires used based on genomic indexes

Points of interest from these tables include:

  • No single sire dominates on the year or the country lists. A more diverse use of sires of daughters and sire stacks than we found in Holsteins. That speaks well for maintaining genetic diversity in Jerseys.
  • By studying sire stacks, it was found that United States’ breeders used Danish breeding earlier (e.,.2008) than did Canadian breeders. Eventually, the Danish influence also reached Canada. The Danish Jerseys are noted for their outstanding production with high component percentages.
  • The American bull Berretta appears in many of the sire stacks for 2008 and 2012 in the United States.
  • In Canada, it is descendants of American bred and Canadian owned cow, Duncan Belle, that appear in 2008 and 2012.
  • Genomically evaluated sires were more quickly available in the United States (2009) than in Canada (2011).
  • In 2016 in the United States six of the top ten sires of daughters were genomic sires. In Canada, in 2016, three of the top ten sires producing the most daughters had only genomic indexes. Jersey breeders may use more sexed semen than happens in Holsteins. Often young sires are not available in a sexed format since young sires produce much less semen that mature bulls.
  • Never-the-less, in 2016 in Canada the most used sire, Joel, was used based on his genomic information.
  • River and Exploit, two genomic sires, on the 2008 Canadian list were the exception to the rule of only using heavily daughter proven sires. Canadian Jersey breeders may know why these bulls appear in positions #9 and #10, but this writer can only assume it was about the popularity of bloodlines, promotion of these bulls or a lack of positive proven sires.
  • There are 16 sire listing lines (27%) where the generation interval between sire and daughter is nine or more years. Thus, in a quarter of the time, Jersey breeders decided to stick with older proven sires rather than use newly proven sires or genomic evaluated sires. Turning generations quickly of highly ranked sires did not in the minds of those breeders’ warrant giving up the performance they had seen in the past for new and less accurately evaluated sires.
  • Within a single year, only on three occasions does a sire overlap being on the top ten list for both the United States and Canada. That highlights the difference in general breeding philosophies that exists between the two countries.
  • Some sires overlap years within country. Since the years in the study are four years apart, sire-year-overlap shows that some breeders stay with using a chosen proven sire and do not move on to newer sires.
  • By 2016, Danish and Duncan Belle bloodlines figured prominently in the sires used to produce daughters in both countries.

Index Comparisons from 2008 to 2016

In both countries, the average indexes are quite similar in 2008 and 2012. However, in 2016 the indexes are much higher in genetic merit than what is seen in the other two years.

Table 3 Average Genetic Indexes* for Ten US Jersey Sires with Most Registered Daughters

  2008 2012 2016
  Average Range Average Range Average Range
Milk    lbs -69 -1078 to 494 -39 -668 to 1331 894 69 to 2062
Fat      lbs 13 -22 to 65 22 -26 to 65 50 20 to 92
Fat      % 0.08 -0.08 to 0.34 0.12 -0.12 to 0.47 0.06 -0.17 to 0.33
Protein  lbs 3 -23 to 24 10 -12 to 46 38 17 to 81
Protein  % 0.03 -0.03 to 0.12 0.06 -0.03 to 0.16 0.03 -0.06 to 0.31
PL 1.1 -1.9 to 4.1 1.9 -1.1 to 6.2 4.2 2.5 to 6.2
SCS 3.02 2.87 to 3.30 3.04 2.89 to 3.24 2.93 2.80 to 3.08
DPR 0.7 -1.8 to 4.10 -0.6 -5.1 to 3.0 -1.4 -4.3 to 0.8
LIV 0.2 -1.9 to 4.1 0.3 -9.5 to 4.1 -0.7 -6.5 to 3.0
Final Score 0.1 -1.0 to 1.2 1 -0.2 to 2.0 1.4 0.20 to 2.0 
U Clef 0 -0.7 to 1.6 0.4 -1.10 to 1.60 0.3 -0.20 to 1.00
U Depth 1.2 -2.3 to 2.3 1 -0.20 to 2.20 1.3 0.50 to 1.90
GFI (%) 7.1 3.4 to 9.8 8.3 4.1 to 11.3 8.4 6.0 to 11.3
JPI 28 -1 to 76 53 -20 to 87 128 85 to 213
CM$ 110 -63 to 277 190 -61 to 341 442 280 to 739
NM$ 102 -62 to 270 173 -69 to 335 421 286 to 702

* April 2017 genetic indexes were used to allow for comparisons on a common base

From Table 3 it clearly stands out that US Jersey breeders increased their focus on component yields from 2008 to 2016. Increasing from 16 lbs. fat + protein in 2008 to 88 lbs fat + protein in 2016. A genetic increase of 9 lbs of fat + protein per year was seldom seen in the past. Gains were also made in PL, Final Score, SCS, JPI, CM$ and NM$. But the gains were at the expense of fertility ( -25% in DPR) and cow livability (- 20% in LIV).

Table 4 Average Genetic Indexes* for Ten Canadian Sires with Most Registered Daughters

  2008 2012 2016
  Average Range Average Range Average Range
Milk  kgs 238(525#) -850 to +1015 147(324#) -985 to 1063 518(1142#) -709 to 1678
Fat    kgs   8 (17.6#) -49 to +50 16(35.3#) -31 to 39 35(77.1#) -13 to 52
Fat      % -0.05 -0.53 to +0.44 0.12 -0.20 to 0.44 0.13  -0.15 to 0.77
Protein kgs  7(15.4#) -31 to +30 11(24.2#) -33 to 39 26(57.2#) -18 to 47
Protein  % -0.03 -0.23 to +0.25 0.08 -0.05 to 0.25 0.09 -0.23 to 0.33
HL 103 98 to 111 100 92 to 110 102 99 to 106
SCS 2.96 2.78 to 3.28 2.98 2.78 to 3.22 3.01 2.85 to 3.20
DF 100 92 to 106 98 89 to 106 101 97 to 105
CONF  3 -5 to 8 4 -3 to 11 9 1 to 16
Mammary 3 -4 to 10 4 -5 to 10 9 4 to 13
U Depth 0 11 D to 7 S               2S 4 D to 7 S               3S 0 to 9S  
Feet & Legs  1 -6 to 8 4 -3 to 18 6 -3 to 15
Inbreeding (%) 5.13 1.65 to 7.95 6.33 2.02 to 9.21 5.23 0.31 to 8.68
LPI 1188 881 to 1540 1285 987 to 1540 1579 832 to 1894
Pro$ 403 -261 to 1054 411 -261 to 1054 1053 97 to 1475

* April 2017 genetic indexes were used to allow for comparisons on a common bases

Table 4 shows that Canadian Jersey breeders also increased the selection for fat + protein from 2008 to 2016. That increase was 46 kgs or 101 lbs., so even greater than in the US.  In Canada, there were gains for fat %, protein %, conformation, LPI and Pro$. No gains were made in SCS, longevity (HL) and fertility (DF).

Overall, North American Jersey breeders annually increased the genetic merit of their herds by 12.5 JPI points, 50 LPI points, 40 CM$ points and 80 Pro$ points during the 2008 to 2016 time-period. That compares to +100 points per year in Holsteins for TPI and LPI, +75 in NM$ and 150 points in Pro$.

The sires of daughters from 2008 would not have been competitive in 2016. A close look at the 2012 sires used lists (in both US and Canada) shows that many sires ‘were long in the tooth and/or low in genetic merit’. The result was little or no genetic improvement in 2012 from 2008.  Those same North American breeders turned it around and made significant genetic progress by 2016 by using top sires.

Country Differences in Genetic Gains

Another way of comparing what has happened in sire usage is to make the comparisons on a percentile ranking (often short formed to %RK or %ile) basis. To make this country comparison, The Bullvine went to the CDN publicly available files to bring the index values for the two countries to a common basis. To look at this on a different basis, we decided to compare using four categories – LPI, LPI Production, LPI Durability and LPI Health & Fertility.

Table 5 United States vs Canada Comparison of Sires with Most Registered Daughters

  United States Canada
  2008 2012 2016 2008 2012 2016
Production      17%RK      34%RK      97%RK      17%RK      33%RK       85%RK
Durability      27%RK      73%RK      89%RK      23%RK       77%RK      89%RK
Health & Fertility      49%RK      47%RK      99%RK      35%RK      38%RK      96%RK

Note: Comparisons made using Canadain genetic indexes and Canadain percentile ranking tables as published by CDN

The take home messages comparing 2008 to 2016 percentile ranks from Table 5 include:

  • US Jerseys have made great gains in Component Production
  • Canadian Jerseys have made great gains in Durability
  • Neither US or Canadian Jerseys made gains in Health and Fertility. This is a lost opportunity for sure.
  • Jersey breeders need to be asking themselves if they have been giving away some of their breed advantages in fertility. And if breeding for cow health (aka wellness) and livability (LIV) need to be given more attention.

What the Future Can Hold

Breeding is about what the future will be. A synopsis of how 2016 top ten groupings of sires of daughters compared to the top ten sires available in 2017 is shown in Table 6.

Table 6 Comparison 2016 Daughter Sires to 2017 Available Sires

United States
  2016 Sires 2017 Proven 2017 Genomic
JPI 128 199 *155%* 221 *173%*
            (FS 1.4)           (FS 1.4) *100%*           (FS 1.7) *121%*
CM$ 442 691 *156%* 743 *168%*
            (PL 4.2)           (PL 5.7) *136%*           (PL 6.8) *162%*
LPI 1579 1803 *114%* 2035 *129%*
         (CONF 9)         (CONF 7) *63%*          (CONF 9) *100%*
PRO$ 1030 1472 *143%* 1881 *183%*
           (HL 102)          (HL 102) *100%*          (HL 105) *166%*

Note: HL (Herd Life, produced by Canadian Dairy Network) has an average of 100 and a standard deviation of 5. HL 105 is 166% in a standardized basis.

The potential for an increase in the genetic merit of Jerseys is clearly shown in Table 6. Increases from the sire averages in 2016 of up to 100 JPI points, $300 in NM$, 400 LPI points and 800 Pro$ points are possible by using the top 2017 sires based on their genetic (daughter proven or genomic) indexes. Note that there is no loss in type or longevity by using the top ten 2017 JPI, LPI, CM$ or Pro$ sires and potential gains range from 14% to 83%.

In short … Opportunity Knocks for North American Jersey Breeders to take advantage of the genetically superior sires that are available.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Time marches on at a quick pace.  It was enlightening for The Bullvine to learn that US Jersey has excelled at increased production and Canadian Jerseys at improved durability. Yet they both were not capturing the top genetics available for health and fertility.

The challenge for Jersey breeders in the future is to genetically improve the total cow – production, durability and health and fertility. A total and aggressive genetic improvement program will be needed to support the breed plans to become a larger proportion of the North American dairy cow population.



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Categories : The Bullvine

Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation

Breeding a legendary dairy sire isn’t automatic. It is not as simple as crossing the right sire with the right dam. However, although it isn’t easy, it does happen.

In one of the most famous cases of all, that of Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation, it is somewhat surprising that the tremendous impact that was to become legendary was not immediately obvious.

It took a little time for the world to recognise his greatness. But, in the end, Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation changed  an entire breed and the dairy industry.

The Breeding of Elevation was Far from a Sure Thing

It would take time for the world to recognize the presence of greatness. Elevation was the product of a great mother, Eve, and a questionable father, Tidy Burke. As it happens, Elevation brought together the best from the Burkes, Rag Apples, Triunes and Winterthur bloodlines.  That is one of the reasons why Elevation would never have been totally missed.  Furthermore, Elevation did many important things well.  There are five that stand out: 1. Production 2. Udders 3. Mobility 4. Fertility and 5. Longevity. Measuring any one or all of these traits shows you what made Elevation special, for these are just a few of the characteristics that contributed to his popularity.  However, Elevation went way beyond mere popularity.  This legendary bull made a tremendous impact on the genetics of the Holstein Breed. He changed dairy organizations.  He affected dairy breeding around the world. The fact that Elevation has 10,000 registered sons in the United States alone speaks volume to both his acceptance and impact.

Was Elevation a Product of Genomics or Ahead of Genomic Times?

Today Elevation would have had hair pulled and submitted to DNA testing.  But in the 1960’s, if you can imagine it, here was a bull entering a sampling program from a slow maturing mother and a never classified father. A father who physically significantly lacked both size and mobility.

George Miller

The mating that resulted in Elevation used the combined knowledge and ‘go for it’ attitude of two men: breeder, Ron Hope from Virginia and his advisor, George Miller.  These two were first cousins, and they started three generations back to produce Elevation.  That is the way it was done in those days.  To arrive at Elevation’s dam, Eve, Hope and Miller stacked three sires: Ivanhoe, Gaiety and General.

By the way, in her early life, Eve carried more condition than normal. This is something that is also seen in Elevation daughters.

It is not any wonder, therefore, that Elevation passed on good fertility, given what we know today about the positive correlation between fertility and body condition score.

After completing a Master of Science degree at Virginia Tech, George Miller spent his career in A.I. starting at the field level, then as a state A.I. manager and eventually as Director of Marketing and Development at Select Sires.  George knew Holsteins, and he had access to bull performance information.  There must have been many interesting discussions between these first cousins about who would be the best mate for Eve, in order to produce a son that could enter A.I.

As mentioned previously, Tidy Burke Elevation, Elevation’s sire, was an ugly duckling but he did produce outstanding daughters.  Four of those daughters earned Honorable Mention All-American Get of Sire.  Today, it is evident that an artful breeder and a top notch A.I. man were indeed able to find the best sire available for Eve.  Remember that these men were making their decisions before the world had ever thought of using DNA information to aid in mating.

Elevation Made an Impact on Organisations

Charlie Will, who is the Holstein Sire Program Manager at Select Sires, gives perspective to the impact that Elevation has had on the company that originally purchased him. “Elevation put Select Sires on the map.  He was so far ahead of all other bulls for his time.  He had exceptional production and amazing type at the same time.” He explains what that meant over time, from the beginning and up to and including the present time. “Elevation made it possible for Select sires to grow as a new company.  Today Elevation still ranks #1 at Holstein USA for the most genes in common among today’s active proven sires (14.5%).  His impact continues 52 years after his birth.”

The WOW Factor of Elevation.

It’s easy to reiterate what set Elevation apart from the competition. Charlie keeps it simple. “Elevation had extraordinary type and production in one package.”  He sees this combination as almost miraculous.  “he dominated the mating no matter what kind of cow you used him on.  He could make a Great Cow from a Poor dam.  This is why he could have a huge impact in a single generation.”

Elevation Didn’t Just INFLUENCE the Future, He MADE the Future!

Breeders always pay attention to cow families.  But in order to influence an entire population, you must go beyond sires and look at their descendants.  Elevation influenced one generation after another: his kids, his kid’s kids, his kid’s kid’s kids.  This is what made Elevation’s influence stellar.

Facts Alone Don’t Spark Legends.  Results Do.

In any business, repeatable results are the only true measure of legendary success.  Popularity and memories fade.  In dairy cattle breeding, generations of descendants tell the real story. 

Charlie Will
Holstein Sire Program Manager
Select Sires

In describing Elevation daughters, Charlie Will starts with a somewhat modest description.  “His daughters had great legs and feet.  A straighter leg but with healthy hocks and strong loins.” Warming to the topic, Charlie adds “Elevation daughters are tall enough, but not extreme, with ideal dairy strength and proportional width for the stature.”  He concludes with what made the difference. “The typical Elevation daughters were short headed heifers but, when they were called into line, their exceptional udders, high and wide Rear Udder, and the great shape and symmetry of their udders, quickly made a breeder proud to own her.”

The first appearance was not always the final answer with Elevation daughters that became long- lived high production cows.

Once proven, everyone recognized that Elevation would continue stamping out great daughters, as he moved the Holstein breed to new heights.

Elevation’s Legacy Lives on Through His Sons and Daughters

Since almost all sires active in the breed today trace back to Elevation, Charlie Will finds it hard to pick from a list where the greats are almost too numerous to mention.  For him, Elevation’s most impact sons include, “Bova, Starbuck, Pete, Mars Tony, Sexation, and Lime Hollow Mars.”

On the daughter side, Charlie lists many attributes. “Elevation has had many class winning daughters, including at World Dairy Expo and the Royal Winter. Elevation also led the list, at one time, for the number of Excellent daughters and also for the number of daughters who scored 95, 96 and 97.” His daughter list reads like an all-star lineup, from EX97 All-Time All-American’s Ella and Twinkie to EX-GMD Cora and Lindy, the dams of Carnation Counselor and Townson Lindy, respectively.

Elevation Surpasses All Heights

When we recognize a dairy legend, it is great to hear some stories from behind the scenes.  Charlie tells one about the time that Elevation was classified 96. “Jim Patterson was head of the Holstein USA classification program at the time that Elevation was raised from 95 to 96.  Later, after he retired, he told me that he only made one mistake, in all the years that he classified. He wished that he would have made Elevation 97 instead of 96!” (Learn more: CHARLIE WILL “A CAREER WITH IMPACT” – SELECT SIRES 50TH ANNIVERSARY)

Northcroft Ella Elevation EX-97-4E
1980 – Grand/Supreme Champion – WDE
1981 – Grand Champion – RAWF
1977, 1980, 1981, 1982 – All-American

Elevation’s Impact is Felt

With the perfect vision accorded to us by hindsight, we can clearly see that Elevation didn’t only influence genetics. Elevation has also had a tremendous impact on sales, new research and the success of countless breeders and organisations. Dairy strategy and development have also felt his influence. And, ultimately, the dairy show ring was also impacted by Elevation.

The World Wide Elevation Influence

Elevation, often known as RORAE, made friends for United States Holsteins around the world.  Therein lies the engine that drives the legend.  Fundamentally, around the world, one bull, through his progeny, significantly changed the profitability of the Holstein cow.  But the measure of Elevation goes beyond mere financial success.  Elevation made many dairymen into successful dairy breeders.  How did he do it? Elevation stamped out daughters that provided what dairymen needed. Production. Longevity. Fertility. Mobility. Functional mammary systems. These are the characteristics passed on by a one-of-a-kind, legendary bull.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Elevation forever lifted the worldwide dairy breeding industry to a new level.

Greatness can have many definitions, but in Holstein breeding, it can be said using a single name, Round Oak Rag Apple ELEVATION.




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Many dairy breeding information articles are published on which genetic index is the best or which traits are considered to be the most important … however … the proof of the best, from a breeder’s perspective, is the genetic merit of the heifers on the farm. To see which sires breeders in fact use, The Bullvine decided to study and compare the years 2008 to 2012 to 2016 Holstein registrations in the United States and Canada. Some interesting facts were uncovered including that North American Holstein breeders do use genetic indexes and do follow the latest in what research shows are the sires to use.

Which Sires Were Used

The twenty sires with the most registered daughters in the United States and Canada, as supplied by the breed associations, are listed in Tables 1 & 2.

Table 1 – Sires with the Most Registered Daughters* – United States

Sire Sire Stack Interval**
Toystory BW Marshall x Patron 7.25 yrs
Baxter Blitz x Mtoto 6.25 yrs
Pontiac  Durham x Emory 6.75 yrs
Oman Manfred x Elton 10.25 yrs
Boliver Amel x Mathie 9.75 yrs
Advent  Kite x Durham 6.5 yrs
Pronto Outside x Rudolph 6.25 yrs
Lou BW Marshall x Patron 7.25 yrs
Airraid BW Marshall x Manfred 7 yrs
Bolton Hershel x Convincer 6.75 yrs
Talent Storm x Leader 10.25 yrs
Moscow BW Marshall x Integrity 7 yrs
Mac BW Marshall x Rudolph 7.25 yrs
Coldspring BW Marshall x Patron 6.75 yrs
Fortune Durham x Blackstar 8 yrs
Colby Outside x Rudolph 6.25 yrs
Laurin BW Marshall x Lee 6.5 yrs
Mr Sam Durham x Emory 8.5 yrs
Damion Durham x Encore 8 yrs
Tres Mtoto x Elton 8 yrs
Average 7.8 yrs
Sire          Sire Stack Interval**
Million Outside x BW Marshall 9.25 yrs
Shot Shottle x Ito 6.75 yrs
S Braxton Shottle x Durham 6.75 yrs
Planet Taboo x Amel 9.25 yrs
Durable September x Outside 7 yrs
Shamrock Planet x Shottle 3 yrs***
GoldChip Goldwyn x Shottle 3 yrs***
Atwood Goldwyn x Durham 5.25 yrs
Guthrie Goldwyn x Blitz 6.25 yrs
Alexander Stormatic x Patron 9 yrs
Crown Goldwyn x Oman 6.5 yrs
Sanchez Stormatic x BW Marshall 9.25 yrs
Gabor Finley x Convincer 8.5 yrs
Super Boliver x Oman 7.5 yrs
Dempsey Goldwyn x Derry 6.5 yrs
Hero Toystory x Durham 5.75 yrs
Shottle Mtoto x Aerostar 13 yrs
Big Time Mac x Shottle 4.5 yrs***
Windbrook FBI x Blitz 6.5 yrs
Epic Super x Baxter 2.5 yrs***
Average 6.7 yrs
Sire Sire Stack Interval**
Mogul Dorcy x Marsh 6 yrs
SuperSire Robust x Planet 5.5 yrs
King Boy McCutchen x Super 3.75 yrs***
Yoder Mogul x Planet 3.5 yrs***
McCutchen Bookem x Shottle 5.75 yrs
Montross Mogul x Bolton 3.75 yrs***
Damaris Sterling x Bookem 3.5 yrs***
Spark Supersire x Gabor 2.75 yrs***
Jedi Montross x SuperSire 2.25 yrs***
Monterey McCutchen x Robust 3.5 yrs***
Mayfield Domain x Shottle 5 yrs
Bayonet Donatello x Shamrock 3.25 yrs***
Beemer McCutchen x Goldwyn 3.25 yrs***
GoldChip Goldwyn x Shottle 7 yrs
Pety Mogul x Explode 3.75 yrs***
Headliner Robust x Planet 5.5 yrs
Modesty Pety x SuperSire 2.25 yrs***
Atwood Goldwyn x Durham 9.25 yrs
Troy Mogul x Freddie 3.75 yrs***
Silver Mogul x Snowman 3.25 yrs***
Average 4.3 yrs

* Listed in order of the twenty sires with the most registered daughters
** Years from the sire’s birth to the birth on July 1st, in the study year, of a daughter (in genetic studies known as Generation Interval)
***Sire used based on genomic indexes

Table 2 – Sires with the Most Registered Daughters* – Canada

Sire Sire Stack Interval**
Dolman BW Marshall x Emory 7 yrs
Goldwyn James x Storm 8.5 yrs
Buckeye BW Marshall x Rudolph 7.5 yrs
Frosty BW Marshall x Sand 7.25 yrs
September Storm x Astre 10.75 yrs
Spirte Lee x Mason 9.75 yrs
Talent Storm x Leader 10.25 yrs
Final Cut Inquirer x Storm 7 yrs
Salto Convincer x Formation 8 yrs
Mr Burns Thunder Storm 8 yrs
Baxter Blitz x Mtoto 5.75 yrs
Toystory BW Marshall x Patron 7.25 yrs
Fortune Durham x Blackstar 8 yrs
Dundee Encore x Chief Mark 9 yrs
Bolton Hershel x Convincer 6.75 yrs
Jasper Lee x Bellwood 9 yrs
Tom BW Marshall x Merrill 6.75 yrs
Tribute Storm x Astre 11 yrs
Wildman BW Marshall x Winchester 7.5 yrs
More Mtoto x Luke 8 yrs
Average 8.0 yrs
Sire Sire Stack Interval**
Windbrook FBE x Blitz 6.5 yrs
Fever Goldwyn x Blitz 6.5 yrs
Steady Mr Sam x Convincer 7 yrs
Lauthority Goldwyn x Igniter 6.75 yrs
Jordan Goldwyn x Durham 6.75 yrs
Dempsey Goldwynx Derry 6.5 yrs
Sid Mr Sam x Finley 6.75 yrs
Manifold Oman x BW Marshall 7.75 yrs
StanleyCup Bolton x Blitz 5.25 yrs
Lavanguard Goldwyn x Titanic 6.25 yrs
Reginald Goldwyn x Durham 6.5 yrs
S Braxton Shottle x Durham 6.75 yrs
Altaiota Oman x Ito 7 yrs
Ladner Goldwyn x Champion 6.5 yrs
Shottle Mtoto x Aerostar 13 yrs
Seaver Goldwyn x Durham 6.5 yrs
Lavaman MOM x Goldwyn 2.5 yrs***
Sanchez Stormatic x BW Marshall 9.25 yrs
Spectrum FBI x Talent 6.25 yrs
Baxter Blitz x Mtoto 10.25 yrs
Average 7.0 yrs
Sire Sire Stack Interval**
Impression Socrates x Potter 7.75 yrs
SuperPower Bonair x Shottle 7 yrs
Jett Air Baxter x BW Marshall 8.5 yrs
Dempsey Goldwyn x Derry 10.5 yrs
Uno MOM x Shottle 6 yrs
Doorman Bookem x Shottle 4.75 yrs ***
Fever Goldwyn x Blitz 10.5 yrs
Elude Mccutchen x Snowman 3 yrs***
Brewmaster Garret x Shottle 5.75 yrs
Meridian Domain x Planet 5.5 yrs
Pinkman Super x Baxter 5.5 yrs
Supersonic Super x Shottle 6 yrs
Wickham Mogul x Snowman 3.5 yrs***
High Octane McCutchen x Observer 3.5 yrs***
Epic Super x baxter 6 yrs
GoldChip Goldwyn x Shottle 7 yrs
Brawler Baxter x Shottle 8.5 yrs
Capital Gain McCutchen x Observer 3.5 yrs***
Pulsar McCutchen x Super 3.5 yrs***
Facebook MOM x Airraid 6.25 yrs
Average 6.1 yrs

* Listed in order of the twenty sires with the most registered daughters
** Years from the sire’s birth to the birth on July 1st, in the study year, of a daughter (in genetic studies known as Generation Interval)
*** Sire used based on genomic indexes

Points of interest from these tables include:

  • In 2008 and 2012 many sires are common to both countries’ lists. However not so in 2016.
  • In 2008 BW Marshall was the most prevalent sire of the bulls in both counties. In 2012, it was Goldwyn. In 2016 Mogul and his sons have the most appearances on the top twenty list in the US, but in Canada it is McCutchen.
  • In the US in 2012 and 2016 there were a higher proportion of sires in the United States that were used based on their genomic indexes than there were in Canada. 65% on the 2016 US list are genomically evaluated, sires. That closely reflects the total volume of semen sales from genomic evaluated sires.
  • Generation Interval has decreased more quickly in the US than in Canada. In 2016 there was only one sire on the US list, Atwood, that has a generation interval (sire to his daughters) greater than 6.75 years. US breeders are using sires and moving on to newer, higher indexing, sires than occurred in the past.
  • As would be expected, each country has a dominant A.I. stud ownership of the sires on these purebred most used sire lists. In the United States, it is Select Sires, and in Canada it is Semex.

Comparisons 2008 to 2016

The short synopsis of the comparisons that follow is that the change in sire use patterns is quite similar in the United States (Table 3) and Canada (Table 4)

Table 3 – Average Genetic Indexes* for 20 US Holstein Sires with Most Registered Daughters

  2008 2012 2016
  Average Range Average Range Average Range
Milk    lbs 64  -1722 to 1189 381  -1204 to 1554 1421   -227 to 3063
Fat      lbs 2   -69 to 48  20   -26 to 51 62    1 to 108
Fat      % 0   -0.15 to 0.11 0.02   -0.21 to 0.19 0.04   -0.07 to 0.15
Protein  lbs 1   -28 to 32 10   -22 to 30 47   -22 to 91
Protein  % 0   -0.08 to 0.11 0.01   -0.10 to 0.08 0.01  -0.06 to 0.14
PL 0   -4.5 to 3.4 1.3   -3.2 to 7.8 4.8   -0.5 to 8.7
SCS 3   2.69 to 3.29 2.91    2.62 to 3.19 2.91   2.67 to 3.19
DPR -0.8   -4.0 to 4.0 -0.4  -5.2 to 3.2 0.1   -3.2 to 3.1
MCE 7.8    4.8 to 12.1 6.7  3.5 to 9.8 4.6   3.2 to 9.8
PTAT 0.58   -1.24 to 2.08 1.59   0.38 to 3.44 2.31  0.83 to 3.65
UDC 0.56   -1.37 yo 1.71 1.26   0.26 to 2.66 1.96  0.49 to 3.07
U Depth 0.46   -0.82 to 2.02 1.08   -0.27 to 3.33 1.59  -0.04 to 3.49
FLC 0.39  -0.97 to 2.26 1.09   -1.39 to 2.63 1.72   0.02 to 2.78
RLRV 0.41  -1.64 to 2.34 1.2   -0.78 to 3.16 1.95   0.05 to 3.16
TPI 1653  1355 to 1906 1908  1449 to 2283 2477  1880 to 2867
NM$ 28  -333 to 336 175   -229 to 602 618  104 to 977

* April 2017 genetic indexes were used to allow for comparisons on a common bases

In the United States from 2008 to 2012 breeders increased the emphasis on type, and to a lesser degree placed increased emphasis on functional traits. However, from 2012 to 2016 the big shift was too much more emphasis on production traits and increased emphasis on productive life and maternal calving ease.

Table 4 – Average Genetic Indexes* for 20 Canadian Sires with Most Registered Daughters

  2008 2012 2016
  Average Range Average Range Average Range
Milk  kgs 188  -1045 to 1582 415  -482 to 1948 1092  -209 to 2632
Fat    kgs   7   -44 to 51 29  -22 to 86  57   8 to 133
Fat      % 0.05  -0.24 to 0.36 0.13  -0.55 to 0.53 0.15  -0.15 to 0.77
Protein kgs  7   -38 to 50 19  -8 to 73 38  -18 to 68
Protein  % 0.01   -0.21 to 0.44 0.04  -0.29 to 0.54 0.02  -0.19 to 0.32
HL 99   91 to 106 103   94 to 113 108  102 to 114 
SCS 3.01  2.62 to 3.33 2.95   2.55 to 3.23 2.78  2.50 to 3.11
DF 98   93 to 103 99   82 to 111 102   94 to 111 
DCA 98   90 to 105 101   96 to 109 105   98 to 109 
CONF  1   -4 to 8 7   0 to 15 10   2 to 16
Mammary 1   -6 to 7 6  1 to 13 9   2 to 13 
U Depth 0   8D to 4S               2S   5D to 8S               6S   2D to 12S 
Feet & Legs  1  -5 to 8 5   -8 to 14 7   1 to 14
RLRV -0.5  -9 to 6 3   -10 to 11 5   -5 to 13
LPI 1966  1632 to 2561 2325  1746 to 2885 2890  2327 to 3224
Pro$ 245  -423 to 1247 901   -88 to 1963 1766  951 to 2377

* April 2017 genetic indexes were used to allow for comparisons on a common bases

From 2008 to 2012 Canadian breeders placed some increased emphasis on all traits, except for daughter fertility. From 2012 to 2016 Canadian breeders were much more selective when it came to requiring high genetic indexes for all traits. Sire genetic indexes for SCS and fat and protein yield stand out as being much higher in 2016 than in 2012. Note that Canadian breeders have always demanded a positive fat percent deviation.

In both countries, Holstein breeders used the genetic information available to them to greatly improve the genetic merit of their herds. From 2008 to 2016 average annual genetic increases were +100 TPI, +100 LPI, +75 NM$ and +190 Pro$. Definitely, the function traits associated with fertility, daughter calving ease and longevity have come on to Breeders’ radar screens when they select sires.

In actual sire terms, breeders in 2017 would no longer choose to use Toystory or Dolman, the sires that topped the sires with the most registered daughter lists in 2008.

There Are Country Differences

Another way of comparing what has happened in sire usage is to make the comparisons on a percentile ranking (%RK) basis. To make this comparison, The Bullvine went to CDN files to bring the values to a common basis. And to look at this on a different basis, we decided to compare using CDN’s three categories, on combining indexes, of Production, Durability and Health & Fertility.

Table 5 – The United States vs Canada Comparison of Sires with Most Registered Daughters

  United States Canada
  2008 2012 2016 2008 2012 2016
Production      17%RK      34%RK      97%RK      17%RK      33%RK       85%RK
Durability      27%RK      73%RK      89%RK      23%RK       77%RK      89%RK
Health & Fertility      49%RK      47%RK      99%RK      35%RK      38%RK      96%RK

Note: Comparisons made using Canadain genetic indexes and Canadain percentile ranking tables as published by CDN

In both United States and Canada, the most significant change in the genetic merit of sires used has occurred in Production. Both countries were low in 2008 at 17%RK and in 2016 US Breeders were at 97%RK, twelve higher that Canada. Increased emphasis in each country on Durability almost mirror each other, and both reached 89 %RK in 2016. Health & Fertility in both countries started low in 2008 but have reached very high levels by 2016. Breeders are using the best sires to take their herds to new heights.

What Can the Future Hold?

Breeding is about what the future will be. A quick look at how 2016 sire usage compares to what sires are available in 2017 show potential for continued genetic improvement.

In the United States, the top twenty available April 2017 proven sires average 2606 TPI and 798 NM$ and for genomic sires the values are 2833 TPI and 944 NM$. So, especially for NM$, there is considerable scope for improvement from the 618 NM$ level of 2016.

In Canada, the averages for proven sires are 3126 LPI and 2310 Pro$. While for the top twenty genomic sires the averages are 3471 LPI and 2939 Pro$. A 10-20% gain in Pro$ is immediately there for the taking.

Of course, beyond the current traits used by breeders, the future holds the use of traits with considerable potential like polled, A2A2, fertility, wellness, kappa casein, feed efficiency and many more. (Read more: From the Sidelines to the Headlines, Polled is Going Mainline!, 12 Things You Need to Know About A2 Milk, A Guide to Understanding How to Breed For Feed Efficiency and Fertility)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Time changes everything. No longer are North American Holstein breeders sticking to only old ways. Now they are incorporating new young sires and refining trait emphasis into their selection. In the process, these breeders are not abandoning the old practice of always demanding higher production and true type conformation. The increases in genetic merit of Holstein sires with the most registered daughters from 2008 to 2016 were significant. Moving forward new traits along with more accurate genetic indexes will allow breeders to further customise breeding plans to their individual needs. It is exciting to see the progress made and the potential waiting to be harnessed.




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Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

We had an enlightening moment recently when my Michigan Granddaughter who is studying American History thought it would be fun to Play Canadian History trivial pursuit.  Her mother and father did extremely well (both Canadians), but she was disappointed in the gaps in her knowledge.  In true Canadian fashion, we apologized for the one-sided viewpoint of this Canadian game and urged her to seek historical bridges between the two countries. We found it.  It is in our agricultural roots as descendants from farmers. However, it didn’t take much reminiscing until we came to this conclusion.

Farmers — on both sides of the border —
have a lot in common with each other.
And there is a lot that isn’t in common with anyone else!

Farmers are Odd

It seems that any time we look into our farmer past; we always land on one of those one-of-a-kind memories. The phrase “hard to believe” is the golden grail of family farmer stories and it seems that every generation has many to draw on. We love to see the looks of disbelief, when a story starts out with,” There was a farmer…” As I seek to polish my farmer’s wife role in tandem with writing for The Bullvine, I have a growing file on the oddities of the dairy farmer. Some of them are scientifically proven, others go beyond science to the undeniable truth which is found, of course, through four decades of marriage to a farmer.

Even Oddities Can Be Measured

Today everyone wants proof. Thankfully some farmer oddities can easily be monitored by the speed at which they occur. When it comes to walking, farmers are faster.  When it comes to talking, farmers are slower.  I haven’t had the opportunity to simultaneously test the two, but we all know that, when something unexpected is happening two fields away, the farmer is off and speed walking to the rescue. After the emergency is taken care of, the final five-word assessment of the successful outcome almost always seems to take longer to say than it took him to get to the scene. “She wasn’t due until tomorrow!” Apparently, the slowness of the delivery adds to the significance of the pronouncement.

Farmers Have an Odd Sense of Hearing

When I got the opportunity to join a farm family, I was mightily impressed by the attention they gave to listening.  Coming from the fast forward of a house construction family, it was delightful to be heard at the board room table, which like farmers was also the kitchen table.  However, not only do farmers listen better, farmers think about what you say.  If I was prone to wild pronouncements in my early farm days like “that looks easy” or “I could do that,” it would quickly earn me the privilege of becoming more farmer-like myself.  To this day, handy experiences magically appear to prove whether I actually have managed to fit in with these odd folks. You see, real farmers are not only hands-on, but they are also hands in.  Most things non-mechanical will only get you dirty or smelly but it’s a fact that farmers get the oddest satisfaction from going beyond hands on to get up to their elbows in mud, dust, manure or baby calf deliveries. I’ve done most of the dirty jobs, but I usually try to have water, rags, and soap on hand for the inevitable clean-up. 

Odd Sense of Smell

Which brings me to the biggest oddity that sets farmers apart — their smell.  No.  I don’t mean their sense of smell.  It goes beyond that. You too probably know one of those odd farmer dudes who is absolutely convinced that he is still huggable even when he is covered head to foot in manure, and other unidentifiable ride longs gathered on his around-the-farm journey. That charm can only go so far.  However, it also makes him a prime candidate for diaper changing, should the opportunity arise.  But first, you have to convince him that he notices it.  Remember farmers are odd.  They love those dairy airs perhaps a little more than smells coming from their dairy heirs. Truth be told, I have learned to accept that oddity, until or unless it invades my car or suddenly wafts down to where I’m sitting in the church choir.  “What is that smell?” remains a subject of investigation, but somehow or another folks are learning to check out that guy up there in the men’s section.  You know the one with a little bit of something on his shoe.  As for the car, I must be a real farmer.  The other day, the neighbor surreptitiously put the window down when I was driving her to a card party. Farmers are odd!

Farmers Are the Oddest Volunteers

Although hubby’s family have lived on this farm for 101 years, there seem to be less and less farmers in the surrounding community every year.  Having said that, if you want to test how many farmers belong to the group you’re volunteering for, whether it’s Lions Club, community theater or any other group that needs a big effort, just call a work bee, and the conversation you hear will quickly tell you where the odd farmers are. 

Farmers cannot get together – ever – and not have their conversation start somewhat harmlessly with the weather and then turn to a variety of farm related experiences that most of the neighbors wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.

Of course, I have proof. Recently, when setting up tables for the Annual Ladies Salad Luncheon, I clearly overheard two of these odd fellows as their conversation moved easily from broken water mains to mastitis.  They didn’t have any concern that their heartfelt problem solving might not be entirely appropriate to the rest of the team who was preparing for white tablecloths and teaspoons. If this occasionally happens to you, remember farmers are a declining breed. It is best to make sure your normality meter can handle a conversation that is as free-wheeling and organic as the food they produce. 

Dairy Farmers Produce Experiments

When I am spending time with my city friends, that’s when I notice that they are oblivious to the excitement that being married to a dairy farmer can entail.  Although I don’t think my hubby actually plans to scare me, nevertheless I sometimes feel that he ponders the deep question of, “Let’s see if this will go through the washing machine!” more frequently than his innocent expression is intended to display. Although the quantity of rattles and bangs has started to decline, I still experience the mystery of discovering everything from binder twine to invoices in the washer. This recurring problem would be eliminated if the machines didn’t get turned on without inspection.  But remember farmers are hands on.  They are not hands- emptying-the-pockets-first on! Then, of course, there is stage two. “If it makes it through the wash, let’s try drying it.” Ear tags, cotter pins and anything else that can be zipped into a pocket to keep it safe will eventually send you running to the crash banging of the clothes dryer.  “Well it may not be safe anymore, but it sure is dry!” (This is delivered slowly and with an eye on the nearest exit). Odd indeed!

Farmers Remember Differently

I have learned from being married to a farmer, that there is satisfaction in repairing and maintaining the family homestead.  In the past 100 plus years, there are unique stores of items all over the farm that can be used for landscaping.  Family history wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t join around the fire pit to hear the tales of days gone by.  So, when I needed some especially flat stones for edging, I was told to drive the front end loader to the rock ridge.  Well, folks.  After one hundred years, the rock ridge is no longer rocky or a ridge. Thanks to erosion, tree harvesting, and rock picking, it is currently only slightly more than a rise in the rolling terrain. However, if you have to ask for more defined directions, the ensuing argument ranks right up there with trying to create a mountain out of an old hill. 

Likewise, when you think it’s time to replace a split rail fence that has seen better days, you better get approval from any guys still living that had a hand in building it.  “Dad and I built that when I was fifteen.  We hauled all those rails from the bush to the barnyard.  It is not only beautiful, but it’s also part of our history!” Yup.  Farmers remember things differently. They’re odd. 

The Bullvine Bottom Line

As the sun sets each day beyond the now empty milkhouse, I often reflect on the myriad of ways that the man I married is different from the men and women I meet in corner offices.  Although he is comfortable there too, he really shines when he takes a farm project into his own two hands.  Today that might have more to do with writing and consulting, but he always comes home to the farm and delves into the next ‘real’ work that needs doing. He’s there when the neighbors need help training calves. He’s there to build tree houses and forts with his grandchildren. He works hard.  He sometimes smells funny.  He loves the land and his long, long days almost as much as he loves passing on his long, long history to the next generations of his family.

You might call that odd. I think it’s inspiring!!



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I didn’t see all the rounds of voting for the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, but my ears did ring to attention when the subject of supply management was discussed by the election night panel.  “It affects only 11%.”  That phrase and the notion that it was too small a portion of the electorate to be an election game changer went by very quickly. I remember thinking. “Yes, it’s a small group.  But there are so many others affected by that small group. 

Food Chain Lingo Should Not Be Disparaged

“From Farm to Fork” and “From Stable to Table” are popular lingo used in support of the good chain. When analysts decide the group is too small to have national, or political, significance they are writing off a much larger group than just the primary providers. From the stable to the table applies to all the suppliers, consultants, financial institutions, truckers and grocery stores that make a portion of their living from the sustainability of the dairy industry.  And that’s not to mention consumers.  Too often that silent majority also gets overlooked in the hoopla of election forecasting and numbers analysis.

Who is Andrew Scheer?  Why Does He Care About Supply Management?

On May 27th, Andrew Scheer, Regina-Qu’Appelle MP, became the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. He pulled ahead of Maxime Bernier to win.  Once again, the modern day election results of “By a slim margin” came into play. A CBC article quoted Franck Groeneweg, a grain farmer from Edgeley, Saskatchewan as saying “It was a nail-biter to the end.”  Hindsight being 20/20 political pundits are now saying that Scheer seemed to have the support of many (dairy) producers” and that made the difference.

 The Rural Vote Rallied Around Scheer

Election platforms come and go and sometimes the ones that win never get put into action, but Andrew Scheer voiced support for supply management and for abolishing Prime Minister Trudeau’s carbon tax.  Rural voters took notice of what he claimed and also were not as supportive of Maxime Bernier’s statements that he wanted to abolish supply management.  Thus the expected winner became the election-night loser.

Who Likes Him Now?

The Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) also proclaimed its support for the new leader in a congratulatory post.

“Dairy Farmers of Canada would like to congratulate Andrew Scheer on his win in the Conservative leadership race,” says the DFC post.  “Mr. Scheer was supportive of supply management as a Member of Parliament, and has continued to be supportive throughout this leadership campaign; on behalf of all Canadian dairy farmers – thank you!”

Farming Is a New Political Game Changer

It hasn’t been that long since we wrote about the turmoil, rural interests are causing for US President Trump (Read more: Trump Fabricates False Dairy War with Canada – US Dairy Farmers Stuck Paying the Price). Whenever two or more people gather together to solve the problems of the world, you can be sure that Trump’s position on NAFTA, supply management and Canadian impact on Wisconsin dairy farmers, will be a hot topic. It isn’t surprising then that the Conservative Party had to choose who they felt was ready for that challenge on top of putting their agenda in the forefront of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

The Winner Had a Farm Strategy

Over the coming months, there may be many who try to determine how someone from a smaller province like Saskatchewan can rise to political prominence or even become Prime Minister.  As Scheer himself put it in an interview, “John Diefenbaker did it.” and he obviously has his eye on the prize. Ag supporters noted that, throughout the campaign, he valued the needs of farmers.  He campaigned in Quebec where he met directly with dairy farmers and earned the support of many of them. His strategy worked, and now he will be using those insights to power his opposition in Parliament.

So Who’s TOO SMALL Now?

We all love to read statistics that confirm that our position – political or otherwise – is the most popular.  I know I’m not the only one who is wondering why election polls seem to be missing the mark more and more often these days.

I think pollsters are asking the wrong questions of the wrong people.  They are so immersed in the take and take of traditional politics that they are missing the shifting mood of the times.  No one would ever call election campaigning and international politics as “normal, ” but we keep trying to look at modern issues through the distortion of the past.  Bluster, bravado, and name-calling have risen to new heights.  In the real world, there are many who don’t conduct themselves this way.  Nevertheless, they want their position to be acknowledged on the world stage.  That’s when what they would do themselves is sublimated, and they vote for the candidate who can get the job done.  If they think it takes bluster, they mark the “X” for that manner of candidate. If they are against smooth, big money politics, they put their vote where the candidate doesn’t spout those values. It doesn’t make a huge number to make the winning difference in an election. Twenty-five percent of the population is a landslide in most modern elections. Winning agricultural support is not often considered a mainstream election platform. Yet it is a good strategy when it brings out the passionate group who is ready to challenge mass production, mass advertising and mass conformance to money issues. The average voter – him or her— are ready to take the unlikely route when choosing who best represents what satisfies their average needs. That’s where majority wins are made.

Speak Up and Stand Up for Agriculture

There are so many times when headlines regarding agriculture broadcast the negative (Read more: Country vs. City – Bullying, Rejection, and a Total Lack of Understanding). It is refreshing to see a high-profile opportunity to celebrate the positive values of producing healthy food products. The challenge for Andrew Scheer will be where he goes with this foundation of support.  He saw the sector and recognized that they wanted their voice heard.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It wasn’t a landslide victory for Andrew Scheer, but many analysts feel his insight into supply management did make a difference!  Now let’s see if he will continue to do so on Parliament Hill.



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From Hamilton, New Zealand to Grand Rapids, Michigan there appears to be an unsettling addition to the growing disconnect between the realities of farm life and city sensibilities. Headlines proclaim bullying, rejection from stores and verbal abuse as the new normal for city-country relations.

Who Is the Bully? Who is Being Bullied?

Regardless of when it happens, we are always dismayed to hear about bullying.  When this headline “Dairy Farmers’ Children Bullied” came out of New Zealand, it struck a chord within the agricultural community.

Comments from DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle were reported in NZ Farmer. DairyNZ is the industry organization that represents all New Zealand dairy farmers. At a speech given at the organization’s Farmers Forum near Hamilton, Mackle said there had been “two or three incidents” of children who were being singled out in school because their parents were dairy farmers. He referred to it as: “The saddest story I’ve heard.”  He concluded that the behavior was an indication of the negative treatment “many felt the industry was receiving from the media.” He added. “It’s fair to say that across the country, dairy farmers are feeling a bit beaten up right now and that’s been going on for the last 18 months.”

Halfway around the world in Grand Rapids Michigan dairy farmer, Leslie Van Houten Parrish, went to Facebook in outrage over her son being kicked out of a Lush Store. Here are the highlights from her post that has since gone viral.

“Her teen son was shopping for a gift for his girlfriend when an employee allegedly asked him to leave the high-end beauty retailer known for its “100 percent vegetarian” products.  The 17-year-old, who was wearing clothes that indicated he worked on a dairy farm, was told the beauty retailer “didn’t support farmers and stood against cruelty to animals and refused to sell to him,” Van Houten Parrish said her son explained how his family’s farm goes “above and beyond to care and nurture our animals. “When the Lush employee refused to relent, Van Houten Parrish says her son said “I farm you eat!” before leaving. The angry mom says she will never shop at Lush again, and unleashed her fury on what she sees as the ignorance about the connection between farms and food.

Is ignorance the problem?

We tend to brush off the occasional bad urban-rural interaction as ignorance.  We glibly use the words that “They don’t know enough!” If that was the case, all we would have to do is inform critics loudly, clearly and often. The thing is ignorance is not really the problem between country and city.  With the world of communication being what it is today, it isn’t that we don’t know about differences in our respective jobs and locations.  The real problem is that city, and country lifestyles are so disconnected that too many think of all farmers … as dirty, poor people. Rather than an understanding of the nature of animal-based food production, our interactions are reduced to a quick judgment. It’s bad enough when it’s all in the mind, but in many cases, it’s all in the nose!  “What’s that smell?” is the new country nose rage offense. Unfortunately, no concession is given to extenuating circumstances that might have brought the farmer to the store, bank or pharmacy before showering and changing from work clothes into shopping wear.

We don’t need to inform each other. We need to engage each other.

Although headlines grab attention, we need to recognize that the priority isn’t that we need to expose our sight and smell differences. It’s that we need to communicate our shared goals. The angry Mom in Michigan tried very passionately to state the farmer side of the issue.  Her post said, “Maybe you don’t realize that the ingredients YOU USE (soy yogurt and soy milk) in your products are available because of FARMERS!!!*** I supported your business because you didn’t test on animals. We treat our animals with love and respect. But I refuse to support you when you can’t support those who help make your business profitable.  This world needs farmers more than it needs bath bombs.” Mrs. Parrish later followed up after talking to the store’s manager. “At first he thought it was a miscommunication. But after telling him, it clearly wasn’t when the clerk made a statement to him ‘how would you like to be chained up most of your life?’ He was caught a little off guard. This was not what was told to him by the employees working that night. I am continuing to work with them to educate their staff.”.

Bully, Bullied or Bystanders.

Clearly in both instances described here, feeling “in the right” doesn’t make the inflicted adverse actions any more justifiable. In these instances and many more, disconnectedness causes and, unfortunately, encourages bullying of a targeted group. In this case, it’s farmers. We especially feel for the one being bullied. Even more so, because we too are part of that shrinking group. I always encourage reasonable people to ask the second question. “Are we willing to do anything about it or are we okay with remaining bystanders?”  Do we or should we bully back? After all, it’s not hard to find instances of poor hygiene or fashion flops in city crowds.  Or do we become enablers, simply standing by and bemoaning the ways of the world?

Disconnection Is Fertile Ground for Growing Lack of Trust

The most dangerous outcome of not trying to meet on common ground is that a lack of trust develops on both sides.  In the Lush Store headline, the issue went beyond smell detection to blaming the identified farmer as an animal abuser. This radical leap is made too quickly by those who are at best three generations from the farm. On the farmer side of the equation, we are too quickly taking the position, which everyone on the “other” side is misjudging and abusing us! Neither position benefits consumers or animal agriculture.

Many farmers feel a great sense of frustration that people don’t understand how life, in general, is connected to life in the soil and life on the land.

Having said that, if something as simple as the smell can trigger abuse and rejection, the issues have gotten further than the mere excuse of not knowing where your food comes from. It isn’t lack of understanding.  It is a lack of respect.  Even worse, it’s the idea that expressing that respect in word or action is entirely acceptable.

What does it matter if people don’t understand where their food comes from?

I must admit there are many other occupations that I don’t understand.  I drive a car.  I live in a house. I read and work extensively on the Internet.  Certainly, problems arise.  However, I don’t believe it would serve my needs to attack all providers and malign them as a group. I don’t believe that, but I do acknowledge that seeds of dissension are happening much more often in today’s society. In politics, communities, schools and sports we first react with outrage and division.  That is at the core of what is happening between consumers and farmers.

Conflict, frustration, depression, anger, and other miseries in life are but a symptom of our disconnectedness. It’s one thing when it’s just a headline that you’re reading.  It’s another when it happens to someone you care about.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

No matter which category you fall into, bully, bullied or bystander, this response to city-country life comes at a high price.  Not only does it point out a growing disconnection between food providers and consumers, but there is an increasing disconnection between two vital parts of the community. City-country cruelty hurts everybody!



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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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Categories : The Bullvine

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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Categories : The Milk House

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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Categories : The Bullvine

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.


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?)


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


 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.



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.



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.


Click on image for wallpaper download size

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



World Dairy Expo Winner: GARAY AWESOME BEAUTY

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
Heart & Soul JK Dempsey Glitz 17 0 17 2 8.5
Quietcove Doorman Fiji 15 0 15 2 7.5
Pfaffsway DM Litle Leeza 13 0 13 2 6.5
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



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
All-Glo Gold C Kappucino 13 0 13 2 6.5
MS DOORMAN GILL 10 0 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



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

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



Top Points In the US: MS SID LEAP FROG

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
MS SID LEAP FROG 15 0 15 2 7.5

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




Name US TOTALS CDN Total Total     Average
DROLIE DOORMAN MAYCY 6 12 18 6 3 6.0

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



World Dairy Expo Winner: DUHIBOU FEVER PIRANHA
Royal Winter Fair Winner: MILKSOURCE SID DESIRE

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
DU PETIT BOIS GD SELSY 5 24 29 6 4.8

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



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

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



Top Points from CDN Shows: HIGH POINT GAY IVORY

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Points Earning Shows Average
HIGH POINT GAY IVORY 14 21 35 3 11.7
MS APPLE ATARAH 5 7 12 2 6.0

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




Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average

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





Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
HILLPINE B ANYA 10 6 16 3 5.3
MS ABSOLUTE BLISS 9 4 13 3 4.3
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




Top Points from CDN Shows: JACOBS GOLD LIANN

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
JACOBS GOLD LIANN 7 21 28 3 9.3

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





Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average

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




Top Points from US Shows: TK-PLAIN VIEW RIPLEY
Top Points from CDN Shows: BOSDALE GOLD LUSTER

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
TK-PLAIN VIEW RIPLEY 31 0 31 4 7.8
JACOBS FEVER CAEL 7 17 24 3 8.0
KEYLAS SID ROXANNA 5 16 21 4 5.3

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




Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
WEEKS DUNDEE ANIKA 10 10 20 2 10.0
T-TRIPLE-T PLATINUM 10 0 10 2 5.0

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




Top Points from US Shows: TC SANCHEZ KRISTINA

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average

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




Top Points from US Shows: J&K-VUE GOLDWYN GLAMOUR

Animal US TOTALS CDN Total Total Point Earning Shows Average
DUCKETT ROSS PAMELA 14 0 14 1 14.0

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

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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!


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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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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?


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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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!!


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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