No, we are not talking about the Colombian singer and songwriter who has sold over 80 million records which have made her the best-selling female Latin artist of all time. We are talking about Erbacres Snapple Shakira the EX-95 2020 Breeder’s Choice Grand Champion. Her story is not a rag to riches story. It is a story of some of the most talented breeders from around the world coming together to breed and develop an international superstar.
SHAKIRA’S DREAMLIKE RISE WAS PROPELLED BY VISION and DEFINED ROLES
We begin our story with a very passionate breeder who came to America with a passion and a dream. Francisco Rodriguez came to USA for work but wanted to live out a dream and so he set out to find partners to make that happen. (Read more: FRANCISCO RODGRIGUEZ: Passion with a Purpose). Dairy dreams often start with star breeding the best to the best. For Shakira that starts with her dam, Snapple-Red. Snapple is from the great Apple-Red (Read more: KHW Regiment Apple-Red-Et – Everything and more and KHW Regiment Apple-Red – Beauty, performance, and even more record accomplishments). For Francisco the pedigree was what dreams are made of. So, when John Erbsen came to him about Snapple, who at the time was 6 months of age, there was no question that he wanted to own her. However, having just moved to the US and being heavily invested in flushing the Apple-1, a clone of Apple, that he had purchased earlier, financing was limited. He also needed to get access to pedigree potential genetics and to build a team. It was this outstanding pedigree combination that had the passionate team interested. Nevertheless, passion does not pay bills so, for Francisco, partners were needed. His search did not take long. He already had worked with John with Apple-2 and knew the great care and knowledge that he brought to the table. He also had a long history of working with fellow Colombian, Juan Pablo Muriel and knew of his interest in partnering and the business acumen he brought with him. With that the team was formed that would possess the vital skills needed to produce an international superstar. They purchased Snapple at 6 months of age.
Under the outstanding care of John Erbsen, Snapple continued to develop. After flushing her twice, he says, “We exported embryos to Central America and Germany. One of Snapple-Red’s mates was O’Kaliber.” O’Kaliber is the son of the famous European show cow Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra and KHW Elm-Park Acme, a half-brother to Apple. The next star, ET Shakira, would be born before Snapple-Red calved as a 2-year-old.
Snapple would go on to be Grand Champion, Midwest National Red & White Spring Show, 2019, Unanimous All-American R&W Four-Year-Old, 2017 and Reserve All-Canadian R&W Senior Cow, 2019. Snapple was shown in heifer form by Junior Holstein Member, Connor Erbsen, and, since World Dairy Expo 2017, has been owned by Milksource Genetics.
ERBACRES SNAPPLE SHAKIRA – “IT’S ALL IN THE NAME”
When naming calves there are many decisions to be made. Francisco points out that since John had done such great work caring for and developing Snapple and now Shakira it was only natural to use John’s Erbacres prefix. When it came her name, all team members worked together and Francisco suggested the name Shakira, and the partners all agreed. “I always wanted a cow with the name of the famous Colombian singer so, as soon as she was born, that was it” The story continues from the personal heart of Francisco. “I have always been a party guy. I told my wife Sofia that when our Shakira wins, we will dance like crazy.” To make the dream even more outstanding, Francisco has announced, “When our Shakira wins, they will play “Hips Don’t Lie.” Her story was now ready to be set to Shakira’s music!
SHAKIRA’S PATH TO STARDOM
Shakira was a nice calf and loved by all her owners but, as they reported, “She was not a show winner at the start.” Francisco explains “Shakira had great parts but John’s raising program was for growth and health and not skinny show heifers so, in the heifer classes in the show ring, she often carried too much weight.” At that time, Shakira ended up in the middle of the heifer classes.
BEAUTY IS IN THE TRAINED EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
John Erbsen also saw her special beauty. “My kind are the ones that get better every year. They develop out and calve back.” With Shakira, he sums it up, “I could see that Shakira was going to do that.” John says his judgement was confirmed by others. “It gave me confidence, when other people could also see her potential. My sister Paula, after seeing Shakira when she was four or five weeks fresh said, ‘This one is going to be pretty special!’”
Shakira’s breeders knew there was potential but only after a couple of months fresh in her first lactation did it all start coming together. John Erbsen saw her every day and he reports that “Shakira was not the same as she started out after calving.” He colorfully adds, “On the phone, I teased Francisco that she might not be great. However, by the time Francisco visited and saw her, he was in love. She had changed a lot. She was coming on. She was going to be pretty special.” We now see exactly how special. Shakira has excelled at significantly improving her conformation after first calving.
”SHAKIRA STOOD OUT FROM THE REST FROM THE BEGINNING”
The team then decided to take her to the mecca, World Dairy Expo. Where she started to get lots of attention. Ysabel Jacobs continues the story, “When Yan walked the aisles at World Dairy Expo in 2017, he came back to our string and said, “I saw the best cow.” Thus, began discussions over price and purchasing. This inspired further activity. “We took her on a walk.” reports Ysabel, with the following details. “There was careful consideration and growing excitement until, on show morning, when I went into the barn, before 5 a.m. Yan said, “We bought her!” Shakira was now owned by the new partnership of Ferme Jacobs, Jacob’s family members and other extended family. (Read more: Ferme Jacobs – “Dreams without goals are just….dreams”)
SHAKIRA IS PART OF A FOREVER FAMILY
One would understand, if those who owned Shakira never wanted to part with her. The growing worldwide support might also confirm that position. However, John Erbsen is quick to point out, “I don’t run a museum here.” He does admit though that his whole family was attached to Shakira as were Francisco and his wife, Sofia. Everyone agreed that Shakira was a great personality animal. “We all wanted to be able to see her continue her journey.” Everyone supported the final decision. “Our partnership was confident we were selling her to a home, where she could keep developing.” Juan Pablo also recognized that not selling would leave them with “too much money on four legs.” Even as Francisco confirmed that “We sold her to another great Team.”, it was still emotional. John and Sofia, and probably other family as well, shed tears. In a beautiful picturing of the connection that is maintained with this well-loved rising star, Rodriguez declares, “The original team celebrates every time Shakira rings another bell.”
SHAKIRA’S GOT TALENT
It isn’t surprising that those who have worked with Shakira have many positive anecdotes about her. Ysabel says, “It is a pleasure to work with Shakira. She responds well to feed and environment.” It should be noted that Shakira’s environment changed between owners. Ysabel explains, “Shakira was used to being by herself all the time at Erbacres. She had also been a 4-H calf. When she arrived at Ferme Jacobs, we let her be by herself but within a pen with the group.” Ferme Jacobs has carefully developed this style of housing show animals. “Show cows will be more aggressive and learn more by being part of a group.” Ysabel and Yan have witnessed how this works. “When feed is presented, they learn to run. If they don’t hurry, others are going to eat it.” This housing style is also mirrored in Shakira’s present situation, according to Ysabel. “She is currently with the fresh cows. She herself hasn’t calved but she is due in June and adds, “Shakira is doing really well right now.” To those who reach for the stars, these are the ordinary details of an extraordinary cow.
Ysabel Jacobs also has notes along this line. “Shakira has continued to change quite a bit. She wasn’t the big, framed cow that she is now.” Specifically, she clarifies. “Shakira always had the perfect rump and especially good udder, as a heifer.” Some had noted that she had somewhat of a thick as a heifer “Her dam had a thick head and a thick neck as a heifer. Shakira’s front end has cleaned up a lot Ysabel sums up. “Shakira has a long dairy neck now.”
“SHAKIRA’S STAR TREK”
As we tell Shakira’s story, we cannot help but be impressed with the ways she is winning new fans. A notable measure of her growing popularity is that for Shakira it connects three continents – South America, North America and Europe – and continues to grow.
Regardless of the business you are in, awareness is powerful. Even with the instant communication that is growing exponentially, that alone doesn’t guarantee success. However, in six years, Shakira’s popularity has skyrocketed. Her popularity has multiplied partly because of passion and partly because of marketing. “Being able to actually see her on line has a double impact.” says Francisco. “Nothing beats being able to see her mobility” That is fantastic marketing. Francisco then enthuses that it is possible now for many more eyes to see Shakira’s great characteristics.
Ysabel also praises what online marketing can provide. “Everyone can actually see so much volume with that perfect udder.” In show cow circles, many claim perfect udders but Ysabel says, “You can have a good udder but, with Shakira, you have both the quality and the exceptional veining.” This opportunity for visual sharing, brings her story to the eyes and hearts of dairy breeders everywhere. Shakira’s story is able to go where no dairy star story has gone before.
HOW TO REACH FOR THE STARS
For dairy breeders who would be thrilled to emulate Shakira’s success, there is much to learn. It starts with Francisco’s first two steps “Make your passion a dream by having a sound genetic plan and goals. Stick to your plan.” He then adds another key requirement. “Dairy breeding is a great business, but it is more than just cows.” With impassioned emphasis, Francisco told The Bullvine, “People make the difference. You must have a great team.” Fortunately for Shakira, great teams contributed to her development at each stage of her progress. A long-range view is the starting point. Persistence through challenges will teach lessons. Always have patience. Teamwork triumphs.
“SHARING THE SPOTLIGHT WITH SHAKIRA”
The dream began with a star’s name. Francisco had a dream that one day his namesake would emulate that star’s success, while standing in the ultimate dairy spotlight. There have been many star performances for SHAKIRA on the way. Her success has won her an audience and many loyal followers. It is likely that SHAKIRA will indeed stand in the ultimate spotlight one day at World Dairy Expo and the Royal Winter Fair, but Francisco’s dream doesn’t stop there. In his story of Shakira, he dreams that she won’t be alone. Her namesake SHAKIRA will be there too and the song playing in the background will be, “HIPS DON’T LIE!” Another first. Another starburst.
SHAKIRA’S FUTURE INCLUDES EVEN MORE STAR SHINE
With so many facts already recorded in the historically exceptional story of Shakira, the question becomes, “Where will Shakira go from here?” Each person who has known her best answers from a different perspective, but they all share the same confidence, “Whatever happens next, Shakira, will continue to set new records and leave outstanding genetics.” Today The Bullvine and fans throughout the dairy world heartily applaud Grand Champion Breeder’s Choice Winner – Shakira.