When it comes to investing in cattle, there are those who only get it right some of the time and there are those who get it right quite often. Such a case could be made for Pierre Boulet, who has built Ferme Pierre Boulet Inc. on successful cattle investments based on his first impression. “The way that I have always bought, and the way that I will always buy, is to look first and foremost at the cow or heifer in front of me. If I don’t like what I see in front of me, I don’t go any further.” Obviously, he has gone further more than once. Looking back at several winners he starts by saying, “In each of their cases, I fell in love with the animal first. When I looked at their pedigrees, the breeding consistency of their dams and the great sire stacks, I knew that I had a low risk investment.”
Pierre considers other factors before he makes the final commitment to invest. “When I like what I see, the next thing that I check is the pedigree for the family and the sire stack. The family is obviously important because a solid family that consistently breeds well takes away a lot of risk. At the same time, the importance of the sire stack is often disregarded. When a cow or heifer is backed by several generations of great bulls it gives you the reassurance that there is solid, well proven genetics in her blood.” Located in East Central Quebec, Pierre is enthusiastic about cattle breeding and his growing list of winners.
Pierre has no problem singling out the cow that rises to the top. “There is obviously Thrulane James Rose with all of the success that she has had she obviously creates an enormous amount of demand for genetics from her and her daughters.” And this leads him naturally to the most important reason Rose is special. “There is a whole other aspect that we have to consider with Rose and that is the publicity that she has generated for us. A cow like her puts our name out around the globe, attracts people to our farm and indirectly generates business for the other genetics that we offer.” Once the word is out, it’s a lot easier to share your breeding philosophy and the successes that have come from it.
Ferme Pierre Boulet has excelled in both sales and the show ring. One investment has been especially important says Pierre. “I have to point out Viapax B C Madison who is now VG 6*. I purchased her as a heifer in a sale. She has become the source of a fantastic family for me which has had several show winners and breeds all around great cows. I have been able to heavily flush her, her daughters and her grand-daughters, so she is really the foundation of a family that has generated lots of business for me.”
Pierre’s philosophy of love at first sight and strong cow families is working consistently for him. “Other cows that have turned into great investments for me are Howes B C Sassy EX-2E 7*, Pineland Goldwyn Tidbit VG-89 and Lindenright Goldwyn Royce VG-89-2YR. Sassy I bought as a heifer, Tidbit and Royce as fresh young cows. I always look for the future of an animal, how she will develop and her long-term potential. In all of these cases they were animals that had the build to mature and develop extremely well.”
There is no way to turn back the clock on a bad investment. It’s tempting to think that those who are extremely successful in the cattle breeding business don’t ever make mistakes. Pierre sets that legend to rest. “ There are always some that you wish you could take back, but that’s the name of the game. One cow that comes to mind I had invested $40,000. She was a great cow with a great pedigree. She did really well for us at the shows and we had fun with her. However, we were never able to make our money back since we couldn’t get any embryos out of her and no calves either. But that’s all part of the business. Every investment has risks and you have to be prepared to assume losses when there are risks involved.”
Obviously, in the last five years the whole genomics question comes into play for everyone in the cattle breeding business however Pierre feels it hasn’t changed his viewpoint. “Personally, the impact has not affected me all that much. I still go with the basics, look at the animal in front of me, consider the sire stack and family. If she has these basics and the genomics are an interesting aspect of that particular animal, then I start to consider her numbers. At the moment many people rely entirely on genomics, and I think that we will see that tendency turn more toward using genomics as a tool that people consider (much like the way we used LPI scores) rather than relying entirely on its outcome.”
The functional cow is a huge focus for our industry, as much for the show ring cows as the commercial cows. Great feet and legs, great udders, and the importance of health traits will just continue to grow in popularity. We work with lots of show cows and deal thousands of commercial cattle, udder quality, teat placement, rump angle and locomotion are characteristics that both markets put a lot of emphasis on. I think that the tendency to work towards a well-balanced, functional cow will continue to grow in popularity.
Of course the budget that you have is a big consideration, when you have a considerable amount to invest, looking into good young cows (who have gone through the riskiest part of calving) who come from families reputed for their breeding capacity with great sire stacks is the best way to go. I am not saying invest in a cow you think will clean up the Jr 2 class at The Royal, but you can go a long way breeding from a young cow that is VG first calf. When someone has a bit less budget, investing in embryos from this same type of family, a family that has proven its breeding capacity and great sires is probably the best way to go.
The most important thing to consider and the first thing to look at is whether you like what you have in front of you or not. If you don’t like the cow, no matter what is behind her, you don’t go any further than that.
Not sure how much to spend on that great 2 year old?
Want to make sure you are investing your money wisely?
Download our Dairy Cow Investment Calculator.