It is absolutely necessary to remain competitive and relevant. That is a business truth, regardless of what part of the dairy industry you operate in today. However, that can be hard to do in a constantly changing marketplace. For Jeff Butler, owner operator of Butlerview Farms, having a steady vision even in turbulent times is important. To put it simply “At Butlerview our goals are still the same.”
A Worldwide Welcome Awaits at Butlerview
Although the goals may stay the same, they are certainly not insignificant ones. Jeff describes how success is envisioned at Butlerview. “On a global basis, we want to be a premier stopping place for people who are interested in the top genetics possible, no matter if it is show, type, pedigree or genomics.” In October it was a distinct pleasure for the Bullvine team to be numbered among the many international visitors who have visited Butlerview Farms in Chebanse, Illinois. We learned from Declan Patten, Sales and Marketing Manager that, during the past two years, over 300 visitors from all over the world have been welcomed to Butlerview around the time of World Dairy Expo. It was easy to share the enthusiasm of the large number of visitors from Japan who were also touring the exceptional facility that sunny afternoon.
Top Show Genetics
Having just left the 2013 World Dairy Expo, the Bullvine team had witnessed firsthand Butlerview’s success in breeding and buying for the show ring. The list of Butlerview success stories was impressive. The winners list included:
At the 2013 Royal Holstein Show, Butlerview added more wins to the breeding or buying columns.
Top Genomic Genetics
The Genomic side of Butlerview’s unchanging goals has also developed an impressive list of achievements. With justifiable pride Jeff makes reference to a published report he received. “At one point in the summer, we had bred 12 of the top 32 gTPI bulls in the world.”
Teamwork is Tops Too
It takes hard work to ring up such remarkable breeding achievements. To make them continue and prosper into the future is the goal of the Butlerview team. Jeff gives credit to the support group at Butlerview Farms. “Todd Widholm is the business manager and he does an outstanding job of handling that role.” Jeff knows that it takes exceptional staff to get exceptional results. “Joe and Amber Price are the farm managers and they are extremely talented, dedicated and loyal. I have known Joe and his family for over 30 years.” Declan Patten exhibits the same enthusiasm. Originally from Australia he has earned warm praise as well. “Declan is a tremendous communicator and does an outstanding job with sales and marketing.” Of course handling the animals is a number one priority and the staff meets those challenges too. “Martin Moreno is a terrific calf and heifer manager and Kerry Eiler does a superb job on the reproductive side. Josh Fairbanks is in charge of the show barn and he does a tremendous job.” The immaculate, show ring quality presentation throughout the facility fully supports Jeff’s high praise of the staff.
Knowing Where You’re Going
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if success just fell into our laps and buying and breeding choices could be a ‘sure thing’ every time? Of course, that isn’t the way of any business and especially isn’t so in the world of dairy genetics. It takes a lot of planning, follow-through, adjusting and analysis to keep moving forward. Jeff offers well-considered advice to those contemplating ways to improve their cattle genetics. “I would look to buy the top end and then look closely at things like reproductive or flush history of the individual or family members, maternal line and how widely renowned they are because it is easier to market if the family already has international appeal and acceptance. Make sure to have access to a lot of recipients at the cheapest cost possible to get offspring on the ground.”
Adeen Comes on Strong in the Barn, in the Show Ring and as a Bull Dam
Sometimes the road to success has a few surprises and that keeps the journey from being boring. Butler recalls the case of Cookview Goldwyn Monique. “When I bought Monique as a Sr 2Yr. Old, I liked her but didn’t imagine she would develop into what she has become today.” And then he turns the spotlight on Adeen. “Without question the greatest success story of Butlerview breeding would be MS Kingstead Chief Adeen.” Her resume is earning renown and still growing says Jeff. “Of course on the male side she is the 3rd dam of Atwood and Aftershock. She has had two daughters who have been named All American in milking form. This year her daughters were 2nd and 3rd Jr 3 Yr olds at World Dairy Expo. Her full sister Shoremar S Alicia had a daughter that was 2nd Sr 3 Yr old and Reserve Intermediate Champion at World Dairy Expo and Alicia’s clone had a daughter that was 2nd 4 yr old at World Dairy Expo.” Jeff has very definite opinions on what Adeen brings to the genetics table. “I think her tremendous dairy strength combined with a sensational udder provides a perfect foundation to cross with several of the bulls in the breed today. Overall the breed lacks dairy strength and she has provided some cures for that.”
Butlerview 2 Step Mating Strategy: Pinpoint the Present. Predict the Possibilities.
When it comes to mating to produce show cows, the decisions you make are crucial to the success or lack of it that animals will have in the show ring. Jeff has a system he relies on. “I analyze the strengths and weaknesses of both sides.” says Butler before continuing to explain his protocol. “I then try to come up with a mating that will improve the weaknesses and complement the strengths.” He takes a somewhat unique approach. “I am not afraid of inbreeding and use Atwood on Goldwyns a lot for example because I think it is a good mating. I think the strength and width of Atwood is a great cross on a lot of the Goldwyns even though Atwood is a Goldwyn son.”
Where Do You Start Building Breeding Success with High Index Cows?
Like many of the elite breeders who generously share their insights, Jeff again emphasizes that the first step in making the right matings for high index cows is always the one of identifying the problem and then choosing the right solution. “I look at what needs to be improved upon and what the strengths are and try to find a good complementary mating. I do pay much closer attention to inbreeding on the genomic animals however. I always look at type very closely as well as proven established maternal lines, which make me more comfortable to use a bull from since I haven’t seen daughters most of the time.
The Market Likes Butlerview Bulls
Butlerview has had success at breeding bulls for many market needs. Brokaw (Atwood x Mac) is outstanding at PTAT 4.76 for type. For breeders wanting polled there is Colt 45 (ColtP x Shottle) and those wanting show type there is Gold Chip (Goldwyn x Shottle). And recently released is an outstanding all around production, durability and health and fertility sire that has a gTPI of 2505 – his name is Mardi Gras (Mogul x Planet). This wide range of success stories will remain high on the Butlerview breeding strategy. “We want to continue breeding males and females that are industry leaders from both a type show side as well as from a genomic side.” Jeff urges those that might be concerned about the ups and downs of the market to remain calm and focused. “Have a solid marketing plan and don’t let emotion get in the way of sticking to the plan.” He is very specific. “Pencil out where you are going to make money or returns on your investment. It needs to be a detailed forecast and it needs to be followed as closely as possible.” Good advice regardless of what part of the dairy business you are operating in.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
As they consider both sides of each mating and strive to correct the problems, it is obvious that at Butlerview there is tremendous passion for dairy breeding. Jeff invites those who share that passion for genetic improvement to drop in to the farm in Chebanse. “We have a great team where everyone understands their role and is very committed and dedicated to excellence.” We wish Butlerview all the best as they face the excitement, challenges and opportunities of holding true to their vision. Simple goals. Exceptional genetics.”