Archive for Crazy Cow in Print

2013ect“It is a great and rewarding life.” “We’re balls to the ball”.  Those are two heartfelt comments that represent two sides of the dairy coin in Australia (Read more: Is Down Under Going Under?).  But if ever a couple can be counted on to have their coin land right side up, it’s Dean and Dianna Malcolm of Bluechip Genetics.  Welcome to part two of the series inspired by the Aussie Dairy industry. (Read part one: Dean and Dianna Malcolm: Forward in Five Gears! That’s Aussie D.I.Y.)  Dianna tells us that it’s cows and people that will get things right side up down under. Of course this author-dairy-woman-marketer has a very unique viewpoint.

Bluechip Dundee Connie 2 VG 89 (Max Score) 3rd S2 in-milk IDW 2012 and 5th S3 in-milk 2013

Bluechip Dundee Connie 2 VG 89 (Max Score)
3rd S2 in-milk IDW 2012 and 5th S3 in-milk 2013

They’re Sold on Great Temperament

“We also market fairly heavily about the temperament we put on our cattle with the work I do in the calf pens and the work Dean proactively continues when they are taken by him at 8 months. I should also mention that Dean is gifted at building trust with animals that we bring in from other operations. We both believe that you can’t get the best out of them if they are not happy and confident.  We have found that buyers are coming back, partially for that reason, and that if a cow turns out not to be an International Dairy Week Champion they can forgive her some if she is a pleasure to work with.” For those who might question this attention, Dianna responds. “Some people say they don’t have time to put into their calves. I could easily argue the same thing – but I believe it’s important to make time for the babies. Like children, you only get one chance to shape these animals’ temperament. And I feel a massive responsibility too that we take them from their working mums and they need lots of love and a safe environment to grow.”

Corkers in the Show Ring? Too Right!

The past seven years have been very busy but they are justifiably proud of one area in particular. Since starting farming in 2006 Bluechip has won Premier Breeder (four years) and Premier Exhibitor for the last three successive years at the fourth biggest show in the world, International Dairy Week (IDW). This year they also won Junior and Reserve Junior Champion and four of the heifer classes. (Read more: 2013 IDW Holstein Show Results)  Last year they won the first three heifer classes, including four of the top six places in one class. “That has been perhaps more challenging to achieve because we have staged annual sales every year and sold a lot of our top animals,” Dean said. “To be able to hold it together going forward competitively to this point (for us personally) has been an accomplishment.” Dianna adds “It is a credit to Dean’s forward planning and management. He is always thinking ahead and I think that has been a big strength for us.”

Fairvale Jed Bonnie  94 EX Grand Champion IDW 2005/2007 Reserve Grand Champion IDW 2004

Fairvale Jed Bonnie 94 EX
Grand Champion IDW 2005/2007
Reserve Grand Champion IDW 2004

They Target Good Cow Families.

Dean and Dianna profess to following a simple breeding philosophy. “We love great cow families,” Dean said. “From there we love to sire stack and we use bulls from great cow families. One of the key things is udders and in particular rear udders. Another key thing for us is rear leg, rear view. We don’t get caught up in the stature. We like to keep the angles right. With regard to Genomics, we are using some. However, we have to have the families and the sire stacks that we believe in within that.”  They look back with pleasure on one of their early successes. “Fairvale Jed Bonnie EX was co-bred by myself and Ross and Leanne Dobson (our longest partners – 15 years),” Dean said. “Di and I didn’t have a farm when we bred her. Bonnie was owned by Leslie Farms when she won International Dairy Week 2005 and 2007. She was Reserve Champion under our ownership in 2004. At the time we sold her, she was set for 2005. In more recent times Bluechip Drake Whynot is proving to be one of our very best brood cows and the dam of this year’s Junior Champion at International Dairy Week (Bluechip Alexander Whynot). Of all her daughters sold they have averaged close to $16,000. Bluechip Goldwyn Noni is another exciting prospect. She’s due in July and I believe we have not had an animal on farm with the size, length, width and beautiful set of feet and legs. She’s ticked every box right now – she was Reserve Junior Champion at International Dairy Week in 2012.”

Bluechip Alexander Whynot Recent Jr Champion  at IDW.  Owned by Bluechip Genetics & Averill Leslie

Bluechip Alexander Whynot
Recent Jr Champion at IDW. Owned by Bluechip Genetics & Averill Leslie

Great People

“You also need a super network of people around that you trust. And that can be anything from your grain supplier to your nutritionist, to your banker and the good friends and family that you can confide in when things are tough or good!” Dean said.

High on the list of those who have mentored Dean and Dianna are their parents. Dianna credits her parents Donald (now deceased) and Averill Leslie for their work ethic and “for teaching me how to feed and care for animals and how to treat people with respect.” For Dean it was his grandfather and father. “Bob Marshall (Paringa Holsteins) was an exceptional cowman and a pioneer of the industry,” Dean said. “My father, Phil, keeps us grounded and has shared his knowledge and huge work ethic.”

Barkly Ladino Betsyann EX92 2011-12 All-Australian mature cow

Barkly Ladino Betsyann EX92
2011-12 All-Australian mature cow

Great Friendships

The ripple then goes out to Mike Deaver (Sherona Hill) “for being one of the great cowmen of all time and a man who has been so generous with his friendship and advice” and Dean Geddes (Tahora Holsteins, NZ – Di’s cousin and Dean’s close friend). A special person has been Chris McGriskin (Canada) who has fitted their IDW team for seven years. “Dean and Chris are very tight and Dean thinks of him as his brother. And that is one of the wonderful things about his industry. The friendships that you know will be lifelong.”  Dianna cherishes one such special friendship with John Brooks. “He was the man who gave me my first job as a sports journalist back in 1987. He changed my life and he was one of the last great scribes of the sports world. I have his photo on the wall beside my desk and I think of him often and still ring him in New Zealand fairly regularly.”  Both Malcolm’s treasure those who mentored them and are exceptional at mentoring others, especially the young.

Ryanna Allen Topsy, EX94 Hon Men Champion IDW 2010

Ryanna Allen Topsy, EX94
Hon Men Champion IDW 2010

Pass it On to the Young People

“We are so grateful to spend some time with these young people and know that the industry is richer for their presence.” Dianna is speaking for Dean and herself when she draws attention to Darci and Justin Daniels (Hixton, US), Sheila Sundborg (Ormstown, Quebec, Canada) and Katie Kearns (USA, relocating to a new position with Gen-Com). She elaborates. “These four have impacted our lives in the last years.  All have visited and lived with us without knowing us beforehand. And they have all become part of our extended family. And that is the real gift of this industry. The friendships that form and stick. Katie left this week after living with us for the last six months and we are planning some exciting things with Katie with some cattle within her new role. Darci and Justin are already partners in cattle with us and they have registered Bluechip-USA on our behalf and one day we hope to show a string of cattle at the WDE. Nothing like dreaming big, is there?”

Dean and Dianna also host many international students and young breeders and shared their wealth of knowledge.  Shown here are Katie Kearns(left) and Darci and Justin Daniels(Right).

Dean and Dianna also host many international students and young breeders and shared their wealth of knowledge. Shown here are Katie Kearns(left) and Darci and Justin Daniels(Right).

Bullvine Bottom Line

Dreaming big and working hard is the key. To the Malcolms it is teamwork and solidarity that is building their present and protecting their future. As they set an example of hope for others, we encourage them. “You have a huge wall of support around you. Keep laughing and believing in yourself. You’re already so outstanding, we’re completely gobsmacked!”

 

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Recently the Bullvine wrote an article, “Is Down Under Going Under?” which initiated an ongoing exchange of emails between Murray Hunt and Dianna Malcolm.  Despite her happiness with the “positive messages regarding our sale”, Dianna was somewhat revved up. “Your blog’s timing was just appalling in terms of our sale marketing. The story was fair, but we had our balls to the wall and we were trying to be so positive for ourselves and our courageous co-vendors.”   With a little coaxing on our part, Dianna agreed to give us a more fully rounded picture of the situation. So settle in for a trip down under to the State of Victoria, where Dianna and husband Dean keep at least five business growing. It numbers even more when you include their commitment to encouraging the young, the dedicated and even the discouraged dairymen and women to hang on to hope in these crazy times for the Australian dairy business.

dean and dianna malcom2

Keeping Up and Always Moving Forward

When faced with adversity in the dairy business, there are many who would scale back.  Not so for Dean and Dianna Malcolm, who were born into dairy families and inherit their work ethic and, probably their tenacity, from their parents.  At the present time, they have no less than five businesses that grew out of their shared expertise:  Crazy Cow in Print and website; Public Relations; Bluechip Genetics; Extreme Genetics and Cattle Photography. These are their offspring. “We were unable to have a family, so we have instead put our energy into the business.” And what considerable energy that is. Indeed the Malcolms continually widen their circle as they polish every aspect of their passion for dairying.

apple daughters at bluechip

Bluechip Apple Spice (left – sold for $101,000) and Bluechip Toffee Apple (Right)
(photo taken at 6 1/2 mths old)
Dam: KHW Regiment Apple, EX95, Grand Champion R&W WDE 2011, All World R&W 2010

The Tall Poppy Syndrome

“We do push each other and ourselves to be the best we can be.” says Dean referring to the successes they have already measured. “We started Bluechip Genetics from the ground up in 2006. The farm comprises 225 acres, milking 125 cows averaging over 10,000 litres at a 4.1% fat and a 3.3% protein. We have 125 heifers (40 bulls to be sold as herd sires) and 50 Angus cattle, which are used as recips. We are honoured to have partnerships with Mike Deaver, Mike and Julie Duckett, Ferme Blondin and St Jacobs/Tim Abbott, which has been exciting. We also have a number of awesome Australian partners and Dean and Jo Geddes, from Tahora in NZ.” They stand poppy-tall in the showring too where they have been Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor for the last three successive years at the fourth biggest show in the world, International Dairy Week (IDW).

Bluechip Alexander Whynot Recent Jr Champion  at IDW.  Owned by Bluechip Genetics & Averill Leslie

Bluechip Alexander Whynot
Recent Jr Champion at IDW. Owned by Bluechip Genetics & Averill Leslie

The Dean and Di Duo: She Fits the Words .. He Fits the Cows

Success for this couple hinges on working closely together while highlighting their different areas of expertise.  Dianna’s background in mainstream media (including working as a reporter in television) has been a big help. The CrazyCow website was established in 2000 and CrazyCow in Print has been up and running since 2003. Dean and Dianna see key advantages to their shared talents. “At the core of it all, Dean was a successful cattle fitter, so we do have the advantage of being able to manage and develop (and now to also market cattle through photography and CrazyCow) relatively inexpensively in-house.” Both get to travel (for instance regularly to the World Dairy Expo). “And through CrazyCow and Bluechip, we have found like-minded partners and supportive networks that keep us thinking globally and moving forward.”

CC_CoverCrazyCow In Print

Dean and Dianna are justifiably gratified at CrazyCow In Print’s evolution.  “When we started the first all breeds journal of the modern era back in 2003 out of our lounge room it was in the middle of the drought and so many people said it wouldn’t work. But it has endured, grown and been mirrored by a number of other international publications. To now have international respect and interest for a magazine produced in Australia is a personal triumph for us both. It’s also good for the Australian industry to be showcased and understood by the greater global dairy community.”

To Market. To Market.

The Malcolms have complimentary roles with the cattle too “I rear the calves and Dean takes my babies from eight months of age to complete their development and plan their careers.” And then promotion clicks in: both showing and picturing. “We believe print advertising still plays a huge part in the dairy industry. But, in particular, Facebook is becoming massive and we try to manage a balance between the social media and the various in print mediums. We have also pursued video work, which has been distributed through social media, and that has been incredibly successful.” Dean sums up their marketing philosophy: “We also work extremely hard to build stronger and deeper cow families in terms of show ring success, picturing, classification and production.” Is it becoming clearer what triggered their concern over worldwide attention to the Aussie dairying troubles?

Cover_2013“Advertising is Critical!!! Just Critical!!!!!”

Like any entrepreneurs who put everything on the line, the Malcolms risked everything for their recent Bluechip Invitational Sale. “We had all our marketing on the line, because we used CrazyCow In Print and FB to market, including the video that young industry talent Bradley Cullen, Di and I made,” Dean said.  “So many people were fearful that our sale would not fly … and, to be honest, we depend on marketing cattle to keep the farm going forward because there is not enough money in milk right now. But we also had CrazyCow on the line because we had marketed so heavily through there (naturally) and we knew people would judge that decision too. Di and I stuck together and put up 75% of our young in-milk team and our best heifers in a year that I have to wonder if others would have done.” They kept moving forward but recognized what was at stake. “To say I wasn’t breathing when the sale started is an understatement – but this sale proved that good animals, with the right pedigrees, presented in the right form do sell,” Dianna said.  The sale averaged $6600 overall – Bluechip animals averaged $7300.  How does she feel today? “Dean is more courageous than me, perhaps because he is such a detailed planner. For me, I’m just so relieved to have this sale behind us. It was (in the end) a positive day for the whole industry and hopefully injected some hope into the whole game that has been seriously missing in Australia.”  Thank goodness for today’s marketing. Both Malcolms feel it is “so much more immediate, fun and so empowering.”

Top price at the Bluechip sale was Bluechip Goldwyn Frosty, Goldwyn X Dundee x Harvue Roy Frosty, sold for Top price $72000 (Pictured here with the outstanding sale crew)

Top price at the Bluechip sale was Bluechip Goldwyn Frosty, Goldwyn X Dundee x Harvue Roy Frosty, sold for Top price $72,000 (Pictured here with the outstanding sale crew)

Knickers and Knockers – A Knotty Situation

With a quick sigh of relief due to their well-earned success, Dean and Dianna readily admit that there are still many challenges facing them. What you may ask could ever faze these two.  Dianna answers with heat. “ Milk price!!! And our useless government!” She feels quite strongly about these two. “Strangely, that has hurt us more even than the droughts, the floods, the pestilence and the severe heat (animals aren’t housed indoors in Australia)… So that gives you some idea of what we face right now. We have never seen it so tough.” Dean looks forward with a grim prediction. “If small business and agriculture are not more respected by our governments, there will be no food.  We love that saying: If you ate today, thank a farmer.” The picture isn’t pretty in fact they both describe it as “horrific.” “We have been pushed into working harder and harder, for less and less,” Dean said. “Without our passion we would have exited this industry long ago because we have the ability to make money in other lines of work. Someone must be making money from our product. The world needs more and more food, yet primary production (not just dairy) in Australia has been smashed. That goes for small business too. It is criminal really. No-one is educating the next generation about farming and they are getting more and more disconnected. It is incredibly disappointing and concerning. Milk price needs to lift significantly and immediately because when farmers make money, everyone makes money.” Dianna adds: “Sadly, farmers are so independent that achieving solidarity is no mean feat and that is what we all need to achieve change (in my opinion).” If only more opinions were so eloquently expressed and actively implemented but there is only so much time for these multi-faceted business entrepreneurs.

Dean and Dianna also host many international students and young breeders and shared their wealth of knowledge.  Shown here are Katie Kearns(left) and Darci and Justin Daniels(Right).

Dean and Dianna also host many international students and young breeders and shared their wealth of knowledge. Shown here are Katie Kearns(left) and Darci and Justin Daniels(Right).

“We Don’t Have a Life”

It’s hard to picture with so much going on that the Malcolms declare that they don’t have a life.  Dianna does give a clue to the management philosophy. “There are some very robust conversations in this house, but we have a common goal so we usually work it out without too much bloodshed.” We’re sure it is much more peace loving than that and she agrees. “The fact that we’re still married might be viewed as an accomplishment in this fast-moving world.”  Of course they don’t have a life.  They have five lives.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Constant change (much of it unsettling) is unfortunately the current situation for dairying in many parts of the world.  For these two Aussies we are grateful that they are sharing their passion and enthusiasm.  We wish Dean and Dianna Malcolm all the best as they continue to turn things up down under!

 

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