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There are numerous good reasons why you don’t want your name to be on a MOST WANTED criminals list.   But today we are going to talk about 10 good reasons to work hard to get your dairy farm to be on a MOST WANTED FACEBOOK list. To be a Facebook Most Wanted you need to identified, recognized and sought after. Let’s look at ways you can use this form of social media to capture positive attention.

  1. Post an Action Photo
    Share photos of your employees in action. Show photos of changing seasonal activities around the farm. It’s especially good to show staff as they handle the animals, from calving to milking. Get your readers in on the action. Post two or three and ask for readers to “like” the selection or choose their favorite. When a new calf is born, ask for suggestions for names.  Give them the parameters you’re working in.  For example, the name must start with letter “M” or fit in with the “Domino Family”.
  2. Look Behind-the-Scenes
    Quite often people think of just one activity on the dairy farm, and that is usually milking. You can post pictures that show how your business operates behind the scenes. This lets them see your office or shots of the variety of people who come to the farm and gives them a more dynamic understanding of how full each day is. When they see the large number of people you interact with: veterinarians, consultants, numerous feed suppliers and of course, the big tanker trucks that pick up the milk – they will gain an appreciation for how much organization and logistics it takes to get milk from the stable to the table.
  3. Show the Funny Side of the Farm
    Many non-farmers have romanticized ideas of how easy, simple and bucolic life on a dairy farm must be. We all know that there is a lot of hard work involved in this 24/7 career, but there are also opportunities to acknowledge the lighter, brighter and fun side of working with animals on a farm.  The previously mentioned animal shots are a start to winning engaged followers, but many farm families are also creative in the way they bring togetherness and fun to their routine.  Picnics in the field.  Shots of future farmers with their favorite “pet” calf.  Family conversations taking place anywhere on the farm, from haylofts to manure pits to leaning on the top rails to look at animals.   I am fully convinced that this is how our family learned to look at life “from both sides of the fence.” Life on the farm is hard work but it is never boring or dull, and there’s always room for laughter and fun.  This humanizes food producers and is something that will benefit us too as we count — and post — our bovine blessings!
  4. “Let’s Talk!”
    Sometimes when we feel that dairy farmers are understood; we bemoan the fact that we don’t have time to defend ourselves against what seems like constant criticism. Rather than worry about what we aren’t doing right, by using Facebook we have the opportunity to start a conversation — or a monolog — about what we’re doing right.  What we are hoping for is to engage our audience in affirming dairying as a business.  Instead of just seeking for a “like” when you give a status update, give your non-farming viewers an opportunity to share their perspective.  Instead of “I’m off to the barn for milking at 4m.” you can say, “Headed out for the 4 a.m. milking and ask, “What do you do to get your morning started right?”
  5. “Can you help me?”
    People love to answer questions. Even more, than that they like to help solve problems. When you are mystified about non-dairy concerns, you can honestly ask for clarification. It’s a great way to build trust.  There is no need to whine or be negative about bad press, but as you build Facebook followers, you will naturally have some questions raised about your animal care of farm practices.  If you deal with the questions openly and honestly, you will have readers who become more invested and engaged in understanding what dairy farming involves.
  6. “Show Off Your Employees”
    Whether it’s a small family farm or very large dairy production center, another great way to show your personality is to show off your employees. Post pictures of your calf care team.  Post an interview with your herd manager.  If you are installing something new … make and post a video diary of your staff getting the job done.  The best thing about this kind of content is that it humanizes dairying and contributes to the image of teamwork between employees and animals that makes everything flow smoothly.
  7. “Share a Pat on the Back!”
    Another facet of recognizing the human side of your dairy team involves congratulating them! This includes simple birthday and anniversary congrats but also recognizes extra-curricular studies or certification that your staff earns, as thy continue to grow their dairy strengths and abilities.  This one small pat on the back – shared openly on Facebook – builds both self-esteem and teamwork.  A simple “way to go” actually goes a long way toward building for the future.
  8. Keep Calm and React to Controversies Promptly
    In this 21st Century, there is always something controversial going on. Sometimes it’s not directly related to dairying, and you can comfortably piggyback your opinions on the news by offering your viewpoint.  This can generate a lot of buzz – especially if your position is an alternative one. But, while this may cause arguments, it is still more comfortable than when the controversy directly involves you or your farm. When you are in the middle of controversy, the key is to react promptly and honestly. But don’t just say your opinion. Support your position with facts and evidence.  Keep calm.  Don’t over-react.  Accept responsibility if that is called for. Things happen. The goal is to keep the conversation open. Name calling and character assassination can destroy all the good that you have been trying to build.
  9. Give Testimonials
    Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if all our hard work earned us those lovely little testimonial pieces that scroll by on Facebook news pages? We may not have the celebrity status for this, but there is nothing stopping us from being a promoter of our fellow dairy breeders.  What is surprising about the idea of recognizing with photos and/or videos of what other dairy people are doing, is the fact that so few people take some time to do it.  At the end of the day, the best promotion comes from the stories we share – and that get shared — about the great job we are doing. Is your dairy neighbor generous with his time in leading 4-H?   Has another local dairy farm consistently topped the production or management lists?  Do you know someone who donates produce, time or finances to those who are less fortunate?  Facebook is excellent at giving a face to the heroes among us.
  10. A Facebook Farm Tour is Worth a 1000 Words
    It goes without saying that those farms which have the staff and time to give tours unanimously report a growing level of support from the public who takes part in the opportunity. When non-farmers are able to get face to face with dairy staff, they rarely leave without a heightened understanding of the passion that inspires dairy folks. For the rest of us, Facebook is the answer. Sometimes all you have to do is answer the recurring questions with a picture or quick video. The main thing here is to engage with what people want to know. It’s a close as you can get to a personal meeting. Use your virtual tour as a way to open the door to ongoing trust and communication.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Try some of these ten methods to get your Farm Facebook page on the most sought after lists. It’s good for the dairy industry when farm Facebook postings become Most Wanted. To miss this opportunity would be a crime.



To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.




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For years, there has been considerable debate about how the person who leads or owns a cow influences a judge’s opinion and how the judge places the class.  With the introduction of Facebook and other social media platforms, this debate has been amplified.  Which leads to the question “Have Facebook and other social media platforms infected the show ring?”

There is no doubt that Facebook is the most powerful social tool in the history of mankind.  The ability for Facebook to connect people with similar interests from around the world is unmatched.  Previously, when you wanted to know the results of a cattle show or how a particular cow looked at a show, you had to call someone you knew who was there or wait at least a month to see the results and a few posed pictures in a print magazine.  Now, in the age of social media, pictures are placed on Facebook even before the class has exited the ring. Larger shows now offer live streaming of the show and those at the show and/or watching the show online post their comments in real time.

How the World has changed

All this has significantly changed both the method and the speed that show oriented breeders communicate with one another.  However, has this changed how animals are placed in the show ring? Ten years ago, most often the first time a judge would have seen most cows would have been in the show ring on show day. But today  judges have more than likely seen pictures and heard comments on animals long before they ever enter the show ring.

One of the great things about social media is that it has enabled members of a small, remotely located community, such as the Tanbark Trail, to connect and share their thoughts very easily.  Many top judges are active on social media and they see how certain animals are doing at shows and how popular certain animals are, long before they enter the show ring to judge a show.

Everyone has an opinion

In the past, when members of the Tanbark Trail disagreed with a judge’s placing, their comments would only be heard by a select few.  Now in the age of social media, their opinion can reach thousands in a matter of minutes.  While I have not seen many negative comments about a judge, I have indeed seen comments made about how certain cows where “gifted” due to certain circumstances.  This touches on the question of the integrity of the show ring and those who are selected to judge it.

It’s a question of integrity

The question of integrity is not a new one.  It has been around for as long as there has been subjective cattle judging.  In the age of social media the need for integrity has been amplified.  One of the interesting challenges with selecting dairy cattle judges is the fact that the best ones are often very involved in the show scene.  This means that they have developed friendships, preferences and opinions over the years. The best judges have always been those that are able to let their judging performance not be influenced by these factors.  In the age of social media, a whole new level of integrity is required.  No longer is it just the opinion of a select few, but rather the opinion of thousands that can significantly influence a judge’s decision.  Those who are of the highest integrity are able to tune out all the traditional influences as well as the new ones that social media brings to the table.

There are some who would comment that judges should not be active on social media.  I argue the exact opposite.  I want a judge who is involved in the dairy community.  All aspects of the dairy industry.  In today’s day and age, that means social media as well.  There are many judges that are very active on social media and whom I trust to have the integrity  to tune out what they read on Facebook or see online when, they are making their final decision in the ring.

Does social success influence show ring results?

There are some that would say that how popular a cow is on social media greatly influences her placing at a major show.  I would argue that the reason that most of these cows have become so popular is because they have been able to demonstrate again and again their superior conformation and hence have developed a loyal following.  There is no question that many cows’ show ring pictures have been able to go viral on social media.  However, there is a very sound reason why these cows have great pictures….they are of superior conformation.

One of the great things about show ring pictures is that they are 100% honest.  Since these photos are being posted online usually within minutes of being taken, there is no opportunity for them to be doctored or altered in anyway.  Hence, when a cow looks great in her show ring picture, it is because she looked great in the show ring.

One of the greatest pleasures I get from taking pictures in the show ring at the major shows is that I am able to get the same view of the animals in the ring that the judges of the shows see when they make their decisions.  Often I receive comments from people outside the ring about how one cow placed higher than another when from their view it did not look correct.  Very seldom have I ever had a case where these questions proved accurate. When you see the pictures afterwards, you often see that particular cows looked better from a distance than they did up close.  So while many will let their personal preference or influences affect the questioner’s own opinion, I have seldom found a case where it was not at least a tossup or where one judge’s decision on the day may be slightly different than another’s.  However, never have I seen a blatant error on the judge’s part.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Judging a dairy cattle show is never easy. Since the introduction of social media and the growth of dairy show coverage, the job of judging has only gotten harder.  Probably the most important trait a judge has always needed is that of Integrity.  In today’s social media age, the necessity of integrity is greater than ever.  Now instead of hundreds of eyes watching you there are thousands, all with their own opinions.  Facebook and other social media platforms have done wonders for growing the popularity of the Tanbark Trail, but it has also led to the potential infection by the influences they bring.  It takes judges of the utmost integrity to tune all that out and place the animals based on how they appear on show day and only that day.  And that’s exactly what the best judges have been doing for years.


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top read 14 iconDoes your farm have a Facebook page?  Have you ever wondered what it takes to have a successful Facebook page for your dairy farm?  Well, look no further!

There is no question that Facebook has changed how dairy breeders connect with other breeders around the world.   Facebook has replaced the old print publications of the past. To find out the latest news and information, many breeders have either stopped advertising or have reduced how much they advertise in print publications and now leverage the power of Facebook to get their message out to the dairy community.

The following are the top 10 dairy breeder Facebook fan pages.   They have been evaluated based on, readership, engagement and the use of best practices.  Please note: In order to qualify for this list they needed to be an actual Facebook fan page and not a personal account.

10. Vanzetti Holstein

Vanzetti Holstein

1,108 Likes          167 People Talking About This    18 Posts Per Month        Joined Facebook on 08/25/2010

The only non-north American breeder page on our list, Vanzetti Holstein are from Turin Italy.  They have over 180 cows milking in two Lely robots.  Always sharing great content from around the world, their Facebook page has become very popular with those who follow them.

9. Ferme Jacobs

Ferme Jacobs

4,279 Likes          152 People Talking About This    16 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 11/21/2010

Doing an excellent job of sharing their many successes from the show ring, Ferme Jacobs has developed an extremely strong and loyal following for themselves. (Read more: FERME JACOBS: SUCCESS IS ALL IN THE FAMILY!)  For those that follow the North American show scene, the Ferme Jacobs Facebook page has become a must see, especially during World Dairy Expo, where the team at Ferme Jacobs produces many outstanding videos of their trip, highlighted last year by winning Supreme Champion honors with Maya (Read more: Ferme Jacobs 2013: A Journey of Magic, Maya and Mastery!).

8. Mistyglen Holsteins

Mistyglen Holsteins

1.952 Likes          107 People Talking About This    25 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 05/16/2010

Posting some of the most beautiful farm scene pictures on the web, Mistyglen Holsteins, recently installed a new Robotic milker and documented the whole process on their Facebook fan page. (Read more: Mistyglen Take Two: “Siblings and Robots Inc.”)  Mistyglen’s Facebook page does an excellent job of demonstrating to non-dairy breeders what a positive Dairy farming operation looks like.

7. Kingsway Farms

Kingsway Farms

2.245 Likes          141 People Talking About This    20 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 07/17/2111

Never afraid to shy away from a great conversation, the McMillan family of Kingsway Farms in Hastings Ontario does an excellent job of sharing their success and developing reader engagement.  Snapshots of the next great ones can regularly be seen on their Facebook page as well as many great conversations about what sires are getting the job done, or insight into what many breeders are talking about.

6. River Valley Farm

River Valley Farm

4,477 Likes          584 People Talking About This    30 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 05/21/2010

A 300-cow family farm focused on developing breed-leading cow families that deliver genetics that producers around the globe can believe in and trust, River Valley Farm does a good job of building their brand through Facebook.  With their recent agreement with Select Sires and the 7JE5000 stud code series, River Valley has certainly added Facebook as an important component of their marketing strategy.

5. Deer Hill Ayrshires & Brookview Ayrshires and Holsteins

Deer Hill

Deer Hill Ayrshires
1,368 Likes          125 People Talking About This    20 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 03/18/2011

Brookview Ayrshires and Holsteins

Brookview Ayrshires and Holsteins
1,060 Likes          280 People Talking About This    30 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 07/02/2011

For those of you that think you need to be a Holstein breeder in order to have success on Facebook, you need to look at Deer Hill Ayrshires from Maine, and Brookview Ayrshires and Holsteins from New Zealand.  These two herds do a fantastic job of regularly posting and have built up an extremely loyal following.  Both do an excellent job of posting unique content that is non-promotional and very engaging.  (Read more: The Magic of Francesca)

4. Ferme Blondin

ferme blondin

6,442 Likes          567 People Talking About This    30 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 07/07/2010

Ferme Blondin certainly knows about the power of using Facebook to drive genetic sales.  Dann Brady and the team do a great job of sharing what genetics they have available, while not boring you with nonstop sales messages.  They use a good mix of content to make sure that breeders are up-to-date, but not tuning out.  With some of the best genetics in the world, their following has indeed reached the International marketplace cost effectively through Facebook. (Read more: FERME BLONDIN “Passion with a Purpose Builds Success”)

3. Milk Source

Milk Source

5,556 Likes          3700 People Talking About This  15 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 07/21/2010

Milk Source, LLC operates dairies, animal-care facilities and cropland in Wisconsin, Michigan and Kansas.  With both genetics to market as well as consumers to build brand awareness for, Milk Source has a variety of content on their Facebook fan page.    With cows like Blondin Redman Seisme-Red getting ready for World Dairy Expo, Milk Source has built a broad and diverse following on their Facebook fan page.

2. Sandy-Valley Farms

Sandy-Valley Farms

2,976 Likes          645 People Talking About This    22 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 01/19/2012

Possessing some of the best genetics in the world, might make some dairy breeders get lazing with their marketing strategy, Not Sandy-Valley Farms.  (Read more: Pine-Tree Monica Planeta Is the New Genomic Super Star Maker) Instead of just posting their outstanding results, Danae Bauer and the team at Sandy-Valley do an excellent job of using photos to help build engagement.  Danae has done such a great job of this she has recently started her own successful photography business, Farmgirl Photography.  (Read more: DANAE BAUER: Capturing the Passion)

1. Luck-E Holsteins

Luck-E Holsteins

8,205 Likes          833 People Talking About This    12 Posts Per Month  Joined Facebook on 03/07/2010

With one of the top type herds in the world, Luck-E Holsteins has done a fantastic job at marketing their genetics through Facebook.  It’s not just luck for the team at Luck-E they have put a great deal of effort into developing the largest following of any Dairy Breeder Facebook fan page in the world.  With many outstanding classification and show results to share with the world, Luck-E Holsteins certainly has figured out how to use Facebook to market their genetics to the world.  (Read more: Luck-E Holsteins: The Harder they work, the Luck-E-r they get!)

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, check out what others are doing and tweak these strategies to make them your own!

What do you think about the above Facebook pages? Please leave your comments below.



To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.




Chipotle Mexican Grill is not new to pushing the edge with their advertising.  This time they have plans to launch “Farmed and Dangerous,” a Chipotle original comedy series that satirically explores the world of industrial agriculture in America. (Read more: Chipotle to Launch “Farmed and Dangerous”)  When I saw this, ad it brought to light again the constant battle farmers and especially dairy farmers face when dealing with public perception.

There is no question that consumers want their food to be fresh, cheap and 100% natural.  With the emphasis being that, they want it cheap.  All consumers would like to believe that the milk they drink comes from cows that roam lush green pastures and frolic with their friends all day long.  The challenge of course is that it just doesn’t happen that way.  In order to produce the volumes of milk that is needed at the lowest cost, the need for larger “agribusinesses” or the negatively perceived “factory” farms is not a choice but a necessity. The thing is any well run dairy operation knows the first requirement for maximum efficiency and production comes down to how well you treat your cows and how comfortable they are.  Cow comfort is one of the biggest indicators of profitability on any dairy.  If the cows are well fed and comfortable, the dairy is running at peak efficiency, even “factory farms.”

That is why this new “Farmed and Dangerous” video from Chipotle offends me as much as it does.  Over the years, I have had the opportunity to walk among the cows on many large farms.  The consistent management goal found on all of them is maximizing cow comfort.  I recently watched an informative video by National Geographic – Megafactories about a 135,000 head dairy in Saudi Arabia owned by Almarai.

The problem is that messages like the one from National Geographic get lost.  Instead consumers see repeated messages like the one by Chipotle and assume that they are seeing the way things really are.  Since starting the Bullvine, we have tried to do our part to provide consumers with an accurate and positive perception of dairy farming…  (Read more:  Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country, Michele Payn-Knoper – Standing Up and Speaking Out for Agriculture!! and TOM HOOGENDOORN- Family man, Farmer & Our Face to the Consumer!).  Unfortunately, the challenge is that the message is simply not making it through to the general consumer often enough or clearly enough.  Yes large agribusinesses do try to put a positive spin on food production and I get it that it’s not always as sweet and rosie as the image they would have you believe.  Having said that, they certainly don’t need companies like Chipotle undermining these efforts.

I have been fortunate over the years to be exposed to many different cultures and backgrounds.  This has led to a very diverse group of friends on my Facebook feed.  Since I post all the Bullvine featured articles on my Facebook wall, I often get interesting feedback from those who do not come from a dairy background.  While most often questions about arise from them wanting to understand what this whole “Genomics” thing is about, the interaction gets me thinking about the effect our Facebook feeds have on the general consumer’s understanding of agriculture and milk production.

With this in mind, I started looking through my list of dairy friends’ Facebook posts.  For the most part, it was just the same as any other groups, except there are a lot of pictures of cows.  With #felfie’s and other pictures adding a nice touch.  Then I started to see some things that most consumers would just not understand.  One such piece of content was a trend that is going viral, #necknominations.  Necknominations is a drinking game where participants film themselves “necking” liquor, then nominate a friend to do so as well.  This was not the first time I had seen these.  I have actually seen many.  After one such time, a fellow dairy industry member wondered what effect this would have on the general consumer’s perception of dairy farmers.  As I think about this, I find that, while it’s not a “positive” thing for dairy farmers, it certainly is not an isolated event for them either.  It has become viral worldwide.  Unfortunately it even lead to the death of a young man.  This really has me thinking about the power of Facebook on consumer perception.

What I have come to realize is that Facebook does have great power and it can be in a very positive way.  I have seen items like the poem (Just a cow) that highlights just how much dairy farmer’s love for their cows can go viral along with the stories that share the day-to-day challenges that all dairy farmers face in producing clean, wholesome milk.

One video that I think does a great job of  showing  exactly what it means to be a dairy farmer, is the recent video the Canadian Dairy Xpo produced called “So God Made a Dairy Farmer”.  Working off the very viral Super Bowl commercial by Dodge Ram, this video is narrated by the unique voice and great dairy advocate and legendary auctioneer, David Carson.

It highlights the daily challenges dairy farmers face and it is messages like this one that I wish more consumers would see and relate to.  Please like and share this in your Facebook feed, so that more consumers can understand exactly what it means to be a dairy farmer.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is no question that as the world’s population grows, there is going to be greater and greater demand for dairy products.  With that comes the pressure on prices, which will lead to larger and larger dairy farms.  While I understand we all don’t have the time to take up consumer education like Dairy Carrie or Michele Payn-Knoper, there are effective  things that each of us can l do.  On your Facebook feed, be sure to post as many positive images of dairy farming as you can.  Whether  that is a new born calf (yes Jerry Jorgenson, you do this well!) and be sure to let consumers know just how much you love what you are doing and the pride you have in taking great care of your dairy cattle.  Real farmers actively sharing and communicating is definitely the most honest and effective way to give consumers a positive perception.  While it may not seem like much, every little bit helps!?”


To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.




The sales and marketing strategies that worked a decade ago are no longer viable. When our family was young there was a battle for the Holstein Journal … and the winner locked his or her self in the washroom to fend off contenders.  Today’s reach goes far beyond the throne room. Whenever the family gathers, there are several (never less than one) handheld devices in the room. This guarantees that the most familiar view that we get to see of spouses, offspring and grandchildren is the top of their heads!

Obviously, if you are reading this you know how to connect to the Internet.  Perhaps you are also following The Bullvine on Facebook and Twitter.  Perhaps one of your new pastimes is Pinterest. If these social media applications have made it to your house, they should also be making it into your marketing plan for selling your dairy cattle or dairy goods and services.

Here Are 9 Ways The Dairy Marketplace Has Changed And How We Can Stay Relevant Today!

  1. Don’t Waste Your Money!
    Everyone is watching their money these days.  The days of high spending and quick cash from international sales of bred heifers have gone the way of the dial telephone. Everyone is careful.  Everyone is informed (or should be). For many dairy operations, cash flow is tighter than it has been and they are looking to stretch their resources by purchasing less, but higher quality genetics, cattle and services.
  2. Get More Bang for Your Buck!
    Dairy breeders are looking to get the biggest bang for their buck.  When they decide to buy dairy genetics they are looking for cost savings or added value benefits. They seek to buy animals that will move them closer to achieving the goals they have set for their herd. Breeders must have “buy in” before they “shell out”. They want to be sure that the genetics, the production numbers or the conformation are going to move them ahead before they tap their resources.
  3. Go Where the Action Is
    Social media, social networking and the dominance of the internet in our everyday lives means you are now fighting for attention in a very “noisy” marketplace. If you choose to avoid the very visible interaction of social media, you are choosing to be invisible to the most dynamic and growing part of the modern dairy industry.  At the very least, not choosing social media, means not impacting the young breeders which are the future of the industry.
  4. Have Something to Say
    It isn’t enough to be seen … you must also be heard! In order to be heard, your content needs to be creative, dynamic and engaging. Okay doesn’t cut it.  You might as well surrender now if you have decided to simply move your same-as-everybody-else pictures from hard copy ads in breed magazines to social media sites.  Others will put in the time and resources it takes to create great content which will be shared and gain new life across the web. We are seeing live videos and you tube clips giving streaming pictures. Anything less will soon become another murmur that gets drowned out by the voices that are bold enough to stand out.
  5. Sharing is Caring
    It may sound childlike but sharing really is caring in our social savvy, hyper-connected marketplace. Word of mouth has always been important in how you and your cattle are known but today through social media that word is spreading to your friends, and their friends, family and social connections. Today, followers share your content on Face book, tweet their positive, and yes, negative experiences on Twitter and refer you through reviews on Yelp and Amazon.  They will send instant photos of your cows, heifers and calves and share your fan page and blog posts with their networks, which can have a reach of thousands.  It`s important to make your content easily sharable.  There are many tools that can help, but the key is to ensure that sharing is easy for them.
  6. The Social Media Farm lane is a TWO-WAY Street
    To miss out on testimonials and word of mouth that social sharing provides is a sure-fire strategy to sink into dairy obscurity.  Your most successful competitors are facilitating social sharing, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  The Internet doesn`t sleep.  Take advantage of your audience`s interests in sharing what’s happening in your herd with their networks.
  7. Go Mobile
    You have to meet your dairy customers where they are with messages that are relevant to them.  It`s not enough to blanket traditional marketing channels with generic messages.  Today`s cattle buyers spend less time reading ads in magazines and newspapers. Traditional advertising is getting bypassed. Even when your target audience is watching their favorite shows today, they are using their DVR to bypass the commercials or using the commercial breaks to browse the Internet or flip through their iPads.  To grab their attention you have to meet them where they are.  On their mobile devices.  If your website is not optimized for mobile, you are doing your web marketing a severe disservice.  If you are not spending time on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, then your potential customers, who are getting their fill of social interaction on these sites, all day long, are finding other dairy genetics providers to interact with.
  8. Are You Listening to Me?
    And if you`re failing to listen as much as you are taking on these social sites, then you are ignoring an opportunity to mine valuable research on what your target consumers are interested in, what motivates them, and what they are looking for.  Track your analytics and listen to what people are saying about you, and to you, on your social sites.  You can`t gather information that is more relevant and useful than customer feedback freely provided online.

One of the quickest ways to gain the attention of buyers of dairy genetics is to listen to them. Consumers want to be heard. It’s no longer enough to push out your message, no matter how well-crafted and attention getting your message may be. Today’s marketing has to be a two-way conversation between you and the buyer. Engagement is the best way to make an impact. Increase awareness of who you are and what you’re offering and you win the loyalty of those you are targeting.  Dairy breeders are passionate. Social sites are essential in creating that bond and ultimately the trust that is built on your care and shared interest in them, their dairy business and their feedback.

THE BULLVINE BOTTOM LINE “Are you still marketing to last decade’s customer?”

To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.




All Talk and NO Action

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Magazine ads promoting your herd cost a lot of money. So why are you wasting all that hard earned cash with no results? The ads that get the most attention are the ones that are eye catching, keep it simple and, most importantly, have a clear call to action.
Roy - ABS Global

You Can’t Have a Great Ad without a Great Photo

There is no question that dairy breeders love looking at great pictures of cattle. Instead of just a boring side shot, try to get different angles of your cattle. Three quarter rear shots are great at grabbing attention. Show multiple angles of your cow, in order to gain maximum attention.

The best ads use images that are interesting and large! As a general rule, your graphics should take up at least a quarter of your available space and can go up from there. Small graphics are distracting to your readers and do not have enough interest to draw a reader into the ad. (To learn more check out our interview with the best in the business, Patty Jones, about how to get the perfect picture).

Does it catch the readers Eye?

Tha Magic of Francesca

Read more about “The Magic of Francesca

Once you`ve got good photos! Make sure you get an eye-catching ad developed to go with them.  Print ads must be eye-catching and attractive to draw the viewer’s attention.  As Pam Nunes, the designer behind the great Ocean View Genetics ads says, “Remember…the purpose of an ad is to attract the reader’s eye enough to get them to read it…and want more.” (Read more – Ocean View Genetics: The Fine Art of Marketing Great Breeding).

There is no substitute for creativity.  Yes it takes more time and effort! However, it’s required in order to stand out from the crowd.  With the major dairy cattle magazines awash with ad after ad, and row after row, of cattle pictures, you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd.  The best way to do this is to think about the reason why you are doing the ad in the first place.  Who is the animal? What is the message that you want everyone to remember?

The”cow” is the center of your story.  If the best part of your cow, or the point you want to make is your cow family’s ability to produce great udders, then make the whole ad one large shot of her udder.  Keep your ad simple and put the detailed information on your website. Remember you want to accentuate how your animal is different and why they would want to buy your genetics.

Don’t Forget Your Call to Action

Probably my biggest pet peeve in all dairy cattle advertising happens when there is no call to action.  What is the point of spending all that money?  Exactly!  You want them to take action.  That is why the best ads make it very clear what that action needs to be.

In today’s age of the internet and social media there is no need to try and tell an animal’s entire history in the ad.  Instead make a clear call to action that brings them to your website or, better yet.  your Facebook page to get further information.  On those two sites you can have more daughter pictures and the rest of the story.  Breeders love big pictures so why try to squeeze so many shots into a small ad?  Instead give them one good eye catching image, with a clear call to action to come to your Facebook page to see more.

Facebook really can add a great dimension to your magazine advertising.  Recently I saw the following ad by Posal Farms that really get’s it.  It has two great cattle shots, not too much text and a definite call to action.  Posal is really leveraging the power of Facebook and is running a contest where you can vote for your favorite (Posal Daughter Contest).  In their ad, dead center and clear to all who read it, is the call for the reader to visit their Facebook page where they can be the judge.

 The Bullvine Bottom Line

Magazine advertising represents a large portion of many breeders’ promotional budgets. It is no longer enough merely to post an ad.  To attract the buyers you’re seeking, your ad must stand out and get attention.  Most of all it has to have a clear call to action.  An ad that is all talk and no action, results in no revenue.

Want to take your marketing to the next level, download our free guide “The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook“.

Want to take your ad’s to the next level, check out our dairy ad design services.



Stanton Brothers – Doing it right

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

In my career I have had the good fortune of getting to know and work with Ken Blanchard, bestselling business author of all time and creator of The One Minute Manager.  One of the great things that Ken has always said to me is that you cannot always be catching people doing things wrong, you also need to highlight when people are doing things right.  It’s for that reason that since I did point out the recent challenges Stanton Brothers had been having in proving sires, that I  also highlight when they are doing things right.

Under pressure from recent  publicity, including an article here on the Bullvine that pointed out that since the introduction of genomics the average Stanton Brother proven sire had actual daughter performance approximately 712 LPI  lower than their parent averages (Read more – The Hot House Effect on Sire Sampling), Stanton’s’ placed an ad in the recent Holstein Journal with some interesting Facts and Stats – as follows:

  • #1 Red Proven Sire
  • #1 GPA LPI Conformation Sire
  • #2 GPA LPI Sire Released in Canada
  • 15 Cows on the Top 100 GLPI list
  • 16 Heifers on the Top 100 GPA LPI Under 9 Month Old List
  • 19 Heifers on the Top 100 GPA LPI Over 9 Month Old List
  • 3 Heifers on the Top 12 GPA LPI Polled List
  • 135 Head Over +2200 GTPI

I love that Stanton Brothers have taken this proactive approach.  However, it did slightly miss the mark as most of these animals are still unproven and the publicity was about the inability to convert from unproven to proven.  As well, many on this list are from recent purchases of females (Read more – Genetics by Design Crosses the $4,000,000 Mark) and not proven sires.

Nevertheless we commend  Stanton Brothers for taking a proactive approach to managing their PR and continued investment in top genetics. Everyone needs an action plan for dealing with negative publicity.  We would recommend the following five steps:

  1. Look into the problem
    Identify the cause, if it’s not obvious. Get experts to verify/debunk any claims/rumors before making a public statement. The best way to regain credibility   is to quash unsubstantiated rumors with hard-hitting facts.  If the bad publicity is based on facts as this is, best to move on to #2.
  2. Acknowledge mistakes.
    If you’re receiving negative publicity because you made a mistake, people will trust you more if you own up to any issues, rather than if you attempt to cover up what happened. “That way they understand that if there is ever [another] problem, they can trust that you can be approached about it.”
  3. Get on Facebook
    The vast majority of conversation these days is occurring on Facebook.  Instead of just hitting the few thousand magazine subscribers, hit the tens of thousands that are online talking.  It’s more than just having a Facebook page, it`s about joining the community and taking part in the conversation.  (Read more – 7 Reasons Why Your Dairy Farm Needs to be on Facebook)
  4. Enlist supporters to speak on your behalf.
    You can’t underestimate the power of satisfied clients. When negative publicity surfaces, your loyal customers are often your best advocates.  It is best if you can get these people to comment right at the source of the bad publicity.  On the other hand, don`t leave them hanging out there on their own.
  5. Follow up continually
    After the initial storm has subsided, do not let up with re-building your image.  Once dented, your image will be vulnerable to attacks for some time to come.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Negative publicity is never easy to deal with.  With the introduction of social media things have greatly amplified (Read more – How Social Media is Changing The Holstein World).  It’s no longer just a couple of people talking over the bulk tank, it’s thousands of people talking around the world.  When bad publicity happens you need to act fast.  Even for breeders who have not faced the challenge of negative publicity, it is still important to have a public relations strategy in order to promote your herd (Read more – Marketing Lessons from Glen Drummond Aero Flower).  You absolutely must stay engaged!

To learn more about how to get your farm on Facebook download the Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook


For most of us The Eastside Lewisdale prefix is associated with the fame of “Missy”. Maria Jones, Marketing Manager for Eastside Holsteins modestly summarizes the connection. “Here at Eastside, we were lucky enough to have co-bred Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy EX 95, Grand & Supreme Champion at World Dairy Expo and the Royal in 2011.  That has really helped our exposure and marketing, not only of the Missy Family, but of other families here at Eastside”. As Bloyce Thompson, owner of Eastside Holsteins, points out, “When Missy took off as a Jr 2 yr old, we needed to be able to capitalize, get on board and go with her success.”  The fact that Missy’s sister Amaze flushed well put even more marketing opportunities in front Eastside and partner Lewisdale (Read More – You Can Bank on Amaze to Pump up the Volume). “Our main focus has been selling embryos from well known families and making sure each customer is very satisfied with their purchase.”


Supreme Champion WDE 2011. Grand Champion WDE 2011.
Supreme Champion RAWF 2011. Grand Champion RAWF 2011

Viewing the Future from EASTSIDE Out!

Bloyce and partner Jamie Lewis, of Lewisdale Holsteins, thought over the potential they were facing and decided to set up a new company Eastside-Lewisdale.  They plan to have it underway early in 2013. One of their visions is of an embryo community.  In order to do that, they know that they have to plan not only the financial side but also how to brand their genetic products. “We thought about it and decided we need email a web site” and all of the modern technology that puts PEI fully accessible to the marketplace. Bloyce admits “We knew we wanted someone who had great computer skills.” That’s where Maria Jones came into the picture.

Maria Jones

Maria Jones
Marketing Manager at Eastside Holsteins

MISSY meets MARIA:  Behind Every Super Star There is a Super Marketer!

It wasn’t long before the marketing part of the plan was put into action says Bloyce, with the hiring of Maria Jones. “I knew Maria had computer skills and that she was between jobs.  She lived on PEI and started part time which has grown to almost two-thirds time now.” Maria has demonstrated her technical ability and how comfortable she is with global communication. Bloyce is enthusiastic, “She is a person I can give ideas to and she can take it from there.” Sales numbers are backing up the wisdom of the hiring a marketing person.”Since Maria started embryo sales are up 90%”
Eastside Ad

New Tools Greatly Enhance Familiar Methods

Modesty is contagious around PEI and Maria points out.”Of course, you have to have the product people want and be ready to roll.” As a marketing manager, she wears many different hats and faces the challenges and logistics of, not only marketing the products but getting them delivered. She notes,” In the cattle business it can be very complex and goes beyond the designing to record keeping, financial and managing the workload.” Time pressure is an added incentive. Bloyce states what he feels is obvious, “Holstein genomics is moving so fast that you must always be developing for the future market.” He gives an example. “Hailey has taken over From Missy so we must adapt to that.” Every tool is analysed and critiqued. “Embryo sales at World Dairy Expo time went well. We will likely try that again another year.”

More Information Sourced and Delivered with New Tools

Maria is well aware of modern tools. “We have been using Facebook and Twitter. It really helps communicate to our customers what is going on at Eastside.  They know about our new purchases and what embryos we have available. We report show results and just about anything else that is happening.” They see the potential of using social media for real time updates. “On a daily basis, we broadcast to our audience around the world what is happening.  It has been a very successful tool for Eastside.” Maria feels this asset also serves another valuable purpose, “It is a great advantage that we have two-way communication with others about what is going on in the industry.”

Good Two-Way Communication = Marketing Progress

Everyone at Eastside agrees that communication is important to their marketing strategy. Maria lists her favorite sources, “The internet, magazines, mixing and communicating with others at Shows and Sales are all great ways to keep up with the industry.” She is always eager to pick up something new. “I just keep an eye on what is going on around me and always notice everyone’s marketing efforts.  I enjoy seeing all the new ideas and try to understand why they thought it was a good idea.  I always keep in mind that they are in the same boat as I am!” She sums up the three L’s of her marketing philosophy, “I am never one to judge but I listen, look and learn!”

The Challenges of Dairy Marketing

In the fast paced world of modern dairy marketing it is important to know your priorities. Bloyce says the challenge is clear.  “You must always plan ahead and have the current product that people want.” There are the usual business pressures to keep costs under control but this team feels that marketing must be able to reach the huge number of potential clients based around the world. Bloyce recalls, “A decade ago, living on PEI was a major disadvantage but, today, with the World Wide Web, location is not a problem.” This opportunity also presents the main challenge, “We are only touching a fraction of the market.” Both Bloyce and Maria recognize that creating interest means constantly facing deadlines. For instance “The website must be updated 3-4 times per week.” Although that might seem simple, it too turns on the speed of responses to email, phone calls and messages. Maria acknowledges,”It can be frustrating.” But admits that “Marketing can be a fun and enjoyable career.”

Eastside Ad 2Walk in Your Buyer’s Boots and Walk Fast

Bloyce repeats business maxims we all know to be true, “The way that you position yourself, how you use words and how you treat customers are all very important.” He sees dairy breeding evolving to produce “a more functional cow with stronger immunity, better female reproduction and requiring minimum labour.”  Maria agrees that the market drives demand, “We have turned to more of what the market will be looking for in the future, namely the polled breed and genomics.” Acknowledging that everyone is not interested in the same thing she feels that “Eastside has got you covered” by providing show cattle, type and genomics.

Develop Marketing Skills Where You Find Them

Drawing on his positive experience, Bloyce sums up the best advice he has for those looking to market their dairy genetics.  First and foremost he feels “It is absolutely necessary that you have a product people want to buy.”  Once you have met that hurdle, he suggests “Get with technology both on the farm and in marketing.”  He points out what he feels is an obvious resource to develop, “Why not bring your children into the business via the marketing side of the farm, instead of just through the labour side.” He sums up his reasoning quite convincingly, “Kids run computers with their eyes closed.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

At the end of the day, marketing only works if the story moves off the planning page and produces measureable results.  Eastside and Lewisdale are banking on good marketing based on a philosophy of “Listen, Look and Learn” to promote their supply of genetics that the market is asking for.  The future looks ready to shine brightly for Eastside-Lewisdale.



To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.





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