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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.



Have you ever heard someone describing something that they thought was truly magical?  For Ysabel Jacobs the description sounds like this: “You dream about it all your life.  You work for it. And then it happens. It’s like the world has stopped turning just to see one cow.” Such was a magical experience for Ferme Jacobs Inc. of CapSanté Quebec when Bonnaccueil Maya Goldwyn EX-95-2E was named Supreme Champion of World Dairy Expo. (Read more: World Dairy Expo 2013 Holstein Show Results and World Dairy Expo 2013 – Memories to last a Lifetime) Standing in the spotlight, she had fulfilled Ysabel and Yan Jacobs’ vision. “We bought Maya with Tyler Doiron and Ferme Drolie as a 2 year old because we thought she had the potential to one day to be a great cow. After working with her for many years it was an amazing accomplishment to see her make it all the way to World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion!” For us to achieve this goal was especially exciting. From the beginning we knew what we were looking for. We love a good balanced cow with a tremendous udder. To develop a cow to this level and see one of ours in the middle of the Supreme Champion Parade was a proud moment for us!”

Bonnaccueil Maya Goldwyn EX-95-2E
Supreme Champion of World Dairy Expo

“Magic Can’t Be a One Time Thing”

You might be tempted to say that Christmas came early for these Canadian breeders.  However this outstanding success in 2013 wasn’t confined only to October. Or only to the showring. In March Ferme Jacobs received their third Master Breeder Shield.  This represents three shields in three generations and, according to the Jacobs, teamwork earns the credit. “We are very proud to be on a team that goes on from generation to generation. Now we are looking forward and striving to have our 4th one someday. As long as the passion for good cows is there, the success will follow.” Ysabel & Yan have the experience to admit. “There is no such thing as overnight success when you are developing cattle from the time they are born to the time they show.” Obviously, there are a lot of years of work behind the success and this year set two new benchmarks. “This was the first time Ferme Jacobs won Premier Breeder and Best 3 females at the 6 major shows we went to. This also was the year we had 3 cows out of 4 in the Bred and Owned Championship at World Dairy Expo and won the Exhibitor award at the Royal with bred cows and heifers!”   In somewhat of an understatement they sum it up modestly. “All together these wins made it a big year for us. The best we have ever had!”


“It takes Working Together and It Takes Focus”

Ysabel describes what is needed. “It takes lots of people around us to make this happen but mainly, Dad, Mom, Yan and Veronic and Tyler and I. Dad is a “perfectionist”. Everything has to get done on time and in a perfect way whether it’s in the barn or in the field. Mom is the greatest mom you can have. She is a hard worker that supports her kids and grand kids all the time.”Ysabel feels strongly about her brother’s impact on Ferme Jacobs. “Yan has a grand passion for true type Holstein cattle. He is always in the barn working with cows to have them look the best they can.” The dialogue between Ysabel and Yan is frequent and that’s why it works.  “One of our keys to success is that we must call and text each other 25 times a day. All this even though we live right next to each other and work together!!!” We also have the support of our sister Laurie, who attends university and Kevin who has started a new farm with his wife Stephanie.


“There is a Secret Formula that Always Works for Ferme Jacobs!”

It is human nature to want to know the “secret” behind the magic that inspires us. For Ysabel and her husband Tyler Dorion it always comes down to “family” (Read more: Success is All in the Family at Ferme Jacobs). With such a big show season the family support is vital to their success says Ysabel. “At home, Dad and Mom are there full time when we are at the show. They will arrive at the show half way after the heifer show starts. Usually they arrive with all the kids and Yan’s wife Veronic. They always do chores and make sure everything is fine at home. Brother Yan will be there the night before or early that morning. Tyler usually comes the night before too! That’s the way that works best and is the way we’ve done it for a long time.”


“The Show Magic Depends on Hard Working Teams!”

When you’re on the outside looking in, it often appears that showring success comes easily. We forget that, in reality, there is a tremendous amount that goes on behind the scenes and it requires teamwork both on the farm and at the shows. Ysabel & Yan outline what is involved. “When Ysabel leaves for the shows, she often goes with her sister Laurie, her cousin Sam Drolet and her cousin Sonia Laganiere. The night man has an important job on the show crew. It takes somebody reliable and dedicated to do this job like Jason Agnew. We also have two clippers that work together. This year they were Pier-Olivier Lehoux and Mathieu Jalbert who has joined our team lately. We also work on show day with our past fitters for many years, Jonathan Lemay and Grabriel Richard (Cachou). On show day many other people like Kevin Jacobs, Xavier Lemay, Sylvain Cabonneau and Joelle Saucier who help make this team stronger year after year. As well we have a trainee every year who helps at the show and looks after the show cattle at the farm. This year Phillipps Whatman from Australia worked with us for nine months and went with us to almost every show.  Of course, what makes it work so well is that we have a team at the farm that also believes in what we do at shows. The secret of the team is they all want to win, so everyone will have done their part to make the animals look their best on the show day.” She sums up the results realistically, “After that it’s the judge’s opinion.”


“There Must be a Method to Mastering Seven Shows On the Road”

The logistics of Ferme Jacobs show season are huge. “We go to 7 shows a year. Quebec Spring Show (17 head), Trois-Rivieres (18), Portneuf (8) (Local show), Quebec Provincial Show (22), WDE (18), EIHQ (20) and the Royal (15).” Ysabel feels that decision-making is working well. “To know who is going to the shows is simple. We bring out the one we like. Sometimes we try a new one or we hope for one, but as the show day comes, we know if we were right or wrong. We always have a few heifers on the show program and before the show we look at them on the walk and if we like them we take them. They usually skip a milking in the morning and around 1pm we look at them full of milk, and once again we bring out the one we like or we try a new one and see.


The Most Important Achievement for Ferme Jacobs is Always “The Next One!”

For breeders who have tasted showring success there never comes a time when they feel they have done it all and that it’s time to stop!   “When you have a good year, the market is really good. So far we have had good year every year since 2008. Marketing embryos is there for those cow families. We flush for what we believe can be good for us and we always keep a few for export at the same time. This year, we feel that we needed extra help for marketing embryos and so we had Frederic Fillion join our team. On the cow side we have had a good market for good pedigree cows for a few years. We have a lot of cows that are good enough for breeding from and to start a good flush program for a new farm.” For Ferme Jacobs there are some that they are watching to produce some more magic. “Jacobs Goldwyn Valana will be calving out as a 5 Year-Old. We also have two 4 Yr Olds calving, Blondin Alexander Armana  and Jacobs Atwood Melody, that look really good.” With modest understatement, she sums up the future. “We are hoping that we can find some more heifers to show and that we can calve new cows to show to everyone one more time!” Voila!

Jacobs Goldwyn Valana

Jacobs Goldwyn Valana

“Ferme Jacobs Stays Connected and Shares Their Passion”

“Winning the breeder banner for the first time at WDE in 2011 opened the market up for us! World Dairy Expo is the best marketing show that you can have. You have the time, the place and enthusiastic people from all around the world looking at your cattle.” Ferme Jacobs also uses technology to keep in touch with the dairy marketplace worldwide. “We use Facebook and the Internet.  You can reach so many people.  Quite often it is simple news bits that raise the interest of other breeders who are as passionate as we are about cattle. It’s fast news and it’s quick and easy. All you have to do is “LIKE” Jacobs Facebook page if you haven’t done it already!” She says laughing before getting more serious about the effectiveness of the internet. “Our small videos that we’ve done on different ideas are followed by a lot of people. Some of our videos have been seen more than 10 000 times.” She enthuses about why this method is good for everybody. “Those videos give everybody the chance to see great images of the cattle, of the farm, from shows… etc and by using FACEBOOK to promote them, it’s perfect. Fast news once more.  Remember people are busy. Especially farmers.  So we have to provide small news. Videos are perfect when you are tired and you just want to look without reading.” Magical!

“They Stand Out Because They Never Give Up!”

Ysabel is quite realistic about show results.  “There is little difference between a 1st to a 5th place and it’s usually decided in the first six seconds that the judge looks at you.” She does not find this discouraging. “To be between 2nd and 5th just gives you more reason to come back stronger next show or next year… We are hard workers and never give up when we believe in something… We will do the extra hour of work 365 days a year to make those cows look better on one day. That’s why our kids know all the show cows and they’ve been heard yelling their names at the show! For them they are cheering on the best of the best!

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Not everyone can have the kind of year that Ferme Jacobs has experienced in 2013 but many can appreciate the passion it takes to aim for it. Ysabel sums up what reaching the pinnacle of success at World Dairy Expo meant to Ferme Jacobs “There is a magic energy around that show ring that you cannot find anywhere else.”

The Bullvine congratulates Ferme Jacobs on capturing both the magic and the mastery in 2013! That’s SUPREME!


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Every year we wonder if this year`s Expo will be able to surpass benchmarks set in the past..  This year was no different.  Coming into Expo, there was perhaps a little less optimism.  No one could foresee   that a former Expo Champion would add to her already great legacy or that a new legend was set to begin.  Unexpected.  Yes.  But that is exactly what happened.

A Living Legend Makes and Appearance

We arrived late to the show, after trying to juggle multiple companies in very different industries.  This meant that the first show that I got to see was the Brown Swiss Show.  Looking back, this show set the tone for the rest of my week as I witnessed and recorded one the greatest colored breed show cows of all time, OLD MILL E SNICKERDOODLE OCS EX-4E-94-USA, who made an appearance.  (Read more: The 12 Greatest North American Colored Breed Show Cattle of All-Time).  While Snickerdoodle did not add to her record 7 Grand Champion awards at Expo, as she was showing in the dry cow class, she did win her class and the hearts of all in the building who raised the roof with their applause.  (Read more: Elite Dairy Has Banner Day at International Brown Swiss Show).



Apple Takes Things to Whole New Heights

If Snickerdoodle gave us a glimpse into the past, KHW Regiment Apple-Red gave us a look into the past, present and the future.  Sure she looked amazing and was named Reserve Grand Champion.  She showed off her trademark depth, angularity and balance but that was not enough for the living legend.  Apple-Red was able to take things to a level that might never be able to be repeated ever again.  Her clone, KHW Regiment Apple 3-Red-ETN who is the   spitting image of a younger Apple-Red was the only cow that was able to beat her on this day.  Yes you could say she was beaten by herself.  And to add to the growing legend, her daughter MS Candy Apple-Red-ET was named Honorable Mention Grand Champion.  (Read more: KHW Regiment Apple-Red – Beauty, performance, and even more record accomplishments and History Made At the 2013 International Red & White Show).  Watching Apple, Apple clone and her daughter sweep the Red & White Show will be a memory I will never forget.  Having the honor to be right there and taking the pictures to preserve that memory was priceless.

KHW Regiment Apple-Red Adding to her legacy

KHW Regiment Apple-Red
Adding to her legacy

Paul Ekstein – Grumpy Old Man?  I think NOT!

There is no shortage of awards given out during World Dairy Expo.  Two of the biggest are the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award and the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award.  Coming into the show, I was well aware that Paul Ekstein would be receiving the much deserved McKown Master Breeder Award.  (Read more: Ekstein Named Fifth Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award Winner and PAUL EKSTEIN – 2013 Recipient of the Prestigious McKown Master Award).  I have had the pleasure of knowing Paul my whole life.  First it was by a reputation that might have you thinking of Walter Matthau from Grumpy Old Men.  However, since starting the Bullvine, I have had the pleasure to get to know Paul on a whole new level.  The biggest thing that touches me is just how much he cares.  When I suffered my heart attack or have had to deal with the challenges that come with running the Bullvine, Paul and his son Ari have been amazing supporters and good friends.  So when Bert Stewart, lifelong friend of Paul’s and university classmate presented him with his award, my heart was overflowing and my trigger finger was snapping pictures as fast as I could.  I knew family and friends would want as many pictures as possible to preserve this moment of well-deserved recognition.

Paul Ekstein receiving the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award from life long friend Bert Stewart

Paul Ekstein receiving the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award from life long friend Bert Stewart

Grumpier old men?

Speaking of someone who appears grumpy on the outside but is golden on the inside, Richard Caverly winning the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award surprised me.  (Read more:  Maine Native Wins Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award)  Not because he was not a very deserving winner.  He is.  In fact Richard’s list of accomplishments and the cattle he has worked with reads like a Who’s Who of the show ring greats – Gold Prize, Nadine, Melanie, Delilah, Ashlyn, Victoria, Veronica and Frannie.  It’s the cow on the end of that list that stands out for me.  Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca was last year’s Grand Champion of the Ayrshire show for the 2nd time.  In wanting to learn more about this cow, I started chatting with Richard more and more and found that the story behind this cow is truly amazing.  (Read more: The Magic of Francesca)  What I learned was that, not only was this cow an amazing show cow, but she did something even more magical.  Francesca changed the lives of Richard and his wife Beverly, in a way that no other cow possibly could.  United by their passion for great cattle, Richard and Beverly are two of the most amazing people I know.  That is why when I learned of Frannie’s passing the tears started to fall.  Watching the Ayrshire show this year was tough for me, as I knew that, for those in the ring, there would be moments of extreme happiness, but for Richard and Beverly, the memories of “Frannie” would come back again.

Richard Caverly winning the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award

Richard Caverly winning the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award

A Picture is Worth Twenty-Thousand Words

Over the years I have had the opportunity to attend Expo many times.  But this year would be a first for me.  This year I would be in the ring taking pictures.  I think I must have annoyed the heck out of the Expo staff prior to the show.  I was repeatedly checking to make sure that I would be able to take pictures in the ring.  For me it meant that I would be experiencing a dream come true.

You see I have been able to experience the show as a fitter, as a showman, but never have I been able to sit right there and get the same exact view the judge gets and see  who is the best of the best.  Last year at Expo I sat in the stands and took pictures from there.  This year I wanted to take things to a completely new level.  Since last year’s show I took the opportunity to take pictures at as many shows as I could.  I pretty much forced my father to go to every show with me, 19 in all.  Many required that we drive all night to get to the show, spend the whole day taking pictures, and then drive all night to make it back in time to attend meetings for my main company the next day.

In preparation for this amazing opportunity I also took more than 60 hours of training on the technical side of photography.  You see I am not a photographer by trade.  I learned graphic design as a must when I started Elite Breeders back in University.  When I started that company I didn’t even own a computer of my own and then I was presented with the opportunity to market Calbrett-I H H Champion, the #1 LPI sire in the world, for GenerVations.  I had to get a loan from my grandfather, buy a Mac, and Photoshop and do a catalogue and ads for them, all while even learning the basics of how to use the programs.  This time I was going to be prepared.  Sure none of the video companies could even imagine shooting under these conditions.  The show ring combines two of the most challenging circumstances a photographer can encounter, low light and action.  In order to be able to get the pictures that would preserve the memories I have had to invest over $20,000 in camera equipment alone.  No small investment for a digital magazine that until this point has had no revenue sources at all and is driven by the passion of our team.

One of the great things about attending so many of the top shows, is that I had the opportunity to see many of the contenders before the Expo.  This insight made it possible for me to do a very complete preview of the show.  (Read more: World Dairy Expo 2013 Holstein Show Preview – Everything You Need To Know To Get Ready For the Show).

Armed with this insight and the camera equipment to get the pictures, I was ready to get to work.  Since last year’s World Dairy Expo our readership has grown to over 10,000 readers on a daily basis, the largest in the industry.  So I knew that people would be watching.  But man I could have never expected the results that we have had.  Pictures such as the naming of the Junior Champion and Grand Champion went viral.  In the past week since the show, the pictures that we shared have been seen by over 1,000,000 people and liked or shared by over 10,000 people.  That is more than all the other Dairy publications combined.  Scary to think for a magazine that is just over 18 months old.

Junior Champion Female honours went to the 1st place Spring Yearling Calf, Cameron Ridge Atwood Beauty exhibited by Gene Iager and Chris & Jennifer Hill, Thurmont, Md.

Junior Champion Female honours went to the 1st place Spring Yearling Calf, Cameron Ridge Atwood Beauty exhibited by Gene Iager and Chris & Jennifer Hill, Thurmont, Md.

For me it’s a humbling experience to have our hard work be rewarded the way has been.  The team here at The Bullvine has put in many long hours to put out four unique articles a week.  That is 16 articles a month.  When you consider that the average magazine does about four a month you understand the amount of work that goes into producing The Bullvine.  On a daily basis we are always looking for new and different ways to add engagement to what we do.  This was highlighted by our recent Fantasy Exhibitor contest which received over 5,000 entries and was seen by over 50,000 people on our website alone.  (Read more: Fantasy Exhibitor – World Dairy Expo 2013 Edition – The Results!).  For the Bullvine team being at Expo was amazing.  Having so many people from all walks of the dairy industry come up to us and tell us just how much they appreciate what we do was inspiring.  It’s moments like these that drive us on a daily basis to do better.

Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn, exhibited and owned by Ty-D Holsteins, Drolet & Fils, Ferme Jacobs, A. & R. Boulet, Inc, who was crowned Grand and Senior Champion of the 2013 International Holstein Show.

Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn, exhibited and owned by Ty-D Holsteins, Drolet & Fils, Ferme Jacobs, A. & R. Boulet, Inc, who was crowned Grand and Senior Champion of the 2013 International Holstein Show.

Here are some of the over 4,000 pictures I took during my 3 days at World Dairy Expo 2013.

  • World Dairy Expo 2013 - Holstein - Milking Yearling
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The Bullvine Bottom Line

Just like each of my children (who are my first love) every World Dairy Expo is different and unique in its own way.  The 2013 Edition will certainly be an extremely memorable one for me.  Expo is where legends are made.  This year we saw two great legends add to their story and new legends, Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn and the amazing team at Ferme Jacobs emerge.  From all of us here at The Bullvine, we want to say thanks to you the exhibitors and breeders who, with commitment and passion, make these awesome memories turn from dreams to reality!

What's next for us here at the Bullvine?  Well today we will all be at the Rockton World's fairy where my children, Drew (6), Ethan (4) and Zabrina (3) will be showing for the first time.

What’s next for us here at the Bullvine? Well today we will all be at the Rockton World’s fairy where my children, Drew (6), Ethan (4) and Zabrina (3) will be showing for the first time.

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Is Too Much Water Milking Your Profits?

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Over the past couple of weeks the Bullvine has published articles about having a breeding plan for your herd. (Read more: Flukes and Pukes – What Happens When You don’t Have a Plan and What’s The Plan?). Examples cited of herds with a breeding plan have included North Florida Holsteins who breeds for production and profitability (Read more:  North Florida Holsteins: Aggressive, Progressive and Profitable and The Truth About Type and Longevity) and Quality Holsteins (Read more: Quality Holsteins – Well-deserved Congratulations and Quality Cattle Look Good Every Day) and Ferme Jacobs (Read more: Ferme Jacobs: Success Is All In The Family!) both of whom breed for type. Today we wish to bring you some thoughts to consider for your breeding plan as it relates to the components in milk. For the vast majority of herds that is the major source of their revenue generation.

mount victoria tb plaque4% Fat

T. B. Macaulay, Mount Victoria Farms (Montvic), (Read more: Mount Victoria Farms: The Art and Science of Great Breeding) ninety years ago had a plan. One component of his plan was 4% butterfat. He built his herd around Johanna Rag Apple Pabst and his 4% fat daughters. The history books do not specifically identify Macaulay’s reason for wanting 4% butterfat except we know that back then Holsteins were considered to be ‘low testers’.

Roy Ormiston, breeder of the world famous Roybrook Farms, developed an excellent herd with the three pillars being high % fat, excellent conformation and high lifetime production.

The importance of fat yield has also been stressed by many leading USA breeders. Over forty years ago Dr. Gene Starkey, the very well respected Wisconsin Dairy Extension Specialist, in his speeches talked about herds where cows averaged over 900 pounds of butterfat per year with only limited reference to the milk yield number for top herds.

When Protein Ruled

Fat took a backseat to show conformation and then to % protein in the later 1970’s and into the 1980’s. The trendy thing was to use a bull the improved % protein but dropped % fat. The thinking was that consumers wanted to exclude fat from their diets but that protein was needed to make cheese. The trend meant the majority of breeders paid only limited attention to % fat and the national Holstein averages for % fat dropped.

How Milk is Sold

On a global basis the majority of milk is sold in a solid and not a liquid state (Read more: “Got Milk” is becoming “Got More” and MILK MARKETING: How “Got Milk?” BECAME “Got Lost”). Milk processors and marketers recognized this and so payment to farmers changed from volume and % fat to become based on the component yields. This is known as MCP, multiple component pricing. Today the pendulum has swung to where butterfat is back in fashion. Thus the quantity of solids a cow produces is important to her ability to generate income.

Milk is sold as a drink often has fat removed by processors. That fat is used to make other products and thus it is a source of revenue, not a cost, for the processor. .

The end result is that breeders are paid for the total fat and protein content in the milk they ship.  And in the future it is entirely possible that breeders will be paid for the specific fats (i.e. conjugated linoleic acid) and proteins (i.e. casein) they ship.

Avoid the Water

In today’s and likely tomorrow’s world having more water than necessary in milk is a cost and not a source of income. These cost factors include:

  • high peak milk yields adds stress on the cow and increased labor and health costs
  • high milk yields magnifies the challenge and cost to getting cows to conceive
  • to achieve higher milk yield adds to cow feed costs for high energy grains
  • cows and their rumens function best when a high percent of the diet is high quality but low cost forages
  • longer milking times to harvest the higher volume of milk adds labor and utility costs
  • on-farm more volume adds to cooling cost and the need for increased storage capacity
  • water removal at the farm is costly
  • extra milk volume adds to transportation cost
  • added volume increases processor cooling costs and storage capacity
  • high volumes adds to environmental costs and the disposal of water at the processing plant

If we could calculate the total for those ten items it might shock us how much money could be saved by having a higher content of fat and protein in milk. It all starts with the milk our cows produce.

Let’s Talk Genetics

At the farm level cows that produce 85 pounds at 4.0% fat and 3.4% protein are generating the same revenue and at less cost to all the partners in the supply chain than cows that produces 100 pounds at 3.4% fat and 2.9% protein. For sire selection this means selecting for fat yield, protein yield, % fat and % protein. Ideally, although not always possible, this means selecting bulls for less milk yield. Today most total merit index formulas (TPI™, LPI, NM$,…etc.) are based on fat and protein yield of a bull’s daughters without regards to the volume of milk they produce. This means that high yield bulls that drop % fat and/or % protein do not ranking near the top on these indexes. A help to breeders when selecting bulls to use.

Top Sires

The following table identifies top total merit bulls for their daughters’ genetic ability to produce fat and protein and have a high % fat and % protein. For bulls to appear in this table they had to be breed improvers for productive life or herd life.

Bulls Ranked by Fat plus Proetin Yields

Bulls Ranked by Fat plus Protein Yields
* USA – pounds / Canada – kilograms
Click on image for enlargement

Supersire tops the list for the ability to sire daughters for fat yield and total fat and protein yield  Jabir is high in all areas including NM$. For breeders wanting higher % fat and % protein should consider AltaIota, AltaRazor, Eloquent, Ahead or Overtime P.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Much emphasis is currently being placed on cows that are functional and healthy, yet productivity can’t be ignored. Without the ability to generate high levels of revenue from milk sales, it is hard to make a profit from dairy farming. When it comes to production, don’t let low component milk water down your success.

The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


Not sure what all this hype about genomics is all about?

Want to learn what it is and what it means to your breeding program?

Download this free guide.





Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The fairy-tale ending was a lifelong dream for all the Jacob’s family members. “Driving thirty hours with your bred cow to go to try to get this banner at the most popular show on earth is something that we always dreamed of.” To achieve their dream only seven years after entering the show ring for the first time marks the peak of their goals but it is only the beginning says Ysabel Jacobs who is in charge of calf raising, paperwork and promotion for the herd.  More than twelve members of the family share her passion for detail when it comes to breeding and showing cattle. “To get a show cow ready every detail is important. It starts from the breeding program and continues until she dies.  We had a great time at World Dairy Expo this year and it gave us such good exposure.”


This family farm is strong on family whether it is their own family team or the cow families that they have built their herd around.  There are different ways to build a show and breeding program.  Ferme Jacobs Inc., Cap-Santé, Que. has had tremendous success at doing both:

  • 2011 1st 4-Year-Old Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
  • 2011 Grand Champion EIHQ
  • 2011 All Canadian Breeders Herd
  • 36 VG, 18 VG first lactation. 10 new EX, 6 multiple EX

“The marketplace is really strong right now.  Everyone is looking for the great one.”  Wanting to breed that special cow means that there is a tremendous market out there for Holsteins.”




A tremendous amount of planning goes on behind the scenes at Ferme Jacob. “We look for every detail that is important at the show and at the farm. We start 4-H at 4 years-old and never stop after that.”  The next generation is starting young too. Yan’s two daughters and Ysabel’s daughter showed their first calves last summer at the county show. ”I think they like it is as much as we do.”  We could see it at the EIHQ! Last fall when Britany was named Grand Champion.  They ran up to the ring to get in on the action!”  And the teamwork extends beyond the family to the extended work team. Ysabel points out. “I have to thank our crew that works with us at the farm and at shows.  It is always great to work with people who have the same passion for cows as we do.  We have been working with some of them for a long time.”


Ferme Jacob knows what they are looking for in dairy cattle and they feel their customers agree. “We breed for type.  We love good udders with nice texture and great feet and legs. Usually when they have those characteristics, they continue on in a good way.” Of course, it isn’t easy and there are lots of decisions and challenges along the way.  Ysabel sums up the family philosophy, “There is nothing more fun than working with great animals day to day!”


This family’s path to success always comes back to the foundation that has been built on strong cow families. “We bred Valsie that was All-Canadian 4-Year-Old in 2004 and 4 years later her daughter Jacobs Dundee Voltage was All-Canadian Milking yearling.  That was a really good accomplishment for us and now Voltage has a Goldwyn daughter that looks interesting for the future.  Once she wins, we will have a market for her until she produces and also a good market for her family.”




Ferme Jacobs knows their market. “We have a really good embryo market around the world right now, stronger for us since we won World Dairy Expo.  When a cow has a good flush we keep some available for the market.  We have done that for many years and our clients like to follow us that way. We use a lot of Gillette Jordan, Sid, Alexander and Goldwyn.   Those are the ones that sort out the most right now.” Returning customers are the measure of success for Ferme Jacobs. “If the cross is good enough for us than it will be good enough for them.  We sell a few of the family after she wins and we try to keep some for our own embryo market.”


Ysabel also has a clear idea of what is needed to achieve success in the show ring. “You need a lot of patience.  For us it has always been an ambition to get this title. We never thought it would come this fast. `Now there is more pressure because people expect more.  At the same time, we like pressure and we will try to handle it.” Obviously, it takes a lot of hard work to achieve the goals Ferme Jacobs has set for themselves and they thank their parents for getting them started.


“Our mom and dad have always supported and encouraged us.  Hard work always pays off one day and nothing is impossible, if you believe in something you will accomplish it one day” That is something they taught us. “Ysabel Jacobs