There is no question that social media has changed our world. From the ability to talk to people of like mind from anywhere in the world to the ability to learn the latest news instantly, the dairy industry has changed dramatically as a direct result of social media.(Read more: How Social Media Is Changing the Holstein World)
Every second 2,200 tweets are posted, 580 users update their Facebook status and 24 minutes of video are uploaded to YouTube. The scary part is that adoption rates of new social networks are accelerating. It took LinkedIn 3.5 years to reach 10 million users. The same feat took Twitter just over 3 years, and Facebook 2.5 years. Most recently Google+ did it in just 2 weeks. The reach of social networks is spreading faster than any infectious disease in the history of mankind. From 2005 to2010, Facebook gained over 500 million users. More than the entire world population at the time of the Black Death. (Read more: How Social Media Is Changing the Holstein World)
Shocked and Amazed in the Show Ring at Summer Show
This past week’s events highlighted for me just how astonishingly fast social media is. First, while attending the Ontario Summer Show, the power of the Internet and social media certainly flexed its muscle (Read more: Ontario Summer Show 2013 Holstein Results). Coming into the show, I would have told you that Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89-2yr, the Res. All-Canadian Sr. 2yr old from 2012 and 1st Senior 3 & Intermediate and Reserve Grand Champion Ontario Spring Show 2013 would be able to stroll her way to an easy win. Then entered Raivue Sanchez Pamela and Desnette Alexia Roseplex and you could hear the excitement in the crowd rise to another level. Roseplex, a cow that probably has one of the greatest side profiles I have ever seen, has been developing well since winning Intermediate Champion at the 2013 Quebec Spring Show and has gained more chest width and rear udder width to go with that amazing profile. Then there is Pamela that on any other day, against any other competition might have been the talk of the town. Instantly, I was getting messages from breeders around the world saying how amazing that class was and speculating about who would win. The shared pictures from all three cows were extremely popular. But once you saw these three amazing cows in line, you realized that Rae Lynn was simply that much longer and dairier than these other two also outstanding cows.
Almost instantly the questions switched to asking when we will see Rae Lynn against the likes of Butz-Butler Gold Barbara VG-89-2yr and Eastriver Gold Deb 850 EX-92 EX-92 MS? The challenge is that since Rae Lynn has been milking since last October and is not due again until March 2014, we may not see her again until the Royal, passing on the long trip to World Dairy Expo. Let’s hope that we may see her at Madison to give us the greatest Senior 3 year old class in history.
Having said that, none of this chatter could compare to what was to follow around Calbrett Goldwyn Layla EX-95. Normally, when it’s time for the mature cow class, it comes down to which cow has had held up to the wear and tear. However, this year at Ontario Summer Show, things were a little different. The winning mature cow was a 3rd calf 7 year old. This became a subject that was very polarizing to breeders at ringside and especially online. She was shown perfectly by the great showman David Dyment. He always seems to know how to make a cow stand out. There is no question that Layla catches your eye. She is extremely dairy and strong and looked the part. She did handily win the class. The part that shocked many was when Judge Bruce Mode went on to name Goldwyn Layla Grand Champion of the show. We are certainly fans of judges who take bold moves here at the Bullvine (Read more: Dairy Show Judging – It Takes Courage)
The reaction online was certainly mixed. Almost instantly, there were comments being posted either in agreement or disagreement. Questions starting coming in about just how good did she look and did she need extra help in order to make it to the ring? It’s not unusual for these rumors to swirl around champions. And stories — true and false — begin to be shared. Today they’re shared instantly!! Call it marketing. Call it borderline ethical. The concern is there, especially for young breeders who are looking to get into the marketing of elite cattle genetics. If the concerns are true, what message does this send to them? Here we may have a cow being rewarded for all the wrong reasons. Will she contend at Madison or the Royal? Will she even be there? Moreover, how is she beating a cow that has the potential to become one of the greatest of all time?
Changing the Conversation
Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the conversation to change to a more positive note. This year’s International Intrigue Sale hosted by Ferme Blondin was certainly a positive for the industry. (Read more: International Intrigue: Forget the Records It’s About the People and International Intrigue at Ferme Blondin Sale Results 2013). While the sale didn’t have some big name World Dairy Expo Grand or Intermediate Champion contender, it certainly did have a strong line up with many outstanding individuals. Extremely popular online was Jacobs Sid Bamba, a Sid from World Dairy Expo contender Jacobs Goldwyn Britany EX-96 who sold for $50,000 and Ms C-Haven Oman Kool-ET (VG-87-2YR), the former number one gTPI “Man-O-Man” daughter in the U.S. and second highest protein cow at +80, who sold for $92,000.
While Layla selling to Comestar and Ponderosa for $125,000 at the Cormdale Summer Sale on Monday (Read more: Cormdale Summer Sale Results) re-ignited the conversation, I thought we would have a quieter time for the rest of the week. However, that certainly was not the case. Normally it’s my personal opinion editorial pieces that get us here at The Bullvine in trouble. This time it was our interview with Don Bennink (Read more: North Florida Holsteins: Aggressive, Progressive and Profitable!!) that took the conversation in a different direction and to completely new levels. This time is wasn’t just the small segment of the marketplace that follow the shows, but rather it was the dairy community at large who felt the need to let their opinions be known. There is no question that Don’s opinions about type classification, type evaluations and how they predict longevity have fueled this polarizing subject. . As a strong supporter of type classification, it has caused mixed thoughts in my own head (Read more: The Truth About Type and Longevity) and has generated some amazing conversation on Facebook.
Just When You Think It’s All Over
Just when I think that it’s all over, and that we can now settle down to a holiday long weekend with the family, a completely new fire erupts. One of our news items from the weekend about how the Whitaker family of Georgia had the unfortunate occurrence of having one of their trusted employees suspected of illegal activities leading to 40+ cop cars, and SWAT personnel in cooperation with the family descending on the farm. This led to the finding of several guns, marijuana and methamphetamines, which investigators estimated could be worth $50,000. While this is certainly unfortunate for a great family who are strong members of the dairy community, the reaction to the news article we collated “FBI Storms Whitaker Farm For Drug Bust”, certainly caused a commotion on Facebook with a few breeders who felt the title did a disservice to this family. Yet another example of the power and speed of social media.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. Dairy farmers have never been short on having them. The difference is that, through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, breeders can now share their opinion with thousands instantly instead only with a few local breeders. You no longer have to call several breeders to find out what happened at the show or sale. You don’t even have to wait for it to be printed in one of the old school magazines. Things are happening in real time and the news is now coming to you, instead of you having to go and find it. One of the biggest changes we have noticed since starting the Bullvine is how many breeders no longer go to the news sections of the dairy publications anymore. They now watch their Facebook news feed and if there is an article or news item of interest that has been shared by a fellow breeder or company they follow, they go ahead and read it. No longer do they have to surf through many sites just to find the few tidbits they would be interested in. Now they can get it all in their Facebook news stream complete with the ability to share their opinion with their friends and fellow breeders. It is truly shocking the speed of Social Media and how it has affected the dairy industry.
For those of you wanting a little guidance check out “The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook”.