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Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

qs[1]There are many facets to the dairy breeding industry that readers of the Bullvine find themselves attracted to.  Whether its milk records, breeding awards or showring victories, there is something for everyone to get passionate about.  Quim Serrabassa, from Spain, was introduced to cattle early in his life and didn`t ever narrow the field.  For him three dairy passions are better than one.

Beginning in Barcelona

Quim and his brother Jaume were raised on the family farm Mas Comas Novas, La Guixa in Barcelona. Their father, Ramon, was a cattle dealer who enjoyed the buying and selling but wasn’t interested in breeding animals.   When the boys were only 12 and 14 they made a decision that would eventually bring them to where they are today says Quim. “In 1984 Jaume and I decided to keep the best cows and breed our own herd.” They give credit to their mom and dad. “From our parents we learned the love of farming, good cows and cow competitions.  This was a tremendous opportunity and we owe a lot to them for allowing us to take this responsibility at such an early age.”

Trying a New Angle

Twenty years later it was time for another new beginning. “In 2004 I started my own company Triangle Holstein.” Quim highlights how the name corresponds to the business. “There are three different business areas: the livestock business, the semen business and the show business.”  For each specialty area Triangle Holsteins provides customized service.  Like other visionary business men he feels that one-sided expectations of yourself and others could hold them back from reaching their individual breeding goals. “We work closely with the farmer to give professional and personal service tailored to their specific needs.” Quim values his early business experiences. “Many years ago, I had the opportunity to work for a big company and it was great.  I always had the goal of forming my own company.” He points out how it has been. “Working for myself gives me a lot of freedom and satisfaction.  I am responsible for my own decisions.  Sometimes good.  Sometimes wrong.” But undoubtedly, he has learned from all sides of the story.

IMG_5518 web2

A Three-Way Perspective

The Triangle Holstein breeding philosophy is one that starts with genetics but is carried out through careful management. “Triangle Holsteins is focused on the best North American cow families and conformation traits are the number one priority.  Nevertheless, I never forget production and health. The management of these key priorities is the key to making an animal be successful.” Quim knows that in cow terms there are three important areas. “Nutrition, exercise and comfort make all the difference.”  These three combined with kindness are what he calls his “silent” partners.  If those are the three main steps to caring for the animals there are also three characteristics that Quim feels all breeders must have in their personality. “This process requires breeders to be  stubborn, patient and enthusiastic all at the same time.”


Pachecas James Gretta
3 time Spanish National Champion

 Three Triangle Love Stories

It isn`t surprising to learn how many animals this Triangle Holstein breeder singles out. “There have been three special animals in  Quim’s life.”  He starts of with one from his youth.Comas Novas Dibbs Inspiration  was our first Champion cow when I was a teenager. She was a white dairy character cow, all quality from the head to the tail.”  The next one stands out for special reasons too. “My second favorite cow is Pachecas James Greta. She was strong, with a big frame and a fantastic udder. Greta was my longest project working with a show cow and she is the one that won many shows in Spain.” The third memory maker for Quim holds a unique space for Quim.” Regiment Apple will always stand out for me.  We came together many years ago, during the first time I was working in Madison for Mike Deaver who is one of the best cow men that I know. At that time Apple was 2 year old.”


Regiment Apple will always stand out for Quim. They came together many years ago, during the first time Quim was working in Madison for Mike Deaver, at that time Apple was 2 year old.”

Three Part Marketing Vision:  Farms, Shows and Facebook

No matter where you are in the global dairy industry, you are marketing your herd with each contact you make, whether it`s face to face, in cyberspace, hard copy or in the show ring.  Quim Serrabassa once again uses a multi-pronged approach. He outlines his methods. “On one hand I go every two weeks to France to select and buy commercial animals for my customers. My customers are breeders like I used to be, so I always feel very responsible for the cows I pick.” Quim never tires of searching out these animals. “I select them one by one, and this is one of the things I like the most. I walk to the field or to the barn with the intention of finding that special one. Sometimes they don’t start out looking that way. I will find one, usually dirty, with no foot trimming, never clipped … but finding her is a magic moment.” He especially likes it when a selection he makes goes on to do well. “Sometimes you can take her to the show ring. Another time you recognize her doing fine in her new home.”

The second point of Quim’s marketing is very much based on shows. “I like going to shows because it is the place where I meet my customers and I can feel the pulse of the market and hear about their needs.” Quim enjoys breeding for show cows. “My favorite sires for show cows are: Absolute-Red, Delta & Atwood.” But he doesn’t over look dairy cow sires. “For dairy cows I use Explode, Cashcoin, Carson and Deman.” His understanding of the show ring has been well developed over the years and he has gained recognition as a cattle judge. “Judging is one accomplishment I am very proud of.  I never expected to have the opportunity to be an Associate Judge in Madison beside Brian Carsacadden and then later in Laussane beside Mike Deaver.”  Both of these judges rank high for Quim. “In my opinion they are the best.”  (Read more: CARSCADDEN: The Royal Footsteps)

Word of mouth has always been a great way for the dairy industry to market itself.  Today dairy friends, peerwebsites and coworkers take that friendly promotion and sharing to new levels. “To keep my customers updated, we use our web site, Facebook and profiles.” says Quim. This enhances the friendships already made in the worldwide industry. “I share my passion for show cows with Roger Turner and Brian Carscadden who have been my mentors in the USA and Canada. Again Mike Deaver has taught me a lot and is a very special person for me.  Early on, one of my greatest influences was Alfonso Ahedo from Semex Spain. He is a great business man with a huge understanding of the Holstein industry.”  It’s all about sharing the passion says Quim. “I keep the passion for shows going with some members of the original farm. As well there is one nice heifer that I bought with friends Erica Rijneveld, Eric Dougoud, and Pat Conroy. (Read more: Erica Rijneveld – Takes Her Show… And Yours…On The Road! and DECRAUSAZ IRON O’KALIBRA: Simply the Best) These are people that love good cows and with whom I share good times too.”

Marketing and Genomics

In today’s marketplace rapidly changing tools are having a tremendous effect.  Quim looks at Genomics and how it has affected his operations. “Genomics has changed the semen market a lot.  For our company it was a great opportunity to start with.  Genomics provides opportunities for everyone.  The market is now global no matter where the bull comes from or who the owner is.”  Of course having the tool and knowing how to use it is the challenge. Quim seeks balance. “Now we have some genomic information that we can combine with cow family and traditional knowledge.  It is the mix and the balance between the new information and the traditional knowledge that will move us forward in the right direction.” If there is a downside to genomics for Quim, it is related to the speed of change. “Today the genetic market moves too fast.  We hardly have time to appreciate and enjoy the cow family as a group.

Work, Work, Work

Quim points out that there is a lot of hard work to make your dairy business. “You have to be satisfied about the things you do every day and try to keep yourself surround by the people that challenge you to grow.” He knows that everything isn’t always perfect. “This is a job that you have to believe in.  Do not expect big things and always enjoy the small details that life gives to you.” As happy as he is with Triangle Holstein, Quim sums up his accomplishments from his own unique angle. “My biggest success is my family.” Very eloquently he points out that this is where he finds his strength. “Especially when show time is over and the bright lights are off.”


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We all look forward to those times in life when all the pieces come together.  That is exactly what is happening for Dusty Schirm who resides in Chebanse Illinois with his wife Nicole and son Wyatt, awaiting the arrival of their second son due in June.  Dusty is the Show Manager at Butlerview Farm where he tells us he feels fortunate to work with some of the top show cattle and most sought after genetics. (Read more: Exciting Times for Butlerview) “I spend the vast majority of my time working with Joe Price and our crew with the show cattle, preparing everything for the upcoming show season.” This life he loves started at home for Dusty.

dusty family

In His Footsteps

Dusty has always had a keen eye for cows and people and gives credit to his father, Larry Schirm. “The biggest influence in my life has always been my dad. He is a man I have respected as long as I can remember.  He has always been sought after to judge the greatest shows in the world and is someone everyone always enjoys.  Mike Heath is someone who has helped me along with every aspect of learning cattle.  When I was first starting out I would spend weeks with him touring around looking at cattle and trying to learn how to see them in the rough just like he does.  He has also been one of the toughest critics on me and never afraid to push me to be better.”

Dusty’s First Top Model

Dusty’s father and Grandpa both contributed to the star maker he would become.  He looks back fondly, “My start in cattle started in Junior Jersey shows.  Both of my grandparents were Jersey breeders and the passion for not only dairy cattle but the show ring started at a young age.  When I was 8 my grandpa Schirm let me pick out a calf to start my own cow family with and to show that year.  I spotted my calf.  She was a broken color Jersey with quite a bit of white on her and I named her Dusty’s MX Butterscotch and she was a March calf.  Little did I know she would go on to be very successful the following year and be named Jr Champion at all the national shows (World Dairy Expo, Harrisburg, Louisville) and that was when I was hooked!”

dusty clippingLearning the Saw-Dusty Trail

Some people have a natural talent for bringing out the best in dairy cattle.  Dusty is modest and prefers to give credit to others.  “I first started fitting around the age of 16 and was very fortunate to have some great teachers.  Starting out with Terry Rawn and Steve Deam.  Once I turned 18 I worked with Delbert Yoder for the first year and learned many valuable tools.  After that I was fortunate to work along with all the great fitters, Paulo, Roger Turner, Mike Heath, Joel Kietzman and Mark Rueth.”  He continues to study these talents.

Roadways, Roses and Runways

For the observer, fitters are the magic makers of the show scene.  We rarely consider what hard work that must be.  Dusty explains, “For me the hardest challenge in being a fitter was the lifestyle I lived.  I would spend 320 plus days a year on the road never having much free time and when I did have some time off I would usually spend that looking for the next great one on the road.  It is a wear and tear business and not for everyone.  There are many highs and lows that also come with being a fitter and a lot of scrutiny win or lose!”  Dusty has learned to make it work.

Learning from the Topliners!

Being at the top of your chosen career is never easy but Dusty has advice to those who would follow the fitters dream, “Starting out is not as tough as one might think. There are many great people in this business that will give anyone a chance.  My advice is when you get an opportunity, take full advantage of the people you are surrounded by.  The reason you are working with those individuals is because they have the formula for success.  Take what they do and apply it to your own goals.”

dusty phoneFrom Heads and Tails to Setting Sales

Looking back Dusty’s career path is a straight line from show string to sales string but thinks it has more serendipity (he encouraged the Bullvine to use big words).  “Last year was my first sale on my own.  It is a funny story how I got pushed into doing one though.  Mike Heath always had a very successful Spring Valley Jersey Sale every other year and last year would have been time for him to do another sale.  When he told me he wasn’t going to do one I thought well, do you think I could do one.  He more or less said yep you are doing one and that was it.  Following in his footsteps was not an easy task because his success with his sales has always been top level.  Mike was great though with helping me through all the steps of having my own sale and with his help and many others we had a very successful sale.”  A little serendipity.  A lot of hard work.

Happy Talk is the Measure of Success

Everybody measures success differently.  For Dusty Schirm he likes to have people talking about him. “Success for me is getting calls from all the consignors that let me know they saw their animal win at a show or they just talked to the buyer of the animal who wants to come to the farm to purchase another one or to see the animal’s cow family.  That for me is how I measure success from a sale when seller and buyer are happy and say, “Thank you!”

Dusty Follows the Stars from Runway to Retail

Over the course of his “hands-on” career, Dusty has been side-by-side with many great cows.  As always, cow-men find it hard to pick out favorites.  “There are so many I have loved to be part of.  From Jerian Sterling Mason, Dupasquier Cousteau Mamie, Friendly-Acres Linjet Murphy, Co-Vista Airliner Sarah, SavageLeigh Linjet Joy, Harvue Roy Frosty to current stars such as Cookview Goldwyn Monique, Silvermaple Damion Camomile  and R-E-W Happy Go Lucky.  I have been so fortunate to be associated with these individuals over my short career.  But I would have to say my favorite all time was JIF Little Minnie.  I bought Little Minnie as a 3yr old many moons ago in an old tie stall barn before she was popular and she has now gone on to be such a marquee cow in the Jersey breed.”

JIF Little Minnie EX-96 4E All-Canadian Mature Cow 2002 & 2004 All-Canadian Champion Cow 2002

JIF Little Minnie EX-96 4E
All-Canadian Mature Cow 2002 & 2004
All-Canadian Champion Cow 2002

Making Change when Shift Happens

For Dusty the biggest change he has witnessed in his career has happened in the marketplace.  “The value of show cattle is increasing to extremely high ends at the top and losing some of the value for the state show and regional type of cattle.  It used to be if you had a real nice cow with a great pedigree that could win or compete at state show levels, she would be worth $7500-$15000.  Though it’s great to see the value on the greatest show cattle in the world at an all time high, it’s sad to see that the markets for smaller homebred herds to market their individuals are losing their value.”  This brings Dusty to face the future with a forecast.

Survival of the Fittest

Not one to mince words, Dusty looks ahead with a clear eye.  “The number one change ahead for my generation is survival.  This means that milking cows will probably not cut it to raise a family so you must find a niche market to provide more income to support your love for dairy cattle.  Also we must learn the art of mating cattle to achieve our personal goals.  Taking the time to study pedigrees that would be the ideal cross on a cow to make the next great one.  It seems more and more we use the “HOT” sire, which is ok for some matings, but we really need to learn about cow families and thinking outside the box.  Some of the best cattle ever have been as a result from someone doing something no one else would have!”

dusty and WyattFortunes, Favorites and Fatherhood!

Dusty says he is fortunate to have been involved in many great accomplishments from fitting cattle that have won at Madison to owning or selling individuals that have been National Winners or All Americans.  However, these are not number one on his achievement list.  He points out, “My proudest moment ever is seeing my little guy for the first time!”  He continues to add special achievements, “My greatest accomplishment so far would be seeing so many individuals go on to be successful from our Jersey Sale this past spring. It is truly one of my proudest moments seeing the Reserve Jr Champion and Honorable Mention Jr Champion heifers from Madison that sold in the Franchise Sale last spring.” (Check out the great work Dusty and the team are doing for The Franchise Kind II Sale)

Wit, Wisdom and a Happy Wife

Dusty loves the new opportunities opening up in his life and has special visions for the future. Jokingly he suggests, “Perhaps I will start up an internet site that tells the truth about the cattle industry… OOPS! … That’s been done .. The Bullvine!”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Then seriously Dusty concludes, “I would like to continue the blessings of time shared with my wonderful wife and family and someday have my own herd of cows that my children could carry on with.” No doubt his boys will enjoy learning hand-in-hand with their dad.  Dusty Schirm is a shining example!



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