Archive for Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation

Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation

Breeding a legendary dairy sire isn’t automatic. It is not as simple as crossing the right sire with the right dam. However, although it isn’t easy, it does happen.

In one of the most famous cases of all, that of Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation, it is somewhat surprising that the tremendous impact that was to become legendary was not immediately obvious.

It took a little time for the world to recognise his greatness. But, in the end, Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation changed  an entire breed and the dairy industry.

The Breeding of Elevation was Far from a Sure Thing

It would take time for the world to recognize the presence of greatness. Elevation was the product of a great mother, Eve, and a questionable father, Tidy Burke. As it happens, Elevation brought together the best from the Burkes, Rag Apples, Triunes and Winterthur bloodlines.  That is one of the reasons why Elevation would never have been totally missed.  Furthermore, Elevation did many important things well.  There are five that stand out: 1. Production 2. Udders 3. Mobility 4. Fertility and 5. Longevity. Measuring any one or all of these traits shows you what made Elevation special, for these are just a few of the characteristics that contributed to his popularity.  However, Elevation went way beyond mere popularity.  This legendary bull made a tremendous impact on the genetics of the Holstein Breed. He changed dairy organizations.  He affected dairy breeding around the world. The fact that Elevation has 10,000 registered sons in the United States alone speaks volume to both his acceptance and impact.

Was Elevation a Product of Genomics or Ahead of Genomic Times?

Today Elevation would have had hair pulled and submitted to DNA testing.  But in the 1960’s, if you can imagine it, here was a bull entering a sampling program from a slow maturing mother and a never classified father. A father who physically significantly lacked both size and mobility.

George Miller

The mating that resulted in Elevation used the combined knowledge and ‘go for it’ attitude of two men: breeder, Ron Hope from Virginia and his advisor, George Miller.  These two were first cousins, and they started three generations back to produce Elevation.  That is the way it was done in those days.  To arrive at Elevation’s dam, Eve, Hope and Miller stacked three sires: Ivanhoe, Gaiety and General.

By the way, in her early life, Eve carried more condition than normal. This is something that is also seen in Elevation daughters.

It is not any wonder, therefore, that Elevation passed on good fertility, given what we know today about the positive correlation between fertility and body condition score.

After completing a Master of Science degree at Virginia Tech, George Miller spent his career in A.I. starting at the field level, then as a state A.I. manager and eventually as Director of Marketing and Development at Select Sires.  George knew Holsteins, and he had access to bull performance information.  There must have been many interesting discussions between these first cousins about who would be the best mate for Eve, in order to produce a son that could enter A.I.

As mentioned previously, Tidy Burke Elevation, Elevation’s sire, was an ugly duckling but he did produce outstanding daughters.  Four of those daughters earned Honorable Mention All-American Get of Sire.  Today, it is evident that an artful breeder and a top notch A.I. man were indeed able to find the best sire available for Eve.  Remember that these men were making their decisions before the world had ever thought of using DNA information to aid in mating.

Elevation Made an Impact on Organisations

Charlie Will, who is the Holstein Sire Program Manager at Select Sires, gives perspective to the impact that Elevation has had on the company that originally purchased him. “Elevation put Select Sires on the map.  He was so far ahead of all other bulls for his time.  He had exceptional production and amazing type at the same time.” He explains what that meant over time, from the beginning and up to and including the present time. “Elevation made it possible for Select sires to grow as a new company.  Today Elevation still ranks #1 at Holstein USA for the most genes in common among today’s active proven sires (14.5%).  His impact continues 52 years after his birth.”

The WOW Factor of Elevation.

It’s easy to reiterate what set Elevation apart from the competition. Charlie keeps it simple. “Elevation had extraordinary type and production in one package.”  He sees this combination as almost miraculous.  “he dominated the mating no matter what kind of cow you used him on.  He could make a Great Cow from a Poor dam.  This is why he could have a huge impact in a single generation.”

Elevation Didn’t Just INFLUENCE the Future, He MADE the Future!

Breeders always pay attention to cow families.  But in order to influence an entire population, you must go beyond sires and look at their descendants.  Elevation influenced one generation after another: his kids, his kid’s kids, his kid’s kid’s kids.  This is what made Elevation’s influence stellar.

Facts Alone Don’t Spark Legends.  Results Do.

In any business, repeatable results are the only true measure of legendary success.  Popularity and memories fade.  In dairy cattle breeding, generations of descendants tell the real story. 

Charlie Will
Holstein Sire Program Manager
Select Sires

In describing Elevation daughters, Charlie Will starts with a somewhat modest description.  “His daughters had great legs and feet.  A straighter leg but with healthy hocks and strong loins.” Warming to the topic, Charlie adds “Elevation daughters are tall enough, but not extreme, with ideal dairy strength and proportional width for the stature.”  He concludes with what made the difference. “The typical Elevation daughters were short headed heifers but, when they were called into line, their exceptional udders, high and wide Rear Udder, and the great shape and symmetry of their udders, quickly made a breeder proud to own her.”

The first appearance was not always the final answer with Elevation daughters that became long- lived high production cows.

Once proven, everyone recognized that Elevation would continue stamping out great daughters, as he moved the Holstein breed to new heights.

Elevation’s Legacy Lives on Through His Sons and Daughters

Since almost all sires active in the breed today trace back to Elevation, Charlie Will finds it hard to pick from a list where the greats are almost too numerous to mention.  For him, Elevation’s most impact sons include, “Bova, Starbuck, Pete, Mars Tony, Sexation, and Lime Hollow Mars.”

On the daughter side, Charlie lists many attributes. “Elevation has had many class winning daughters, including at World Dairy Expo and the Royal Winter. Elevation also led the list, at one time, for the number of Excellent daughters and also for the number of daughters who scored 95, 96 and 97.” His daughter list reads like an all-star lineup, from EX97 All-Time All-American’s Ella and Twinkie to EX-GMD Cora and Lindy, the dams of Carnation Counselor and Townson Lindy, respectively.

Elevation Surpasses All Heights

When we recognize a dairy legend, it is great to hear some stories from behind the scenes.  Charlie tells one about the time that Elevation was classified 96. “Jim Patterson was head of the Holstein USA classification program at the time that Elevation was raised from 95 to 96.  Later, after he retired, he told me that he only made one mistake, in all the years that he classified. He wished that he would have made Elevation 97 instead of 96!” (Learn more: CHARLIE WILL “A CAREER WITH IMPACT” – SELECT SIRES 50TH ANNIVERSARY)

Northcroft Ella Elevation EX-97-4E
1980 – Grand/Supreme Champion – WDE
1981 – Grand Champion – RAWF
1977, 1980, 1981, 1982 – All-American

Elevation’s Impact is Felt

With the perfect vision accorded to us by hindsight, we can clearly see that Elevation didn’t only influence genetics. Elevation has also had a tremendous impact on sales, new research and the success of countless breeders and organisations. Dairy strategy and development have also felt his influence. And, ultimately, the dairy show ring was also impacted by Elevation.

The World Wide Elevation Influence

Elevation, often known as RORAE, made friends for United States Holsteins around the world.  Therein lies the engine that drives the legend.  Fundamentally, around the world, one bull, through his progeny, significantly changed the profitability of the Holstein cow.  But the measure of Elevation goes beyond mere financial success.  Elevation made many dairymen into successful dairy breeders.  How did he do it? Elevation stamped out daughters that provided what dairymen needed. Production. Longevity. Fertility. Mobility. Functional mammary systems. These are the characteristics passed on by a one-of-a-kind, legendary bull.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Elevation forever lifted the worldwide dairy breeding industry to a new level.

Greatness can have many definitions, but in Holstein breeding, it can be said using a single name, Round Oak Rag Apple ELEVATION.

 

 

 

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There is no question that when it comes to understanding what cows will transmit and what cows will not, it is an enigma wrapped in a conundrum.  There is much that we don’t know and some would argue it is not meant to be known.  The problem is, for those of us with a passion for breeding great dairy cattle, we want to know it all.  For that I turn to the three greatest genetic geniuses in the history of the world, Darwin, Mendel and Hunt (No they are not a law firm).

Charles Robert Darwin He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.

Charles Darwin

Ask anyone in the world to name a geneticist and the first name that comes to mind has to be Charles Darwin.  No better demonstration of Darwin’s theory of evolution exists in the world than in dairy cattle breeding.  While there is no question that artificial selection and selective breeding exist on a daily basis, a cow’s ability to reproduce and produce milk leads to a natural level of selection that epitomizes Darwin’s theory.  “The laws governing inheritance,” Darwin wrote, “are for the most part unknown.”  Moreover, while many modern geneticists have theories about the tendencies of the modern Holstein cow, their genetic transmission pathways in large part remain a mystery to this day.

Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel

Then along came Gregor Mendel who introduced the concept of “genes” to explain heritability.  Mendel changed the whole way we look at breeding when he introduced the theory that the chromosome is the carrier of genetic traits.  He also explained why a trait can disappear in one generation and reappear in the next and why these traits occur in a three-to-one ratio.  One of Mendel’s disciples, three quarters of a century later, was Thomas B. Macaulay.  Macaulay conducted his own studies, on his Mount Victoria Farms (Read more: Mount Victoria Farms – The art and science of great breeding).

Thomas Hunt Morgan

Thomas Hunt Morgan

Then along came Hunt. Well, more specifically, Thomas Hunt Morgan, but my ego wouldn’t let this go as my name is Andrew Morgan Hunt (Read more about my ego: I’m Sorry But I’ve Had Just About Enough Of… ).  In research that is now reproduced by grade 9 science students around the world, Morgan introduced the concept of X and Y-chromosomes.  Morgan concluded that a female has two X chromosomes and that males have both X and Y-chromosomes.  He also posited that the male of the species, because of the presence of the Y chromosome, transmits differently than the female.

To get a better understanding of this, let’s look at this from both sides of the story.

His side of the story (XY)

If you look at Holstein bulls throughout history you find four distinct patterns:

  1. Great daughters but no legacy sons
    These are the bulls that sired amazing brood cows but none of their sons were able to continue their genetic legacy.  Examples are Hanover-Hill Triple Threat, Carlin-M Ivanhoe Bell, and Braedale Goldwyn.  They all were able to sire brood cow daughters beyond compare, but no real sons to advance that genetic legacy.  Why did these sires seem to produce better on the female side than that of the male?  For that we need to turn to Morgan and his X and Y chromosome theory.  Since the Y chromosome is the only one that is inherited solely via the paternal  line, this leads  some geneticists to believe that it carries little genetic information, and as a result  a great sires genetic legacy rest more with his daughters than with his sons.  Therefore, with this first group of sires it is thought that much of their genetics were transmitted on the X chromosome rather than the Y.
  2. Great sons but not as many brood cows
    Bulls that sired outstanding sons but never produced a top daughter.  A couple of great examples of this are Montvic Rag Apple Sovereign, Maizefield Bellwood and O-Bee Manfred Justice.  All of these sires have left outstanding sons, but are not found as often in the maternal sire stack of the great sires.  There is no question as to their genetic contribution to the breed, but it was more as a sire of sons than their ability to leave an equal number of brood cows.
  3. Sons and daughters both extraordinary
    These are the sires that have gone down in history as the all-time greats.  Sires like Johanna Rag Apple Pabst, Governor of Carnation, Montvic Chieftain, Wisconsin Admiral Burke Lad, A.B.C. Reflection Sovereign, Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation, Pawnee Farm Alrinda Chief, Walkway Chief Mark, Hanoverhill Starbuck, Madawaska Aerostar and Maughlin Storm.  These are the bulls that not only displayed personal greatness but were also able to transmit both outstanding brood cows as well as legacy sons.
  4. Sons and daughters that were inferior
    Sons and daughters that are both below average.  These bulls left inferior daughters and as a result were never even given the chance to produce sons.  Bulls in this category are too numerous to mention and loads of their daughters go to the slaughterhouses every day.  No explanation necessary other than a lack of genetic merit and here enters the need for genomics (Read more: The Truth About Genomic Indexes – “Show Me” That They Work).

Her side the story (XX)

The female side of the story uses the same four distinct groups.

  1. Great daughters but no legacy sons
    These are cows with outstanding female descendants but undistinguished males.  Great examples of these are the cow families of Hanover Hill Papoose, Krull Broker Elegance and Plunshanski Chief Faith.  They all were able to leave outstanding female descendants generation after generation, but were never really able to accomplish the same feat on the male side of the story.
  2. Great sons but not as many brood cows
    These are the cows with potent transmitting sons, but daughters who didn’t outperform the average.  Examples of these are Wylamyna Tidy Kathleen (dam of Sir Bess Tidy and Sir Bess Ormsby Tidy Fobes) Lakefield Fobes Delight (dam of Lakefield Fond Hope, Lakefield Fond Delight Fobes and Carnation Royal Master) and Pawnee Farm Glenvue Beauty (dam of Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief).  All of these cows had outstanding maternal lines but for some reason were just not able to transmit that legacy through their daughters.
  3. Sons and daughters both extraordinary
    Among the females in this category are Glenridge Citation Roxy, Mil-R-Mor Roxette, Comestar Laurie Sheik, Braedale Gypsy Grand and Snow-N Denises Dellia.
  4. Sons and daughters that were inferior
    Cows who, in terms of influence, failed to produce anything worthwhile.  Blame it on lack of genetics, bad breeding, improper management, or just bad luck, these cows just didn’t influence the breed. We have all seen examples.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There has never been a clear explanation of why some bloodlines seem to transmit better through maternal lines, others through the paternal, and still others do well in both.  Even genomics does not answer this.  There are high genomic animals that still have these same tendencies.  Maybe if we could genomic test the genes on each chromosome we might find the answers?  Until then Genetic Transmission in the Holstein Cow will remain a mystery.

To read more about this get a copy of The Holstein History by Edward Morwick and read the chapter on Inheritance Patterns.


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