Archive for Select Sires Inc.

Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation: The Sire That Took the Dairy Breeding Industry to New Heights – Bullvine Legend Series

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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The Other Show at World Dairy Expo!

I must admit that I have always loved the big Ag shows.  Taking time away from the farm (but not away from agriculture) has been a family tradition from my early days in a horse training household to the years spent raising our own dairy focused clan.  However, despite the holiday feeling, there is always an underlying goal of trying to get the most out of these trips.  This year The Bullvine is looking forward to World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin September 30 – October 14. Of course, whenever you’re devising a strategy, it is always better when you have great resources to draw upon.   Connie Eibergen, Marketing Coordinator, Agri-Nutrition Consulting LLC and Shirley Kaltenbach CMP, Director of Communications at Select Sires Inc. have the experience and enthusiasm that gave us valuable input from the exhibitor perspective, as we took a look at the “other” show at Expo.

9 Ways to Win at the “Other” World Dairy Expo Show!

  1. International visitorsBe prepared. Plan ahead.
    “Thousands of dairy farmers and professionals from around the world attend World Dairy Expo every day to discover new technologies and watch or participate in the cattle shows” points out Connie Eibergen referring to both the Dairy Show and the Trade Show. However, even though the trade show also has excitement and entertainment, it isn’t the show ring where you can see everything from a comfortable seat. You’re on foot in six commercial exhibit areas covering nearly one-half million square feet of exhibit space and exhibits from 850 companies from more than 28 countries.  As one of 72,000 annual attendees, navigating your way through this maze can either be a big waste of time or, if you’re prepared, send you home enthused and ready to try something new and improved. Our best advice is to do your first “once around the ring,” while you are at home and checking out (show link). Not every booth will have the perfect answer for your three biggest dairy challenges (Of course, you DO know what they are!). But World Dairy Expo is the best place to get started finding the solutions! That is exactly what exhibitors like Select Sires are eager to prove. “This five-day event showcases the finest in dairy genetics and the newest technologies available to the dairy industry. Select Sires makes sure plenty of experts are on hand to be a resource to dairy producers seeking assistance.”So with your booth layout in hand and already highlighted, check-marked or circled, you are ready to make a well-planned trip through the World Dairy Expo Trade Show.
  2. Pay Close Attention to Who is Strutting Their (New) Stuff!
    The 24/7 nature of dairy farming doesn’t make it easy to keep up with new products or ideas. This roadblock is removed, when you’re live where all the latest and greatest are being showcased at WDE. “Expo is a great place to launch new products,” says Shirley Kaltenbach adding that it is also “great for generating new leads.”   Shirley also feels that the Expo venue is a win-win for exhibitors and attendees and especially valuable for strategic planning. “Expo gives us an opportunity to obtain customer feedback.”  This teamwork approach to industry problem-solving is important to ANC says Connie Eibergen. “ANC is rolling out our brand new “Go Beyond Nutrition” look and initiative.” She explains. “As part of this initiative we are launching an integrated ‘I go beyond for dairy’ campaign at World Dairy Expo.” that will proactively involve participation from current and future customers. Therefore, if you are an attendee start your planning by thinking about your dairy service providers. If you are happy with the product being displayed or even if you have concerns or problems, you will be welcomed by discerning businesses who are always seeking ways to serve their customers better. Shirley further defines this win-win situation: “I think attendees use this tradeshow opportunity to comparison shop.” While she sees “building brand awareness” as a definite plus for businesses such as Select Sires, for clients it is an excellent opportunity to have your voice heard and questions answered.
  3. TradeShow4Be on the offence, not the defence.
    When entering the show ring side of World Dairy Expo, it is always a better strategy to show off the best of your animal, rather than trying to hide the faults.  Non-dairy cattle show observers might think that simply leading an animal around the dairy ring is relatively easy.  Of course, they’re wrong.  Dairy competitors have used every piece of cattle presentation art and science to present their animal so that she represents the best for her age in the breed. Throughout the Trade Show, exhibitors have prepared demonstrations, displays, videos, and trained personnel to present themselves at their best. Shirley Kaltenbach confirms that this is the case for Select Sires. “Exhibiting at Expo allows us to demonstrate why our product and services are superior.” As a customer of these products and services, you not only get to judge their work and have them prove to you why you should go home with their new idea, better solution or even leading edge piece of dairy equipment.  If you feel something is missing from your products or services, make sure that someone at World Dairy Expo is interested enough and committed enough to provide the answer.
  4. Go Home with the Loot
    In the dairy ring, you can’t be guaranteed to win.  But an organized Trade Show strategy could guarantee that you won’t go home empty handed or weighted down with the usual trade show giveaway bags, bells and whistles.  While these tchotchkes may be fun for the kids back home, it’s your job as a trade show attendee to get real value.  Connie Eibergen and the team at Agri-Nutrition Consulting LLC have come up with a great way to inspire meaningful dialogue between their clients and their consultants. She encourages everyone to get involved. “To participate in our “Go Beyond Nutrition” initiative, stop by ANC’s booth (Booth #4403) and tell us how you “go beyond for dairy” in our photo booth.  Each participant will receive a free “I go beyond for dairy” shirt and will be entered to win a $100 ANC gift certificate” ANC will literally focus a camera on farmers who share how they focus on dairying. Together the goal is to “go beyond.” Everybody ends up grinning and winning. It’s that personal contact that Shirley Kaltenbach values. “Expo puts our company and our products face-to-face with customers and prospects” She sees it as a double win for Select Sires. “Expo allows us to present our products and services to a wide audience in a short period of time.”
  5. Presentations7Be Part of a Positive Image for Dairying
    There are too many times these days when the image of agriculture takes a negative hit in the media.  World Dairy Expo is an opportunity to showcase all that is best about the people, animals and industry that means so much to all of us. With so many thousands of people on the show grounds, a positive message can be shared exponentially. Not all issues can be solved in so public a venue, but many exhibitors take WDE Trade Show as a showcase for the care, concern and commitment that farmers bring to their chosen work. Connie Eibergen touches on the bigger picture that Agri-Nutrition has in mind. “We hope this campaign brings awareness to the general public and those that may not be as familiar with today’s farming practices about the many ways farmers care for their animals every day while providing safe and nutritious food for the world.”
  6. Learn from the Best …
    There is always room for improvement in the modern dairy business which is constantly evolving and presenting challenges. World Dairy Expo is a dynamic classroom ready to customize to your needs.  Consultants, marketing contacts and dairy experts can be found manning trade show booths.  This is an outstanding opportunity for attendees to learn directly from individuals you likely would not otherwise meet. Shirley is enthusiastic. “Expo is the perfect place to gather industry information just by walking the show floor.” She feels there is something for everyone. “Expo is a great place to introduce new employees to the industry. It gives them a baseline understanding of the industry and our competitors and allows us to introduce them to key individuals in the industry.” Connie Eibergen sums it up from the exhibitor perspective. “The opportunity to meet and speak with so many different dairy farmers is one that any dairy company just can’t pass up.” It is an opportunity to build valued networks. Shirley Kaltenbach feels that investing in a World Dairy Expo presence “demonstrates to customers that we are committed to a long term business relationship.”
  7. TradeShow68Don’t Follow the Herd
    With so much to see and do, it can be challenging to keep your focus. That’s another reason why advance planning, regarding what you want to get out of World Dairy Expo, is necessary.  In the same way that show ring exhibitors accept that a year of planning and hard work comes down to a few minutes in front of the judge, you want to be sure that you go home with what you came for.  World Dairy Expo planners have put a lot of thought into speakers and presentations.  Companies showcase their businesses and provide farm tour opportunities. While you can’t do everything, you can choose a variety of events that will meet your goals.  Pick what is of interest to you and stay energized and engaged throughout World Dairy Expo. The person next to you may have solved the same issues you’re struggling with. Getting the most out of WDE and not returning home exhausted is all about timing. It takes planning to do it well. What choices should you make? Should you cut off a great conversation at on the trade show floor to attend a dairy session?  Should you take in a sponsored breakfast meeting or listen to a keynote speaker?  The greatest benefits of World Dairy Expo can be both planned and spontaneous. Be open to the possibilities. Don’t feel pressured.  Of course, World Dairy Expo organizers hope that you enjoy the full agenda. However, you must ultimately make sure that your needs are met first.
  8. Take What You’ve Learned Back to the Barn
    For years I faithfully took copious notes and collected brochures and handouts and I still enjoy capturing excellent interviews, observations and quotes for the Bullvine. However after several years where I never even re-read my notations, I now try to boil everything down to an action agenda.   I look for and star (*) those items that can be acted upon. That could include people to follow up with or ideas for improving something at the farm or in the office or at the Bullvine.  Every starred item goes into my “Control Journal” … go ahead laugh, my whole family does (but not where I can hear them!)… With the advantage of a long drive home, these items find their way into follow up scheduling. Before we make that final turn into the farm lane, I can rest assured that it’s been a value-added time “away.”
  9. 2013 World Dairy Expo Supreme ChampionBecome an Expo “Designer Dairy” Winner
    You have probably attended many conventions, annual meetings, conferences and trade shows — big and small – exciting and boring, entertaining and academic.  Not all of them provide content as varied as that of World Dairy Expo or networking opportunities as rich.  For Connie Eibergen and Shirley Kaltenbach “World Dairy Expo is the one dairy event of the year that you just can’t miss.” Hopefully, these nine ideas will inspire you to custom design your 2014 Dairy Expo “Designer Dairy” experience into a big win for you and your dairy operation.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

At the end of any good day, it’s always rewarding when the sum adds up to something greater than the parts. Going over to the “other” side of World Dairy Expo may be the decision that achieves that for you.  We hope to see you in the winners’ circle at World Dairy Expo.




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