Archive for June 2012

Weekly Show and Sale Recap– 6/30/2012


  • US National Holstein Convention Sale
    June 28, 2012
    Juanita K. Hammons Hall in Springfield, Missouri!

    • Lot 9 – $76,000 – Cookiecutter Epic Hadele-ET, Mar’12 Epic +2490 GTPI that sold with numerous AI and embryo contracts out of Cookiecutter MOM Halo-ET +2358 GTPI
    • Lot 23 – $52,000 – Hickorymea Manoman Opine P, May’10 polled Man-O-Man from 7 VG & EX dams – the #4 GTPI Polled animal in the world due in January to Parker P. The calf is a potential homozygous polled calf.
    • Lot 2 – $52,000 – Larcrest Cagney-ET, Mar’12 Facebook at +2431 GTPI +6.8PL +1988M +91F +66P +2.48T out of Larcrest Chima-ETS VG-86 +2237 GTPI Planet daughter of Larcrest Crimson VG-89 DOM
  • US National Holstein Convention Futures Sale
    June 28, 2012
    University Plaza Hotel in
    Springfield, MO
    Managed by Burton & Associates
    Average $11,169 on 26 lots.

    • Lot 1 – $37,000 – Pick out of 7 McCutchen females x Roorda OB Mckenzie GTPI +2409 x Rooda Shottle 6802 VG-85 GTPI +2172 from the Minnow family
    • Lot 6 – $25,000 – Curr-Vale Delighted Red-ET, Feb’12 polled, red Colt-P with +2098 GTPI from Curr-Vale Shottle Delight GTPI +2076 x Curr-Vale Goldwyn Delicious *RC EX-91, a 7th gen EX
    • Lot 3 – $22,000 – 1st choice Numero Uno x Ensenada Alan Peggy-ET VG-85 GTPI +2205, a maternal sister to Planet
  • Record prices at bull sale
    At the 4th Online Elite Bull Sale (average: €10,640) organized by Diamond Genetics, the two most expensive lots fetched new record prices. A 1st choice Freddie out of Crimson’s Planet daughter Larcrest Chenoa sold at €28,000 to an AI stud in the Czech Republic. At €27,000, the 1st choice from five Shamrock pregnancies from Stantons Freddie Cameo (Saturday family) went to a buyer from Canada. (


  • Maxville Spring Show
    June 23, 2012 – Maxville, Ontario
    Judge: Bloyce Thompson, Frenchfort, PEI
    158 Total Head Shown

    • Junior Champion: R-E-W Happy Go Lucky, 1st senior yearling, Velthuis, Ardross & Sjendi
    • Res. Junior Champion: Gillette Sid Misteryday, 1st intermediate calf, Ferme Gillette
    • HM Junior Champion: Velthuis Jasper Janice, 1st senior calf, Velthuis Farms
    • Grand Champion: Happydanny Jayz Sunday, 1st sr. 3-year-old, J&P Black, D&H Meier & Mike Heath
    • Res. Grand Champion: Cobequid Goldwyn Leno, 1st Jr. 3-year-old, Yvon Sicard
    • HM Grand Champion: Meadowgreen Jeany Outside, 1st mature cow, Ferme Blondin
    • Premier Breeder & Exhibitor: Ferme Blondin
  • Minnesota State Holstein Show
    June 23, 2012
    Hutchinson, MN
    Judge: Callum McKinven, Quebec
    Total Head: 198

    • Junior Champion: Strans-Jen-D Tequila-Red-ET (Scientific Director), 1st fall yearling, Reid Stransky & Cliff Helken, Owatonna, MN
    • Reserve Junior Champion: Stranshome Gold Alyssum (Braedale Goldwyn), 1st summer yearling, Joe & Reid Stransky, Owatonna, MN
    • Hon. Mention Junior Champion: Stranshome Dundee Dewdrop (Regancrest Dundee), 1st fall calf, Reid Stransky & Pat Conroy, Owatonna, MN
    • Intermediate & Grand Champion: Schillview Gold Goldanne (Braedale Goldwyn), Charles Schiller and Quentin Scott, Little Falls, MN
    • Reserve Intermediate & Hon. Mention Grand Champion: Elginvue Goldplate Star 387 (Comestar Goldplate-ET), Kenny Mueller, Arlington, MN
    • Senior Champion & Reserve Grand Champion: Lida-Acres Cousteau Anna (Silky Cousteau), 1st 4-year-old, Dana & Maria Johnson, Pelican Rapids, MN
    • Reserve Senior Champion: Jen-D-Devil Tiffany-Red (Dutchline Red Devil-Red), 1st 5-year-old, Reid Stransky and Jeni Dingbaum, Owatonna, MN
    • Premier Breeder & Exhibitor: Macland Holsteins
  • Minnesota State Junior Holstein Show
    June 22, 2012
    Hutchinson, MN
    Judge: Chad Ryan, Fond du Lac, WI
    Total head: 110

    • Junior Champion: Kingsmill Atwood Allison-ET (Maple-Downs-I GW Atwood-ET), 1st fall yearling, Cally Strobel, Henderson, MN
    • Reserve Junior Champion: Stro-Lane Jasper Rocket (Wilcoxview Jasper), 1st summer yearling, Cally Strobel, Henderson, MN
    • Senior and Grand Champion: Budjon Rubens Annette (STBVQ Rubens), 1st 100,000 lb. cow, Molly Herberg, St. Peter, MN
    • Reserve Senior and Reseve Grand Champion: Lake-Prairie Kite Anika-ET (Markwell Kite), 1st 3-year-old, Joseph, Zach, Jerome and Darian Stransky, Owatonna, MN


The Mark of a True Breeder

Whenever a new sire tops the list, or a cow wins a big show, everyone sees the prefix on that animal.  However, just because you bred that animal does, that make you the true breeder?  More and more you are seeing top animals that have just one generation bred by the breeder.  Does that make them the true breeder of that animal?

With the amount of top cattle that are being bought and sold, you are seeing more and more pedigrees that have different prefixes in each generation.  While at one time we used to see five, six, or more generations all with the same prefix, now it’s not unusual to see six different prefixes in six different generations.

While I am all for the trade of dairy cattle because it’s what makes the genetics market go around,   should the last breeder on the pedigree get all the credit for breeding that animal?  As we all know you cannot make a great show cow or top index animal in just one generation.  It takes generation after generation with a clear goal in mind and a smart breeding strategy to breed the next great one.  Yet, when we look to give awards, assign master breeder points, etc. we give all the credit to whoever’s name is on the prefix.

While it’s not a slam-dunk to buy a cow and breed the next great one, buying into a well thought out, established cow family can certainly accelerate the process.  We see it more and more as many top herds look to diversify and add new bloodlines into their operations in order to provide the genetics that their particular market demands.  Does that make them a master breeder or a smart businessperson?

In some cases these top herds have had to buy into new cow families because their main cow families are not ranking at the top any more.  This begs the question whether they are really master breeders or a master buyer?  I know it’s a tough question and I would say, of the main top herds today, many of them have generation after generation of their own breeding.

The same debate is true for show cattle.  Look at the cows that are winning at Madison and the Royal.  How many of them are bred and owned?  A large majority of the time, the original breeder sold that animal years ago, and it could be on its fourth or fifth ownership group now.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While breeding a top show cow or high genomic animal takes a lot of work, I wonder if we give enough credit to the generation after generation it took of smart breeding to achieve that end result.  Are we too quick to simply look at the current prefix on the animal and let the breeding recognition stop there?  Today’s buzz words are “repeatability” and “sustainability” so I ask, “What is the mark of a truly great cattle breeder?”

For more information check out The Bullvine Bull Book or our Genetic Evaluation Resource Center.

Dairy Cattle Marketing Ethics – Do they exist?

You read the claims in ads all the time, #1 this and #1 one that.  You’re dazzled with amazing photos.  Can you believe what you see?  Are there really any ethics when it comes to dairy cattle marketing?

Ethics are a collection of principles of right conduct that shape the decisions people or organizations make. Practicing ethics in dairy cattle marketing means deliberately applying standards of fairness, or moral right and wrong, to marketing decision-making, behavior, and practice in the organization or on the farm.

Wild West Shootout

As I scroll through the major print publications, I see a wide variety of practices that may not abide by a standard definition of marketing ethics.  Pretty much every add you see has had the photo retouched, the cow cropped out and claims that they have the #1 this or the #1 that.You even see claims to be the #1 Genomics animal even when they have not been officially released.

I am not saying that this is totally wrong.  What I am saying is that there needs to be a standard or mutually agreed upon set of regulations that all dairy cattle advertising abides by. Currently it’s still a wild wild west where the people who design the ads are able to do whatever their creative heart’s desire.

Photo Ethics

Nowhere is this truer than in photos.  As we have highlighted in the past “Has Photo Enhancement Gone Too Far?” it seems to be a free-for-all when it comes to what some photographers will do to get a great photo.  I am sure in the minds of those who make these changes they think they are doing the correct thing. Are they really? Are you really helping the breeder sell more? Or are you hurting the industry as a whole because you are causing some to distrust the legitimacy of the image?

The New Rules of Dairy Cattle Marketing

As a graphic designer this excites me but as a dairy cattle breeder this scares me.  There needs to be a level of trust that readers can expect when they are reading these publications.  Some examples of rules would be:

  • If a photo has been retouched it needs to be identified
  • No retouching of an animal should be allowed
  • Can only claim to be #1 for something if it is validated by an official list
  • Unless there is an official conversion from one country’s ranking/evaluation to another there should be no claims made accordingly

The Bullvine Bottom Line

I remember when I first got into dairy cattle marketing almost 20 years ago.  At that point in time there was actually an industry accepted standard that all organizations had to abide by when publishing sire proof information.  But at the times have changed the rules and regulations have been lost.  The problem is that, with the loss of the rules, has come the loss of the credibility.  To rectify this, I wonder if it’s time to establish a new set of rules?  What is necessary?  What is possible? What rules would you like to see when it comes to marketing dairy cattle?

Want to take your marketing to the next level, download our free guide “The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook“.

To get a copy of the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct please click here.

Dairy Cattle Showing: For Ego or Profit?

There is no question that, for many dairy breeders, there is nothing more exciting than winning at the Royal or Madison.  Along with the fame comes the fortune.  But what happens for the other 99% of people who don’t win?  Do they make any money?  Does their need for inner self-gratification get satisfied?

There are many reasons that breeders show their cattle at the local fair, such as supporting their local community, or helping teach their children the joys of the dairy cattle community.  However, when it comes to competing at the championship, state and national level, is there really justification for the time, effort and expense?

Over the years, I have seen a few things happen when it comes to making money in the show cattle business:

  1. A breeder either “gets lucky” or “by design” breeds a great one, and, if they are fortunate enough to know what they have, they sell it for a significant profit to one of the many cattle dealers that run the roads.
  2. When it comes to buying the top animals, it really comes down to a small group of buyers.  These buyers seem to trade cattle like they are playing cards, and it’s hard to tell if money is actually being made, or is it the same money going around in circles.
  3. Unknowing breeders purchase progeny from these cattle hoping that they can breed the next great one.  (For more on this read Great Show Cows: Can They Pass It On?)

Should Dairy Cattle be more like Race Horses?

The dairy cattle industry is not like the horse racing industry that has gambling revenue to support their cause.  I can still remember in Ontario when they wanted to add slot machines to the horse racing tracks and the breeders fought it tooth and nail.  In the end it more than quadrupled there prize money and made many breeders very very rich.  Is there any way we could add betting on show results?  (Oh wait that is a can of worms we may not want to touch. Watch for it in a future Bullvine article).

In reality, the only ones that really make money at this are the small few that have a class winner at Madison or the Royal, or those that are fortunate enough to get lucky with a homebred animal that can compete at the National level.  All the rest are spending a great deal of money to support their ego.

Athletes vs. Doctors

I equate it to the same amount of money that big time sports players make.  Yes, you see these million dollar contracts for the big name athletes.  However, for every one of those there are twenty that you never heard of that spent a great deal of time and energy chasing a dream.  The scary part is that, much like in real life, the big name athletes seem to make more money than say a doctor.  They’re good at a game.  Doctor’s save lives.  The same is true at the top sales.  You see the major show cattle selling for millions of dollars and yet the top LPI or TPI cattle don’t sell for as much.  Don’t the top TPI or LPI cows drive the most profit for dairy breeders? Shouldn’t they command the highest prices?

The Bullvine Bottom Line

When investing in show cattle the big question you need to answer is why you are doing it.  Are you investing to make a huge profit?  If so I wish you luck.  However, if you are investing because you love preparing  great cattle to parade in top showcase events or love the thrill of competing against the best in the business then more  power to you.  The big thing is know your own reasons and stay within what works for your operation.  Profit. Ego. Passion.  Where do you pull into the line?



Not sure how much to spend on that great 2 year old?
Want to make sure you are investing your money wisely?
Download our Dairy Cow Investment Calculator.



You Can Bank On Amaze To Pump Up The Volume

She`s Set to AMAZE in 400 Ways. Lewisdale Eastside Gold Amaze VG 87 2YR, with BCA’s of 236-253-240, leads the field by a huge margin when it comes to producing embryos. On June 23rd, 2012 she produced her 400th embryo! These numbers are even more amazing when you consider she did it in a mere three years!

This Embryo Machine is a Bank Machine

There are a number of ways to make or save money by raising high quality Holsteins. It could be production of fat and protein. It could be milk with low somatic cells scores. It could be progeny that sell well in sales. Each of these is effective but Amaze shows the way to do it by producing embryos that convert to cash.

Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy - Grand Champion WDE and Royal '11

Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy – Grand Champion WDE and Royal ’11

Amaze is Surrounded by Success

Amaze is not only a prolific producer of embryos, she comes with a great pedigree and that makes the embryos very marketable. Her full sister is none other than Lewisdale Eastside Gold Missy, the Madison and Royal Supreme Champion and title holder All American and All Canadian. Her dam is Stadacona Outside Abel 26 Stars and nominated for Canadian Holstein Cow of the Year.

Amaze is Reaching for the Top

Amaze`s genetic indexes place her in the top 20% of the breed for production, top 2% for SCC and top 1% for conformation. Her Direct Genomic Values reflect her own performance with high values for conformation, feet and legs, SCC and Herd Life.

Around the World with AMAZE

Amaze embryos have been used extensively in North America and in more than 10 countries around the world including: Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Holland, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and UK.

Great Cows. Great Breeders. Great Future.

Great cows are bred by great cattle breeders. In Amaze`s case, she was bred by two PEI Holstein breeders, Lewisdale and Eastside. At less than four months of age she was sold to Abelaine and Sudview for whom she had a Baxter daughter that is now VG 88. Her original breeders bought her back during her first lactation. And thus began the record-breaking flushing program. The 400 embryos are from 24 flushes by 17 different sires, all of whom are high genomic bulls or bulls with high genetic conformation indexes.

Don`t Miss the AMAZE Take Home Message

Of course elite Holstein dairy cattle can enhance your farm profit margins. Using all the available tools and technology, these rewards can come by extra milk in the pail, trouble –free cows that require less labour or genetic sales around the world.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Success in the Holstein business comes in many different ways but Lewisdale Eastside Gold Amaze gives a whole new meaning to the term cash cow. There`s no business like embryo business! You can bank on it!



Not sure how much to spend on that great 2 year old?
Want to make sure you are investing your money wisely?
Download our Dairy Cow Investment Calculator.




It’s Time To Pull Together and Support One of Our Own

Andrea CroweFor those in Atlantic Canada, and more and more in the rest of Canada and the USA there is a fiery redhead that many have grown to know and love.  Andrea Crowe’s passion for dairy cattle is second to none.  She has worked at making Broad Cove and Hi-Calibre Holstein’s one of Atlantic Canada’s best.  However, nowadays Andrea has to turn that passion into the fight of her life.

Andrea Crowe has been in the hospital since last August and remains without a concrete diagnosis.  It looks like she will have to travel to the US for treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

It has always been Andrea’s dream to find, develop and breed the highest level of cattle available, hence the prefix Hi-Calibre.  Until this recent battle, you would find Andrea at the local shows as well as the Royal Winter Fair and every sale, show and Holstein event in between. “We enjoy the cattle as well as our Holstein friends we meet along the way.  Our newly built barn was designed with the cattle’s comfort in mind and the best possible way to show you our herd.” says Andrea.

Andrea Crowe

I can still remember the first time I met Andrea over 10 years ago, I thought I was young purchasing cattle at the major sales, but there was this little redhead peeking over her glasses, using her eye for cattle to pick out a good one.  And what an eye she has.  Check out some of the following successes Andrea has been involved in.










She was just grand champion at local county show


The Bullvine Bottom Line

It’s now time for the dairy community to do what it does best.  Step up and help one of our own.  To assist the family with the financial burdens associated with Andrea’s illness, a fundraiser is being organized. Brian and Amber Craswell have offered to host an embryo auction during the social following the Atlantic Summer Classic on August 11th at 7:00pm at the Cymbria Lions Club, 2184 Church Road, Rustico, PEI.

For more information on the ‘Friends of Andrea Fundraiser & Social’ please contact Angela Masters, or Brian Craswell, or Amber Craswell. Let’s pull together for Andrea.

Weekly Show and Sale Recap– 6/23/2012


  • Party at the Park Averages $30,500
    You couldn’t beat the setting for a sale – a gorgeous summer day in Chicago in a very unique setting that overlooked historic Wrigley Field! The Party at the Park Sale attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd and when the gavel came down for the last time, the event averaged $30,500 for a gross of $1,372,500. 45 lots sold to 31 different buyers on the day. Managed by Butler-Fellers Auctions, the lineup was filled with powerhouse genomic and type consignments, mainly first choice females with some individuals and embryos offered as well.

    • Topping the sale at $116,000 was Lot #2 – Coyne-Farms Srock Jill-ET, a 9/11 Shamrock at +2583 GTPI – the #9 GTPI female in the breed! Out of the VG-85 Coyne-Farms Ramos Jelly cow and consigned by Coyne Farms of New York, Jill sold to Matt Kimball of Maryland.
    • Two lots tied for 2nd high at $100,000. Lot #1 – Hartford Colt-P 315-Red-ET *PO, a 1/12 Colt P who is the highest GTPI red polled female at +2221, 315 traces back into the Terry Tory cow family. She was the consignment of Hartford Holsteins in Minnesota and was purchased by Westcoast Holsteins of Chilliwack, BC.
    • The other lot to bring six figures was Mr Chassity Pistol-ET *RC *PO, the 11/11 polled Colt P brother to Colt 45 and Gold Chip – out of the genomic giant Regancrest S Chassity-ET EX-92. Consigned by the Chassity Syndicate, Pistol will be entering service at Jetstream Genetics and was purchased by the Pistol Syndicate. Members include: Duane Zimmer, Blake Hansen, Tim Kleiss, Adam Kleiss, Elite Dairy Genomics, Bill Rauen, Chassity Syndicate, Farnear Holsteins, Frank & Diane Borba, Ed Fellers, Jeff Butler and Tim Rauen.
  • Record K&L sale
    The 12th Selection Sale of the Dutch trading firm K&L resulted in a record average of €13,090 over 17 sold animals. The top price of €31,000 was paid by Willsbro for Koepon Classy 104, an Explode daughter from Koepon Planet Classy 60. A British syndicate became the new owner of Willsbro Snowman Rose for €30,000.
  • Top-selling Snowman
    At the Genetic Elite Sale hosted by Holstein UK, Peter Horrell paid £15,000 for Crystalclear Christmas Snow (Snowman x Lightning). BB Alexander Georgia 2nd (from De-Su 6121) attracted a bid of £8200 and Wiltor Atwood Sharon (Shottle family) sold for £8000. The average over 38 calves was £4172.


  • Minnesota State Red & White Show
    June 21, 2012
    Hutchinson, MN
    Judge: Chad Ryan, Fond du Lac, WI
    51 head

    • Junior Champion: Strans-Jen-D Tequila-Red (Scientific Director-Red-ET), 1st fall yearling (daughter of Grand Champion, Tiffany), Reid Stransky and Cliff Helken, Owatonna, MN
    • Reserve Junior Champion: Greenlea Ad Ae-Red-ET (KHW Kite Advent-Red), 1st fall calf, S & D Heuer, A Gunderson & A Dykshorn, Litchfield, MN
    • Intermedaite Champion & Reserve Grand: Quality-Ridge Advn Abby-Red (KHW Kite Advent-Red-ET), 1st Sr. 3-year-old, Doug & Jody Fairbanks and Joe & Reid Stransky, Owatonna, MN
    • Reserve Intermediate Champion: Kara-Kesh Contender Spark-Red (Patience Showline Contender), 1st Sr. 2-year-old, Ryan Griffin, Thief River Falls, MN
    • Senior and Grand Champion: Jen-D Devil Tiffany-Red (Dutchline Red Devil-Red), 1st 5-year-old, Reid Stransky & Jeni Dingbaum, Owatonna, MN
    • Reserve Senior Champion: Mergold Adv Sandy-Red-ET (KHW Kite Advent-Red-ET), 1st Aged Cow J, J, & R Kappers and A Goldenberg, Spring Valley, MN

Fight the Power

For years a small few organizations have controlled the dairy industry.  No I am not talking about how A.I.  companies are seeking to control genomics, or genetic evaluation systems, sorry Ron.  What I am talking about is how a small few (mostly A.I. companies) have sought to control what breeders think.  It’s time to stand up and be heard and fight the power.

Having grown up on both sides of this fence it has been amazing to see the control that A.I. companies have over dairy breeders’ minds.  I can still remember when Champion was about to be released and the “rumors” that where swirling were insane.  Everything you could think of was being said about Albert Cormier and GenerVations.  Some of the stuff was not even possible and yet the rumor mill was fuelled with this because the other companies were threatened by a new player in the marketplace.  The great thing for the industry was that in typical Albert fashion he did not let it beat him down, but rather loved the challenge and met it head on.

More important than the marketing that any of the A.I. companies has done, is the ability to control the rumor mill.  Dairy breeders love great gossip.  Maybe it’s because as a dairy breeder you get limited contact with other breeders, or maybe it’s because most breeders are so passionate about what they do, but breeders do love good gossip.  Trust me, it does not take a day to have a rumor that starts on one farm spread all over the industry and this was even before Facebook and email.

I cannot tell you the number times I have had great conversations with many different breeders but put them in a group setting and they would be afraid to speak up.  As an industry we should not seek to ostracize those who are willing to speak up against the norm but rather encourage them to speak their mind.

Looking back on my upbringing one of the greatest things I ever learned was the ability to give reasons.  I cannot tell you how much it has helped me in my career.  Not because I am seeking to become judge the Royal or Madison (though if you would like me to, I am game), but rather it taught me how to form my own opinion and then have the confidence to present and defend that opinion in front of others.  On an average week I have to give 3-4 different presentations to groups of 100+ and it’s this the lessons I learned judging dairy cattle that make it a breeze for me.

The Bottom Line

I think it’s time more breeders speak up for what they believe in.  This is a great time to be a dairy breeder, but it’s also a time where the industry is going through great change.  It’s at this time the industry needs more breeders to speak up and be heard.  Let their voice be heard and make sure that the industry we all know and love will be just as great or even better for future generations.  We are not sheep or lemmings dam it, we are dairy breeders and it’s time to take control and speak for ourselves!

You Can’t Drive To The Future Using Rear View Mirrors!

By definition, being strategic requires that you look forward — identifying trends, opportunities, and threats. That’s how good drivers drive on super highways and it’s how good breeders keep moving forward too. You can choose the less risky route of staying in the parking lot but you won’t get anywhere. Here are a few ways to keep your herd moving toward the future.

Check out your blind spot

By the end of next year, even the skeptics will have to admit that genomics, smart phones and tablets are here to stay. The early adopters and best-practice breeders are using these devices. They love being able to see all incoming e-mail, social messaging, text messaging, and voice and video messaging in a single place. They`re using them as the new resource to learn about and manage almost every aspect of cattle breeding.

Traditional Marketing will Decrease.  New Marketing will skyrocket.

As dairy breeders zero in on genomics, finding the leaders, at the right price in the right location and instantly … will change the face of dairy cattle marketing.  The twice a year showcase or the every three to five years  reduction sale will gradually give way to a marketplace that is in “sell” mode 24-7 and 365 days of the year.  Sellers will move beyond single page ads, special events and the cattle ring for promotion as a whole new breed (pun intended) of niche players will be born with the intention of providing the best results from your advertising dollars.  The days of a few key players topping the markets with their well orchestrated, for-your-eyes only live marketing events will gradually give way to on line live video interviews, marketing and promotion one-on-one. Rather than the traditional “one-size-fits-all” advertising strategy, a targeted personalized approach will be required if you expect to have a reasonable chance to sell in the new marketplace.

Genomics will increase its impact by becoming more focused and data driven

Most dairy breeders recognize that genomics is a tool to improve selection. As results become more refined and defined the potential impact will have even more converts.  Global economic issues will be with us for years to come and that too will drive genomics development to target more and better ways to breed great cattle to their highest potentially in the fastest, healthiest and most economical way possible.

The Global Marketplace has attracted the Big Players

The continued growth of technology, social media, and easy communications now makes it possible a dairy breeder in China to come to your barn, see your cows and complete a sale with no middle men, expensive “tire-kicking” trips or costly international time zone, travel and financial issues.  Today it’s take-a-look and complete-the-deal. With the whole world able to look over your shoulder in your barn, big business definitely sees the potential and is ready to grab a piece of the pie.

Dairy cattle research is picking up speed

Remember the good old days (that would be 10 years ago) when we had to sit through breeder meetings and association animal meetings and hear about the difficulties of getting the right research done at the right time and at a reasonable cost?  Industry and government were supposed to be pulling together to fund research that would have an impact on more than the scientific community. Sometimes breeders were skeptical, or unaware, of the practical applications.  Remember CAAB?  Genomics has changed all that.  Now not only are the money streams more accessible and flowing, the really big players with the really big bucks are ready and willing to become the new best friends of the cattle breeding industry.

Farm Branding is the Express Lane to Success

You can no longer hope that a few expensive colour layouts in a magazine will give you the profile you’re looking for to sell those also expensive genetics that you’re investing in. Having good genetics, a great work ethic and savvy cow sense, is no longer enough to have you speeding through the rapidly expanding crowd where everybody says, “Been there. Bred that!”  The increased use of social media and digital marketing will be the new way for the cream to rise to the top.

The Buyer Experience

In the past, you knew who the “players” were and the rest didn’t blip on your radar.   Today, you’ve got one chance to make a good first impression.  You never know when someone’s phone will capture a video and or audio of your inventory (is that what she “really” looks like?) and share it around the world. You could try keeping your doors selectively  closed but that will send a message too and it could be a negative one!  You are caught between the camera and a hot place!

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Forward-looking decision-making: Although hindsight is 20/20, if you’re moving ahead you cannot spend your time looking backward at what happened in the past. The dairy business of the future is following the growth signs:  market supply and demand; new dairying technologies and genomics to name a few. This forward-looking focus will not only improve decision-making but will lead the way to a future that is built on the past but moving way faster than we ever though possible.  Keep moving on the dairy industry express lane or you could be stuck on the off-road ramp or, even worse, left in the parking lot!

Will there ever be another distinct bloodline?

Before the recent Kueffner Kows at Cowtown Sale Horace Backus, commented that he had never seen anything like it in all his years!  “The quality of every animal and the homebred breeding was just so good.  Just before the sale started, I took a moment to walk through one of the lines of cows while it was quiet and everyone was already gathered in the tent.  I stood looking at a line of maybe 40 animals, and thought I was standing at Madison seeing that many great cows all together.”  These comments reminded me of the ones he made before the 1998 Hanover Hill Dispersal where Horace said, “In the history of the Holstein Breed, there have only been four or five herds that have created a distinct blood herd.  Today we are selling a distinct bloodline herd.”  This got me think will there ever be another distinct bloodline herd?

Over the years, the marketplace has changed greatly.  The improvements in technology have been incredible.  It is now easier than ever to market, compare and transport your genetics to anywhere in the world.  To get a better understanding how each of these will play into the potential of having another distinct bloodline, we decided to take a closer look at each one.

Marketing to the World

In the era of Hanover Hill era buyers did come in person from around the world.  The world has changed greatly with the Internet.  I often wonder what a great marketer like Peter Heffering would have done in today’s time.  The ability to market to a much larger audience through the internet and Facebook is expanding the marketplace.  You are no longer just selling to the person next door or in the same country or the few who are able to travel to buy.  You are often selling to people half way around the world.  And more importantly than where they are, is how quickly and easily you can reach them.  You no longer have to run magazine ads in each country’s major breed magazine.  Today you simply post a quick smartphone picture, or better yet video, on your Facebook page and share it with the world.

Cross Country Comparisons

One of the things that contributed greatly to each country or region having its own distinct bloodlines was that the ability to compare performance data on in each country presented challenges.  In previous generations, it was hard enough getting everyone to talk in the same units (ex. Lbs. vs. kgs.) let alone the fact that they had different methods of evaluating things.  Then came Interbull and MACE proofs. That started to open up the marketplace, but for some the confidence in the MACE system was not there and for the most part most countries still had regionalized breeding and evaluating systems.  Then came genomics that has given breeders around the world the confidence no matter where the bull was proven to use him on their cattle.  We now see that there is no longer a negative stigma in North America on foreign proven bulls.  Moreover, many of the great international cow families are gaining significant respect in the North American marketplace, especially as sons of these cattle have proven themselves well on the North American genetic base.

Transportation of Genetics

All the great marketing and evaluation systems in the world mean nothing if you cannot get the genetics to the consumers.  Artificial insemination had a drastic impact on the ability of breeders to develop distinct bloodlines.  Instead of just running your own breeding program where you sell the odd breeding bull, artificial insemination meant that when you sold that bull to an AI center, he would now be able to reach the world market.  With AI companies also becoming less regional or country focused and more world focused, that meant you could sell a bull in Chicoutimi Quebec and his semen could be used in Kamifurano Japan.  Breeders no longer had to develop their own bloodlines and could draw on the best bloodlines from around the world.  Furthermore, as embryo transfer technology advanced you could also import and export embryos and further accelerate your breeding programs.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Today breeding herds like De-Su limit the amount of genetics they sell and AI organizations like Select Sires are entering the female animal ownership side in order to develop a distinct product in the marketplace.  Nevertheless, I truly feel that with the overall changes in the global marketplace we have a much more level playing field through evaluation systems and technology and, therefore, it is highly unlikely that we will see the achievement of a distinct bloodline at the level reached by Hanover Hill.

Great Show Cows: Can they pass it on?

We see these huge sales prices for great show cows all the time. We recently saw RAINYRIDGE TALENT BARBARA EX-95 sell for $230,000 or Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy EX-95-CAN selling in 2009 for $1.2 million . They only way to support sales prices like that are to breed great cattle from these cattle.  With that, we decided to take a closer look at how some of the great show cows from the past have done.

In our article Show Cows: All Type and NO Action?, we look at the pedigree of the current crop of show cattle.  In this article we are going to look at how some of the great show cows of the past 20 years have done on the breeding side of the equation.

Success Stories




41 Classified Daughters 21 (52%) are Excellent 19 (46%) are Very Good 8 Excellent Sons

Notable progeny:





Notable progeny:

  • STANHOPE SOVEREIGN                 EX-96-CAN    ST’07
    Gibson son at Foundation Sires
    1496 DAUS 82% GP+ 57 EX
  • WEDGWOOD LARAMIE                 EX-96-CAN    ST’08
    Lee son at Foundation Sires
    1017 DAUS 75% GP+ 10 EX



14 DAUS 100% GP+ 4 EX

Notable progeny:




26 DAUS 100% GP+  11 EX

Notable progeny:





Notable progeny:

The Bullvine Bottom Line

These five cattle are excellent examples of great show cattle that were able to pass it on.  In contrast, however, there is the great ACME STAR LILY EX-94-4YR-USA 8*, who despite being a 3 time grand champion at the Royal and probably one of the greatest show cows of all time, has been unable to pass that legacy on.  Others who have had this challenge include LAUDUC BROKER MANDY EX-96-4E-USA      5*, who despite have a great daughter- LAUDUC ASTRE MANILLE EX-CAN 6* (ALL-CANADIAN SR.2-YR 1997) – was also unable to pass it on through her sons.  This just goes to show that just because a cow may be the greatest show cow walking the planet at that moment, it does not guarantee that she will be able to pass it on.



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10 Ways Cool Calves Beat the Heat

Suddenly it is summer.  Where did all this suffocating heat come from? Of course, if people are feeling soggy, you can be sure calves are feeling it too! Short of inviting them in to share the air-conditioning there are several effective ways we can keep calves cool and stress free.


  1. Shady Ladies.
    Make sure to provide your calves with plenty of shade whether it is from trees, the hutch itself or supplemental shade.  Hutches that faced south in the winter can be re-aligned to capture shade and prevailing breezes. If necessary, construct a temporary shade canopy over their tops (14 feet or higher to allow for good airflow).
  2. Timely Care.
    Consider changing the time of day when handling calves is done.   Perform stressful activities (such as moving, grouping, handling, vaccinating, dehorning) early in the morning. Feed animals several hours before or after peak temperature and humidity times. Early morning and late afternoon feeding can avoid calves experiencing peak temperatures at the same time as their digestion peaks, which often occurs about four hours after feeding.
  3. Always Fresh ‘Cause You Keep Feeding it.
    Keep your calf starter fresh at all times and free of any moisture. Start your calves with a handful of feed and change it every day until they are eating their full allotment.
  4. How’s the Water?
    Provide cool  (50°F /10°C) drinking water (cows drink 50% more water at temperatures of 80°F/26.7°C and above compared to 40°F/4.4°C). It should not be a surprise for calves to double their water intake. Switching to five-gallon pails may also be helpful.  When heat stressed a calf can consume 3 to 6 gallons of water per day. To keep it fresh, empty and refill water pails several times throughout the day. More water changes (say every three hours) the more they will eat. The more they eat the more nutrients they consume and then they are better able to withstand heat stress.
  5. There’s Strength in Numbers so Increase Feeding Frequency.
    Research has also shown that calves fed three times a day have shown optimal growth, better feed efficiency, consume more starter prior to weaning and have greater chance of survival to lactation than calves fed twice daily. You should also research commercial products that target heat stress in their formulations.
  6. Make Your Bed …again and again.
    Changing bedding frequently to control fly populations. Use sand bedding to keep calves cooler.  Clean, dry sand also helps control fly populations, compared with straw or sawdust. Sawdust is better than straw for summer bedding.
  7. Keep it Clean.
    Cleaning and sanitizing water buckets regularly Warm weather promotes algae, mold and bacteria growth. Keeping water and milk pails clean and sanitized will help keep these populations down, as well as help with the fly population.
  8. Replenish Electrolytes.
    Consider more liberal use of electrolyte solutions, advises J.W. Schroeder, Dairy Specialist with North Dakota State University. In warm weather, calves are more prone to dehydration. Scouring calves should receive oral electrolyte solutions liberally, particularly during midday. Administer electrolytes by bottle early in the course of diarrhea because solution absorption likely will be better than if it’s given by a tube or free choice.
  9. No Flies on Us! 
    Unfortunately calves are a hot spot for flies. Using a milk replacer and a calf starter that includes a feed through larvicide can help to keep the fly population down. A reduced fly population may also reduce stress to the calf and the spread of diseases by flies. As mentioned previously, clean, dry sand bedding also helps control fly populations, compared with straw or sawdust. Implement good fly control practices that break up the life cycle to prevent build-up. Know that molasses, a common calf starter ingredient to aid in palatability, can be a tasty attractant for fly populations. Calf starters that utilize alternative natural palatability enhancers along with feed-through fly control technology are available.
  10. A Breath of Fresh Air
    Increase Air Flow and air exchange:  Hutches need good air flow in and around them.  In enclosed facilities natural cross ventilation is not possible, than a total air exchange every two minutes through a mechanized system of fans is a must.

 ….. this brings us to the best TIP of the summer!

Catch the Breeze: Elevate one side of the hutch. That’s right.  A slight “tip” will make a big difference.  In 2011, a Washington State University trial showed that elevating one side of the hutch de­creased internal hutch temperature and increased ventila­tion in warm weather.  We all want results and here’s some that they reported:

  • At the hottest times of the day, internal hutch temperatures were higher than outside temperatures when the hutch was on the ground. Internal hutch temperatures were lower than outside when the hutch was elevated.
  • Elevating the hutch improved air movement within the hutch.
  • Hutch elevation lowered afternoon respi­ratory rates in the calves — 58 versus 44 breaths per minute.
  • Hutch carbon dioxide levels were lower when the hutch was elevated.

Note to readers:  We tried this simple solution at Huntsdale and saw – and felt – immediate results.


When we think of heat stress our thoughts often go to the milking herd first, as heat and humidity can have a dramatic impact on milk production and therefore have a potential impact on our pocket books. We need to think outside the cow pen. The numbers are rising as fast as the thermometer. For example: In a 100 cow herd with 30% cull rate, 25% of the calves in the herd are exposed to heat stress, having been born at that time of the year. Heat stressed open heifers may calve at 26 months instead of 24. Basic additional costs are obvious: extra days raising; more replacements costs; less production in the future. Not so obvious are extra housing, extra feed; extra labour and medication costs. Hopefully, you are still on the positive profit side with these numbers, however, there is a strong chance that these heifers will not produce to their potential. Add in those losses in less milk production and you have probably wiped out your small margin of success. Multiply this result over a 100-cow herd and you could see your positive bottom line melt away in the heat as you lose between $5,000-$7,000!!!


Extreme heat does hurt your calves.  Heat stress also hurts you …. in your pocket! Make sure you cash in on cool calves!!

Weekly Show and Sale Recap– 6/16/2012


  • Kueffner Cows at Cowtown Complete Dispersal
    The sale averaged $17,685, with the majority of bidding coming from those attending the event. Heard from sale goers, “The last sale that was of this magnitude was the Final Chapter of Hanover Hill.” (

    • Looking the part of champion, Rainyridge Talent Barbara*RC (EX-95) helped bring River Valley Jerseys  of Tremont, IL, into the Holstein industry in a big way. The final bid was at $230,000. Barbara was Unanimous All-American and All-Canadian 5-Year-Old 2010 and HHM All-American Aged Cow in 2011. Barbara’s dam is RF Outside Breeze-ET (EX-95), the 2011 Southern Spring National Grand Champion. Her next dam is Rayverley Briana Milan-ET (2E-CAN) and then the internationally famous Rainyridge Tony Beauty (EX 5E 9*). She was offered by co-owners, Kueffner Holsteins and St. Jacobs ABC Inc. Boonsboro, MD.
    • $172,000 was the selling price for Ernest-Anthony Astoria-ET (VG-88, 2y). Astoria is a Goldwyn daughter of Ernest-Anthony Aphrodite-ET (2E-95) Nominated All-American 125,000-lb. Cow 2010 and a member of All-American Produce of Dam & Best 3 Females 2009. Aphrodite is a full sister to 2E-95 Ashlyns Angel, EX-92 Ashlyns Audrey and 3E-95 Ambrosia. Their dam is the All-Time All-American 4-Year-Old Cow 2E-96 GMD-DOM Tri-Day Ashlyn-ET.  Astoria was purchased by Arethusa Farms.
  • Party At The Park Sale
    • Lot 2: $116,000 Coyne-Farms Srock Jill-ET, a 9/11 Shamrock at +2583 GTPI – the #9 GTPI female in the breed.
    • Lot 1: $100,000 Hartford Colt-P 315-Red-ET *PO, a 1/12 Colt P who is the highest GTPI red polled female at +2221, 315 traces back into the Terry Tory cow family Buyer: Westcoast Holsteins, Chilliwack, BC
    • Lot 4: $100,000 Mr Chassity Pistol-ET *RC *PO, the 11/11 Colt P brother to Colt 45 and Gold Chip – out of the genomic giant Regancrest S Chassity-ET EX-92  Buyer: Pistol Syndicate
  • Genetic Elite Sale
    The Genetic Elite Sale, that was held at the Bristol Sale Centre, averaged £3583 on eight cows & calved heifers; £2607 on three served heifers; £4172 on 38 maiden heifers and £627 on 35 embryos. (

    • The top of the sale, Crystalclear MH Christmas Snow, which is a daughter of Larcrest Chessa, sold for 15,000gns to Peter Horrell. She was consigned by Crystalclear Holsteins and Manorhaven Holsteins.
    • Second high seller sold for 8200gns, BB Alexander Georgia 2nd ET, purchased by John Pyne and Sons and consigned by BB Farms. She was the first daughter of De-Su Oman 6121 to be sold in the UK.
    • Third high seller, Wiltor Atwood Sharon (3.63 PTAT), daughter of Washfold Bolton Sharon 2nd, sold for 8000gns to Mr McAufield from Co Antrim.  Sharon was consigned by D W and C E Jones.

Got the Horns to Mess with The Bullvine?

Do you think The Bullvine is too controversial?  Would you prefer to read just more of the same old fence sitting  that everyone else is  content to put out?  A week back, I had a conversation with a general manager of one of the major artificial insemination companies about The Bullvine.  As we have known each other for over 20 years, it was a candid conversation and he was bringing to my attention that, while he thought The Bullvine was great, there were many misconceptions about us out there.  With that in mind, I figured it is time to set the record straight.

Not All Our Content Is Meant To Cause a Stir

Yes many of our articles such as Has Photo Enhancement Gone Too Far?, Holstein vs. Jersey: Which Breed Is More Profitable? and Are You Ready For Genetically Modified Cattle?  have breeders talking.  There have also been many articles that are much more for educational purposes.  Good examples of these are Top 10 Questions to Ask Before You Sign That A.I. Contract, Charting the Right Course at Seagull Bay Dairy and one of my favorites Cristy Nurse: From Show Ring Beauty to World Class Rower who will be representing Canada as part of the women’s 8’s rowing team at the upcoming summer Olympics.

At The Bullvine, we want to express all sides of the story.  That is why there is more than one writer here at The Bullvine, each with a very distinct perspective on the industry.  I (Andrew Hunt) typically write the pieces that are strongly opinionated and Karen Hunt does the educational and breeder profile pieces.  You will notice that the articles that I write never include others in my opinion. They are very much my commentary and do not reflect that of others, sometimes not even that of the editor of this magazine.  Karen, on the other hand, uses her gift for writing and years of experience in the dairy cattle industry (check out our about us sections for more) to bring a fresh viewpoint to many of the challenges facing breeders today.

We Do Not Hate Big AI Companies

There seems to be a misconception that we hate all the large AI companies and play to the small organizations.  That could not be farther from the truth.  Over the years, we have been fortunate to build strong relationships with many of the people that make this industry great.  Remember that my brother is the COO of one of the largest AI organizations and that our editor was the information director for the Canadian Association of Animal Breeders for many years.  We don’t hate big AI, we just don’t cater to them either.

This is how we are different.  Instead of just kissing up  to whoever pays us the most money, we feel that we would like to keep our integrity and tell it as we see it.  We do not expect everyone to agree with what we are saying.  Heck, I would be upset if they did.  Rather we want to give all dairy breeders the opportunity to hear a fresh perspective and provide a forum for them to share their own comments.

That is why you see  comments from the likes of Ron Flatness and representatives from the smaller AI organizations.  It’s not because we agree 100% with everything they say.  Rather  we feel that everyone should be allowed to express their opinion.  In fact, if you read many of the comments on articles, you will actually see that we have disagreed with these people many times and that we also predict that, unless they can get lean and mean, none of these companies will be around in the end.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

For the few  who are afraid to do an interview with us because they think we are too political it’s time to man up. This industry was not formed by those who did not have the horns  to take a stand.  The future is led, not by those who play it safe, but rather by those who are willing to put it all  on the line.  Thank you to all those that have been very gracious in interviewing  with us. I am sure if you asked any of these people, they would tell you how easy it was and about the  great feedback that they have received because of doing the interview.  So take the Bullvine by the horns and honk if you’re not afraid!

Show Cows: All Type and NO Action?

The June 12th sale of RAINYRIDGE TALENT BARBARA EX-95 for $230,000 has me asking if she is really worth it. For years, there has been a stigma around the cows that win the big shows that they are all fake and don’t pack  genetic punch.  After all, we know how hard it is for a show cow to produce the next generation show winner.  Using a genetics perspective, we  decided to see what these show cows offer besides their good looks!  (i.e. Which ones have the brains to go with the good looks.)

We looked at the All-Canadian and All-American winners and the reserve and honorable mentions and here is what we found.


The 2011 All-American’s average an outstanding 92 points, but more importantly, they also average over 1500 TPI points and on average have 6 generations of VG or EX dams in their pedigree.

Notable standouts include:



With a TPI of 1800 Tidbit leads the way when it comes to the 2011 class. This reserve All-American Sr. 2yr old is backed by an outstanding 11 generations of VG or EX.  Bred by Pineland Farms of New Gloucester ME, Tidbit is now owned by Ferme Pierre Boulet. This Goldwyn has a strong type sire stack that has shown an ability to consistently produce impressive records.



Following close behind Tidbit is the All-American Fall Milking Yearling GARAY ALEXANDER DESTINY.  Destiny is backed by five generations of VG & EX cows back to the great SNOW-N DENISES DELLIA EX-95-2E-USA GMD DOM.



The HHM All-American Aged Cow in 2011 packs strong genetic punch for new owners River Valley Jerseys of Tremont, IL.  Bred for strong type back to one of the greatest show cows of all time RAINYRIDGE TONY BEAUTY EX-5E-CAN 9*, Barbara already has three VG daughters.  It’s no wonder that one of the greatest cattleman of this generation (Kueffner) and the type-breeding specialists (ST JACOBS ABC) took such interest in her,  I am sure there are great things  to come for her new owners.


Maybe it’s the different rules for scoring 2yr olds in Canada, but the Class of 2011  averages a strong 91 points which is slightly less than their US counterparts.  Similar to their US contemporaries they have an average of six generations VG or EX behind them.  They average 1199 LPI points (91% Rk. For LPI.)  It is worth noting that this places them in the top 10% of the population!



Leading the way on the Canadian side is WILLOWHOLME GOLDWYN JESSICA.  The honorable mention 5 year old has an LPI of over 2000 points.  This 4th generation VG or EX Goldwyn daughter has average production numbers, but gets her LPI points from high conformation and strong durability scores.



The 2011 Supreme Champion from WDE and the Royal Winter Fair, has substance to her good looks.  Her Outside Dam (STADACONA OUTSIDE ABEL), was a 2011 Canadian cow of the year nominee and has 100% of her daughters GP+ or better.  Missy herself already has a VG-87-2yr old daughter by Dolman.  Currently on an extensive flushing program, Missy’s genetic prowess is just beginning.



The reserve all Canadian 4yr old completes 7 generations of VG or EX.  Much like Jessica, Britany gets much of her 1881 LPI points from her +17 conformation score.  Bred for type, Brittany’s dam, JACOBS JASPER BEST VG-88 4*, has 100% of her nine daughters GP or better.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

At the end of the day, all dairy cows, including show cows, need to be genomically tested. While none of these show cows we have talked about will top the GLPI or GTPI list, they do have the credentials to produce the next generation of great ones.. Some will. Some won`t.   So, are show cows all type and no action?  Certainly not!  But success is in the selection.



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What Will The Cow of The Future Look Like?

Will she score 95 points? Will she produce 40,000lbs per year? Will the cow of the future be polled?  Will she produce less methane gas? In the future, consumer demand will shape everything about dairy farming, including what the dairy cow will look like.  Dairy consumption in emerging economies is rising fast.  In China alone it will triple by 2020.  As rice-paddies turn to pasture, breeder goals and ultimately the makeup of the modern dairy cow will change.

Over the past decade in North America, total milk production has increased in concert with the increased demand for dairy products from growing populations and increasing exports.  This increase in production was achieved without increasing cow numbers, which have held steady, or slightly decreased, for nearly two decades.  Production efficiency has therefore increased substantially with average production currently at 21,000 lbs. per cow per year.

While many things have contributed to the gain in production efficiency, one key area has been genetics.  One of the biggest changes in the genetics market has been the use of genomics.  Genomics has brought greatly increased reliability to estimated breeding values and is drastically decreasing the interval between generations (To read more check out The Genomic Advancement Race – The Battle for Genetic Supremacy).  The next steps will be health traits and profitability and not just the ones that we are currently evaluating.  We are getting ready to delve into better understanding of reproductive issues such as which cows are more efficient at converting feed to milk production (To read more check out Holstein vs. Jersey: Which Breed is More Profitable). Also rising on the priority list will be disease resistance (to read more check out Your Cattle Are Under Attack) and ultimately which cows are the healthiest, trouble free and most profitable.

As the revered management guru, Peter Drucker, says, “You cannot improve what you cannot measure.” Even though the dairy industry has a great system for evaluation production and conformation, there is much needed improvement in the areas of profitability and herd health.  These areas were once thought to be low heritability however, with genomics, traits such as somatic cell, and immune response can greatly impacted at the genomic level.  With Pfizer a company very focused on animal health now offering genomic testing, it’s only a matter of time before there is greater measurement in these areas.

This first steps in any effective improvement program requires accurate measurement.  While many conformation traits and overall production traits are measured intensely when you look at overall measurement of cow –by-cow profitability, there are some major gaps.  One of the biggest is accurate feed conversion metrics.  While there have been studies by breed vs. breed comparison, there is a much greater need to take this analysis to the cow by cow and ultimately the genetics evaluation level.

The other day I was talking with a human geneticist about the use of genomics and ultimately the ability for genomic manipulation of a population.  One of the key things he pointed out to me was how the dairy cattle industry really has the ability to lead the way when it comes to genomic advancements.  Not because of the ethics issues, which we will leave for another forum, but rather because the dairy industry already has such a system in place for evaluation of the progeny.  This ability to measure the exact effects of the manipulation will greatly accelerate the advancement process.

The Bottom Line

Over the years we have started to see less emphasis on stature, and increased focus on feet and legs and mammary systems.  The cow of the future, will not just be about their conformation, but rather their ability to efficiently convert feed and their resistance to disease.  With companies with the size and resources of Pfizer or their newly formed Zeotis entering the marketplace offering genomic tests, and maybe ultimately genomically modified cattle, the future may come much quicker than most breeders expect.  So what will the cow of the future look like?  We do not know exactly, but she will no doubt be the one that returns the most profit to her owners.  All this will be driven by consumer demand.
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.




Nobody wants to make decisions based on the wrong information.  Good breeders know that accuracy is the key to making successful breeding decisions. Wouldn`t it be wonderful to have perfect data at our fingertips? There`s nothing wrong with dreaming the impossible dream but, realistically, in the business of cattle breeding, you can’t wait for that golden sunrise when perfection is a sure thing and 100% repeatable.

THE PAST:  Almost-Perfect

Whenever we look back at animal-breeding history, a rosy glow settles over our perception of the past.  For more than fifty years, we have constantly improved our North American genetic evaluation methods and models, proudly proclaiming them to be, if not perfect, at least the very best. Many of us felt we were destined to be at the top in cattle breeding forever.  Then, the very success we reveled in spread our success and our genetics to everyone else. Accuracy was harder to ensure. Genetic evaluation methods and models are based on accurate recording of pedigree and performance data and all international input data is not created equal from country to country. Nevertheless we trusted the Animal Model (1989), the Test Day Model (Canada 1999) and Interbull (the international proof system). And it was still good.

AND THEN CAME GENOMICS:  New Dart!  New Target!

Hardly a decade into the 21st Century and Genomics comes along and changes our perception of the future.  Here is a revolutionary new tool or dart, if you will, to take genetic aim with.  Now there can be more focused selection much earlier in the bull or heifer’s life. Since that first official genomic evaluation in August 2009 accuracy has increased. Great! But now even the genetic target has changed.  It is bigger. Now we don’t only target selection of proven bulls and performance recorded cows, but selection of young bulls and heifers, shortly after their birth.  The full potential of what we can aim for has yet to be imagined.


In the interest of accurate information, it is important to look at everything that may be a negative influence on achieving this goal. In a May 2012 article entitled, “The Ongoing Challenge of Accurate Genomic Evaluations” Brian VanDoormal (CDN) points out those things that make precision targeting harder to achieve:

  • Non-random usage
  • MACE evaluations
  • Parent Average less accurate when the parents are foreign
  • Estimating unbiased proofs for foreign sires
  • High priced foreign proven sire semen used on higher quality females in higher quality herds.
  • Differential treatment adds to bias of non-random usage
  • Non-random usage of elite progeny proven sires
  • Non-random usage of high ranking genomic young bulls

VanDoormaal goes on to report that, “ CDN is actively researching methods to reduce or eliminate such biases and to better incorporate MACE evaluations of foreign sires and bull dams into Canadian genomic estimations and officially published proofs.” He emphasizes, “One immediate area of importance being researched is the development of methods to reduce bias in evaluations for foreign sires and bull dams.”

GENETIC EVALUATION ACCURACY: A Hard Target with Collateral Benefits

Each step that increases accuracy increases the trust that breeders can place in the information.  In fine tuning genetic evaluations we benefit from increased accuracy in predicting other traits that previously we didn`t have data on: calf health; fertility; resistance to disease; specific components of milk; hoof health.

Not only has the arrival of genomics changed how genetic evaluations are calculated but it has also significantly changed male and female selection strategies by A.I. companies and breeders as well as semen usage trends by producers. Even breeders who do not use AI will benefit from genomics because they will have available to them bulls that test genomically high but that were not selected for AI.  Previously there was a wider range of bulls sampled at great expense.  With genomics, the entire gene pool of sires is being much more accurately identified for their genetic merit.


For more than 100 years cattle breeders have moved the industry ahead by selecting for the traits they felt were most important. There was a progressive emphasis as the focus changed or was expanded:  amount of milk in a single day; total milk in a liftetime; butterfat; protein; and conformation. New models and young sire programs were developed. All of these had an impact but the potential for genomics impact is far greater.  With genomics, large numbers of young bulls can be tested and eliminated with an enormous reduction in time and cost to the breeder and the industry. This adds to the burden of responsibility for genetic evaluations to be accurate and account for non-random selection and/or under-evaluated progeny proofs.


Will Genetic Evaluations ever achieve 100% accuracy?  Only time will tell. The challenge we face now is to keep the system steadily improving for the impact having accurate information can have not only for cattle breeding today but for generations to come.

For more information check out our Genetic Evaluation Resource Center.

Hay, Hay! How to Make the Most of Tractor Time

Driving a tractor is not most people’s idea of a good time. However, the fresh air, the great views and bird watching make it well above time in an airplane, subway or car. Our three children, all experienced with the previous three, feel that any ride, which surpasses three hours at a time, can be described as “cruel, but not unusual, punishment”.

However, if your farm life is typical and you are constantly fielding questions about equipment repairs, early or late pregnancies and the latest scientific breakthrough, a little motorized time can actually be a gift. You can get things done on a tractor assuming it is raking, hauling, or lifting in the prescribed and expected manner. Later today, I will get to test the following theories.

Rake Hay While the Sun Shines: Of course you can’t read a book or a magazine while driving a tractor, but there’s nothing stopping you from writing one.  This self-imposed separation from papers, to-do-lists and yes, cows, milking and feeding, is a great space to develop that talent you don’t have enough time for.  What about singing?  No problem with the right key — being “pitchy” sounds perfect on a farm. Reframe what is important in your life from the highpoint of the tractor seat. Seeing the big picture is much easier – literally – from the top of a hill or from the back 40.  Admiring your handiwork (leg and tractor work) from afar gives an entirely different prospective than when you’re on hands and knees figuring out why that fencer isn’t working.

Cruising Right Along: Think about it!  No one can interrupt you.  This is the time to focus on that problem that is harder to solve than the perfectly straight rows you’re managing at the moment especially with no phone calls to interrupt you.  Seriously?  You have your phone with you on the tractor? That is just wrong. This is time for thinking outside the inbox. With a two to three hour window with no family or other work responsibilities weighing on you, you can put all your creative thought processes to solving those big picture problems.  When will you take your next real vacation? It should not involve heavy equipment.  Where will you go?  Again – it should not involve animals. Oh well, perhaps a zoo.  No feeding the animals.  Well…Marineland could make that more enjoyable. The point is everyone needs time to revive and refresh.  Away from the chaos.

Counting Your Blessings: If nothing else, tractor time gives you pause to consider the great things that being a dairy farmer brings to your life.  There go your neighbours down the road to their office jobs, traffic jams and stress-filled eight-hour days.  Granted your days are often double that but you have fresh air (mostly) and job satisfaction on a daily basis.  They’re going golfing you say? Seriously.  If putting small objects into small containers was really so satisfying, everyone would pay money to milk cows for you! Think about it. You’ve got tractor time.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

When, as far as the eye can see, you are the only one working in your field today, who needs anything more?

Disclaimer: No small animals were harmed (or run over) in the pondering of this article.

Weekly Show and Sale Recap– 6/09/2012


  • Expensive O-Style daughter
    As expected, two high genomic animals fetched the top prices at the Regel Holstein Dispersal (average $2,612) in Iowa. Sale topper was O-Style Nicci (2331 gTPI). At $30,000, that heifer from the Mark Marion family went to De-Su Holsteins. The second-most expensive lot ($21,000) was Regel Facebook Barb (2390 gTPI), with her dam being a Jeeves from the Juror Faith family. (Source: Holstein International)
  • Show-ring icon fetches top price
    In the UK, an era came to an end with the dispersal of the Neatishall herd of Louis and Fran Baugh. A total of 122 animals sold at an average price of £2,709. The highest price (£6,000) was paid for well-known show cow Neatishall Talent Ricki EX-93, while a Decker daughter from the same family fetched the second-highest price (£4,800). An ALH Dancer daughter (£4,650) completed the top-3. (Source: Holstein International)
  • ABA – Lantz Farm Guernsey Dispersal Averages $2,275
    The Lantz Farm Guernsey Dispersal was held on Tuesday, June 5th in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. The Lantz herd has long been known for high producing, fancy animals and the pedigrees in the catalog represented some of the most well-known cow families in the breed. Breezy Point P Racer, EX-93, the world-record holder for milk with 46,000M 2,175F and 1,400P was represented with eight family members. At the conclusion of the sale, 65 females averaged $2,275. (Source:
    • Topping the sale at $7,000 was the 2011 MN State Fair Reserve Grand Champion, Lance Advance Morgan. She is sired by Villa Crest Advance and from a dam with 26,000M and 1,100F. She finished her second lactation with 2-09 20,198M 4.5% 907F 3.6% 721P and will show as a 3rd calf 4-Year-Old after she freshens on Sept 1st. She is scored EX-90 92-MS. She was purchased by Myown Guernsey Farm of Chenoa, IL
    • A third generation EX cow sired by Ripley Farms R Oak Royalty-ET was the second high seller at $5,900. Fresh in April and milking over 80 pounds, this deep, framey cow had a fancy udder. Her EX-90 dam made over 110,000M lifetime with top records over 22,000M. She was purchased by Up The Creek Farm of Lester Prairie, MN
  • Wallacedale Jersey Stud Sets New Australian Record $5,886 Average For Female Lots
    Well known Gippsland Jersey Breeders Cliff, Marieka, Luke and Melanie Wallace of Poowong North staged the outstanding Future Fortunes Sale on their well appointed farm. A huge crowd of interested Jersey Breeders from all states and overseas along with many local dairymen overflowed the sale shed. (source:
    • Sale top of $16,500 was paid by Cobargo, NSW buyers C O’Meara and Family for Wallacedale Actions Belle 3, this young cow classified maximum VG 88 as a 2 year old cow and is backed by many generations of EX dams back to Duncan Belle. Next high of $16,000 was Wallacedale TBone Melanie 36 (ET), an outstanding daughter of the super brood cow Melanie P36 EX due August to Eclipes, she was selected by J & M Cockerill of Numurkah.
    • Third high of $14,000 was Wallacedale Regions Marie (ET), an unjoined daughter of the Royal Show Winning Peris Marie EX 91, she went to the partnership of L Bennett of Macorna and A Launder of Tarwin. Also at $14,000 was the last lot in the sale Attaview Shy rumour a January 12 imported Canadian ET heifer from a VG Centurian daughter of Rapid Bay Whistler Rumour EX 95. She was purchased by the Bushlea herd of the Kuhne Family, Leongatha South.


  • Alberta’s champions
    At this year’s Alberta Dairy Congress nobody could go past Maroch Idem Champion. Owned by Morsan Farms, the 7-year-old Champion daughter claimed Grand Champion ahead of two Dundee daughters from the Skycrest Holsteins barn: Skycrest Nutmeg and Tolamika Fanta. Junior Champion became Skycrest Jasper Pork N Beans ahead of Continental Braxton Macy. (Source: Holstein International)

How I Used Everything I Know About Animal Breeding to Choose My Wife

This Sunday I will be celebrating my sixth wedding anniversary with my amazing wife Zosia.  She truly is the love of my life.  Yes, she ranks higher than dairy cattle.  One of the things that I think is so amazing is how exactly opposite she is to me.  Maybe that resulted from   years of my father teaching me about corrective mating, but when I found Zosia, I ended up applying everything I knew about dairy cattle breeding to good practice in choosing my wife.

For years, I had dated some very lovely farm girls and one or two bimbos. Trust me there is a very big difference between the two.  While these hard working, passionate woman, meaning the farm girls not the bimbos, were amazing woman and many have gone on to great things in the cattle industry, it just didn’t feel right for me.  None of them seemed like they were “the one” until one day, I met a woman who had grown up, in downtown Toronto, or at least a country boy’s definition of downtown TO.

One of the first things she asked me was “can we go cow tipping?” Now for many that question would have been enough make them jump the fence and run out on that date.  Instead, since I had already ordered my prime rib, even after she had told me she was a vegetarian, I figured I should see the date through.  Maybe it was because of genetics.  I am myself the product of balanced breeding (father is 5.6 and mother is 5.9).  Maybe it was the challenge.  After all, she did jump out of the car before I had it parked, so she could avoid the awkward end-of –the-first-date goodbyes.  Nevertheless, there was something about this woman that had me hooked.

It wasn’t until later that I realized that it was because she was the perfect corrective mating for me.  Zosia, is smart, humble, and beautiful.  Three things I aspire to be.  For me I equate it to using Blitz (me) on a Demspy (Zosia).  I am your high producing, milk machine, while my wife is that hot 2 yr. old everyone would want to have (oh did I mention she was also studying to become a doctor?).

Even on the conformation traits we could not be more opposite.  She has big beautiful eyes, mine look like I am asleep most of the time (also a strong dominant trait as the last 4 generations of Hunt men all have this).  She is model slim   and, even after three kids, could walk down the fashion runway tomorrow (though she would never admit it).  Me, on the other hand, well let’s just say I put on the frosh 15 and never looked back.  She has the world’s cutest little head while mine might not fit in most small cars.  Oh wait! That’s not my head …that’s my ego.

So as any good young dairy breeder knows, it’s not about how good you look but rather how good your progeny look that counts, so we are shooting for the Class Extra status.  In our 6 years of marriage I have applied the other side of the animal breeding equation, resulting in three children.  At 5 (for those doing math he was born 10.5 months after the wedding day), almost 3, and 1.5 years, my wife has proven to be a very fertile woman, and I guess I am pushing to be a high conception sire.  This is also genetic as my brother has had three kids in 4 years as well.

The Kids

The better part is how amazing and amazingly different each of our children are.  While for years I had watched as we flushed cows and got daughters that could look so different, I have never had the perspective on it that I do now.  As any parent knows, it’s what makes your children different that makes them amazing.  While we breed dairy cattle for uniformity, I think that when it comes to our children we almost want the exact opposite.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

In the past when I set out to start quirky things like a dairy magazine just because I feel I have something to say, or quit  a lucrative  job because I think I would be happier running my own company, my wife has always been there with 110% support.  She is the rock to my weirdness and the perfect partner for me.  Please note:  we will not be flushing her to the next hot stud to come along.

Twenty Things Every Dairy Breeder Should Know About Inbreeding

When it works it’s called line breeding, when it doesn’t it could be a disaster. Here are 20 things every dairy breeder should know about inbreeding.

How does it happen?

1. Inbreeding results from the mating of related individuals.

2. Relationships between dairy animals are increasing over time because of selection toward similar breeding objectives.

Five possible reasons you can tell yourself not to be concerned about inbreeding

3. Outstanding bulls should be used if the benefits of genetic improvement exceed losses from any possible inbreeding depression

4. Inbreeding has played a role in development and improvement of specialized strains of livestock.

5. The positive aspect of inbreeding is that the genotypes of sperm or egg cells from inbred individuals are more predictable than for outbreds.

6. If the inbred animal were superior and transmitted its superiority with regularity, the advantages would be obvious.

7. Inbreeding can also be used to “purge” a line of cattle of undesirable recessive genes.

Ten realistic reasons to be concerned about inbreeding

8. Inbreeding is expensive. For cows that survive to freshen the first time, each 1% increase in inbreeding reduces lifetime net income by $22 to $24.

9. There is no magic level of inbreeding that is acceptable. Effects of inbreeding on performance of commercial dairy cattle are almost entirely negative.

10. Inbreeding decreases performance. Inbreeding decreases cow survival, single lactation production and reproductive performance.

11. Inbreeding increases negative factors. Inbreeding increases calf mortality, increases age at puberty through retarded growth, and increases rate of disposal or loss of replacement heifers prior to first calving.

12. Inbreeding should be managed in herd breeding programs rather than avoided.

13. Inbreeding in offspring differs for each sire-dam combination, making mate assignments important if inbreeding is to be managed properly.

14. Blanket recommendations of a bull as an “outcross” to groups of cows may not be effective in reducing the impact of inbreeding.

15. The development of large, specialized dairies in North America in recent years has been accompanied by decreased emphasis on individual animal identification.

16. Many large herd managers have questioned the benefits of individual cow ID to their operation. Avoidance of inbreeding losses is one such benefit.

17. When undesirable recessive genes appear in the homozygous state (bb), the condition is often fatal.

Two Thoughts to Take Away

18. Optimum methods to control inbreeding will choose the sire with highest genetic merit adjusted for inbreeding in a specific mating rather than avoiding some maximum level in inbreeding.

19. Complete, accurate pedigree data for cows to be mated and sires used as mates will be a necessary part of such mating decisions.


20. Losses due to inbreeding can be minimized through careful attention to accurate records. If we can’t estimate inbreeding in a mating because of limited pedigree data, we cannot avoid inbreeding or estimate its costs.

For more information check out The Bullvine Bull Book or our Genetic Evaluation Resource Center.


7 Reasons Why Your Dairy Farm Needs To Be On Facebook

While everyone knows they can use Facebook to connect with old friends or share photos with family, I am not sure how many dairy breeders realize what a huge impact having a Facebook page can have on marketing your dairy cattle.

Recent research shows how influential Facebook has become in our daily lives.  Here are seven reasons why your dairy farm needs to be engaged on Facebook:

  1. 77,000 Dairy Farmers On Facebook
    Sure there are over 350 million global users on Facebook, with Canada having the highest percentage penetration in the world.  However, what matters more is how many dairy farmers there are.  According to Facebook, there are 77,000 dairy farmers on Facebook, with most 50,000 of them in the USA.
  2. It’s Part of Our Daily Lives
    According to Facebook statistics 50% of active users log in every day.  Most cannot go without at least checking their Facebook page once or twice a day.
  3. Average Facebook User Spends 55 Minutes Per Day
    That’s nearly 1 hour per day, per user.  That is longer than it takes most dairy farmers to read most monthly dairy magazines.  That’s a lot of Facebook time.
  4. Average Facebook User Has 130 Friends
    Talk about a great way to get your message to a much larger audience.  Facebook and social media have the power to go viral.  Got a hot 2 yr. old you want people to know about, but don’t want to wait for the monthly magazine?  Promote her on Facebook (great example is the work Gary Hazeleger did in marketing Mapel Wood Shottle Lili or the work Hodglynn Holsteins is doing)
  5. Easiest Way to Keep Everyone Up to Date
    Unlike a website where someone has to come to your site and see what is new, Facebook allows you to keep them up-to-date in their news stream.  Once they “like” your page, all your posts and news items will be part of their daily stream.  This means when you post about that great new 2yr old or the potential show-winning heifer, you don’t have to go and tell them about it, it will already be in their news stream.
  6. Drive Traffic to Your Website
    Over 25% of our daily traffic to our website comes directly from Facebook.  As a new and fast- growing dairy cattle magazine this had been unbelievable in helping us to get The Bullvine name out there. (Check out The Bullvine on Facebook, while you are there, be sure to “Like” our page to be eligible for some great prizes coming soon)
  7. It’s Cheap and Easy
    Facebook does not require you to be some web design guru or computer wizard.  It’s designed to be used by everyone.  You can easily upload pictures, or better yet, a video (see Nothing Sells Like Video) and share it with your connections.

It’s not surprising that Facebook is so popular with dairy farmers, as dairy farmers have always been about community and Facebook is built around communities.  Facebook provides you not only the opportunity to share the great things that are going on at your farm, but also learn about many great things going on in the dairy cattle industry.  It also gives you the chance to connect with many dairy farmers from around the world and gain a better perspective on the industry.

To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.

Top Ten Most Influential Holstein Breeders of All-Time

The great thing about the North American dairy breeding industry is how passionate breeders are about what they do.  This is what makes most dairy farmers get up in the morning to do hard work that many would not.  Over the years there have been many great breeders that have dedicated their lives to advancing the breed.  The following is our top 10 list of the ones who the Bullvine feels have had the biggest impact on the North American Holstein industry.

#10 Ferme Gillette

Like many entrants at the start of our list, Ferme Gillette is still building their name.  Master Breeder shields, Class Extra Sires, males and females at the top of the genomic list, honor list producers, All-Canadian awards, two Canadian cow of the year awards, and even a Guinness World Record.  The Patenaude family has already achieved many great achievements.  Ferme Gillette is owned and operated by Dr. Gilles and Lorette Patenaude, their four sons Marc, Louis, Vincent, and Mathiea and their families.  Numerous headliners call Gillette Farms home including offspring from these prominent maternal lines: Baler Twine, Roxys, Jericho, Juror Faith, Spottie, Elegance and more.

#9 Markwell Holsteins & Regancrest Farms

Markwell Holsteins and Regancrest Farms, like Gillette is continuing to build their legacies.  Both farms are built around strong foundation cows.  For Regancrest that is Snow-N-Denises Dellia and Queen of the Breed II.  Leading the way is the Remarkable Raven recognized for her brood-cow status.  Her genetics are among the most sought after around the world.  This cow family has produced such great daughters as Durham Daisy EX92, the honorable Mention All-American SR 2-YR Old in 2002.

#8 Rosafe Farms

In fleeing his turbulent Argentina Hector I. Astengo came to Canada and purchased the outstanding A.B.C. farms.   During its time Rosafe produced such great breeding stock as Temple Farm May, A.B.C. Inka May, A.B.C. Pontiac Pathfinder and the great A.B.C. Reflection Sovereign, probably the biggest contributor to their success.  While it was impossible to buy a Rosafe animal at private treaty, they did sell many animals through reduction sales.  Genetics from these sales have percolated down to every contemporary major league pedigree.  The success of the Rosafe herd, particularly in the show ring, was the propelling force behind one of the major movements in breed history.

#7 Romandale Farms

In the 1960’s and 1970’s the Romandale Farm’s herd owned by Stephen and George Roman was a commanding force in Holstein affairs.  In its glory years, it fielded North America’s leading show herd.  For a decade, it claimed the history setting record for All-Canadian bred and owned.  Romandale Farms was the home of show ring conquerors, potent brood cows and sires of vast influence. Promoted enthusiastically and merchandised with consummate skill.  The Romandale Holsteins were, in effect, a money press.

#6 Comestar Holstein

The bloodlines developed by the Comestar herd have wielded major impact on the Holstein world.  Through Comestar Laurie Sheik and her descendants, Comestar has made a name for themselves world wide as a force to be reckoned with.  Marc Comtois has never wavered in the kind of cow he wanted to breed and work with.  “She must have dairyness, good bone quality and good texture to her udder” – all the trademarks of the Laurie Sheik family.  Through such bulls as Stormatic, Lee, Lheros, and Outside it’s hard to find any pedigrees that have not been touched by Comestar.

#5 Roybrook Farms

As a result of his line-breeding (inbreeding when it works), Frederick Roy Ormiston rode the high crest of success and affluence. Often called “The Holstein Man’s Holstein Man”, an informal poll in the late 1980’s by Holstein World, voted him North America’s most admired breeder. Dismayed with the artificial insemination industry’s increasing reliance on statistics at the expense of common sense, he described some of the materials that the geneticists were placing before the Holstein public as “an insult to the human race”, Roy used his common sense to breed three of the most influential sires in history, Telstar, Starlite and Tempo all of which were line bred to Balsam Brae Pluto Sovereign.

#4 Mil-R-Mor Holsteins

No list can be complete without including the home of Glenridge Citation Roxy, two time Queen of the Breed.  Probably the greatest impact Mil-R-Mar has achieved was through Mil-R-Mor Roxette, dam of Hanover-Hill Raider and his full sister Hanover-Hill Star Roxy EX-92 2E, twice nominated All-American and producing four EX-94 offspring, three daughters, and one son.  These days we see the Roxy’s all over the world with great results in the show ring, bulls hitting the top Genomic rankings and family members selling for sky-high prices at auctions. All of them were out of different branches, which trace back to the one and only QUEEN; Roxy!

#3 Carnation Farms

The belief that quality milk came only from quality cows eventually led Elbridge Amos Stuart, owner of the evaporated milk company Carnation, to establish his own breeding farm, known as Carnation Farm. On his breeding farm, through practical science and application, Stuart was able to continue improving the quality and production of milk from his Carnation cows. In fact, Carnation cows held the world milk production record for 32 consecutive years. One cow in particular, Segis Pietertje Prospect, produced 37,381 pounds of milk during 1920. So proud was Stuart, he erected a statue of the cow to honor this record for milk production that held top honors for 16 years. It was through such accomplishments that Stuart was able to make significant contributions to dairy science while helping to improve the world’s food supply.

#2 Mount Victoria

The invincible blood that pumped through the veins of Thomas Basset Macaulay lead to the Mount Victoria herd having affected cattle populations in every land under the sun.  Macaulay an insurance executive actually got into Holstein cattle more by chance than by design.  When he discovered the farm he had purchased was more of a sand pile than great crop land he starting purchasing livestock.  Macaulay had very definite ideas on the subject of genetics.  His studies in corn breeding were more advanced than any that had been made at that time.  Over time six of the Mount Victoria females became known as “The Big Six”. They where Oakhurst Colantha Abbekerk, Ingleside Piete Posch, progenitors of the Abbekerk and Pietje families, Dixie Calantha Hartog, foundation dam of the Hartog family and Lady Meg Posh and Bohnheur Abberkerk Posch 2nd, cornerstones of the Posch and Bonheur tribes. Combined with the purchase of Johanna Rag Apple Pabst, Macaulay would go onto to change the Holstein breed as we know it.

#1 Hanover Hill Holsteins

Herds that have been able to create their own genetic brand name have been few and far between.  At Hanover Hill, a new bloodline was forged, not only through Starbuck, but also through the eight other class extra sires (often line bred) and a whole host of superior females.  Peter Heffering and Kenneth Trevena formed the greatest cattle breeding and marketing partnership the breed has ever known ( To learn more read Hanover Hill Holsteins” Peter Heffering 1931-2012).  It took the unique characteristics of each to make Hanover Hill great.  Peter had an eye for cattle and was a master marketer, but he would have been nothing without Ken Trevena taking care of the cattle at the home front.  Starting in the US and then moving to Canada the pair have had an immense impact the world over.  They were able to develop powerful cow families that combined high type individuals who shattered production records and produced potent sons and daughters.  They produced Holsteins that set the pace for many decades.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While I am sure we could go further back and include herds such as Pabsts and Paclamars, I am wondering what herds you feel are the greatest of all time?  People are what make this business great.

Your Cattle Are Under Attack!

In the fight against cattle diseases it feels like dairy breeders are constantly dodging shrapnel. Where will BSE or TB strike next?  Have you been hit with mastitis, ketosis or metritis? Also, it is becoming harder and harder to fight back since there is a worldwide concerted effort to limit the use of antibiotics, particularly in food producing livestock. On top of that, animals are developing antibiotic resistance, making that course of action less and less effective.

After years of focusing on measurable traits – conformation, milk yield, protein yield – the dairy industry has started to take aim at health issues by recording somatic cell score evaluations. It is a small start in waging defense against disease. We must now take aim at an even bigger animal health picture, when looking at the future of our herds and our dairy industry.

You Already Have the Ultimate Weapon

The real fact is we already have the best disease defeating weapon at our disposal. It is the immune system of cattle.  Animals with superior immune systems can do it all:

  • Reduce disease
  •  Increase farm profit
  •  Improve milk quality
  •  Increase animal well being

DISEASE WARS – DNA Strikes Back!

Researchers at Ontario Veterinary College at Guelph University have identified that, when it comes to fighting disease, “One of the most attractive options available is to make use of the animal’s own immune response genes to select for healthier animals with naturally superior immunity.” The OVC group refers to these individuals as High Immune Responders. The really great news is that beyond the idea, the research and the studies is the fact that they have developed a patented test system to quickly identify these animals within dairy herds. This method is referred to as the High Immune Response (HIR) technology and they report that this approach can work well on both conventional and organic dairy farms.


The OVC group reports that there is clear evidence in cattle that it is possible to selectively breed for high (H), average (A) or low (L) – immune responsiveness and that H-responders can positively influence resistance to infectious disease. “In fact, early research by our group showed health and production benefits following genetic identification of cattle and pigs for enhanced IR. This included lower occurrence of mastitis in high immune responders in 2 out of 3 dairy herds tested, as well as improved response to vaccination and colostrum quality. “

We Have the Technology

The OVC group refers to these individuals with both higher and more optimally balanced antibody and cell-mediated immune responses, as High Immune Responders, and goes on to report that they have developed a patented test system to quickly identify these animals within dairy herds.

The HIR technology is designed to identify those cows and calves with robust and unbiased immune responsiveness that can be kept for future breeding to improve herd health, while low immune responders may be culled from the herd.

It is worth noting that, in general, a calf identified as a high responder will maintain that classification as a mature lactating cow.  Therefore animals only need to be tested and classified based on their IR breeding value once in their lifetime.

Breeders Want HIR!

Qualitative market research using a cross section of focus groups was conducted by an independent firm, Agri-Studies (Guelph, Ontario).  Results showed significant interest among dairy producers to use HIR to identify calves or cows with High Immune Response (75% of producers). The key benefit they saw was the ability to cull animals as calves and save the cost of raising animal that later may have significant health issues. They also saw the value of using sires that were classified as HIR to improve the health of their herds. Further market assessment and beta testing of dairy herds is now underway to finalize the transferability of the technology to the marketplace.

 It’s All About Results

In 2010, 690 cows from 58 herds across Canada were immunized using the patented system to evaluate their IR profiles. In this study approximately 15% of cows were high, 15% were low, and 70% were average immune responders with some slight differences between provinces

  • Health
    Preliminary results show that among all cases of clinical mastitis in the cows across Canada that were tested for immune response, cows classified as HIR had the lowest occurrence of coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS).
  • Production
    Results to date have shown that breeding for optimal high immune response based on both antibody and cell-mediated immune responses would not compromise production.
  • Profit
    In Canada, it costs the dairy producer $110 to $320 per case of mastitis, and it has been estimated that almost 1 out of every 5 dairy quarters in Canada is infected with a mastitis-causing pathogen

High Immune Response (HIR) Animals Are Naturally Immune

HIR is a patented evaluation technology developed to identify dairy cattle with high adaptive immune response capability. Identification is safe, fast and effective.

Benefits include:

  • Lower disease occurrence and severity
  • Reduced treatment and veterinary costs
  • Increased response to vaccines
  • Increased colostrum quality
  • Cows as young as 2 months can be tested
  • Animals only need to be tested once in a lifetime
  • Testing is safe and does not interfere with any other diagnostic testing
  • Cost benefit analysis show significant savings to producers who identify HIR cows in their herd.

The Future is Now!

Further market assessment and beta testing of dairy herds is now underway to finalize the transferability of the technology to the marketplace.

 The Bullvine Bottom Line

No matter how scary the news makes the latest livestock health threat out to be, your herd’s natural immune defense system is the ultimate response.

Weekly Show and Sale Recap– 6/02/2012


  • Impact of Ada Sale a Great Success
    The Impact of Ada Sale took place on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28th at the Lewis County Fairgrounds in Lowville, NY. The hot sun was shining and a large crowd spent the day bidding and enjoying the animals exhibiting the Impact of Ada as they walked the ring. An equally large crowd was present online for the live feed and real-time bidding by HW Productions with a total of 7 lots sold online!  The sale ended with an unofficial average of $6,200. (source:
    • Topping the sale at $49,000 was Lot 1 – BVK Atwood Abrianna-ET, the March 2010 Atwood daughter of 2E-94 DOM Adeen herself and a granddaughter of 2E-94 DOM Ada! Consigned by the Abrianna Syndicate of Uxbridge, ON, and purchased by Butlerview Farm of Chebanse, IL, she is a full sister to BVK Atwood Andrea-ET, the 2nd place Jr. 2-year-old at the 2012 NY Spring International Holstein Show. She sold fresh on May 4, 2012 and ready to hit the ring as a Jr. 2-year-old!
    • Second high seller for the day was the silky black Lot 83 for $42,500. She is Claquato-RH Elicit-ET, a December 2010 Atwood x EX-91 Lee x 2E-92 Elie Gay followed by 7 more Excellent dams. Elicit was the 2nd place Winter Calf at the 2011 Western National and is a maternal sister to Claquato-RH Escape, the Res. All-Canadian & HHM All-American Fall Calf in 2010 and Nom. All-American & All-Canadian Fall Yearling in 2011. She was consigned by Claquato Farms Inc., N. Berry & J. Kujawa and purchased by Gene Iager.
    • Rounding out the top three at $18,000 was Lot 25 – 1st choice Seagul-Bay Supersire from 10 transfers due 1/30/13 x VG-88 DOM MS Atlees Shottle Aubry-ET – the only Shottle daughter of the EX-92 GMD DOM Atlee! The choice was consigned by Elite Dairy, Morsan and SPL Midwest Dairy and purchased by Tim Rauen.
  • Pierstein Top Selection Sale Averages $5,100
    The Pierstein Top Selection Sale, in Montmagny, QC on May 25, 2012 averaged $5,100 on the live lots. (source:
    • Bringing the high bid of the day of $35,000 was MS Del-Hollow Javent—Red-ET (EX-93). Consigned by sale host Pierre Boulet and Dupasquier Holsteins and purchased by Kyle Natzke of  Fond du Lac, WI. Fresh in March, her pedigree reveals the following record. 3-01 2x 365 24,334 4.6 1132 3.5 847. Her dam is Willsey Lakeside Jewel-Red (EX-90), then Wiilsey HR Jessica (VG-86), Willsey Sheik Jesse (VG-87) and Wilsey Ned Jessica (EX 3*).
    • $26,000 was the 2nd highest price of the event was purchased by Ferme Vilmer and consignor Boulet retaining partial ownership on Quality Shottle Fantisy (VG-87). She is a Shottle daughter, out of Quality Gibson Fantisco (3E-94) HM Grand Champion of Haltom-Peel Show 2006. Her next dam is the 5 time All-Canadian and 2 time RWF Grand Champion Quality BC Frantisco (3E-96 16*), then EX 35* Valiant Fran and 4E-94 Chief Faith.
    • Bringing the 3rd highest price of the sale at $18,800 was MS Chassity Alexa Chanel-ET (VG-86, 2y VG-MS), projected over 22,000 on her 1st lactation. She is an Alexander daughter of Regancrest S Chassity-ET (EX-92 DOM)  that is a Shottle daughter out of Regancrest Cinderella (2E-92 GMD DOM) then the well known and highly regarded Regancrest PR Barbie-ET (EX-92 GMD DOM  3*).
  • Bull selling at auction
    During the Holland Masters Sale, on June 29th next, amongst others, a young bull will be auctioned off “live”. That will be Drouner Fraiko RC, a Freddie son out of the very popular bull dam KHW Goldwyn Aiko (from the Altitude family). Fraiko has a genomic index of no less than 2257 gTPI. (source:

The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Dairy Cattle Show Ethics

Exhibiting dairy cattle at a high level has a long North American history.  It is steeped in tradition.  Fitters have learned some techniques to do things that most people never thought possible.  However, the interesting thing that most outside the fraternity probably don’t realize is that they have also learned to adhere to an honor system known simply as “the Code.”

Now you will not find “the Code” published anywhere and if you asked them what makes up “the Code,” they would never tell you.  A fitter learns the code from years of working with the same crew at the same shows and understanding how things operate.  As mysterious as it is sacred, “the Code” is an unwritten set of rules – the bible of fitter sportsmanship, if you will – that has been handed down through generations.

The Legends of the Game

Even though the code has been around since breeders starting exhibiting cattle, it remains a taboo subject, so much so that many of the fitters are simply unwilling to talk about it.  Even when outsiders criticize the ethics of many of these fitters, they stand fast together and keep “the Code” to themselves.  They even self-police who is playing by “the Code” and who is stepping outside the lines.  I have even seen it comes to blows when one fitter takes it too far and an “enforcer” or elder statesmen sees the need to help “educate” a young fitter.

I can still remember when I first started showing cattle, and having the legendary Bert Stewart, (side note: Bert is probably given more to educating dairy youth than any other human being on the planet) show me how they used to do toplines and get things just right.  From there I aspired to tune my skills by watching the likes of Larry Bennett and Lowell Lindsay.  While the techniques have changed, there is no question these men and others like them pioneered the craft of dairy cattle fitting and helped make our breed great

The Cow Whisperer

However, there probably is no person to whom I can attribute learning more about “the Code” than from the late David Brown.  While I have heard many things said about David, there is no one can deny his love of cattle and his insane ability to get a cow ready for the ring.  David was some sort of “cow whisperer.”  He could just look at a cow and know exactly what it would take to have her looking her best the moment she entered the show ring.  I will not say that all those tactics were in line with the written code of ethics.



I can still remember when in 2002, David wanted to bring the great Merkley Starbuck Whitney, the 2 time Grand at the Royal back for one more tour.  Having not shown in at least 8+ years and not been in milking form in at least seven, everyone had their doubts.  However, David was determined to make it happen.  Therefore, at about 2 am on a cold Friday morning, David rolled his string into our local fair, and sure enough, there was Whitney, small head in all.  While I will not say that she looked as good as when she won the Royal, she easily looked good enough to win her class and be Grand, not only there but also at the Rockton Championship show.  He even had her at the Royal that year.  And while she did not relive former glory at the Royal, she certainly held her own against cows half her age.  All this because of David’s passion and ability to understand what it takes to get a cow ready for the show ring.

The Next Generation

Now I am sure, given past posts on this site, that most of you are expecting me to come down hard on the current group of fitters as there practices are seen as “un-ethical” or down right immoral.  However, in reality that is not how I feel.  I grew up working with these guys on the show circuit, and still to this day consider many of them to be friends.  Now just because they are friends is not why I am taking it easy.  It’s because I have huge respect for the life they live and the work they do.

If I was to come out here and start lambasting them I would be doing the exact same thing that hockey enforcers Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson did when they spoke out about fighting in hockey years after they retired.  And as the great Don Cherry puts it, “they are pukes” and “hypocrites.”  However, it’s not just because of that I do not come down as hard.  It’s more that I understand “the Code” that they all conduct themselves under.  They support their own very strongly and if you ever want to see who the truly great show cattle are just ask one of these fitters, or better yet, watch what cows or cow families they invest in.  It’s very telling.

The one challenge I do have when it comes to show ethics is the effects it has on marketing.  Many unaware breeders looking to invest their hard-earned money into show cattle do not have the insight that is needed to play in this marketplace.  Yes, unknowing breeders do invest in poor choices, not knowing what is going on.  While I have heard the term “buyer beware” come up, it still alarms me when this happens.  My advice in this regard is, don’t invest in something you know nothing about.  I would not invest in the stock market without first learning about the market and then getting the advice of an expert.  The same is true when it comes to investing in great show cattle and genomic animals.  Barclay Phoenix, Jeff Stephens and Mike Heath, are just three of the many great cattlemen that have the eye for cattle and integrity to help steer you in the correct direction.  Remember these men only have their name to trade on, so they know it’s not about the quick buck, but rather providing a great service.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While many outsiders would like to have all fitters barred from the business, it really is different when you look at it from an inside perspective.  I have a great deal of respect for those who choose to live that lifestyle.  It is not an extremely lucrative life, and it is not easy on personal life.  If it had not been for me developing extreme allergy to dust at age 18, I might still be doing it today.  While I am no longer involved from the inside,   I am still involved with the marketing business.  Whether it`s the next Royal or Madison Grand Champion or the world`s next top model, it is important to have the right people behind the scenes with the right preparation and those final finishing touches.  I am proud to have had the opportunity to learn “the Code” that all these men (well mostly men), live by and their internal system for ensuring that they put on the best show possible.

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