Archive for December 2012

The Top 10 of 2012 – The most read articles of 2012

Our first 10 months has certainly been eventful for us here at the Bullvine.  We have seen our readership grow by about 40% month over month to the point where we  now have the 2nd largest digital readership in the world, and we have by far the largest engaged social readership in the world.  We have ruffled some feathers along the way but we have also brought to light many subjects that the others are just too afraid to talk about.  The following are our top 10 most read articles of 2012.

The Top 10

Coming off what might have been one of the greatest World Dairy Expo’s of All-Time there seems to be great debate about how some cows stack up in the All-Time rankings.  To help determine how we would rank the greatest North American Holstein show cows of all time, we looked at their head to head match ups as well as overall accomplishments and dominance in their era and developed the following list (Read more)

First it was LIQUID GOLD that caught everyone’s attention when GenerVations released him and his brothers in a limited offering for $750 and $500.  That gave all breeders the chance to have equal access to early release semen, instead of playing favorites with preferred herds or contract mattings.  Now it’s GOLDEN PP, Kulp-Dale Golden PP-Red that is getting everyone’s attention.  When his first five units of semen sold for $50,000, it generated heaps of discussion around the industry. (Read more)

Pre-billed as being one of the greatest shows in history the 2012 World Dairy Expo Holstein Show was one for the record books.  There was the battle of two EX-97 point cows ….the Rejoice vs. Monique battle … and there was the bull stud battle. (Read more)

Confused on what group of genomic young sires to use for your breeding program?  Not sure which sires are the real deals and which ones are just smoke and mirrors (read The Hot House Effect on Sire Sampling)?  We decided to take a closer look at the top 100 genomic young sires from around the world to determine just which ones are worth using and which ones you are better forgetting. (Read more)

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. (Read more)

When you first read the recent Limited Offering  from GenerVations for Liquid Gold, Fuzion and Gizmo priced at $750 and $500 and $500 respectively, I am sure some breeders will think: “Are the bulls dead? Are these guys crazy?  Are they expecting to get rich?  Who the heck will buy that semen?” (Read more)

I have seen men who once screamed EBI green turn to the dark side.  Men who used to bleed WOBI blue now openly criticize the organization that was the epitome, half a century ago, of everything Dairy in Canada.  The Semex Alliance that once dominated, no longer owns the Canadian marketplace.  There is criticism from within.  How did the organization that once defined the Canadian marketplace lose control of it? (Read more)

While many would think that all farmer-owned cooperatives would have the same challenges and the same mandates, there could be no greater contrast than the approaches taken by Select Sires and Semex.  Select Sires is a federation of nine farmer-owned-and-controlled cooperative and Semex is a partnership of three breeder owned cooperatives.  So structurally they are quite similar with perhaps some significant differences in mandates.  However these two artificial insemination companies are headed in very different directions when it comes to approaches to communications and product development. (Read more)

From an outsider looking in, the 2012 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show may appear to be somewhat  boring.  The winners were pretty much the same as, and for all intents and purposes the results whereas per expectation.  Yet in my mind, the 2012 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show will go down in history as one of the greatest stories ever told. (Read more)

Everyone loves winning.  No one enters a competition to finish last.  Regardless of who you are every purebred dairy breeder dreams of winning supreme champion at World Dairy Expo.  Your dream of walking in the spotlight, on the colored shavings, with everyone applauding you, starts with choosing the right sires. (Read more)

The Next 10


The Bullvine Bottom Line

As evident by our top 10 most read articles, 2012 was certainly a great year.

The Big Bad Wolf of the Dairy Industry

Last week I suffered a mild heart attack.  I say mild heart attack because, as any good farm boy knows, if it’s not strong enough to knock you on your ass and make you beg for the Lord above, it must just be a mild heart attack.  So I did as any good farm boy would do, I got back to work so that I could focus on something other than the pain.  Now was that the best course of action? Obviously not since I tried to hide it from everyone including my wife and my editors (parents).  Now some would say, ”Why did you wait to go to the hospital?” My response.  “That’s  exactly why I married a doctor!” (Read more – How I used everything I know about animal breeding to choose my wife) and in good order I was feeling much better and was able to continue my introspection and forced bed rest back at home.

Currently I have many irons in the fire including running a company that is responsible for attracting billions of dollars in sales for its clients last year.  That company, Inbound Sales Network, and the Bullvine represent my lifelong dream supported by my wife, three kids, and close family.  However, the events of last week have me taking time for introspection.

The Big Bad Wolf

I put everything I have into the work I do.  The biggest challenge is that there are too many ideas, a lot of wonderful clients and too few hours to fit everything into. This brings me to The Bullvine.  Ten months into this amazing project and I love the tug and pull that being both big bad wolf and watchdog brings to my daily routine.  It is literally where my heart is and keeps the adrenalin pounding!!

This got me thinking about the great baseball slugger Jose Canseco, who likes to call himself “The Big Bad Wolf of Baseball”, as a result of his tell all book on steroid use in baseball.  You see Canseco earned more than $45 million playing professional baseball and yet he isn’t ashamed to admit there’s nothing left and that he plans to file bankruptcy this year because he still owes the IRS $1.1 million.  The founding member of baseball’s 40-40 club (40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in 1988, even if Canseco jokes it’s 40 woman in 40 nights) is flat broke and out of the game he loves so much.

You see in writing “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big”, Canseco exposed his steroid-using former teammates and for that was effectively kicked out of the game.  But yet, when surrounded by people, he’ll loudly proclaim the 2005 bestseller saved the game: “You f—king ignorant cave-dwellers, how did I ruin baseball?  Baseball is the best game in the world right now because of that goddam book I wrote!”

In thinking about this I see many similarities to the experience I have had since starting the Bullvine.  I have put every ounce of myself into this project.  I worked at educating the breeders and at times have taken unpopular positions on issues that others are even afraid to mention (Read more – Semex – The Rise and Fall of a Semen Empire, $750 Dollar semen! Are you crazy? and Select Sires vs. Semex – A Contrast in Cooperatives).  That is what has me being called the “big bad wolf” of the dairy industry.

Dairy cattle breeders, like baseball fans and well pretty much every other industry out there, need to have transparency and all the information, regardless of how difficult it is to present.  Similar to Canseco, “I would do it all again for the love of the (Holstein) game.”  As a results have weathered the good, bad and the ugly because I believe what we are doing here at the Bullvine is very much needed in the dairy industry.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The nice thing about having a wakeup call is that it clarifies things and identifies priorities. When I was a growing up, I had the pleasure of growing up and working side by side with my grandfather on our family dairy farm.  I watched as he worked hard, loved his work and, when he could no longer do what he loved, he passed away quite suddenly leaving a legacy that inspires his entire family to this day.   That taught me a big life lesson: ”Love what you do and do it every day of your life”.  I love what I do with all my heart – every minute of every day. Health and financial willing I will continue to be the “big bad wolf of the dairy industry” as some like to label me.

Happy Holidays Everyone!


RF Goldwyn Hailey: Cash Cow or Cash Hog?

2012 was certainly an amazing year for RF Goldwyn Hailey and her owners Gen-Com Holsteins.  There was a time that when winning Supreme Champion at both the World Dairy Expo (Read more – World Dairy Expo 2012 Holstein Show – A Battle for the Ages ) and The Royal (Read more – The 2012 Royal Winter fair Holstein Show – One of the greatest stories ever told!) would have been a license to print money.  Your name would be legendary and you could milk that cash cow for years and years to come (Read more – The Story Behind How Two Full Sisters Dominated Expo Quebec).  However, with recent changes in the marketplace (Read more – Who Killed the Market for Good Cattle?  and the Insiders Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Auctions) the question becomes,”Is Hailey a cash cow or a cash hog?”



In years past  a cow such as Hailey would have been a cash cow for her owners Gen-Com Holsteins. Today she appears to be more of a cash hog,  not only is she not providing the rivers of cash that most would expect but actually she requires that capital/cash that being a show cow at the level of Hailey demands.

The Financial Numbers Behind Hailey

Before you think I am certifiably crazy, let’s take a closer look at the numbers.  First of all consider the recent  World Classic Sale at Madison. Hailey’s Sid daughter sold for $30,000 (Read more – World Classic 2012 Highlights).  It is also well known that embryos are in high demand, so let’s put a value of $5,000 per embryo from Hailey.  Now a couple of factors that make Hailey a little different from your average cow is that you cannot  flush her as often and that she costs a lot  to take care of.  Often Hailey is housed a custom facility costing a lot more than your average housing.  Using the Return on Investment Calculator, we plugged the follow numbers in using a conventional embryo transfer program:

  • Boarding expense per day   $20
  • Years of productive embryo production – 3
  • Flushes per year  – 4
  • Flush strike out ratio 25%
  • Base cost per flush $ 650.00
  • Cost per embryo $ 150.00
  • Recipient price $ 1,500.00
  • Conception rate of recipients 45%
  • Sale price per embryo $ 5,000.00
  • Sale price per live heifer $ 30,000.00
  • Advertising expense/year $ 5,000.00
  • Other promotion expense $ 10,000.00
  • Number of embryos per flush 8

What we find, when using Microsoft Excel’s Goal Seek function, is that the current break even value for RF Goldwyn Hailey is $212,808.40.  This is what she is worth based on the sale price of her genetics currently.  If you think using IVF makes things better think again, remember that you have about an extra $5,000 to $7,500 in expense in order to produce an IVF female (Read more – IVF: Boom or Bust for the Dairy Industry).

Why Pay So Much?

Now I know you’re saying, “Hey Hailey is the greatest show cow in the world, and we see cows like Cookview Goldwyn Monique EX-92 sell for $490,000 at the International Intrigue Sale (Read More – International Intrigue – The Secret Is Exposed).”  Looking for answers, I figured I would go directly to the source.  In our interview just before the Royal with Monique’s co-owner Jeff Butler of Butlerview Farms, Jeff made a very interesting comment that caught my attention.  He pointed out that “Type brings the foot traffic to the farm.  But genomics and pedigree get them buying.” (Read more  Exciting Times at Butlerview).


Show Winnings:

Think about it.  Here is a guy who very clearly understands the marketplace and has invested in what is probably the best show string in the world today.  With some of the prices they have paid, you wonder how they could ever make a profit on these animals.  But then his comments start to make more sense to me.  They don’t need to make their profit from each of these animals.  Some of these animals are purchased to get people through the door.

It’s with that single change in thinking that everything becomes much clearer.  It’s like having a great playmaker in Hockey.  They may not score all the goals (i.e. make all the profits) but what they do is make every player around them play much better.  You see you can have a team of super stars but if they can’t work together, you can’t win (Look at the NBA’s L.A. Lakers our Baseballs L.A. Dodgers).  The same is true in the elite genomics world.  Having  a team of show super stars on their own will not make you rich.  What you need, in addition to them, are  cattle that you paid far less for, but since the super stars are attracting the  attention, buyers  are willing to pay more for the progeny of these other great animals.

In Butlerview’s case, this model still means buyers are accessing some of the best genomic animals in the world.  Furthermore, instead of Butlerview having to spend that much more in marketing or advertising, the money spent on these top show cows helps decrease marketing expense of these Genomic animals, They  drive up traffic and demand so that Butlerview  can make their margins with the Genomic animals. When you start to look at it as a genetic operation as a whole and not so much on  a cow by cow basis only, purchases like Monique make a lot of sense. Dollars and cents.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is no question that everyone loves to win, and that RF Goldwyn Hailey did a lot of that in 2012.  It’s also important to make money.  That is where the Butlerview model makes a lot of sense. Use the type super stars to get buyers through the door and have plenty of other high genomic and high pedigree animals right there to help convert that traffic into cash.  It’s not that you make your money off the super star herself. You make your money from how much easier the super star makes it to sell the genetics from your other cattle.  It’s at this point that I realize that some of these show super stars are not cash hogs, but actually agents for other cash cows.



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The Magic of Francesca

Today The Bullvine joins with Beverly Donovan and Richard Caverly of Benton Maine during a sad moment in the breeding journey of Deer Hill Ayrshires, as they mourn the passing of Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca 3E-94. Francesca, wasn’t just a cow who had great show ring accomplishments, she was a cow who won the hearts and minds of breeders the world over. She was one of those rare cows that transcended her breed to be loved by all. Beverly and Richard took amazing care of “Frannie” and gained a close friend in return.

Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca - Classified EX-94-3E (USA)

Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca – EX-94-3E (USA)
Grand Champion World Dairy Expo 2012, 2010
Grand Champion Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 2012
All-World 6 & 7 Year-Old Ayrshire 2012
Total Performance Winner World Dairy Expo 2012, 2011
Nasco International & Type Production Award World Dairy Expo 2012, 2011
Reserve Grand Champion World Dairy Expo 2011
Grand Champion Eastern States National 2011, 2009

A Firm Foundation

Richard recalls how they found Francesca. “Beverly was looking to add a strong foundation animal to her Deer Hill herd. We visited Craig and Bonnie Hawksley, as Craig has always been the most helpful mentor and friend. He has an uncanny ability to breed Ayrshire cattle.” It was a great consultation that netted results. “Francesca was discussed and later purchased as the cow that would become a focus of Beverly’s Ayrshire passion.”

Dedication, Commitment and Support

Once the choice was made, the focus at Deer Hill became Francesca’s development. Richard describes that attention to detail. “Beverly’s passion to seek the greatest things for each and every one of her animals is something found in very few individuals. If it is chore time, no matter what the job may be, Beverly is there to provide for the animals first and foremost.” He points out that this care is not a 9 to 5 event at Deer Hill. “From the time her feet hit the floor in the morning, Bev’s sole attention is for her animals. We also have the incredible support of a team of trusted and cherished friends, family, and people willing to share their successes and help with our problems.”

Francesca being shown by close friend Jim Strout during the Supreme Champion Parade at the 2012 WDE

Francesca being shown by close friend Jim Strout during the Supreme Champion Parade at the 2012 WDE

Francesca’s Feats

At Deer Hill, Francesca, fondly known as Frannie, made high records including 6-09 (305 days), 34,560 pounds, 4.3% Fat and 3.1% Protein and has had three calves the oldest a son Deer Hill Francis EX91. Francis is the main herd sire at Deer Hill and his two Calimero sisters, Princess, now a yearling and Pixiedust, born in early August 2012, are very promising heifers. Francesca’s feats are even more amazing when you know that she calved six times before her eighth birthday.

2012 Madison Tanbark Legends Frannie with Veronica and Vivid at 2012 WDE  Team Arethusa

2012 Madison Tanbark Legends Frannie with Veronica and Vivid at 2012 WDE Team Arethusa

Francesca Truly Was a Saint!

Obviously, overcome with the loss they must face, Richard explains how Francesca’s perfection was the motivation that inspired all of them. “In many ways she was both magical and determined. She would make you turn your head with her beauty and fascinate you with her ability to excel as a cow, while she appeared to be running on cruise control!” He credits Frannie with presenting two sides to her own story. “On the one hand she made everything easy. Yet was the first to show you that nothing should be taken for granted. She would take unexpected opportunities to bring you into reality as she guided you through a dream.”

A Shining List of Achievements

Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca was the Grand Champion of the 2012 International Ayrshire Show at World Dairy Expo. She was the winning entry from the Six-Year-Old & Over Class, best uddered, the senior champion and the grand champion female of the show, the Nasco type & production award winner, and total performance winner of the show. Francesca was also the recipient of the Udder Comfort $1,000 Cash Award. This was another crowning achievement after being the 2010 Grand Champion and the 2011 Reserve Grand Champion. In 2012, she was the Grand Champion of the Eastern States Exposition for the third time in her show career, and also won Best Uddered Cow, the Nasco Type & Production Award, Total Performance Award, and the Milk Fat Production Award, all awards that she had won in 2011 at that show, too. In 2012 she was also the winning Mature Cow, Senior Champion, Grand Champion and Best Udder at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Earlier this year, Francesca won the All-World Title for Best 6 to 7 Year Old Ayrshire from the World Ayrshire Federation. In both 2010 and 2011, she was named Unanimous All-American. Deer Hill Farm has shown Francesca 6 times at national shows in the U.S.A. and won Grand Champion at 5 of the 6 and Reserve Grand Champion at the other.

The “Frannie Pack”

As already mentioned, Francesca had 6 calves before she was 8 years old. Richard describes her offspring. “The first 3 born at Sweet Pepper were all males. Deer Hill’s first arrival was also a male who we named Francis. Francis is the hub of the Deer Hill program as his calves have truly been incredible and he currently is the service sire of choice with every female within the other families here at Deer Hill.” With justifiable pride, he points out that her daughters excel for him and Beverly as well. “Fairytale Princess is Francesca’s first daughter and the epitome of what we look for in a young female. Fairytale Pixiedust is the family baby, who like momma and siblings inspires us to go to the barn! We are blessed to be working with Craig and Bonnie with Francesca’s dam Feather. At 15 years old she was raised to Excellent 93 in a system that only allows for a 94-point maximum score. She has been a show Grand Champion as well, as recently as this summer at the state fair.” As expected there is true affection for the success of others in Francesca’s family. “She has two sisters who have both won shows in milking form this year. Faith is Francesca’s sister here at Deer Hill. She is a June baby who is truly precious to us.”

Frannie and Beverly Supreme at Skowhegan State Fair (Oldest Continueing Fair in The World)

Frannie and Beverly Supreme at Skowhegan State Fair (Oldest Continuing Fair in The World)

The Frannie Dream Team is Amazing Both “At Home” and “Away”

As Francesca’s story unfolded Bev and Richard were supported, uplifted and mentored by many others who saw the potential and possibilities facing Francesca. They recognize how much that has meant to them. “With such great family, friends, neighbors, and my employer, we always felt safe with our “home team” watching out for us!” It takes many players to pull together a winning team and Richard starts with “Pam Jeffery – because every great team is known by its cheerleaders!” He gives special recognition to Ernest Kueffner, Terri Packard, Gary and Melissa Bowers, Steve McDonald and Julie Hemp because, as Richard points out “These great individuals let us be part of their wonderful teams at the shows! Team Arethusa, Mac-Ayr, M & J Heifer Care, and Lencrest. So many people, such wonderful individuals! The veterinarians, foot trimmers, truckers, fitters, and that one very special lady who always looked Frannie up to make sure her tail looked glamorous (Joyce Thomas).Also, the ever-important leadsmen Steve White, Gary Bowers, Jim Strout and Mike Duckett.” Richard doesn’t leave out one other important group, the Judges, who contributed to Francesca’s success. “ It was always their decision in the end and for the most part they all did agree!

The Team the helped Frannie at the 2012 RAWF

The Team the helped Frannie at the 2012 RAWF

Ode To Francesca

The support, friendship and love Frannie has received through the years is amazing. “People whom we do not know spent their vacation time and hard earned dollars to travel millions of miles to see her. She brought them to the coliseum and back to the straw pack where they admired her and often had their photo taken with her.” Obviously, Francesca was more than one of the cows she was a superstar at the shows and “one of the family” all the time.

Life Lessons from Francesca

Richard is thankful and declares “It is an honor to share such an experience with so many! For everyone who loved Frannie you all shared in the dream in your own special way. Frannie touched a generation, and if they learned one thing from her she would want them to know “Dream big. Dedicate Yourself and Follow the Dream” Francesca started out in the little state of Rhode Island. Bev gave her homes in Massachusetts and Maine and Francesca conquered the world with love and friendship.”

Francesca and Beverly early one morning at Eastern States Expo

Francesca and Beverly early one morning at Eastern States Expo

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Bev and Richard have been married 2 ½ years and Francesca has been a shared dream. Faced with a future without her, they sum it up quite eloquently. The magic of Francesca is that she has excelled at showing, milking, producing nice offspring, and winning the hearts of people all over the world. She has been a magical fairytale in our lives by making Bev’s dreams come true. The future may bring more fairytale magic to Deer Hill Farm, and in time, we will see if the ‘Magic of Francesca’ continues through her offspring.

“Loved by All”
Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca

$10,000 a dose Polled Semen

First it was LIQUID GOLD that caught everyone’s attention when GenerVations released him and his brothers in a limited offering for $750 and $500 (Read more – $750 Dollar Semen! Are You Crazy?).  That gave all breeders the chance to have equal access to early release semen, instead of playing favorites with preferred herds or contract mattings.  Now it’s GOLDEN PP, Kulp-Dale Golden PP-Red that is getting everyone’s attention.  When his first five units of semen sold for $50,000, it generated heaps of discussion around the industry.

The Dairybullsonline Story ad ad

To get a better understanding of the GOLDEN PP story, it’s best to trace it back to its roots.  In March 2011, Bryan Quanbury and Roy MacGregor started DairyBullsOnline (Read more – They’re Sold on Polled!!) by developing their website, and placing the ad at right in the major dairy publications.

You see these two risk takers had spent many years in the dairy industry and they were very confident that polled was more than just the new red (Read more – Is Polled The New Red?).  They were not only confident that the market would come to demand polled genetics, they wanted to be at the front of it (Read more – Polled Genetics: Way of the Future or Passing Fad).  Recent sale results have confirmed that they are achieving their goal   (Read more – An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions).

What these two men saw was a different way to sell and promote bulls.  Leveraging a different distribution model compared to traditional Artificial Insemination companies, was looking to be more of your than your Wal-Mart (Read more – A Wake-Up Call to All A.I. Companies).  As well, they could offer a larger portion of the revenues back to the breeders of the bulls who had been forced to sign very limiting contracts in the past (Read more – Top 10 Questions to ask Before You Sign That A.I. Contract)  Hence  they developed the ad to attract breeders who were looking for a change.

The Golden PP Story

It was this wanting to partner with breeders and to become champions for polled that led them to help in arranging the sale of Kulp-Dale Snow Gold (Sister to Golden PP) from Kulp Genetics to Benner Holsteins, Steinbach Manitoba.  The trust they built up while working with Kulp’s earned them the privilege of sampling and marketing Kulp-Dale Golden PP-Red.



GOLDEN PP came back with high initial genomic index tests.  With bulls you are only able to see genomic results every proof round compared to genomic indexes for heifers are released monthly.  Both Dairybullsonline and Kulp’s had to wait to see if they would indeed have the #1 Homozygous polled bull in the world.  When Elm-Park Geisha PP-Red topped the World Dairy Classic sale (Read more – World Classic 2012 Highlights) with lower genomic numbers than Kulp-Dale Golden PP Red, they were sure he could be the highest PP bull.

The Power of Social Media and Smart Business Decisions

Golden PP ad from Facebook

Golden PP ad from Facebook

Now here is where the story takes an interesting turn.  While we were working on preparing a Facebook page to help promote GOLDEN PP, things started to swell.  First breeders from all over the world started “liking” the page, while it was still being developed.  Then the most unexpected thing in the world happened.  They were offered $50,000 for the first five units of semen.

Actual Facebook Conversation

Actual Facebook Conversation

The offer was made by Jerry Jorgensen of Ri-Val-Re Holsteins.  The offer came with the condition that no other semen could be sold or used outside his herd for 90 days.  This effectively guaranteed that he would have the first progeny on the ground.  Even more importantly, his progeny would most likely have a full proof round on the index lists before others would be on it.

Now $50,000 is a lot of money, “How can he ever make it back?” you ask.  “Especially on five doses?” Take a closer look.

Let’s say he uses those five doses for IVF.  That means he can flush about five different cows 5 different times, or for a total of 25 flushes.  Now let’s say that he averages 10 eggs per flush.  That would mean that they have about 250 eggs.  (Note: On the first round of flushes, Ri-Val-Re made 77 transfers off one unit of semen from nine donors).  They would only need to get about $200 more per egg to break even.  This is very achievable for a herd that already has some of the top gTPI B&W, R&W, and Polled Genetics.

Take it one-step further.

Let’s say they were to implant all these eggs and end up with 120 pregnancies.  If 60 are female, that means they would only need to get $1,000 more at the time of sale.  And that does not even factor in the potential revenue that having the next GOLDEN PP could bring.

When you take a closer look at the offer, it really is a very smart business decision.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

I am sure it seems like some of the prices you see top animals selling for these days are unrealistic and that $750 for a single dose of semen doesn’t make sense.  I agree that for most breeders it doesn’t.  However, if you are in the high-end genetics game, these prices are not only realistic they actually make good business sense and prove that “All that glitters is definitely Golden”

IVF: Boom or Bust for the Dairy Industry

With the introduction of Genomics to the dairy industry the marketplace has greatly changed.  And while this may be true, the silent factor that many don’t consider is in vitro fertilization (IVF).  While Genomics is changing what the marketplace is looking for (Read more – An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions), IVF has changed who in the marketplace are actually able to make money.  Causing boom for a select few but a bust for many others.

Through IVF we can get way more progeny/genetics from the top cattle.  This causes an abundance of supply in the marketplace.  With greater supply at the top end but not equally greater demand, the prices for all sectors in the marketplace are forced downward.

In the past, when embryo exporters were looking to fill orders, they may be held to a threshold of +2500 LPI or +1,900 TPI.  Now since there is so much more supply at the top end, their threshold has risen to +3,200 LPI or +2,500 TPI.  Have a look at our recent analysis of the public auction of live cattle.  You will see that the very top cattle draw the high prices and then the prices drop significantly (Read more – Who Killed the Market for Good Dairy Cattle?).

No big deal you say? 

Well actually it is.  When the threshold gets that high you are talking about less than the top 0.5% of the breed.  This means that those at the very top who have that base can supply this market.  All those others who used to do embryo transfer work, partly for genetic advancement of their herd and partly for profit,   now have no market for their embryos.  They are having to rethink whether they can even afford to do the embryo work in their herd, without the added revenue from embryo sales, it’s hard to justify the expense.

As pointed out in a recent Holstein International article, Genomics has certainly created a gold rush, but not for the breeders, but rather for the embryo transfer companies.  During the gold rush, a few diggers struck it rich, while many others strike out (Just like those in the genomic market).  The one sure way to have made money during the gold rush was to be a supplier of equipment, food, or clothing to the diggers.  As Holstein International points out, the service provider in the Genomic gold rush is the embryo transfer industry and its range of advanced technologies.

These are Big Changes.  Are they Good or Bad?

In our interview earlier this year with Mark Allen PhD, Director of Marketing and Genomics for Trans Ova (Read more – Fast Track Genetics: More Results in Less Time), a company that has performed ovum pickup aspirations on 8,668 in the first 8 months of this year alone, we asked Mark if these changes were good or bad for the industry.  The following was his response:

“It is human nature, when presented with the latest greatest technology to look for the downside.  You ask yourself, “What is the worst case scenario?” Some breeders may be concerned that the market is being flooded, leaving no room for the middle market cattle.  To that comment, Dr. Allan gives this well-considered response, “Many technology improvements have led to dramatic increases in genetic improvement.  One of the early changes that led to a giant leap in genetic gain was implementation of artificial insemination (AI) in the dairy industry.  This technology is widely accepted today and used by producers large and small.  Historically, each time a new technology has been introduced to the reproductive technology continuum, there has been some resistance and trepidation about how it will affect breeders.  Changes in the marketplace may require that producers have to make a change in how they utilize their animals coupled with available technology.  This may mean changing the current paradigm that exists for some segments of the industry.”

Are you ready to change?

One person who has seen this coming is the forward thinking David Dyment.  While David is very well known for his work with Glen Drummond and Dymentholm Genetics, (Read more – Marketing Lessons from Glen Drummond Aero Flower) as well as being the Associate Judge at the 2012 World Dairy Expo (Read more – World Dairy Expo 2012 Holstein Show – A Battle for the Ages). David saw where the market was heading and in 2009 formed a partnership with Mike and Julie Ducket and established Genetic Futures.  A 300-acre farm in Wisconsin that has became a satellite base Trans Ova, housing top donors and recipient services are provided.

I think it’s significant when a person like David Dyment, who has worked with   high-end show cattle, high-end index animals and, as well, has run the roads filling commercial orders, is now focusing on being a supplier of the service and not the product.  The market has changed drastically.  Breeders are only left with three options:

  1. You can either purchase and be the supplier of those top genetics, which is extremely costly to buy and almost equally as costly to produce;
  2. You can do traditional embryo for personal use only and avoid the high cost of IVF;
  3. You can go broke trying to compete in a market that is just too saturated.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

As long as breeders of the top genomic index animals continue to over supply the marketplace through technologies like IVF, there will only be a market for the very select few.  So next time you decide to do a flush, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.  If it’s to advance the genetics in your own herd?  Great!  If it’s to get rich from embryo sales?  Maybe you should think again.



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Semex – The Rise and Fall of a Semen Empire

I have seen men who once screamed EBI green turn to the dark side.  Men who used to bleed WOBI blue now openly criticize the organization that was the epitome, half a century ago, of everything Dairy in Canada.  The Semex Alliance that once dominated, no longer owns the Canadian marketplace.  There is criticism from within.  How did the organization that once defined the Canadian marketplace lose control of it?

I’ll establish my personal allegiances before the hate mail commences.  I grew up with the belief that the Canadian cow was the best in the world and that the Canadian dairy cattle improvement system was second to none.  This was so heartfelt for me that I have the Holstein Canada logo tattooed on my chest.  I believed that the likes of Moe Freeman, Roy Snyder and George Clemons were super heroes who could leap tall buildings in a single bound.  At that time, there was leadership, teamwork and cooperation that pulled differences together for the common good.  Today?  Not so much.  (Read more – Select Sires vs. Semex – A contrast in cooperatives) The reason for this decline and fall has gradually kicked in for me.  When Doug Blair and Alta Genetics decided to purchase Landmark Genetics, the foundation of what was Semex and the partnership and cooperation that made Canada great, started to crumble.  That was the first crack in the cooperation and teamwork that had lead Semex and Canada to global prominence.  Later, when GenerVations, a stud other than Semex, had produced the #1 sire (Calbertt-I H H Champion) in Canada that further ate away at what was the core of Semex.

Canadiens vs. Nordiques

As I was thinking about this a situation came to my mind.  Like most Canadians, I am a huge hockey fan and I am reminded of what has been the downfall of the once mighty Montreal Canadiens.  The Canadiens once had it all. They had hockey dominance all to themselves, just as Semex had controlled the Canadian marketplace.  However, in hockey, when the WHA launched, one of the first steps made by the Nordiques was the hiring of the Canadiens legend, Maurice Richard, as their coach.  It didn’t work out – the Rocket’s personality was no fit at all for the job and he lasted a couple of games.  However, the strategic move of his signing was a golden one that set a precedent, much like Blair’s and the leadership team at Alta Genetics.  There was now another option in Canada.  Hockey fans had a choice.

The other part that I think is even more telling for the Semex fall from dominance is that they no longer always had the best Canadian product.  This compares to the Canadiens having to give up their territorial exemption in 1970.  You see in the days of the Original Six, the Canadiens had all but exclusive rights to any junior player in Quebec.  That singular grasp over one of the greatest sources of talent gave the Canadiens a significant advantage in assembling talent.  It was as if they were starting every poker game with an ace in hand.  Semex had a similar success story.  But when GenerVations had the #1 LPI sire, there was a clear message that Semex was not the only option. Even today GenerVations works at showing breeders there are other options (Read more –$750 Dollar Semen! Are you crazy?).  Even in Quebec with the great work Trans America Genetics (TAG) is doing they are not even the only option in the hockey and genetic heartland of Canada.

Furthermore, today’s generation of active breeders hasn`t grown up with Semex as the impenetrable force.  There was a time when merely uttering a negative thought about Semex was considered high treason.  But think about how things have changed. Through MACE, Genomics, social media and a globalizing of the marketplace, today’s generation of breeders has not known Semex Sires as the only super stars.  This is the same as today`s Quebecois growing  up with the likes of Mario Lemieux, Ray Bourque, Luc Robitaille, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis or Martin Brodeur not wearing a Canadien’s jersey.  Even one Canadien who did rank among them, Patrick Roy, demanded a trade out of Montreal.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Semex’s superior place in Canadian and global dairy cattle breeding history remains almost unequaled.  However, that position is less secure today than many would like to admit.  I am not saying they can’t regain prominence or even be a major global player.  What I am saying is that we all need to remember that cooperation is what made Canada great in the first place.  All players working together will build a product that is greater than the sum of its parts. That is what made Canada great and that is what will help Canada rise back to the top of the genetic empire.

FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ: Passion with a Purpose

As we research topics here at The Bullvine there is always an undercurrent of expectation.  You never know the “when” or “where” of the next big surprise.  Most often it is the “who” that makes our days special.  As we began the background work on a series we have planned on robotic milking, we lined up several interviews (Read more – Robotic Milking: More than just automation it’s a new style of herd management).  It became obvious that the go-to expert in this area would be Francisco Rodriguez, DVM, Holstein Breeder, Dairy Management Advisor Automatic Milking for DeLaval North America.  Not only did we get tremendous insight from his experience in this new and growing field but, once again, we met a passionate cow man who is following a dream.

Five Farming Generations in Colombia

Francisco is the 5th generation of farmers in Colombia. His grandfather was a dairyman, cattleman and one of the pioneers in the genetic development of the Paso Fino horse. Francisco, like others in his family, inherited that love for raising livestock. He recounts how his own interest was ignited. “Our dairy was relatively small and my Dad needed a simultaneous job to keep up with his new family. Then he joined Semex Colombia as a sales representative, I remember going to the farm since the beginning of my life, but I got in love of Dairy cows when every month a catalogue or a magazine from Canada or USA arrived home. Instead of reading about superman or batman I started reading about Starbuck, Aerostar, Raider, Laurie Sheik, etc. etc. I developed a true love for cows and genetics becoming the foundation of my life together with my passion for business, as my mother has had clothing stores her entire life, allowing me to get the entrepreneur spirit at a very young age.

Single Minded Student

Because of his passion for dairy cows and horses, Francisco decided to go to Vet School after graduating from High School. He had tremendous academic success and was the best student in the faculty for four years in succession. After graduation, Francisco’s internship continued in the USA. “When I finished my Vet School I started an internship in one of the largest and most progressive western dairies in the USA. I learned from the management of an operation milking thousands of cows.”

Vet-Businessman in Colombia

After one year gaining experience, Francisco made the decision to move back to Colombia.  His career now became more business focused as he adapted to the opportunities arising there. “When I arrived in Colombia two very interesting things happened. My Dad Francisco Rodriguez and my genetics mentor Juan Pablo Muriel started a partnership and became the exclusive Select Sires Dealership in Colombia!!” This was exciting explains Francisco because of the opportunity it gave him to understand both the genetics industry from both the Canadian and the US perspective.  A new opportunity soon presented itself. “At the same time DeLaval hired me as a Sales Manager for The Andean and Caribbean countries, working with farmers from 1 – 30,000 milking cows, from Water Buffalo to High yielding Holsteins, and traveling all over the world learning the different dimensions in milk production. “

More Diversity. More Studies. Big Vision.

By now, it was clear that Francisco like generations before him could comfortably handle several different challenges at the same time.  He clarifies. “Simultaneously with my work at DeLaval I continued developing my business skills graduating from Business School as a Strategic Marketing Management Specialist. I am a passionate individual, a dreamer, and I’ve been developing my life under friendship, excellence, focus and education, always starting small but thinking big, with a wide vision.

Achieving the Dream

Colganados It isn`t surprising that someone whose family, studies and passion all revolve around cows would want to own them as well. Sure enough he confirms, “Since I was a kid I had a dream of my own registered Holstein herd, I liked my Dad’s commercial cows but that was not enough for me, I wanted purebreds, I wanted to become a real breeder.”  With that end in mind he worked very hard to make it become reality.  He outlines what it took. “Simultaneously with my position at DeLaval, in 2007 my parents and I founded Colganados RV.” Colganados is a dairy business based on added value strategies, particularly genetics.  Francisco explains how they carried out this philosophy. “Colganados started with 15 cows, 30 heifers and 25 embryos selected from the best cow families available in the Colombian Market, most of them coming from well known Canadian and American Blood lines. Today Colganados RV milks approximately 200 registered Holsteins and develops one of the most aggressive Holstein breeding programs in Latin America.”

Open to A New Opportunity

For many, this would have marked the high point in a fast-rising career.  For Francisco – dairyman- veterinarian- breeder- businessman it was just the beginning. In 2010 DeLaval offered to relocate Francisco to Madison, WI as the Dairy Management Advisor – Automatic Milking for North America. In describing what this felt like, he says, “I compare it to a pilot being asked to race in Formula 1.” Joking aside he admits that it was a tough decision to make. “I had a life built in Colombia and at the same time I had a unique opportunity in the heart of the dairy industry. My parents and employees gave me the strength and then I accepted the challenge and moved to Madison in 2011.”

Francisco Rodriguez and his wife Sofia Cordabo

Francisco Rodriguez and his wife Sofia Cordabo

Love and Marriage

2011 marked special changes in Francisco’s life. He sums it up, “I got married to a wonderful woman, met wonderful people, made new friends and of course that put in the best place to continue reaching my dreams and accomplishing goals as a professional and as a breeder.”

Seen here are (l-r) Juan David Rodriguez, Francisco Rodriguez and his wife Sofia Cordabo with KHW Regiment Apple A1-Red-ETN.

Seen here are (l-r) Juan David Rodriguez, Francisco Rodriguez and his wife Sofia Cordabo with KHW Regiment Apple A1-Red-ETN.

Enter Robotic Milking

An interesting facet of Francisco’s career opportunity would be that he would be working with Robotic Milking and high end technology. This has been tremendously positive he reports. “It has exposed me to the most progressive farmers and advisors around the world, especially in the North American Market. On average I visit two robotic herds every day, it is amazing to evaluate the quantity of miles and farms we see in a year!!!”



Building on a Firm Family Foundation

Even more amazing than the miles Francisco travels, are the achievements he makes on several fronts simultaneously.  “In the beginning of 2012 I was missing having my own herd so together with my wife we started looking for the next level. For us that would mean being a dairy breeder in the North American Market with a global Scope.” Never one to dream big without doing his homework Francisco tells what they did next, all the while making it sound easy. “After visiting some of the most influential herds in the USA and Canada we met the foundation of our new project KHW Regiment Apple A1 RED-ETN a clone of the R & W world champion 2011 and million dollar APPLE.”  This purchase is a fascinating story on its own.  Another day perhaps.



The Bullvine Bottom Line

And so a passionate cattle man continues on several fronts to build his dream. In April 2012 Colganados began its history as a member of the USA Holstein Association. There have been many dimensions to the journey so far but Francisco recognizes that the diversity is what keeps him passionate “At the end of the day, the combination of all different kinds of knowledge, experiences and daily life bring a unique vision for every person.”  Exactly!

Robotic Milking: More than just automation it’s a new style of herd management.

Everyone agrees that dairy farming is hard work 24-7. Effective labour management is not only a financial cost but it also impacts herd health and production. The past decade has seen increased uptake and considerable improvements in robotic milking. This has been a direct outgrowth of concerns relating to finding, training and financing farm labour.

Robotic MilkingThe Bullvine had the opportunity to meet and interview four robot users. First is Francisco Rodriguez of Madison, Wisconsin who is a recognized authority on the use of robots and brings his experience as a veterinarian, breeder and Dairy Management Advisor Automatic Milking for DeLaval North America (Read more – Francisco Rodriguez – Passion with a purpose). We also talked to three Canadian breeders, Roger Wikkerink (Norwich, ON), Gerrit Wensink, (Innerkip ON) and Terry Howell (Jerseyville,ON).

These gentlemen generously shared their insights with The Bullvine.


The simplest answer, in each case, boiled down to “Robots are the right choice for labor efficiency”. Of course, there’s no such thing as a truly one size fits all simple answer and that’s where Francisco Rodriguez gives us a good method for determining if robots are right for your situation. He recommends this: “Ask yourself: ‘Why do I want to buy Robots? If the answer is “I want to be more efficient at managing my herd, while building a sustainable operation and working smarter rather than harder” then you will succeed. However, if the answer is ‘I don’t want to spend time in the barn, robots will help me to do everything’ then sell the cows and play golf, because you still you need to manage your business and work with your cows, whether you use robots or not.”

All three Ontario dairymen went to robots to address labour needs and to find more time to spend with family or to focus on crucial areas of the operation. Gerrit was competing for labour with Toyota and robotics allows his hired staff to have better hours and use their time more productively. For example there is now less time moving cattle and better hours. It took a minimum of three people for each milking (3x). As well, all four gentlemen felt that automated milking is where it is at and especially where it will be at in the future. They made the leap.

Terry Howell & family

Terry Howell & family


Francisco knows robotics from setup to output and is one of the best North American resources with experience in Colombia as well. He gives this overview. “Automatic milking a proven technology. After 20 years more than 1.2 million dairy cows are milked by robots globally. What makes the main difference from farm to farm is having a well designed barn managed by a knowledgeable proactive dairyman.” He urges anyone considering robotics to “Make sure you choose a layout that fits into your philosophies and management style. This is the key. The best layouts are simple and always expandable.”

Roger Wikkerink milks 70 cows and reports that he “likes cows and working with them”. In his setup, all the animals of all ages are under one roof and when someone is not there, he has cameras to monitor the barn. He set up his first robot ten years ago and used it for 8.5 years. For the past year and a half he has upgraded to the newest technology and reports that “There have been many improvements.”

Gerrit Wensink installed six robots four and half years ago, using three for fresh and three for pregnant cows. He sees his most important role as that of manager and feels that is the highest priority regardless of your milking system. He was challenge and has adapted to working with technology after facing labour that became too expensive in competition with nearby Toyota.

Terry Howell is the newest of our group to take up robotics and milks 60 cows and has one robot. Has 14 months experience under his belt and reports “ I had to do considerable thinking about how to do things better.” and, like the others, found that robotics provided the best opportunity for his situation.

Robotic Milking


Whether it is with 60 cows in Ontario or 1000+ cows in the US, robotics is meeting and surpassing the expectations of the farmers who have adopted the technology. As mentioned, Roger moved with enhancements and upgraded his robots and Terry is so pleased, at this point, that he has purchased more quota.

Francisco expands on what robots can mean to a dairy operation. “Robots are living up to expectations. They are reliable and becoming more reliable all the time. Robots gives (me) family time and mean not having to hire more labour. A robot milking 60-70 cows for one family plus young stock, gives the farm operator time to observe and manage and gives more time to work with fresh cows or animals that need attention. The breeder works as a manager not the labourer. Robotics is a great tool for business oriented farmers” is how he sums up the benefits.

From the cattle management point of view there are several observations. “Teat ends are much better, cows are not over milked – robot takes off when each teat is done.” Even the environment is changed. “It is quiet in the barn.” This peaceful setting now means that some routine events like bedding, vet checks, herd health, and hoof trimming, can represent enough of a disruption in cows’ milking schedules that they may drop in production at those times.” However all agree that the benefits of a more flexible personal schedule and the fact that they can get “more milk from less cows” are benefits that definitely weigh significantly on the positive side.

Robotic Milking


The area of specific selection for robotics is relatively new. For Roger Wikkerink it is not an issue and therefore has not changed his bull selection criteria. “I still require that bulls be +12 for Conformation. They must be positive for component percentages. Specifically I want to minimize to minimize use of Oman blood because they lack dairy strength and the median suspensary ligament is not as strong as I would like.” He details his selection. “I am using Goldwyn (still some semen) and his sons – Lauthority and Lavanguard then Dempsey, Fever, Sid, Damion and Windbrook. I have used Shottle but only later – none milking yet, … sires must have type and + components.” He adds, “I must like the pedigree of any sire I use. My preference is to use daughter proven sires.”

Gerrit Wessink reports his method. “Every proof run I sit down and look the bulls over. I pick out one main bull to use for the next four months. Besides ONE proven bull I also use 3-5 high genomic bulls for one proof time (4 months). If I need more variety I do it thru choosing more genomic bulls.” This spreads the risk. “I have been using Manifold – now have 70 milking daughters – and they are fantastic. They will not be the kind for the show ring but I reviewed them (yesterday) and they are significant plus for BCAF + BCAP (that’s what I like). ” Over and over the robotics users emphasize that you want to meet your individual goals with the system. Gerrit also has good news for those concerned about calving ease. “You can in one generation get calving easy into a herd. That is very necessary when staff are not always present in the barn.”

With experience in very large commercial herds, in and out of North America, Francisco looks feels character is a trait to consider. “Aggressive cows are a must since segregating cows in groups by lactation stage is not recommended and according to practical conditions small farms milking less than 60 cows-one robot will have limitations to house young and adult cows in different groups. If the cows don’t have the strength and willingness to compete, they won’t have the same opportunity to perform in a voluntary milking system like this.” He also points out the feet and legs are vital to getting the most from the robotic system. “If cows don’t have good mobility in a system where nobody is there to push them to the parlour, there is no way they will access the robot to get milked by their own.”

For Terry Howell sire selection is simplified in his management system. Knowing, for one example, that udders that are too deep or too shallow can both be a problem, he uses an AI mating program to select sires. In that program he can set the parameters he wants and the program will select sires according to cow his particular parameters.

Resources for Breeders

North American AI organizations are recommending sires to use in robotic herds. Robot Ready Sires from Semex is one example. DeLaval is developing a performance index. Francisco outlines what they are working toward. “Sires that work best in the system are identified. The Performance index measures how fast and easy the robot can attach the teat cups to a cow with an exclusive indicator relating to attachment. Cows over 100% are great for robots, below 99% means they are losing efficiency. Sometimes there are cows with very high milking speed but really poor attachment times and that makes them inefficient in a robotic system.” There are undoubtedly great developments ahead despite the ongoing challenge of the heritability of selecting for a total performance. It is still very low.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

All four gentlemen are excited about the potential of robotic milking and are very satisfied with the choice of going to robotics. Terry Howell is enthusiastic, “So much so that I have just bought more quota.” Gerritt, Wessink and Rodriguez emphasize how robotics allows them and their work force to focus on management.

Management, regardless of the system your dairy uses, is the modern day #1 priority. Robots allow this focus in a sustainable, effective and financially realistic way. They all foresee this as a growing trend in a dairy industry that is moving toward “smart and sustainable” dairy farm management.

Pine-Tree Monica Planeta Is the New Genomic Super Star Maker

Sandy-Valley Farms, located in central Wisconsin, is owned and operated by three brothers, David, Patrick and Frank Bauer Jr.  A fourth brother, Greg, helps with the breeding and marketing programs.  Frank’s daughter Danae manages the calf program and assists Greg with the breeding and marketing programs. The Bauer family farms 1500 acres and milks 450 Holsteins in a free stall set-up. Embryo transfer and IVF are important tools in their program. We are already familiar with Sandy Valley families which include names like Sandy Valley Bolton, the outstanding sire with top daughters and now sons. It is exciting to talk with Greg about the future they are building toward at Sandy Valley.

Start with Clear Goals and Go Beyond

In talking about their success, Greg clarifies the breeding goals that are the basis they build from at Sandy Valley Farms. “We aim to breed a cow that can respected by the commercial dairymen, yet admired by the type enthusiast.” As simple as that sounds Greg acknowledges that it can be complicated. “When you set your breeding goals it is easy to play it safe.  However it is going to take new genetic strategies to meet the needs of the new genetics marketplace.” He says with encouragement knowing that it is only by taking risks that Sandy Valley is making progress. Pine-Tree Monica Planeta-ET is an example of a foundation cow that has the potential to launch superstar generations.



Attracted by Planetas

Hindsight is always 20/20.  That’s why it’s great to hear from breeders who have the good fortune to pick a winner. Greg ticks off the points that attracted Sandy Valley to Planeta: “She was from a proven sire;  possessed a high genomic rank in comparison to age-mates and paternal sisters; and she was from a cow family that had has brought us success in the past.”  Greg then describes why she fits so well with the Sandy Valley breeding goals, “Planeta is a modern freestall cow.  Moderate in stature with plenty of strength and width.  She has a nice spring to her rib, a silky hide and an attractive cut to her front end and shoulder.  Her udder is soundly attached with great cleft and teat placement.  She has somewhat more set to her rear leg than optimal but possesses a clean, flat bone.” He saves the best adjectives for last, “Planeta tracks beautifully and almost glides when she walks.”

New Genomic Stars at Sandy Valley Revolve Around Planeta

First let’s take a look at Planeta’s own record:

  • Pine-Tree Monica Planeta
  • Sire: Planet
  • VG-85 VVV+V @ 2-7 DOM
  • 2-01 2x 184 15564 3.8 598 3.3 508 (incomplete)
  • GTPI +2239 gTPI 697 NM$ 2.88 PTAT
  • In August 2012, Planeta was the #12 GTPI cow and dam of the #2 GTPI heifer.  She had 4 daughters over 2400G, a Numero Uno son over +2500 and a Sudan son over +2400 GTPI.
  • The starts in her orbit expanded with the December 2012 Proof Indexes.  She now has 9 daughters over DGV LPI 3000: 5 Numero Unos; 2 Epics; 1 Armitage and 1 Banco daughter. Outstanding!

Planeta Daughters Start Their Own Outstanding Orbits

The numbers definitely proclaim that Numero Uno has been the best cross on Planeta. Looking at those first six daughters, there were three over +2400 gPA TPI.

Penelope (Numero Uno) +2647 gPA TPI +3.50 PTAT  +3716 gPA LPI +4156 DGV LPI
Paxton (Numero Uno) ++2524 gPA TPI +2.64 PTAT +3463 gPA LPI +3713 DGV LPI
Precious (Numero Uno) ++2503 gPA TPI +3.22 PTAT +3509 gPA LPI +3892 DGV LPI
Paisley (Numero Uno) +2447 gPA TPI +3.30 PTAT +3282 gPA LPI +3483 DGV LPI

Planeta & Ammon-Peachey Shauna:  These Genomic Hits are Both “Miss”es

Even while we stand in awe of the offspring of Planeta, research tells us that it really could or should have been expected because of Planeta’s shared lineage with the outstanding Ammon-Peachy Shauna (Read more – AMMON-PEACHEY SHAUNA – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist). Three generations back Shauna and Planeta trace their heritage to Wesswood MH Rudy Missy and her daughters, Miss Martha, in the case of Planeta, and Miss. Monica, for Shauna. They have the exact same sire stack: Planet x Shottle x Oman x Rudolph. Definitely Planeta is a fully functioning contributor to an all-star family.



Other Prominent Cow Families at Sandy Valley

You know that Sandy Valley has high goals in mind that includes establishing other great cow families. Greg lists them for us:  “The Barbies, Dellias, Rudolph Missy, Ravens, Bolton Music, Terry Tory, Juror Faith, Cosmopolitans, and Oman 6121.

Using Genomics to Look Toward the Future

Greg has a simple viewpoint on why you should use young sires on top cow families. “Use young sires to maximize genetic progress.” He states emphatically and then looks into the future realistically, “Granted all high G young sires won’t stay high but then neither do all high proven bulls once their second crop is in the system.” Sandy Valley Farm looks for certain attributes for all young sires they use. “GTPI ranking and overall transmitting pattern are taken into account, as well as the cow family they stem from. We also prefer those out of proven sires such as “Freddie, Man-O-Man, Massey, Snowman and Super.” He notes that  “We are currently using a wide variety of high G young sires and a few of the highest GPTI proven sires.

Advice for Those Seeking Sky High Success

Every great herd starts with a plan and Greg advises everyone to start with this end in mind. “Consider your goals.  If you’re most interested in building a sound, functional herd with few ‘2yr old mistakes’ stay with proven sires, especially those with 2nd crop information.” Greg then goes on to suggest another option. “If you’re interested in working at the cutting edge of genetic improvement, incorporate some of the high G young sires.” Like all other parts of the discussion, he rounds out the advice: “When using young sires, it’s often best to spread your risk and use more than just one.” Cautionary and visionary at the same time.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It is always wonderful when we can benefit from the insights of great cattle breeding families.  Sandy Valley Farm is building their success on a solid cow family foundation.  We wish them well as they take Planeta and go where genomics has never gone before!


The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


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Want to learn what it is and what it means to your breeding program?

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The 12 Holstein Sires to Maximize Genetic Gain

With the December 2012 genetic evaluation release and all the changes to the different systems, many breeders are finding it hard to figure out   which sires are the ones they should be taking a closer look at for their breeding programs. In typical Bullvine fashion we decided to not only provide you with the top lists (Read more in our Genetic Evaluations Section) but also to look at  what sires will help you maximize your genetics, by identifying which ones  address certain needs.  Here is what we  found from the 99% Rank worldwide for their area of specialty.

Overall Performance Improvement

When looking for the sire the will help improve your herd across the board, we looked for  sires that have a balance of production and longevity. We also wanted  great health and fertility traits that will deliver a  low maintenance cow (Read more – Fact vs. Fantasy: A realistic approach to sire selection).  Here are our top three.

    (Bolton x Bret x Rudolph)
    Last proof run,  we had  concerns with Dorcy as his parent averages and DGVs were higher than his actual daughter performance. However, with his daughter numbers nearly doubling in December, his actual daughter performance  is now higher than his PA’s and right on where his DGV had been predicted.  Look for Dorcy to sire balanced dairy cattle that have great udders and very good feet & legs, though he will need to be protected for dairy strength fat percent and specifically his body depth and chest width.
    (O Man x Aaron x Bellwood)
    There is no question that the story around the world is how well Man-O-Man daughters are performing (Read more – Man-O-Man will he turn platinum?)  While we are huge Man-O-Man fans, he has  yet to leave a son who has Genomic results that are  higher than his own on the CDN system (Read more – Is Man-O-Man really going to be a sire of sons?).  When it comes to your breeding goals, he certainly is a sire that should still get  consideration even for the most aggressive genomic programs.  Look for Man-O-Man to sire outstanding production from cattle who have correct  feet and legs and strong mammary systems.  One area to watch him for is his rump angle, as his daughters can be a touch high in the pins.
    (Facebook x Shottle x O Man)

    One sire that is certainly going to be on the top of everyone’s list is Enforcer.  He may be hard to get your hands on as he is just one year old and Semex will probably only be releasing him for contract matings (Read more – Select Sires vs. Semex – A contrast in cooperatives). This Marbri Facebook son has the highest DGVs in the breed.  Look for him to sire extreme component yields from strong dairy cattle with great feet and legs.  One area to be cautious on using him is his body depth.  Both his sire stack and his DGVs would say this area needs protecting.  For those looking for an early release genomic sire, check out GenerVations Liquid Gold born on the same day as Enforcer but yet publically available (Read more – $750 Dollar Semen! Are you crazy?)

Production Improvement

It might be easy to just take the top milk lists or combine the fat plus protein and say those sires are the best for overall production. We here at the Bullvine would not want to totally forgo type as well as health and fertility so  we are looking for the sires that give you the maximum production gain, without  sacrificing everything to get it.  In addition to Enforcer and Man-O-Man, here are some top production sires you should consider.

    (Bolton x O Man x Adam)

    Much like the Nerello grapes that the Mascali area of Italy is famous for, Mascalese is a sire that works best when used to balance out a pedigree by offering a  strong production infusion.  Mascalese is the perfect mating for Planet’s, Man-O-Man’s and Goldwyn’s, as he will add the dairy strength and rump improvement that is needed.
    (Bolton x O Man x BW Marshall)

    Holding strong in the US proving system that saw many sires drop over the last proof round is AltaGoalman.  This proven Bolton son from the Genomic powerhouse De-Su, offers extreme production with acceptable percent components, He delivers significant overall production improvement. While AltaGoalman will not hurt your udders and legs, he certainly needs to be protected on body depth and rump.  AltaGoalman is most definitely best suited for commercial environments but can also be used for a shot of production, if used carefully.
    (Niagra x O Man  x Throne)

    Certainly a sire to consider, for those looking to push the genomic envelope and yet still wanting to find new bloodlines, is Vigor. Vigor is a RI-VAL-RE 2338 NIAGRA son from a TRIONE MAN IDRA VG-89-ITA. She is from one of Italy’s most dominant cow families TRIONE AARON BELLUNA VG-89-ITA.  Idra is an O-Man daughter of TRIONE THRONE ELENA VG-88-ITA.  Look for Vigor to be the genomic equivalent of AltaGoalman and needs to be protected on rump and dairy strength but offers tremendous production improvement.  He is a great option for a progressive breeder looking to develop a more unique bloodline.

Longevity Improvement

Recent changes to the US system for productive life rankings may have breeders scratching their heads.  Here are some sires that bring some light to the situation. In addition to Dorcy and Enforcer, other sires to consider for longevity improvement are:

    (Goldwyn x O Man x Durham)

    Goldday is a Goldwyn son from A-L-H DESTINY VG-87-3YR-USA DOM GMD. Destiny is of course the popular bull mother from Markwell Durham Daisy (Read more – Markwell Durham Daisy – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist), proven in Germany. Goldday is also the full brother to former #1 German sire Danillo. Look for Goldday to sire unbelievable udders and legs as well as long herd life.  One area where you will want to protect Goldday is rump angle. Be cautious in using him on cattle that need production improvement.
    (O Man x Die Hard x Metro)

    Freddie’s jump back to the top of the TPI list is not surprising as his daughters continue to perform.  Much like his father O Man, Freddie  was not given much use,  as his low type numbers scared many breeders away.  But, also like his father, his daughters tend to last much longer than their type numbers would indicate.   That’s because Freddie has outstanding fitness traits that helps him leave low maintenance daughters.  They are not angular and they are not deep but they do they milk hard and last long.
    (Goldwyn x Blitz x Mattie G)

    Battling with GUTHRIE and the Goldwyn sons of MD-DELIGHT DURHAM ATLEE (Read more – MD-Delight Durham Atlee – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist) Fever may be the best proven Goldwyn son in the world. Fever is just one of the sires that does a lot of things right.  He has strong fitness traits combined with great type numbers that contribute to daughters lasting a long time.  Considering that production is one of the lower reasons breeders cull cattle (Read more – Fact vs. Fantasy: A realistic approach to sire selection), it’s no wonder that Fever daughters will have a long career in many herds.

Health and Fertility Improvement

As I tried to point out in our recent article, Who killed the market for good dairy cattle?, breeders need to focus more on what their actual management goals are and less on their perceptions, or misconceptions.  That means putting a greater focus on health and fertility, when choosing mating sires in your herd.  In addition to Enforcer, Fever and Freddie here are some sires to consider:

    (Rolex x Tugolo x AltaFormation)

    While not a name that most breeders know, Phonic is certainly going to get some attention from breeders looking to breed to where the industry is headed.  With extremely low SCS and high daughter fertility combined with functional type and above average production, Phonic is leaving daughters that are extremely low maintenance. Tracing back to the great Italian brood cow Cervi FIRESTONE, this family has produced such sires as BUXON, WOODSTOCK and PADERNUS. Given his high rump angle, it is interesting that he is such a good  calving ease sire.
    (Britt x Tugolo x Metro)

    In Vars you get one of the top proven sires for daughter pregnancy rate, calving ease and productive life. Surprisingly this Britt son has an outstanding fat percentage coming from his MGS Tugolo.  However, his sire stack also dictates that he very much needs to be protected on type, especially udders.  It is ironic that a sire with such high herd life also sires deep udders that need improvement in udder cleft.
    (Russell x O Man x BW Marshall)

    Cobra is an early Russell son from a deep cow family.  His genomic test results are extremely high, especially for the health and fertility traits. Breeders looking to enhance the profitability of their herd and push the genomic envelope will certainly be looking to Cobra.   Cobra should be protected on bone quality as well as body depth.

Type Improvement

Hey everyone loves a winner and extra value, so that is why we added 3 extra type improvement sires. Great show cows are as much bred as they are “made”, as is evident by some of the great show cows from Quality Holsteins (Read more – Quality Holsteins – Well-deserved congratulations)   In addition to the 7 Sires to use in order to breed the next world dairy expo champion, we offer these three sires to consider.

    (Stormatic x BW Marshall x Winchester)

    Breeders who were are the 2012 Royal Winter Fair (Read more – The 2012 Royal Winter Fair – One of the greatest stories every told!) will certainly find it hard to argue with this selection.  Valleyvillle Rae Lyn VG-89-2YR, sired by Sanchez certainly impressed many and will give even the best Goldwyns a run for their money in 2014 (Read more – Quality Cattle Look Good Every Day). Look for Sanchez to sire extreme frames and superb feet and legs, though he may need to be protected on rear teat position and teat length
    (Duplex x Allen x Progress)

    For those of you looking for something with an international flair but a solid base, there is Glauco.  Glauco is the Duplex son of the great Italian show cow TOC-FARM ALLEN AMYLY EX-96-ITA, who is from a EX-93-ITA Progress and then the great brood cow SUNNYLODGE SKYCHIEF AMY EX-95-2E-GBR 5* who of course is from an EX-2E 8* Tab then the legendary SUNNYLODGE PRELUDE SPOTTIE VG-87-3YR-CAN 18*.  Glauco daughters are extremely tall and open and have  amazing rear udders. He should be protected on the  set to his rear legs (curved ), similar to Skychief but with much better bone quality.
    (Bookem x Shottle x Goldwyn)

    For those of you who breed for type but are willing to use genomic sires, Doorman is for you.  This Bookem from a Shottle has no great show cattle in his pedigree, but, at +22, he does  have a very high genomic test for conformation. Genomically test speaking, he is the perfect sire for the show ring. Doorman will be a great test to see if Genomics works in the show ring (Read more – Does Genomics Belong in the Show Ring?)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We  have stated it many times. In maximizing your genetic gain,  you can’t just pick from the top of the TPI or LPI list.  You need to make sure that your  matings are the best corrective cross.  Breeding great cattle is part art  and part science. You need to have both parts.   It takes careful consideration and generation after generation of corrective mating to breed great cow families.  That is why, instead of just giving you a list of the top 12 we tried to provide you with insight into which sires will provide you with the maximum gain in each specific area.

Check out our  Genetic Evaluations Section for more information.


Who Killed The Market For Good Dairy Cattle?

This past week I was asked to speak at a local county annual meeting about how breeders could “leverage the power of the internet to sell their genetics?”  Great topic, but my problem was  I could not lie to them.

As I walked in the room, I saw breeders that I had previous connections with.  I had dated their daughters, been given  my first cattle clipping assignments and had visited with them many times when I was first selling semen. Suddenly it came all rushing in on me  how much the market has changed.  Sure I could teach them how to set up a Facebook page and keep regular updates on their website.  My  problem is that focusing on those topics would not have done much for them.

Why you ask? You see the #1 rule of great marketing is to have a great product that people want. Everything turns on this. Am I saying that these breeders don’t have great cattle?  Actually the exact opposite is true.  In the group was the breeder of the #2 available LPI sire in Canada (FREUREHAVEN NIAGARA  Read more – December 2012 World Wide Holstein Genetic Evaluation Highlights). The fact is, there is no demand for the product that these breeders have to offer.  In the meeting, Ralph Freure commented “ In the past, when a bull like Niagara came out the breeder of such a bull would have their phone ringing off the hook for embryo orders and bull contracts.  These days, other than the A.I. company that sampled him  no one called.”  Why is that?

Well, the answer is, it’s because, these days, unless you have a   2300 TPI or 3000 LPI cow or heifer, no one is interested.  Take our analysis of the recent big sales (Read more – An Insider’s Guide To What Sells At The Big Dairy Cattle Auctions) you will notice that while polled gets some interest and selling a pick from a show cow that is currently winning at the big shows, anything else is just not in demand.

Analysis by Buying Motivator

Gone are the days where you could breed a 5+ generation VG or EX cow and expect to get top dollar when selling her or her progeny.  As I listened to the group discuss recent changes to the point system  for the Canadian Master Breeder awards, I found myself thinking two things. First: the passion these people have for dairy cattle is outstanding and second do their breeding goals fit with their management goals? And that is  what I talked about.

The Bullvine Holstein Mature Model Cow

The Bullvine Holstein Mature Model Cow

While we all want to breed that next great show cow (Read more – 7 Sires to Use in Order to Breed the Next World Dairy Expo Champion) and we all have a different definition of what that great cow would look like (Read more – The Perfect Holstein Cow) the big thing is will either of these goals pay the bills anymore?  Or, is it more important to breed  cows that are  most profitable where it counts…..the milk check? (Read more – Fact vs. Fantasy: A Realistic Approach to Sire Selection)

The Bullvine Total Performance 2 Yr Old Cow

The Bullvine Total Performance 2 Yr Old Cow

During the discussion about the requirements for the Master Breeder Shield one of the comments was that a cow should be 15% above the national average in order to qualify for points.  This more than anything demonstrated for me  how disconnected we have become  from what actually pays the bills.  Are you telling me that production is not a key component in a great breeding program?  Are we saying that having a narrow type focus is all that should be the measure of a great breeder?  WOW!!!   Dairy breeders are business people?  They have bills to pay and kids to feed.  The number one revenue source on the farm is the milk check not the livestock sales.  And trust me that trouble free GP83 2yr old that milks 12,000 kgs (25,200 lbs) pays a lot more bills than the high maintenance VG-87-2yr old that milks 9,000 kgs (18,900 lbs).

The Bullvine Holstein Model 2yr

We all want to breed that next great 2yr old, but does the dream pay the bills?

The Bullvine Bottom Line

You can argue that genomics has killed the market for `good` pedigreed cattle and that  IVF has  flooded the marketplace. To some extent both are true.  But I would add another aspect for you to consider.  The recent financial stresses in the world have opened many breeders’ eyes to what pays the bills. Breeders are business people first and, as a result, their expenditures and even their breeding goals have  changed.  Have yours?

December 2012 World Wide Holstein Genetic Evaluation Highlights

While the introduction of genomics has certainly changed the dairy industry, this proof round also proves that it’s an evolving science.  With adjustments in both the US and Canadian systems, the December 2012 Genetic Evaluations are as much about the changes in the system as it is about the new sires.

In the US, USDA made significant changes to the system including a correction and adjustment of health and functional trait evaluations and reliabilities.  These changes have led to a much closer grouping of the top TPI sires (15%).  We all know that just as breeders are learning how to use genomics, geneticists are also learning how to evolve this technology and ensure it’s accuracy.  In Canada there have also been refinements to the DGV system, including regression analysis as well as a tightening of the range of the top end animals.  The number of DGV LPI’s over 4000 has gone down drastically, with many sires seeing about a 400-500 DGV LPI drop.

More than ever these changes highlight that instead of selecting sires by their rank on the list, with such close numbers, it is now more important to make sure that you select the sire that is the corrective mate for your animals.


  • All is quiet on the American front.  Even the story of the top two sires BADGER-BLUFF FANNY FREDDIE and COYNE-FARMS DORCY is about how they held their numbers to move up the ranks rather than increased their numbers.
  • Even WABASH-WAY EXPLODE, who we were hesitant to endorse last round as his Parent Averages and DGV’s are higher than his current daughter performance, held relatively the same numbers with the addition of 10 more daughters (Note: His DGV’s and PA’s are still higher than current daughter performance).
  • One interesting newcomer that caught our eye was RONELEE TOYSTORY DOMAIN.  Domain is the 1st proven sire from Trans America Genetics (TAG) and his initial proof was spot on to his expected genomic and parent averages (slightly lower for production but indications are that it will adjust)  Bodes well for great things to come from the TAG program.


  • The biggest story in Canada is the official domestic proof of LONG-LANGS OMAN OMAN.  Man-O-Man didn’t disappoint the many rumors that where swirling (Read more – Man-O-Man will he turn platinum?) but does cause us some concerns about his use as a sire of sons (Read more – Is Man-O-Man going to be a sire of sons?).
  • A bull that will certainly catch a lot of attention in Canada FREUREHAVEN NIAGARA.  This Bolton son from the high index bull mother COMESTAR LAUTELLA GOLDWYN VG-87 2* is leaving daughters that love to milk and that do so from strong udders and great feet and legs.
  • This proof round for Canada was packed with many high-ranking bulls receiving their first official LPI proof including 25 in the Top 100, 14 in the Top 50 and 9 in the Top 20 for LPI.  Most of these were US proven sires receiving their first Canadian proof such as UFM-DUBS AltaEsquire (O Man x Rich-Ro Mark Sam-ET) at #4 LPI and the new #1 for Fat this round; Crockett-Acres Otto-ET (O Man x Crockett-Acres Mtot Elly- ET) arriving at #13 LPI and immediately followed, with a difference of only 15 LPI points, by his full Canadian proven brother Crockett-Acres Eight-ET at #12 LPI.


  • Cogent Twist becomes number one UK proven sire in December proof run.  COGENT TWIST has continued his climb through the rankings to become the new number one UK-proven sire.  Twist combines his PLI of £229 with hardwearing daughter type traits including dairy strength, width and body depth.
  • In Italy Encino EVONYMON ET TV is the highest new bull for PFT this run (standing 10th in the Italian rankings).  Evonymon is one of the highest sires for milk in the Italian PFT ranking at over 1600Kgs.  He also has a positive fat and protein %, a functional type with 2.47 feet & legs and positive Fitness traits.  The other high new release sire is Encino EGYPTIAN ET TV the full brother of Evonymon and stands 15th on the official Italian rankings.  He has excellent fat (0.16) and protein (0.11) with over 1,300 kg of milk.  Fertility is high, and is a somatic cell score improver.
  • Other international stars such as ZANI BOLTON MASCALESE, FLEVO GENETICS SNOWMAN and HEIDENSKIPSTER GOLDDAY all held their numbers as well as international rankings.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While there were certainly some exciting new sires this proof round, the bigger story is about the way current stars are holding their domestic numbers as they receive international proofs.  This stability highlights the strengths of the MACE system and shows how different countries are enhancing their use of Genomics to more accurately predict the future genetic stars.

Is Man-O-Man Really Going to be a Sire of Sons?

This week LONGS-LANG OMAN OMAN (Man-O-Man) received outstanding indexes around the world (#6 TPI and #1 LPI) much like the rumours before this proof round had predicted (Read more – Man-O-Man Will He Turn Platinum?). Now many breeders  are again considering him for their breeding programs.  While we can totally support the principle of using the best sire to produce the next generation of AI bulls, we are not sure that Man-O-Man will be a great sire of sons.  Here’s our reasoning.

When you take a close look at Man-O-Man’s progeny, you find that 6 of his daughters worldwide have a higher gLPI  than he has. They are COMESTAR LAUTAMAI MAN O MAN, STANTONS MANOMAN EZRA, SEAGULL-BAY SHAUNA SATURN, BENNER MANOMAN JANESSE, DONNANDALE MANOMAN JAKARTA and STE ODILE MANOMAN MODEL SAPHIR. Three of these daughters have Estimated Breeding Values and three are younger and have Parent Averages.  What really stands out and catches our eye is that none of his sons (PA or EBV) have a higher gLPI than he has.  In fact  his highest gLPI son is almost 5% lower on his indexes than he is. It begs the question, “Will Man-O-Man ever have a son that indexes higher than himself?”

Proven Track Record

When we look at the current CDN Sires of Top 100 LPI Bulls, we find the following sires are proving themselves as sires of sons.

    the sire of Man-O-Man, has 6 sons in the top 100 in Canada with an average LPI of 2496.  This is by far the highest LPI average for sons! O Man has 15 genomically tested daughters worldwide higher than himself and 18 genomically tested sons worldwide  indexing higher than himself.(Ratio of 45% daughters to 55% sons).
    has the next highest son average LPI at 2137 on 11 sons.  Worldwide Bolton has 141 genomically tested daughters and 52 genomically tested sons higher than himself. (Ratio of 73% daughters to 27% sons).
    follows next.  He has 9 sons averaging 2023 LPI. On a global basis Baxter has 292 genomically tested females  and 191 genomically tested sons higher than himself.  (Ratio of 60% daughters to 40% sons).

These previous three sires have produced BOTH daughters and sons, who have surpassed them. Let’s look at another list that is producing top bull mothers but who have yet to produce a legacy son.

    139 daughters genomically tested worldwide higher than himself
    36 sons genomically tested worldwide higher than himself
    (Ratio of 80% daughters to 20% sons)
    91 daughters genomically tested worldwide higher than himself
    39 sons genomically tested worldwide higher than himself
    (Ratio of 70% daughters to 30% sons)
    379 daughters genomically tested worldwide higher than himself
    84 sons genomically tested worldwide higher than himself
    (Ratio of 82% daughters to 18% sons)

The anomaly is Bolton.  He ranks high for progeny average LPI on both the CDN List for Top 100 LPI Bulls (#2) and on the Sire of Top 1000 GLPI Cows (#3). However, his ratio indicates that he will work slightly better as the sire of bull mothers.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The past foretells the future. Instead of running out to use Man-O-Man to produce that next great sire of sons, he is better used to generate that next great bull mother.  Also, instead of looking to use Man-O-Man sons as the next great sires of AI bulls, breeders  should perhaps  look at sons out of Man-O-Man daughters . History has shown that some bulls are meant to be bull mothers (Goldwyn, Planet and Shottle) and some bulls are more destined to be  sires of sons (AltaBaxter, and Oman). Man-O-Man’s numbers would indicate that he is going to be a better producer of bull mothers.

EASTSIDE HOLSTEINS – Where Modern Marketing Rises to the Challenge

For most of us The Eastside Lewisdale prefix is associated with the fame of “Missy”. Maria Jones, Marketing Manager for Eastside Holsteins modestly summarizes the connection. “Here at Eastside, we were lucky enough to have co-bred Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy EX 95, Grand & Supreme Champion at World Dairy Expo and the Royal in 2011.  That has really helped our exposure and marketing, not only of the Missy Family, but of other families here at Eastside”. As Bloyce Thompson, owner of Eastside Holsteins, points out, “When Missy took off as a Jr 2 yr old, we needed to be able to capitalize, get on board and go with her success.”  The fact that Missy’s sister Amaze flushed well put even more marketing opportunities in front Eastside and partner Lewisdale (Read More – You Can Bank on Amaze to Pump up the Volume). “Our main focus has been selling embryos from well known families and making sure each customer is very satisfied with their purchase.”


Supreme Champion WDE 2011. Grand Champion WDE 2011.
Supreme Champion RAWF 2011. Grand Champion RAWF 2011

Viewing the Future from EASTSIDE Out!

Bloyce and partner Jamie Lewis, of Lewisdale Holsteins, thought over the potential they were facing and decided to set up a new company Eastside-Lewisdale.  They plan to have it underway early in 2013. One of their visions is of an embryo community.  In order to do that, they know that they have to plan not only the financial side but also how to brand their genetic products. “We thought about it and decided we need email a web site” and all of the modern technology that puts PEI fully accessible to the marketplace. Bloyce admits “We knew we wanted someone who had great computer skills.” That’s where Maria Jones came into the picture.

Maria Jones

Maria Jones
Marketing Manager at Eastside Holsteins

MISSY meets MARIA:  Behind Every Super Star There is a Super Marketer!

It wasn’t long before the marketing part of the plan was put into action says Bloyce, with the hiring of Maria Jones. “I knew Maria had computer skills and that she was between jobs.  She lived on PEI and started part time which has grown to almost two-thirds time now.” Maria has demonstrated her technical ability and how comfortable she is with global communication. Bloyce is enthusiastic, “She is a person I can give ideas to and she can take it from there.” Sales numbers are backing up the wisdom of the hiring a marketing person.”Since Maria started embryo sales are up 90%”
Eastside Ad

New Tools Greatly Enhance Familiar Methods

Modesty is contagious around PEI and Maria points out.”Of course, you have to have the product people want and be ready to roll.” As a marketing manager, she wears many different hats and faces the challenges and logistics of, not only marketing the products but getting them delivered. She notes,” In the cattle business it can be very complex and goes beyond the designing to record keeping, financial and managing the workload.” Time pressure is an added incentive. Bloyce states what he feels is obvious, “Holstein genomics is moving so fast that you must always be developing for the future market.” He gives an example. “Hailey has taken over From Missy so we must adapt to that.” Every tool is analysed and critiqued. “Embryo sales at World Dairy Expo time went well. We will likely try that again another year.”

More Information Sourced and Delivered with New Tools

Maria is well aware of modern tools. “We have been using Facebook and Twitter. It really helps communicate to our customers what is going on at Eastside.  They know about our new purchases and what embryos we have available. We report show results and just about anything else that is happening.” They see the potential of using social media for real time updates. “On a daily basis, we broadcast to our audience around the world what is happening.  It has been a very successful tool for Eastside.” Maria feels this asset also serves another valuable purpose, “It is a great advantage that we have two-way communication with others about what is going on in the industry.”

Good Two-Way Communication = Marketing Progress

Everyone at Eastside agrees that communication is important to their marketing strategy. Maria lists her favorite sources, “The internet, magazines, mixing and communicating with others at Shows and Sales are all great ways to keep up with the industry.” She is always eager to pick up something new. “I just keep an eye on what is going on around me and always notice everyone’s marketing efforts.  I enjoy seeing all the new ideas and try to understand why they thought it was a good idea.  I always keep in mind that they are in the same boat as I am!” She sums up the three L’s of her marketing philosophy, “I am never one to judge but I listen, look and learn!”

The Challenges of Dairy Marketing

In the fast paced world of modern dairy marketing it is important to know your priorities. Bloyce says the challenge is clear.  “You must always plan ahead and have the current product that people want.” There are the usual business pressures to keep costs under control but this team feels that marketing must be able to reach the huge number of potential clients based around the world. Bloyce recalls, “A decade ago, living on PEI was a major disadvantage but, today, with the World Wide Web, location is not a problem.” This opportunity also presents the main challenge, “We are only touching a fraction of the market.” Both Bloyce and Maria recognize that creating interest means constantly facing deadlines. For instance “The website must be updated 3-4 times per week.” Although that might seem simple, it too turns on the speed of responses to email, phone calls and messages. Maria acknowledges,”It can be frustrating.” But admits that “Marketing can be a fun and enjoyable career.”

Eastside Ad 2Walk in Your Buyer’s Boots and Walk Fast

Bloyce repeats business maxims we all know to be true, “The way that you position yourself, how you use words and how you treat customers are all very important.” He sees dairy breeding evolving to produce “a more functional cow with stronger immunity, better female reproduction and requiring minimum labour.”  Maria agrees that the market drives demand, “We have turned to more of what the market will be looking for in the future, namely the polled breed and genomics.” Acknowledging that everyone is not interested in the same thing she feels that “Eastside has got you covered” by providing show cattle, type and genomics.

Develop Marketing Skills Where You Find Them

Drawing on his positive experience, Bloyce sums up the best advice he has for those looking to market their dairy genetics.  First and foremost he feels “It is absolutely necessary that you have a product people want to buy.”  Once you have met that hurdle, he suggests “Get with technology both on the farm and in marketing.”  He points out what he feels is an obvious resource to develop, “Why not bring your children into the business via the marketing side of the farm, instead of just through the labour side.” He sums up his reasoning quite convincingly, “Kids run computers with their eyes closed.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

At the end of the day, marketing only works if the story moves off the planning page and produces measureable results.  Eastside and Lewisdale are banking on good marketing based on a philosophy of “Listen, Look and Learn” to promote their supply of genetics that the market is asking for.  The future looks ready to shine brightly for Eastside-Lewisdale.



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Quality Cattle Look Good Every Day

For years the comments have been made that show cows look very different in the ring than they do most other days of the year.  I have heard breeders make comments about some great show cows that look All-World in the show ring and not even All-County in the barn.  One of the biggest changes I have noticed in the past 10 years is how much this situation has changed.

More and more we are seeing cattle with consistent show pedigrees or type winning the shows.  Does that mean that there are not as many “freaks” out there?  Or, does it mean that show ethics and better management practices have led to the top genetic animals rising to the top?  I think the latter is true.

Here are two great examples from my recent visit to Quality Holsteins


This past week Flansco was scored EX-95 and I wanted to check her out.  Flansco is the first third generation EX-95-CDN cow.  Her dam was QUALITY GIBSON FINSCO who was HM. ALL-ONTARIO 5-YR 2008 & 2ND 5-YR ON DISCOVERY 2008 and her 2nd dam was none other than QUALITY B C FRANTISCO EX-96-3E-CAN 18* and 2 time Royal Grand Champion as well as the 2005 Holstein Canada Cow of the Year.  So there is no question that Flansco has a female line as well as strong type sire stack (Goldwyn x Gibson x Charles) behind her

Therefore it is certainly not surprising that I was able to get this great udder shot.  After all, Flansco won grand at the recent Autumn Opportunity show (Read more – Autumn Opportunity Holsteins Show Results)

QUALITY GOLDWYN FLANSCO - EX-95-CAN  Grand CHAMPION 2012 AUTUMN OPPORUNITY SHOW  (Taken at the 20012 Autumn Opportunity Show 17/10/2012)


She looked this good when I visited just before milking time

QUALITY GOLDWYN FLANSCO - EX-95-CAN  1st 3rd Generation EX-95-CDN Cow in the world  (Taken at the farm just before milking time 11/30/2012)



It’s also not surprising that, when I took a quick peek at Rae Lynn, the recent 2nd Sr. 2yr Old from the Royal (Read more – The 2012 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show – One of the greatest stories ever told!), I got this shot

Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89-2YR 2nd Senior 2yr old RAWF 2012  (Taken at the 2012 Royal Winter Fair (09/11/2012)

She looked just as good on an average day on the farm

Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89-2YR 2nd Senior 2yr old RAWF 2012  (Taken at the farm just before milking time 11/30/2012)

It’s obvious Rae Lynn has the complete package.  Her dam is an EX 2E Champion sister to the 2011 Royal Winter Fair and Madison Supreme Champion EASTSIDE LEWISDALE GOLD MISSY, from the great STADACONA OUTSIDE ABEL VG-88-4YR-CAN 29*.  Rae Lynn is also in the top 10 in Canada for her EBV for Conformation.  However, as we all know it takes more than just great genetics to win at the big shows.  More is exactly what these two cows have.  The care they receive from the team at Quality Holsteins (Read more – Quality Holsteins – Well-Deserved Congratulations) and key team member Don Schwartz (Read more – Don Schwartz: “Love what you do and do the best you can!”) is second to none.  It’s for that reason these cows that have the great genetics are all able to fulfill their potential.  It is also the reason why these cows look so amazing day in and day out.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Gone are the days when you could take a complete meat bag cow to a show and expect her to do well.  Between the progress in show ethics and in how we evaluate cows, the cream really is rising to the top.  For me there is nothing better than going to the herds where  these top cows reside and seeing that they look just as good in the barn as they did in the show ring…..well with a little more sh*t on them.


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