Archive for February 2013

EUROGENES: You Love It. They List It!

Today Jan de Vries and Arjan van der Vlis keep their cattle connections productive through  Eurogenes the Netherlands based online cattle auction service.  Looking back, it`s easy to pinpoint their early interest in cows. Jan says, “Since I was a little child I have been working on farms. During holidays I always spend time on farms. I always had a special interest for breeding and mating sires.” Arjan too had a cattle connection. “Got my interest in cattle through my father with buying cows, he is a butcher and we searched for the cattle ourselves. Later on I became more interested in dairy cattle and in the breeding of them. Through practical training and family I got my extreme interest in dairy cattle breeding.” No doubt their joint enthusiasm for cattle led them to keep open minds regarding ways to be involved with the business.

Eurogenes - website

Eurogenes Means E(asy) Commerce

In 2000 Alex Arkink, a cow photographer started Eurogenes. Both Jan and Arjan were involved in managing the Eurogenes Sales. After four years Jan ws ready to take the next step with Lammert Hielema. The two of them who own Genetics Consolidated went forward. “In 2004 we purchased all shares from Alex Arkink.” Arjan is the Business Unit manager for Eurogenes. They were excited at the possibilities presented by this young company. “Eurogenes was among the first companies in cattle breeding to really use internet as its main marketing gateway.” Jan confirms their belief in this idea. “We have always felt the simple concept of having members consign embryos, calves and now also bulls to sales is a very strong one.”

Buy, Buy Bovines

Eurogenes is part of Genetics Consolidated B.V. This group of companies also includes Diamond Genetics, Holstein Plaza, AI Total, Holstein Select and more.  In a little over ten years there has been significant growth. “Eurogenes currently has 150 members from across Europe. Once a month there is an embryo sale and 2x per year there is a heifer sale. The next sale is in March.” Everything works smoothly.  They explain. “The Heifer sales work according to the Dutch Auction system, in which an animal starts with a start price and then goes down each day until a buyer decides to take it for that price.” They are pleased with the interest and report that embryos have been exported to 25 different countries.

Holland Masters Sale 2012

Holland Masters Sale 2012
Managed by Eurogenes and had the highest sale average ever in Europe with EUR 15.809

Eurogenes has Sell-A-Bulls … and cows.. and heifers… and embryos

On line cattle sales are proving to be dynamic for Eurogenes. “Current cow families that get a lot of trade done are the Atlee’s, the Roxy’s, the Ralma’s, the Barbie’s, the Altitude’s. Then there are always some specific cow families from a specific country like the Denmire Marie’s from the UK, the Rita’s from Holland, the WEH Janna family from Germany which can get a lot trade done.” The sales inventory has something for everybody.  Arjan gives examples. “Eurogenes stand for offering a wide range of Holstein Genetics, from top genomic females to show type animals to good families that a lot of cow lovers would like to work with in their barns at home.”

magazine-hotspots-covers[1]Eurogenes: E(asy) Commerce

Filling a niche and providing breeders with what they want is only part of Eurogenes success. “Eurogenes has been the first in the industry to start selling heifers on line and still has all the online record in Europe for sale averages. Eurogenes and Holstein Plaza together make the Hotspots magazine. This magazine gives you a perfect insight into what is going on on the main  breeding farms and what cow families are being actively worked with.” Jan and Arjan explain why they are on the leading edge. “Eurogenes is still the first company in the world to host online bull sales with bulls for AI companies. Inventing new things and keep going forward always looking for improvement is probably our biggest accomplishment.”

Don’t stall. Get off the Auction Block.  Just start.

With any new business there are new lessons. Both men feel that they are learning something every day. Having said that, they feel that you have to make the leap and learn some lessons as you go. “Our biggest lesson is probably that you learn by doing. If you have an idea, if you want to do something you have to do it and see if it works and then keep improving.”  There is always more to learn so Eurogenes is always learning and trying new things.  For example, Eurogenes is organizing a big live sale each year. Jan provides this update. “This year the sale will be on the farm of Eurogenes members JK Eder Holsteins on May 25th 2013.” They proudly point out that, “This sale will contain 100% Eurogenes member consignments.”

Genomics is Spreading the Opportunities

One of the biggest learning curves for any 21st Century cattle breeding business is the one presented by Genomics. This new tool is impacting every part of the industry. Everybody has new opportunities.  Jan explains, “Part of our business that is driven to make the bulls for AI companies has changed with genomics, since the world is more transparent. Embryo buyers in other countries than the former main suppliers of AI bulls suddenly have just as much chance to get a high bull that the AI companies want.” This is exciting for everyone. “People who want to are able to bring in embryos or a heifer to improve their herd. They can use genomics as a tool to make a better selection and make better matings.”

Genomics and Technology – 2013

The Eurogenes team points out that April 2013 is going to be interesting with the opening up of genomics. “It is going to be interesting how many things will settle out after this; how is the European Consortium going to respond, what will Interbull’s role be, who is in favour the big multionational AI company or the small flexible AI company.”  At the same time that this is happening, technology will continue to evolve and impact the marketplace. “Then we will see new things coming after Facebook. There will be new and better applications. The technology on pc’s, smart phones and I-pads will keep developing.” Beyond these tools, the trading word is changing as well. “The world wide growing demand for milk will create new Holstein countries.” Far from being overwhelmed these entrepreneurs are excited.”There are always more things that we do not even know about.”

The BULLVINE Bottom Line

The last decade has seen tremendous changes in the selling of cattle internationally.  Not everybody has the ability to manage a website themselves and attract visitors. Jan and Arjan have the expertise. “Eurogenes is doing all the work.  Visitors from around the world will see your top genetics with a great presentation. “ Today the sales logistics whenever you want to buy or sell are as simple as a few clicks on a keyboard.  If you are ready to consider marketing genetics internationally, Jan and Arjan have one final piece of advice, “Eurogenes is open 24/7 to advertise your genetics.” Don’t just love it.  List it!


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The Genetic Genius of Darwin, Mendel and Hunt – Genetic Transmission and the Holstein Cow

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

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

Charles Darwin

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

Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel

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

Thomas Hunt Morgan

Thomas Hunt Morgan

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

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

His side of the story (XY)

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

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

Her side the story (XX)

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

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

The Bullvine Bottom Line

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

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

The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


Not sure what all this hype about genomics is all about?

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

Download this free guide.




The 2013 All-European Championship Preview

It’s like the soccer World Cup but for Dairy Cows.  The European Championships are organized by the European Holstein & Red Holstein Confederation every two years and this year 16 countries (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) will be participating in this outstanding event.

Great News!!!  The Bullvine will be LIVE streaming the show.

Host city Fribourg

Host city Fribourg

In 2013, the event is being held in Fribourg, a city located at the cultural border between the German and French speaking parts of Switzerland.  Fribourg 2013 is going to be something special, since Switzerland itself represents one of Europe’s countries in the show ring.

Setup has already begun.

Setup has already begun.

The Schedule

Tuesday 26 February
08:00 onwards Arrival of the animals

Friday 1 March
08:00 – 16:00 Farms visits
16:00 – 17:30 Showmanship: young breeders final
18:30 – 20:00 Opening ceremony
20:30 onwards Swiss European Sale

Saturday 2 March
9:30 – 11:30 Red Holstein championship: “Individual” / “National Groups”
13:00 – 16:00 Holstein championship: “Individual”
16:00 – 18:00 Holstein championship: “National Groups”
18:00 – 19:00 Prize‐giving ceremony
20:00 onwards Breeders’ fondue party

Sunday 3 March
8:00 onwards Departure of the animals
8:00 – 16:00 Farms visits

The Classes

Different from the standard classes many North Americans would be accustomed to, the classes for the All-European Championships for Holstein and Red Holstein are as follows:

  • Junior category: only 1st lactation cows, having calved, up to 32 months.
  •  Intermediate category: only cows having calved twice, up to 60 months as at 1 March 2013 (born 1 March 2008 or later).
  • Senior category: only cows having calved three times or more (at least two completed lactations).

In addition:

  • 1st Lactation cows must make up at least 20% of a country’s contingent.  The same applies to cows having calved twice.
  • All cows must have been born in Europe and must have been recorded in the herdbook of the participating country since 1 March 2012 or before (subject to milk testing).  All the cows and reserve cows must be registered by 25 January 2013 at the latest.

The Judges

Presiding over the Holstein classes will be David Boyd from Glaslough Holsteins in Ireland whilst the Red classes will take place under the watchful eye of Niels Erik Haahr of Anderstrup Holsteins, Denmark.

Holstein show judge David Boyd from Glaslough Holsteins

Holstein show judge David Boyd from Glaslough Holsteins

David Boyd is an Irish breeder who runs a dairy farm with his brother in Glaslough.  There are 50 dairy cows and 80 heifers in their Glaslough Holsteins herd.  The average output is 10,300 kg of milk over 305 days at 3.69% fat and 3.29% protein.  There are 14 EX cows and 33 VG ones in the herd.  In 2011, 20 first-calf heifers were classified VG, with two of these receiving a VG88 classification.  David has enjoyed a great deal of success at shows.  In particular, he was named the Best Breeder and the Best Exhibitor at the Irish National Show in 2011.  David has been accredited as a judge by the Irish Holstein Friesian Association for more than 20 years and he is also a member of the IHFA board.  He has judged at a large number of shows in Ireland, the UK, Portugal and Italy.  He has also taken part in the last four workshops for European judges.

Niels Erik Haahr of Anderstrup Holsteins Red Holstein Show Judge

Niels Erik Haahr of Anderstrup Holsteins Red Holstein Show Judge

Niels Erik Haahr is a Danish breeder whose family owns the Anderstrup Holsteins dairy herd.  They have 300 cows with an average output over 365 days of 14,600 kg of milk.  They have developed an intensive Anderstrup Holsteins breeding program, with more than 200 calves per year resulting from embryo transfers.  The scheme produces numerous bulls for AI centers in Denmark and Germany.  Anderstrup Holsteins is also heavily involved in competitions and it has already won 25 awards at the National Show.  Niels Erik Haahr has been judging since the age of 16 and he is now an accredited judge.  He has performed judging duties at many important regional shows in Denmark and at the National Show on four occasions.


The Contenders

From the host nation, Switzerland, comes one of the strongest contenders Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra EX-94, who many of the North American experts say could walk on the colored shavings at Madison and give the North American cows a run for their money.

Decrausaz Iron O'Kalibra EX-94 1st 5yr old, Champion Udder, Grand & Supreme Champion- Swiss Expo, Lausanne 2012 1st 4yr old and Res. Champion Udder and HM Grand Champion- Swiss Expo, Lausanne 2011 1st 4yr old and Reserve Grand Champion- Expo Bulle 2011  (from the same family as Dudoc Mr. Burns and Granduc Tribute)

Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra EX-94
1st 5yr old, Champion Udder, Grand & Supreme Champion- Swiss Expo, Lausanne 2012
1st 4yr old and Res. Champion Udder and HM Grand Champion- Swiss Expo, Lausanne 2011
1st 4yr old and Reserve Grand Champion- Expo Bulle 2011
(from the same family as Dudoc Mr. Burns and Granduc Tribute)

However, there are many other cows to watch for including:

Ashlyn Vray EX-94-ES

Ashlyn Vray EX-94-ES

M.E.DAL STORMATIC ILMA 2010 European Intermediate Champion

2010 European Intermediate Champion

Ptit Coeur Iron Dirona EX-96-SW

Ptit Coeur Iron Dirona EX-96-SW

Lavenham Adeen EX-92 Daughter of MS KINGSTEAD CHIEF ADEEN EX-94

Lavenham Adeen EX-92

Riverdane Talented Ashlyn VG88 EX90-MS 2YR Nominated Intermediate Heifer in Milk All Britain 2012 1st Milking Heifer & Supreme Champion Holstein & Best Udder Cheshire County Show 2012  1st Junior 2yr & Reserve Champion Holstein Heifer Great Yorkshire Show 2012

Riverdane Talented Ashlyn VG88 EX90-MS 2YR
Nominated Intermediate Heifer in Milk All Britain 2012
1st Milking Heifer & Supreme Champion Holstein & Best Udder Cheshire County Show 2012
1st Junior 2yr & Reserve Champion Holstein Heifer Great Yorkshire Show 2012


The Past Champions

CASTEL JAMES JOLIE 2010 European Senior and Grand Champion

2010 European Senior and Grand Champion

M.E.DAL STORMATIC ILMA 2010 European Intermediate Champion

2010 European Intermediate Champion

PESS FARM GOLDWYN NEVIL 2010 European Junior Champion

2010 European Junior Champion

PEPITA 2010 Junior Champion & Grand Champion Red

2010 Junior Champion & Grand Champion Red

Festive events and a specialist trade fair

The focus of attention of the 5,000‐plus visitors from Switzerland and the whole of Europe will, of course, be the championship itself, which will be held in the ring.  However, other aspects of breeding will also be presented to the public during the two days of the event.  A competitive showing exclusively for young breeders, a cattle auction and two gala evenings will foster relations between the delegations within a pleasant and festive atmosphere, while a specialist trade fair will bring together commercial exhibitors from areas relating to breeding and agriculture, thereby promoting friendly, professional contacts between the various Swiss and European participants.

No EXPO Bulle in 2013

The organizers of EXPO Bulle have declared that due to the exceptional circumstances, the show will miss a year in 2013.  Event manager Jean‐Charles Philipona stressed that: “This was a difficult decision to take because breeders are very attached to EXPO Bulle.  However, we know what an event like the European Championship represents in terms of human and financial resources.  Since the majority of our partners are involved in both events, we will work closely with the federations and pool our strength.  Holding the European Championship is an exceptional occurrence that merited an exceptional decision.” EXPO Bulle, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, nevertheless confirms that this year’s show will not go ahead as planned on 24 and 25 March 2013.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While maybe not as well known to many North American breeders, the All-European Championship is certainly one of the best exhibitions of dairy cattle in the world.  With past winners who could walk on the colored shavings in North America and the potential for this year’s winner to give the great RF Goldwyn Hailey a run for her money, Fribourg 2013 is certainly going to be an event many breeders should be watching with a careful eye.

Check out the following team pre-selections:


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Read More at © The Bullvine

The Bullvine – The Past, The Present & The Future

WOW hard to believe that it has been 1 year already since we started The Bullvine.  What started as a desire to write about something that we were passionate about has grown into the largest daily digital readership in the dairy breeding industry.  Reaching over 20,000 breeders a day!

The Past

Along the way we have a shared our clean side that highlights thought provoking articles and tools to help you make your dairy cattle breeding programs more profitable.  However, we also have an edgy side that has not been afraid to talk about those issues the others do not touch.

Over the past year we have published over 280 feature articles (Four times more than any other digital or print dairy publication).  Some of the highlights include:

    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)
    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)
    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)
    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)
    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)
    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)
    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)
    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)
    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)
    Forget the  Vince Lombardi Trophy award to the Baltimore Ravens for winning the Super Bowl last night, it is now time to hand out the 2012 Breeder’s Choice Awards.  After the month long vote and announcement this past Monday of the winners of the Tanbark Trail Edition, over 3000 dairy breeders cast almost 8000 votes in a one week period for their favorites in 21 different categories.  Without any further ado, here are the winners. (Read more)
    It’s just eight days into a New Year and already I’m thinking about the ‘good ol’ days!”.  Remember when the dairy industry was at the top of the agricultural sustainable list, milk was the “perfect food” and milk moustaches were seen on celebrities and sports stars? Hmmm. Where has all the glory gone? In 2013, the dairy industry is fighting to stay alive, the North American diet, including milk, is under attack as obesity from babes to the elderly is out of control and, when all is said and done, milk is a slipping way down on the favorite beverage list! (Read more)

The Present

Today we are doing so much more.  We now post 5-10 Breeder relevant news items a day in our Dairy News Section.  The Bullvine now has amazing daily content and conversations taking place on our Facebook page.  These dynamic interactions have led to our Facebook page setting a new world record for engagement for a dairy page.

new world record3

This past week alone saw these posts going viral:

Just a cow

Reached over 166,000 people in its first day and shared 1,500 times in under 24 hours

You act like you were raised in a barn

Reached over 118,000 people in 1 day and liked and shared 2,000 times

Seen by over 100,000 people in 1 day and liked or shared over 1,000 times.

Seen by over 100,000 people in 1 day and liked or shared over 1,000 times.

In addition, our T-Shirts are in demand by many dairy enthusiasts.


The Future

When we first set out to launch The Bullvine, I decided that for the 1st year we would not take any advertisers on our website.  I wanted to first build The Bullvine community and not be influenced or biased by who spent the most money with us.

Now that we are turning two, we are going to start to monetize The Bullvine.  However, we will not be doing so in the traditional way.  Instead of having breeders pay for ineffective ads, we are going to use the Google proven Ad platform model that is based on pay by performance.  As part of Google’s platform we will have no control over whose ads are displayed, and hence will not be influenced by who advertises with us. , We will need to make sure that we keep generating great content that breeders want to read.

We will also be introducing some great new contests and bylines from some of the leading experts and companies in the dairy industry.  This will not only enrich the articles and guides that we have already been  producing but will also provide you the reader with even more opportunities to get free stuff from us here at The Bullvine, including a chance to win a trip to World Dairy Expo.


The Bullvine Bottom Line

The first year has been an amazing experience for all of us here at the Bullvine.  We appreciate all the support we have received from breeders from around the world.  The Bullvine community has grown much larger and much faster than we could have ever imagined.  We are even more excited about the great things to come in Year 2.  Once again, thanks to all the breeders who have made The Bullvine the largest and most read digital daily dairy publication. Gandhi once said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win!” A pattern we have seen perfectly since starting the Bullvine one year ago.


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I’m Sorry, But I’ve Had Just About Enough Of…

top13of2013I like to believe that I am someone who sees the best in people.  Even if someone might rub me the wrong way at first, I try my hardest to give that person the benefit of the doubt. That being said, if I’m being completely honest, there is one person out there that I’m really at my wits’ end with. I’d even go as far as to say this person sometimes has taken things too far.  That person is….Me!

Look, somebody has to say it: I’m arrogant, I’m abrasive and to top it all off, I’m down right aggravating. Okay, sure, I can be a nice enough guy every now and again, but haven’t you noticed that seconds later I’m back to being a complete jerk who is harshly judgmental about anything anyone does?

Most of all, I never want to hear any more of my pitiful excuses for my behavior. I’m done listening to me trying to explain any of the aggravating things I do seem to do on a daily basis. When it comes right down to it, I’ve been a pain in the butt for as long as I can remember, and I for one just don’t think I’m ever going to change.

Why Do I Do It?

misinterpretSo why do I behave the way I do.  Is it ’cause have a vendetta against people? Nope.  Is it because I am jealous of others?  Nope. Is it because I love to cause trouble?  Well maybe.  But the real reason I do what I do is because someone has to speak up and lead change.  And I am just the person who is narcissistic enough to do so. You see change is not easy.  And leading change is even harder.

In my own defense, I have been bred and raised to be this way.  Maybe it’s genetic. My father’s motto was “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way” and there is no way that I am going to follow or get out of the way.   Maybe it was how I was raised.  I am from the video game generation where I could play games and pretend that I was an Olympian, Formula 1 driver, rock star or secret agent. Maybe it’s a sign of the times.  You see on Facebook, you can fool yourself into thinking you have hundreds or thousands of “friends.” You can delete unflattering comments (but, I don’t I love them). You can block anyone who disagrees with you or pokes holes in your inflated self-esteem (but I don’t, ’cause I love that too). You can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of yourself (which I do, after I have airbrushed them of course).

But then again maybe it’s the dairy industry that has made me this way.  No, I have not judged the Royal or Madison.  No, I have not bought or sold a Supreme Champion.  However, what I did get is worth far more than any of these things.  It gave me the confidence to be heard, the ability to know what I am talking about, and the skills to defend my position. These three things have served me extremely well. (Read more – How Dairy Cattle Judging Made Me Rich)

What I do know is I am not alone!  Since starting the Bullvine almost 1 year ago, I have learned that my cry for change is not going unheard.  In fact we now have the most engaged audience in the world.

Learning from the greats!

I would love to say I have modeled myself after some of the greatest leaders of all time.  Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and George Washington were all great leaders.  But I haven’t modeled myself after them unfortunately.  Even my mentor Ken Blanchard is a great leader, but I wouldn’t say I have followed in his exact footsteps.

What I have done is looked at some modern day leaders.  A mixture between the great Don Cherry, Bob McCown and Howard Stern.  Don Cherry is famous hockey broadcaster who is well known for his outspoken manner, flamboyant dress, and staunch Canadian nationalism.  Three things I have been accused of many times.  Bob McCown runs Canada’s most listened to talk show.  My favorite quote of his is one where he is sitting at the Rogers Center (where the Toronto Blue Jays play) and he says “I’ve been told, that there are people out there who don’t like me, so I’d like to invite them all down to the Rogers Centre. Unfortunately, it only holds 50,000.” Something since starting the Bullvine I am well on my way to. And of course Howard Stern, because sometimes I do tend to have a little “shock jock” in what we do.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Gandhi once said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win!”  A pattern I have seen perfectly since starting the Bullvine.  When we first started many ignored us.  After a little while they started to laugh at us.  And now more recently they have started to fight us.  Guess that means………

P.S. For those of you who are concerned I AM seeing a psychiatrist.  I married her.


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The Notorious Jack Stookey

By all accounts Jack Stookey came from good stock.  His parents were hard working folks that were well respected by the community.  Little did they know that their youngest child would have such an illustrious career that would see Jack Stookey go down in the history books as one of the most notorious in the history of the Dairy Industry.

While Jack’s oldest brother, Dr. George Stookey, discovered fluoristan, the substance in toothpaste that prevents cavities and sold his patent to Proctor & Gamble and made a fortune in royalties, Jack was destined for a very different future.  As is typical with the youngest child, Jack could do no wrong in his mother Mary Stookey’s eyes.  He was the golden boy that, when his first wife didn’t meet up to his mother’s expectations, she urged a divorce and Jack went along with her request.

Fortunately he got it right with his second wife, Darla, and she helped straighten him out.  You see it all started out great.  Jack had followed a successful career path from the start.  He had graduated high school where he was a track and field star and as a result had received a scholarship to Wayland Baptist University, where he set athletic records.  However, it’s after university where Jack’s true love for excitement started to show.  He began to indulge in his passion for auto racing.  Before long he was designing his own cars, building them from scratch and driving them in races.  It was here where wife Darla put her foot down and protested his love of racing.  So Jack quit the car racing business and went back to the family farm.

Jack’s parents Emra and Mary had started with very little and built their farm into a 1,500-acre show place.  The Holstein herd was one of the best in the state and by 1980 there were 31 Excellent and 33 Very Good females.  At the urging of son Jack, Emra sold the herd at its peak and the farm auction averaged $4,381.00 on 124 head with a top price of $21,000 for VT-Pond-View Bootmaker Lassi (EX).  Six head sold for five figure prices.

Jack’s New Vision

The dispersal was promoted by Jack’s newfound vision. He wanted to start an investment herd.  You see the US government had introduced Section 46 of the Internal Revenue Code that allowed for an investment credit which held interest for individuals earning $500,000 a year and upwards.  Section 46 created a frenzy of activity the likes of which the industry had never seen before.  It introduced an investment purchase credit, a tax write-off which permitted a taxpayer to offset against personal income the costs of investment in certain classes of livestock.  A participating individual could purchase a beef or dairy animal by making a nominal down payment and then take a promissory note to pay the balance off over a specified time, usually three years.  The tax credits received during that period would cover the cost of the cow.  Accountants, lawyers, and other rich individuals were quick to act.  Jack Stookey saw this as his opportunity to assemble a group of the best Holsteins that North America had to offer and gave him the opportunity to make a ton of money.

Continental Scarlet-Red EX-95-3E (USA)

Continental Scarlet-Red
EX-95-3E (USA)

The first cow Stookey bought was Georgian Quality Pat EX-96-4E @ 5-09 (USA) who he purchased from Charlie Auger, who was a 3X All-American Nominee in Milking Form.  To publicize his purchase Jack began showing at the major shows.  Success was almost instant. In 1983 he took home the Premier Exhibitor banner at Central National Show and come very close to doing it at the Eastern and Western Nationals as well.  One of the corner stones to his show string was Continental Scarlet-Red (EX) who he had seen the year earlier at the Royal where Scarlet had won her place in the history books as the only cow ever to defeat the greatest show cow in history, Brookview Tony Charity, who was reserve grand to Scarlet’s grand championship.  However, Scarlet didn’t beat Charity in class, as Charity was a 4yr old and Scarlet was a 5yr old at the time.  Another great red cow that Jack had purchased from David Brown (and only made the first payment on) was Nandette TT Speckle-Red (EX) giving Jack two of the greatest Red and White cows of the 1980’s.

Enter the IRS

Then as is always the case, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came calling.  They didn’t approve of these cattle investment tax shelters and in the early 1980’s they had started doing audits.  Clearly in their sights was Jack Stookey. Once you are in their sights life becomes very challenging.  They disallowed many of his tax loss claims and asked him to make good on his back taxes.  The claim which was in the six figures caused a great problem for Jack as he didn’t have the money and had no prospects of getting it.  The flow of investor money was slowing and his herd wasn’t generating much revenue.

Jack had hit the bottom.  On a winter’s day in 1985 Jack couldn’t even pay his hired help.  Therefore, he instructed them to take all the bull calves to the slaughterhouse in order to get some money.  Among them were three sons of Scarlet by Roybrook Telstar, that had been scheduled to be sampled by AI units.  Then there was his neighbor Mr. Van Forest and his son.  Due to friendships with Jack’s parents, when Jack asked them to take care of 80 bred heifers, he agreed.  After a year of feeding, time and trouble all Van Forest received was a worn-out semen tank.  He lost his farm over the deal.  To make matters even worse, during a blizzard in 1985   a hundred Stookey calf hutches were buried in the snow.  They didn’t get the calves dug out in time and they all suffocated.  Included were 18 calves by Enhancer from Scarlet.

It was at this time that the rumors really started.  Rumors such as that Stookey had purchased a bunch of high priced cattle from Canadian breeders and when they discovered that their checks were no good, they stopped the cattle at the border.  Another very tasty rumor was that a disgruntled investor had dynamited the porch off Stookey’s house.  That’s when the world really started to cave in for Jack.  The IRS filed a lien for back taxes forcing Jack to file bankruptcy.  The bankruptcy trustee took possession of Stookey’s assets and this caused some more legal issues for Jack.  Because Jack had only made the first payment on a number of the cattle, the breeders of these cattle were claiming their animals still belonged to them.  Even though these breeders had some pretty tightly worded contracts, the bankruptcy trustee decided that this claim came after that of the unpaid vendors’ liens and hence the breeders never saw the rest of their money.

Wasted Potential

Seeing all this happening and deploring the waste of all these superior genetics, Louis Prange of Elm Park Farms, made a deal with the trustee whereby he took a couple of dozen Stookey cows and put them on a flush program.  Prange was to receive one-third of the sale revenue from the resulting calves, the trustee was to receive a third, and Stookey the remaining third.  This turned out to be a great move as one of the donors was Nandette TT Speckle, whom he flushed to Blackstar, resulting in one of the greatest type-breeding cows in history Stookey Elm Park Blackrose.

Stookey Elm Park Blackrose

Stookey Elm Park Blackrose EX-96 3E GMD DOM
• All-Time All-American Jr 2-Yr & Jr 3-Yr-Old Cow
• Res All-American 5-Yr-Old Cow 1995
• All-American Jr 3-Yr-Old Cow 1993
• All-American Jr 2-Yr-Old Cow 1992
• Grand Champion, Royal Winter Fair 1995
• Over 30 Excellent Sons and Daughters!

Another would be participant in salvaging what was left was Randy Frasier.  You see Jack maintained that he still owned the family farm and he undertook selling it to Randy for his Elmvue herd.  Frasier invested $85,000 in fixing the buildings and whatnot and when he was told all was for naught –Frasier was left with nothing for his efforts.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Jack Stookey’s investor business lasted just about four years between 1980 and 1984, but man was it an eventful time.  The investment tax credit was repealed in 1986, but that was not the downfall for Stookey.  It was Jack himself that led to his own demise.  When Jack was convicted of fraud and embezzlement, the Judge let him serve his sentence on weekends.

However, it didn’t end there.  In 2007 an article appeared in one of the Indiana farm papers about Jack Stookey’s recent suicide.  Then all sorts of rumors started to fly.  One such rumor was that Jack was involved with Colombian drug traffickers and was behind in his payments, so they gave him an ultimatum, he could either pull the trigger himself, or they would do it for him.  It seems more likely that it was just that, a suicide.  You see the IRS had never lost sight of Jack and in 2007, the year he died, they were ready to pounce.  They had a tax arrears claim that came to $1.5 million.  They ran the man to the earth and then they started their prosecution.  It was more than a reasonable man could be expected to take.  Though there were many interesting events throughout Jack’s career, this is for sure one of them.  Jack Stookey can take credit for the two best animals to come out of the investment era, Stookey Elm Park Blackrose and Stookey Fagin Scarlet, the first red and white cow to make 50,000 lbs of milk.  If there was ever to be an action drama movie to be made about the Dairy Industry, Jack Stookey’s life story might be the basis for it.

To find out more about Jack and other great stories from the past check out Edward Morwick’s latest book “The Holstein History” click here.


How Irish Dairy Farmers are Using On Farm Data to Increase Profitability

Loving one’s work is a nice thing to have but in the end work without reward does not equate to being in business for the long term. Every day we read about the dairy industry’s viability and sustainability but on an individual farm basis it comes down to having total revenue exceed total expenses. Some new revenue sources are possible on some farms, like the sale of embryos from top cows or heifers, but on most dairy farms revenue means the milk cheque. So having a successful dairy farm is all about maximizing milk revenue and keeping costs under control. And that takes careful management. Profit can generally only be had by careful management.

Herd Size Determines Management Style

Herds under 50-60 cows are frequently managed by recording and analysis using hard copy records with DHIA handling the production and SCC side of the information. But once over 100 milking cows the manager needs an electronic way to record or capture the on-farm events and information. At the present time that means the purchase of herd management software and someone entering the data for medium sized herds or the parlour electronics capturing the data at milking time in larger herds where the capital investment in an automated parlour can be justified. Of course on farms with robots the data is captured by the system and is available for the manager to address the exceptions or situations requiring attention. But for all herds the same rule applies – you can not manage without having the data.

Ireland took a Bold Step.

In 2001 the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation decided that farmers needed access to all the data from their farms in order to give them the opportunity be progressive and profitable. With public support from the National Development Plan (Transforming Ireland) the federation decided to bring together eight AI companies, nine regional milk recording agencies, the breed herdbooks, the department of the Irish government responsible for calf identification and animal movement and several farmer organizations to form one central database system. That was a major undertaking. The figure below provides the partners coming to the initiative in 2001.

A2 Downing-3

Dairy Farming in Ireland

Ireland has a pasture based, spring calving dairy industry. Cows must calve when the grass begins to grow each and every year. Cows not able to calve again on time for the spring are not retained at drying off time. As it would be too costly to overwinter a cow that would only have a short milking period in the subsequent year. Cow fertility is important in that system of dairying. In fact over the decade leading up to 2001, considerable emphasis had been placed on increasing milk yield much to the detriment of cow fertility and farmers were faced with the major cost of having to raise extra herd replacements for cows that may have produced more milk but were not able to get in calf. Something had to be done and 2002 was the year to get it done.

Irish Success

The theme chosen for the initiative was “Less Paper – More Profit (2002)”.  By 2006 the new data system was in place. There is “once only” recording of information or events and all data goes to the central database from farms, AI technicians, milk recording supervisors, veterinarians and many other organizations that touch Irish livestock farms. The figure below shows the many groups and individuals that provide data to the central database from Irish dairy and beef farms.  Data is entered via online entry from farms, handheld devices, mobile phones and third party data providers. Congratulations to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation ( for bringing all the players to the table.

A2 Downing-6

What do Farmers and their Service Providers Get?

HerdPlus® Dairy provides users with a suite of reports and online services. Some of those products include:

Key HerdPlus® Reports

  • Calving Report – due dates, births, calving intervals, abnormal calvings, calf identification
  • Key Performance Reports – fertility, production, udder health, inseminations
  • Milk Co-op Performance Report – shipment details and milk quality by month and year

Key HerdPlus® Online Services       

  • Sire Advice – recommends sires according to producer’s goals including considering Inbreeding Checker
  • Catalogue Maker – for breeding stock sales
  • Stocking Rate & Nitrates Reports – for environmental reporting purposes
  • Discussion Group Reports – farmers can talk online to their fellow group members and compare results

Education Service

  • Young farmer training now includes a HerdPlus® training module
  • Farm service providers including economic advisors learn from the results, comparisons and benchmarks


  • More informed and aware of industry performance and challenges
  • Can focus where to provide assistance with research and development

Successes Everywhere

This success story was presented at the September 2012 ICAR meetings and can be found at (K Downing – Using an integrated database to increase profitability on dairy farms).

A synopsis of the benchmarks of successes that have come about by having the integrated database as reported by Kevin Downing include:

At the Farm Level

  • Over 6050 farms participating by 2012 with focused goals and objectives (increasing at 9% per year)
  • 86% of the farms use the service online (14% use postal)
  • It is an excellent value at 60 euros per year (less than $US100)
  • Breeders are using superior sires through AI
  • Fertility performance has turned the corner and is improving

Beyond the Farm Level

  • Accurate nationwide benchmarks are now available for use by everyone
  • Both fertility and production per cow for the national herd are making significant improvement
  • Farm advisors, including veterinarians, now have all the facts when they advise the farmer
  • Farmers and their organizations have a national system that covers animal traceability, food safety and biosecurity

The Bullvine Bottomline

The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation central database has been a great move forward for farmers and the dairy industry in Ireland. Definitely the goal of “Data & Knowledge = Profit” has been achieved. It makes us all think about the big benefit there is to having all the facts in order make the best decisions possible. Managing for profit makes for a long rewarding and successful career in dairy farming.


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No Cow Is Perfect – Not Even in Pictures

top13of2013The other day I read a comment that basically asked, “If steroids are illegal for athletes then shouldn’t Photoshop be illegal for models?”  This got me thinking about the implications for dairy cattle marketing as well.  As the Bullvine approaches the one-year mark, it reminds me of one of our initial articles, Has Photo Enhancement gone too far?  In that article we first addressed this taboo subject questioning how programs like Adobe Photoshop lets designers create anything the client wants.  Our goal in publishing that article was to spur change (Read more: Dairy Cattle Photography: Ethics and Copyright).  Similar to the way that Jose Canseco’s book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” exposed steroid use in Baseball, we wanted to spur change in the dairy cattle photography industry (Read more: The Big Bad Wolf of the Dairy Industry). The reality is that no cow is perfect, not even in pictures (Read more: The Perfect Holstein Cow).

The Bullvine Holstein Mature Model Cow

The Bullvine Holstein Mature Model Cow

If foreign substances are illegal for show cows, then shouldn’t they be illegal for cow pictures as well?

Like major league baseball the show ring has had a transformation in its perspective on drugs and ethics (Read more: The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Dairy Cattle Show Ethics).  However,  similar to the world of cycling, the dairy cattle marketing world has yet to see this transformation (Read more: Lance Armstrong, Drugs and the Dairy Industry) That really got me thinking that, if foreign substances are illegal for show cows, then shouldn’t they be illegal for cow ads as well?

Toplines that have had “hair” added, udder texture that has been enhanced and teat placement that has been corrected, all seem to be more prevalent than ever.  Don’t even get me started about how some photographers have single handedly solved many breeder’s challenges of getting clean long necked cattle.  Even the basics of getting good lighting seem to have gone out the window.  Photoshop has made it too easy and more profitable for photographers to do it in post production than making sure the animal was the real deal to start.

model retouch

With Great Expectations Comes Great Disappointment

In an industry that already has unreal expectations about real beauty, the use of Photoshop in the fashion-modeling world has made for even greater unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image – especially among impressionable children and adolescents.  But there is one big difference between the photo retouching of fashion models and photo retouching of cattle images – The models are not the product that people are buying.

Right there is the big issue that I think many people are missing in this whole debate.  While we have all become complacent about fashion models whose appearance has been retouched, we have also become complacent about dairy cattle photos that have been retouched.  It has come to the point where most don’t even look at photos anymore to gage a sire’s potential  (Check out our recent Facebook poll).

I can remember when we first marketed Calbrett-I HH Champion and we put a lineup of 10 VG 2YR test sire daughters photo’s together – the first in the industry to do so.  But I am sure with genomic sires being used on such high caliber animals it will happen again soon.  It sold semen like none other.  Today when a new proven sire comes out, you are lucky to get two or three daughter shots and that’s about it.  For genomic sires you are often lucky to get a picture of the sire himself let alone a picture of his dam (often it is a heifer picture as she was contracted and flushed at such a young age).

This has me thinking whether there is value in picturing anymore?  I realized that while pictures today may not directly sell semen or embryos, they do a great job of generating hype.  While everyone likes to bash some livestock photographers about the ethics of their photos, there is no question that you can share a great shot of a show-winning cow on Facebook and the thing goes Viral.

So what is the average ethical breeder to do when they don’t have some great show-winning cow but wants to market their cattle?

In thinking about this challenging question, I remembered what Unilever did with their Dove line of products when facing a very similar challenge.  In 2004 they released The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.  The principle behind the campaign is to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves.

In the dairy industry three great ways I can see for this to be done are as follows:

  • Roy - ABS Global

    Show all the angles
    Instead of just a boring side shot, try to get different angles of your cattle.  Three quarter rear shots are great at grabbing attention.  Show multiple angles of your cow, in order to gain maximum attention.  It is also hard to fake a shot when you see all sides of the animal as any changes would be amplified when comparing angles.  (Read more: 5 Tips to Make Your Next Dairy Magazine Ad the Best Ever and All Talk and No Action)

  • Leverage the Power of Video
    There is nothing better than video to help you sell and promote your cattle.  It does not have to be some big costly production.  In fact, it can be much cheaper than having a professional photographer come in.  You can simply use your hand held blackberry or smartphone and snap some quick snippets to share with potential buyers on Facebook or on your website.  Even good quality digital video cameras can be picked up at your local Best-Buy or Wal-Mart.  Many even come with some basic software so that you can add your own titles, images, and music.  (Read more: Nothing Sells Like Video)
  • Share it on Facebook
    It’s really pretty simple.  Set up your own Facebook page or a Facebook Fan page for your farm.  Tell your story.  Did you have a great classification round and want to let the world know?  Share it on Facebook.  Had a great flush and want to sell the embryos from it?  Share it on Facebook.  Your friends will spread the word and before you know it, you too will start to have a loyal following. (Read more: 7 Reasons Why Your Dairy Farm Needs to be on Facebook and The Fakebook – Our secret is exposed)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Yes!  There are certainly photographers who have held true to their ethics, however, it seems that they are now in the minority rather than the majority.  I understand that Photoshop, a program that I love to use, makes life easier for all.  There comes a point, however, where ease should not outweigh ethics, especially when you are editing the appearance of the very genetic product that you are selling. The reality is that no cow is perfect, not even in pictures



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



Han Hopman: Shooting Straight at Holstein International

Dairy breeding is about putting the right pairings together. It is also the formula for success that has worked more than once for photographer Han Hopman, one of the founders of Holstein International.  He explains the beginning of his dual interests. “With my parents I always went on vacation to a dairy farmer. He always took me with him for milking and feeding the cows. I loved them. Back home in town again I missed them dearly. When I became 10 years old I asked for a camera to take pictures of the cows and glue them into a book. From that time I wanted to be a cow photographer.”  Cameras and cows. Han can’t have one without the other.

Han Hopman has captured some of the great bull shots in history, including this one of Ensenada Taboo Planet

Han Hopman has captured some of the greatest bull shots in history, including this one of Ensenada Taboo Planet

Mission Possible:  Write On!  Great pics!  From Cover to Cover

Han’s passion for cows was later enhanced by collaboration with Jan Bierma. “We were already making articles for several magazines like Holstein World, Holstein Journal, Typex in France, Bianco Nero in Italy and Veeteelt in the Netherlands and a few more. In Holstein World we had the Euroworld section. We published in that section information about bulls and genetics from Europe. When we had to stop that because of political reasons, we decided to start our own international magazine.” In 1994 they founded Holstein International in the Netherlands. Because of their professions Jan Bierma took on the editorial part of the magazine while Han took over the photography. Another great pairing.

Special presentation by Han Hopman (holding camera) and Jan Bierma (left) to Barry Slack and Charlie Will of Select Sires.

Quantum of Success

Hopman and Bierma already shared the bonds of friendship and commitment to Holsteins and it soon became obvious how well their words and pictures would continue the complementary relationship. “We have made Holstein International as it is now. One of the most important and leading Holstein Magazines in the World. The only independent unbiased magazine in the world, which is published in six different languages in over 60 countries. And all the information so up to date!” They have come a long way as Han marvels, “I didn’t foresee this when we started in 1994.”

The Incredible Shrinking World – Cows Unlimited  

During the nineteen years spanned by their publication, Holstein dairy breeding has gone from primarily a country-by-country breeding focus to a global panorama where the Holstein breed is international in every way. “When we started HI, global breeding was just beginning. Every country was on its own. Now days you can use almost every bull you want and use every cow family you like – from anywhere in the world. The breeding world has become one big country. I think this is the biggest change I have seen. It has helped the industry a lot.” Han is happy with these changes and proudly affirms, “I am sure Holstein International did a good job to speed up this process!”

Han Hopman has captured some of the most iconic images in the dairy industry. Including this shot of the great Harvue Roy Frosty.

Genomics Isn’t a ‘Point and Shoot’ Solution

Han urges caution when incorporating new and exciting changes such as the ones coming about with Genomics. He advises. “Genomics is a good tool for a breeder. But only a few parts are known.” It is the unknown that concerns him. “What is the influence of linking genes? We don’t know yet but we act as if we know everything about it.” He has concerns for the future. “We have to take care that we do not destroy our breed by using genomic bulls on daughters of genomic bulls who don’t have a daughter-proof yet. It is a pity if we destroy what breeders like Pete Heffering, Frank Reagan and others like them have built up for us.” The worst case scenario for Han would be, “Mating purely on genomics (because that) has nothing to do with breeding any more. It is multiplying the ‘highest bull with the highest heifer’. A pity.”

Always catching the moment this is a great teamwork shot by Han Hopman.

The “BIG” Picture is Changing Focus

Han anticipates that other changes will also be coming into view. “In the long run I think that small farms cannot survive and that there will be more and bigger farms.” These evolving changes will be impacted by many other things as Han points out “Land will be expensive and also the costs of transporting food will increase.” He foresees major changes ahead for the cows he loves.  “Genetics technology will have a big influence on our Holstein population. Genomics in the future will have more and more reliability. If that is true, then you will see a larger difference between farms who have cows to produce milk and farms who produce the animals for the next generation. So the whole set up of the industry will change when genomics becomes more reliable.”

Han Hopman’s great passion is catching dairy cattle in their natural state.

Shooting Stars – Naturally

From the very beginning Han has enjoyed taking pictures of cows in a natural setting. “I started as a side shot photographer but my passion is to picture them as relaxed as possible. It is nice to make a natural shot of a cow. To picture her in a way that you can see from the picture that she is happy or at least fully herself. If you can catch that moment, it gives me a happy feeling. And it is nice that I have my own magazine, which is a beautiful podium to publish these kinds of pictures.”

Han Hopman always get’s his shot including this one of Eastside Lewisdale Goldwyn Missy & RF Goldwyn Hailey, Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion at Royal Winter Fair 2011.

You Only Love Once – Get It on Film

Han loves his work and has advice for others. “Do what you like and love. You only live once! I loved cows as a child and got homesick when I wasn’t with them. Now I have the best job in the world. I have my own cow magazine and travel a lot around the world to visit the most important herds of the world and see the most beautiful cows.”

Han Hopman pictured To-Mar Blackstar pictured a few weeks before Blackstar died.

Han Hopman pictured To-Mar Blackstar pictured a few weeks before Blackstar died.

Photographic memory: Once More with Feeling

Such enthusiasm and dedication has undoubtedly produced a huge portfolio of images. Han has an evolving list of favorites.  He says, “For a long time it was the picture of Blackstar. I pictured him a few weeks before he died in his box. He was my first important American bull that I pictured. I was so proud that I got the opportunity to do that. Charley Will from Select Sires made it happen for me and I am still thankful for that.” New pictures are always rising up his list. “At the moment it is the picture of Planet. In the picture you can see who he is. And such an important bull at the moment!” Han speaks emotionally of a picture he took last year at Omaha Beach. “Just a cow with a beautiful girl. It was the place where D-day started and you could still feel the atmosphere of the awful things that happened there. So many young people killed. The picture is very serene. And the interaction between the woman and the cow was so special. It looks as if they are alone in the world.  A great moment which I never will forget!”

Omaha Beach

The Bullvine Bottom Line: Aim High

Han has discovered much wisdom from his chosen breed and chosen career. “There are so many small lessons I have learned through the years. The biggest one is that it is better to cooperate with your competitors than to compete with them.” That’s a lesson we can all benefit from. However Han feels his greatest life lessons are owed to his friend. “Jan Bierma, taught me what friendship means and from him I learned the passion to make a magazine.”  As they head into their third successful decade, we thank Han for sharing with the Bullvine.  “All the best as you continue to aim HI.”


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Why the Future of the North American Dairy Industry Depends On Supply And Demand

With the recent announcements about both Canada and the US entering significant trade negotiations with the European Union (EU), there has been a great deal of discussion by breeders on both sides of the border about what this means to the future of the North American Dairy Industry (Read more:  A Nation Held Hostage By Dairy Cows and Dairy Groups Welcome Launch of U.S.-EU Negotiations).  One thing I learned in my microeconomics class is that in any competitive marketplace the price is determined by supply and demand.   As we enter into a more competitive global marketplace there is no question that the dairy industry will  depend on this economic model to determine its future.

The Future of Supply Management

It’s really pretty simple. In any industry you need a buyer and a seller.  If you have more buyers (demand) than you do sellers (supply) the price goes up.  If you have more sellers than you do buyers then price goes down.  Well, unless you are in Canada, where there is supply management and then that is  a completely different story.  In Canada the 12,700 dairy farms have been protected from this economic model because of the supply management system. It  blocks foreign competition from coming into Canada by placing elevated tariffs on milk and milk products thus making it impossible for imports to compete. Only about 5% of the Canadian dairy marketplace is supplied by imported products.  It has also controlled the level of production domestically (Quota) so that there is not an oversupply in the marketplace. This protects the price of milk so that dairy producers in Canada have been able to enjoy a stable milk price and consistent predictable revenue.

The challenge with this is that the world is very quickly moving to a global marketplace.  In addition, one of the global requirements is that there is “fair” and equal trade in all industries.  This means that systems like supply management are being removed in many countries and certainly are key issues in international trade negotiations.  Many Canadian producers have millions of dollars tied up in quota. Compare this to the $12 billion a year trade negotiations Canada is having with the EU and you can see why there is concern about  the future of supply management.  While I totally can see the benefits to Canadian farmers from the system, you simply cannot deny the benefits of world trade to the whole country. Hence you can see why these programs are severely at risk.

Canadian dairy farmers simply need to look south of the border to see what life without supply management is like.  Dairy operations have to operate very differently when sale price and production is not set by a managed system.  There you are forced to run your farm more like a corporate organization, with detailed analysis of profit and loss and all decisions dependent on the effect it will have on the bottom line instead of on emotion.  Yes it makes dairy farming more of a business than a way of life, but that is the future. The other is the past.

It also means that the marketplace will determine who stays in business and who goes under.  If there is an over production of milk, milk price will go down.  Those organizations that are having challenges will go under.  It’s simple business.  Run a good business you will succeed. Run a poor business and you will fail.  Notice how I said business and not farm.   Dairy farmers have to start looking at things differently.  Dairy farmers need to be business persons first and farmers second.  This could be a  change that many farmers are not able to make.

Demand the Other Side of the Equation

The  second part that I learned in my long and boring microeconomics class is that if you want to increase milk price and cannot decrease supply, then you need to increase demand.  According to estimates, the world population is set to reach 9.3 billion by 2100.  Much of this growth is set to come from countries like China, South America and Africa.  Very impressive numbers for sure, but let’s look at milk consumption in those regions.  China averages 28.7 kg/capita/year, most African countries average less than 50 kg/capita/year, and most South American countries average around 100 kg/capita/year.  That is nowhere near the 253.8 kg/capita/year that Americans consume, 206.83 kg/capita/year for Canadians and over 225 kg/capita/year for most EU countries.
Current Worldwide Total Milk Consumption per capita

Therefore, if population growth alone is not going to help significantly increase demand for dairy products, we then need to look at how milk and dairy products compete for market share.  As we highlighted in our recent article, Milk Marketing: How “Got Milk?” became “Got Lost”, the land of milk and money is gone.  As an industry we  forgot about the consumer, we  forgot about the product, and we forgot how to innovate!

demand variety

A simple trip to the local grocery store reveals that while products like organic foods, international foods and soft drinks are always innovating and battling for market share. Milk, for the most part, has not done anything.  Look at these pictures that show the amount of shelf space (key in driving sales) these other products have compared to milk.  We can no longer rest on our milk stools.  We have to compete for the marketplace with all the old beverages … and countless innovative new ones.  That may seem to be a daunting task but it can no longer be ignored!

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The world is changing, old systems and production models are being eliminated and new ones are being established daily.  Those that sit and try to battle to keep the old will be left behind.  We need to look to the future instead of fighting for the past.  Consumer demand is the most serious issue impacting  the future of the dairy industry.  We need to understand what the consumer wants instead of fighting for what we used to have. If you want to be part of the future, think about SUPPLY and DEMAND. There are good reasons why it is NOT called The Law of Supply and PROTECT!!


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RAELAND LEDUC WILHELMINA: 2012 Canadain Cow of the Year Nominee

The story of RAELAND LEDUC WILHELMINA’s Excellent Adventure began in Ontario where she was bred and owned by Rae and Concetta Stadder of Raeland Holsteins. They enthusiastically believed in improving genetics and made the sire choices that laid the groundwork that would come to fruition for Wilhelmina more than 2000 miles to the west at RockyMountain Holsteins of Alberta.



In true Cinderella story fashion, the family behind Wilhelmina started at the commercial level. Her dam was RAELAND R MARKER WINNIE VG 87 2*, followed by VG85 and a VG85 2*. With each succeeding generation the family got better due to breeding for conformation.  Her entire Sire Stack is at least Superior Type: Leduc x Red Marker x Lincoln x Unique x Ned.

Beautiful Wilhelmina, as a yearling heifer, attracted attention and soon she was off to the west to become a great show cow.

Goldwyn-ing Ways

If Wilhelmina is the Cinderella of this fairy tale, then Goldwyn is Prince Charming. To date there are nine Goldwyn daughters with seven in lactation classifying EX94, VG89, VG88 (2 yr), 2 VG86 (2yr) and 2 GP (2yr).  It’s not too surprising that Wilhelmina would have show ring successes in 2011-2012 seeing that she carries frame and capacity and Goldwyn added the udder and refinement.



Wilhelmina’s Significant Udder

Right from the start Wilhelmina’s type placed her in the top 1% of first lactation cows. By the time she was in her fourth lactation, Wilhelmina was in the top 0.1%!  Here’s how she did it:

1st Lactation  (106 days in milk)       VG85                    Mammary System VG85

2nd Lactation (152 days in milk)       VG89 max            Mammary System EX90

3rd Lactation (19 days in milk)           EX92 max            Mammary System EX90

4th lactation  2E

While type is what has distinguished Wilhelmina, her production ability should not be ignored. She grew into a great production cow as well.  Her two Superior Lactation records stand out.  Her three year old record (305D) was 13,135 kgs with 4.7% Fat and 3.2% Protein.  Then at four years of age she produced (305D) 15,746 kgs with 4.7% Fat and 3.2% Protein.  In four lactations she produced 5,975 pounds of butterfat. Wilhelmina’s production records, especially for butterfat, put her at the top for Red Carriers and cows nominated for “Cow of the Year”.

Wilhelmina Sends the Family to Make History at the Royal 2012 Ball

Years of observation and experience, would lead any judicious cattle fan to conclude that one cow cannot produce a winning Breeder’s Herd all on her own. Especially at a show of the quality of The Royal. At least, that’s what you would have said until November 2012. The RockyMountain Breeder’s herd that was 5th at the Royal Winter Fair 2012 and was nominated for All-Canadian was made up of 3 milking Goldwyn daughters of Wilhelmina.  This was the first time in the history of the Royal and All-Canadian contest that 3 full sisters made up a Breeder’s Herd.

Wilhelmina daughters part of the Rocky Mountain breeders herd at the 2012 RAWF

Wilhelmina’s three Goldwyn daughters RockyMountain breeders herd at the 2012 RAWF

Wilhelmina`s Daughters are True to Type

As a brood cow Wilhelmina really shines.  Her sixteen daughters, none over 6 years of age, score 63% Very Good or better and 50% VG 86 or better. No wonder she is a Five Star Brood Cow. There are 8 more that were born in 2011 and 2012 sired by Fever, Goldwyn, Atwood, Braxton and Dempsey.  Her daughter popularity has seen 24 of her daughters owned in 21 herds.


3RD JR.2-YR ROYAL 2012

Some are already making their presence felt.

  • Rocky Mountain Gold Winter Ex94 was nominated All-Canadian Senior 3 Year Old 2011.
  • Rocky Mountain Gold Wishes VG89 2yr was Intermediate Champion at Quebec Spring Show 2012.
  • Rocky Mountain Goldwyn Winnie VG88 2yr was 3rd Junior 2 Year Old and Best Udder in Class at the 2012 Royal and was nominated for All-Canadian.

Internationally, another Goldwyn daughter of Wilhelmina was Junior Champion at the Northern Expo and Champion Calf at the Lancashire Calf Show in 2012 in the UK.



Happily Ever After

From relative obscurity to international recognition, Wilhelmina has garnered attention as a winning example of a show matriarch.  Her consistent transmitting qualities are the magic wand that will guarantee that Wilhelmina`s influence is felt in breeding programs both near and far. Many look forward to happy-ever-after results from 2012 Canadian Cow of the Year Nominee, Raeland Leduc Wilhelmina EX 92 2E.

Make Your Vote Count

Over the next few days we will be profiling the nominees and encourage you to get your vote in before the deadline.  There are 4 ways of voting— Voting options for Holstein Canada members include mail in ballot; faxing your ballot; emailing your vote to; or voting online through your Holstein Canada account. Also share this on Facebook to make sure your fellow breeders get out and vote.


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GEN-I-BEQ SHOTTLE BARBI: 2012 Canadian Cow of the Year Nominee

Bred and owned by Syndicate Gen-I-Beq, GEN-I-BEQ SHOTTLE BARBI EX-92-CAN 5* takes the spotlight to reveal the complete package of pedigree, performance and type.  She fulfils the pedigree behind her, has excelled in her own right and she has produced progeny that are high achievers as well.


Potential 3rd Generation Canadian Cow of the Year


Barbie’s sire stack, Shottle x Champion x Storm x Grand x Aerostar, is without question one that is highly balanced and pleasing to the most discerning of breeders.  Barbie’s sire, Picston Shottle, is famous for producing daughters that are the balanced Canadian kind of cow.  His credits do not stop there however.  Shottle has produced many highly proven sons in many countries.

On the maternal side, Barbi ensures the continued success of a deep and prolific Gypsy Grand cow family.  Her dam is the solid 4 Star Brood Cow, Gen-I-Beq Champion Bambi Ex 90, whose daughters include 1 EX, 6 VG, 3 GP and 1 G daughter.  Two of her daughters are multiple star Brood Cows.


Full sister to dam of Barbi

Behind Bambi is Barbi’s second dam, 33 Star Baler Twine, 2007 Cow of the Year, 2008 Global Cow and the dam of Goldwyn! (Read more: Durham vs. Goldwyn: A Clash of the Titans and  Braedale Goldwyn: Is he the greatest type sire ever?) Baler Twine also has two other Extra sons!!


Holstein Canada Cow of the Year – 2007
2nd dam of Barbi

Of course, Barbi’s next dam is none other than Gypsy Grand 37*, the foundation of this great family. She has no less than five extra sons

In the four generations immediately behind Barbi, every sire is Extra or Gold Metal and the dams on her female side have earned 112 Stars.  That in itself is amazing!


Barbi has earned 1 Superior Lactation Award, is high in components and in three lactations has produced as follows:

2-00  (305D)    11,602 kgs  4.3%F   3.4%P
4-11  (305D)       12,917 kgs  4.5%F   3.5%P
6-06 (305D)        13,520  kgs  4.7%F  3.4%P
3 lactations  45,283 kgs 4.5%F  3.5%P BCA’s 268-324-292 +9 +55 +36

Her Mammary System is Barbi’s strong point in her conformation.

1st Lactation  (59 days in milk)            VG87                     Mammary System VG88
2nd Lactation (61 days in milk)              VG88                    Mammary System EX91
3rd Lactation (112 days in milk)   EX92                              Mammary System EX95


In addition to the previously mentioned 1 Superior Lactation Award, Barbi has placed well on the gLPI cow listing.  In fact in August 2009 Barbi was #13 with a gLPI of +2832.

Currently daughter Bibi (Man-O-Man) is the #21 gLPI cow excelling in fat, protein, components and conformation (Read more: Man-O-Man Will He Turn Platinum?).  Daughter Bellita (Man-O-Man) is the #51 gLPI cow. But it does not stop there.


Man-O-Man from Barbi
#21 gLPI Cow in Canada

Granddaughters Bermuda (Snowman x Bibi) has a DGV gLPI +3862 and Bindy (Lexor x Bibi) has a DGV gLPI +3152.  The Barbi family is putting up the numbers!

GENERATION NEXT:  Barbi’s Sons and Daughters

Barbi follows in the footsteps of her model forebears/ the model brood cows ahead of her.

She has produced 52 registered offspring: 29 heifers and 23 bulls. Barbi’s embryos have sold around the world and she has daughters in Germany, Italy, USA, France and Argentina.

Her offspring follow Barbi’s pattern excelling in both type and production. Four daughters are classified Very Good, 10 Good Plus and 1 Good. Her daughters’ first lactation performances in Canada include:

Berthe    (Baxter)   VG 87   2-01 (305D)   11,068 kgs     4.3%F    3.3%P

Britany  (Baxter)             VG87    2-01 (305D)   13,548 kgs     4.3%F   3.1%P

Bibi       (Man-O-Man)    VG86    2-03 (305D)   13,705 kgs     4.1%F   3.4%P


Barbi’s Baxter Daughter
Full sister to BRAWLER

Berthe and Britany are full sisters to Brawler and AltaBuzzer. Bibi is the dam of the #1 Fat and Protein heifer in the world.


Barbi has 8 sons in Canadian AI studs. Two are proven and six are awaiting proofs.

Barbi has a son, Brawler, who received his first official proof in August 2012 and immediately was designated as Class Extra coming in at #1 Canadian proven LPI sire at +2368 (Read more: A Closer Look at the August 2012 New Release Sires).


Barbi’s Baxter Son
Former #1 gLPI sire in Canada

He had very good genomic numbers, even though he was sampled before genomics was on the scene.  Brawler has been used as a sire of sons by many AI organizations. Not far behind Brawler, is his full brother AltaBuzzer gLPI +2148.


Investing in Barbi has provided good return on investment. Sales results from the 2012 Genetics By Design Sale show that Barbi daughter Bibi sold for $83,000 and Bibi daughters had great sales:  $124,000 (Oconnors Snowman Bermuda – DGV LPI +3862); $44,000 (choice female by Ladd P from Bibi) and $18,000 (Mapel Wood Epic Believe in ME – DGV LPI +3107). (Read more: Genetics By Design – Crosses the $4,000,000 Mark)


Barbie will have global influence through both her sons and her daughters.  The family produces progeny with high genomic numbers and comes through with high sire proofs, high cow indexes and solid performance in the barn.  Barbi`s family are the kind that every breeder wants to milk!

Make Your Vote Count

Over the next few days we will be profiling the nominees and encourage you to get your vote in before the deadline.  There are 4 ways of voting— Voting options for Holstein Canada members include mail in ballot; faxing your ballot; emailing your vote to; or voting online through your Holstein Canada account. Also share this on Facebook to make sure your fellow breeders get out and vote.


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EASTSIDE LEWISDALE GOLD MISSY: 2012 Canadian Cow of the Year Nominee

Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy EX 95 bred by the Thompsons and Lewis’s of Eastside and Lewisdale was bought 3 weeks prior to freshening on April 01, 2008 by Morsan Farms Ltd. Ponoka, Alberta from Frizzells Valleyville Farm Inc., Hunter River, PEI. Valleyville had purchased Missy as an embryo (Read more: Morsan Farms – Money Well Spent and Eastside Holsteins- Where Modern Marketing Rises to the Challenge). Missy has had a dominant career in the North American show ring. She and her offspring are moving the Holstein breeding industry forward. In 2009, Missy sold for $1.2 million in the Road to the Royal Sale.



Missy’s Gold Bearing Pedigree

Missy expresses the best that can be derived from her sire stack of Goldwyn x Outside x Progress x Southwind x He-Man. She has dairy strength, production and show ring prowess. Of course, she sparkles with that pure vein of gold derived from Braedale Goldwyn  Extra ’05 and Gold Metal ’12 (USA). Missy also has the example set by her dam Stadacona Outside Abel VG 88 who hits all the right numbers too (Read more: Stadacona Outside Abel: 2011 Canadian Cow of the Year Nominee) .  With 1 Superior Lactation and 29* on 35 milking daughters,  Abel has produced 5 EX and 28 Very Good daughters and was Honorable Mention All-Atlantic Intermediate Yearling in 2001. Missy has 7 VG full sisters. 3 EX Champion sisters and 3 full sisters yet to calve (Read more: You Can Bank on Amaze to Pump Up the Volume).

STADACONA OUTSIDE ABEL VG-88-4YR-CAN      29* 2011 Canadian Cow of the Year Finalist Dam of Missy

2011 Canadian Cow of the Year Finalist
Dam of Missy

Missy Is ALL Gold in the Show Ring Too

It seems like Missy has won everything. The following is the long list of show accomplishments that have made Missy a household name in show circles (Read more: Do All-Canadian Heifers Make All-Canadian Cows?).  Note that there are no less than seven major titles.

  • All-Atlantic 4H Jr Yr – 2007
  • All-Can  Jr 2 yr – 2008
  • All-American Jr 2 yr – 2008
  • All-American Jr 3 yr – 2009
  • All-Can 5 yr – 2011
  • All-American 5 yr – 2011
  • Supreme Champ WDE & Royal  2011

Missy Madison 2011

The plan is for Missy to continue writing her story in the show ring. She is due to calve in April 2013 (at 7-00 years) and hopefully will be back on the fall show circuit this year.

Missy Is Setting the Gold Standards

Only the best will do for Missy.  When it comes to posting conformation scores, during her 1st lactation (152 days in milk) she received VG89 and Mammary System VG 89. Both maximum scores possible! During Missy’s 3rd lactation (82 days in milk) she scored EX 95.

Missy’s production records are also sky high.  Missy has 1 Super3 and 3 Superior Lactation Awards.
2-00  (305D)        10,673 kgs  4.5%F   3.2%P
3-01  (305D)    14,331 kgs  4.4%F   3.2%P
5-00 (305D)      16,208  kgs  4.2%F  3.2%P
3 lactations  48,379 kgs 4.4%F  3.3%P  BCA’s 306-363-310 +58 +114 +62

On the Canadian gLPI Cow List, Missy has been as high as #86 gLPI cow.

Daughters of the Divine Miss “M”

In Missy`s biography the “M” will stand for mother.  A star in her own right, this famous mother has produced 52 fabulous daughters. Imagine the impact they will have as they take their turns in front of the classifier.  One daughter is in Germany and the remaining 51 are in North America: 15 were born in 2012 and 27 were born in 2011. Five daughters are VG 2 year olds (none lower) with four of these sired by Man-O-Man. Obviously the daughters are as eye-catching as their role model mother.

Missy’s oldest daughter, Valleyville Dolman Missy VG89, is just completing her second Superior Lactation. An interesting fact is that four of Missy’s five lactating daughters are currently projected to be making Superior Lactations. Missy’s highest gLPI daughter is a Numero Uno daughter, Morsan Miss Alined.  She has 2425 gTPI and +3061 DGV PA gLPI with +16 for Conformation (Read more: Does Genomics Belong in the Show Ring?).

Some of the more popular mates in producing Missy daughters have been – Damion (9), Hero (7), Numero Uno (6), Man-O-Man (5), Sid (4), Snowman (4) and Shamrock (4).

MORSAN MISS CONGENIALITY VG-86-2YR-CAN Man-O-Man daughter of Missy

Man-O-Man daughter of Missy

Missy daughters are in demand at sales. In 2011 eighteen daughters changed ownership and in 2012, twelve went to new homes. Everyone wants a Missy!!!

Far and Near Missy Sons

Missy’s transmitting power is expected to continue with her sons. To date, her sons haven’t embarked on their proven careers. Seven sons are in AI by Man-O-Man, Showman, Shamrock and Shottle. Her highest PA gLPI son (+2818), sired by Man-O-Man, is in Germany. Her highest DGV PA gCONF son (+15), Morsan MR Snow Business (Snowman) is currently in his sampling period. Obviously, the Missy lineup is rapidly expanding and marked for success.

Missy Leads the Way to a Gold Mine

Missy is a definite hit! Dominant in the North American show ring, Missy has fulfilled her great pedigree, performed at the highest levels and is set to transmit both production and conformation to her progeny. Clearly Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy, 2012 Canadian Cow of the Year Nominee, is ready to go for the gold!

Make Your Vote Count

Over the next few days we will be profiling the nominees and encourage you to get your vote in before the deadline.  There are 4 ways of voting— Voting options for Holstein Canada members include mail in ballot; faxing your ballot; emailing your vote to; or voting online through your Holstein Canada account. Also share this on Facebook to make sure your fellow breeders get out and vote.


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COMESTAR GOLDWYN LILAC: 2012 Canadian Cow of the Year Nominee

“It was a very good year.” can be the opening lyrics for a song or the lyrical description of a remarkable year in the life of Comestar Goldwyn Lilac.  In 2012 Lilac had daughters and granddaughters command high prices at sales.  Her progeny became list toppers during the year.  Owned by Genervations Inc., Mapel Wood Farms and O’Connor Land & Cattle Co., of Jerseyville, Ontario, Lilac was flushed in 2012 to add polled and red to the family.  On all sides she expressed what a complete cow she had become:  pedigree + performance + progeny. As her owners confirmed, “Lilac, from the Lila Z family, was great to work with in developing and marketing elite genetics.”



There are Many High Lights in Lilac’s Pedigree

An amazing year doesn’t happen just out of the blue it has to be supported by a great foundation. The sires behind Lilac read like a who’s who of highly proven, well-respected sires:  Goldwyn x Durham x Formation x Starbuck x Astro Jet.  Now that is a formula for success! And that’s just the sire side. High is more than just a word commonly used with Goldwyn who has high scoring, high producing and high genomic sons and daughters.  He has re-written the book on daughters winning at shows.

Let’s take a look back at Lilac’s dam and you face the dazzling resume of Lylehaven Lila Z  EX-94, 9* (Read more: LYLEHAVEN LILA Z – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist) .  She, herself, has two generations of EX 94 cows with high production preceding her. The Million Dollar Cow was living at Comestar, when she was flushed to Goldwyn to produce several full Goldwyn sisters, including Lilac (Read more: Lylehaven Lila Z : Was She Really Worth $1.15 Million?). They all carry high type, high production and high index. Like Lilac the other daughters have also placed bulls in A.I. and have had global demand for their embryos. Now Lilac carries on the strong transmitting potential she got from this great pedigree.


Dam of Lilac
1ST JR.2-YR ROYAL 2004

The Limelight Loves Lilac

“It never rains but it pours” could be applied to the showers of accolades that fell on Lilac in 2012. Not only was she in the top four for 2012 Cow of the Year but she topped a field of six finalists, Comestar Goldwyn Lilac was named Holstein World’s Favorite Goldwyn Daughter.

Lilac Blooms in the Spotlight

Even though 2012 was a peak year for Lilac, it merely marked the next step on a path filled with a considerable list of achievements. Over two lactations Lilac produced 53,569 kgs at 4.6% Fat and 3.6% protein.  She has garnered two superior lactation awards with records of 2-03  (305D)   14,556 kgs  4.6%F   3.7%P and 4-06  (305D)    19,612 kgs  4.6%F   3.4%P.  In addition in 2008, Lilac was named All-Ontario Senior 2 year old and in her second lactation lit up with a VG89 classification score – the maximum possible. Lilac has been competitive on the index list as well.  She has placed as high as #6 LPI cow but, even more amazing, is that she has placed in the top 16 on the LPI list no less than 9 consecutive times.  That’s blooming great no matter how you look at it.

OCONNORS PLANET LUCIA VG-86-2YR-CAN Daughter of Lilac #1 LPI Cow in Canada

Daughter of Lilac
#1 LPI Cow in Canada

Shining Lilac Reflects on her Neon Offspring

This is one family whose reputation has only been enhanced with the arrival of genomics. Lilac’s high indexing sons and daughters are set to follow in her red-carpet footsteps. Her daughters’ star power stands at 3 stars led by Lucia and Lucy.  She has 17 classified daughters: 13 Very Good and 4 Good Plus. Nothing lower!  Taking a closer look at Planet daughter Lucia, we see she was the #1 LPI Cow in August and December 2012. Lilac’s MOM daughter, Lucy, is her highest DVG LPI daughter. Another special note is that Lilac’s Brewmaster daughter Lauren 3210 DVG LPI has an unheard of +1.15% Fat and 0.40% Protein.

MAPEL WOOD M O M LUCY GP-84-2YR-CAN Lilac's highest DGV daughter by Man-O-Man

Lilac’s highest DGV daughter by Man-O-Man

No doubt this seemingly magical transmitting ability will continue with her sons who are too young yet for official proofs. Having said that Lexor was once the #1 PA gLPI Bull and Latimer (Freddie) has been high on the PA gTPI Bull List. As well as her grandsons Willpower, Liquid Gold, Fuzion and Gizmo also topping the lists (Read more: $750 Dollar Semen! Are You Crazy?)

Lilac Also Transmits the Scent of Money

Lilac’s daughter, Lucia, sold for $410,000 in the Genetics By Design Sale. She and her progeny sold for more than $2.1 Million in that November 2012 sale (Read more:Genetics by Design – Crosses the $4,000,000 Mark).  Lucy had a Sudan daughter sell for over $150,000 in 2012 at the International Intrigue Sale, as well as selling for $77,000 herself in the Genetics by Design Sale. All told, Lilac’s family accounted for approximately 66% of the Genetics By Design Sale’s total! As well, son Lexor had many high selling daughters in the November 2012 sales.

BAXTER LILAC Z VG-88-2YR Baxter Daughter of Lilac in Germany

Baxter Daughter of Lilac in The Netherlands

Lilac’s Growing Legacy

With the tremendous highs of 2012, came the ultimate heartbreak.  In July, Lilac suddenly died. Nevertheless, Lilac and the family around her, are in high demand whether for females or semen from sons. The impact of the Lilac family is spreading through numerous herds in many countries. One such daughter is Baxter Lilac Z VG-88-2yr owned by  Soureth Holsteins in The Netherlands.  Now other breeders will enjoy the sweet smell of success from 2012 Cow of the Year Nominee Comestar Goldwyn Lilac.

Make Your Vote Count

Over the next few days we will be profiling the nominees and encourage you to get your vote in before the deadline.  There are 4 ways of voting— Voting options for Holstein Canada members include mail in ballot; faxing your ballot; emailing your vote to; or voting online through your Holstein Canada account. Also share this on Facebook to make sure your fellow breeders get out and vote.


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The fakebook – Our Secret is Exposed

For those who don’t understand social media, which tends to be the gray-haired generation, they like to say that Facebook is just a bunch of college kids spouting off about things that don’t apply to them.  Furthermore, many say that there is no need to get involved in social media because it’s not where the “buyers” are.  In actual fact, both statements could not be further from the truth.  The first thing breeders need to understand about Facebook and the other social media platforms is that they are simply stories.  Instead of breeders sharing stories in the milk house, or at ringside, they are happening online.  It’s that change of location that is the first hurdle.  Many are afraid of change.  It is easier to pan it and accuse Facebook of being a fake than it is to adjust to the change.

There`s an even bigger difference.  Instead of  it being a one on one chat in your barn with a few people discussing  who is the greatest show cow  of all time (Read more: The 8 Greatest North American Show Cows of All-Time and Who would you vote for as the greatest Holstein show cow of All-Time?) or the best type sire ever (Read more: Braedale Goldwyn: Is he the greatest type sire ever?  and Who would you vote for as the greatest type sire ever?)  now it is  happening online with thousands from around the world.  This allows all breeders to tell their story to thousands of people, cheaper, and easier than ever before.

It’s all about telling a Story

Before Facebook, to get your story out there you needed to be fortunate enough to get one of the major print publications to do an article about your farm.  Or you had to spend thousands in advertising to get your message out there.  With tools like Facebook breeders can tell their story at relatively no cost to thousands of potential customers.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Are there really thousands of dairy breeders online?”  The answer is “Yes.  Yes. Yes.”.  Despite the fact that some publications like to buy followers from nondairy markets in order to pad their numbers, there really are breeders who are having amazing conversations online.

Facebook competitor

Take for example the recent Breeder’s Choice Awards from the Bullvine (Read more: The Winners of the 2012 Breeder’s Choice Awards are…).  In a one-week period we had over 3,000 Dairy Breeders cast more than 8,000 votes.  Now I know the next comment will be that those are a bunch of college kids.  Well actually our Facebook page reports that 50% are over the age of 25.  Moreover, 31.6% of our followers are male over the age of 25.  That’s 2897 followers that are male over the age of 25.  That’s more than most dairy publications readership, male or female, any age. So they are not only college kids.  In fact I have conversations with dairy breeders of all ages.  Breeders who you would never have thought would spend so much time online, are actually following the conversation.  In fact our Facebook page reaches over 125,000 people on a weekly basis.  That is more than the COMBINED total subscribership of the major dairy breeder print publications in the world!

The Bullvine likes demographics

Think about that for a minute. On Facebook you can reach more people at next to no cost, than you can reach offline even when you’re spending thousands of dollars.  Why is that?  Well it’s simple, Facebook is today’s most effective tool for finding entertainment and information.  How you ask?  It’s simple.  In your Facebook stream your friends comment, share and like photos, articles, videos or other types of content.  By doing so, people who have similar interests to you (your Facebook friends) are in effect narrowing down all the content that is out there in the world, to what you’re most likely to want to read or watch.

social proofFor us here at the Bullvine Facebook has been one of the greatest sources for finding new readers.  One of our current subscribers reads something on our website, finds it interesting enough to share it or make a comment about it on Facebook, and then their friends come to the Bullvine and read it as well.  That is why you find many of our articles having hundreds of shares on Facebook, instead of donuts like the other online publications.  We don’t only publish all the same boring new releases that every other publication puts out, but rather, on a daily basis, we are producing thought provoking original content.  Instead of just bragging that we get thousands of visitors to a website a day, we have the trackable social proof from Facebook that people are engaging in our community.  Moreover, it’s the reason many breeders, who don’t always agree with us, keep coming back to the Bullvine.  Think about it, over the past year, what articles, events or content has driven the most conversation?  You don’t need to be told where the conversation is at. As a dairy breeder you are part of the conversation and already know where it`s going on.

So how does this apply to the average breeder?

It’s really pretty simple.  Set up your own Facebook page or a Facebook Fan page for your farm.  Tell your story.  Did you have a great classification round and want to let the world know?  Share it on Facebook.  Had a great flush and want to sell the embryos from it?  Share it on Facebook.  Your friends will spread the word and before you know it, you too will start to have a loyal following.


A few things to remember.  Just like that first date with that hot dairy princess, it will go better if you don’t make it all about you.  On our Facebook page we make sure for every story we share of ours, we share someone else’s story.  That is one of the major reasons many breeders check out our feed on a daily basis.  We are sharing content that we find interesting as a dairy breeder and, as a result, other dairy breeders typically find it interesting as well.  That is also why almost 70% of the breeders who follow our page share, like or comment on the information and entertainment we are sharing on a weekly basis.  Now 70% sounds like a big number and it is. On a weekly basis that is over 6000 people engaging in the conversation, that is almost 3 times as many as any other publication.  The thing that these other publications don’t get is that instead of just sharing a pretty picture each day, we are sharing interesting articles from around the world.  We are asking questions.  We are joining the conversation.  That’s because we get it.  We are breeders first and love being part of the breeder community.  We are not trying to drive traffic to our website, so we can justify the high expense to advertise on our site.  We are joining in with and, often times, starting the conversation.


A great example of this is that recently we shared an advertisement from a sale manager for an upcoming sale.  We were impressed with their list of consignments, so we shared it with our readers.  That advertisement was seen by more people on our Facebook page, than in the major print publication that they had spent thousands of dollars on.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Now I know change can be hard.  And for those who have been successful through traditional methods, it can be even harder to adjust to these changes.  But the world has already changed. Either you adjust to live within or it will move on without you.  Facebook is not Fakebook.  It is real people, real stories and real connections.  If you don’t learn to leverage the power of it, the only thing that is going to be fake is the money in your wallet.



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



Edward Young Morwick – Country Roads to Law Office

Edward Young Morwick

Edward Young Morwick

Edward Young Morwick, author, cattle breeder and lawyer, was born in 1945 on the Holstein dairy farm of his father, Hugh G. Morwick. Impressions from those childhood days have had a tremendous impact on his journey through life. He recalls, “One of my first memories involves my mother carrying me in her arms down the aisle in front of the cows.  She would stop in front of each cow, and I would lean over and pat the cow on the muzzle.” This is a familiar beginning for many country boys but then the picture changes. “My father died when I was six years of age and my mother Jean went back to teaching school.” No doubt there were hard turns ahead, however, Edward’s connection to Holsteins had already been forged.  He clarifies the process. “I bought my first Holstein calf in 1953 when I was seven years of age.  I have owned Holsteins ever since, except for a period in the late 1960’s to mid-1970 when I was attending university and law school.”

It’s Relative To His Case

From a very early age, Edward was interested in the lineage of both cattle and family. The connections were strong ones. “My maternal grandfather was William Young who bred the Ingleneuk Holsteins at Alberton, Ontario.  He had one of the better Holstein farms of the era.  He sold a bull to Lady Eaton named Ingleneuk King Hengerveld.  Lady Eaton sold one of his daughters to Mrs. Edith Dilworth and she became the fifth dam in the maternal line of Osborndale Ivanhoe.”

Morwick’s uncle, James R. Henderson of Strathaven Farm in Kingston, Ontario made significant contributions to cattle breeding as is noted in Edward’s book, “The Chosen Breed.” Edward expands on the list of achievements of this well-respected cattle Judge and Master Breeder. “Uncle Jim bred Strathaven Top Grade, the sire of Glenvue Nettie Jemima (EX-13*).  He also bred Inka Supreme Reflection, who was a Rosafe herd sire.  “Nettie Jemima” was dam of Rosafe Magician and Rosafe Citation R. who set records for siring All-American gets of sire.  Also, Inka Supreme Reflection is behind both Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief and Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation.” A wonderful resume pointed to with pride. “My Uncle Jim Henderson is one of the few Canadians who bred an animal in Elevation’s pedigree.  Also, he bred the sires of dams back in the tenth to twelfth generations of the pedigree of Braedale Goldwyn.”

And The Law Won

With such solid role models, you know there has to be a story to explain Edward’s choice of law as a career. “I ended up becoming a lawyer as follows:  I entered University of Guelph in 1968.  It was my intention to be a journalist.  My ultimate goal was to be a columnist on either the New York Times or Chicago Tribune.  In my second year at university, it became apparent that I would win the Gold Medal in English Literature.  At that point I received an invitation from Osgoode Hall Law School to enroll there, in spite of the fact that I had not completed my Bachelor of Arts.  When I entered Osgoode Hall in the fall of 1970 I was one of four students out of a beginning class of 306 who did not have a bachelor’s degree.

In my first year at law school, I ended up second in a class of 306.  That fact, plus my entire academic record at law school, led to my being hired by Fasken & Calvin, a Bay Street law firm in Toronto.”

Weighing the Pros and Cons

The story continues. “I chose a career in law in preference to one that would involve teaching English Literature at the high school or college level because I thought the practice of law would be much less restrictive and would give me an opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people.  Also, the practice of law requires a great deal of writing, which satisfied my compulsion to write. However, it was my wish to practise criminal law so I set up my own practise in Hamilton in February of 1975.  I started in Hamilton because it was close to my home at Jerseyville, and also was a “hot-bed” of crime, so I knew I would be busy.” One wonders if Mr. Morwick will pen a legal book at some point in the future.

Mount Victoria 600

Morwick’s book’s The Chosen Breed and  The Holstein History are must reads for those wanting to learn more about just who and how the North American Holstein breed has developed (Digital Painting of Mount Victoria Farms with Hanover Hill Starbuck standing in front)


Penned For Posterity

It took ten years for Edward to write the highly praised book “The Chosen Breed”. He uses very few words when referring to his inspiration. “The reasons I wrote The Chosen Breed and The Holstein History can be summed up in the words recognition, remembrance and gratitude.  Further, I love to write and I love the Holstein breed and the people who support it.” A wonderful opening statement which he expands on in the book itself.  Those who have read his writing go beyond the author’s reticence. Richard Keene, of Keeneland Farms in Gilbertsville, N.Y. exclaims, ““Wow!  What a great history.  Certainly an enjoyable must read for the real student of the breed.” Dallas Burton of Berryton, Kansas supports that motion. “Tremendous job.  Thank you for taking the time and the remarkable effort in accounting these 125 years of our history.” And Richard McNamara of Stratford sums it up saying “I’m surprised you could produce this book in only ten years with all that it takes to get it done.  Really enjoyed the human interest and humour.”

 Misty Springs Shottle Satin VG-86-2YR-CAN  former #1 GLPI Cow of the Breed

Misty Springs Shottle Satin VG-86-2YR-CAN
former #1 GLPI Cow of the Breed

A Jury of His Peers

“In dealing with the greatest sires in history, you need to focus on eras.” says Edward.  Before elaborating, he admits a personal favorite.  “One of my personal favorites is Picston Shottle as he sired my cow, Misty Springs Shottle Satin, who was No. 1 genotype cow when the designation was first introduced in 2009.” Having said that, he gives a brief for consideration. “The student should not ask ‘Who was the greater bull, Johanna Rag Apple Pabst or Hanoverhill Starbuck?’  Starbuck obviously sired offspring who were superior to those of J.R.A.P., but fifty years later.  The proper way to frame the question would be to ask ‘Was Starbuck as great and as influential a sire in his era as J.R.A.P. was in his?’  And the answer would be a resounding ‘No!’”. Lest the Jury be confused, lawyer Morwick presents his arguments. “In the early period, the great sires were Netherland Prince, Billy Boelyn, Mooie and Conqueror.  Come forward three decades to Sir Pietertje Ormsby Mercedes.  And after him came Pontiac Korndyke and Hengerveld DeKol.  In the 1920’s you had Johanna Rag Apple Pabst, one of the great sires of all-time, some say the greatest; and in the same period was Sir Bess Ormsby Fobes, who left remarkable sons.  And then there was Wisconsin Admiral Burke Lad and his descendant, Wis Burke Ideal.  Important bulls in the 1950’s were A.B.C. Reflection Sovereign and Osborndale Ivanhoe.  In the modern era, the most influential bulls were Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief and Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation.  Carlin-M Ivanhoe Bell also cast a broad influence, as did To-Mar Blackstar, Walkway Chief Mark, S-W-D Valiant and O-Bee Manfred Justice.  In the recent past, among the best bulls were Regancrest Elton Durham, Picston Shottle and Braedale Goldwyn.” The defense rests.

Raising The Bar

Are there actually role models for authors who are also lawyers? Edward says his were available early on. “In high school years I worked on the farm of my neighbor, Richard Schleissner, and also for Agro Brothers, doing the usual farm work and also helping to take out their show herds. The biggest influences on my life were the dairy farmers who lived in the community where I grew up, among whom I could name Douglas Lovering, Joe Loewith and Lloyd Hunter.  I worked for all of them.  They taught me the value of hard work.  None of them would undertake a job unless perfectly prepared to complete it to the very best of his ability.” This set the foundation which was built upon with Edward’s legal career. “In later years, the biggest influence on my life was Angelo Agro of Agro Bros. Ltd., for whom I acted as attorney for a period in excess of 20 years.  He taught me that you could be an honest businessman and still make a lot of money.  He was an extremely hard worker, a brilliant strategist and possibly the best judge of human character I ever knew.  Mr. Agro had the ability to talk for two or three minutes to a man he’d never met before, and he could pretty well tell you, quite accurately, what kind of man he was.” These are also excellent skills for a lawyer as well. It’s no surprise that his mentor also considered Edward to be exceptional.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It’s Bovine Legal  – Edward Y. Morwick has taken a one-of-a-kind journey from those visits to the barn as a baby.  He credits his mother with teaching him a key lesson, “She taught me very early on that a person can accomplish pretty well anything he sets his mind to, if he tries hard enough.” Edward has done that.  His legacy – book and bovine – will stand beyond a reasonable doubt!

To find out how you can get a copy of Edward’s latest book “The Holstein History” click here.


Genomics: Think Big Not Small

Even though we are still in the early stages of genomic indexes, certain trends are already apparent.  One issue that I have noticed is that too many breeders are using genomics to narrow down their sire usage to a few sires at the very top instead of using genomics to discover what sires not to use.  Everyone likes to look at the top of the list to see what sires hold their rankings, however, the real power of genomics is actually in pointing out what sires not to use.

While there is no question that genomics has changed the way we look at indexes, there is one major issue that we are all guilty of.  We focus only on those sires that are in the top 10 or so to make our sire selection decisions.

So let’s take a look at the current top 10 genomic sires and their TPI Scores:

  1. Supersire 2530
  2. Jabir 2515
  3. Numero Uno 2497
  4. Jacey 2493
  5. Predestine 2491
  6. Chevrolet 2490
  7. Hunger 2488
  8. Jetset 2484
  9. Balisto 2483
  10. Willpower 2476

You will notice that all these sires are within 54 TPI points of each other.  That is a difference of less than 2%.  The issue with this is that, according to CDN research, 95% of the time sires can vary by up to 20%,  when comparing their genomic index to their eventual daughter proven evaluations (Read more: The truth about genomic indexes – “Show Me” They Work!).  Applying  that to the current list of sires and instead of looking at the top 10 sires you would instead need to look at all sires within 20% of the top sire, Supersire.  Since Supersire is +2530 gPA TPI that means your short list would include all sires over 2000 TPI.  Instead of 10 sires this means looking at the 1000 current sires.

Furthermore, genomics is not as much about identifying the top few sires you should be using, as it is about identifying the sires you should not be using.  When you are looking at two full brothers and trying to decide which one to use or sample, if they are greater than 500 gTPI points apart you are better to use/sample the higher one.  Or, if you can only afford to sample one of them then genomics would be a strong indicator of which one to sample.  However, when they are much closer, genomics alone cannot make this decision with great accuracy.

For sires that are less than say 300 gTPI points apart you really cannot use their genomic total merit index numbers alone to make that mating decision.  You are better to make a short list of sires that are within the 300 TPI points and then look for the sire that is the best corrective mating on your animal.  Given how much sires change and how little difference there is in the top sires these days, you are far better making corrective mating your number one requirement and only using genomics to help determine your shortlist.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Genomics is only as good as the way it is used.  If we begin thinking that the top short list is the be all and end all for mating decisions, we start to muddy the waters.  You cannot use the top 10 gPA TPI sires alone for your mating programs.  Instead you are better to look at the top 1000 sires and find the sire that is the best corrective mating.

Everyone l points to the few select top genomic sires and then bemoans how much they change with each proof round and eventually to their daughter proof.  Genomics works best on the macro level and not at the micro level.  Due to current 65% reliabilities and a limited differential between top sires, a genomic total merit index cannot be relied upon for the final answer.  Genomics is a Macro level tool and not a Micro tool. If you are limiting your mating decisions to the top few sires, you are also limiting your genetic improvement program.

Think big.  Find the genomic sires that will deliver the specific improvements that your cows need!

The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


Not sure what all this hype about genomics is all about?

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

Download this free guide.




GARY SAUDER: The Muse in His Studio

Gary Sauder-picHave you seen any beautiful cows lately?  If you know of artist Gary Sauder you can quickly answer, “Yes!” Gary’s detailed paintings make you feel as if you are actually there viewing the animal on the farm or over a fence.  His chosen technique of super-realism reflects the pride he takes in accurate portrayals of the cattle who are his subjects. He goes beyond photographic to artistic and many clients feel that owning his work is very special. Alta Mae Core shares her experience. “We have had the privilege to work with Gary on several occasions.  The first being a pencil drawing of our farm favorite KCJF Regency Treasure.  Since then he has done numerous other paintings of several of our cows both past and present.  I think his extraordinary talent stems from his knowledge and passion for ‘cows’ in general.  When you combine that knowledge and passion with his god given gift, it is easy to see why his work is truly one of a kind.

Gary Sauder-Keightly Core Tryptich

Keightly Core

From Farming to Framing

Gary Sauder grew up showing registered Jersey cows from a small farm in Sonoma Country, California.  During his last 4-H year, he exhibited the Grand Champion Jersey at every show he entered, including the Jr. Grand National at the Cow Palace and the California State Fair.  At the same shows, he was the dairy showmanship champion as well as the Round Robin Master Showmanship Champion.  He earned the Paul Jackson Scholarship that same year.  After college, Gary took a position caring for and exhibiting cattle for then, Meadow Glen Farms of Orland California.  It was about this time that he made the exciting leap into the realm of painting.

Puttin on the Ritzy

Puttin on the Ritzy

A Love for All Things Bovine

Sauder’s work has been juried into many exhibitions.  He is resident artist at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts.  Gary loves capturing the beauty and character of the cows he paints but he has just as much passion and concern for the dairy breeders themselves and for the generations to come. While he finds it difficult to pick a favorite from his work he does rise to the challenge. “If I had to choose one it would be my painting “The Jersey Cow.” He explains his choice. “This painting was the culmination of my Jersey experiences throughout my life and brought into play elements of many of my favorite cows that I had seen and admired from afar, as well as having had the great fortune to work with. Cows like Generators Sweet Dreams, KCJF Regency Treasure, Huronia Centurion Veronica, Lloyn Jude Griffen, Generators Topsy, Generators Imp, and Sunset Canyon MBSB Anthem and cows like that.  After that I like the painting I did of my own cattle entitled “Jersey Fields” and that is for purely sentimental reasons.  The next few are all special and I like the newest one for Brady Core of “Ritzy” and I really like the painting of “Kit Kat” that I did for George Colpetzer.

Capturing the Ideal Bovine on Canvas

Gary is a perfectionist and renowned for his ultra-realistic portrayals that some people think are photos.  “I take that as a compliment” he says and adds, “Even though I am not trying to create a photo, I am trying to show how I see and how I want to communicate to the viewer.” Of course his photos are not done in Photoshop – “I don’t get the Photoshop question” – but he goes on to explain. “I do use Photoshop myself in order to help build compositions and correct colors for reproduction and Internet promotion. It is a valuable tool and I use it as such.”  Gary has produced five “ideal” cows in his artistic repertoire: Jersey; Holstein; Brown Swiss; Milking Shorthorn and Red & White.

Mentors From Both the Barn and the Gallery

Sunset Canyon MBSB Anthem drawing

Sunset Canyon MBSB Anthem drawing

Gary acknowledges that there are quite a few in the art world that have had an effect on him.  “Most of them are from the wildlife/animal art world and they include Carl Brenders, Terry Isaac, Leslie Harrison and the great portrait artist Daniel E. Greene.” On the dairy side, Gary feels that it was his great good fortune to grow up around “some of the giants in the industry.” His list has many familiar names. “Local dairymen such as Henry Lafranchi, George, Tom and Marvin Nunes, Jim Pappas, John McKitrick and Doug Maddox.” He goes on. “These men used to judge our local county fairs and, when there, I got to compete with Cheryl LaFranchi, Hank Van Excel and John Rowe.” He speaks with the enthusiasm of a true dairyman, “ I showed Jerseys and always admired the cattle that were shown against me and the ones that stood out where the cattle with the MG prefix that were bred by Harlan Askeland and of course the Stardust cattle. Our county Fair always put on quite an Open Jersey Show with such renowned breeders as Harlan Askeland, Bob Bignami, Jack Snell, Phil Nyberg and John Giacomini. If you wanted to learn about quality Jerseys, there was no better show to watch.” Gary obviously learned from these leaders as he reports, “Later I had the privilege of working with the Askeland-Bignami herd and got to work with some great cattle like Generators Sweet Dreams, MG Tradition Robyette, Empire Amelia Beacon, and MG Master MC Lou.”  Sauder not only watched the cows he watched the competitors and he shares this interesting side note. “During the last couple of years that I showed as a junior I kept noticing and talking to a very energetic and quite enthusiastic young exhibitor who seemed to know more about Jerseys, breeders and pedigrees than anyone in the barns.  It is no surprise to me that he has grown up to be what I think is the most influential Jersey breeder of our time and I am talking about Eric Silva of Sunset Canyon Jerseys.”

Sunset Canyon Wall of Fame

Sunset Canyon Wall of Fame

Pencil, Police and Pastels 

In looking back, Gary reports that he had been drawing as long as he could remember but says, “I had grown bored with drawing in graphite and hadn’t done it for a long time.” Then one movie changed everything. “I saw a movie about a sketch artist for the police and he was using colored pencils and I decided to find out more about them. I got some books on the medium and I conquered my fear of color and shortly thereafter I graduated to pastel and even water color and oils.” A momentous change and he confirms, “I enjoy them all but I prefer to paint in pastel.”

Gary Sauder-Generationsfor web

Facebook Extends the Artist’s Reach

No matter what career path you’re on, there are going to be changes.  This has been true for Gary Sauder as well.  “The biggest changes for me are two completely different things that came about at different times for me.  The first was my discovery of coloured pencils and the second was the digital camera. The camera helps me not waste as much time and money on photographing my reference material.” But there are other tools that have made changes in Gary’s work. “Right now the two most profound things to affect my business are the new pastel product called Pan Pastel and the surface PastelMat and Facebook.” He is emphatic, “Without Facebook I would not be able to reach as many people as I do now and it really reaches my target audience.”

Passionate about Breeders, Breed Promotion and Paternity

Gary, like many artists, considers every finished painting an accomplishment.  He modestly leaves it up to the viewer to determine if that is a great accomplishment or not. For himself he ranks “becoming a father last year” at the top of the list. This fits very nicely with his commitment to the future of the dairy industry.  “I have donated a painting to the Ayrshire Junior Youth Fund and a really nice painting called “Generations” to the AJCA for their Jersey Youth Academy”.  Gary is definitely putting the positive reaction to his work to a valuable purpose.

Gary Sauder - Something in the Ayr

Something in the Ayr

No Shortcuts

Having admired the honesty of his own mentors, Gary strives to be the same. “I have always believed in the honest cow and having showed and milked many of those kinds of cattle I have always thought that I could portray that quality in a painting.  To that end I prefer to work from “casual” pictures taken by mew or a client and, if you look at my paintings of “Anthem” and “KitKat” you can really see that influence.” I also believe in no shortcuts in creating a painting and by that I mean doing a drawing first to perfect the pose or setting and then using that drawing as the basis for the painting.” As in any high calling, there is no “easy” way says Gary the encouraging mentor. “It’s going to take about a hundred paintings, before you get really good and consistent and develop a style” It is really important to learn to draw, before you learn to paint.” And, above all, “Never give up!”

Gary Sauder - Xanadu Brendan Kit Kat

Xanadu Brendan Kit Kat

Balance, Line and Proportion

Speaking of never giving up, the ultimate goal of every purebred dairy breeder is to bring all the best parts of the dairy cow together in one animal.  Gary Sauder has a parallel artistic vision and Russell Gammon, former General Manager of Jersey Canada and now Jersey Program Manager at Semex Canada, applauds Gary’s work and explains why he personally has expectations of a “Mona Lisa Jersey painting”. “Gary Sauder’s artwork fills a niche in the dairy industry. Given his long term passion for dairy cows and dairy cow conformation (especially that of the Jersey breed) he nails proportions and the small details perfectly. I’ve seen some of the cows he has painted and he captures them perfectly on canvas.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line – “Follow Your Moos”

There is no doubt that Gary Sauder, the muse in his gallery, will always follow his “Moos”.  And, as long as he does so, there will be a growing following in the dairy/art world who will agree with Gammon’s praise of his mastery, “Call Gary Sauder the Renoir, the Picasso, the Da Vinci of the Dairy World!”

To order some of Gary’s fine art work visit Cow Art and More.


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The Winners of the 2012 Breeder’s Choice Awards Are…

top13of2013Forget the  Vince Lombardi Trophy award to the Baltimore Ravens for winning the Super Bowl last night, it is now time to hand out the 2012 Breeder’s Choice Awards.  After the month long vote and announcement this past Monday of the winners of the Tanbark Trail Edition (Read More: The 2012 Breeder’s Choice Awards – The Tanbark Trail Edition), over 3000 dairy breeders cast almost 8000 votes in a one week period for their favorites in 21 different categories.  Without any further ado, here are the winners.

Large A.I. Company

2012 Breeders Choice - Large AI

With what became a two horse race between  the top two vote getters, Select Sires ended up winning over Semex by 10% of the popular vote, leaving   the next largest A.I. vote getter ABS Global some 19% behind these two.  To read more about these two A.I. centers and their different approaches check out Select Sires vs. Semex – A Contrast in Cooperatives.

Small-Medium A.I. Company

Breeders Choice 2012- Small-Medium AI Company

In what was close race from  the start, St. Jacobs ABC used their strong market presence in the type market to edge out GenerVations.   Trans America Genetics (TAG) earned a solid 3rd spot.  (Read more: The Judge’s Choice – Investment Advice from Tim Abbott)

Dairy Print Magazine

2012 Breeders Choice - Dairy Print Publication

This category presented  an outstanding showing with  the team at Cowsmopolitan giving the much larger publication Holstein International a run for its money.  Only 2% separated these two fine publications (Watch for our interview with Holstein International and outstanding photographer Hans Hopman coming soon)

Dairy Digital Publication or Website

Dairy Digital Publication or Website

It would have looked scary for us here at The Bullvine, if we could not win our own poll. We appreciate all the support and great comments from our readers.

Dairy Cattle Photographer

Dairy Livestock Photographer

In what came down to a battle between mentor Patty Jones and mentee Cybil Fisher, the mentee took the win with only 4% separating the top two great photographers.  (Read more about what it takes to get the perfect picture with our interview with Patty Jones – Patty Jones: Picture Perfect!)

Dairy Cattle Showman

Dairy Cattle Showman

In a category that we were concerned would become an ego nightmare, the contest ended up being not even close, with Donald Dubois running away with 48% of the popular vote.

Dairy Celebrity

2012 Breeders Choice - Dairy Celebrity

Obviously having judged the Royal or World Dairy Expo this past year didn’t hurt in this category.  With 2012 Royal Winter Fair Judge Callum McKinven edging out 2012 World Dairy Expo, Mike “Air” Heath.  (Read more World Dairy Expo 2012 Holstein Show – A battle for the ages and The 2012 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show – One of the greatest stories ever told!)

Dairy Cattle Fitter

2012 Breeders Choice - Dairy Cattle Fitter

Many an ego might be hurt with the results of this category, but not those of our winner Pat Conroy and runner up Joel Phoenix, who were in the closest battle of all, with only two votes separating these two great fitters.  (Watch for our upcoming article with Pat Conroy about the great Swiss show cow Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra).

Dairy Cowman

Dairy Cowman/Herdsman

In a category whose titles confused some, as we wanted to call it more than just the people behind the scenes at the shows (Herdsman), the winner in a close battle was Gerald Coughlin over Ernie Kueffner.  In a group that is an honor to  be listed among, check out our interview with 4th place finisher and 2012 Curtis Clark award winner Don Schwartz: “Love what you do and do the best you can!”

Dairy Cattle Industry Legends

2012 Breeders Choice - Dairy Legend

This was  a category that was never in doubt, not in disrespect to the others in the class, but rather in respect to the outstanding contribution made by Peter Heffering who earned 80% of the popular vote.  (Read more: Hanover Hill Holsteins: Peter Heffering 1931-2012)

Holstein Herd Legends

Holstein Herd Legends

Continuing his dominance, this time teaming up with his longtime partner Ken Trevena, Hanover Hill Holsteins earned almost 70% more votes than 2nd place Mount Victoria Farms.  (Read more: Mount Victoria Farms: The art and science of great breeding)

Holstein Show Herds

2012 Breeders Choice - Holstein Show Herds

In what became a great debate about breeding versus exhibiting, Ferme Jacobs rose to the top over  Budjon Farms.  Check out our interview with Ferme Jacobs: Success is all in the family, also be sure to check out Quality Holsteins and their now record 8th All-Canadian breeders herd award.

Genetic Impact Herds

2012 Breeders Choice - Genetic Impact Herds

In a list of herds that reads like a who’s who of the young sire and proven sire lists, Regancrest Farms dominated on the power of such great sons as  Durham and Dundee and popular daughters Regancrest PR Barbie and Regancrest S Chassity both 2012 Golden Dam finalists.

Colored Breed Herds

2012 Breeders Choice - Colored Breed Herd

In a category that was tough  to narrow down to just 10, and next year will probably be split by breed, Arethusa Farm Dairy ran away with the vote getting over 41% of the popular vote.  Strong showings from Brown Swiss herd Jo-Dee Swiss and Ayrshire herd Deer Hill showed this was not just a Jersey category.  (Read more about Deer Hill and their great Ayrshire show cow Sweet Pepper Black Francesca)

Genetic Index or Mating Tool

Genetic Index or Mating Tool

While there has been great debate about what genetic index is the best, there is no question that our Facebook readers are very type focused with the Conformation index from Canada getting over 41% of the votes.  (Read more: Everything You Need to Know about TPI and LPI)

Greatest Type Sire Ever

Greatest type

Now we arrive at the much  debated competition for greatest type sire ever between Braedale Goldwyn and Regancrest Elton Durham (Read more: Durham vs. Goldwyn: A clash of two titans), with Goldwyn taking the popular vote.  Goldwyn  has certainly been extremely popular and well used (Read more: Braedale Goldwyn: Is he the greatest type sire ever)

Next Great Type Sire

2012 Breeders Choice Awards - Next Great Type Sire

In the search for the next Goldwyn, many chose his son Maple-Downs-I G Atwood.  (Read more: Breeding the next show winners and 7 Sires to use to breed the next world dairy expo champion)

Holstein Index Sire

2012 Breeders Choice - Holstein Index Sire

In an inclusion that may have seemed odd to some, Lirr Drew Dempsey rode his high health and fertility numbers and outstanding conformation to victory over Man-O-Man with a strongly type oriented Facebook audience.  (Read more: Man-O-Man Will He Turn Platinum and Is Man-O-Man going to be a sire of sons?)

Genomic Index Sires

2012 Breeders Choice - Genomic Index Sires

In a list that seems to change almost monthly, it is interesting to see the long-standing TPI list topper Amighetti Numero Uno dominate this category.  (Read more about Numero Uno daughters with his high selling daughters: Genetics By Design – Crosses the $4,000,000 Mark and Genomic Stars Shine at Sale of Stars).

Greatest Holstein Show Cow of All-Time

2012 Breeders Choice - Greatest Holstein Show Cow of All-Time

In a category that many would have expected Brookview Tony Charity to absolutely run away with, Thrulane James Rose gave Charity a run for her money.  But ultimately it was Charity taking the title.  (Read more: The 8 Greatest North American Show Cows of All-Time)

Greatest Colored Breed Show Cow of All-Time

2012 Breeders Choice - Greatest Colored Breed Show Cow of All-Time

In a category that could have easily been dominated by Jerseys, it’s not surprising that Huronia Centurion Veronica 20J edged out Brown Swiss great Old Mill E Snickerdoodle OCS.  What was surprising was Ayrshire great Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca making a strong showing in 3rd place.  (Read more: The 12 Greatest North American Colored Breed Show Cattle of All-Time).

The Bullvine Bottom Line

On behalf of the whole team here at the Bullvine, I  want to say thanks to all those who voted and made this inaugural competition such a success.  To those who won, congratulations you have earned it.  Keep up the great work.


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Is There Still Going To Be A Market For Purebred Dairy Cattle In 10 Years?

People are starting to realize that the old market for purebred cattle, if not dead, is definitely endangered.  Why is this once “healthiest” of marketplaces facing the current flat line?

The basic assumption has always been that there is a premium for purebreds that is paid back on sale day.  Ever since there have been purebred cattle there has been a movement to convince commercial operators of the value of owning purebreds and registering their cattle.  For about the past 20 years the focus has gone from educating the commercial producer on the increased value of purebred cattle to making the process and the system a better fit for the commercial producer.  While the intentions were great, this change in philosophy has ultimately led to the demise of the premium received for purebred cattle.

Industry vs. Breeders – Whose Fault Is It?

For years I have heard both sides of this discussion.  Seed stock cattle breeders complain that industry executives in organizations like milk recording and A.I., as well as geneticists, would not know a good cow if one kicked them in the head.  I have also heard the other side of this argument where these geneticists and officials complain that purebred seed stock breeders don’t know how to see the bigger picture and the two sides have batted heads at the board level all along the way.

The part that many people don’t understand is that these industry officials did not set out to harm seed stock breeders.  Neither were they looking to discriminate against them.  Rather they saw this group as a niche segment of the market place and thought they needed to serve the bigger picture instead of catering to this small, but vocal group.

For many years the only organizations that seemed to hear the cry of the seed stock breeders were the breed associations.  Initially, the breed associations were great about trying to build new marketplaces, as well as trying to help educate commercial producers on why they should pay a premium for these purebred cattle.  They also educated commercial producers that by registering their cattle they too would receive a premium when they went to sell these cattle.  Ironically, all that changed when breed associations started to try to become a greater service provider to commercial producers, instead of building the marketplace for purebreds.  This shift in emphasis from worldwide market potential to bottom line domestic cattle and membership numbers, as much as anything, killed the premium paid for purebreds.

It Started Slowly, but Got Rolling Quickly

In the beginning the changes were small.  They simply made it easier for commercial operations to register their cattle.  Then came subtle (and necessary) changes to the classification systems to target a more commercial friendly cow.  Followed by significant changes where breed associations stopped being a marketplace developer and focused on being a service organization to the commercial producer.

While this helped increase registrations and showed that the breed as a whole was growing, the objective set out by our breeder boards, it started to have a small but significant side effect.  As the system changed to be more commercial friendly, the premiums commercial producers were expecting to receive for selling purebred animals disappeared.  Take a look at many of the sale barns today and compare the price of a grade fresh heifer to that of a registered one.  There is not as much difference as there once was.  There is certainly not enough for many commercial producers to justify the cost and effort of registration and type classification.  Add to that the fact that in many regions and with certain high end sires, there are no longer semen incentives for young sire usage, semen cost for young sires is almost as expensive as proven, and commercial producers ask, “If it doesn’t make financial sense, why do it?”

Without that premium selling price, many producers will stop registering their cattle.  With less herds registering, that means that costs for the programs will fall on the niche group of seed stock breeders.  Breeders who already have less income from fresh animal sales, and like all milk producers are battling the increased cost of production and the decreased milk sale price.  It certainly isn’t a time to take back additional expenses.

Yes, your top 0.1% index seed stock breeder is seeing greater prices than ever.  In addition, there is certainly still value in consistent generation after generation breeding families that provide a stable investment (more on that to come next week) but we are talking your average every day purebred breeder.  They have certainly seen the prices for fresh heifers go down.  Many have attributed that to the introduction of sexed semen and genomics.  I would contend it was more accurately due to the fact that the cost of milk production went up, milk prices worldwide went down, and commercial producers, the buyers of these animals, no longer see the need for the extra investment in the purebred pedigree they once did.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

By making that small shift from building the marketplace for purebred cattle, to trying to woo the commercial producers into registering their cattle, the industry as a whole has, in a sense, contributed to its own demise.  Now all sides need to find a way to work together, before it’s too late.

Has the heart of the industry stopped? Is there time for resuscitation? Who knows marketplace CPR?



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