Archive for March 2013

The Weak Never Forgive

There are those in this industry that would have someone crucified for the littlest mistake.  They seem to never forget the wrongs people have done and yet can’t remember the good things they have done as well.  While I totally understand the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” I also think of what Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Since starting the Bullvine we have always tried to profile breeders who were “doing it right.”  By that we mean breeders who were trying to do the best they could.  Breeders who were trying new things such as using social media to market their cows, or individuals who have faced great adversity to achieve outstanding success.  More recently some of our selections for whom to profile has come under attack by profiling some individuals with a colored past.  To answer that I come back to being strong enough to forgive.  People do make mistakes and I think they should be punished. But they should be forgiven and given the opportunity for a second chance. There’s nothing as exciting as a comeback – seeing someone with dreams, watching them fail, and then getting a second chance. We are human beings. When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but rather you work at changing the future.

Sex, Religion and Politics – Three of our favorite things

Now it may seem I have gone all religious on you here, which is something the Bullvine may have   stayed clear of in the past.  I do understand those three things they tell you never to write about: Sex, Religion and Politics.  Well since starting the Bullvine we have already talked about Sex and Politics, so why leave religion out of it?

Today marks Good Friday, the religious holiday celebrated by Christians around the world commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  In this holy week, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of our sins.  That is correct. It’s at this time God gave his only Son to forgive or sins.

Now before I offend those who are not Christian,   remember that, most world religions include the teaching of forgiveness.  Buddhism teaches that forgiveness is a practice for removing unhealthy emotions that would otherwise cause harm to our mental well-being.  Judaism teaches that ideally a person who has caused harm, needs to sincerely apologize, then the wronged person is religiously bound to forgive.  However, even without an apology, forgiveness is considered a pious act.  In Islam the word Islam itself is derived from the Semitic word slm meaning “peace” and forgiveness is a prerequisite for genuine peace.  No matter what religion you practice there is no question that forgiveness is a key part.

Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast the First Stone

Over the course of the past year there is no question we here at the Bullvine have tried to push the limits of traditional thinking.  We have tried to bring awareness to issues and conversations that most would not touch with a ten-foot pole.  Several times our tactics have come under fire by some as being to risqué or even stepping over that line.  And I totally understand that.

What I ask for is forgiveness and understanding.  Understanding that our intentions are good even if our execution sometimes lacks.  Moreover, forgive us for those times when we do cross that line.  Because sometimes when you walk that line, it’s hard to know when you have crossed over it.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The weak never forgive.  Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.  On this Good Friday it could be the perfect time to offer forgiveness to those who have done wrong?


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Stephanie Aves – Anything Is Possible If You’ve Got St-yle!

Stephanie and Kyle Aves

Stephanie and Kyle Aves

“My Grandpa gave me my first Holstein when I was 6.” and that gift of Wishing Well Mata-RC really sparked Stephanie Aves lifelong interest in dairy cattle. In case there was any doubt where the family saw the future, Stephanie’s parents, Kevin and Julie, took her name and her brother Kyle’s and christened the farm with the prefix, “St-yle!” That happy label was further inspiration for Stephanie who reports that she was always involved trying to do chores and then “From age 8 I began showing at local and county fairs.”

Show Your Winning St-yle

Stephanie had successive years in the winner’s circle and has added these honors to her show ring credits:

  • 2005 Senior Showmanship Winner World Dairy Expo Fitting & Showing
  • 2006 Jr Champion Grand Int. Red & White Show (JR/Open)
  • 2007 Winner of Sr Showmanship World Dairy Expo
  • 2008 Supreme champion JR Show World Dairy Expo
  • 2009 Grand Champion Grand International RW Jr Show
  • 2010 Bred the Intermediate Champion Grand International RW Jr Show who then became my first Bred & Owned JR All American.
  • Also was honored with the Merle Howard Award in 2010.
  • 2011 Won the Sr Best 3 Class at the Grand International RW Show.  (All daughters of Joyful by Advent)

Currently In St-yle

Stephanie provides this St-yle update where we can see that the show ring is definitely part of the big picture.  “Currently ST-YLE Holsteins consist of my Parents, Kevin & Julie, and my brother Kyle and I. We have about 100 head of cattle total on the farm consisting of Holsteins, Red & Whites, and Jerseys. We also are currently boarding about 10 show quality animals being Red & White, Jersey, Guernsey, and Holstein.  In 2007 we completed our show barn that features 2 big box stalls to hold a max of 8 milking cows, along with 7 individual pens for heifers, and 2 box stalls for individual cow care when calving or needed for show rations.”

Do You Have That in Red?

Whenever you set goals that include the show ring, there are bound to be opportunities and obstacles.  Stephanie confesses “The biggest challenge to me has been to find sires that combine the pedigrees along with the conformation that are Red & White or RC. Those Red of RC sires are few and far between that have something that I would use to breed to make the next show winner. It has even gotten harder with increase in genomics.

Scenic-Edge Joyful

Scenic-Edge Joyful
Supreme Champion World Dairy Expo Junior Show 2008
Unanimous Junior All-American R&W 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009
Unanimous All-American R&W 2006 & 2008
Reserve All-American R&W 2009
3rd 5-year-old World Dairy Expo R&W 2011

The Beginning of Joyful St-yle

Once again, we hear how “luck” played a part in hard-working, well-planned dairy operations that achieve success.  “I have had a great amount of luck over my past 10 years. I have 2 animals that were the foundation of ST-YLE Holsteins. Scenic-Edge Joyful who I purchased in May 2006 who was JR Champion WDE, then on to be named Supreme Champion as a 2 year old at WDE. Joyful now has 4 daughters on the farm. 3 by Advent, and 1 by Talent-RC. Savage-Leigh Alexee-ET is also another great individual that I owned she was the 2007 All-American Spring Calf.  Both these 2 were foundation animals that have truly left an impact on ST-YLE.

Joyful was purchased after Spring Show 2006. I saw Joyful show in her class that year and I knew I needed her. Seven years later Joyful is still leaving that impression on me. When I saw her was the complete package she had everything I wanted style, balance, and strength. Joyful also has a great pedigree which is a huge selling point in animals to me. They have to be able to back up the looks that they have and show that they are going to be able to make a great cow.

From exporting embryos around the world Joyful now has 1 bull testing to be in stud at KI De Toekomst in Holland. Defender is a Debonair out of Joyful. He also has a full sister in Sweden. Semen will be available in April in the UK. In July 2013 Joyful will also have 1 heifer and 1 bull in Columbia.



Alexee I picked at the Savage Leigh sale in 2007. Alexee caught my eye being the biggest calf in the group combining that with the pedigree she had. I remember the day I bought her my mom said “She’s a 1 month old calf, and you never know how she’s going to turn out.” I knew even though she was very young she had every potential to be my next All American. “

ST-YLE-SA JUMPN 4 JOY-RED-ET Advent X Joyful-Red

Advent X Joyful-Red

Currently Looking Good and In St-yle

We love to hear how people are moving forward and what their focus is.  “Currently we are working with 2 Advent X Joyful- Jumpn 4 Joy (4yrOld), and Itz Joytime (5YrOld). I bred both of these and own Joytime still. In September 2012 a part of Jumpn was sold to Todd Galton. Advent was a choice I made as there was not a huge selection of RW Sires. Advent was popular and fit the need at that time. We also have a Fall Yearling for 2013 (JumpRope) out of a herd bull, and have a Redburst Heifer by Joytime (Itz SpringTime).”

ST-YLE-SA IZ JOYTIME-RED-ET (EX-91) Advent X Joyful-Red

Advent X Joyful-Red

St-yle Savvy Sires

As previously mentioned, Stephanie finds it’s very slim pickings when looking for red and white sires to use.  She explains. “It is especially hard to find ones to use on Advents. We are currently using Redburst on the Advents X Joyful as he is making them a little more dairy, and longer necked. As far as Holstein’s bulls we have been using Gillete Windbrook and Atwood.

Stephanie Aves’ passion for showing dairy cattle demonstrated through her junior project work, has earned her the 2010 Merle Howard Award

Stephanie Aves’ passion for showing dairy cattle earned her the 2010 Merle Howard Award

St-yle Must Have Pedigree – Pick from the Name Brands

This youthful dairy breeder encourages others to follow their dream.  “The biggest piece of advice I have is to make sure when you are purchasing animals to make sure they have the pedigree to back the animal up. I’ve seen a lot of people older and younger make huge investments in animals that have nothing behind them to fall back on. At least animals with a pedigree that can’t be shown you can say there is pedigree and that it holds value for the animal otherwise they are just another heifer.”

St-yle is getting the Word Out: Black and White and Read All Over

Having a market to sell to is especially crucial when you’re breeding show type animals.  “Social Media and Word of mouth is the 2 biggest things we use to market ourselves. We have set up a Facebook page for the farm and use that as our primary marketing tool. We used to have a website, but didn’t find the amount of interest was there from the website that couldn’t be on Facebook. I actually sold more embryos online on Facebook in 1 year then on my website in 2 years. Keeping things fresh and updated is the key. The more you see it the more it sticks in their mind. We have giveaways here and there to give away St-yle gear. People enjoy getting gifts and its free advertising for you.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line: Tomorrow’s Style Forecast

There are times when we fantasize that we would like to have three wishes granted.  Stephanie imagines what her questions would be. “What are the right choices of the dairy industry to make things profitable, and successful for my dairy career? Is it genomics, polled, red and white, Holsteins, or colored breeds? If someone could tell me now what even 3 years in the dairy industry is going to be let alone what 10 years will bring could help set up what I am doing today to make things assist in a successful tomorrow.” We hope she shares if she finds the answers.


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Cow Mobility: One Step Forward or Two Steps Back?

The udder may be a cow’s most prized physical asset, but her feet and legs literally provide the support for everything she does. How many situations with problem cows boil down to problems with their feet and legs?

In most herds foot care and hoof trimming are considered to be a very necessary event and, therefore, an expense that cannot be avoided. With this absolute in mind, we tend to march on breeding, feeding and managing cows without taking the time to consider ways to stop merely treating the symptoms we`re stuck with. Solving the problem before it becomes a health or management problem could completely avoid starting our animals off on the wrong foot. The Bullvine invites you to consider the genetics of feet and legs with us to stimulate a breeding solution for these issues.

The Heels of a Dilemma

In milk recorded herds, culling cows for feet and leg problems is #1 on the list of conformation culling reasons. In the past, udder breakdown was once the leader. However breeders have placed sufficient emphasis on improving udders that we are now to the stage where milk producers are saying they do not need to select bulls for udder traits except to avoid ones that are too deep.  It’s encouraging to know that with focus and time identified problems can be solved.

Although removal of horns may be the current hot button for people concerned about the welfare of animals, and therefore breeders are selecting for polled, there are numerous reports predicting that lame cows will be the next and much larger target.

Certainly, there are no dairypersons who are saying that feet and legs are good enough that genetic improvement for feet and legs is not needed.

Locomotion is Costing Us an Arm and a Leg

Reports show that for a cow with one temporary sore foot it reduces her annual profit by at least $100.  So what is the cost of a cow with foot construction that requires trimming 3-5 times per year, medication, less milk production, milk withdrawal, extended calving interval and premature culling? Feet and leg problems could be costing some herds $300 per cow per year.  On a one hundred cow herd that is $30,000 less profit. Significant by anyone’s standard.

A Vet Looks at the Genetics of Lameness

Gordon Atkins, DVM and a member of Holstein Canada’s Type Classification Advisory Committee, was a speaker at the recent annual meeting of the Wisconsin Holstein Association. He is not prepared to accept the fact that feet and leg heritabilities are as low as they currently appear to be.  Additionally, he shared some interesting facts about feet and legs:

  • Lameness is 88% a rear foot situation
  • That leaves only 12% for it being a front feet and leg problem
  • The outside rear claws bear the brunt of the lameness issue
  • The fact is that the rear outside claw grows faster because it is growing tissue in response to the greater pressure it endures while walking
  • Thin cows have a higher incidence of lameness
  • Thin cows mobilized fat from their bodies including the fat from the foot pad or digital cushion within the base of the heel structure. This results in less protection for the foot and heel.
  • The foot’s fatty pad can be replaced as the cow regains body condition but over time scar tissue will form when adequate fat is not present in the pads

Dr Atkins went on to highlight

  • His very telling statement followed, that being, “we need to evaluate feet and legs better”


Diagram – cross section of the foot

Diagram – Cross Section of a Bovine Foot

Let`s Go Toe to Toe with the Facts Only Please

Let’s summarize:

  • Dairy cattle have a genetic problem relative to feet and legs especially for animals not allowed to get off cement or to exercise
  • It is rear feet that are the major portion of the problem with respect to lameness

The Achilles Heel for Classifiers

The classification system scores numerous traits but there are factors in the area of feet and legs that are beyond their control.  Foot angle is not a good trait to measure because it is so variable due to foot trimming. Cattle owners have feet trimmed before classification so type classifiers do not see the animals in their natural state.  Classifiers do the best they can, given the circumstances. Add to this the fact that classifiers do not see every cow walking. Since the ability to walk is what is most important, classifiers again are at a distinct disadvantage.

Estimating heritability using classification data shows these percentages:

  • 30% for bone quality (moderate)
  • 24% for rear legs side view (moderate)
  • 13% for rear legs rear view (low)
  • 11% for foot angle (low)
  • 8% for heel depth (low)

Yes the report card is in – we need to improve the evaluation feet and legs especially for rear feet and rear legs rear view. Genetically we have bred for thin cows and thus less fat in the foot pad. The only place we collect feet and leg data for genetic purposes is in the type classification programs and there the classifier, as mentioned, is at a disadvantage. What’s left that breeds, classifiers, people doing the genetic evaluations and breeders can do?

Getting a Toehold on the Solution

A collective approach is needed:

  1. We must admit that we have a problem and that we need to find a solution to more accurately knowing the genetics of feet and legs.
  2. The problem is not limited to one country and it is more prevalent in cattle not allowed to walk on natural surfaces.
  3. Resources (people and money) must be allocated to investigation and research.

Some suggestions the Bullvine has heard on ideas to consider include:

  • observe or measure the females over their lifetime
  • evaluate the feet on calves at weaning
  • evaluate the feet on heifers at first breeding
  • measure the feet on first lactation females on their first milk recording test day (before they are trimmed)
  • compare sire’s daughter feet and legs on confined versus pastured daughters
  • compare the genomic profiles of cow families that are both desirable and undesirable for feet (and legs)

It is encouraging to see that there is one hoof trimmers’ guild that has public support for a study to collect pedigree information at the time of trimming, to complete a report of the condition of the feet before trimming and then to have the data analyzed. That could be a start.

In the Interim… Feet Forward

Research takes time and cows are bred every day, in the mean time, breeders must use the information currently available from sire indexes or proofs. It is strongly recommended that sires be highly ranked for Net Merit, TPI or LPI and higher than 1.5 FLC or +7 Feet & Legs. A recent addition to the information to consider on bulls is their Body Condition Scoring index. Bulls whose daughters do not get as thin during lactation should not drain all the fat from their foot pads.  (Some Bullvine recommended sires to use can be found at From Fantasy To Reality – Top Sires To Address Herd Culling Problems)

The Bullvine Bottom Line- “Stop “Digging in Our Heels”

What is needed is an international approach to studying dairy cattle feet, much like the approach being taken to studying feed efficiency.  Hopefully a way will be found to move feet research in dairy cattle to the DNA level. If the industry collectively has the will, there will be a way. All we need now is a champion to take the first step.


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KEIGHTLEY and CORE JERSEYS: Heart of the Family

“All we know for sure is it was in our blood.”  This is the heartfelt reason given by every member of the family at Keightley and Core Jerseys when asked to answer the question, “What motivates you?” The Core’s who live and farm in Salvisa, Kentucky believe this is the healthy force that keeps them going strong. “While dairy farming and the show business can be a rewarding life, it also isn’t easy.  You really have to make sure that you understand the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices involved. At the end of the day, you have to have and understand the passion that is needed.” The Core family has it: Alta Mae and Jeff, son Brady, daughters Brittany and Brooke Powers (married to Chad) and grandchildren Jackson and Embry personify the vision of a close knit farm family.

They’re Putting Down Roots and Raising Records

Having found their passion the family works together to keep their focus on doing better all the time. “We currently farm about 250 acres and milk right around 70 cows with a total herd size of 175.  We are truly a family run operation and employ no outside help.  We are very proud to announce that we have recently achieved 2 milestones in production and classification. After a resent classification our herd of 71 cows has an average of 90 points, this is a first for us as we have average 89 for many years. Second, in the March issue of the Jersey Journal you will find that in the 40-79 lactation herd size we now rank 3rd in the nation for milk at 22,207 lbs of milk, 4th for protein, and 10th for fat, another exciting accomplishment at KCJF!”

Alta Mae Core recalls the 1964 Kentucky Nationals because her dad, A.J. Keightley, sold a champion cow that year, Sleeping Jester Kate.

Valued Family. Family Values.

Families are the building block that provides the foundation for how people develop in life. Alta Mae acknowledges this influence. “My parents definitely helped shape the person I am today.  I was raised on a small registered Jersey farm and was taught at a young age that the hard work is the key to success.  Both of my parents, AJ and Adelene Keightley believed in the Jersey breed and instilled that same passion within me.”

Watch the Best. Ask Questions

This nationally renowned dairy judge and 1999 Klussendorf winner expresses warm praise for other influences too. “I was also fortunate to grow up in the golden age of showing Jerseys.  I had the honor and the privilege to watch and compete against Happy Valley, Vauclause Farm, Heaven Hill, Mayfield Farms, and many others. It was both a thrill and a learning experience to see how the great cowmen associated with these farms ran the operations and managed the show string. I’m sure as a kid I was a little annoying to some of them as well as their staff. I can remember watching and asking questions as they tended their cattle. I was eager to learn the fine points of what they did whether it was making the pack, putting the immaculate edge on the pack, putting up their display ( years ago some of these places wouldn’t have a straw out of place), or even the fine art of fluffing a switch. Norm Nabholz was and is probably the master of the switch. (Read more: Halter, Pen and Gavel. That’s Just the Norm.) But people like “Big John” Bob Finberg, Dick Walraven and many many others were people I watched. Also Lew Porter and Max Gordon were people that I looked up to for their class and professionalism.”

The Family “Treasure” Album

Although there are plenty of cows that still hold a special place in our heart we consider ourselves blessed to have had the opportunity to breed and develop KCJF Regency Treasure.  She is not only one of the few 97 points cows in the breed but is also homebred on both sides of her pedigree by a homebred sire out of a homebred cow family.  Treasure has not only been a five time All American but has also won numerous production awards and at 12 years of age continues to be an impact on our herd. She defines our breeding philosophy of strong cow families and a breeding program that balances type and production.”

KCJF Regency Treasure EX-97 Supreme Champion 2012 KY State Fair

KCJF Regency Treasure EX-97
Supreme Champion 2012 KY State Fair

Family Hall of Fame:  Ritzy

“Treasure is obviously still a large part of our current program and her impact is felt in the pedigrees of numerous other cows we are currently working with.   Most notably KCJF Tracers Ritzy, winner of the 2012 National Jersey Jug Futurity is by a Treasure son.  In addition Ritzy was All American Junior Two Year Old in 2011.  Ritzy’s mother KCJF Centurion Ritz is also a cow that is still in our herd and show string and was All American Senior Two Year Old in 2009.” (Read more: Gary Sauder – The Muse in his Studio)

Puttin on the Ritzy

Puttin on the Ritzy

Family Hall of Fame: Molly

Another cow family of note that is making a current impact on the Keightley-Core herd is KCJF Sambo Molly, 2008 National Jersey Jug Futurity Winner.  They tell us, “While Molly may be gone, she left behind numerous offspring both male and female that are making waves in our herd currently.  We recently had 3 Two Year Olds all score 89 points who are all directly from that family.  In addition, Molly’s son KCJF Molly’s Ren Motion sired 1 All American and 2 Reserve All Americans in 2012.  Another son that has been collected and is now being used in many herds besides our own is KCJF One in a Million.”

KCJF Sambo Molly 2008 National Jersey Jug Futurity Winner

KCJF Sambo Molly
2008 National Jersey Jug Futurity Winner

Keightley-Core Values

At this point it is hard to say how genomics will affect our operation.  It is something we will definitely watch long term to see how it will meld into our breeding philosophy. Probably due to my upbringing and parents influence we have always believed in using bulls out of good strong cow families whether it was our own farm bred bull or from another.  Breeding strategies are as varied as the people who devise them.  Keightley-Core Jerseys has a strategy that works for them. “We definitely use a number of our own homebred bulls such as Million, Motion, Regency and although we did not breed Hollylane Response we did purchase and collect him and still use him in our current program.  We also use a number of other AI sires from both American and Canadian genetics.”

Generation “Next”

At Keightley-Core they are concerned about the steady reduction of family farms nationally, however, they have also seen many positive changes in the Jersey breed and they point specifically to the areas of productivity and efficiency. Jeff and Alta Mae agree wholeheartedly on one other thing. “Raising our children to have an interest in the Jersey breed and our farming operation has definitely been our greatest accomplishment.  All three of our children were educated in the Agriculture field and continue to be involved in the farm.  Now we also have grandchildren and are beginning to see their interest as well.  It is a great feeling of satisfaction to see the future generations taking an interest in the future of our farm and the desire to continue the legacy that was started by both Jeff and my families.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It is all about building on heartfelt passion for family – both home and livestock. Everyone at Keightley and Core Jersey Farm knows exactly where their heart is!


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Introducing the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct

The call for ethics in dairy cattle marketing has never been louder. With the increased power of programs like Adobe Photoshop, the ability to edit and manipulate pictures and ads has never been easier. For this reason, the Bullvine in combination with other dairy cattle marketers is pleased to introduce The Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct.

What is the Code?

  • The Code sets out specific standards of conduct for participants in the dairy cattle marketing industry in relation to individuals, organizations and consumers and serves as a benchmark in the highest level of ethics showing to all breeders that they can buy with confidence that the images, ads, and promotional materials they are seeing are of the highest ethical standard.
  • The requirements of the Code are based on common sense and are matters of fairness and honesty. The Code not only promotes ethical behavior but also is intended to serve as a point of reference for Members to ensure they follow acceptable best practices and ethical guidelines.

The Objectives of the Code :

  • To ensure business and consumers have access to the product and service information they need to make informed accurate choices and decisions
  • To promote a culture among members of conducting their businesses fairly, honestly, ethically and in accordance with best practices; and
  • To increase business and breeder confidence in doing business with dairy cattle genetic companies and breeders.

Why Is The Code Necessary?

  • The world dairy genetics market is big business. No longer is it possible for breeders to personally see the animals they are looking to invest in. Because we now operate at a distance rather than face-to-face with fellow breeders, dairy genetics organizations and breeders must place greater emphasis on establishing breeder confidence and trust. This is especially true in dairy cattle livestock photos, where tools like Adobe Photoshop have taken the potential of digital editing and photo manipulation to completely new levels.
  • The future expansion of dairy marketing depends on the players conducting their business in a fair, honest and ethical manner in dealing with other businesses and with consumers. Only by doing so can the reputation of the industry be enhanced so that breeder demand will continue to grow.
Programs like Adobe Photoshop have made it possible for breeders to tell what is real and what is fake.

Programs like Adobe Photoshop have made it possible for breeders to tell what is real and what is fake.

To Whom Does This Code Apply?

  • Livestock Photographers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Artificial Insemination Companies
  • Dairy Cattle Genetics Companies
  • Dairy Cattle Breeders
The Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct LOGO

The Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct LOGO
Program members can use this logo to show that they uphold to the standards of this program.

What are the benefits of membership?

  • With breeder confidence in the images and ads they see at an all-time low, the ability to display to breeders that your marketing and genetics meet the highest ethical standards is a great way to reassure them that you value your relationship with them.
  • All members of this program will have the ability to place the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct (DMCC) logo on their images and ads, showing all who view those ads/images that they can buy with confidence knowing that the decisions they make based on these ads and images meet the highest standards in the industry.
  • Members will be entitled to exclusive training. That is correct, as part of the program there will be training from some of the greatest experts in the industry today. In such areas as:
    • Photoshop and digital post production for dairy cattle marketers
    • Video and post production for dairy cattle marketers
    • Advanced photo and video capture best practices
    • Dairy cattle ad design concepts and best practices

What are the penalties for violation of the code?

For all those who sign up for the program and then do not adhere to its code of conduct the follow actions will occur:

  • Original photos must be provided upon request
  • All claims must be able to be substantiated with factual proof/documentation.
  • There will be an appeal process where said individuals/organizations can defend their case against being expelled.
  • If it is deemed that those photos/images/claims do not comply with the program, said member will be publicly expelled from the program.

Who is responsible for running the program?

  • Initially, the Bullvine and its agents will be responsible for the development and enforcement of the program for a 1 year period. After that, there will be the development of a Council for Ethical Dairy Cattle Marketing that will take over the development and encouragement of ethical practices, with the Bullvine supporting and administering the program.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While this Code of Conduct is obviously in the early stages of development, we trust that photographers, graphic designers and other members of the dairy marketing community will take time to think about where the industry is headed and why now is the time for the establishment of best practices and ethical guidelines that help grow business for all community members.

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

If you believe that there is a need for a ethical standard in marketing dairy cattle genetics please like and share this post.

The Bullvine: Wanted Dead or Alive

Since starting the Bullvine over a year ago, I have learned to accept that we have become a polarizing entity. While most tell us how much they love what we are doing, there are also those who have put a bounty on our heads.  This means there are   moments when I have wondered if I have been wasting my time.  Living life as a marked man is definitely not boring.  When you’re blazing new ground, there is always the chance that you could be shot down in a blaze of glory.

Sometimes I get some sleep. Other times it seems like you are sleeping on a bed of nails not knowing what is going to happen next.  Now some might say that I am being dramatic and I accept that.  However, I am not sure that they understand the pressure that has come with running The Bullvine.  In starting the Bullvine I have had to open up my soul to the world.  With that comes a completely different experience than most would ever expect.

First comes a rush that many never experience.  We have had days where we have literally reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world and you feel like Superman.  Yet there are other days when you wonder if it was all worth it.  Is it worth people slandering your name?  Questioning your ethics?  Is it worth losing relationships that have meant the most to you?

You see, the Bullvine isn’t your typical dairy magazine where we publish a few nice articles about fluff.  Sure Karen (a.k.a Mom) has done an amazing job profiling some extremely interesting people.  (Read more: Don Schwartz: “Love what you do and do the best you can!” and Christy Nurse: From Show Ring Beauty to World Class Rower)  But if that was all the Bullvine was then we would be like every other publication out there.  Instead we wanted to build a community around the key issues that are facing breeders on a daily basis.  (Read more: Milk Marketing: How “Got Milk Became “Got Lost” and No Cow Is Perfect – Not Even in Pictures)

We wanted to bring about change, and that meant talking about, saying and doing things others wouldn’t.  Have I said or done things that I regret?  ….Sure who hasn’t?  I don’t apologize because not even for one moment have I regretted our bigger purpose.  (Read more: I’m Sorry, But I’ve Had Just About Enough of…)  When pouring your heart and soul into something, you are going to react as much out of emotion as out of logic.  There have been times where many thought that we were going down for the count.  However, what they didn’t realize is we are fighters. If you don’t knock us out, watch out because we are coming back twice as strong and twice as hard.

Then there are the weeks where everything just seems to come together and you know what you’re doing is exactly what is needed and well  worth it.

Take this past week for example.  On Monday we profiled an amazing dairy farm mom, Mary Lou King.  Mary Lou is like most farm wives, her day starts before the sun rises and doesn’t end still after the sun sets and she does it all while raising her children.  (Read more: Dairy Farm Moms are Unstoppable)  This story reached over 20,000 people.

We then had the opportunity to profile Carrie Mess and her remarkable blog, about a city girl who has become one of the biggest advocates for the dairy industry.  (Read more: Dairy Carrie- Diary of a City Kid Gone Country)  Very fitting for National Ag Day, where the Bullvine set a new Facebook dairy record reaching over 200,000 people in a single day.

Then in true Bullvine style, we profiled many of the upcoming sales.  However, unlike the others, instead of promoting who paid us the most money, we did our own detailed homework on all the sales and gave our true opinion.  We did this, because like everyone else, we are also breeders and wanted to make sure we were not missing any great investment opportunities.  (Read more: The Dairy Investors Guide to Spring Sale Madness).  I guess people like what we are saying because we had feedback from sales managers about how much it helped and how they have sold animals because of it.

Following that was the opportunity to profile Dusty Schirm.  A young man, who much like myself, has faced criticism.  But with the help of a great woman, has really become an outstanding member of the dairy industry.  (Read more: Dusty Schirm- From Show Ring to Sales Ring Building a Franchise).  For me personally this meant a lot.  You see when others were running for the hills when we first started the Bullvine, Dusty has been a supporter since day one.  For that the chance to share Dusty’s story was the least we could do.  So yes we have been sharing lots about Dusty’s upcoming Sale on Monday (Read more: The Franchise Kind II), but if we cannot help those who have supported us, then why are we doing this?

The topper to the week was when Jerry Jorgensen of Ri-Val-Re Holsteins came to me wanting to try something outside of the box.  You see we have had the opportunity to get to know Jerry pretty well since starting the Bullvine.  He first hit our radar when he offered to purchase Golden-PP semen for $10,000 a dose (Read more: $10,000 a Dose Polled Semen) and ever since we have been a huge fan of Jerry’s. Being able to tell his story has been great (Read more: Breeding Ri-Val-Re: Where Looking Good in the stall is Just as Important as looking good on paper).  So when he wanted to try something different we jumped on the opportunity.  We assisted Jerry in promoting his upcoming sale by doing an innovative promotion on Facebook.  The Result – In less than 12 hours it was seen by over 50,000 people on the Bullvine’s Facebook page alone.  All at a fraction of the cost of a single ad in any major dairy publication.  Goes to show that the power of Facebook is something that every breeder should look into (Read more: 7 Reasons Why Your Dairy Farm Needs to Be On Facebook)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Since starting the Bullvine we have had one hell of a ride.  We have started a ripple that has grown into a tsunami.  We have gone from a small upstart to the largest daily digital reach in the dairy industry.  Larger than all our other competitors combined. There are so many amazing breeders who made it all worthwhile.  To those few who still may have me in your sights, I say FIRE.  But you had better kill me cause if you miss…..If you don’t finish the job……be ready for me to come back firing twice as hard….twice as fast…..and shooting to kill.  At The Bullvine we are that passionate about what we are doing and love being the dairy industry`s “Most Wanted!”



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DUSTY SCHIRM: From Show Ring to Sales Ring Building a Franchise

We all look forward to those times in life when all the pieces come together.  That is exactly what is happening for Dusty Schirm who resides in Chebanse Illinois with his wife Nicole and son Wyatt, awaiting the arrival of their second son due in June.  Dusty is the Show Manager at Butlerview Farm where he tells us he feels fortunate to work with some of the top show cattle and most sought after genetics. (Read more: Exciting Times for Butlerview) “I spend the vast majority of my time working with Joe Price and our crew with the show cattle, preparing everything for the upcoming show season.” This life he loves started at home for Dusty.

dusty family

In His Footsteps

Dusty has always had a keen eye for cows and people and gives credit to his father, Larry Schirm. “The biggest influence in my life has always been my dad. He is a man I have respected as long as I can remember.  He has always been sought after to judge the greatest shows in the world and is someone everyone always enjoys.  Mike Heath is someone who has helped me along with every aspect of learning cattle.  When I was first starting out I would spend weeks with him touring around looking at cattle and trying to learn how to see them in the rough just like he does.  He has also been one of the toughest critics on me and never afraid to push me to be better.”

Dusty’s First Top Model

Dusty’s father and Grandpa both contributed to the star maker he would become.  He looks back fondly, “My start in cattle started in Junior Jersey shows.  Both of my grandparents were Jersey breeders and the passion for not only dairy cattle but the show ring started at a young age.  When I was 8 my grandpa Schirm let me pick out a calf to start my own cow family with and to show that year.  I spotted my calf.  She was a broken color Jersey with quite a bit of white on her and I named her Dusty’s MX Butterscotch and she was a March calf.  Little did I know she would go on to be very successful the following year and be named Jr Champion at all the national shows (World Dairy Expo, Harrisburg, Louisville) and that was when I was hooked!”

dusty clippingLearning the Saw-Dusty Trail

Some people have a natural talent for bringing out the best in dairy cattle.  Dusty is modest and prefers to give credit to others.  “I first started fitting around the age of 16 and was very fortunate to have some great teachers.  Starting out with Terry Rawn and Steve Deam.  Once I turned 18 I worked with Delbert Yoder for the first year and learned many valuable tools.  After that I was fortunate to work along with all the great fitters, Paulo, Roger Turner, Mike Heath, Joel Kietzman and Mark Rueth.”  He continues to study these talents.

Roadways, Roses and Runways

For the observer, fitters are the magic makers of the show scene.  We rarely consider what hard work that must be.  Dusty explains, “For me the hardest challenge in being a fitter was the lifestyle I lived.  I would spend 320 plus days a year on the road never having much free time and when I did have some time off I would usually spend that looking for the next great one on the road.  It is a wear and tear business and not for everyone.  There are many highs and lows that also come with being a fitter and a lot of scrutiny win or lose!”  Dusty has learned to make it work.

Learning from the Topliners!

Being at the top of your chosen career is never easy but Dusty has advice to those who would follow the fitters dream, “Starting out is not as tough as one might think. There are many great people in this business that will give anyone a chance.  My advice is when you get an opportunity, take full advantage of the people you are surrounded by.  The reason you are working with those individuals is because they have the formula for success.  Take what they do and apply it to your own goals.”

dusty phoneFrom Heads and Tails to Setting Sales

Looking back Dusty’s career path is a straight line from show string to sales string but thinks it has more serendipity (he encouraged the Bullvine to use big words).  “Last year was my first sale on my own.  It is a funny story how I got pushed into doing one though.  Mike Heath always had a very successful Spring Valley Jersey Sale every other year and last year would have been time for him to do another sale.  When he told me he wasn’t going to do one I thought well, do you think I could do one.  He more or less said yep you are doing one and that was it.  Following in his footsteps was not an easy task because his success with his sales has always been top level.  Mike was great though with helping me through all the steps of having my own sale and with his help and many others we had a very successful sale.”  A little serendipity.  A lot of hard work.

Happy Talk is the Measure of Success

Everybody measures success differently.  For Dusty Schirm he likes to have people talking about him. “Success for me is getting calls from all the consignors that let me know they saw their animal win at a show or they just talked to the buyer of the animal who wants to come to the farm to purchase another one or to see the animal’s cow family.  That for me is how I measure success from a sale when seller and buyer are happy and say, “Thank you!”

Dusty Follows the Stars from Runway to Retail

Over the course of his “hands-on” career, Dusty has been side-by-side with many great cows.  As always, cow-men find it hard to pick out favorites.  “There are so many I have loved to be part of.  From Jerian Sterling Mason, Dupasquier Cousteau Mamie, Friendly-Acres Linjet Murphy, Co-Vista Airliner Sarah, SavageLeigh Linjet Joy, Harvue Roy Frosty to current stars such as Cookview Goldwyn Monique, Silvermaple Damion Camomile  and R-E-W Happy Go Lucky.  I have been so fortunate to be associated with these individuals over my short career.  But I would have to say my favorite all time was JIF Little Minnie.  I bought Little Minnie as a 3yr old many moons ago in an old tie stall barn before she was popular and she has now gone on to be such a marquee cow in the Jersey breed.”

JIF Little Minnie EX-96 4E All-Canadian Mature Cow 2002 & 2004 All-Canadian Champion Cow 2002

JIF Little Minnie EX-96 4E
All-Canadian Mature Cow 2002 & 2004
All-Canadian Champion Cow 2002

Making Change when Shift Happens

For Dusty the biggest change he has witnessed in his career has happened in the marketplace.  “The value of show cattle is increasing to extremely high ends at the top and losing some of the value for the state show and regional type of cattle.  It used to be if you had a real nice cow with a great pedigree that could win or compete at state show levels, she would be worth $7500-$15000.  Though it’s great to see the value on the greatest show cattle in the world at an all time high, it’s sad to see that the markets for smaller homebred herds to market their individuals are losing their value.”  This brings Dusty to face the future with a forecast.

Survival of the Fittest

Not one to mince words, Dusty looks ahead with a clear eye.  “The number one change ahead for my generation is survival.  This means that milking cows will probably not cut it to raise a family so you must find a niche market to provide more income to support your love for dairy cattle.  Also we must learn the art of mating cattle to achieve our personal goals.  Taking the time to study pedigrees that would be the ideal cross on a cow to make the next great one.  It seems more and more we use the “HOT” sire, which is ok for some matings, but we really need to learn about cow families and thinking outside the box.  Some of the best cattle ever have been as a result from someone doing something no one else would have!”

dusty and WyattFortunes, Favorites and Fatherhood!

Dusty says he is fortunate to have been involved in many great accomplishments from fitting cattle that have won at Madison to owning or selling individuals that have been National Winners or All Americans.  However, these are not number one on his achievement list.  He points out, “My proudest moment ever is seeing my little guy for the first time!”  He continues to add special achievements, “My greatest accomplishment so far would be seeing so many individuals go on to be successful from our Jersey Sale this past spring. It is truly one of my proudest moments seeing the Reserve Jr Champion and Honorable Mention Jr Champion heifers from Madison that sold in the Franchise Sale last spring.” (Check out the great work Dusty and the team are doing for The Franchise Kind II Sale)

Wit, Wisdom and a Happy Wife

Dusty loves the new opportunities opening up in his life and has special visions for the future. Jokingly he suggests, “Perhaps I will start up an internet site that tells the truth about the cattle industry… OOPS! … That’s been done .. The Bullvine!”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Then seriously Dusty concludes, “I would like to continue the blessings of time shared with my wonderful wife and family and someday have my own herd of cows that my children could carry on with.” No doubt his boys will enjoy learning hand-in-hand with their dad.  Dusty Schirm is a shining example!



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The Dairy Cattle Investor’s Guide to Spring Sales Madness

Spring is in the air and it seems to do things to people’s heads.  Maybe it’s being cramped up in the barn all winter, or maybe it’s because we start a new show season and much like the start to a pro sport everyone thinks they still have a chance at this point.  With that in mind, The Bullvine decided to take a closer look at some of the sales coming up and find out which consignments caught our attention.

Genomic Giants SaleGenomic Giants Sale

April 3rd – Victoriaville QC Canada – More details and catalog

With over 40 to be offered that have a gPA LPI of over 3,000 or a gPA TPI of over 2,500, there is no question that this sale is going to attract a lot of attention.  In fact there are even three heifers in the sale that have over 4,000 DGV LPIs.  With so many outstanding individuals in this sale, there are sure to be some great buys and many wise investments.  Here are the lots that, on paper, caught our eye.

    Supersire x Observer x Bolver
    From the same family as the popular TAG sires Domain and new release Determine, at 2619 gTPI and 3757 gLPI Ruth numbers well no matter how you look at it.  She was the #3 gTPI female on the March genomic run and is the #2 Supersire in the breed.  That also makes her the #12 gTPI female in the world.  These high numbers combined with a strong family flush history makes Ruth a money making machine.
    Mogul x Shottbolt x Boliver
    Sure to attract the interest of many, including the A.I. companies, this Mogul is also from the same family – Domain and Determine.  Her DGVs are off the charts at +4179 DGV LPI.  That is 559 points above her gPA LPI.  While I would like to see her dam’s DGVs be higher than her gPAs there is no question that this heifer will be in demand with her extreme fat and the fact that she is the #2 Mogul in the breed.
    Numero Uno x Watson x Justice
    Being in the top 10 gTPI heifers in the world pretty much gives  you a license to print money.  Combine that with the strong family flush history and here is a rare opportunity to get into the genomic powerhouse De-Su breeding at the very top and you have a great package.  Her dam Chart Topper is due in May and looks great at Bryhill (Read more: Bryhill International Genetics: 10 Big Steps To Following Their Dream)
    Earnhardt P x Observer x Shottle
    There is no question that polled is hot (Read more: Polled Genetics – Way of the future or passing fad? and $10,000 a dose Polled Semen) and Dallas is a polled heifer believed to be the #4 GTPI Polled heifer in the breed.  While I would love to mate this heifer to some high health and fertility sires, Dallas has strong type numbers and outstanding production that will certainly have her in high demand for sons to service the massive commercial market that many A.I. companies covet.
  • T-SPRUCE MOGUL 7260 – Lot 36
    Mogul x Planet x Shottle
    For those of you who don’t think good plus is good enough (Read more: Is Good Plus Good Enough?) this lot may not be for you.  However, as this sale has proven before, it is certainly good enough for the genomic market (Read more: Janardan – The Making of a Genetic Super Star and TAG’s Genomic Power Sale Averages an Outstanding $30,167).  This may be a sleeper lot that if her dam could ever jump up to VG status could prove very profitable. Strong production with solid type helps this heifer to be among the top 10 gTPI *RC in the breed.
  • Other lots to watch for
    • EDG MIST UNO MYLIFE – Lot 2 – The #11 gTPI female in the world.
    • LACTOMONT NIKOTA SARGEANT – Lot 6 – DGV LPI over 4,000
    • JOSEY-LLC UNO SANGARIA – Lot 16 – Over 3,000 DGV LPI Red Carrier
    • T-SPRUCE MAYFIELD 7251 – Lot 43 – Could be the #3 *RC polled female in the breed.
    • CLOVIS MOGUL SPECIAL – Lot 71 – DGV LPI over 4,000

Crackholm Spring Fever Sale IIICrackholm Spring Fever Sale III

March 29th – Saint-Hyacinthe QC Canada – More details and catalog

Also in Quebec there will be another outstanding installment of the Spring Fever Sales managed by David Crack Jr.  Crackholm  Holsteins.  Not to be outdone by the Genomic Giants Sale, this sale also has many high genomic females and also features some show-winning animals as well.

  • DE-SU 1912 – Lot 1
    Mogul x Oman x Ramos
    Similar to the Genomic Giants Sale, lot 1 in the Crackholm Spring Fever Sale III is right from the heart of the De-Su program.  This heifer is a sister to the former #1 gTPI heifer in the world, De-Su 1438 sired by Shamrock.  Their dam Clear-Echo M-O-M 2150 is the #5 gTPI cow on the locator list (12/12). This rare opportunity will not go unnoticed as she sells ready to flush and her outstanding components combined with strong type will make her in demand the world over. Also selling in the sale (lot 5) is the Peoti sister to EDG CT UNO CINERGY lot 1 in the Genomic Giants Sale who has a DGV LPI of 3855, which is 200 points over her gPA LPI.
    Mogul x Bookem x Jose
    This heifer really is the complete package.  Her gPA TPI of +2479 combined with a gPA LPI of +3651 makes her attractive no matter what base you are looking at her from.  What really makes her stand out is her DGV LPI of 4069, making her one of the rare few over 4,000 since CDN introduced its new regression formula.  Her dam is fresh and looks good at Welcome-Stock farms. This heifer is higher than her pa’s in every major category.
    Mccutchen x Man-O-Man x Lauden
    Coming in as the #1 LPI Mccutchen in the world will certainly attract attention.  This fancy Oct 2012 is also within 2 months of the oldest McCutchens, something not to be lost on many looking to get ahead in the genomic race.  While this heifer does have outstanding DGVs, you may want to make sure that you protect her on health and fertility in each mating as her sire stack and genomic test indicate this is her biggest area for improvement.
    Mayfield x Man-O-Man x Shottle
    Honey’s dam COOKIECUTTER MOM HUE who recently scored VG-88-2YR could very well be the #1 LPI cow, or at least a top 10 LPI cow in Canada come this next round.  This Mayfield daughter has outstanding numbers including a DGV Conformation of +21.  Combine that with a family that has proven to flush well and is in demand and you have an outstanding money making machine.  Also selling are her AltaSuplex, Cobra and Epic sisters.
    Observer x Socrates x Boliver
    For those of you looking for something that is already milking there is Observ Saint.  From the same family as Super, Obersv Saint is a potential top 50 LPI cow in Canada.  She is fresh since January and gave 38.2 kg of 5.5%F and 3.0%P on her first test.  She has balanced breeding values, but you may want to protect her on type especially rump and dairy strength, as both her sire stack and genomic test indicate this.
    Windhammer x Baxter x Hailey
    Adding a little spice to the genomic mix are many family members of the great RF GOLDWYN HAILEY EX-97, 2012 World Dairy Expo and Royal Winter Fair Supreme Champion.  Highlighting the bunch are Wind Hailey and Wind Hello, the Windhammer daughters from the VG-86-2YR daughter of Hailey.  Given the type potency this family has proven to produce (read more.  Dominate Expo Quebec) combined with the Windhammer these heifers are sure to be impressive.

Vente Nationale at Expo PrintempsVente Nationale de Printemps

April 3rd – Victoriaville Quebec – More details and catalog

Held in conjunction with the Quebec Spring Show, the Vente Nationale de Printemps is certainly a sale you will not want to miss.

    Man-O-Man x Shottle x Champion
    This VG-2yr sells fresh since August 13.  This heifer has the potential to be a top 100 gLPI cow and comes from a family that has flushed well in the past.  While she may not be a top 10 gLPI cow, she will certainly be a great seed animal in any breeding program.
    Numero Uno x Superstition x Talent
    Brin’s Dam,  Rainyridge Super Beth *RC VG-86-CAN 2yr, is the #2 *RC CTPI Cow in North America and the #3 DGV LPI *RC cow in Canada.  Combine that with the fact that Beth’s dam is none other than the great Rainyridge Talent Barbara EX-95 (Read more: Lasting Legacy –  A Tribute to Rainyridge Talent Barbara) and you have one extremely marketable package.
    Mogul x Planet x Shottle
    With an extremely popular sire stack, Mimi is a sister to the hot new release sire MR MOVIESTAR MODEL from Jetstream Genetics.  The Productive Life, Health Trait blood lines of the Wesswood-HC Rudy Missy family pours the best into this heifer that is extremely balanced.  Add to that a family that flushes extremely well and you have a money making machine.
    Mayfield x Man-O-Man x Shottle
    Honey is a full sister to lot 8 at the Crackholm sale, so you will certainly have the opportunity to see just what these heifers are worth before sale day.  With the highest LPI heifer from Hue selling for $130,000 at the 2012 Planet Holstein Sale (Read more: The Planet Explodes at World Dairy Expo – 2012 Planet Holstein Sale Recap) and Hue herself selling for $200,000 at the Sale of Stars (Read more: Genomic Stars Shine at Sale of Stars) this is certainly a family that is in demand.
    Mogul x Observer x Shottle
    This heifer is the complete package and her 2nd dam UFM-DUBS SHERAY EX-USA is the former #1 CTPI cow in the breed.  This heifer has outstanding balance to her index and offers an outstanding opportunity to build around that as the family has proven to flush well.
    Shaw x Shottle x Justice
    Talk about combining two of the hottest genomic families in the world.  On the paternal side you have the great Ammon-Peachy Shauna VG-87-2yr (Read more: Ammon-Peachy Shauna: 2012 Golden Dam Finalist and Charting the right course at Seagull Bay Dairy) and maternal side you have WABASH-WAY-I SHOTTLE EMBER VG-86 1st Calf, dam of MR LOOKOUT P ENFORCER +3837 gPA LPI and MR LOOKOUT P EMBARGO +3467 gPA LPI.
  • Other lots to watch for:
    • T-GEN-AC LAYNE RUSSIA – Lot 20 – Super Layne from the same family as Domain.
    • LOOKOUT PESCE PNDE KARMA – Lot 25 – Epic from MS C-HAVEN OMAN KOOL the extremely promising Man-O-Man daughter now housed at Bulterview Genetics.
    • STE ODILE MODEL CRISTAL – Lot 32 – Sudan Cri x from #1 GLPI Cow in Canada, LES091 BAXTER MODEL RUBIS VG-87.
    • JACOBS GOLDWYN CHARM – Lot 40 – Full sister to Robrook Goldwyn Cameron EX-92, All-Canadian & All-American 2011 & 2012, Res. Intermediate Champion 2012
    • VALLEYVILLE SANCHEZ VERNIE  – Lot 45 – Full sister to Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-892yr (Read more: The 2012 Breeder’s Choice Awards – Tanbark Trail Edition and Quality Holsteins – Well Deserved Congratulations )

quest for success online catalog 2013-1The Quest for Success Sale

March 22nd – Marion WI, USA – More details and catalog

Not wanting to  focus only on Canada there are also some great opportunities to be had south of the border.  Leading the way is The Quest for Success Sale hosted by Bella-View Holsteins.

    Mogul x Observer x Socrates
    Catching our eye pretty quickly is Lyanna with her outstanding genomic test results highlighted by her gTPI of 2421 and gLPI of 3485 and an impressive DGV LPI of 3849. With no Man-O-Man, Goldwyn, or Shottle, Lyanna certainly has a lot of options in sire selection (Read more: 12 Sires to Use in Order to Reduce Inbreeding).
    Contender x Advent x Skychief
    Wanting to have something for everyone this sale also has a nice selection of red animals on offer.  Highlighted by A&M-BUSHMAN SUNBURN the HM All-American Red and White spring calf and maternal sister to the 4x All-American, MD-Hillbrook Sunburst-Red-ET EX-92.
    Colt-P x Mitey P x Redliner
    For those of you looking for something a little different there is GOLDEN-OAKS COLT POPPY-RED the homozygous polled Colt-P from the Perk Rae Family (2012 Golden Dam Finalist).
  • Other lots to watch for
    • L-L-M-DAIRY S S PHAWN – LOT 2 – gTPI +2476 gLPI +3178 DGV +3343
    • WEBB-VUE CAMERON 6611 – Lot 3 – •#5 GTPI Cameron daughter
    • REGANCREST MOGUL DANCER Lot 26 – GTPI +2366 GLPI +2939/ DGV +3293
    • T-GEN-AC MOGUL ROSSI – Lot 63 – GTPI +2384 GLPI +3015/ DGV +3223, Dam is a maternal sister to the dam of Lot 1 DE-SU 1912 in the Crackholm sale.

Co-Vale Tag Sale 3-19-13-1Tag Sale at Co-Vale

March 19-25 Preble NY, USA –  More details and catalog

Continuing on from the success of the 2012 Co-Vale tag sale, the following lots that caught our eye.

  • First North American Choice form Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra*RC EX-94-SW – Lot B
    Certainly catching our eye for a long while now has been O’Kalibra (Read more: The All European Championship Show: The greatest SHOW on earth and Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra Wins Grand at the 2013 All European Championship).  Not only is O’Kalibra one of the greatest show cows in the world today but she also comes from an outstanding pedigree.  She is from the same family as Dudoc Mr. Burns and Granduc Tribute.  This calf will be the 1st heifers available from O’Kalibra available here in North America.
  • Also catching our eye are:
    • Lot A Choice of full sisters to 2012 All American 4yr old T-Triple-T Gold Prize EX-92
    • Lot 18 MD-Dun-Loafin Lau Elly-  Full sister to MD-Dun-Loafin Lauth Elli All-Canadian & American Fall Calf 2012
    • Lot 28 Jacobs Sid Beauty – Pine-Tree Sid from Jacobs Goldwyn Brittany EX-95, 1st 4yr-old Royal Winter Fair 2011

Milksource catalog-1Milk Source Tag Event

March 22nd – 23rd Kaukauna WI, USA –  More details and catalog

For those of you wanting to get a little color with your show ring winners there is certainly the Milk Source Tag Event highlighted by Blondin Redman Seisme (2 Time WDE and RAWF R&W White Grand Champion), Budjon-Nitzy Destiny Red and Dupasquier Contender Whitney.



franchise kind iiThe Franchise Kind II

March 25th Syracuse NY, USA – More details and catalog

If red and white Holsteins are not enough, or you prefer Jersey, you certainly do not want to miss the 3rd installment of the Franchise Kind sale.  Highlighted this year by Page-Crest Excition Karlie (All-Canadian Senior 2-Year-Old 2012), Woodsview Excitation Tracy (2nd Jr 2yr old WDE’11 and 3rd Jr 2yr old RAW ’11) and South Mountain Socrates Lavish (Show results) this sale is certainly going to be one of the top Jersey sales of the year.  Watch tomorrow for interview with sale co-manager Dusty Schirm.

taste_of_ontario-1Canadian National Convention Sale – Taste of Ontario

April 10th Ancaster Ontario, Canada – More details and catalog

Rounding out the major spring sales is the Taste of Ontario sale held in conjunction with the Canadian National Convention.  Highlights include daughters of many of the great show winners including

  • Lot 5 – JACOBS GOLDWYN CANDY – Full sister to Robrook Goldwyn Cameron VG-87 2Yr, All-Canadian & All-American 2011 & 2012
  • Lot 6 – BOULET WINDBROOK CLOTY – Windbrook x Boulet Goldwyn Chalou EX-95 2E 2*, Champion Bred & Owned WDE, Madison 2012 H.M. All-Canadian 2012, Res. All-American 2012
  • Lot 8 – QUALITY MOGUL FIXI – Mogul x Shottle x Goldwyn x Quality B C Frantisco EX-96 3E 18*, Supreme Champion 2004 & 2005, believed to be the highest index member of the Frantisco family

The Bullvine Bottom Line

With all the excitement around a new year, it is easy to get caught up and make investments that you may regret later.  It is always best to do your homework and invest wisely.  These lots are the ones that caught our eye and are sure to help spur on the spring sale madness.



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Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country

dairy carrie“I grew up in Madison WI, exactly 2 miles south of the World Dairy Expo grounds.” So begins what could be a simple diary entry.  But there is nothing simple about the writing of Carrie Mess who was raised in the heart of dairy land but not exactly part of it – at least not in the beginning. “Aside from seeing lots of cattle trailers on the Beltline as a kid, I had zero connection to dairy farms.” That all changed when Carrie met Patrick Mess whose family has been in the dairy business for generations. “After we got married I left my job in town and started working on the farm. We knew we wanted farming to be a part of our future but I had no idea if I could hack it on a dairy farm. I literally knew nothing about cows when I started but fell in love fast and found what I believe is the path I was meant to be on.” Those who know Carrie wholeheartedly agree.

Blogging In Vicariously!

Carrie had found her path but there would be some twists and turns. Technology became one helpful signpost along the way.  Carrie explains some of the first steps. “Via twitter I found a group of farmers that called themselves the AgChat Foundation. This group was all about using social media to tell the story of agriculture. I attended the 2nd AgChat Foundation 2.0 Conference and started thinking about creating a blog. At the time I was searching for a strong connection to agriculture. Patrick and I had had changes in our lives and weren’t on the dairy farm. I wanted something that kept me part of the dairy industry. A few weeks later I wrote my first post and the rest is history!” History yes!  But a lot more interesting for her readers!!

“All the Moos About Me!”

Patrick and Carrie are back on the farm now and have formed an LLC (Limited Liability Company) with his parents to purchase their 100 cow dairy. Carrie manages the herd health side of things as well as scheduling a few part time employees. She is a blog writer but her passion makes it so much more as she explains, “My blog is centered around agriculture and mainly dairy. However the title is “The Adventures of Dairy Carrie” and my life does include things outside of cows. Sometimes I will blog about music, food or whatever else I am thinking. It’s my blog so I make the rules! I find that writing about non dairy topics is also a great way to connect with people outside of agriculture.” You might say that anything relating to pen-manship — on the farm or on the keyboard — inspires Carrie.


This Merry Prairie Carrie has Mentors

Actresses have role models and bloggers do too! Once again, Carrie aspires to the unexpected. “When I grow up I want to be a combination of the Pioneer Woman and Mike Rowe*. They are both great at sharing stories in a fun and entertaining way.” However, Carrie’s career path has been mentored well on the serious side too. “When it comes to the cows, my in-laws, Clem and Cathy Mess have taught me the vast majority of what I know about dairy cattle. The care they give their cows is an example for all of us.” (Michael Gregory “MikeRowe is an American media personality best known as the host of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs)

Carrie is Caring, Sharing and Calling YOU!

Carrie’s commitment to agriculture is a rallying cry for all of us. ““I believe that the future of agriculture, the very future of our food supply, rests in my hands and the hands of the people out there on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube sharing their lives.

dairy carrie2

Does She Get Carried Away? Absolutely!!

As the wave of Carrie’s dairy enthusiasm grows, so does the pressure on her schedule.  She admits, “I don’t sleep very much and my smart phone is glued to my hand. Between the farm, my full time position with Udder Comfort, selling semen for Sierra Desert Breeders and, my blog is often neglected. I try to post at least one post a week. A post can take me anywhere from 20 minutes to write to hours. I’ve found that some of my most popular posts are posts that I put up in a hurry. I guess I should take that as a hint and not to over think everything that I write.” Judging from her popularity Carrie probably could rest on her laurels and fall back on, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” That’s not the Carrie way however!!

The Big Barn Theory Hammers Home Carrie’s “Shocking” Message

Carrie has used many means to deliver her message and one of them was especially revealing. “My most popular post, with over 42,000 views was the video I made showing what really happens on a dairy farm. I set it up as a “shocking undercover video” to mimic the animal rights videos that get out. Again, I was blown away by the response I got! The video was shot quickly and put up so I wouldn’t feel guilty about not posting all week. I think it went over so well because people who were expecting to see something bad instead watched, laughed and learned and didn’t even realize it. I find humor is the best approach to the heavy stuff. Makes it all easier to digest.” Whatever her method the results are music to dairy lovers everywhere.

Someday She Will Carrie a Tune

This dynamo has many fields that she would like to cover in the future.  “I would really love to learn to play the guitar. I am a huge music lover and wish I had the talent to make my own music.”  She’s modest but her musical enthusiasm led to a connection that was behind this hardworking ambassador’s promotion of another agricultural event. ““The Departed song “Worth the Fight” is a really great tune; it really gets me revved up and rocking,” It was the inspiration behind her Farming: Worth the Fight! Agvocacy. “The song has been my biggest inspiration. Last fall when I was organizing a Hay Drive to help struggling farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma and Texas, the guys from The Departed helped me out by sharing the Hay Drive info to their fans. I really appreciated their help and thought that this was a great way to say thanks to them, as well as tie my love for agriculture and music into one big post.” When Carrie loves something, you’re going to hear about it.

Diary of Another Fine Mess

Inspired by the family farm and loving her life with husband Patrick Mess, Carrie says he is the one she relies on. “He can make or fix anything and he keeps me sane when life   starts spiraling out of control.” And that is probably why she so firmly believes that there is hope even though as she puts it, “ the future of farming in our country is teetering on the edge of disaster.” and needs all of us to raise our voices. “Misinformation is running wild across the news channels and internet. If the people out here making the decisions about how food in this country is produced don’t speak up and provide the transparency that our customers are demanding, soon our decisions will be made for us.” Hear here!!

The Bullvine Bottom Line – Carry Forward!

With champions like Carrie sharing her Dairy Diary and carrying the Dairy Torch, the future looks brighter indeed. Let’s help her keep carrying on!! It’s good for all of us!



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Dairy Farm Moms are Unstoppable

Mary Lou King winning LIVE with Kelly and Michael’s Search for Unstoppable Moms contest

Mary Lou King winning LIVE with Kelly and Michael’s Search for Unstoppable Moms contest

2013ectMary Lou King looks like a typical, loving dairy farm mother, but she is anything but ordinary.  Like most of her peers she has unrelenting dedication to her family and farm.  What does make her extra special is that she is grand prizewinner of an “Unstoppable Mom” contest run by the national morning television show “LIVE with Kelly and Michael” (Formally known as Live!  With Regis and KathieLee).

Her daughter nominated Mary Lou King, of Cochranville Pennsylvania, with the following letter being sent into the show:

Dear Kelly & Michael,
My mom is the most amazing woman in the whole entire world!  I’m sure everyone claims this title for their mother, but I guarantee you have never met someone as special as my mom. Being 21, and the oldest of 4 kids, my mom has been the one and only role model of my life. My family all grew up on our 300 cow dairy farm in PA. My mom has been milking the cows at 4:00am and 4:00pm every day with my dad ever since they were married back in 88′. She never has off weekends, holidays, and VERY rarely goes on vacation, but this doesn’t phase her at all. My parents have been married for 24 years and are still head over heels in love. I mean, us kids still catch them making out in the barn! Their constant love and joy for each other has been the best model for me and my new husband of 4 months. I just admire how after 24 years and 4 kids, my parents are still so close. My mom is also a nurse. She went to school and received her degree right after high school, which inspired me to do the same thing, and my 18 year old sister now as well, who is starting nursing school this fall. My mom’s nursing degree also helped her when my youngest sister, Kandy, was born mentally handicapped.
My Mom is the most amazing, selfless, inspiring, and uplifting woman in this entire world.  She is defiantly unstoppable and will forever be the best mom ever!

Like most dairy farm moms, Mary Lou’s day starts at 4am milking cows and then a very full day of working on the farm and taking care of her family.  She and her husband of almost 25 years, Neil, own a 300-cow dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania, where Mary Lou seamlessly juggles the responsibilities of running the farm, while also raising their four children.

Even though her day starts before sunrise and ends well after sunset, Mary Lou still finds the time to serve a family dinner every night.  She’s in the barn with the cows for a good chunk of the day, also spending her mornings and nights caring for their youngest daughter, Kandy, who was born with a mental handicap.  King’s day lasts late into the evening, only to have her rise the next morning and start all over again.  Trained as a nurse, this hard-working and selfless woman inspired both of her daughters to attend nursing school as well.

In addition to the $100,000 grand prize presented to Mary Lou, each finalist received a surprise gift from “LIVE” – ranging from a cruise, to a $5,000 shopping spree, to a resort vacation – plus an additional $10,000 for each mom as a ‘thank you’ for all they do.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Mary Lou has been cast into the national spotlight and like “The Farmer” Super Bowl commercial (Read more: Agriculture Takes Center Stage at the largest TV event of the year!) her story has done wonders to portray the dairy industry in a great light.  Mary Lou is a humble, compassionate woman and I cannot think of anyone more deserving than her to win.  You can easily see the love she has for her family and the admiration her family shares for her.  Mary Lou is a shining example of what makes Dairy Farm moms so unstoppable.



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Reality Check – Who is Really Controlling the Dairy Breeding Industry?

Often I find as an industry we are guilty of living in a bubble.  While sometimes that has served us well, other times there are situations where it for sure has hurt the dairy breeding industry as a whole.  However, like all bubbles, this will have to burst in order for the industry to advance, otherwise the dairy cattle breeding industry will become irrelevant.

There is no question that the dairy breeding industry is going through times of great change.  Genomics has had a massive effect on not only how we prove bulls, but also on the sources of revenue and the focus of many breeding programs.  There has been great discussion about what the changes in April will have on the industry (Read more: How Genomics is Killing the Dairy Cattle Industry).  There are some far greater issues that many breeders need to think about.

Some Big Hitters Are Coming To the Plate

One such issue is the entry of Pfizer/Zoetis into the animal genetics game.  There is no question that companies like Pfizer have the resources and the experience to come into industries and dominate.  When you compare the size and revenue of the Animal Health market to that of the dairy cattle breeding industry, you really have to wonder why Pfizer would even bother.  There is no question that DNA testing is a very cool science, but companies like Pfizer don’t do things because they think that it is cool.  They do it because they know they can make money.

When you step back and look at this from a 50,000-foot view, I start to think, is this Pfizer wanting to come and take over dairy cattle breeding?  On the other hand, is it that Pfizer sees how they can protect their much larger revenue source, animal health?  Walk with me on this one.  If it is possible to understand genomics to such an extent that we can breed a better cow, does that not include a cow that is more resistant to disease, parasites, and bacteria? Now we’re talking about core revenue sources for Pfizer animal health, now called Zeotis.

That is why when I first saw the announcement from Pfizer in May 2012 about how Canadian Dairy Network, Holstein Canada, Pfizer Animal Health, The Semex Alliance and its owners are going to partner to support delivery of genetic services to the Canadian dairy industry it really got me thinking about is this a good thing or should we be concerned?  While the public relations side of this looked all great with the message that the alliance gives dairy producers access to new genetic testing services, I could not help but think what does this mean if Pfizer/Zoetis now has direct access to all the genomic information not only in Canada but also indirectly for the world?

Also of interest about this move was that instead of being signed by all the members of the industry it was done very selectively.  Instead of being signed by say Canadian Livestock Genetics Association it was done exclusively with the Semex Alliance.  Is there a partnership between Semex and Pfizer that we are not aware of?  Have we as an industry, or our representatives, on our behalf made decisions that we may all regret?  While I am sure from first glance this agreement looked pretty basic, I can’t help but wonder if there are much greater ramifications that have not really been thought through.

Information is Power, But who controls the information?

With these questions about genetic evaluations and genomics, you can’t help but think about the heated discussion around the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) and who controls genetic evaluations in the US (Read more: Council On Dairy Cattle Breeding: Land of the Free and Home of the Brave?).  The Cooperative Agreement with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) pertaining to the transfer of the USDA-­‐ARS dairy genetic evaluation service to the CDCB has certainly had many asking who does have control?

While the Bullvine has request several times to do an interview with CDCB officers , Ole Meland, (Chair), Jay Mattison (Vice Chair), Becky Payne (Secretary) and  Gordon Doak (Recording Secretary), we have still not yet been granted the opportunity.

No Demand Means No Market

Of course there is a much bigger issue I think every breeder needs to think about.  While in Canada most breeders are pretty immune to having to think about market demand, you only have to look at the US and Australia to see what happens when market demand goes south.  If consumers are not drinking milk, it does not take long for the industry to dry up.

Worldwide milk consumption in relation to population growth is falling.  While yes total consumption is increasing, we are not keeping pace with other beverages.

With greater international supply and less demand, it doesn’t take long to drive price and revenue down (Read more: Why the Future of the North American Dairy Industry Depends on Supply and Demand). There is no question that breeders and the industry as a whole, needs to pay greater attention to consumer demand as it will have the greatest impact on our future.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is no question the world is changing.  It always is and always will.  The question becomes are you ahead of the change or behind it?  If we continue to operate in a bubble or stick our heads in the sand, we will not be the ones driving our own future, but instead will be handed the scraps from the future decided by others.  That is why it is important to know who is controlling the dairy breeding industry?



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12 Sires to Use in Order to Reduce Inbreeding

top13of2013Inbreeding, and more importantly its consequences, has long been a concern of breeders as it reduces production, lowers fertility, results in more stillbirths and leads to fewer days in the herd.  When genomics was first introduced, the theory was that it could help limit the amount of inbreeding in Holsteins.  In reality it has done the exact opposite.  Research indicates that relationships within respective breeds could be accelerating even faster since genomics’ introduction five years ago and there is also evidence that genetic diversity, another factor of inbreeding, is shrinking.

When you look at the sires of the top 100 genomic young sires lists, you notice a decent variety of sires with 30 bulls siring the top 100 sires.  However, a pedigree analysis on only the paternal side reveals that 90 percent of the bulls either have Oman, Planet or Shottle represented as the sire or grandsire.  The remaining 10 bulls represent genetic diversity.  However, the list needs further refining because 3 of the 10 remaining bulls have Oman’s sire or Shottle’s sire in the pedigree.  That leaves seven bulls with unique sires among the Holstein breed’s elite.

To help guide breeders in dealing with this inbreeding issue, we decided to look for outcross sires either proven or genomic tested sires that would offer breeders the near maximum genetic gain while providing needed diversity.  The word outcross or what constitutes an outcross sire can be tricky depending on where you are located.  For our purposes, we are calling an outcross sire to be one that does not have Oman, Goldwyn, Planet, and Shottle anywhere in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation of their pedigree.

Balanced Overall Performance Improvement

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

    Massey is a popular sire of sons combining elite indexes with a great outcross opportunity.  Massey daughters are snug uddered with strong attachments.  Though they should be protected for rump angle (high) and dairy strength, his low somatic cell score, high herd life/productive life and strong fertility make Massey a great sire for your breeding program.
    Look for Dorcy to sire balanced dairy cattle that have great udders and very good feet & legs, though he will need to be protected for dairy strength, fat percent and specifically his body depth and chest width.  While his productive life and low somatic cell score make Dorcy very strong longevity sire, you will want to use him wisely  on virgin heifers as he is not a calving ease sire.
    Yuxi is a great sire for feed efficiency, based on his strong milk production from smaller framed and stature cattle (Read more:  30 Sires That Will Produce Feed Efficient Cows).  While he needs to be protected on loin strength and body depth, his high productive life, low somatic cell score and great calving ease will have his daughters producing milk in your herd for a long time.

Production Improvement

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

    A proven sire that maybe has not caught the eye of many breeders, Ruble offers outstanding production improvement from solid type.  While certainly not a calving ease sire, Ruble will greatly increase production from strong uddered cows that have good feet and legs.
    Coming from a strong maternal line (Read more: The Bloom is on Oconnors Goldwyn Jasmine) Jay offers great component improvement from solid production.  He also has the ability to improve overall type, especially udder attachments and texture, but should be protected on pin setting.
    Talk about a challenge.  In order to find a genomic sire that met our requirements we had to go the 95th sire on our list of production improvement genomic sires.  Much like Yuxi, Geno will also produce feed efficient daughters (Read more:  30 Sires That Will Produce Feed Efficient Cows).  His strong components, especially fat, combined with great udders and strong health and fertility makes Geno a great sire to look at for a solid outcross sire.

Longevity Improvement

For those of you that are looking to breed cattle that stay around  lactation after lactation or maybe you are  having problems with your 2 year olds not coming back for a 2nd lactation, we recommend the following outcross sires, in addition to Dorcy mentioned earlier:

    This outcross sire offers great longevity improvement combined with strong health and fertility.  While he does need to be protected on protein and milking speed, his great feet and legs, udders and health and fertility, make him an outcross sire you don’t want to miss.
    With  Boss Iron daughters such as Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra catching the eyes of the world in the show ring (Read more: The All European Champion Show: The Greatest Show On Earth), there are also Iron daughters that are getting the job done as bull mothers.  A great example of this is BEL IRON IRENE, the dam of Mincio.  This high fertility Bolton son combines high type with great production, which is resulting in outstanding results in his current daughter performance.  Watch for MINCIO to sire great udders and feet & legs though you may want to watch him on somatic cell score.
    This outcross genomic sire just spells longevity.  Deligent was bred to deliver long lasting daughters.  With outstanding Herd Life/Productive Life, breed leading mammary systems scores and strong Feet and Legs scores, Deligent is a longevity specialist, though he does need to be somewhat protected for dairy strength.  Look for DELIGENT to combine this longevity with strong production and type numbers.

Health and Fertility Improvement

One area that is not getting enough attention from most breeders is health and fertility.  While there is no question that every breeder knows that more pregnancies equals more profits many of the top ranking sires actually have negative values for health and fertility.  The following are some outcross specialist sires that should help you change that:

    While you certainly would not use Stockton as a production improvement sire.  His high daughter pregnancy rate, productive life and low somatic cell make Stockton the perfect sire for that high production cow you are looking to breed some health and fertility traits into.
    While not a name that most breeders know, Phonic is certainly going to get some attention from breeders looking to breed to where the industry is headed.  With extremely low SCS and high daughter fertility combined with functional type and above average production, Phonic is leaving daughters that are extremely low maintenance.  Tracing back to the great Italian brood cow Cervi FIRESTONE, this family has produced such sires as BUXON, WOODSTOCK and PADERNUS.  Given his high rump angle, it is interesting that he is such a good calving ease sire.
    Similar to finding an overall performance improver on the top genomic lists, finding a health and fertility genomic sire had us going to number 55 on our list.  Look for True to sire outstanding udders with strong feet and legs.  He will need to be protected on loin strength.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Choosing the correct sire can be challenging enough.  Finding a sire that also offers an outcross from the main Goldwyn, Planet, Shottle and Oman can be almost impossible.  That is why we compiled these 12 sires to bring to light some outcross pedigrees that many breeders may not have heard of.  It is, certainly worth taking a look at many of these sires, when looking to combat inbreeding in your herd.

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.





Luck-E Holsteins: The Harder they work, the Luck-E-r they get!

Brothers Joe and Matt Engel and their parents, Dennis and Beth, have the obvious good fortune to own and operate Luck-E Holsteins of Hampshire, Illinois. The really fortunate part is that their luck is not just in the name but in their achievements too!

Talk About Luck-E

Luck-E Holsteins have bred or developed hundreds of Excellent cows (260+ homebred) including 5 EX-95, set national production records, bred 15+ All-American nominations. That is outstanding and Joe Engel gives further updates. “For years the average score of the dams of all cows in the herd has been EX-91 or EX-92. I think the biggest accomplishment is developing our four main cow families that transmit so consistently every generation our ‘goal cow’.” So obviously it isn’t just an accident.  But where did their Luck begin?  The Engel brothers explain.

Luck-E Goldwyn Aaliyah VG-89-2yr Dam is Luck-E Outside Anxious 3E-93 x 2E-90 x 3E-93 x 2E-94

Luck-E Goldwyn Aaliyah VG-89-2yr
Dam is Luck-E Outside Anxious 3E-93 x 2E-90 x 3E-93 x 2E-94

Luck-E Start

“Our parents grew up on Angus farms. Our dad bought the farm we are at today and started milking 38 grade cows. Our parents married in ’68 and bought their first registered cow. From then on all purchased animals were registered. When getting ready to register the first calf, they realized they needed a prefix. After seeking advice from an established breeder, they were told you want something short, positive and easy to remember. Take the Y off Lucky and put E for Engel and the Luck-E name was born. When the first of us five boys started 4-H so did going to the county fair and district show which led to State Show and then to National shows.”

What Luck-E Holsteins Looks Like

Currently the Engels are milking 150 cows in 38 stall barn with 19 machines; all cows are housed in sand freestalls and feed a one group TMR. Calves are raised in hutches for about 80-85 days and then to loose housing bedded with straw. Bred heifers, milk cows, and dry cows have access to pasture about 8 months a year. The two brothers and their parents all play an active role in the everyday operation of the farm.

 Luck-E Advent Atlanta EX-92 3yr Max Score Atlanta is a full sister to the dam of 200H6450 Adonis-Red.

Luck-E Advent Atlanta EX-92 3yr Max Score
Atlanta is a full sister to the dam of 200H6450 Adonis-Red.

Making Their Own Luck

When it comes to cattle breeding they have a well prepared plan. “We want a truly well balanced cow; wide from her muzzle to her pins with a silky well attached udder and high protein. A cow needs to be able to calve, go right out to the freestalls, be healthy, have the capacity to make a lot of milk from forage and last. Chest width is the building block for all of that.  Proven cow families on both sides of the pedigree are important. We want to develop and work with families that hit every time. It is just as important how good the worst sister is as the best one. It costs just as much to make and feed a bad one as a good one. Duds are too expensive. Protein makes a huge difference on the milk check and marketing.” Obviously they feel that the harder they work on their goals the better the results will be.

Loving All Their Luck-E Stars, Including the Red Ones!

Luck-E Holsteins have had so many great cows they feel it is hard to narrow down the list of favorites says Joe. “I can’t pick one. However Luck-E Blitz Australia and Luck-E Rubens Kaylie” stand out for him. He describes these two “*RC. Australia was built just the way we like with tremendous dairy strength and perfect udder attachments. She was the high index Blitz for a long time when Blitz was hot. She is the cow that started bringing international visitors to the farm. She has our kind of pedigree, production and type. She has had three daughters max out at EX-92 2nd calf. We are very excited about how they are starting to transmit including Asia’s in demand son Luck-E Adonis-Red.”

Luck-E Advent Kandie-Red EX-92-95-MS 2yr Daughter of LUCK-E RUBENS KAYLIE *RC EX-92

Luck-E Advent Kandie-Red EX-92-95-MS 3yr

Then their attention turns to Kaylie and an outline of her strengths. “Kaylie *RC is a Rubens from two generations EX-94. She was the first virgin heifer we ever flushed. She was the kind of heifer you just wanted to breed from. Wide chest, tremendous rump, straight lines, and *RC (like good Triple Threat). We flushed her to the first available semen from a red bull out of a really nice young Durham with a great pedigree. That flush yielded what we believe to be the first milking All-American Advent Luck-E Advent Kite-Red, the first EX-92 Advent Luck-E Advent Kalotta (first to win at a National show milking) and the first EX Advent son Luck-E Advantage. Their full sister is Luck-E Advent Kandie –Red EX-92 MS95 3yr. Kalotta’s daughter Luck-E Talent Kiwi EX-92 (max) is following the families mold with great type protein.”

Building on Luck

The plan is working well for the Engels. “We aim for consistent performance every generation. Luck-E Advent Asia EX-92, Luck-E Advent Atlanta EX-92, Luck-E Advent Kandie-Red EX-92, Luck-E Talent Kiwi EX-92, and Luck-E Goldwyn Aaliyah VG-89 2yr. are all cows built the way we like with maximum scores, and most importantly from proven cow families that seem to always transmit.

Luck-E Advent Asia EX-92 2yr Max Score 1st 2-year-old Futurity, IL Championship Show 2010 Daughter of LUCK-E BLITZ AUSTRALIA VG-87 2YR

Luck-E Advent Asia EX-92 2yr Max Score
1st 2-year-old Futurity, IL Championship Show 2010


Luck-E Matches Strength to Strength

Joe outlines how clearly they build the exact mating for each Luck-E Holstein. “Despite the opportunity to fill index contracts, we flushed Australia (dam of Asia & Atlanta) to Advent because we thought it would make a beautifully balanced cow and *RC is appealing. Kaylie we did to Advent to make Kandie because of the success of her first Advents. We mated Kaylie to Advent originally because of Advent’s cow family and sire stack. Kiwi we made because Talent and Advent makes sense. Talent just needs to be used on strength; a Talent from Kalotta is going to have that. Aaliyah’s dam we did to Goldwyn because of her tremendous frame (98 Dairy Strength) and Goldwyn’s style.”

Luck-E Talent Kiwi-ETS  *RC EX-92 93-MS 3yr Dam LUCK-E ADVENT KALOTTA EX-92

Luck-E Talent Kiwi-ETS *RC EX-92 93-MS 3yr

Spreading the Good Luck

Adonis, Absolute, Acme, Armani, Baltimor, Braxton and Buxton are some of the current service sires at Luck-E. “The Adonis- cow family is our ideal.” Joe affirms his confidence in cow families asking, “Do Altitude or Barbie ever disappoint?” He then goes on, “I would add that the Bolton blood in Buxton is a nice shot of milk where needed. Like Blitz in Guthrie and Windbrook we used previously.” He sums up their marketing goals, “We try to take a well rounded approach to marketing. Nothing is better than word of mouth and the best way to get that is happy customers. That is the most important. We think it’s also important to get out and see people at sales and shows whether it’s here, Canada or across the ocean. We try to spread our advertising around to reach more markets. Of course our website is important and the center of our advertising. Facebook is a nice way to compliment those things.” For the Engels there is one important target, “We aim to stay in touch with people and get updates out fast.”

Learning How to be Lucky

Joe gives credit to those who have contributed to his and Matt’s success. “Our parents taught us how to work, how to live, how to farm.” Others have shared lessons too. “Bill Berghorn (former herdsman of Hartman Farms) was at our first classification and almost every one since. He helped us catch the ‘show bug’ and taught us everyday cow sense. Jim Hipel helped us purchase hundreds of cows from Canada.” He wraps up the list with glowing praise.” Of course there is Barb Royle- Master Breeder of the Bardholm herd we purchased in ’99. Anyone who can breed cows like that can teach you something.”

Luck-E Braxton Maeve VG-89 EX-MS 2yr Sr 2 for 2013!

Luck-E Braxton Maeve VG-89 EX-MS
2yr Sr 2 for 2013!

Genomics On Demand

Everyone is aware of today’s changing marketplace and Matt and Joe Engel pinpoint two particular areas. “Genomics and shifts in the market resulting from them and the tightening in dairy margins that have made an efficient, long lasting cow more important than ever no matter what path you take to breed her.” In typical style they know how to deal with this. “Genomics has not had a large affect on how we manage our herd. The young sires we are using are selected because of their maternal line and sire stack. An example would be when we used Braxton and Baltimor initially. We bought a lot of semen before their genomics came out because we loved Barbie and her daughters.” The more prepared you are the luckier you get.  Matt continues discussing market demand. “Demand does seem to have made a shift from embryos to live animals. And the higher the level of animal the more demand has increased.” They both feel there is future in “polled”.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The Engels don’t attribute success to any single method.  “There is no question there are more ways than one to breed cows and be successful.” The next step is important too. “Whether you want the highest genomics, elite type or just a herd full of balanced cows, always follow your goal with each bloodline.” say these two brothers. Joe sums their philosophy with feeling and, in doing so, gives away the secret of their exceptional success “The reason we try to breed the kind of cow we do, the way we do, is because that’s what we love doing.”  Luck-E indeed!



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Genomic Young Sires vs. Daughter Proven Sires: Which one is best for Reliable Genetic Gain?

The Bullvine is often asked, “How can using genomic sires be better, if the genomic sire’s reliabilities are not as high as those for proven sires?” So in typical Bullvine style we set out to answer that question.  The following is our answer…

Single Trait – Fat

Bullvine wanted to keep this comparison as simple as possible.  To do this we used one trait, in this case fat yield, knowing that breeders do not select for one trait only. The results apply to all traits.

Females in Your Barn

You have a virgin heifer and a seven year old cow that are both indexed at 100 kgs for fat yield.  Both have been genomically tested and the cow is milking in her fourth lactation.  The heifer’s index is 67% Rel.  and the cow is 82% Rel.

TABLE 1: Females

Born Fat Index % Rel Regressed Fat Index
Heifer 2012 Jan 10 100 67 67
Cow 2005 Jan 16 100 82 82



Three sires you might consider using for breeding these females could be:

TABLE 2: Sires

Born Fat Index (kgs) % Rel Regressed Fat Index
Oman March 08, 1998 82 99 81
Supersire Dec 28, 2010 116 67 78
Pride January 27, 2012 135 69 93


Index of Calves

What will be the fat indexes for the resulting calves? (Add parents together and divide by two)

TABLE 3: Regressed Fat Indexes for Calves (kgs)

Heifer 74 72.5 80
Cow 81.5 80 87.5

These values are the expected average fat indexes.  And, yes, there will be less variation amongst the progeny for Oman and the cow.  The most variability amongst the progeny can be expected for the heifer when mated to Supersire or Pride.

Therefore, the short answer for which bull to use, is Pride. Pride will maximize the calf’s fat yield index.

Rate of Genetic Gain

Determining genetic gain is a principle taught to all college genetic students.  The formula is:

Let’s simplify this:

Accuracy                              =             Reliability

Selection Intensity          =             Determined by where the animal ranks in the population (all these animals are in the top 1% of the population so their selection intensity is identical)

Genetic Variation             =             Standard Deviation of fat yield indexes (common for all the animals in the example)

Generation Interval        =             The average time between the birth of the parents and the birth of the calf.

Generation Interval is the place where the numbers for the heifer and the sires, Supersire and Pride, are much smaller (in years) than those for the cow and Oman.

TABLE 4: Generation Interval (years)

Heifer 8.5 2.5 2.0
Cow 11.5 5.5 5.0

Since the numbers for fat index in TABLE 3 are all similar, dividing them by a larger vs. a smaller generation interval greatly affects the outcome for genetic gain.

For the cow and Oman dividing 81.5 (Fat Index) by 11.5 (Generation Interval) gives a much smaller gain than for the heifer and Pride (80 divided by 2.0).  In fact it is much different 7.9 compared to 40.

That’s the reason turning generations more quickly, using genomics, gives the faster rates of annual genetic gain. (Read more: The Genomic Advancement Race – The Battle for Genetic Supremacy)

The Bullvine Bottomline

Genomics gives you more speed.  No question.  If you’re worried about speed being dangerous, spread the risk by using multiple (not one) high indexing genomic sires where you might have only used one or two proven sires in the past.



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Dairy Cattle Pregnancy Rates: A CSI Investigation

When you’re looking for money on your dairy farm, pregnant is where it’s at!  The person, team or tools responsible for success in this area, rank up there with the best investments you will ever make.  What is it worth?  A lot!  The Bullvine did some CSI investigation – Cow Scene Investigation into the numbers.

measure up preg rates

Face the Facts. Who’s to Blame?

According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin, 96 percent of the variation in conception rate comes from management factors.  Only the last 4 percent is related to the individual cow and service bull’s genetics.

Less is More $$$

Even though we are looking for more there are four lesser values that will help us make those dollars:  fewer non-productive cow and heifer days; fewer breedings and therefore less semen used; fewer vet expenses and, last but not least, less labor for observing, caring and feeding.

These four will make you big money.  And, one more, in fifth place that may be hard to get your head around. You may have to be willing to sacrifice 2 to 5 pounds of milk per day for the sake of reproduction. It appears to be on the negative side of the ledger because of the immediate reduction in the milk check.  However, the other savings could far outweigh this apparent deficit.  Don’t forget more calves are born and there is less culling of non-pregnant cows and heifers.

If you require more incentive, one anecdotal story reports on a herd that has a 25% pregnancy rate and the breeder projects that “over the next seven years I can double the size of my herd through internal growth alone.”

Where Has All Your Money Gone?

$- A missed heat cycle can cost as much as $29

$$- A missed pregnancy costs an average of $450

$$$ – Further economic analysis shows that each percentage point increase in pregnancy rate is equal to a saving of $35 per cow per year. So going from the average pregnancy rate of 14% to the top of 22% there is a savings of $280. It is entirely possible that considering all factors and both cows and heifers that a farm of 250 cows could save $75,000 which is $300 per cow per year.


At these levels of return, it’s easy to see how improving your reproductive performance pays off.  If you save $75,000 or even $50,000 (2/3 savings), you could hire an employee dedicated only to reproduction protocols and improvements.

When DIM is delayed because cows do not become pregnant on time, it’s not unusual to see a reduction of 10 pounds of milk of more per cow per day. This too adds up quickly.  This milk is not down the drain.  It never even made it to the bucket!

Take Advantage of Your Team

There are many experts who can bring something to your team:  A.I. staff, veterinarians, nutritionists, extension workers and other breeders. With these consultants don’t shy away from mistakes.  Once you know and admit where the problem is, you are half way to solving it. Once the problems are identified you have the opportunity to put solutions in place and make more money.

Invest in Cow Catchers

Heat detection is the easiest of the parameters to influence with training and management attention. The lower your current reproduction record is, the larger opportunity you have to improve it. One hour per week invested in training (i.e. heat detections) at $10 an hour will recover a tenfold or higher return from improved reproductive performance over a year.  Make sure the eyes on your cows know how to find cows in estrus.  Upgrade staff skill sets for managing reproduction and breeding for a pregnancy. Take a course or have staff take a refresher in insemination techniques.  Spend a little to save or make a lot.

Genetics is Where Every Little Bit Counts!

Although genetics only accounts for 5 to 10% of reproductive performance there are opportunities to improve here as well.

  1. Use higher conception semen
  2. Use semen with more sperm per dose
  3. If available, use semen that has a longer viability after insemination
  4. Only use sires that have 107+ Daughter Fertility or DPR 1.2+
  5. Avoid bulls that are over 2.85 SCS, cows more susceptible to mastitis do not conceive easily.

Step Up Your Game. Get off to a Good Start

  • Increase observations and monitoring (at least 3x per 24 hours)
  • Increase observations of bred animals until they are confirmed pregnant
  • Maintain accurate and complete records for access by all staff
  • Pregnancy check between 28 and 35 days post breeding
  • Cull any female that requires a 4th service

Take Advantage of Cash Cow Tools

  • Use a synchronization program for cows or heifers for which a heat is not seen
  • Use the reproduction part of your herd management software. Examples: REPRO MONEY is free of charge to Wisconsin dairy producers and is expanding to additional states in the future.  Other states, milk recording agencies and universities have similar programs.
  • Use activity monitors for loose housed animals
  • Investigate using transition cow and rumination software programs.


You can’t reverse financial challenges such as high feed prices and items beyond your control. However improving poor reproduction is your responsibility.  Getting it right will significantly drive your profitability at the best of times and see you through the challenging ones!



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Don’t Hate The Playa, Hate the Game!

I know you have heard the phrase, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”.  If you haven’t heard it, live a little longer and you will.  What it means is:  “Do not fault the successful participant in a flawed system, instead try to discern and rebuke that aspect of its organization that allows or even encourages the behavior that has provoked your displeasure”.  This definition also holds true for many of the complaints that we hear from our Bullvine readers about various aspects of the dairy industry.

Since we started the Bullvine, just over a year ago, we have always tried to listen to the frustrations of our readers and do what we can to help.  Whether that is explaining different aspects of genomics (Read more: Old School Dairy Breeders – Stop Pissing On Genomics, How Genomics Is Killing The Dairy Cattle Breeding Industry, and Is The Genomic System Really Working) or suggesting ways to increase your genetic sales (Read more: 6 Ways To Invest $50,000 In Dairy Cattle Genetics, Times Have Changed. Why Hasn’t The Way You Market Your Dairy Cattle, and Who Killed The Market For Good Dairy Cattle) or helping to bring clarity to many other issues, we have always tried to help find a solution.  However there are problems where the solution does not lie within what you do on your own farm, but rather the solution needs to come from changes in the industry itself.

While we all love to get on a high horse and gripe and complain about things, Bullvine included, that is not going to change anything.  It’s more important to use that frustration to bring about change.  In looking back over the past year, some major areas that we see that need this are:

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The Bullvine lives by the motto  “Lead, follow, or get out of the way” (Read more: Lead, Follow, Or get out of the way!!!).  Since we have started the Bullvine we have gotten out of the way of no one (Read more: The Bullvine – The Party is Over!), followed no one (Read more: I’m Sorry, But I’ve Had Just About Enough of…), and have tried to lead even when it put us under fire (Read more: The Bullvine – Under Fire).  These are values we will never change as we look to tackle tough issues that have breeders concerned about the future.  At the Bullvine we don’t hate the “playas” in the industry, we actually love all members of the industry.  What we are looking to do is help change the game.



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SHAKE, SIZZLE and FRY! – Social Media in Agriculture is Heating Up!

Several years ago, the marketing team I worked with was led by a gentleman who loved to use the quote, “When you’re selling, don’t sell the steak sell the sizzle.” Although celebrity Chef Lynn Crawford was a keynote speaker at Canadian Dairy Xpo, the Dairy Classroom got cooking early with Billy Frey’s on-farm social media presentation. The dynamic Frey is the Senior Vice President of Alltech Ag Network and he really knows how to sell the sizzle. He grabbed attention early with on-line streaming of his presentation and one-liners like, “What happens in Vegas stays on Facebook” which caught and held the attention of the standing room only audience.

Lyons, TVs and Broadcasts – Oh My!

Alltech Ag Network, as envisioned by its founder, Dr. Pearse Lyons, has always been a company built on relationships explains Billy.  “We knew if we could build a relationship, we could learn of someone’s problems.  Once we knew the problem, we could find a solution.  About 2 years ago, we spoke with our friend Jim Host.  Jim is known as the grandfather of sports marketing for the programs he and his company (Host Communications) put together for the NCAA.  In fact, Jim was just inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame, not for his play, but for his contributions to the game, principally setting up the NCAA corporate partner program.” This dream team was primed for what was about to happen.

It’s iHigh Time for Ag

Frey outlines the serendipity. “Jim Host had started a new company called  This was an online TV company that broadcast high school sporting events.  The idea was simple:  iHigh put the Production Truck that you see at major sporting events into a computer and let the schools broadcast their own games.  The schools could generate revenue through advertising, which proved quite profitable.  Jim and Dr. Lyons thought “Why not agriculture?”  That was the first step and then “Alltech bought the rights to agriculture and began engaging Ag groups (FFA, rodeo organizations, horse shows, etc) to broadcast their events on iHigh.” This was a key and very logical piece according to Frey, “Agriculture has such a great story to tell, and who better to tell it than the participants themselves?”

A Communication Cover-All for Ag

As with any great idea once the pieces start coming together the momentum builds.  Frey shares this synopsis of events. “Shortly thereafter we entered into discussions with RFD-TV.  Patrick Gottsch, the founder of RFD-TV had been ‘telling ag’s story” for many years and he was looking to move into the online world.  Once he met with Jim Host and Pearse Lyons and learned about the technology, a partnership was formed.  Now, all RFD-TV content can be found online by going to  Patrick and RFD-TV have given a voice to the smaller events that might not be on network television.  Not only do they provide great coverage to their 65 million subscribers, but they also direct them to whereby fans of RFD-TV can watch even more Ag content online.” Social media was on the move and the potential it was facing, meant a lot to Billy Frey.

Frey Gets Plugged In

billy-frey-ipad_jpg-400x286[1]The timing was right for Frey who had graduated from Centre College in 1998 with a degree in International Economics. He outlines his career path, “From there I worked in a bank.  The banking business didn’t enthuse me so I applied for a job with this international animal health company called Alltech.  I had never heard of it, but after interviewing, seeing the marketing philosophy, etc, I realized that this is something that I could get into.  I’ve been with Alltech for 14 years.  When I started we were an $85M company with about 500 people.  Now, we should hit about $800M in annual sales with 3000 employees.”

Computer Traffic Increase on the Information Highway

To date we have more than 300 organizations or groups broadcasting live events online.  Our traffic continues to grow, as people watch signature events like the FFA National Convention, the National HS Rodeo Finals, and more online.  With the world, in particular the world’s youth, watching video online we have seen a 4-fold increase in traffic online.”

Watch! It`s Alive!

Frey confirms that the online Ag content that will be provided by the partnership between Alltech and RFD-TV, utilizing the technology, will continue to grow.  “Last year 12 state FFA conventions were broadcast live online.  This year, we expect 30 state conventions to be broadcast online.  We expect more rodeos, more equestrian competitions, and of course, all the same great RFD-TV content to be available online.  No longer does mom and dad have to wonder what’s going on at the FFA Convention.  They can tune in.  No longer does Grandma and Grandpa have to look at pictures of their grandchild win an award or compete in a rodeo…they can watch it live.”

Technology is Smokin’

As an observer of change Frey joins the rest of us in awe at the rapidly changing social media scene, “The rise and adoption of technology has been first and foremost of the changes I’ve witnessed.  The world is at our fingertips, so that leads to infinite possibilities.  Consumer attitudes have shifted.  Globally we’re taking an interest in what’s in our food and how is it produced.  Look at what’s happening in Europe right now with the horse meat situation.  People want to know what’s in their food and when they’re duped, they revolt.  Along with oxygen and water, it’s one of the three most important things in life.”

Family Matters. They’ve Got Freys with That!

Speaking of important things in life Frey affirms his appreciation for the Alltech philosophy of marketing through education and, he adds, “our goal of helping to feed the world while at the same time educating people as to where their food comes from”.  Frey admits  that his  current role  as Senior Vice President of the Alltech Ag Network is his biggest challenge to date but then, in his branded positive style adds,” Like most great challenges, it’s the most rewarding.” Nevertheless it isn’t Frey’s biggest success story, “Personally, in the past 5 years I’ve met the love of my life, gotten married, and last June, became a father to a beautiful baby girl.  That’s definitely the best thing I’ve ever done.”

It’s Fast. It’s Instant. It’s Ready to Serve.

There’s another old saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!” However, everyone knows that’s where the action is. A few minutes of listening to Billy Frey confirms that social media is the kitchen and you become a believer that this company has also found the “secret ingredient”. Frey looks into the future for us. “I see traceability and value added products coming to the forefront.  I want to know who produced this milk I’m drinking and what went into the ice cream or the cheese I’m eating (too much of by the way).  Why can’t I just use my phone, scan the carton and see the farmer?  I’m in agriculture so I trust those who provide me food.  Most people don’t have the good fortune of working in our industry, so they don’t know how milk is made.  When they don’t know, they do two things:  find out for themselves or assume the worst.  Since the internet has given us instant information, people trust whatever comes up first on a Google search.  People want to know where their milk comes from, so let’s tell them.  We have every reason to do it and zero reasons not to.” The recipe for success!


Thanks to our look at marketing through the eyes of “Shake Sizzle and Frey” we have learned that, social media is the means whereby, the farm, the farmer and agriculture are no longer anonymous.  People are eager to get to know and like who is growing their food.  The Bullvine thinks that Alltech is one of the first companies to turn up the heat on Ag sizzle. If you are still waiting for a taste test, you could not only miss the heat, but the entire kitchen altogether.  Go where the action is.  “Social Media in Agriculture is Heating Up!”



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Bryhill International Genetics: 10 BIG Steps to Following Their Dream

The Bryson family of Ormstown, Quebec are following their dream of growing Bryhill International Genetics into a leading dairy breeding operation.

Of course, expanding a farm and growing a family business can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time. Matthew and David Bryson take a moment to look back and consider how far they have come. “The past 6 years have led us to change our breeding philosophy completely, while gearing up for a large commercial dairy environment.” As the Brysons share how they made the necessary changes, Bullvine readers have a perfect opportunity to look at 10 big steps taken by Bryhill International Genetics as they follow their dream.

1. THE FOUNDATION:  Start with the Right Team

The principle of building on the foundation of a great team is the basis of success for sports and business. The team members at Bryhill are Lynn, David, Stacey, Matt, and Sarah. Jason Bryson, a cousin, is also a very important employee involved throughout the farm activities and specifically the nursery where the new calves and high end genetics get their start. A brother, Alan, helps analyze breeding decisions and investments for future genetic orientations. It takes commitment and a shared vision for the future.

David, Lynn and Matthew Bryson at the original homestead

David, Lynn and Matthew Bryson at the original homestead

2. LEADING EDGE IDEA. Make it Work.

David and Matt Bryson describe the motivation behind Bryhill International Genetics. As a founding member of Trans America Genetics, “B.I.G. was used to set focus and aim at identifying, acquiring and merchandising breed leading genetics with a specific focus in mind. The move to a large freestall, the need to adapt to the changing technology (genomics) and the need to be more efficient, means that every decision we have made has led to aggressive moves so as to be better positioned for the future in order to have a business that would move easily into the next generation.” A successful, sustainable family dairy business.

3. FAMILY MATTERS. That’s Where We’re Going.

Every big dream starts with little steps.  There are many variables that impact decisions.  This was definitely the situation facing the Bryson family. “The expansion was prompted by a few different things. First, the business needed to support two families. Second, the previous site had limitations due to highway, rivers and town in close proximity. Third we wanted to offer a working environment that facilitated high volumes using efficient methods therefore allowing quality time with our families and preparing ourselves better for the future.”

4. GROWTH IS A GIVEN.  Build More.

With growing clarity on where they needed to be, Bryhill got down to the actual building. Matt says, “The latest expansion is now complete. There are now two main dairy barns of 105’ x 475’ and a hospital, close-up barn of 75’ x 250’.The milking parlour is a double 16 allowing for more expansion and high flow as well as a calf barn with automatic feeding, just off the milking parlour. We currently milk 300 head and plan to keep growing the herd with the most efficient genetics possible.”

Innaugural feeding in Bryhill's new facility

Inaugural feeding in Bryhill’s new facility

5. A WORLD VIEW: Key in On It

Great product and facilities would be nothing, if it wasn’t meeting the demands of the marketplace.  Dave clarifies the Bryhill philosophy. “We have identified the high GTPI, NM, Polled segments as our key markets. These are to us the markets which shall develop the highest demand for the commercial dairy farm and meet over 95% of world market needs.”

The number one GTPI polled heifer of the breed, Bryhill One Sassy P. Potentially the best heifer ever bred at BIG.

The number one GTPI polled heifer of the breed, Bryhill One Sassy P. Potentially the best heifer ever bred at BIG.


Growing a successful dairy business always boils down to the cows that produce the milk, the genetics, the buyer interest and the bottom line financial success.  The Brysons share which families they have introduced, “The cow families that we are working with are Sizzle P, Planet Lucia, Chart Topper,  Shottle May, Converse Judy, Allen Dragonfly, Brocade, Baxter Carmel, Cosmopolitan,  Adeen, and Dreary.” Here too there is a great deal of thought that has gone into the selections. “These are all cow families that have proven their abilities to make extremes. Breed changers we like to call them.” BIG changers!!

7. GENOMICS. Go for it NOW.  

There is no hesitation at Bryhill International Genetics when it comes to using Genomics. “The top sires we are using are 100% genomic. Leading genomic sires will remain among the top of the breed regardless of rank.” That is important to the Brysons. “This gives us an advantage over the longer run as we shorten generation intervals and increase genetic gain.” Again it is no surprise to hear them say, “We aim to remain among the forerunners.”

8. GENOMICS. The Game Changer.

When you’re developing an international company that is relevant and sustainable you have to evolve with the modern marketplace.  David recognizes the impact of genomics. “Genomics has significantly changed the way we do business. It has made us realize the value of cattle and breeding. While we still enjoy solid conformation, it has created more objectivity in our decisions and, we look more at what that individual will potentially transmit. We take pride in making these top females available and in fact it has also helped our merchandising.  New progeny become recognized on objective, public top lists that are accessible to all. This has led to great contacts and marketing opportunities.”

9. CHANGE IS HERE. Be Part of it 

Matt confirms this viewpoint. “The marketplace will change according to changes in market demand and technology. Consumers will play a huge impact and animal welfare will play a part too.” Dave highlights another game changer. “The polled gene has been a big part of our change as we see this becoming a standard!”

De-Su 199 Chart Topper" In partnership with TAG, Bryhil purchased Chart Toppers 1st Choice Numero Uno daughter for $79,000 at World Classic Sale 2011

De-Su 199 Chart Topper
In partnership with TAG, Bryhill purchased Chart Toppers 1st Choice Numero Uno daughter for $79,000 at World Classic Sale 2011. Chart topper is a Watson x Pine-Tree Missy Oman Miranda VG-86 x Wesswood-HC Rudy Missy EX-92 3E GMD DOM x EX-90 GMD DOM x VG-87

10. GET GOOD ADVICE. Grow With It

Despite their relative youth, the Bryhill team knows the value of good mentors. “ TAG has been an influential entity in our genetic development,” say the Brysons. They admit it is tough to offer advice to others but know that their experience could help others who are interested in expanding their genetic marketing strategies. “Two things come to mind.” say the Bryhill team. “It’s hard to go wrong with high genomics from top cow families.”” Try to identify where the market is going.” “This is not easy but it is doable.”


When you want to know what makes the BIG difference, it really is clear what is working for the Bryson family and Bryhill International Genetics.  They take many small steps consistently and persistently. They are following their dream and obviously are ready to make a mountain out of Bryhill.  That’s the B.I.G. difference.




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CANADIAN BULL PROOFS – You’ve Got to Prove It to Use It!

No one likes paying upfront fees for anything.  After all, what’s the point of paying for something you haven’t received yet?  But there are some situations where paying upfront totally makes sense. Getting genetic information is one of those times.  You give up your money first and it translates into rewards later.

The Pieces are Put Together to Pull Together

Twenty years ago in Canada the dairy industry was faced with a challenge.  Government said it would fund research and development but not genetic evaluation services.  The goal was to shrink the cost and size of government.  The industry said these reports are valuable so we are going to have to get involved and that is what happened.

logo_cdn2_0[2]Canadian Dairy Network (CDN) was established in May 1995.  General Manager, Brian Van Doormaal, has been with CDN since its inception and summarizes the general details. “CDN is governed by a Board of Directors that primarily consists of breeders who are elected as representatives from four categories of member organizations, namely Breed Associations, DHI Agencies, A.I. organizations and Dairy Farmers of Canada.

The Canadian Dairy Network provides five major services:

  • Genetic Evaluation Services
  • Research and Development Projects
  • Industry Standards
  • Maintains the National Dairy Data Base
  • Operates the Data Exchange amongst the industry partners

It`s Fully Integrated and Always Moving

In the simplest terms, all the relevant information is shared by those who contribute.  Examples are:  Breed pedigrees go to CDN; CDN shares them with everyone who is a partner; DHI records go to CDN and are shared with partners.  These and more types of information are available to all users at all times via the Internet.  Everything can be found at the CDN website AT NO CHARGE for lookups.

The Dollar Division

Van Doormaal updates the funding process behind CDN. “All activities of CDN are financed by the industry organizations that are its members and for this reason the CDN Board of Directors has established an equitable service fee structure.” He further breaks out the pay structure. “80% is paid by AI and 20% by breed associations and milk recording provide their information at no charge to CDN.”

FEES: Fearsome Hurdle or Forward Thinking?

When there is a 79% cost increase (effective April 2013), there are going to be questions. Namely, “How did CDN determine the cost of $7500 to prove a bull in Canada?”  Previously the fee was $4200. The same fee has been set on a per bull basis for privately owned genotyped bulls, starting April 2013.  CDN does not have any other fees so this is an all-inclusive rate that gives the bull owners access to various services associated with genetic and genomic evaluations.”

Van Doormaal further clarifies. “With the arrival of genomic evaluations in 2009, operational costs have risen due to increased staffing needs and computer power while the number of young bulls with semen released in Canada each year has almost halved.”  Obviously, the plan is three-fold:  provide more research; more development and, at the same time, cover costs into the future.

Everybody Pays!

Van Doormaal stresses that, “In one way or another, all people and organizations will be paying fees to receive genetic and genomic evaluation services from CDN for bulls. While the mechanism for paying differs for breeders compared to A.I. organizations that are members of CDN, the level of payment is equivalent.  On the female side, no fees are applied on an animal basis since the breed associations contribute to funding CDN activities on behalf of their members.”

Brian Van Doormaal, CDN Speaking at the 2012 China-Canada Dairy Conference

Brian Van Doormaal, CDN
Speaking at the 2012 China-Canada Dairy Conference

What’s Up in Other Countries?

Van Doormaal knows the international scene and explains, “While there are other countries like Canada for which the genetic evaluation services are financed completely by industry stakeholders, as opposed to government, each country inevitably ends up with its own funding formula and mechanism.” He speaks of the American situation.  “In the US, the mechanism proposed for financing its genetic and genomic evaluation services includes some level of fee applied to every male and female for which a genomic evaluation is to be calculated.”

Proving Your Own Bull

When asked about advice for breeders looking to prove their own sires, Van Doormaal urges. “Genotyping young bull calves shortly after birth makes as much sense for breeders as the genotyping of their newborn heifers.  Once the genomic evaluations are available to the breeder, better decisions can be made about the bull’s future.  Owners (AI or breeders) of bulls with outstanding results can then pay the CDN fee to make results official and have the young bull ranked among others available in Canada.”

LPI Formula Changing

Van Doormaal reports “The LPI for Holsteins in Canada currently has a range in values of approximately -3000 to +3000, which is three times bigger than the TPI in the United States and over 50 times bigger than national indexes used in most other countries.

The CDN Board of Directors decided, after consulting all stakeholders, that the LPI scale should be halved.  To achieve this objective while maintaining the current level of LPI values for the highest progeny proven bulls, it was decided to add a “constant” value to the LPI formula in a manner similar to what the United States has done for years with its TPI formula. Conversion from current LPI values to the proposed new scale is simply done by dividing the current LPI in half and then adding the constant of 1700.”

LPI Formula Give and Take

Another adjustment Van Doormaal expects to happen to the LPI formula relates to the specific traits included and the relative emphasis placed on each.  Analysis of various options and discussion will proceed through 2013 with a likely implementation of an updated formula in April 2014. Based on feedback received from a cross-section of breeders, there seems to be a general interest to increase the overall emphasis on longevity, fertility and disease resistance in the formula. Of course, once the emphasis is increased on some traits, there also has to be other traits losing emphasis.

Future CDN Genetic Evaluation Evolution

In December 2012, CDN introduced Body Condition Score as a newly evaluated trait for all breeds, which can be used as an indicator for fertility, disease resistance and longevity.  The release in December 2013 will include the first official genetic evaluations for Mastitis Resistance in all breeds which should be followed by Resistance to Metabolic Disorders in 2014.  Other traits on the planning horizon within the next five years include desirable fatty acids and other components of milk, hoof health and feed efficiency.

Changing Gears for Genomics

Van Doormaal provides updates resulting from the introduction of Genomics. “Prior to 2009, CDN had six different genetic evaluation systems, which were run monthly to evaluate over 60 traits including production, type, longevity, female fertility, calving performance and milking speed/temperament. With the arrival of genomics, a new system was developed and implemented, which estimates Direct Genomic Values (DGVs) for all traits and combines them with traditional evaluations to produce the published genomic evaluations.  This new system is also run monthly and also required the establishment of a national database to process and store all genotypes, which now totals over 310,000 across all breeds. Operationally, these new services that are highly valued by the industry organizations and breeders, have required additional geneticists and new web site development as well as investments in advanced computer equipment and processing power.”

CDN: Providing Global Genetics and Genomics

Looking to the future, Van Doormaal gives an overview. “The era of genomics is still in its embryonic stages.  It is difficult to predict the extent to which it will continue to impact the dairy cattle industry over the next 10 or 20 years.  One thing for certain is that the world of genetics will continue to shrink at an increasing rate since it is so easy to collect DNA from any animal in the world and assess its genomic evaluation on numerous country scales.”

CDN:  Fine-Tuning

CDN will dedicate much time and effort in the coming years to fine-tuning existing traditional genetic evaluation systems and methods for estimating genomic evaluations. Van Doormaal is realistic about the possibilities. “The shift towards a higher market share held by genomic young sires compared to progeny proven sires will likely experience some pendulum swings, eventually reaching stabilized proportions as breeders and industry gain experience in the coming year.”

After 25 years working and educating in the Canadian proving system, Van Doormaal is proud of the achievements. “We are fortunate in Canada to have many geneticists and research scientists who realize that the ‘practice’ of genetic selection and mating is not the same as the ‘science’.  Both sides need to continue to respect and listen to the knowledge and experience of the other. The most progress is made by incorporating the ‘science’ of genetic improvement into a solid, practical breeding program.”


Recognizing the potential of responding to changes in the industry, in technology and from science, CDN is focused on the future on behalf of breeders.




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The All European Championship Show: The Greatest SHOW on Earth

This past weekend Switzerland hosted the 2013 All European Championship Show and sent a clear message to the world that NO ONE puts on a better SHOW than  Europe.  Think of it as the Olympics meets Cirque to Soleil and you have the 2013 All European Championships.  From the outstanding cattle to the amazing production the 2013 All European Champion truly was the GREATEST Dairy SHOW on earth in 2013.

The Winners

Similar to the greatly anticipated battle at the 2012 World Dairy Expo between the great Harvue Roy Frosty and RF Goldwyn Hailey (Read more: World Dairy Expo 2012 Holstein Show: A battle for the ages), the 2013 All European Championship Show had its own much anticipated battle between DECRAUSAZ IRON O’KALIBRA EX-94 from Switzerland and ASHYLYN VRAY EX-94 from Spain.  It didn’t disappoint.   As  predicted the Grand Championship came down to these two great cows with O’Kalibra taking Grand and Vray taking Reserve.

Decrausaz Iron O'Kalibra  Class 9 winner, Sr & Grand Champion - 2013 All European Championship

Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra
Class 9 winner, Sr & Grand Champion – 2013 All European Championship

In his reasons Judge David Boyd from Ireland commented that he thought O’Kalibra, exhibited by GS Alliance and Pat Conroy, could walk in any show ring in the world and compete.   Many show experts agree 100% with his declaration. Two separate polls on Facebook  demonstrated that the world agrees with him.  O’Kalibra certainly would give the great RF Goldwyn Hailey a run for her money.  With her outstanding fore udder, sweep of rib and strength of pastern she would certainly make it a very interesting class  competing  with Hailey’s outstanding balance, size and dairyness throughout.  (Watch for more to come on this topic or click here to participate in our Facebook poll)

Decrausaz Iron O'Kalibra  Class 9 winner, Sr & Grand Champion - 2013 All European Championship

Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra
Class 9 winner, Sr & Grand Champion – 2013 All European Championship

LLERA ARIEL GOLDWYN (SPAIN) Class 8 winner - 2013 All European Championship

Class 8 winner – 2013 All European Championship

Another show favorite that caught the eye of  cattlemen was LLERA ARIEL GOLDWYN.  For many she is the definition of the modern Holstein cow with her dairyness through the front end and snuggly attached udder that is high and wide. She certainly won  many fans at the show.  Also getting a lot of attention from Spain, who went on to win the much-coveted top country class, was HUDDLESFORD DUPLEX MEDORA.  This silky black Duplex daughter rose  to be Intermediate Champion over some outstanding young cows from  Ponderosa Farms of  Spain (Watch for our upcoming feature article with Ponderosa who had 5 Top 5 placing animals).

Huddlesford Duplex Medora (Spain) Class 6 Winner and Int. Champion - 2013 All European Championship

Huddlesford Duplex Medora (Spain)
Class 6 Winner and Int. Champion – 2013 All European Championship

A young cow with a very bright future is the Junior Champion C.M.E GOLDWYN VANITY (Note for North American readers at this show ALL animals are in milking form so Junior Champion is more like a 1st or 2nd calf cow).  This young cow had the X factor that Judge Boyd was looking for. He loved her depth of fore rib over her classmate and Reserve Junior Champion SOUTHLAND ALEX CAROLA 11.

Complete 2013 All European Championship Show Holstein Results

C.M.E. GOLDWYN VANITY (Italy) Jr Champion Holstein - 2013 All European Championship

Jr Champion Holstein – 2013 All European Championship

Suard-Red Jordan Irene - Grand Champion 2013 All European Championship

Suard-Red Jordan Irene
Grand Champion 2013 All European Championship

The Red Holstein Show was very much dominated by the host country Switzerland with SUARD-RED JORDAN IRENE taking Grand Champion honors.  This great Ja-Bob Jordan daughter used the power of her outstanding mammary system to take top honors in a show that featured many outstanding young cows.

Suard-Red Jordan Irene - Grand Champion 2013 All European Championship

Suard-Red Jordan Irene – Grand Champion 2013 All European Championship

Complete 2013 All European Championship Show Red Holstein Results

The Show

While some would argue that even the winners of some of these classes would not sit top five at World Dairy Expo or the Royal, one thing that this show does dominate over North America is the entertainment production value that  even the emotional story of Ebyholme Goldwyn Marcia winning reserve at the Royal could not compete with (Read more: The 2012 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show: One of the greatest stories ever told!).

From the ring environment that is custom developed for this show to the passion the breeders in Europe have for this show, the whole experience is was like something you would expect at an expensive production like Cirque to Soleil or the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

From the ring environment that is custom developed for this show to the passion the breeders in Europe have for this show, the whole experience is was like something you would expect at an expensive production like Cirque to Soleil or the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

From the ring environment that is custom developed for this show to the passion the breeders in Europe have for this show, the whole experience is was like something you would expect at an expensive production like Cirque to Soleil or the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.  At times the final class for champion country (a walk in class in EU compared to a points class in North American competitions) with appreciation presentations and flag passing ceremonies to the next host France in 2014  seemed to take a very long time.  However, a lively ring announcer and a suspenseful environment made even that an enjoyable experience for the over capacity crowd.  That same enthusiastic crowd went on to show the world how well they can party late into the night. Where no fewer than 2,000 people taking part in a typical Swiss dish: the fondue and some fine refreshments.

From the great camera angles combined with the very professional in ring cameras combined with the outstanding music and exceptional ring announcer the experience was riveting for all.

From the great camera angles combined with the very professional in ring cameras combined with the outstanding music and exceptional ring announcer the experience was riveting for all.

Not only was the experience outstanding for those in attendance but also for those who watched online.  With a limited capacity of 2000 viewers (1500 on the Bullvine alone) streaming online the show did an amazing job showcasing itself to the world.  From the great camera angles combined with the very professional in ring cameras combined with the outstanding music and exceptional ring announcer the experience was riveting for all.  At one  point that we had over 200 people on our website who were not able to watch, constantly hitting refresh hoping to get a chance to see this amazing event. (Click here to watch the highlight video)

A capacity crowd was on hand for the 2013 Swiss European Sale. Sale highlights include: 14,700 – Morsan Showdon Red, the daughter of the Goldbull Christian is a granddaughter of Blondin Redman Seisme and is the only female descendant of Seisme in Europe.

A capacity crowd was on hand for the 2013 Swiss European Sale. Sale highlights include: 14,700 – Morsan Showdon Red, the daughter of the Goldbull Christian is a granddaughter of Blondin Redman Seisme and is the only female descendant of Seisme in Europe.

The Bottom Line

With the 2013 edition of the All European Championship show now complete Europe has sent a clear message to the rest of the world and specifically North America.  They are a serious force on the world scene.    All who attended or  watched online saw high quality cattle and an amazing production. There is no question, from a presentation stand point, that the 2013 All European Championship Show was certainly “the greatest dairy show on earth”




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10 Reasons Why or Why Not To Get Rid of the Sr. /Fall Yearling Class Once and For All

For years there has been great discussion about how show type is different from functional type.  Show cattle are bred to be taller, deeper and to have level rumps where functional cattle are bred for maximum feed conversion and sloping rumps (Read more: From Fantasy to Reality – Top Sires to Address Herd Culling Problems).  For the most part, the show ring has always been an exhibition stage for genetic advancement.  However, more recently there has been rising debate about whether the show ring is still achieving this.  For the most part this conversation is centered around the need for a non-milking SR./Fall yearling class at the major fall shows.  You see, by fall shows most of the animals in this class are over 2 years of age and, compared to the average calving age, are behind the majority of their other young cow peers.  With the cancellation of the non-milking Sr./Fall yearling class for Ayrshires (Read more: A Letter to the Editor From US Ayrshire President in Regards to Fall Yearling Class Cancellation ) this discussion has heated up even more.  To get to the bottom of this, the Bullvine decided to look at both sides of the argument.

5 Reasons for keeping the class:

  • Non-Milking Sr./Fall Yearlings  represent about 6-10% of the animals exhibited at each show
  • They show all summer at an age that is under two, and if these shows are to be the championships for the year, should there be a class that animals have competed in all summer.
  • You need to look at the timing of the shows.  Since Madison is in early October and only 1/3 of the yearlings should have calved by then, it doesn’t make sense to cancel the class there.
  • The show ring is about breed promotion, so why not show off as many great animals as possible?
  • There have been some interesting points made about how calving them in early can lead to cows burning out later in life.  A case could be made for this.  When you look at the All-Canadian Mature Cows and 5 year olds over the past 2 years, NONE were nominated in milking form as a yearling.


5 Reasons for cancelling the class:

  • The quality of the milking yearling class has probably shown the greatest rate of advancement over the past 20 years, compared to any other class.  Yes some of the summer calves are pretty large and cut right, and the 150,000 lbs. class is amazing to see with the great longevity of these animals.  However, if you look at the whole class, from top to bottom and consider the rate of change, none of these highlights compare to that of the milking yearling class.
  • Over the past 5 years more animals have gone on to success in Milking form from the Milking Sr./Fall Yearling class than that of the non-milking class (Read more: Do All-Canadian Heifers Make All-Canadian Cows?)  A great example of this is Valleyville Rae Lynn who was 2nd at the Royal this year as a 2nd calf Milking Senior 2yr old and now has the ability to flush, develop and compete in 2014 as a 3rd calf 4 yr. old.  Just imagine how impressive she will be.  This is also the plan for the very popular and unanimous All-Canadian and All-American Milking Yearling, R-E-W Goldwyn Happy Go Lucky. In fact the two most recent animals to convert heifer success into milking success where CRAIGCREST RUBIES GOLD REJOICE and T-TRIPLE-T GOLD PRIZE where both Winter/Intermediate Yearlings.
  • The Royal is in November when more than 2/3 of the class should have calved and, as a result, it really doesn’t make sense to have the class.  When looking at the non-milking SR. yearling class at the Royal, one of the biggest challenges that is consistent throughout the class is the dairyness or lack thereof throughout the class.  It is very hard to keep these animals clean and dairy.  Jerseys have been well ahead on this from both a breed advancement and a show ring perspective and, as a result, their average age at 1st calving is low and they DO NOT have a Senior Yearling class at the Royal.  (Please note they do have a Fall Yearling class at World Dairy Expo).
  • I have heard the argument that some animals are just not big enough or developed enough to calve that young and I can totally understand that.  Nevertheless, should these animals be rewarded for being behind in their development, when compared to others?  Remember, Dry Cow classes were dropped because they did not showcase milking udders and production ability.  Two major functions of dairy cattle profitability.
  • The dairy cattle industry is a business and dairy cows don’t become profitable until after they calve.  Shouldn’t we be showcasing profitable animals instead of those that are still costing money?  Remember the dairy farming is a business and everyone needs to appease the banker.  The banker is like an undertaker and eventually everyone has to pay the price.


The Bullvine Bottom Line

While there are many great points on both sides of this argument, if the show ring truly wants to stay relevant and represent the best the breed has to offer than there is no question it needs to be ahead of the curve and not behind it.  That means it should be leading the charge not following it.  The one thing both sides can agree on is this is an issue the breeders need to decided together in order to ensure that dairy cattle showing stays relevant going into the future.  Since the breeders who show at the national level really are a niche group, they need to make sure they stay market relevant or become irrelevant very fast in the eyes of most producers and the breed associations as a whole.

What do you think?  Take our Facebook poll.




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