Archive for April 2014

Who Said You Can’t Breed For Higher Fertility?

If you were to describe the perfect program to achieve top female fertility in your herd, what would it be? Would your program include heifers calving at 22 months of age and every 11-13 months thereafter until lifetime production reaches 275,000 lbs (125,000 kgs) of milk? For decades breeders have heard that they can’t breed for fertility. It’s all management and nutrition. Well that story is changing. Let’s examine how genetics can play a role in improved fertility in a herd.

The Current Scenario

The CDCB (Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding) has summarized the following current reproduction information on the current US dairy cattle.

  • Holstein cows take 2.5 breedings per conception. Jerseys take 2.2.
  • Holstein cows average 80 days in milk before they are bred. Jerseys average 77 days.
  • Average calving interval for Holstein cows that calve back is 13.8 months. Jerseys average 13.0 months.
  • Average conception rate for Holstein cows is 32%. Jerseys average 41%.
  • Average age at first calving in Holsteins is 26 months. Jerseys average 23.5 months.

These stats for Holsteins and Jerseys are provided for breeders to benchmark their herds, not to start a breed war. In five years’ time even if a Holstein herd was able to achieve the current Jersey average it will not be good enough. The three biggest factors that stand out from these stats and that are in need of correction are: 1) days to first breeding; 2) number of breedings before conception; and 3) age at first calving.

As it turns out the reproductive performance of North American dairy cows and herds reached their lowest level in 2007 and since then there has been minor genetic improvement.

Source: CDN – March 2010 – A Look at Fertility from Two perspective

Source: CDN – March 2010 – A Look at Fertility from Two perspective

Breeders Must Address Fertility

An attitude shift is needed. We must move from tolerance of fertility to awareness that genetics plays a role. Not all breeders have accepted the need for change. The Bullvine analysed the sires with the most progeny registered with Holstein US over the past two weeks and found that nine, yes nine, of the top twenty had negative genetic ratings for Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR). In fact two sires had significant negative ratings of -2.5 and -3.5. In addition four of the twenty had only slightly positive ratings. In total 13 of the top 20 sires were not breed improvers for DPR. That is significant!

Some breeders have paid attention to the management side of fertility and have increased their pregnancy rate by aggressive heat detection, by using professional A.I. reproduction specialists (Read more: Artificial Insemination – Is Doing It Yourself Really Saving You Money?) by installing heat detection devices or by using hormone level monitors (Read more: Better Decision Making by Using Technology). However from the latest reports from milk recording, half the herds have a pregnancy percent of less than 15%. And only 10% of herds have a pregnancy rate of 21% or more. Clearly more attention needs to be paid to getting cows and heifers pregnant.

Genetic Tools to Aid with Fertility

Daughter Pregnancy Rate (USA) and Daughter Fertility (Canada) are the primary genetic evaluation ratings to use when selecting for improved female fertility. These indexes are created using data from insemination, milk recording and type classification.

However there are eleven other genetic ratings that have some influence on reproduction. Individually they may not be significant but collectively they can contribute to reproductive problems or solutions.

  • Calving Ease – difficult births delay cows coming into heat
  • Maternal Calving Ease – normal delivery benefits – cow, calf and staff
  • SCC – cows with mastitis are less likely to conceive
  • Feet – problem cows are not mobile and do not show heats
  • Rear Legs Rear View – cows that toes out are not as mobile
  • Milk Yield – high milk yield stresses cows. Breed for high fat and protein yields on lower volumes of milk.
  • Body Condition Score – high yielding cows that retain body condition are more fertile
  • Persistency – high lactation yielding cows that have flatter lactation curves put less strain on their bodies
  • Inbreeding – inbreeding negatively affects reproduction
  • Haplotypes – information is now coming available to show that certain haploids hinder reproduction
  • Semen Conception Rate – although not a genetic rating, low fertility semen should be avoided

Those are the tools available today. We can expect that, with the current research into genomics and reproduction, there will be new ratings to assist with breeding more reproductively sound animals in the future.

Selection Matters

The Bullvine recommends that after breeders short list the sires they intend to use that they eliminate sires that do not have a DPR over 1.0  or a DF over 103. Yes, female fertility is included in TPI, NM$ and LPI but the emphasis on fertility in these total merit indexes is not high enough to result in major genetic improvement for fertility. The following lists of bulls are examples of bulls that significantly improve total merit as well as female fertility.

Table 1 Top Ranking US Sires by Daughter Pregnancy Rate

Top Ranking Sires by Daughter Pregnancy Rate

Table 2 Top Ranking CDN Sires by Daughter Fertility

Top Ranking CDN Sires by Daughter Fertility

Action Plan

It is important for both herd viability and sustainability that the following steps be followed.

  1. Do not use bulls that are genetically inferior for reproductive traits.
  2. Genomically test heifer calves. Eliminate reproductively inferior cows and heifers.
  3. Include genomic reproductive information when correctively mating females.
  4. Use heat detection devices, hormone level monitoring equipment or intensive staff heat detection.
  5. Use herd management software and herd protocols to assist with reproductive management.
  6. Ensure that animal housing and animal grouping result in healthy animals
  7. Feed cows and heifers according to their performance and reproductive needs
  8. Employ staff training and education program for reproduction.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The genetic attention starting to be given to female reproduction on dairy farms is long overdue. The first step for breeders is to include reproduction in your herd genetic improvement plan (Read more: What’s the plan?). In as little as five years, by following a progressive proactive plan, breeders will significantly reduce their losses due to reproduction.



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What’s Going on Behind Barn Doors? They’re Going Digital And Social of Course!

The barn is quiet and dark.  There are the soft sounds of animals moving.  In the shadows you home in on the blue glow of a laptop, your ears pickup the “Old McDonald” ring of a caller ID and then the lights come on automatically from the app on your smart phone. Digital has arrived in the dairy barn and you and your team are taking every advantage it has to offer.

Personally, I look at digital and social media as a year round World Dairy Expo for the dairy industry: something new to learn; something to fill a need; something to share; something for buying; something for selling.  It isn’t necessary to rush out and get everything all at once.  Simply identify the application that speaks to your current dairy goals.  Then buy one or more as it works for your needs. There is something for everyone, and app for everything.

The Digital Dairy Bucket List

It is reported that as high as 95% of dairy farmers already have Smart Phones. Growing numbers of IPhones, iPads and Android mobile phones are conveniently waiting in coveralls, tractor cabs and milking parlors. They are the next generation of technology.  They are much simpler to invest in and learn to use but, like robotic milkers, they have filled the bucket list wish of an industry where labor savings and more data are needed to keep dairying viable and sustainable. Where once using GPS for crop management was groundbreaking, today’s leading edge dairy managers are ready to apply technology to the whole operation.  If you can name a problem you would like solved, there’s is probably a techie close by (or half the world away) who is ready to create an APP so that you can solve it. Furthermore, you don’t have to wait to get back to your computer or farm office.

Remember the days when even simple logistics of handling farm schedules meant waiting.  Being “out of touch” with drivers, deliveries or information.  Never being quite sure when, who or what was going to arrive, you had to stay in sight of the lane or the barn for fear of missing a loosely scheduled event. Today, delaying your schedule because of lack of information isn’t normal and, in most cases, puts a negative mark beside the name of the service provider who hasn’t respected your time enough to keep you in the loop. Social media and the internet means both of you know when and why you’re getting together and what is needed to make the meeting productive.  No wasted time getting up to speed.  Social media and other digital platforms is all about speed and effectiveness.

Whether it’s the weather, low milk prices or yet another outbreak of mastitis, social media and the internet provides an outlet, if not for solutions, at least for support. Shared problems seem easier when you realise that you’re not the only one.

Before, During and After Face-to-Face

Regardless of where you are at with the uptake of social media, it is quite probable that your suppliers, vets and consultants are continuously upgrading their abilities in using this new tool.  Not only does it connect customer and supplier but it connects the knowledge base worldwide.  If you’ve got a question, a “connected” consultant becomes your personal expert in solving problems, creating formula, or determining anything from budgets, to rations, to customized designs for pens, feeders or housing facilities. Entire supply chains move to a new level of speed, accuracy and productivity in the digital mode.

Remember when you were happy to have two or three people to seek out for advice?   How about 200?  Or 2000 to work on a problem? The actual potential goes way beyond that.  A continuously connected dairy community is like having a personal genie in a lamp…. ooops…. genie in a handheld device!!

Calling All Cows

I’ve got a neighbour who has had video cameras installed.  He uses his phone to check calving pens and the barnyard.  Sometimes Facebook, more often on Twitter people ask for and share solutions to problems they are dealing with.  The great thing is that it all happens in real time.  Describe the problem and it is quite likely you will have several suggestions of how to deal with it. This speed goes beyond the simple, “Time is money” that we have always had to deal with.  It provides a real source of confidence that someone has always got the answer.  Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblir or Instagram — we now have a tool that makes it possible to access buyers, nutritionists and vets or any other number of experts – and provide them with picture, text, figures and background—instantly! At the very least, the dialogue is started.   (Read more: The Shocking Speed of Social Media and the Dairy Industry, How Social Media Is Changing the Holstein World and The Anti-Social Farmer: On the Verge of Extinction?)

Show and Sell

Of course, the closer we get to dollars and cents of dairying, the more the benefits of digital provide payback!  Good business has always depended on word of mouth and now that feature too is vastly speeded up and the reach multiplied. No longer are smaller operations at a disadvantage when competing beside large ones. The playing field is much more level. Marketing from your own interconnected website, Facebook page and Twitter account can drive interest in your embryos, calves or cows far faster than previous hard copy, or traditional advertising methods alone were able to. (Read more:7 Reasons Why Your Dairy Farm Needs To Be On Facebook, Nothing Sells Like Video and Times have changed. Why hasn’t the way you market your dairy cattle?)  Cost effective and fast. Digital is a dairy marketer’s dream.  The ability for buyers and sellers to interact, showcase their news, products and daily stories builds a marketplace of trust, which is the foundation for dairy business … and best of all …repeat dairy business.

Day to Day Decisions.

Digital is the 24-7 partner at your side.  It starts with monitoring and data collection and enhances everything from early disease detection, to better care coordination and other services that keep our herds healthy and productive.  When everyone whose daily job in any way touches the cattle has real time continuous connections, new situations are updated and problems tackled by every person and resource that is available.  For example, spring has finally arrived. The fields are exceptionally wet and there haven’t yet been two days in a row where the weather didn’t provide a challenge of some kind, from chill winds, heavy rains and even a moment or two of nearly-snow-again.  Equipment repairs and annual bookkeeping want attention too.  Multi-tasking is the name of the game but, once again, identify the dairy problem and someone will provide input.  “I saw one of those for sale.” or “We have had good luck with these to keep the calves warm!” and even. “Don’t have an answer for you but, ‘Good Luck’.

The Sunny Side of Dairy Life

It’s wonderful – even fantastic – that the digital future is expanding problem solving capabilities.  It is also tremendous at bringing communities together. A little surfing around the Internet and it doesn’t take long to find wonderful blogs and socially active producers such as DairyCarrie, AgChat and Michele Payn-Knoper and Tom Hoogendoorn– to name but a few (Read more: Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country, Michele Payn-Knoper – Standing Up and Speaking Out for Agriculture!! and TOM HOOGENDOORN- Family man, Farmer & Our Face to the Consumer!). Here are opportunities to connect with like mind dairy folks but they also have the added benefit of connecting non-farm communities in a positive way.  One of the most unique connections that I “stumbled upon” was Teats and Tweets which is described as “a unique social media project that looks at the way humans interact with animals and has the cows posting their daily activities on Twitter.” How far out is that?  There is always something to tweak your interest and help you to push the envelope in this industry we are all passionate about.

From Penside to Worldwide

As we gain new ways to use digital for continuous connections and interactions, we will take great leaps forward in solving the issues of modern day dairy farming.  The best results will be continuously adapted and improved … others will be modified or fall by the wayside.  Digital means you can have a voice.  From politicians, to researchers, to someone on the other side of the globe, it is possible to communicate and campaign on key issues – while standing at the side of a calf pen or in the milkhouse.   Perspectives can be shared.  Misinformation corrected.  It is the level playing field that has never been accessed so easily until now.  (Read more: DAIRY PRIDE: Presumed MISSing! “Farmed and Dangerous” – The Dairy Farmer’s Never Ending Battle with Public Perception and What PETA Does NOT KNOW about Raising Dairy Cattle!

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Trends in technology have found their way into every aspect of dairy farming.  Not only are they bridging gaps in communication but also they connect generations of farmers, consumers and dairy industry shareholders.  The future is in our hands.




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The 16 Sires from the April 2014 Genetic Evaluations That Stand Out

Everyone is looking for sires that will give them the fastest rate of genetic advancement.  The problem is those sires don’t always appear at the top of the TPI or other Index lists.  That is why, here at the Bullvine, we have listed  the fastest genetic advancement sires.  We also want to keep it relatively simple, so similar to aAa, we will give you the sires that are best in each of the five corrective mating areas that producers are most concerned about – balance, production, longevity/durability and health and fertility.  The following are our resulting recommendations from the April 2014 Genetic Evaluations:

Overall Performance Improvement

When it comes to an overall performance sire, we are looking for those sires that excel in three key areas – production, durability and health & fertility.

Capital Gain

Stantons Capital Gain80HO06053
Stantons Capital Gain
Mccutchen x Observer x Shottle

From the REGANCREST-PR BARBIE EX-92-7YR-USA    DOM GMD   6* mostly known for their high type numbers comes a very balanced sire – CAPITAL GAIN.   Adding to the female side of the pedigree is a sire stack that reads like a who’s who (McCutchen x Observer x Shottle x Champion x Durham x Juror x Aerostar).    CAPITAL GAIN ranks in the top 1% of the breed for the major categories.   He is over 2000lbs of milk, 4 points for PTAT and productive life and health and fertility.  Some areas that he will need to be watched for are his short teats, high rump angle and loin strength, as well as the set and curve of his read legs.  CAPITAL GAIN’s chromosomal test would indicate that he should also be a strong sire of sons, as he possesses a very dominant maternal contribution to his genetic evaluations.





Pine-Tree Picardus
Planet x O Man x Rudolph

A grandson of WESSWOOD-HC RUDY MISSY EX-92 3E GMD DOM that may not be on everyone’s radar but should be is PICARDUS. He is the 2nd highest new release sire this round (Read more:  April 2014 US Holstein Sire Proof Highlights).   Picardus’ dam is an Oman daughter of Missy. As his sire stack would indicate, Picardus has a strong production proof with good components. While his +1.92 PTAT may have some wondering how he could make the balanced sire list, his daughters are very functional and possess open ribs and high wide rear udders.    While his overall feet & legs score is an area for improvement at +0.61, his feet & legs are strong enough in the key areas.  Picardus’ official daughter proof is only 31 points below that of his initial genomic proof of April 2011 at +2239 gTPI.




Denver 1426

Mr Mogul Denver 1426151HO00690
Mr Mogul Denver 1426
Mogul x Robust x Planet

An interesting balanced outcross sire that catches our eye comes from the WINDSOR-MANOR RUD ZIP EX-95-4E-USA  DOM GMD  1* is DENVER 1426.  He is a Mogul from the popular genomic bull mother MISS OCD ROBST DELICIOUS VG-86 GTPI+2546 who was the No.1 cow on the Locator List.   At over 2000lbs of milk, almost 3 points on type and 4.7 for productive life, DENVER 1426 possesses a very balanced genomic proof that is above his already high parent averages.   His strong maternal line indicates that he should be a strong sire of daughters but may not be an extreme sire of sons.







Eraser P

Kerndtway Eraser P07HO12229
Kerndtway Eraser P
Earnhardt P x Observer x Shottle

There is no question that polled sires are gaining rapidly on those sires at the top of the list.  One of those sires that is leading the charge is ERASER P.  With 145 lbs combined fat and protein, almost 3 points on type, +4.0 PL and strong health and fertility numbers, ERASER P offers an outstanding balanced polled option.  One area that you will want to protect ERASER P on is his body depth.  While his daughters will not be dominating the tanbark trail, they will have strong udders with great texture.









Instead of just giving you the top overall production sires, we understand that you still need to have some emphasis on durability and health traits.  Therefore, we put a heavy weighting on production (66%) but did not forget those   two key areas.  The following are the sires that stood out the most for us:


Uecker Supersire Josuper29HO17553
Uecker Supersire Josuper
Supersire x Beacon x Jango

While his prefix may not be known to many breeders, this Supersire son is certainly going to get a lot of attention.  At +2499 gTPI JOSUPER is the highest TPI sire over 2800 lbs of milk.  Combine that with positive deviations for fat and protein and there is no question that JOSUPER will give you a strong production kick when needed.  While his type evaluation is very functional, a couple of areas to protect him on include his rump angle and the set of his rear legs.  With a strong maternal chromosomal contribution JOSUPER should also be a strong sire of sons.  This is something we have found to be very typical of high production sires.








Roylane Socra Robust07HO10524
Roylane Socra Robust
Socrates x O Man x Manat

In addition to JOSUPER, those breeders looking for a proven sire with a strong production kick should be considering ROBUST.  Already a heavily used genomic sire, ROBUST’s proof indicates that he is the real deal.  (Read more: )  Robust has proven to be a great performance improver. He is a high NM$ (+834) Velvet-View-KJ SOCRATES-ET (EX-94-GM) son from Seagull-Bay Oman Mirror (VG-86-DOM). He transmits exceptional components (+.15% Fat, +102 Fat, +.05% Protein, +64 Protein) and outstanding longevity (+5.2 Productive Life). A Calving Ease and relative outcross sire, ROBUST moderates stature and adds height and width to the rear udder. Robust will work best on tall deep cattle that need feet and leg improvement.






Bacon-Hill Montross07HO12165
Bacon-Hill Montross
Mogul x Bolton x AltaRolex

Inbreeding is certainly becoming a greater and greater issue among the top sires.  An outcross production sire that caught our eye is MONTROSS.  As is typically the case with many true outcross pedigrees, his maternal side is not that well known.  But his dam UNIQUE-STYLE BOLTON MONEY EX-91 DOM has certainly become a popular bull mother, with 15 sons at 5 different AI units.  At +845 NM$ there is no question that MONTROSS will offer a great production kick and have enough durability, health and fertility to last.  At over 2 points for UDC and FLC MONTROSS has strong functional type but should be protected for straightness of rear legs and overall frame and capacity traits.  However, as we have seen from research in the past, you don’t need extreme frame traits in order to achieve extreme lifetime production.  (Read more: She Ain’t Pretty – She Just Milks That Way!).




Socrates P

Bryhill Socrates P151HO00703
Bryhill Socrates P
Supersire x Shottbolt x Goldwyn

A Supersire from the very popular polled bull mother VENTURE SHOTTBOLT SIZZLE P VG-86, SOCRATES P will give you a production punch with a polled kicker added in.   Following in his father’s footsteps, SOCRATES P offers strong production improvement with good health and fertility traits and solid conformation traits.  With +164 lbs of combined fat and protein, SOCRATES P is the highest component polled sire available in the world.  A couple of areas to watch for when using SOCRATES P is his rump angle (high) as well as overall frame and dairy strength.







Longevity Improvement

There is more to longevity than just conformation numbers, as our very popular article  “She ain’t pretty she just milks that way” has demonstrated.  So with that in mind, instead of just giving you the top conformation sires we have also put weighting on production, productive life, and health and fertility.

High Octane

Stantons High Octane2080HO06052
Stantons High Octane
McCutchen x Observer x Shottle

Joining his full brother Capital Gain as a sire to use in order to improve longevity is HIGH OCTANE.  At +4.10 Type with a DGV for conformation at +23, HIGH OCTANE is certainly a breed leader for conformation improvement.  HIGH OCTANE combines that with +2096 lbs of Milk and over +4.2 PL, making him a conformation sire with a shot of production and a longevity chaser.  You will need to protect him on his % components and short teats.  HIGH OCTANE does offer a great alternative to those not wanting to use Capital Gain because of his high rump angle, as HIGH OCTANE’s genomic test would indicate that he actually sires low pins.







G W Atwood

Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood207HO10506
Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood
Goldwyn x Durham x Storm B/R

It’s really hard to discuss type improvement without including G W ATWOOD.  (Read more: The 10 Extreme Type Sires Most Likely To Sire the Next World Champion).  However unlike many of the top type sires who are negative for production and low fertility scores, Atwood actually has solid components and acceptable health and fertility numbers. Atwood offers the great mammary systems his pedigree would indicate however he needs to be protected for flat loins and high pins, much like his sire.  While you most certainly would want to protect him on production and daughter fertility, Atwood will add a punch of type to your high producing 2yr olds that, for whatever reason, may not be around for many more lactations.







Mr Apples Mcgucci179HO00099
MR Apples McGucci
McCutchen x Regiment-RED x Durham

For those looking for something a little different and yet a pedigree that the market will be heavily interested in, there is MCGUCCI.  This McCutchen son is from none other than the world famous KHW REGIMENT APPLE-RED-ET CV EX-96 3E DOM (Read more: KHW Regiment Apple-Red – Beauty, performance, and even more record accomplishments).  While Apple has been long known in the R&W market for strong type, the family has been coming on strong in the overall index rankings over recent years.  Interestingly MCGUCCI is not from a grand-daughter, like the high indexing EASTSIDE LEWISDALE GOLD MISSY daughters that have come on so strong for that show winning cow, but rather he is direct from Apple herself.  While you certainly will need to protect MCGUCCI on his production, he does offer component improvement and strong health and fertility traits.  As is typical with the Apple family, you will need to protect him on rumps.





Champ P

All-Riehl Ladds Champ138HO05307
All-Riehl Ladds Champ
Ladd-Red x Super x Shottle

In addition to Eraser P, those breeders looking for a polled sire to improve longevity should consider CHAMP P.  CHAMP P’s dam TRULEA SUPER CHARITY7296-ET VG-88 was the number 23 gTPI cow on the locator list (GP-83 or higher).  Behind that are 3 EX dams so it’s no wonder CHAMP P comes to the top of the list.  But what really catches our attention is his +7.1 PL and positive components.  These are exactly what you need when looking for longevity improvement.  You will need to protect CHAMP P on his body depth and rump angle.







Health and Fertility Improvement

There is no question that management is key when improving overall herd health and fertility. Having said that, with the introduction of genomics and the increased reliability, it is now becoming more and more important for your breeding programs to look at health and fertility traits and sires that excel in those areas. Here are some that you should take a closer look at.


Woodcrest Mogul Yoder207HO12266
Woodcrest Mogul Yoder
Mogul x Planet x Buckeye

While Capital Gain, Josuper, High Octane, Denver 1426 are all sires to consider when looking for health and fertility improvement, an extreme outlier sire that you should consider is YODER.  His genomic test is 7% higher than his parent averages and his production predicted daughter deviations are some of the highest in the breed. These high ratings contribute to his #9 overall ranking on the top genomic TPI young sires list. (Read more: The Number That Will Change the Way You Look At Genetic Evaluations Forever…) YODER comes from a long line of high production cows and is a direct descendant of the well-known brood cow, Milkworth Manfred Yadda (VG-86-GMD-DOM).  He ranks high for Net Merit (NM$) (+924) and Cheese Merit (CM$) (+1,002).  YODER is a fitness trait specialist with low Somatic Cell Score (SCS) (2.74) and terrific Productive Life (PL) (+5.3).  While results are sure to be highly variable, Yoder will certainly be worth taking the shot on if you are looking to produce that next generation of extreme production daughters and sons from a large framed high production cow.  If you are looking for more on outlier sires check out The 10 Outlier Sires that will Accelerate Your Genetic Gain the Fastest.





Den-K Altagreatest011HO10928
Den-K AltaGreatest
Planet x Bolton x BW Marshall

The highest new release gTPI proven sire this round was Den-K AltaGreatest and he is also an extreme health and fertility improvement sire.  He comes in at #5 gTPI on the US proven list. AltaGreatest is from the Den-K Rudolph Cub Kiddy EX-91 2E GMD DOM family. An extreme production sire with high components, AltaGreatest also has functional type. Look for AltaGreatest daughters to have shallow udders with strong suspensory ligaments. One area the AltaGreatest daughters will need to be protected on is their rump angle and pin width. AltaGreatest will work well on your straight legged cows, as long as they have good foot angle.  It is interesting to note that AltaGreatest`s official proof is within 60 points of his initial genomic proof back in April 2011 of gTPI +2315.  For more new release highlights from the past round check out April 2014 US Holstein Sire Proof Highlights.





Ste Odile Pure200HO10024
Ste Odile Pure
Mogul x Man-O-Man x AltaBaxter

When looking for an outcross sire to improve health and fertility, there is Denver 1426, Yoder, Montross and PURE.  PURE’s dam, STE ODILE MANOMAN MOD PLATINE VG-86-2YR, is the #5 GLPI cow in Canada and is a full sister to the #1 GLPI cow in Canada for 3 consecutive runs, STE ODILE MANOMAN MODEL SAPHIR VG 2Yr.  PURE combines outstanding production (+2239 lbs Milk, +87F and +74P) with strong type (+3.17 PTAT, +2.91 UDC, +2.71 FLC) and outstanding health and fertility traits (+5.3 PL, +2.89 SCS, +5.9 Sire Calving Ease, +5.0 Daughter Calving Ease).  Pure will work best on big opened framed cows, as these are areas that he needs to be protected on.







Science P

Bryhill Science P Bryhill Science P
Numero Uno x Shottbolt x Goldwyn

For those looking to get really ahead of the marketplace, there is no better way to do than to combine polled and health and fertility traits.  In addition to Eraser P and Socrates P, there is SCIENCE P.  SCIENCE P is the Numero Uno brother to Socrates P by Shottle from VENTURE SHOTTBOLT SIZZLE P VG-86.   Look for SCIENCE P for average production with strong components. He will also offer a strong type improvement but needs to be protected on his rump angle. Where he will really shine is in his health and fertility traits (+4.1 PL, +2.68 SCS, +7.3 SCE, +5.9 DCE).







The Bottom Line

There is no question that the rate of genetic gain is as fast as it has ever been in the history of dairy cattle breeding.   What we are now starting to see is that the top genomic sires are becoming the top proven sires and the top proven sires numbers are holding better than the ever have before.

The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


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

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Dare to Disagree

At Oxford in the 1950s, there was a revolutionary doctor named Alice Stewart, who was very unusual for a number of reasons.  First she was a woman, which was pretty rare in the 1950s and 2nd she was brilliant.  And she was unusual because she was especially interested in a new science, the emerging field of epidemiology, the study of patterns in disease.

Like every scientist, Dr. Stewart appreciated that to make her mark, what she needed to do was to find a hard problem and solve it.  The hard problem that Alice chose was the rising incidence of childhood cancers.

Alice had trouble getting funding for her research.  In the end, she got just 1,000 pounds from the Lady Tata Memorial prize.  She knew that because of that small amount it meant that she would have only one shot at collecting her data.  On top of everything else, she had no idea what to look for.

This really was a needle in a haystack sort of search, so she asked everything she could think of.  Had the children eaten boiled sweets?  Had they consumed colored drinks?  Did they eat fish and chips?  Did they have indoor or outdoor plumbing?  What time of life had they started school?  And when her carbon copied questionnaire started to come back, one thing and one thing only jumped out with the statistical clarity of a kind that most scientists can only dream of.  By a rate of two to one, the children who had died had had mothers who had been X-rayed when pregnant. 

Here was a finding that flew in the face of conventional wisdom.  Conventional wisdom held that everything was safe up to a point, a threshold.  It flew in the face of conventional wisdom, which had huge enthusiasm for the cool new X-ray machine technology.  And it flew in the face of doctors’ idea of themselves, which was that as people who helped patients, they didn’t harm them.

Despite the resistance, Dr. Alice Stewart rushed to publish her preliminary findings in The Lancet in 1956.  People got very excited, there was talk of the Nobel Prize, and Alice really was in a big hurry to try to study all the cases of childhood cancer she could find before they disappeared.

In fact, she need not have hurried.  It was fully 25 years before the British and American medical establishments abandoned the practice of X-raying pregnant women.

The data was out there, it was open, it was freely available, but nobody wanted to know.  A child a week was dying, but nothing changed.  Openness alone can’t drive change.  So for 25 years Alice Stewart had a very big fight on her hands.  How did she know that she was right?  Well, she had a fantastic investigator to challenge or confirm her thinking.

Dr. Stewart worked with a statistician named George Kneale.  George was pretty much everything that Alice wasn’t. Alice was very outgoing and sociableand George was a recluse.  Alice was very warm and empathetic with her patients.  George frankly preferred numbers to people.  But he was driven by this unique perspective on their working relationship.  His viewpoint was “My job is to prove Dr. Stewart wrong.”

Kneale actively sought disconfirmation.  He sought different ways of looking at her models,at her statistics, different ways of crunching the datain order to disprove her results.  He saw his job as creating conflict around her theories.  It was only by not being able to provethat she was wrong,that George could give Alice the confidence she neededto know that she was right.

Stewart and Kneale thus had an outstanding model of collaboration.  They were thinking partners who were not echo chambers.

That is exactly the same model of thinking that drives us here at the Bullvine.

We don’t offer up opposing opinions to those of the establishment because we seek the downfall of the industry.  On the contrary,    we are so passionately devoted to the dairy industry that we offer other ways of thinking about problems in order to use new perspectives to find new solutions to old problems.

You see the dairy industry suffers from the same problem many large groups and organizations suffer from.  They have stopped thinking.  This isn’t because they don’t want to, it’s really because they can’t.  They can`t because the people who are charged with decision making are too afraid of conflict.

It’s interesting to see that since we have dared to disagree, we have found many members of the dairy industry expressing exactly the same questions and doubts.  And if we don’t express our concerns or disagreements, there is no way that we can start to solve the problems.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The fact is that most of the biggest catastrophes that we witness rarely come from information that is secret or hidden.  It comes from information that is freely available and out there but that we are willfully blind to, because we can’t handle, or don’t want to handle, the conflict that it provokes.

Many of the biggest problems facing the dairy industry today are clearly in front of us. Unfortunately, we choose to ignore them.  But when we dare to break that silence, or when we dare to see, and we create conflict, we enable ourselves and the people around us to do our very best thinking.

So we ask you dare to disagree.  Dare to disagree with what you are told, with what you read, and with what people expect you to do. Dare to challenge assumptions.  Feel free to disagree with what you read on the Bullvine. We encourage it.  What we ask from you is that you don’t disagree in silence.  Raise your voice, because you will most likely find that others disagree with things as well.  Once the conversation is started, we can find solutions for even the biggest dairy industry problems that we face.



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Water: Your Most Important Liquid Asset

It would be a rare dairy manager that would choose to limit water as a cost saving management decision.  Managers know the key role that water plays in order for their herds to thrive. Water is the most important essential nutrient behind feed intake, not only of lactating cows, but also promotes growth and development in young calves and older heifers.

The most basic understanding of the health needs of cattle, dictates that dehydration is a negative.  The very nature of the lactating cow requires that sufficient quantities of water must be provided to facilitate milk production.   This is also true at every stage of bovine growth.

Let’s start with how water contributes to the growth of healthy calves because of the way it promotes early and rapid rumen development.  For some water may seem somewhat unnecessary when considering that calves consume milk or milk replacer.  However, a high percentage of milk and milk replacer end up in the abomasum and not very much milk replacer ends up in the rumen.  On the other hand, nearly all the water that calves drink goes into the rumen, where it contributes to fermentation and the grain & water slurry that promotes early papillae growth.

The All Day Calf Cafe

  • It is especially critical for their future growth that water is available to calves throughout the day. Of course the challenge isn’t simply to provide it, but to do so regardless of the weather.  Extremely cold temperatures and the resulting frozen buckets must be dealt with to provide water to calves in hutches in the winter. Under heat stressing conditions water needs are increased 1.2 to 2 fold.  In addition, Dr. Simon Peek, University of Wisconsin, emphasizes that timing is also important.  He urges that water be provided immediately after feeding, even in the winter months.  In general, preweaned calves usually drink about a quart of water for each pound of starter consumed.  This is in addition to their milk or milk replacer.

The benefits of free-choice water for calves:

  • At 4 weeks of age calves with free-choice water drink roughly 95 pounds (12 gallons) of water.
  • Free choice water calves also consume more pounds of starter grain.  One study reported roughly forty-four percent more grain in the first four weeks for calves that had constant access to water.
  • A 1984 study reported that for each extra liter of water consumed there was a corresponding increase in weight gain of 56 grams per day. Weight gains prior to weaning have been shown to lead to greater milk production as a cow.

Nevertheless the real challenge is making sure that the calves actually drink the water. When it is provided at close to body temperature during cold weather, they are more likely to drink. The extra work required to empty and refill water buckets through the day is well worth it because of the benefits of hydration and increased starter ingestion.  Although there can be variation from day to day it is far better to overfill buckets rather than have a situation where calves run out of water. As well, it has been shown that separation of feed and drinking water eliminates contamination and will increase feed intake and body weight gains by as much as 13 and 20%, respectively, compared with having the buckets side-by-side.

Eat, Drink Water and Be Milky

Free choice water for calves may be a newer priority however dairy managers have always recognized that it is important to provide lactating cows with water.  It is not only essential for milk production, growth and healthbut also impacts rumen function, nutrient digestion and absorption.

Every pound of milk a cow produces requires five pounds or three litres of water.  For high producing cows that totals up to 200 litres of water every day.  Reduce the amount of water and you reduce the amount of milk produced.

It is known that cows drink 30 to 50 percent of their daily water intake within an hour of milking.  Clean fresh water must be easily accessible to all cows. An easy benchmark for water palatability is this: “If you won’t drink the water in your barn, neither will your cows.” Water quality and water intake are closely related.

Of course, clean water bowls or tanks are a given.  Basic best practices are as follows:

  • Water bowls should provide 20 litres per minute for cows
  • Water tanks should supply 30 to  40 litres per minute
  • One water trough is needed for every 20 cows
  • Two water sources per group are needed to avoid stress situations for lower ranked cows
  • Water tanks should be easily accessible
  • 2.5 to 3 m of open space around troughs are needed to minimize pushing and shoving

Test the Waters

Toxicity is an issue to be avoided at all costs.  Palatability comes in high on the priority list too.  If the water that is presented fails to pass the taste test, all the benefits are lost.  For these two reasons alone, it is worth considering having the water supply to your dairy tested.  A treatment system may be necessary to reduce sulfate and chloride levels. Visible problems with algae are easy to see and hopefully eliminate.  It is important to minimize algae levels.  There are six types of algae that are toxic to cattle.  Use 35% hydrogen peroxide (8 ounces per 1000 gallons of water) to control algae populations.  It would seem logical to use chlorine to treat water for dissolved iron, magnesium and hydrogen sulfide.  However chlorine concentration over 1000 ppm can result in milk fat depression and reduced water intake.

Is Enough Water Enough?

Once you have determined its safety and palatability, it is critical that you know if your cows are getting enough water for their age and stage of lactation.  The following are indications that water isn’t meeting the needs of your animals:

  • Firm, constipated manure
  • Low urine output
  • High packed-cell volume or hematocrit in blood
  • Considerable drops in milk production
  • Drinking urine or pooled water
  • Cows bawling even when adequate food is present

Causes for Low Intake

  • Corroded valves, clogged pipes, buildup of slime or scale
  • Stray voltage
  • Stress free access
  • Dirty bowls or water tanks

Water as a Sustainable Resource

No discussion of water can be complete without considering the resource itself.  On a dairy farm, water use can range from 12 to 150 gallons per cow per day. This huge difference depends upon who cares about and monitors how much water is used.  Farms that metre their water use and set standards have very little water use compared to farms that don’t, without restricting the needs of the herd.  Best practices for water usage in milking parlors, wash pens and evaporative cooling systems (in warm climates) are the reality of the future. When all is said and done, responsible use of this finite resource will have a direct impact on the sustainability of the dairy industry above and beyond the life-giving value it has in providing nutrition, growth and milk production.

As an example of how water can become a crisis situation today, it is only necessary to look at the current drought in California.  California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency last month.  Hundreds of thousands of acres will not be planted this spring. Farmers have been refused the water they requested from a federally controlled system.  Farmers who manage the 1.5 million cattle in California are very aware of the dwindling supply of both surface water allocations and groundwater sources.  The state has identified 10 rural towns with less than 100 days of supply remaining. Added to the problem of supply is the increasing problem with contamination.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Any restriction on the availability of clean, fresh, and high-quality water can limit calf development and impacts cows’ milk production quicker than a deficiency in any other nutrient. Water intake also regulates feed intake. Thus, understanding the importance of water and how to effectively manage your dairy feeding system to provide adequate water intake is very important.

Water is crucial to your dairy management success. Set up a comprehensive water program, not only for its role in cattle nutrition, but for every point water touches your operation from access to delivery, to cleanup and reuse.  Overlook this liquid asset and you will be left high and dry.



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Are We Safe, Sorry or Simply Afraid to Stand Up for rBST?

Mark Twain once remarked, “Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this…except that it ain’t so.”

For more than 20 years articles supporting the truth about the safety of rBST have been stacking up but have had little impact on settling the debate.  Critics are either unwilling or unable to accept two decades of findings regarding the safety of what a recent Hoard’s Dairyman article referred to as “the most studied product in the history of U.S. dairy farming.” All of which brings me to our love hate relationship with food and, most particularly, with health risks based on the use of rBST, GMOs and other modern livestock rearing practices.

Protests and Politics

The heated debate over so-called Frankenfoods is not only about the pros and cons of genetic manipulation to improve nutritional value and resistance to disease; it also concerns  honesty vs lies, ethics vs deceit  and fact vs fiction.

The trouble with trying to inform the misled or to defend those who would attack dairy producers, is that you always feel that you are perpetuating the drama.  However, when the industry is under constant attack, it is necessary for everyone of us to take a stand.  For those not inclined to active retaliation and the resulting frustrations, a less aggressive step might be as simple as sharing a well-written book. “The Frankenfood Myth” by Henry Miller and Gregory Conko takes a long, hard look at both the new agricultural biotechnology and the policy debate surrounding it. At some point, we must encourage all sides, including ourselves, to proactively encourage change.

From Panic to Prudence

It would be wonderful to declare categorically that all dairy farmers understand the science and nutrition of the products they produce and that everything is 100% safe. That would be wonderful but would it be true? There is no doubt that the technology is safe but are we accepting the responsibility for making sure the consumers whose purchasing power we depend on are as well-assured.

For one thing, before we ask the general public not to swallow the headlines from either side of this debate, we need to take a look at what is in our own glass and on our own plates.  It doesn’t matter whether you are involved in dairy farming 24/7 or only connect with dairy products at mealtime , it’s impossible to ignore headlines that blame everything from early onset puberty to excessive obesity  on hormones found in dairy products.  These truths or lies and the resulting consequences have frightening implications for every food consumer.  Of course, we all know that the easiest way to stir things up is to raise fears!  Fear of hormones is much easier to focus on than taking responsibility for what is happening to our hearts and waistlines by our own hand. Once you have an enemy to blame for obesity, heart disease and cancer, you can protest that this enemy is responsible for our one way ticket to a hospital ward and continue to be oblivious to the dangers of the “drive through”, “fast food” and “heat it and eat it” convenience foods.

Early Puberty and Rampant Childhood Obesity.  Who`s Responsibility is It?

Of course, farmers join all food consumers in having concerns about the potential problem of feeding hormones to our children.  But let’s start with the known before we raise the unknown fears. A child’s body produces 50,000 nanograms of estrogen per day.  A non-pregnant adult will produce 480,000 nanograms of estrogen daily.  Furthermore, when hormones in food  are eaten, they break down in the process of digestion and are largely neutralized.  The following listing of the amounts of estrogen in common servings of food is not to disparage in any way the food source itself, but is given as facts to understand not fears to react to.

Beef                     1.9 nanograms
Potatoes                225 nanograms
Peas                       340 nanograms
Ice Cream              520 nanograms
Cabbage             2,000 nanograms
Soy Milk           11,250 nanograms
Soybean Oil    170,000 nanograms

The 1.9 nanograms of estrogen in implanted beef is also miniscule.

At some point, farmer or not, we have to step back and take responsibility for our own health and that of our children.  Responsible dairy managers wouldn`t think of harming their calves and cows by feeding them a diet that would give them a body condition score of 5 (or at the other extreme -1).  Restricting bovine diets because of unsupported fears overheard or read about is also rarely done on farms.  In fact, there is extreme attention paid to balancing diets, providing minerals, proteins and nutrients that provide the energy needed for production and reproduction.  When I was first married and a young mother myself, I often was amazed at how much careful attention was focused on the pregnant bovine and felt that human nutrition could benefit from the same careful consideration.  Of course, as with most things we “discover”, the information has always been available, it is the implementation that is missing or ignored. Before we blame the farmer or accept unfounded fear-mongering, we have to use the same careful consideration on our family’s health that we apply to the dairy herd we care for.

That is part of the answer of where dairy products should fit into diets for youth.  Unfortunately, more than we want an answer we sometimes want to avoid responsibility.  When we are afraid it’s easy to point the finger at dairy farmers or, if we are one of those farmers, we yell back at the unreasonable name calling. Finding a guilty party lets us off the hook because we are not personally involved in food production and processing.  However, we can only remain oblivious as long as we ignore the obvious.   The obvious cause of obesity (on or off the farm)  is a direct result of excess calories consumed and the resulting increased levels of body fat.  “BMI (body mass index) is the biggest single factor for the onset of puberty.”

Which brings us back to fears laid at our dairy farming doorstep because the public is concerned about how their food is produced and, for today’s discussion, fears over the safety of rBST.  They are not wrong in their concern.  But we mustn’t sidestep our responsibility as dairy producers. It is our responsibility to  provide the right information, in open and honest discussion.  So let’s look at the facts that we can and should be sharing.

We Dairy Farmers Take Pride in the Progress Made in Providing Safe Healthy Food

  1. Recombinant bovine somatrotropin (BST) makes milk and money for producers who use it.
  2. rBST has been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) and by JECFA under the administration of the United Nations`Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization
  3. rBST has been approved in 1993, 1998 and will be reviewed again in 2016
  4. “Research has demonstrated that human somatrotropin increase immune system function in HIV infected people.”
  5. Overall, there is no evidence of increased expression of retroviruses in cattle treated with BST
  6.  or that retroviruses in cattle would pose a risk to human health.”

Dairy farmers can take pride in the self-regulating they have done in providing ever-healthier milk products to consumers.

percentage of bulk tankers testing positive for antibiotic residues 1995 to 2013

Somehow, in the modern media rush to condemn, we have lost sight of the basic principles of nutrition that we all know. Science supports the health benefits of the products dairy farms produce.  “In 2010 the U.S. Department of Agriculture even identified dairy products as a major source of 3 of 5 nutrients of concern that are marginal or inadequate in childrens’ diets.”  The other side of the equation is that healthy food must be provided for a dramatically increasing market of consumers. We must find efficient, productive and profitable ways to do so.  Research and resources will focus on that goal. Progress is built on discovering and using safe, healthy technology such as that provided by rBST. We need to speak up in defence of our industry.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

rBST is safe.  Does that mean our children, or even we ourselves,  are consuming the best possible diets?  Before we dig in to immovable positions on either side of that argument, we need to consider what we are digging into on our plates.

Achieving optimum health, like managing a productive dairy operation, is based on choices and, ultimately, we are all responsible for the choices we make.  Make good ones.



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Why are Breeders Not Genomically Testing their Heifers?

In 2013 North American Holstein breeders sampled and received genomic evaluations for less than 7% of all heifers. Given the large number of articles being written about dairy cattle genomics these days, this small percentage left The Bullvine asking why there has not been more uptake on genomic testing?

Uneven Uptake.

Holstein Canada’s 2013 Annual Report shows Newfoundland with 100%, British Columbia with 21.4% and Quebec with 8.6% of the purebred female registrations that were genomically tested. Other provinces are as low as 3%. I expect that the same 3-9% range in uptake of this service exists in the United States but that statistic is not available on the Holstein USA Inc website.  But based on North American averages published by Canadian Dairy Network, the national percentages would be about the same.

Some breeders label genomics as just another inaccurate index. They even call it a production index. Believe those things if you wish, but genomic indexes are 55-70% accurate and genomic ratings exist for all traits – yields, component percents, each conformation area and all management traits. The breeders genomically testing their females are definitely ahead of the curve.

On the male side of the equation, 100% of the young Holstein bulls entering into A.I. in North America are being genomically evaluated. A.I. companies are making extensive use of the genomic results in their young sire proving and marketing programs. In the past five years young sire usage by Holstein breeders has risen from less than 20% to over 50%. This rising amount of semen sold is due primarily to the higher genetic merit for the genomic bulls compared to the proven sires. For the most recent two weeks, 66% of the top 25 bulls on the “Holstein USA’s High Registry Activity by Bull Report” were genomically evaluated unproven bulls.

So what is responsible for this disconnect between what is happening on the young male and young female sides of the pedigree?

Heifers Don’t Matter

Breeders always have reasons for why they do or do not use a service. So let’s talk about what is happening in the breeder’s world.

On the upside, milk prices are high, the USA is exporting 15% of the milk produced, high feed costs have eased somewhat and semen prices are reasonable. However on the downside are areas such as prices for newly calved first lactation females do not cover their rearing costs, sexed semen is not routinely available for young sires and the average herd size in the USA has reached 187 milking cows and many small herd breeders are about to retire or exit the industry.

The real kickers in this scenario are that the market price for high pedigreed animals has fallen off (Read more: An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions 2013 and Is There Still Going To Be A Market For Purebred Dairy Cattle In 10 Years?) and with sexed semen and IVF (Read more: Sexed Semen from Cool Technology to Smart Business Decision, SEXED SEMEN – At Your Service!, SEXING TECHNOLOGIES: Gender Vendors in a Changing Marketplace and IVF: Boom or Bust for the Dairy Industry) there is, what seems to be, an over abundance of heifers. That includes numerous full sisters from the very top dams. This spring we have seen 2300-2400 gTPI or 3.00 PTAT deep pedigreed heifers sell for less than the IVF costs it took to produce them. Is that overabundance or shrewd buying?

The industry has changed and is not likely to return to the times when a small family farm could make a good living from milking 50-75 cows and selling breeding stock as the gravy on the meat and potatoes. Full heifer pens, losing money on raising heifers and no extra reward on sale day for high, but not the very top, heifers does not have breeders feeling positive about the heifer side of the herd. It has resulted in breeders deciding not to incur the cost of genomic testing, if the results are not going to provide information that will help and have a positive impact on the bottom line. Perhaps breeders are not assigning dollar values to genomic benefits or are not breeding for what the market is now demanding.

Current Benefits of Genomic Information

A synopsis of what genomic information has brought to the dairy cattle breeding industry include:

  1. With every young sire being genomically tested, the ones that in the past would have received low proofs no longer need to be sampled. That saves A.I. companies money and saves breeders the holes in pedigrees and animals that must be culled.
  2. Bull dam indexes are now much more accurate and only the top cows have sons being A.I. sampled. This has increased selection intensity but it has resulted in less income for breeders and the significant IVF fees for the, often many, full brothers that did not make the grade.
  3. The parentage of every genomically tested animal can be verified. Increased accuracy.
  4. Where a heifer’s parent average index was formerly 35% reliable, the genomic index is now 65% reliable. Almost double the accuracy.
  5. Brood cows now have indexes that are over 90% reliable where they were formerly in the 60% range. Significantly increased accuracy.
  6. More accurate breeding decisions can now be made for both cows and heifers. More rapid herd and breed improvement.
  7. Herds genomically testing all their heifers can sell off their low end heifers. Decreased rearing costs.
  8. The rates of breed improvement have doubled (Read more: The Genetic “SUPER COW” – Myth vs Reality) due to increased accuracy and much shorter generation intervals. Increased profit for herds and the industry.

For $45 breeders can get a 9K panel run. An interesting comparison is that this is equal to the costs to classify and milk record a cow for a year. In fact from an accuracy perspective genomic testing is a bargain as it costs the same but gives 65% accuracy whereas having a classification and a milk record gives 52% accuracy. In addition the genomic test can be run shortly after birth, saving on raising costs and presenting marketing opportunities.

But what’s the future?

The science of genomic evaluations in dairy cattle is advancing quickly. Breeders can expect in five years to see the following:

  1. The accuracy of Holstein genomic indexes will be over 80% for traits of moderate heritability.
  2. Current research for feed efficiency will produce a genetic rating for that important trait.
  3. Genomic indexes will be available for more traits and with more accuracy for health and fertility traits.
  4. More use will be made of genomic indexes for breeds beyond Holsteins.
  5. Breeders will implant low end cows with high merit embryos and will not need to raise low end heifers.
  6. Cows will stay in the herd longer resulting in higher daily herd average milk yields.
  7. Breeders will be able to focus genetic selection on herd life, feed efficiency, fertility and health traits.
  8. Genomic information will be used to breed for feeding (Read more: Forget Genomics – Epigenomics & Nutrigenomics are the Future) and management (Read more: Herd Health, Management, Genetics and Pilot Projects: A Closer Look at ZOETIS) purposes.
  9. Breeding companies will focus on providing semen and embryos that meet their customers’ needs.
  10. A.I. sires will only need to be housed in stud until there are 25,000 to 100,000 doses collected. (Read more: The End of the Daughter Proven Sire Era)

In five years time, discerning breeders will use genomic information like any other tool to breed better cattle and generate on-farm profit. If the cost of testing could be lowered from $45 to about $30 for a 9K panel evaluation, then the uptake would definitely increase significantly.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We must always look to the future. For some breeders that may be one year until they sell out. However for many, including many young people just entering the industry, that future could be 10 to 30 years from now. Their decision should not be how they can do the heifer side as cheaply as possible. It needs to be how they can have the most profitable cows. The time is now to start genomically testing all heifers. Eliminating the lower end. Correctively mate to make the top end even better. Knowing all the facts and having all the information about the heifer herd is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Do not let opportunity pass you by. 

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.





Geneticists versus The Weather Man: Who gets it right more often?

From when to plant, fertilize or harvest our crops to what sire to use, breeders are always looking for reliable assistance.  For most dairy farmers, there are two things they love to complain about.  One is the weather and the other is bull proofs.  No one ever says that predicting the future is easy.  Sure we put more credibility into Al Roker’s weather forecast than we do the one given by the young blonde, who seems to be there more for eye candy than for knowledge set.  But the question remains, “How accurate is either weather forecast?”  At the Bullvine we decided to look at how the genetic evaluations system compares to the predictions of meteorologists.

In many ways Dairy Cattle Genetics and Meteorology are very similar.  Both use complex mathematical models to predict the future.  The formulas and complexity of these models make most people’s heads spin.  But after all the numbers and formulas are calculated, who does the better job?

To compare these two prognosticators we looked at the accuracy of the average 3 day weather forecast from the National Weather Service last year and compared them to  initial genomic proofs of young sires and then to  a bull’s  first daughter proofs.  What we found was that the average 3-day weather forecast is accurate, within e degrees, 71.19% of the time.  For genomic young sires, we know that the average sire with a 50K test compared to a proven sire is about 72% reliable.  So the average young sire’s proof is as accurate as a 3-day weather forecast.  Sure things can change quickly but more than 70% of the time you can rely on the information to be accurate and 95% of the time you can expect a genomic tested young sire to perform at least within 20% of their expected values.  (Read more: The Truth About Genomic Indexes – “show me” that they work!)

When comparing a next day forecast to that of a 1st crop proven sire, we find the advantage for accuracy goes to the geneticists.  The next day weather forecasts for the national weather service’s jump up to 87.24% accurate to within 3 degrees, and 1st crop proven sires with a genomic test are 90% accurate.  To put things into perspective.  A non-genomic tested young sire’s proof is as about as accurate as a 7 day weather forecast.  Both are well below 50% accuracy and are more or less only good enough to forecast a general trend.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Sure there are those who prefer not to use genomic young sires, when it comes to their breeding programs.  However I would hazard a guess that they are also using the Farmers’ Almanac, instead of the weather forecasts, to predict when to plant their corn or harvest their hay.  (Read more: Dairy Breeders vs. Genetic Corporations: Who are the True Master Breeders?)  For those breeders that are willing to let a little science help them to make their job easier, genomic proofs have considerably improved the accuracy.  Today’s average genomic young sire is about as accurate a prediction of performance as a 3-day weather forecast.  Accurate enough to make informed decisions, but not able to guarantee that a freak storm won’t come in and change things.



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Wasted Youth – The Dairy Industry Brain Drain

Dairy farming represents a true School of Life for young people.  It teaches them the skills and values they need to be successful and to become leaders in their communities.  Unfortunately, the challenge is that it does such a good job that these same young people are leaving the industry for more lucrative careers.

For many the passion for dairy cattle and showing dairy cattle starts at a very young age.

Dairy farming, along with judging and showing dairy cattle, provides young people with opportunities to develop personal values and skills in communication, team building and competition.  It helps develop the confidence to be heard, the ability to make tough decisions and the skills to take and defend a position.  Each of these is pivotal to success in any career.  Other industries are taking note of these essential skills that are being developed in today’s top dairy youth and they are aggressively recruiting them. (Read more: For Love of the Ring! and  How Dairy Cattle Judging Made Me Rich)

Why are they leaving?

It could be the cost of entry is too high or maybe it’s that the lifestyle does not suit.  Whatever the reason, more and more highly skilled young people are heading elsewhere to apply their talents.  As the average dairy farm has had to grow in numbers, it has also meant a huge rise in the cost to start or take over such an operation.

The typical new dairy operation is no longer the 30-40 head milking herd.  Today`s startup is a 200+ plus dairy operation, where the name of the game is operating efficiently and profitability.  This is a much-needed change.  (Read more: Where have all the dairy farmers gone? In Depth Analysis of the 2013 U.S. and Canadian National Dairy Herd Statistics).  Having said that, it is not so easy for many operations to go from a lifestyle choice to a company.  It also has a huge impact on the next generation, who are considering entering into dairy farming and taking on the necessary debt.

As the world has gone through a credit crisis, getting financing to start your dairy operation has become harder and harder.  For many talented and hardworking youth, their paths have been drawn to other industries, where they can apply their efforts with more financial reward and less risk. (Read more: Is Dairy Farming Dying?)

Career Cast listed dairy farming as the #6 worst jobs in 2013.  But hey, that’s a good sign.  It was #2 in 2012.  I am sure the people rating these jobs have never even been on a dairy farm.  But the point is clear.  Young people are not banging at the doors trying to get into the dairy industry.  Not surprisingly dairy farming has one of the highest average ages of all industries and is getting older.  Long hours and low pay does not retain top talent.

What are we doing to stop this?

When I look at the breed associations and other industry organizations, I look at their core initiatives.  I see a glaring problem.  Retention.  The industry is getting smaller, not from a milk production standpoint, but for sure from a talent retention standpoint.  Even worse is the fact that no one really wants to acknowledge and address this issue.

Sure I see these organizations saying that we are “connecting” with youth, through social media and other platforms, but what are they really doing to ensure that these talented young people stay in the industry?

What can we do to stop this?

It takes more than just being cool, or fun, or being friendly.  It takes educating them about the business of dairy farming.  It takes getting them involved in the ownership side of the business.  A program that does do this is the US National Youth Shows.  Unlike the 4-H program that is heavily focused on youth development, which is great, the National Youth Show program gets these individuals involved in the ownership of the cattle they are exhibiting.  This sound like a minor difference, but it is huge.  It is something that the Canadian Dairy Industry seems to ignore as they have yet to even implement a program at all similar to this.  When these young people own the animals they are exhibiting they take on a whole new level of pride and responsibility.  More importantly they are building up an equity stake in the industry.  Their ownership of cattle gives them the base to build their herd from.  Sure, for many years, that herd will be part of their parents operations, but when they are ready to make that big step into owning their own dairy, they not only have the animals to do so, they have the equity to show the bank.

At the recent New York International Spring Show, Andy Reynolds exhibited the Grand, Reserve Grand and Reserve Champion including Grand Champion of Junior Show – Co-Vale Zenith Darla

We also need to further educate young people.  On the one hand, we spend loads of time and effort to educate them about how to better themselves and become contributing members of their community.  But, on the other hand, what are we doing to educate them about the business of dairy farming?  Balancing the books, managing expenditures, controlling costs and generating revenue are necessary skills.  These are lessons than many producers themselves had to learn through the school of hard knocks, but we are doing nothing to help instill them in the next generation.  We need to have more programs to help educate our young people about how to be better business managers.  Heck, if you think about it, many of our current producers could also benefit from upgrading in these areas.  .

The Bullvine Bottom Line

As someone who was has always felt passionately about agriculture, the family farm legacy and Holsteins in particular have been through this myself.  Growing up with full family participation in 4-H, I have raised, shown, bought and sold many elite dairy cattle.  After a successful 4-H career, I too was being called away from the dairy industry and into other opportunities.  The work ethic, focus and ability to manage business responsibilities that I learned on the farm have helped me to successfully navigate the Fortune 500 world.  I have now come back to my first love with a new perspective on some of the glaring issues that are facing the dairy industry today.  When it comes to retaining our youth, we are falling far short.  We are not getting them involved on the business side of our industry.  These are bright, 21st Century people who seek careers that will develop their full potential.  Currently all dairy programs are more geared around the community, the lifestyle and traditional parameters.  All of these are great, but without dairying providing a sustainable, growing   business there is no profitable industry to be part of.  If we allow this drain to continue, we are failing to develop our own best resource … our next generation.



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There`s Rumen for Improvement. Happy Bugs=Happy Cows!

“A nutritionist and a dairy farmer walk up to a feedbunk.” It sounds like the start of a lame joke, but with shrinking margins and rising input costs feeding dairy cattle is no laughing matter.  It would be really nice if the pastoral idyll of rows of cows contentedly chewing their cud was achievable simply by filling a feedbunk.  However, not only is this picture not the simple equation of feed in equaling milk out, but in actual fact depends more on what you feed the bugs in your cows’ stomachs than it does on what you think you’re feeding the cows.  Ruminants are hosts to numerous microbes and the microbes need to survive and multiply in order for milk to be produced.  So to put it simply, “If you want better rumen health, you need better rumen bugs!”

From Tongue to Dung – Travelling the Fermentation Road

The whole process is one of digestion. Digestion begins when cows draw feed into their mouths with their tongues.  Each mouthful passes into the rumen, flows to the abomasums and then through the small intestine, the large intestine and then out!

For the most part, this entire process is unseen to the human eye.  Except if there’s a problem (such as a twisted abomasums that can be felt by touching the cow’s side) or, when it is finished and the manure gives visual clues to issues.  Of course, out of sight out of mind isn’t the best management tool when you’re trying to effectively monitor or set up dairy cattle diets.  Nutritionists and veterinarians use scientific methods to study the feed and the bugs.  Fortunately the tools being used are continually evolving, as specialist can make the rumen mystery more manageable.  Using lab analysis, ingredient evaluation and computer programs they measure, calculate, forecast and establish precise diets, customized for the dairy cow and the particular operation.

Set Goals and Test, Test, Test

The primary goal of a sound, profitable dairy feeding program is to convert forages into milk.  With feed costs representing 50 to 60 percent of the cost of producing milk, knowing the nutrient content is very important from an economic perspective.  All forages which will be fed to milking cows, heifers and dry cows need to be tested.  All lots of hay should be sampled using a hay probe on 10 or more bales of hay.  Sampling one or two bales is not an accurate way to sample a lot.  A `lot ‘of hay is defined as those bales which were harvested from the same field and cutting.  Your local feed company or extension agent can help you get your forages tested.  Testing forages and balancing rations for heifers and dry cows is critical in order to get heifers to grow efficiently and to prevent dry cows from losing or gaining too much weight.

Every Body Works Better on a Schedule

As we turn our attention to focus on fermentation we have to consider the effect of timing.  Cows and rumen bugs are both creatures of habit.  We all know how dairy cows get into a routine and expect to be milked at the same time every day.  A variation of much more than 10 minutes causes stress.  If feed is expected every day at 10 am, 10:45 will further upset the routine.  The goal is that every day is exactly like the day before and the day after.  Consistency is good not only for the cows but for the rumen bugs too.

Don’t Upset Your Cows or Their Rumens

Rather than upset the rumen vat with constant changes, subpar feed or feed that is presented erratically, it is important for rumen health to make diet changes gradually.  If daily handling is calm, routine and without overcrowding in feed and resting areas, the daily digestion process will be stress free and more likely to be effective. Rumen fermentation can be altered by stresses.  Spoiled silage has a dramatic impact on rumen fermentation and dry matter intake.  Optimum rumen fermentation requires consistent nutrient supply.  If excess spoiled feed is consumed, there is a distinct likelihood that desirable rumen bugs are being killed off.  Even minor changes can have a dramatic effect on the numbers of microbes and even cause a particular bug to become more dominant.  This becomes a domino effect that could result in poor digestion and other problems.

If She is Not Making Milk Targets, You haven’t fed Her Rumen

Too often dairy managers confuse feeding the cow and feeding the rumen. Farmers should work closely with their nutritionist in designing a feeding program so that the nutrient needs of the rumen microbes are met in order for the cow to produce milk.  Once the feeding program has been designed, implementing the feeding program becomes the next critical step.  The final measure of the diet is determined when milk is produced. If the goal was to produce 80 pounds of milk and you only get 70 pounds, there is a discrepancy somewhere and it must be found.

As rumen modeling becomes a more and more exact science, it is important to remember that no model will correct for poor management.

New Ways to Monitor Microbes

As in other areas of dairy cattle management, the rumen is benefitting from new technologies. Gene sequencing and measurement of the expression of genes (genomics), proteins (proteomics) and metabolites (metabolomics) can now be used to better differentiate microbe species in the rumen.  Using these tools it is reported that the rumen contains over 7,000 bacterial and 1,500 archael (single-celled but distinct from bacteria) species.  There are also numerous protozoa, fungi and bacteriophages.  Studying these organisms by use of new approaches is making it easier to understand the physical structure of different ingredients in the rumen and how they impact rumen function.  The payoff is better health and more efficient use of dietary nutrients.  All in all the process is complicated and speedy and analysis needs to provide the best information before the fermentable ingredients escape the rumen.

Happy Bugs Happy Cows

Maximizing rumen function means we work to maximize microbial activity.  It takes energy to produce milk.  Extracting as much energy as possible from the fiber components (NDF digestibility) is the goal. It is necessary to maximize microbial protein production through microbial growth (high quality amino acid supply). For milk production and profitability the goal is to formulate diets that utilize the rumen to the fullest extent.  Supplying the right nutrients, calmly and consistently is the formula for contented milk-producing cows.  Cud chewing is the external sign but it takes good planning, delivery, monitoring and testing to confirm that the “healthy bugs, healthy cows” two step is at work in your herd.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Happy Bugs.  Healthy Cows.  More milk.  Fewer vet visits.   From the feedbunk to the bank, improved rumen performance putting more dollars on YOUR Bottom Line




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International Markets. Who’s Catching Up?

Two forces are coming together that are going to have a major impact not only on the North American dairy industry but on global dairying as well.  On the one hand, after generations of being in the forefront of the global dairy industry, North America is being joined by other expanding dairy economies.  In the 21st Century exponential growth in dairy consumption means that countries such as China, India and Vietnam are assimilating dairy practices from market leaders and leapfrogging to the top.

As the momentum picks up, headlines monitor the changes. “China Grows Its Dairy Farms “and “Emerging Dairy Markets in India “. It isn’t surprising therefore to see large agricultural marketing companies entering these markets, sending in products and partnering in on-site development.  Commercial representatives and government fact finding missions are reporting back that the potential is enormous.  Meanwhile on the home front, progressive dairy members are keeping pace through international exchanges of students, set-up expertise and, of course, dairy products. It isn’t unusual to be exposed to seminars, panelists and big picture visionaries who are making presentations on every aspect of this growth.  The message is repeatedly reinforced that China, India, Asia and Africa are not only improving their own dairy industry balance sheets but providing profit potential for North American dairy exports – real and intellectual—as well.

Over the past 40 years I have had mostly arm-length exposure to what dairying in these locations has included.  It is exciting to hear the vast potential that is being recognized today.  It can be compared to the way countries have leapfrogged from the not having even basic telephone systems to the smart phone generation. Using that as the comparison and you will have some idea of how dairy technology is moving ahead by leaps and bounds.

Already dairy and crop farming are looking more like the North American model as they move forward. Farmers in Asia are able to skip the generations of evolution that Europe and North America look back on.  They are not constrained by having to build tie stall barns.  They have the advantage of seeing the benefits of going directly to freestalls and milking parlors. Even in countries such as Africa where progress is more likely to use the freehold model, they are benefiting from the tools, genetics and science of modern farming.  The advice and role models, so easily shared with modern communication, can be applied to the type of efficient grass converting animal, high quality feed and accessible practices that will make it possible to keep people productively working in the countryside, instead of joining the city poor.

Many years ago, on the crop farming side, I witnessed firsthand the bottleneck that under-mechanization makes. We were visiting Africa and representing the good intentions and good will of the North American dairy industry. In Zimbabwe farmers were not able to keep the wonderful tractors running.  All too soon they would find themselves running out of draw pins or other small parts (not accessible) and the whole team had to revert to hand tools for planting, maintaining and harvesting crops.  The very real threat of starvation is always a bigger priority than unsustainable mechanization.

Today, whether it’s through equipment subsidies as was done in China or through supporting input costs or crop prices as was done in India, mechanization is moving forward.  Granted there are still many fields tilled by hand or using oxen but there is progress from walk behind tillers to mid-size tractors.  Some big name North American farm equipment dealers are moving with the times in these developing countries.  John Deere manufactures mid-size 80 and below horsepower tractors in India and China.  To put this in perspective, you have to recognize that China has over 90 percent of the corn acreage of the U.S. even though the yields are much lower. First mechanization.  Then these countries are in a position to turn their attention to crop and soil science and animal genetics.  This spins off into consumer desire for more fresh milk, Farmers, with the aid of governments and outside expertise, are meeting the demand by building 1,000 cow dairies that are comparable to those found stateside.

Threat or Opportunity

Let’s consider that China has the third largest cattle herd and is the second largest milk producer. India is the largest milk producing country in the world and could even overtake the European Union by 2020.  At first glance, this growing independence may seem like a double threat.  First they will require fewer imports.  Secondly they will become competitors in the marketplace.  However the discerning global watcher recognizes there is an even bigger change that is having the biggest impact of all.  It’s happening because of changes in the diets of consumers in every one of these countries.  Consumer demand for dairy products and protein is far outstripping the ability of their own country to provide for all their needs.  That is the first opportunity for the developed world. Other opportunities range from being mentors to help support this growth to becoming actual partners in overseas operations.  There is such a steep learning curve for countries who are undertaking modern dairy practices that it takes more than internet searches and a few weeks of visiting market leading operations. Then they have to go beyond accommodating best management practices.  Many of these countries have climate challenges.  Climate affects not only the cropping side tut also the milk production potential of the cattle.  The goal is healthy, high producing cows but, while great strides can be made by adapting equipment and modifying building styles, the same is not so readily converted when it comes to animal genetics, nutrition, health and reproduction.

China Has a Growing Thirst for Milk

As an example of how living standards and changing consumer tastes are impacting dairying, you need only look to China.  The former Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, used milk as a symbol for China’s rising wealth and living standards.  In 2006 he declared that it was his goal to ensure that all Chinese people could get enough milk. Eight years later progress has been steady with per capital liquid milk consumption rising from 1 kg per head in 2000 to 9.4 kg in 2011.  Furthermore, in the past four years demand for milk has consistently outstripped supply, with prices rising at an average of 12 percent a year. Having said that, it might seem counter-intuitive that it is expected that the population of milkable cows in China could fall from around 14.5 million in 2012 to 14.2 million in 2013.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The scenario taking place in China is one example of the tremendous growth in dairying that is occurring in many countries around the world. As the fortunes of dairymen change in those markets, there is a corresponding impact on dairy farming in North America and Europe. In each market the goal is to supply consumers with quality food, dairy training, cattle genetics and technology.

The gaps are definitely closing.  There is potential for everyone to move forward.



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Cull Cows, Sire Selection And Lost Money. Are You Missing The Connection?

What comes to your mind, when you see or hear about a cow that has produced 200,000 pounds of 4.0% fat and 3.5% protein milk and is due to calve again soon? Too often as breeders we immediately look at her conformation and expound about her great feet and legs or mammary system.  Unfortunately we are missing the important questions. What proportion of her birth mates have already been culled. Why were they culled? From a profitability point of view milk producers are missing the obvious.  Culling information needs to be used for both breeding and management purposes. There’s no excuse for ignoring the statistics.

Jerseys Do It Better

Recently released American figures from milk recorded farms show that Jerseys are the best, when it comes to achieving the lowest culling percentage.

Table 1 Breed Culling Rates

1LADYS-MANOR PL SHAKIRA-ETPlanet x Shottle x Mandel Debut8724438393.49Ladys-Manor Ruby JenDe-Su Holsteins, LLC
2ROYLANE SHOT MINDY 2079-ETShottle x Oman x Manat8624097922.87CMV Melwood MindyBuschur Dairy Farms, Inc.
3LADYS-MANOR DORCY ODADorcy x Auden x Outside8623897563.06Ladys-Manor Delightful JemMy Ladys Manor Farm
4LARCREST CRIMSON-ETRamos x Shottle x Outside9123847413.15Larcrest Juror ChanelLarcrest Holsteins
5LADYS-MANOR DORCY AMIRADorcy x Planet x Goldwyn8623727682.9Ladys-Manor AutumnMy Ladys Manor Farm
6LARCREST CASE-ETSPlanet x Ramos x Shottle8623698152.68Larcrest Juror ChanelDiamond Genetics
7LARCREST CAKE-ETSuper x Shottle x Outside8623466883.09Larcrest Juror ChanelSandy-Valley Farms
8COOKIECUTTER MOM HALO-ETMan-O-Man x Goldwyn x Champion8823386563.33Snow-N Denises DelliaPhillip Wilson, Kyle M. Gett
9WEBB-VUE GABOR MYCALA-ETGabor x Baxter x Goldwyn8723306963.22Burket-Falls KL SabrinaRobert A. Webb
10CLEAR-ECHO M-O-M 2150-ETMan-O-Man x Ramos x Hershel8723206083.49Clear-Echo Hershl D-Rac 822De-Su Holsteins, LLC
11BEN-AKERS PLANET LUISE26-ETPlanet x Jose x Ramos8523198192.45Ricecrest Luke LisaDe-Su Holsteins, LLC
12STRAUSSDALE PLANET ELLAPlanet x Shottle x Spike8723107263.01Brandts Encore EdithStraussdale Holsteins LLC
13SULLY PLANET MONTANA-ETPlanet x Shottle x Oman8623026493.08Sully Shottle MayDe-Su Holsteins, LLC
14AMMON-PEACHEY SHAUNA-ETPlanet x Shottle x Oman8723027012.69Wesswood-HC Rudy MissySeagull Bay Dairy
15RICKLAND FREDDIE 3509-ETFreddie x Shottle x Outside8322986752.96Oakfield Outside BrynnGreg Rickert
16VISION-GEN SH FRD A12276-ETFreddie x Jet Stream x Outside8622986812.89Morningview Converse JudyOakfield Corners Dairy
17DE-SU 9955-ETFreddie x Boliver x Addison8522977052.48Neu-Way Patron AllieDe-Su Holsteins, LLC
18LADYS-MANOR PL SHANDRA-ETPlanet x Shottle x Mandel Debut8722857023.21Ladys-Manor Ruby JenJoel Krall & Tim Crouse
19NEWELL KRAMER 1571Kramer x Pronto x Best8322807041.66Newell 548 BestKen Newell
20MS M-P SEQUOIA LILLY-ETSequoia x Bolton x Shottle8522797342M-Pondhill Shottle LanaPond Hill Dairy
21LARCREST CHENOA-ETSPlanet x Ramos x Shottle8722776992.66Larcrest Juror ChanelLarcrest Holsteins
22LARCREST CHIMA-ETSPlanet x Ramos x Shottle8822757002.63Larcrest Juror ChanelLarcrest Holsteins
23MS WELCOME MM LULITA CRI-ETMan-O-Man x Shottle x Magna8522746343.01Welcome Blackstar LassGenesis Cooperative Herd
24SYNERGY PLANET PASSION-ETPlanet x Oman x Outside8622737022.61Walkup Bell Lou EttaSynergy Farm LLC
25PINE-TREE FREDDIE ALEXA-ETFreddie x Boliver x Zack8522736982.44Jafral Prelude PrissyPine Tree Dairy

So why are Jerseys rated as the best?  What makes them 32% better than Holsteins? As nearly as I can determine, for both male and female perspective, it comes down to one area – superior reproduction! Jersey cows have a conception rate of 42 to 48%.  This gives them a 27% lead over the Holstein conception rate of 33 to 36%.  This conception rate gap accounts for 85% of the difference in culling rates between Jerseys and Holsteins.

Hat’s off to the Jersey breed and breeders. It’s little wonder that the Jersey breed is experiencing a resurgence in commercial milk production herds.

For a considerable time, judges and classifiers have been trained to penalize cows with high pins.  However with mature Jersey cows that principle does not necessarily hold true.  Even with high pins, Jerseys still get into calf.  What I’m seeing, when I study proven and genomic bull proofs that it is much more accurate to judge reproduction by looking at Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR), when selecting bulls to use to improve herd genetics for fertility.

Before leaving the Jersey breed, it should be noted that the challenge for Jersey breeders is to improve their cattle for somatic cells (SCS), from an average of 2.94 compared to Holsteins at 2.80.

Stop Ignoring Culling Reports

Breeders are eternal optimists.  So we try for five, six or seven services to get a cow in calf.  We use sires that have a proof over 3.00 for SCS.  We use bulls that leave daughters with shallow heels that toe out in the rear.  Why is that? We all have read the annual reports of culling reasons?  Do we think we’ll get lucky?  Do we not respect the sire proofs?

Table 2    Culling Reasons that have a Genetic Component

1LADYS-MANOR PL SHAKIRA-ETPlanet x Shottle x Mandel Debut8724418403.65Ladys-Manor Ruby JenDe-Su Holsteins, LLC
2LADYS-MANOR DORCY ODADorcy x Auden x Outside8524077733.12Ladys-Manor Delightful JemMy Ladys Manor Farm
3ROYLANE SHOT MINDY 2079-ETShottle x Oman x Manat8524028052.66CMV Melwood MindyBuschur Dairy Farms, Inc.
4LARCREST CRIMSON-ETRamos x Shottle x Outside9123487103.1Larcrest Juror ChanelLarcrest Holsteins
5CLEAR-ECHO M-O-M 2150-ETMan-O-Man x Ramos x Hershel8723476493.52Clear-Echo Hershl D-Rac 822De-Su Holsteins, LLC
6COOKIECUTTER MOM HALO-ETMan-O-Man x Goldwyn x Champion8823346613.32Snow-N Denises DelliaPhillip Wilson, Kyle M. Gett
7SULLY PLANET MONTANA-ETPlanet x Shottle x Oman8623236573.27Sully Shottle MayDe-Su Holsteins, LLC
8BEN-AKERS PLANET LUISE26-ETPlanet x Jose x Ramos8523168122.49Ricecrest Luke LisaDe-Su Holsteins, LLC
9LARCREST CASE-ETSPlanet x Ramos x Shottle8623157552.81Larcrest Juror ChanelDiamond Genetics
10AMMON-PEACHEY SHAUNA-ETPlanet x Shottle x Oman8722996862.82Wesswood-HC Rudy MissySeagull Bay Dairy
11STRAUSSDALE PLANET ELLAPlanet x Shottle x Spike8722957033.23Brandts Encore EdithStraussdale Holsteins LLC
12LADYS-MANOR PL SHANDRA-ETPlanet x Shottle x Mandel Debut8722876963.34Ladys-Manor Ruby JenJoel Krall & Tim Crouse
13CHERRY CREST MANOMAN ROZ-ETMan-O-Man x Elegant x Outside8622846302.93Whittier-Farms Outside RozSiemers Holsteins
14RICHMOND-FD POMPEY-ETMassey x Ramos x Pippen8722817212.18Richmond-FD Ramos PoppyPine Tree Dairy
15COOKIECUTTER SS HEY 7043-ETMan-O-Man x Goldwyn x Champion8322816053.42Snow-N Denises DelliaZimmerview Dairy
16RALMA PLANET CENTURY-ETPlanet x Bolton x Durham8622736473.34Ralma Juror FaithSiemers Holsteins
17MS M-P SEQUOIA LILLY-ETSequoia x Bolton x Shottle8322717341.99M-Pondhill Shottle LanaPond Hill Dairy
18DE-SU 9955-ETFreddie x Boliver x Addison8522686842.57Neu-Way Patron AllieDe-Su Holsteins, LLC
19RMW SUPER ARIANE-ETSuper x Goldwyn x Oman8322646123.14Unicorn Chairman LynnDe-Su Holsteins, LLC
20SYNERGY PLANET PASSION-ETPlanet x Oman x Outside8622636872.7Walkup Bell Lou EttaSynergy Farm LLC
21RICHLAWN SUPER APRIL APPLESuper x Zade x Shottle8322617022.06Muranda Rudolf LilyGenesis Cooperative Herd
22JK-GOLD DORCY PASTRY-ETDorcy x Toystory x Outside8322606192.92Rabur Outside PandoraCorwin Holtz and True Farms
23DIRT-ROAD MANOMAN CAMEO-ETMan-O-Man x Goldwyn x Tugolo8622596512.55Cooks-Valley Bell CurlySteve & Amanda Killian
24MS WELCOME LATH TAMMILatham x Colby x FBI8622585782.82Clear-Echo 2635 Bol 1204Welcome-Stock Farm
25LARCREST CHIMA-ETSPlanet x Ramos x Shottle8822566732.58Larcrest Juror ChanelLarcrest Holsteins

The above culling reasons come from the cows culled in 2013 from Canadian milk recorded herds.  Where a reason was provided, 73.6% of the cows were culled for reasons associated with genetics.  The first cull should always be when you’re selecting sires.  Stop using the ones that are causing problems that you are continually culling for.  For information on what to cows that remain the longest in a herd, it is recommended that breeders read She Ain’t Pretty – She Just Milks That Way! There is a point where optimistically hoping for better results is simply foolish.

Do the Math

If we are still in doubt about the importance of considering culling in sire selection, let’s think about the dollars and cents of each of these statistics on lost dollars:

  • Every case of mastitis = -$300.
  • An extra 30 days in the dry pen, due to cows not getting in calf until the current average of 162 days in milk = -$150
  • Loss of genetics, when a top cow is culled = -$500
  • Five pounds less in average milk yield per cow per day, due to a long calving interval = -$200 per cow per year
  • Added costs and loss of production because of cows with moderate foot problems = -$400
  • Added insemination and semen cost with each insemination beyond second service =-$75.
  • Lost potential revenue from fewer calves born = -$250 (female) -$100 (male)
  • Low cull rates allow breeders to save on the cost of raising all heifers born = +$2000.
  • Low cull rates means selling excess heifers (3-24 months @ +$400 to +$2000.)

When you do the math on all of these factors, it is not hard to see how is possible to run up lost revenue and added costs that total $500 to $1000 per cow.  That’s too large a number, when you consider that a cow producing 25,000lbs. of $20 cwt milk generates $5,000 in revenue per year.  Quite simply, the math tells us that breeding to avoid culling should be a consideration in every herd’s breeding plan (Read more: What’s the plan?)

Sire Selection Steps to Minimize Culling

The goal is to maximize genetic progress, maximize profit and minimize (unreasoned) culling. The Bullvine recommends the following process for selecting sires.

  1. Consider only the top fifty proven or one hundred genomically evaluated sires based on gTPI, gLPI, NM$ or JPI (Jersey).
  2. Remove from the list any sire above 9% EFI (Effective Future Inbreeding) or above 14% for relationship.
  3. Remove from the list any Holstein sire that does not have a PL of 5.0 or HL of 108.
  4. Remove from the list any Holstein sire that does not have a DPR of 1.0 or a DF of 105.
  5. Remove from the list any Holstein sire that is not below 2.90 for SCS.
  6. For Jersey sires the minimums should be PL 1.5, HL 105, DPR 0.0 or DF 102. And maximum of 3.00 for SCS.
  7. Minimum standards for gTPI, gLPI, NM$ or JPI may be lowered for polled bulls but do not lower the minimums for Pl, DPR or SCS.
  8. As Red and RC Holstein Sires are mainly popular with show type breeders and their proofs are considerably lower, the Bullvine does not recommend that commercially focused breeders use those sires.

What`s Your Culling Blindspot?

Any discussion of culling has to consider those breeders who don’t cull enough.  Sometimes the situation arises where a breeder is most proud of the fact that it is rarely necessary to buy new animals.  The pride is in being self-sustaining.  This is all well and good as long as it doesn’t mean that you’re breeding the same problem over and over.  For want of a low culling rate the good of the entire herd could be lost.  There is no future in that.

Which brings us to the opposite problem with culling numbers.  Occasionally you will meet a breeder who reports a high (35% or more) culling rate and it’s hard not to be shocked.  However, we must always ask the second question, “Why?”  It’s the rationale behind the culling.  For example, if the high rate is because the breeder is always looking to raise only the animals that are going to live up to their genetic potential and not invest time and money in the rest, that is a plan.  That could mean that more heifers don’t make it through their first lactation. The culling number is a tool – not good or bad on its own. However, it can’t be ignored and it must work for the goals of each individual dairy operation.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Culling is a cost that must be minimized for breeders to maximize their net returns per cow per year.  The traits associated with reproduction, udder health and feet & legs need to receive much more consideration than has been occurring in the past.  Know what your herd needs from both a genetic and a management standpoint. Align your corrective mating to proactively impact your culling rates. Although the heritabilities for culling rates are low, it is surprising how much you can improve them in five years. If you don’t consider them, in those same five years could place yourself out of the market, when it comes to selling breeding stock or embryos.  Cull cows and lost money.  It`s up to you to make the connection.



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New York International Spring Holstein Show 2014

Senior Champion and Grand Champion - Robrook Gldwyn Cameron (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Budjon Farms, Vail, St. Jacobs and Woodmansee, Lomira, WI

Senior Champion and Grand Champion – Robrook Gldwyn Cameron (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Budjon Farms, Vail, St. Jacobs and Woodmansee, Lomira, WI

Senior Champion and Grand Champion – Robrook Gldwyn Cameron (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Budjon Farms, Vail, St. Jacobs and Woodmansee, Lomira, WI

Reserve Senior Champion and Reserve Grand Champion – Butz-Butler Gold Barbara-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by M. Iager DVM, Kueffner, River Valley and St Jacobs, Boonsboro, MD

Senior Champion  and Grand Champion of Junior Show - Co-Vale Zenith Darla (Ocean-View Zenith) exhibited by Andrew Reynolds, Corfu, NY

Senior Champion and Grand Champion of Junior Show – Co-Vale Zenith Darla (Ocean-View Zenith) exhibited by Andrew Reynolds, Corfu, NY

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Senior Champion  and Grand Champion of Junior Show – Co-Vale Zenith Darla (Ocean-View Zenith) exhibited by Andrew Reynolds, Corfu, NY
Reserve Senior Champion and Reserve Grand Champion of the Junior Show – Mill-Wheel Adv Carolina-ET (Advent) exhibited by Andrew Reynolds, Corfu, NY

Intermediate Champion - Arethusa Sanchez Dice (Sanchez) exhibited by Arethusa Farm, Litchfield, CT Reserve Intermediate Champion - Desnette Brielle Lauthority (Comestar Lauthority) exhibited by Kueffner and Butler, Boonsboro, MD

Intermediate Champion – Arethusa Sanchez Dice (Sanchez) exhibited by Arethusa Farm, Litchfield, CT
Reserve Intermediate Champion – Desnette Brielle Lauthority (Comestar Lauthority) exhibited by Kueffner and Butler, Boonsboro, MD

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Intermediate Champion – Arethusa Sanchez Dice (Sanchez) exhibited by Arethusa Farm, Litchfield, CT

Reserve Intermediate Champion – Desnette Brielle Lauthority (Comestar Lauthority) exhibited by Kueffner and Butler, Boonsboro, MD

Intermediate Champion of the Junior Show - Four-Hills Gwyn Rikki 3233 (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Elizabeth and Britney Hill, Bristol, VT

Intermediate Champion of the Junior Show – Four-Hills Gwyn Rikki 3233 (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Elizabeth and Britney Hill, Bristol, VT

Intermediate Champion of the Junior Show – Four-Hills Gwyn Rikki 3233 (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Elizabeth and Britney Hill, Bristol, VT

Reserve Intermediate Champion – Dymentholm Lexis Lively (Pine-Tree Sid) exhibited by Max Wolf, Lebanon, CT

Junior Champion -Comestar Larion Goldwyn

Junior Champion -Comestar Larion Goldwyn

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Junior Champion –Comestar Larion Goldwyn (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Jeff Butler, Chebanse, IL

Reserve Junior Champion –Petitclerc Gold Saltalamacchia (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Petitclerc and Fils, St Basile, QE


Junior Champion of the Junior Show - Siemers Damion Scar-Let-ET (Erbacres Damion), first Fall Yearling, exhibited by C,J,J,J,C,L Siemers, Newton, WI

Junior Champion of the Junior Show – Siemers Damion Scar-Let-ET (Erbacres Damion), first Fall Yearling, exhibited by C,J,J,J,C,L Siemers, Newton, WI

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Junior Champion of the Junior Show – Siemers Damion Scar-Let-ET (Erbacres Damion), first Fall Yearling, exhibited by C,J,J,J,C,L Siemers, Newton, WI
Reserve Junior Champion of the Junior Show – Ludwigs-DG Elegant-ET (Maple Downs IGW Atwood), first Spring Yearling, exhibited by Andrew Reynolds, Corfu, NY

 Premier Breeder and Exhibitor – Ferme Petitclerc, St Basile, QC

Winter Heifer Calf

MS Absolute Sunspot-Red-ET 1st place Winter Calf - NY Spring Show

MS Absolute Sunspot-Red-ET
1st place Winter Calf – NY Spring Show

  1. MS Absolute Sunspot-Red-ET exhibited by C&J Hill, Connelly, Merward and Coughlin, Thurmont, MD
  2. Comestar Lautemina Goldwyn (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Doeberiener, Bowen, Heath, J&B Ayars, West Salem, OH
  3. Karepath Aftershock Stonner (MS Atlees Sht Aftershock) exhibited by Christopher Karasek, Baldwinsville, NY
  4. Pinacle Aftershock Shapy (MS Atlees Sht Aftershock) exhibited by Doeberiener, Heath, Cole and Bowen, West Salem, OH
  5. Winright Chip of Excellence (Mr Chassity Gold Chip) exhibited by Jeff Butler, Chebanse, IL
  6. Duckett Acme Leah-ET (KHW Elm-Park Acme) exhibited by Jason Randall, Chittenango, NY
  7. Roll-N-View McCutchen Fern (DE-SU BKM McCutchen 1174) exhibited by Allison Galton, Nunda, NY
  8. Sweet-Peas Atwood Eternal (Maple-Downs-IGW Atwood) exhibited by Llyod and Denise Pease, Susquehanna, PA
  9. By-Acres Aftershock Crayon (MS Atlees Sht Aftershock) exhibited by By-Acres Holsetins, LLC, Ilion, NY
  10. Monofran Defiant Jamaica (Scientific B Defiant) exhibited by Lilly Mills, Canastota, NY

Fall Heifer Calf

Zehrview Attic Eggo

Zehrview Attic Eggo

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  1. Zehrview Attic Eggo (Allyndale-I Attic-ET) exhibited by Eaton, Murphy, Allyn and Culbertson,
  2. Lingle Goldchip Feline-ET (Mr Chassity Gold Chip) exhibited by Ferme Peticlerc, Quebec
  3. Luncrest Black Widow 1564 (TOC Farm Goldsun) exhibited by Maple Downs and Sweet Peas Holsteins, Susquehanna, PA
  4. Sweet-Peas Sanchez Eden-ET (Gen-Mark Stmatic Sanchez, exhibited by Llyod and Denise Pease, Susquehanna, PA
  5. Siemers Defiant Bernice (Scientific B Defiant) exhibited by Josh and Jacob Siemers, Newton, WI
  6. Liatris Browkaw Toutoune (Mt. Atwood Brokaw) exhibited by Butler and Kueffner, Boonsboro, MD
  7. Triple-T Petunia-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Cole and Olivia Cummings, Colton Thomas, North Lewisburg, OH
  8. Smith-Oak Attic Nice (Allyndale-I Attic) exhibited by Wolfe, Hlavaty, Hoover, Litiz, PA
  9. Windy-Knoll-View Process-ET (Contender) exhibited by ames and Nina Burdette, Mercersburg, PA
  10. Jacobs Goldwyn Karo (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Zimmerman, Hoover, Hlavaty, Chebanse, IL

Summer Yearling


Bray-Field Gold Roulette

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  1. Bray-Field Gold Roulette (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibigted by Doeberiener, Heath and Bowe, West Salem, OH
  2. Maple-Nook Reliance-ET (Scientific Destry) exhibited by Maple-Nook Holsteins, Ogdensburg, NY
  3. Co-Vale Atwood Enola 4503 (Maple Downs IGW Atwood) exhibited by Raymond Cates, Marietta, NY
  4. Windy-Knoll-View Ponyup (MS Atlees Sht Aftershock) exhibited by Brinkley Burdette, Mercersburg, PA
  5. Budjon-JK GDchip Edvance-ET (Mr Chassity Gold Chip) exhibited by Emily Mulligan, NY
  6. Petitclerc Windbrook Frimousse (Gillette Windbrook) exhibited by Ferme Petitclerc & FILS, St Basele, Quebeck
  7. MS Chrissy Cold Charm-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Michael and Kyle Barton, Copake, NY
  8. Roll-N-View Heath Ivana (Alexander Heath) exhibited by Cooper Galton, Nunda, NY
  9. Windy-Knoll-View Protect-ET (Windy Knoll View Phoenix) exhibited by James and Nina, Burdette, Mercersburg, PA
  10. J&K Vue WB Gina Marie-ET  (Gillette Windbrook) exhibited by Gerald and Kathy Boop, Millmont, PA

Spring Yearling

Mapelwood Windhammer Elegance

Mapelwood Windhammer Elegance

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  1. Mapelwood Windhammer Elegance (Gillette Windjammer) exhibited by Butler and Kueffner, Boonsboro, MD
  2. Hobby-Acres Wndbrk Edie-ET (Gillette Windbrook) exhibited by Eaton, Liddle, Hetts, Majestic View Genetics, Argyle, NY
  3. JM Valley Atwood Agadou (Maple Downs IGW Atwood) exhibited by Jeff Butler, Chebanse, IL
  4. Ludwigs-DG Elegant-ET (Maple Downs IGW Atwood) exhibited by Andrew Reynolds, Corfu, NY
  5. Budjon-JD GChip Ellen-ET (Mr Chassity Gold Chip) exhibited by Budjon Farms, Lomira, WI
  6. J&K Vue Windbrook Gem-ET (Gillette Windbrook) exhibited by Laura Lesher, Millmont, PA
  7. Tillapyke Windbrook Abbie-ET (Gillette Windbrook) exhibited by Emily Tillapaugh, Warnerville, NY
  8. J&K Vue Windbrook Gigi-ET (Gillette Windbrook) exhibited by Gerald and Kathy Boop, Millmont, PA
  9. Elmvue Novelty Rush (Elmvue Gold Novelty) exhibited by Emlvue Farm, Johnstown, NY
  10. MS ZBW Dempsey Louanna-ET (Lirr Drew Dempsey) exhibited by Mason Ziemba, Lisbon, NY

Winter Yearling

Altona Lea Stanley Cup Gretzky (Gillette Stanleycup)

Altona Lea Stanley Cup Gretzky (Gillette Stanleycup)

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  1. Altona Lea Stanley Cup Gretzky (Gillette Stanleycup) exhibited by Austin Yoder and Matthias Schwartzentrubar, Montezuma, GA
  2. Wabash-Way Braxton Twinkle (Braxton)mexhibited by Emily Stammen, Coldwater, OH
  3. Routina Zelgadis Paige (Cascina Giobbi Zelgadis,) exhibited by Butler and Kueffner, Boonsboro, MD
  4. Rolling-Spring Dame-Ease-ET exhibited by (Erbacres Damion) exhibited by Charles Bean, Franklin, PA
  5. Petitclerc Alexander Access (Golden-Oaks St Alexander) exhibited by Petitclerc & Fils, Quebeck
  6. Joleanna Goldsun Rainbow-ET (TOC-Farm Goldsun) exhibited by Diesel and Katy Hitt, Adams Center, NY
  7. Savage-Leigh Alex Lacey-ET (Golden-Oaks St Alexander) exhibited by Miranda Iager, Woodine, MD
  8. MS Andis GW Arria-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Maple-Downs FArmsII, Aaroon Cooper and Michael Heath, Middleburgh, NY
  9. Rader Astroid Sugarfree (Kingsmill Gdwyn Asteroid-ET) exhibited by Shelby Rader, Atlantic, PA
  10. Dunns-Pride Gldsn Clever-ET (TOC-Farm Goldsun) exhibited by James Dunn, New Ringgold, PA

 Fall Yearling

Comestar Larion Goldwyn (Braedale Goldwyn)

Comestar Larion Goldwyn (Braedale Goldwyn)

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  1. Comestar Larion Goldwyn (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Jeff Butler, Chebanse, IL
  2. Petitclerc Gold Saltalamacchia (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Petitclerc and Fils, St Basile, QE
  3. Eastside Brady Caramel (Butz-Butler Atwood Brady) exhibited by Victoria Nodolf
  4. Oakfield Goldwyn Lync (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Bowen, Doeberiener, Heath, St Jacobs, West Salem, OH
  5. Siemers Damion Scar-Let-ET (Erbacres Damion) exhibited by C,J,J,J,C,L Siemers, Newton, WI
  6. Sicy Arianne Goldwyn (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Budjon Farms, Jim and Joel Phoenix, Lomira, WI
  7. Maple-Downs-Al GChip Galina (MS Chassity Gold Chip) exhibited by Maple-Downs Farm II, Middleburgh, NY
  8. Savage-Leigh Gold Lush-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Connor Savage, Union Bridge, MD
  9. Miss Highlight Showtime (Maple-Downs IGW Atwood) exhibited by Blake and Kennedy Crothers, Pitcher, NY
  10. Heart & Soul DD Reminisce-ET (Regancrest Dundee) exhibited by Matthew Boop, Millmont, PA

 Junior 2 Year Old

Cameron-Ridge Atwood Beauty (Maple-Downs IGW Atwood)

Cameron-Ridge Atwood Beauty (Maple-Downs IGW Atwood)

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  1. Cameron-Ridge Atwood Beauty (Maple-Downs IGW Atwood) exhibited by Chris and Jennifer Hill and Gene Iager, Thurmont, MD
  2. Dortholme Goldwyn Alexis (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Lookout, Crackholm and Rob Heffernan, QU
  3. Four-Hills DST Juna 3927-ET (Scientific Destry) exhibited by Elizabeth and Jonathan Hill, Bristol, VT
  4. Gillette Goldwyn Eyes on Me (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Barb and Kevin Ziemba, Lisbon, NY
  5. Beaver-Flats Extrme Chloe (Mr Andis Altaextreme exhibited by Petitclerc & Fils, QE
  6. Gen-I-Beq Snoman Akiliane (Flevo Genetics Snowman) exhibited by Jennifer King, Waddington, NY
  7. Wisbee Baltimor Swanslea (Regancrest Baltimor) exhibited by Cameron Pennings, Warwick NY
  8. Mikelholm Chris Kenzie (MD-Valleyvue Gold Christ) exhibited by Emily Mikel, Stafford, NY
  9. Monanfran Lou Lota (Jenny-Lou Marshall) exhibited by Jon and Jenny Mills

Senior 2 Year Old

Desnette Brielle Lauthority (Comestar Lauthority)

Desnette Brielle Lauthority (Comestar Lauthority)

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  1. Desnette Brielle Lauthority (Comestar Lauthority) exhibited by Kueffner and Butler, Boonsboro, MD
  2. Petitclerc Goldwyn Anouk (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Petitclerc & Fils, QE
  3. Lookout Goldwyn Lalia (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Lookout Holstein, QE
  4. Petitclerc Goldwyn Sidney (Braedale Goldwyn)exhibited by Kueffner and Butler, Boonsboro, MD
  5. Dymentholm Lexis Lively (Pine-Tree Sid) exhibited by Max Wolf, Lebanon, CT
  6. Lottos Atwood Lizette-ET (Maple-Downs-IGW Atwood) exhibited by Budjon Farms, Vail and Woodmansee, Lomra, WI
  7. Massico Winbrook Charly (Gillette Windbrook) exhibited by Petitclerc & Fils, QE
  8. MS Curage Sid Contagious-ET (Pine-Tree Sid) Elmvue, Air America and Moo York, Johnstown, NY
  9. Arethusa Fever Angora (Crackholm Fever) exhibited by Arethusa Farm, Litchfield, CT
  10. Ashlyn Sanchez Sprinkles (Genmark Stmatic Sanchez) exhibited by Cedar Lane Farm

Junior 3 Year Old

Windy-Knoll-View Parfait-ET (Maple-Downs-IGW Atwood) exhibited by Burdette and Iager, Mercersberg, PA

Windy-Knoll-View Parfait-ET (Maple-Downs-IGW Atwood)

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  1. Windy-Knoll-View Parfait-ET (Maple-Downs-IGW Atwood) exhibited by Burdette and Iager, Mercersberg, PA
  2. Savage-Leigh Atwd Lic-ET (Maple-Downs-IGW Atwood) exhibited by Shelby Iager, Frederick MD
  3. Vacolait Atwood Charm-ET (Maple-Downs-IGW Atwood) exhibited by Ernie Kueffner, Boonsboro, MD
  4. Ransom-Rail Braxton Kaley (Braxton) exhibited by Jared Dueppengiesser, Perry, NY
  5. Windy-Knoll-View Pure (Durchan Elite Everest) exhibited by Jimmy Bergen, Odessa, NY
  6. Ovaltop Advent Jami (Advent) exhibited by Douglas Wolf, Richfield Springs, NY

Senior 3 Year Old

Arethusa Sanchez Dice (Sanchez)

Arethusa Sanchez Dice (Sanchez)

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  1. Arethusa Sanchez Dice (Sanchez) exhibited by Arethusa Farm, Litchfield, CT
  2. Liddleholme Riches-ET (Heather Holme Velvet) exhibited by Brock Liddle and Noah Reid, Argyle, NY
  3. Four-Hills Gwyn Rikki 3233 (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Elizabeth and Britney Hill, Bristol, VT
  4. Galestone Scatty (Picston Shottle) exhibited by Shelby Iager, Frederick MD
  5. Ronbeth Alexander Pearl (Golden Oaks St Alexander) exhibited by Craig Shedd, Mike Garrow and J&P Black, Chateaugay, NY
  6. Savage-Leigh Gold Loco-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Jason Lloyd, William Talor and Elizabeth Roberts, Middleburgh, NY
  7. Crackholm Goldwyn Chary-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Jared Deuppengiesser, Perry, NY
  8. Joleanna Absolutely Rainin (Apples Absolute Red) exhibited by Joleanna Holsetein, Unadilla, NY
  9. Ran-Can Alexander Clair-ET (Golden Oaks St Alexander) exhibited by Lauren Nell, Gettysburg, PA
  10. Oakfield-Bro At Finance-ET  (Maple-Downs-IGW Atwood) exhibited by Adam King, Schuylerville, NY

4 Year Old

1 Butz-Butler Gold Barbara-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by M. Iager DVM, Kueffner, River Valley and St Jacobs, Boonsboro, MD

1 Butz-Butler Gold Barbara-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by M. Iager DVM, Kueffner, River Valley and St Jacobs, Boonsboro, MD

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  1. Butz-Butler Gold Barbara-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by M. Iager DVM, Kueffner, River Valley and St Jacobs, Boonsboro, MD
  2. Ernest-Anthony Astoria-Et (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Arethusa Farm, Litchfield, CT
  3. Petitclerc Goldwyn Flamingo (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Ferme Yvon Sicard, St Justin, PQ
  4. Mornital Damion Amili (Erbacres Damion) exhibited by Lookout and Mornital, QE
  5. Ernest Anthony Allure-ET (Golden-Oaks St Alexander) exhibited by Arethusa Farm, Litchfield, CT
  6. Elysa Goldwyn Ladygaga (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Lookout and Crackholm, QE
  7. Hazels Gldwn Hatty-ET ( Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Cark Woodmansee III, Preston, CT
  8. J&K VUe Jasper Gala-ET (Wilcoxview Jasper) exhibited by Douglas Boop, Millmont, PA
  9. Windy-Knoll-View Chantilly (Klassic Big Time) exhibited by James and Nina Burdette, Mercersburg, PA
  10. Windy-Knoll-View Poconos-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by James and Nina Burdette, Mercersburg, PA

5 Year Old


Robrook Gldwyn Cameron (Braedale Goldwyn)

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  1. Robrook Gldwyn Cameron (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Budjon Farms, Vail, St. Jacobs and Woodmansee, Lomira, WI
  2. Howardview WG Gold Casey-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Juniper Elite Holsteins, Gray, ME
  3. Mill-Wheel Adv Carolina-ET (Advent) exhibited by Andrew Reynolds, Corfu, NY
  4. Lylehaven Damion Chablis-ET (Erbacres Damion) exhibited by Joleanna Holsetins, Unadilla, NY
  5. Bur-Le-Acres Roy Relish (Roylane Jordan) exhibited by Jonathan Beiler, Fredericksburg, PA
  6. Petitclerc Goldwyn Fumble (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Ferme J-P Petitclerc & Fils, QE

Aged Cows

Windy-Knoll-View Panini-ET (Braedale Goldwyn)

Windy-Knoll-View Panini-ET (Braedale Goldwyn)

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  1. Windy-Knoll-View Panini-ET (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by James and Nina Burdette, Mercersburg, PA
  2. Co-Vale Zenith Darla (Ocean-View Zenith) exhibited by Andrew Reynolds, Corfu, NY
  3. Annalea Goldwyn Alinda (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Jared Dueppengiesser, Perry, NY
  4. Linden-Lock Damion Delila (Erbacres Damion) exhibited by Douglas Boop, Millmont, PA
  5. Double-D Mr Burns Jess-ET (Dudoc Mr. Burns) exhibited by Elizabeth, Britney and Megan Hill, Bristol, VT
  6. Ovaltop Dundee Ester (Regancrest Dundee) exhibited by Richfield Springs, NY
  7. Royalwater Goldwyn Paris (Braedale Goldwyn) exhibited by Edward Facer, Newark, NY

150,000 lbs Cow

Dithmarsia Black Ice Lara (Browndale Black Ice)

Dithmarsia Black Ice Lara (Browndale Black Ice)

  1. Dithmarsia Black Ice Lara (Browndale Black Ice) exhibited by Paul Johannssen, Mohawk, NY
  2. Ms-Savage Leigh Premier (Regancrest Dundee) exhibited by CLF, LLC< Oldwick, NJ

Produce of Dam

  1. Windy-Knoll-View
  2. Woodmansee
  3. Kenneth McEvoy
  4. Ferme Petitclerc

Best 3 females

  1. Windy-Knoll-View
  2. Ferme Petitclerc
  3. Ovaltop Holsteins

Judge Paul Trapp
Associate Judge: Lynn Harbaugh

Who’s Number 1?

It seems like everybody is claiming to have the number one sire of this that or the other thing.  The number of different sires out there claiming to be number one is scary.  There is the #1 TPI sire, or #1 TPI sire with semen available, or the #1 proven TPI sire.  The list goes on and on.  The challenge for breeders is in trying to decide who you can believe.

Everything is New and Light

Remember when the word “New” or “Light” was trendy in the promotion of consumer products?  It seemed like every company was coming out with a “New” product or a “Light” version of the double chocolate peanut butter marshmallow cookies.  There were no laws to stop them from making their claims originality and fewer calories.  Because it helped drive awareness and sales, everyone jumped on the bandwagon.  That was back in the 70`s and 80’s before there was the development of marketing ethics that helped change all that and protect consumers from  those  false or misleading marketing practices.  The problem is that this process hasn`t yet happened in the dairy genetics marketplace.

You can’t be blamed for what you don’t know for sure.  Can you?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why a breeder gets all excited when he gets back a  genomic test  on his sire and finds out that the bull  has an astronomical TPI, LPI, or NM$.  Instantly the claim is broadcast that the bull is Number 1.  Well there are many issues with this.  First, how do you know that someone else out there did not get a higher test result on the very same day, since the full lists are only published every three months?  Also how do you know that when your results do come out on the official list that they will hold?  Many times I have seen these sires drop due to regression formulas or very recent snippet developments etcetera.  With less than 159 points (7%) seperating the top 100 gTPI sires. the differences are very minimal. Is it ethical to push the limits and make claims now and beg “forgiveness” later or not at all?  After all you can’t be blamed for what you don’t know for sure.  Can you?

Can there be three top dogs?

But then here is the bigger issue for me that happens when A. I. companies start making these claims.  And this is the one that I have seen playing out more and more often recently.  Over the past week, since the last genetic evaluation release, I have seen three different press releases come out from major A.I. companies. Each one of them claimed to have the #1 TPI sire in the world.  Doesn’t being number one mean that there are no others?  How can there be three #1 TPI sires? No one should make performance claims unless they can back them up. It’s like our competitors to have a larger readership and influence. Consistently share our numbers through Google and Facebook analytics.  But the others like to use words and “third party tools”.  If you can’t back it up with real numbers don’t say it.

Why is there a lack of accountability in the Dairy Genetics Marketplace?

This all comes back to the issue that there isn’t an enforced code of marketing ethics in the dairy genetics marketplace.  This is not a new issue.  For years we here at the Bullvine have been advocating the development of a Marketing Code of Conduct that would cover these very issues as well as other issues such as photo ethics.  (Read more: Introducing the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct and Who’s to Blame? Why is there a lack of accountability in the Dairy Genetics Marketplace, No Cow Is Perfect – Not Even in PicturesDairy Cattle Photography – Over Exposed, Has Photo Enhancement Gone Too Far? and Dairy Cattle Photography: Do You Really Think I am That Stupid?)

Do we breed dairy cows or ostriches?

The problem is that, to date, none of the major A.I. organizations are willing to put their butts on the line to be the first.  They respond like those photographers who are so worried about losing business that they just go on doing their current practices.  This has led to distrust and producers are tuning out marketing claims and are not even bothering to look at professional daughter pictures anymore.

Lack of Leadership

As our efforts over the past year with professional livestock photographers prove, they have no desire to regulate themselves, even if it’s in their own best interest to do so in order to save their industry.  The same is true for A.I. organizations. They seem unwilling to develop and adhere to a marketing code of conduct that would bring credibility back to their marketing claims.  Then, looking at the powers that be, such as NAAB or CDCB, or CDN in Canada, they also seem to prefer to bury their heads in the sand, instead of addressing the issues at hand.  This leaves the average breeder defenseless against false or misleading claims.  The practice of inflating claims or exaggerating appearance in advertising is threatening to cloud the credibility of the entire dairy industry.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Your reputation is your organization’s greatest asset.  (Read more: In the End, All you have is your Name!)  The longer organizations such as the A.I. centers go without establishing a clear level of marketing ethics, the more they are damaging their own credibility.  You don’t have to look any further than the professional dairy cattle photography industry to see how looking the other way or ignoring the issues can harm an industry.  The time is now for the leaders in the dairy cattle genetics industry to step up and take the Bull by the horns and be the leaders that this industry needs.  In leadership who is the real #1?

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.

Artificial Insemination – Is Doing It Yourself Really Saving You Money?

“She’s pregnant!” Those are very welcome words for breeders to hear at pregnancy check time. The ideal is that the pregnancy occurs after one A.I. service in the time period 70 to 100 days in milk, while the cow is producing high volumes of milk, fat and protein. In a perfect world that single A.I. heifer service should occur between 12 and 14 months of age.  Getting to that success depends on many factors, not the least of which is the skill of the inseminator.

Do What you Know or Use a Pro?

It takes a wide range of skills to successfully run a dairy operation at a level that is both sustainable and profitable.  Professional A.I. technicians recognize that many breeders rise to the challenge of taking on this most vital aspect of their dairy business. They realize that many breeders want complete control of the reproduction program on their farm. Dr. Hernando Lopez, Global Technical Service Director for Genus ABS acknowledges that control is important and sums up the breeder perspective saying, “They believe that they can inseminate successfully themselves’. Dr. Ray Nebel, Senior Reproductive Specialist for Select Sires, outlines further reasons that breeders give for doing their own artificial insemination. “They want the flexibility of when to breed. They prefer having semen available from several different A.I. organizations in their farm tank and being able to change the mating right up to the last minute”.  Of course, both Dr. Lopez and Dr.Nebel are aware that cost is one of the strongest motivating factors in choosing who inseminates the cows.

Times have Changed

Thirty years ago there were many more dairy herds and most of them had less than 50 milking cows. Shorter travel distances and labor costs per cow bred by the technician were much lower than today. In that scenario, with only two or three breedings per week, breeders could not become proficient at inseminating. However, with the current average herd size in the US being 187 milking cows, with many miles between herds and with breeders focused on costs, they often choose D.I.Y. artificial insemination for expedience and cost reasons.

Is D.I.Y Really Cheaper?

The monthly bill for technician supplied A.I. needs to subdivided into semen costs and costs for technician services. It’s easy to quote the professional technician’s bill for arm service but expenses must also be pencilled in for the D.I.Y. tech on the farm and for all the costs leading up to the actual insemination.

Remember there is a labor cost for heat detection, including the checking of cows bred 21 days previously. There are additional time related expenses as well.  Time to check computer records or activity monitors. Time to check with all staff members for heats others may have seen. Time to call in for service and time to enter breeding information into the herd records.  Furthermore for on-farm staff there are costs associated with social security tax, insurance, workers compensation, sick time and other benefits that owners must provide.  These time and employment costs are not usually quickly remembered and easily quoted when we sum up the costs of getting cows and heifers in calf. Add in gloves, rods, training and re-training, semen tank purchase and semen tank maintenance and you are getting closer to the true total cost for A.I. Although, at first glance, D.I.Y. seems cost effective and faster, the real question in every dairy manager’s mind should be, “What is the return on the investment?”

Think about it.  In a herd of 200 milking cows, it may take a farm employee up to half their time to monitor animals and carry out other aspects of the herd’s reproduction. Some owners take the next step and assign the farm’s repro staff member to the job of doing the breeding. On the surface it sounds like a cost savings but who covers on days-off? What happens when the farm breeding person is needed elsewhere and he/she does not do all the daily reproduction duties including checking for heats? Only seeing 70% of the heats can soon become a major negative factor for the farm’s bottom line. Missed heats result in more days open, lower daily herd average milk production, more non-productive days in the dry pens and an age at first calving of 26 instead of 22-24 months. Add to this the fact that the on-farm inseminator must be trained and monitored and will need to spend time on skills upgrading and, very quickly, the savings from do-it-yourself insemination are rapidly disappearing.

A.I. Results: Are You Getting Professional or Passable?

Of course, if your pregnancy rate is 23+% and you are meeting or exceeding all your established targets, you can stop reading now.  However, if your results are not at that level, working with a professional technician could be a discerning business decision for you to consider.

Times have changed from when the only service offered by the technician was insemination. Today organizations providing A.I. tech services wish to provide their customers with a full range of services.  Both Lopez and Nebel emphasize that the professional technician becomes part of the on-farm production team, where the goal is to achieve a high pregnancy rate as part of a complete reproduction program.

Dr. Nebel notes that “Herds have gotten bigger, days on the farm have become more demanding, milk per cow has increased and more cows are housed in confinement than they were twenty years ago. These are all challenges when it comes to getting cattle pregnant.” Dr. Lopez also outlines how change is affecting dairy breeding. “Today there is more focus on cow welfare, cow comfort, the successful integration of reproductive technologies like synchronization and heat detection aids and the handling and compliance for large groups of cows. Today successful breeding goes beyond the proper insemination technique. It requires all aspects of dairy management to be correctly working and their needs to be great teamwork.” When breeders work with profession A.I. companies they have access to complete reproduction services including: full cow side services including, walk, chalk, synchronization and insemination’ data entry into herd management software including report generation; management of automated activity and heat detection systems and reproductive consultation.

With all of this potential information and support, one wonders why more breeders not asking for competitive bids from companies that provided genetic and reproductive services to dairy farms.

When it comes to pregnancy rate, whether you are your own professional or hire a professional, you can’t afford less than professional results.

Jack of All Trades or Master of Pregnancy?

Professional technicians employed by A.I. companies breed between 5,000 and 20,000 animals per year. They are continually being monitored for their performance.  As new techniques become available they receive training. Their only focus is on getting animals pregnant. Their livelihood depends of delivering top notch service. Dr. Lopez provides this very sound advice: “Most operations can economically benefit from outsourcing breeding or a total reproductive service to a professional technician not only because of the superior consistent results but also due to all the technical support and resources producers have access to through the professional breeding services”.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Every aspect of dairy farming needs to be penciled out as to cost and return on investment. Every breeder has an area of dairy farming that they like best and do to a professional level.  In the end, A.I. breeding is all about fewer breedings, less semen used, more pregnancies, fewer reproductive culls and the best use of time and services. There is too much at stake to be a jack of all insemination trades and master of none.

Breeders need to be totally objective about every step from heat detection to confirmed conception.  If you agree that insemination is all about the results, then ask yourself two questions, “How important is an excellent A.I. program?” and “Who performs artificial insemination best?”



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qs[1]There are many facets to the dairy breeding industry that readers of the Bullvine find themselves attracted to.  Whether its milk records, breeding awards or showring victories, there is something for everyone to get passionate about.  Quim Serrabassa, from Spain, was introduced to cattle early in his life and didn`t ever narrow the field.  For him three dairy passions are better than one.

Beginning in Barcelona

Quim and his brother Jaume were raised on the family farm Mas Comas Novas, La Guixa in Barcelona. Their father, Ramon, was a cattle dealer who enjoyed the buying and selling but wasn’t interested in breeding animals.   When the boys were only 12 and 14 they made a decision that would eventually bring them to where they are today says Quim. “In 1984 Jaume and I decided to keep the best cows and breed our own herd.” They give credit to their mom and dad. “From our parents we learned the love of farming, good cows and cow competitions.  This was a tremendous opportunity and we owe a lot to them for allowing us to take this responsibility at such an early age.”

Trying a New Angle

Twenty years later it was time for another new beginning. “In 2004 I started my own company Triangle Holstein.” Quim highlights how the name corresponds to the business. “There are three different business areas: the livestock business, the semen business and the show business.”  For each specialty area Triangle Holsteins provides customized service.  Like other visionary business men he feels that one-sided expectations of yourself and others could hold them back from reaching their individual breeding goals. “We work closely with the farmer to give professional and personal service tailored to their specific needs.” Quim values his early business experiences. “Many years ago, I had the opportunity to work for a big company and it was great.  I always had the goal of forming my own company.” He points out how it has been. “Working for myself gives me a lot of freedom and satisfaction.  I am responsible for my own decisions.  Sometimes good.  Sometimes wrong.” But undoubtedly, he has learned from all sides of the story.

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A Three-Way Perspective

The Triangle Holstein breeding philosophy is one that starts with genetics but is carried out through careful management. “Triangle Holsteins is focused on the best North American cow families and conformation traits are the number one priority.  Nevertheless, I never forget production and health. The management of these key priorities is the key to making an animal be successful.” Quim knows that in cow terms there are three important areas. “Nutrition, exercise and comfort make all the difference.”  These three combined with kindness are what he calls his “silent” partners.  If those are the three main steps to caring for the animals there are also three characteristics that Quim feels all breeders must have in their personality. “This process requires breeders to be  stubborn, patient and enthusiastic all at the same time.”


Pachecas James Gretta
3 time Spanish National Champion

 Three Triangle Love Stories

It isn`t surprising to learn how many animals this Triangle Holstein breeder singles out. “There have been three special animals in  Quim’s life.”  He starts of with one from his youth.Comas Novas Dibbs Inspiration  was our first Champion cow when I was a teenager. She was a white dairy character cow, all quality from the head to the tail.”  The next one stands out for special reasons too. “My second favorite cow is Pachecas James Greta. She was strong, with a big frame and a fantastic udder. Greta was my longest project working with a show cow and she is the one that won many shows in Spain.” The third memory maker for Quim holds a unique space for Quim.” Regiment Apple will always stand out for me.  We came together many years ago, during the first time I was working in Madison for Mike Deaver who is one of the best cow men that I know. At that time Apple was 2 year old.”


Regiment Apple will always stand out for Quim. They came together many years ago, during the first time Quim was working in Madison for Mike Deaver, at that time Apple was 2 year old.”

Three Part Marketing Vision:  Farms, Shows and Facebook

No matter where you are in the global dairy industry, you are marketing your herd with each contact you make, whether it`s face to face, in cyberspace, hard copy or in the show ring.  Quim Serrabassa once again uses a multi-pronged approach. He outlines his methods. “On one hand I go every two weeks to France to select and buy commercial animals for my customers. My customers are breeders like I used to be, so I always feel very responsible for the cows I pick.” Quim never tires of searching out these animals. “I select them one by one, and this is one of the things I like the most. I walk to the field or to the barn with the intention of finding that special one. Sometimes they don’t start out looking that way. I will find one, usually dirty, with no foot trimming, never clipped … but finding her is a magic moment.” He especially likes it when a selection he makes goes on to do well. “Sometimes you can take her to the show ring. Another time you recognize her doing fine in her new home.”

The second point of Quim’s marketing is very much based on shows. “I like going to shows because it is the place where I meet my customers and I can feel the pulse of the market and hear about their needs.” Quim enjoys breeding for show cows. “My favorite sires for show cows are: Absolute-Red, Delta & Atwood.” But he doesn’t over look dairy cow sires. “For dairy cows I use Explode, Cashcoin, Carson and Deman.” His understanding of the show ring has been well developed over the years and he has gained recognition as a cattle judge. “Judging is one accomplishment I am very proud of.  I never expected to have the opportunity to be an Associate Judge in Madison beside Brian Carsacadden and then later in Laussane beside Mike Deaver.”  Both of these judges rank high for Quim. “In my opinion they are the best.”  (Read more: CARSCADDEN: The Royal Footsteps)

Word of mouth has always been a great way for the dairy industry to market itself.  Today dairy friends, peerwebsites and coworkers take that friendly promotion and sharing to new levels. “To keep my customers updated, we use our web site, Facebook and profiles.” says Quim. This enhances the friendships already made in the worldwide industry. “I share my passion for show cows with Roger Turner and Brian Carscadden who have been my mentors in the USA and Canada. Again Mike Deaver has taught me a lot and is a very special person for me.  Early on, one of my greatest influences was Alfonso Ahedo from Semex Spain. He is a great business man with a huge understanding of the Holstein industry.”  It’s all about sharing the passion says Quim. “I keep the passion for shows going with some members of the original farm. As well there is one nice heifer that I bought with friends Erica Rijneveld, Eric Dougoud, and Pat Conroy. (Read more: Erica Rijneveld – Takes Her Show… And Yours…On The Road! and DECRAUSAZ IRON O’KALIBRA: Simply the Best) These are people that love good cows and with whom I share good times too.”

Marketing and Genomics

In today’s marketplace rapidly changing tools are having a tremendous effect.  Quim looks at Genomics and how it has affected his operations. “Genomics has changed the semen market a lot.  For our company it was a great opportunity to start with.  Genomics provides opportunities for everyone.  The market is now global no matter where the bull comes from or who the owner is.”  Of course having the tool and knowing how to use it is the challenge. Quim seeks balance. “Now we have some genomic information that we can combine with cow family and traditional knowledge.  It is the mix and the balance between the new information and the traditional knowledge that will move us forward in the right direction.” If there is a downside to genomics for Quim, it is related to the speed of change. “Today the genetic market moves too fast.  We hardly have time to appreciate and enjoy the cow family as a group.

Work, Work, Work

Quim points out that there is a lot of hard work to make your dairy business. “You have to be satisfied about the things you do every day and try to keep yourself surround by the people that challenge you to grow.” He knows that everything isn’t always perfect. “This is a job that you have to believe in.  Do not expect big things and always enjoy the small details that life gives to you.” As happy as he is with Triangle Holstein, Quim sums up his accomplishments from his own unique angle. “My biggest success is my family.” Very eloquently he points out that this is where he finds his strength. “Especially when show time is over and the bright lights are off.”


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Foresight and Hindsight. Don’t Blindside Your Fresh Cow Focus

Foresight and hindsight are terms that are most often applied to strategic planning. When it comes to post calving transition, let’s consider them in the absolute sense meaning the “sight” your cows present post calving.

In this third part of our series on Transition Management, we are looking at the final stage. You are to be commended if you are already thinking, “The most important decisions I make for my fresh cows happen long before she calves out” or even before that when we set up our transition management program.” (Read more: Are Your Cows Ready For Their Close Up? and Dairy Cattle Management: LOST in Transition) That is so true but there are critical steps that must be acted upon to fulfil the post calving needs of your fresh cow too. Until cows and walls and stalls talk, your information must come from observation.  

Observation doesn’t simply mean a quick check from across the barn, pen or pasture.  What is needed is a full 360 degree close-up otherwise something important may be overlooked.  Whatever you miss at this time could make the crucial difference between a successful lactation or it could mean culling the cow or, in the worst case scenario, death. The goal is to take what you see and apply it to a transition program that will make sure that fresh cows eat well and enter their lactation without health or metabolic issues such as metritis, mastitis, milk fever, ketosis or fatty liver. This is a situation where you can be assured that what you don’t see will definitely hurt you.

Setting Your Sightlines

Because the calving pen is an area of elevated stress and high turnover, it is important to set goals and corresponding benchmarks, in order to achieve the best outcomes.  If benchmarks do not exist, set reasonable goals.

  • The first goal is to have nothing in the calving pen for longer than 24 hours. Longer stays result in dramatic increases in problems.
  • Milk Fever: 1%. Mature cows 2%. Seek help if over 3%.
  • Displaced abomasums. Less than 1% of all calvings.  Seek help if 12%.
  • Retained placenta.  Less than 8% of all calvings. Seek help if 10% or more.
  • Body Condition. During the first 30 days in milk, cows should not lose more than ¼ point body condition (120 lbs. body weight). This can have a huge effect on first service conception rate (50%).
  • Culling:  Aim for less than 5% culling during the first 60 days in milk (DIM).

Improving your herd results on even one of these areas, could have a positive impact on the health of your cattle and your bottom line, while improving the day to day effectiveness of our cow care.

Fresh Cow Protocols Need the Right People and Protocols

Everyone who assists with calving should have training and possess the confidence to handle all pre and post calving protocols.  Differences in how these protocols are carried out may cause problems.  Even small details can have a positive or negative effect on your fresh cow program. Make sure that none of the following are overlooked:  access to fresh water; immediate and plentiful access to high quality forage;  attention to calving hygiene; follow-up if there has been calving trauma; consistently calm handling and dry, clean bedding at all times.

CSI: Cow Scene Investigations

You can’t fix what you don’t know is wrong. Every single dairy worker that interacts with the cattle must be trained to identify potentially sick cows. However, identifying them is only the beginning. The observations must be recorded. This enables a list of cows to examine or a system that flags which cows need an action.  Recording of calving date, difficulties, disease findings and other relevant information needs to be maintained and accessible for decision making.  Early identification and prompt treatment has a positive impact on the health and welfare of the fresh cow and also on culling and loss of production.

Note the Obvious First

There are obvious events in fresh cow transition management that must trigger immediate action.

  1. Down cow
  2. Difficult calving
  3. Twins
  4. Extremely fat cows at calving
  5. Obvious discomfort of difficulty moving.

Foresight: It’s What’s Up Front that Counts

Having dealt with the obvious or emergency symptoms it’s time to look closer at the following areas:

  • Appetite:  Note if cows are not eating, sorting or are not interested in feed at all. Check for undisturbed feed remaining in front of the cow at lock up.  Before releasing cows from lockups, check for cows that have eaten less than their neighbors.
  • Attitude: Healthy animals are aware of their surroundings.  Their ears are moving and they show curiosity.  Sick animals tend to have their heads down, droopy ears, dull eyes and are too tired to groom their noses. Cows that are depressed react slowly to stimulus.
  • Eyes:  Cows whose eyes appear sunken, dull or crusty may be dehydrated, or in pain, or both.  Note if there are visible eye lesions, pink eye or trauma.
  • Ears: Sick animals have ears that are droopy.  This could indicate that she is depressed, in pain or has a fever. Cold ears indicate decreased blood flow to the periphery which could be related to milk fever, acidosis or sever toxicity.
  • Nose: Abnormal discharge (white, green, yellow or bloody)may indicate pneumonia or acidosis. When sick cows don’t clean their noses and will have feed particles and nasal discharge sticking to their noses. It is also important to check if the nostrils appear dry, as this may indicate fever.
  • Cough ; Cows who are coughing repeatedly should be noted for observation.

Hindsight:  Don’t Be Blindsided by the Backside

  • Abnormal Udder: Excessive udder swelling strongly suggests the need for revision of the dry cow feed program and perhaps that cows are not getting enough exercise.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea can be a symptom of improperly balanced dry cow ration or moldy feed.
  • Lameness: Lameness usually indicates that feet need cared for or that cows are having to walk and stand in wet manure.
  • Manure: Check the floor, vulva and tail for abnormal manure: too loose to form a pile; almost black in color and or foul smelling.  These indicate cows may be suffering from acidosis, digestive upsets, toxic disease or enteritis.
  • Retained Fetal membranes: Retained fetal membranes are not a health problem per se, but increase the risk for metritis.  If you find retained fetal membranes, you should also look for abnormal vaginal discharge.
  • Vaginal discharge: It is normal to find vaginal discharge for up to two weeks after calving.  However, dark red and foul smelling vaginal discharges are found in cases of uterine infection.
  • Abnormal abdomen: Cows with their left flank tucked in have poor rumen fill because of anorexia.  If the abdomen is distended, cows may be bloated due to rumen gas accumulation.
  • Breathing rate: The basal respiration rate is 12 to 36 breaths per minute.  Note if the animal has abnormal respiration rate or if inspiration and/or expiration require additional efforts, pneumonia, bloat and toxic diseases may be causing the difficulty breathing.

Take ACTION.  Fix the PROBLEM. Avoid causing New Ones.

After thorough observation, all is lost if the appropriate action is not taken.  Quiet handling of fresh cows is the first step in moving them into a healthy lactation. If a fresh cow is on the identified list, the appropriate action must be taken. For those without specific health needs, all quarters should be milk out using good technique and consistent protocols. Poor methods here could cause problems.  Here too is the place to make sure that correct diet has been formulated post calving.  The grain feeding rate of each freshly calved cow is ramped up gradually over the first 5-7 days post calving.  Many dairy operations are considering or have installed individual cow ID feeding systems.  A fresh cow requires many nutritional components.  Consulting with veterinary or nutritional consultants can take into consideration many variables including fresh feed availability, facilities, stocking density and handling expertise to name a few.

The Benefits of a Well-Conceived Transition Program.

There are two main facts to keep in mind.  Fresh cows have the greatest production potential in a dairy. Having said that, fresh cows are very susceptible to diseases. Therefore, losses associated with illness, lameness or injuries are expensive.  It is worth noting that 15% to 25% of all cullings take place during the first 60 DIM. If these losses can be reduced or eliminated, there are distinct financial rewards.  Every step in transition is important but don’t let down at the end.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

By applying foresight, hindsight and attention to detail regarding all aspects of fresh cow management, the dairy manger will, at worst, end up with a list of shortcomings  or, at best, find an incisive way of making proactive decisions.  Either way the new insights are well worth it.  Foresight? Hindsight?  It’s time you looked at cows from all sides now! Set your sights on success!


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Stud Wars: Episode II – April 2014

Just as we have learned with the Rebels versus the Republic in Star Wars, the Stud wars are far from over.  However, instead of clones we have Genomic Sires versus Proven Sires and large A.I. companies versus smaller organizations.  The April 2014 genetic evaluations have seen the gap between the haves and have nots decrease.  Many of the larger studs that had in the past not focused on Genomic sires greatly increased their genomic offerings and some of the smaller studs greatly increased their niche market offerings.  Stud Wars, like Star Wars, thrive on new releases, talent, unexpected changes and rivalries.



As we found in our initial stud wars (Stud Wars – The Battle for A.I. Supremacy), market share of the pre-genomic era correlates very highly with the big five being ABS, Select Sires, Alta Genetics, Accelerated Genetics and CRI.  Since the last proof run, Select Sires has taken over the top spot with two more sires entering the top 50, and CRI has doubled the number of proven sires they had in the top 50 TPI to move into the #2 Spot.  Former #1 holder ABS Global has dropped from 14 sires to 11 in the top 50 TPI and now holds the #3 position. A sign of the time is the way Accelerated has dropped market share.


Both our previous gTPI leaders from December 2013 have dropped but still hold the #1, Select Sires, and #2 Semex spots on our list.  Making a significant jump on the list is CRI who now holds the #3 spot on the list with 5 sires in the top 50 gTPI.  Also seeing an increase is Alta Genetics who now has 4 sires in the top 50 gTPI.


Select Sires continues to lead the way with top TPI offerings both Genomic and Proven. Making a jump into the #2 spot, thanks to an increase in their top TPI proven sires, is CRI. They are followed by Semex who continues to have a strong Genomic TPI offering.  .



It is no surprise that, for the larger AI centers, the focus on the commercial producer market continues to dominate the proven NM$ list.  Select Sires moves into the #1 position with the two additional sires in the top list, with CRI moving into the #2 position, almost doubling the number of top 50 NM$ sires they have to offer.  Dropping significantly was ABS Global who now finds themselves in the #3 position with 5 fewer  sires in the top 50 NM$ list.


A list that was dominated last round by Select Sires who had 32% of the top sires, now finds them tied with CRI and Semex – all with 18% each.  Also seeing a significant drop in top gNM$ sires is Alta Genetics who went from 9 last round to just 4 this round.


On the strength of their strong proven and genomic NM$ offering, Select Sires retains the strongest NM$ offering in the US.  Thanks to a significant investment in Genomic sires CRI now find themselves with the 2nd strongest NM$ offering.



Probably one of the most significant changes of this proof round is Semex moving into the strongest type proven sire offering in the world, with 5 more proven sires moving into the top 50 PTAT.  Former #1 Select Sires goes from having 18 sires in the top 50 to 11 and holds the #2 spot.


When it comes to the top 50 Genomic PTAT sires, Semex and Select Sires still top the list, but both have seen significant declines in totals.  Many small A.I. studs now find themselves with 1 to 3 sires in the top 50.


On the strength of a greatly improved proven type sire line up, Semex now find themselves on top of the overall PTAT list, followed by Select Sires.  However the ever increasing trend continues where more and more smaller AI organizations have a top 50 PTAT proven or genomic sire.



As we continue to see trends change in the industry, we see the sire line-ups in key markets are also starting to change.  Nowhere is it more evident than in the polled trend.  With that in mind, we decided to add two key niche markets to our stud wars analysis: (1) polled TPI sires and (2) Red type sires.  For both of these lists we are using the top 50 proven or genomic sires.

Not surprising the Polled specialists lead the list.  Followed by Select Sires and GenerVations.



As we saw in the overall PTAT list, Semex and Select Sires continue to lead the way in type offerings.  Also similar to the B&W PTAT lists, we find a number of smaller studs also offering 1-4 of the top red and white sires.

The Bullvine Bottom Line


Holding strong with the best proven sire line-up is Select Sires.  Seeing a significant increase and moving into the 2nd strongest proven sire line-up position is CRI.  They rise on the strength of their significant increase in top NM$ proven sires. Also seeing an increase and moving into the #3 position is ABS Global.  Semex finds themselves with 15 less proven sires on our top lists and drops from the #2 position in December to the #4 position currently.


Tied at the top genomic for genomic sires are Select Sires and Semex.  These are the same two studs that ranked #1 and #2 last round.  Moving up 2 spots from last round is CRI, powered by a significant investment in top gNM$ sires.  Also making a strong showing is the Sexing Technologies / Trans-World Genetics partnership powered by their agreement with the EDG group, who own many of the top genomic females in the world.


Retaining the title of as the strongest overall sire line-up is Select Sires, though it should be noted that Select went from 28% of the top sires in December 2013 to 21% this time.  Holding steady with increases in their proven sire line-up and slight decreases in their genomic sire line-up, Semex comes in as the 2nd strongest sire line-up.  Moving up to the #3 sire line-up with significant improvements in their proven TPI sire line-up as well as genomic offerings is CRI. ABS Global and Alta Genetics round out the top 5.

Join us in staying tuned to the next order of business in the expanding universe of the Stud Wars.

For complete genetic evaluations from around the world click here.


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Exposed: The Tanbark Trail Escort Service

If you have ever been involved in showing dairy cattle, you know it’s the secret that everyone knows but no one wants to talk about.  Yes, that’s it! “Does who’s on the halter matter as much as the animal itself when it comes to dairy cattle show results?” From the local county show to  World Dairy Expo, it’s an issue that rears its ugly head every time someone gets beat by a heifer that they felt was not as good as their animal.  To get to the bottom of this, the Bullvine has done an in-depth analysis to prove that, “Yes it’s true.  It does matter who is on the halter when it comes to show results.” I know that for many show enthusiasts it is hard to admit that the purity of the tanbark trail can be affected by who is strapping the heifer.  Now before you get all, “Here goes the Bullvine again….” on me.  Hear me out.

They are Not Running for Mayor of Toronto

Now let’s get one thing clear.  Politics are often the last factor that affects the placings.  Well at least at the national shows.  You see, if the Judge is going to be swayed by the “Politics” of it all, they wouldn`t continue   judging for long.  In today’s day and age of smart phones and the Internet it wouldn`t take long for a judge’s error to be seen by thousands.  Furthermore you have to consider that most major shows have multiple publications right there covering the show and quite often there is a live video stream as well.  If judges are willing to tarnish their reputation, it’s going to go viral and could quite easily do so even before the cows have left the ring.  I can still remember the tanbark legend, David Brown, of Browndale Holsteins, saying “All you have is your name,” lose that and your screwed.  There is no doubt that having a “big name” lead person will get you noticed.  It may even get you a second look but, if the heifer doesn’t have the goods, she isn’t going to get the job done.

Gene Henderson leading the 2013 Milking Shorthorn Grand Champion – Lands-Brook Christina

Presence – Less is more

One thing that many of the “big name” show people do have is a presence about them. Maybe it’s because most of them are very self-confident people. So much so, that when they are at the halter of a good one, they seem to bring an added presence. They stand with good posture and are relaxed. . But what separates the good ones from the great ones, is their assurance and confidence. Even as they recognize that it’s not all about them on the lead. The greatest at this is Gene “Bambi” Henderson.  (Read more: ..with Gene “Bambi” Henderson on the Halter) When Bambi leads an animal into the ring, you know great things are going to happen.  He is confident, yet understated.  He is there to make this lady look her absolute best, and that is exactly what he does.  You don’t see Bambi fidgeting with the heifer all the time and “working it”.  He knows when he has the lead looking her best, and is confident enough to say, “Here is this amazing lady.  Look at how fantastic she is!”  No wonder he has been on the lead of so many great ones.

See the prize…

One thing I think many people underestimate is the importance of being a good cattle judge in order to be a great show person.  Now I am not saying that they need to be able to judge Expo or The Royal.  But it sure wouldn’t hurt.  That is because how can you make an animal look her best, if you don’t really know what her best is?

2013 World Dairy Expo Fall Yearling Class

Being a strong cattle evaluator helps you identify the strengths and weaknesses of the animal you are about to show, and be able to maximize, or minimize as needed.  It’s also key to know the strengths and weaknesses of the other animals in the class.  One of the best examples I saw of this was at last year’s World Dairy Expo in the Senior Yearling class.  Two names very well known on the Tanbark Trail, David Dyment and Pat “Cowboy” Conroy where going  head to head in a greatly anticipated battle between MD-Dunloafin Lauth Ellie, led by Dyment, and Fanico Reginald Marty, led by Cowboy.  Here you had a very interesting scenario.  Ellie had won everything she could in 2012, except Expo, since her owners were judging Expo in 2012.  Reginald Marty had been on a tear early in the 2013 tanbark trail.  These two yearlings were also very different in their styles.  Ellie was an extremely correct dairy heifer but not as large as the extremely powerful Reginald Marty.  During the show, I had the pleasure of watching the cat and mouse game between these two animals and their leads people.  During the class it was very clear that Dyment, an accomplished judge in his own right, knew that he wanted to keep Ellie as far away from Reginald Marty in the line-up as possible so that Judge Burdette would not as easily see the distinct advantage Reginald Marty had, when it came to height.  In doing so Dyment was also then able to greater display the femininity and dairyness throughout that Ellie had.  That is the mark of a great leads person.  Know the strengths and flaws of all the animals in the class and utilize it.

Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra *RC EX-96-SW

This picture of Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra *RC EX-96-SW went viral after her big win at the European Championship show in 2013 (Pat “Cowboy” Conroy was the show person)

Another great showman I have seen do this many times is the 2014 Royal Winter Fair judge Donald Dubois.  As someone who has had the opportunity to picture many top cattle shows, I have had the pleasure of seeing Donald use this technique to advantage.  The average observer may not catch it, but when you are trying to get “the shot” you notice little things.  For instance in some classes, when Donald is leading a winner, he seems to go very fast and yet other times, he moves much much slower.  That is because, if he has a heifer that he knows tracks on sound feet and legs and the heifer that is challenging him for second is not as strong, he wants to accentuate that.  This is a skill that many of the top showmen know.  It’s also important to know when to do the opposite.  You see you are taught that if you are in first and the judge sends you out to walk that you need to “get on your horse and go”.  The challenge is, what if you heifer is just that “a horse” and does not track well.  I have seen it happen many times.  The judge sends out the top animals.  The showmen “get going” and then the judge tells them to slow up as he bumps the second animal into first.  Knowing your strengths and the weaknesses of the animals in the class is very important.

Donald Dubios showing Eastside Goldwyn Missy

The Cow Whisperer

Often underestimated, but certainly key to success on the tanbark trail, is how well the show person can make a connection with the lead.  A great example of this is Marianne Janssen.  Marianne has a magic touch with heifers.  Maybe it’s her motherly instinct, maybe it’s just pure talent, but she sure does develop a connection with the heifers.  One thing I have noticed is that she is always working to perk the heifers up.  From tickling the heifer’s ears to getting them to “stroll” along Marianne is one of the best at this.  I have seen many times where a heifer seemed to be a “challenge” to lead, and then certain leads people like, Marianne or David Dyment, get on the halter and they just seem to stroll.  It might be magic, but it certainly makes a difference, when it comes to the appearance and ultimately to the final placing.


Marianne Janssen has mastered the art of Cow Whispering

You can never underestimate the power of a good connection.  I have seen some typically average leads people make the odd animal look amazing.  They have a connection that brings out the best in both of them.  I have also seen where some very talented leads people have not had a good “tour” with a heifer and seemed to struggle the whole way around the ring, because they and the lead just didn’t connect.  Often I find that is what separates the good ones from the greats.  Donald Dubois, Barclay Phoenix and David Dyment are three of the best at being able to find a connection with most animals.

At NY Spring Show in 2013 RF Goldwyn Hailey EX-97 looked as close to perfection as any cow I have ever seen in my life.


Do you ever wonder why you see so many photographs of certain show people and very few of others?  Well  It’s not because they are big names.  Actually it’s because they know the value that a good picture has in the marketability of the animal they are leading.  As someone who is on the other side of the lens, I know the power a great shot can have on the value of an animal.  A classic example of this is Valleyville Rae Lynn.  While there is no doubt that Rae Lynn is an amazing cow and I am sure has many great things to come in the near future, before she had really won anything she already had a cult following.  That is because Ari Ekstein and the Quality Holsteins team understand the power of getting a great shot published on the Internet.  Rae Lynn has becoming one of the three most viral cows in the world today, the other two by Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra *RC EX-96-SW and RF Goldwyn Hailey (Read more: DECRAUSAZ IRON O’KALIBRA: Simply the Best, and RF Goldwyn Hailey Unbeatable?)  As of yet, her list of accomplishments pales in comparison to these other two.  What she did have is consistent great ring shots that many dairy enthusiasts love.

This mammary system photo of Valleyville Rae Lynn went viral, and launched Rae Lynn into intentional stardom.

Don’t get me wrong. A great show person’s first responsibility is to make sure the lead looks great for the judge.  But there are many times, when the judge is off looking at other animals, where many show people seem to “let it all go” and take break.  But I know two show people who do the exact opposite.  They are Mario and Marc Comtois.  Both understand the power of a great viral picture, and when the judge is off evaluating other animals you will find these two doing everything they can to help the show ring photographers get that great shot.

Marc Comtois showing Calbrett Goldwyn Layla

In an interview with the Australian All Breed Dairy Journal, Crazy Cow run by Dean and Dianna Malcolm (Read more: Dean and Dianna Malcolm: Gobsmacked in Australia – Landing Right Side Up Down Under!, Dean and Dianna Malcolm: Forward in Five Gears! That’s Aussie D.I.Y. ,  and DAIRY YOUTH WILL GO FAR: Exchange Is Good!) David Dyment comments, “One thing I don’t understand is why people race out of the ring when the reasons are finished, because they’re not just showing the judge their cow: there are potential customers, other judges, people who have a vote for All-Canadian or All-American.  You’re not just leading for the guy in the middle.  You are leading for the people that are there and that’s the way you’ve got to do it.  And with live streaming now, you are leading for potentially thousands of people who may buy a daughter or embryos or text their best friends their opinions.”

David Dyment leading the great KHW Regiment Apple

David Dyment leading the great KHW Regiment Apple-Red-ET EX-96 DOM

That is why it’s no surprise David has been on the halter for many iconic show ring shots.  David and his family have been on the forefront of dairy genetics marketing for many years.  (Read more: Marketing Lessons from Glen Drummond Aero Flower) As someone who is tasked with trying to develop these iconic shots, I want to share a little insight into this matter.  You see getting great pictures in the show is one of the most difficult tasks there is for a photographer.  You are asked to take a great shot in a low light and with moving subjects.  Not only does this typically require great skill, but also requires very expensive equipment.  This is especially true in many North American show rings, where you have many different colored light sources and an environment that does not offer great backgrounds. That is why for the most part you typically just see your standard shot. “Here are all the cows in a line and here is a rough side shot of the winner.”  All other shots take a great deal of work and equipment to land that crisp clear shot that captures the moment.  Great showmen make a huge difference in this.  A great showman knows, to get the animal set up quickly, but then just step back and let the photographer do their job.  There are certain showmen, David Dyment, Marc and Mario Comtois are three that instantly come to mind because they know that less is more.  They get the animal set up and then let us do our job.  So it’s not surprising when you see proportionally more photographs where these three leads people are at the halter.

Mario Comtios showing Charwill Attic Marcy

This is also very true for shots of judges.  Michael Heath is a great one for this.  Not only is Michael very colorful with his reasons, but his “Air Jordan” tactics when naming his champions are legendary. They also make for great photo moments.  While these moments make for great pictures, it’s also a subject area for great debate.  Many breeders love the capturing of these special moments.  Those outside the tanbark fraternity, don’t always understand what is happening, and have concerns about the welfare of the animal involved.  As someone who has captured many of these moments, I certainly see the pros and cons of both.  Though I have also found that when sharing these viral pictures, we can also help educate the general public about what is actually happening and help them understand the passion and care that is involved.

IMG_8671 IMG_7759 IMG_1702

Get Him a Puppy….

In the article with Crazy Cow, Mike Deaver, another great show person made some very interesting comments. “I bought a nice cow for a friend and he insisted that his son lead her at WDE.  She finished 12th or 18th that year and I told my friend after the show that it was a lot of work and money to get to WDE for that result, when she was capable of more.”  He said he knew that, but he wanted his son to lead, and I said “Well, get him a puppy next time.”  The next year I led her and she was third and high Honorable Mention All-American.” As someone who is a strong supporter of youth, mixed thoughts come into my head when I read that.  There is the one side of me that thinks, well how are they going to learn to be the next great one?  But on the other side, when you get to this level we are talking about big money and this is a business.  So for me, if you have a “contender” make sure she is in the best hands possible.  Use the local and county show to help develop the next great show person.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

A great show person can make all the difference in the world.  But it’s not because of what name they have, but rather, how well they can get the best out of the animal they lead.  Winning at Expo or the Royal has become big business and you don’t invest significant amounts of time and money year round getting these animals to the ring, only to have them fall flat on their face when they get there.  You need to have the right person on the halter to get the job done.  Whether they are a big name or not, you need someone who can make a connection with the animal and knows what it takes to get the best out of her on that day.  The great ones know that their job is to escort that lady around the ring and make her look great, not only for the judge in the middle of the ring, but also for the thousands watching around the world.


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Expo Printemps Holstein Results 2014

Judge:  David Crack Jr. de Richmond (Qc)


Grand Champion

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Grand Champion – Ms Goldwyn Alana-Et (Goldwyn), Ferme Fortale Holstein Inc., Pierre Boulet & Isabelle Verville, QC
Reserve Grand Champion – Drumlee Mischief Denison (Denison-ET), Ferme Blondin & Butz-Hill Holstein & Tommy Araki,, QC & Japan
HM Grand Champion – Calbrett Goldwyn Layla-Et (Goldwyn), Comestar Holstein, Speranza Holstein & Ponderosa Holsteins, QC & Spain



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Intermediate Champion – Blondin Lauthority Libye (Lauthority), Ernest Kueffner & Jeff Butler, QC
Reserve Intermediate Champion – Petitclerc Goldwyn Anouk (Goldwyn), Ferme Jean-Paul Petitclerc & Fils Inc., QC
HM Intermediate Champion- Mystique Goldwyn Boreale (Goldwyn), Ferme Blondin & Ferme Mystique S.E.N.C., QC

Junior Champion - Comestar Larion Goldwyn

Junior Champion – Comestar Larion Goldwyn

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Junior Champion – Comestar Larion Goldwyn (Goldwyn), Jm Valley Holstein, Richard W. & Shannon Allyn & M.E.D.A.L Farms, Ferme Jendro Inc & Donald Dubois & France Lemieux, QC, CT & Italy
Reserve Junior Champion – Mapel Wood Windhammer Elegance (Windhammer), Jeff Butler & Ernest Kueffner, IL & MA
HM Junior Champion – Petitclerc Gold Saltalamacchia (Goldwyn), Ferme Jean-Paul Petitclerc & Fils Inc., QC

Junior Breeders Herd


Junior Exhibitor


Intermediate Calf

1. Dubeau Goldwyn Divinia (Goldwyn), Ferme Malic & Pierre Dubeau, QC 2. Glennholme Atwood Brokasa (Atwood), Dann Brady, Yvon Sicard & Ferme Blondin, ON & QC 3. Comestar Meggy Goldwyn (Goldwyn), Howard-View Holsteins, ON 4. Rotaly Goldwyn Allegria (Goldwyn), Rock Hebert & Nathalie Dumais, QC 5. Comestar Lautemia Goldwyn (Goldwyn), Mike Heath, Lindsay Bowen, Kevin Doerbriener & John Ayers, MA & OH 6. Belfontaine Alexander Lavender (Alexander), Belfontaine Genetics, QC 7.Milibro Aftershock Roselock (Aftershock) Ferme Milibro Inc., QC 8. Delcreek Little Minion (Goldwyn), Peter Rylaarsdam, QC 9. Ty-D Gold Chip Elizee (Gold Chip), Deslac Holstein, Ferme Laitiere Rayon Dor Inc & Christian Roberge, QC 10. Jolibois Extreme Living (AltaExtreme),Ferme Frejour, QC

Dubeau Goldwyn Divinia

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1. Dubeau Goldwyn Divinia (Goldwyn), Ferme Malic & Pierre Dubeau, QC
2. Glennholme Atwood Brokasa (Atwood), Dann Brady, Yvon Sicard & Ferme Blondin, ON & QC
3. Comestar Meggy Goldwyn (Goldwyn), Howard-View Holsteins, ON
4. Rotaly Goldwyn Allegria (Goldwyn), Rock Hebert & Nathalie Dumais, QC
5. Comestar Lautemia Goldwyn (Goldwyn), Mike Heath, Lindsay Bowen, Kevin Doerbriener & John Ayers, MA & OH
6. Belfontaine Alexander Lavender (Alexander), Belfontaine Genetics, QC
7.Milibro Aftershock Roselock (Aftershock) Ferme Milibro Inc., QC
8. Delcreek Little Minion (Goldwyn), Peter Rylaarsdam, QC
9. Ty-D Gold Chip Elizee (Gold Chip), Deslac Holstein, Ferme Laitiere Rayon Dor Inc & Christian Roberge, QC
10. Jolibois Extreme Living (AltaExtreme),Ferme Frejour, QC

Senior Heifer



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Junior 3 Year Old

Belfast Goldwyn Lasenza

Belfast Goldwyn Lasenza

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Senior 3 Year Old

Mystique Goldwyn Boreale

Mystique Goldwyn Boreale

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1.Mystique Goldwyn Boreale (Goldwyn), Ferme Blondin & Ferme Mystique S.E.N.C., QC
2.Blondin Alexander Mariska (Alexander-Et), Ferme Blondin, QC
3. Blondin Supreme Ruby (Supreme), Ferme Blondin, QC
4.Sicy Sydney Goldwyn (Goldwyn), Ferme Yvon Sicard & Pierre Boulet, QC
5.Hodglynn Dynasty Licorice (Sanchez), Gen-Com Holstein Ltd., QC
6.Pierstein Atwood Rosine (Atwood), Pierre Boulet, QC
7.Petitclerc Goldwyn Soon (Goldwyn), Ferme Jean-Paul Petitclerc & Fils Inc., QC

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5 Year Old

Drumlee Mischief Denison

Drumlee Mischief Denison

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1. Drumlee Mischief Denison (Denison-ET), Ferme Blondin & Butz-Hill Holstein &  Tommy Araki,, QC & Japan
2. Cobequid Goldwyn Leno (Goldwyn), Ferme Yvon Sicard, Pierre Boulet, Ghyslain Demers & Butz-Hill Holstein, QC
3. Karona Goldwyn Malibu 9goldwyn), Ferme Beldavid Inc., & Instinct Holstein, QC
4. Rf Blackforest Bgj Melinda (Gold Jules), JM Valley Holstein  & Ferme Laitiere Rayon D’or Inc., & Ferme Jendro Inc., QC
5. Comestar Mickolie Jasper (Jasper-ET), Comestar Holstein & Les Entreprises Dominique Gosselin Inc., QC
6. Petitclerc Goldwyn Fumble (Goldwyn), Ferme J.P. Petitclerc & Fils, QC
7.Coti Goldwyn Camay (Goldwyn), Pierre Boulet, QC

Mature Cow



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Expo Printemps Rouge and Blanc – Quebec Spring Red & White Show 2014

Judge: Éric Hétu de Warwick (Qc).


Grand Champion

Grand Champion – Blondin Mr Burns Laurence (Mr Burns), Ferme Blondin & Carlos I Herrera, QC
Reserve Grand Champion – Sunnylodge Cyrmo Mr Burns Rainbow (Mr Burns), Pierre Boulet, QC
HM Grand Champion – Mellsunset Destry Sabrina (Destry-ET), Ferme Fortale Holstein Inc & Pierre Boulet, QC

Sejane Camden Vania  Junior Champion

Sejane Camden Vania
Junior Champion

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Junior Champion – Sejane Camden Vania (Camden-Red-ET), Ferme Sejane Holstein & Michel Larrivee, QC
Reserve Junior Champion – Larochelle Reality Sody (Reality-Red), Ferme Larochelle S.E.N.C, QC
HM Junior Champion – Deslacs Hvezda Ariane Red (Hvezda-Et), Deslacs Holstein, QC


Intermediate Heifers



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2.  LAROCHELLE REALITY SOFYAH, Ferme Larochelle senc

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Mature Cow




April 2014 US Holstein Sire Proof Highlights

Proven Sire Highlights

Robust jumps to the top of the gTPI list.  Robust goes from #5 to #1 with the addition of 201 daughters for production and 140 daughters for type.  Milk went up 174 lbs.  Fat went up 15 lbs, and protein went up 11 lbs.  while type dropped slightly to +1.88 (down 0.07). Since his debut in August 2013, Robust has gone from #6 to #5 to the current #1 position.  Dorcy, Bookem and Massey all drop one spot but their numbers hold strong.  The highest new release proven sire goes to AltaGreatest (read notes below).  Freddie is #6, AltaIota #7, AltaMeteor #8 and Hill #9.  The second highest new release sire is Picardus at #10 (read notes below). A Casualty of the April Proofs is unfortunately Ladys-Manor PL Shamrock who slips from #8 position to #46.

Robust also jumps to the number #1 spot on the NM$, followed by former number #1 Erdman and Twist who is now #3.  New release sire Yano comes in at #4.  Jarvis #5 and Freddie #6 hold their ranks with another new comer Diesel debuting at #7.

G W Atwood holds on to his #1 position on the conformation list.  Absolute-Red moves ahead of Sabathia to take the #2 spot.  Golden Dreams and Braxton hold on to the #4 and #5 spots with Gold Chip debuting at #6.

Closer look at new release proven sires:


Planet x Bolton x BW Marshall

The highest new release sire is Den-K AltaGreatest (Planet x Bolton x BW Marshall). He comes in at #5 gTPI on the US proven list.  From the Den-K Rudolph Cub Kiddy EX-91 2E GMD DOM family.  An extreme production sire with high components, AltaGreatest also has functional type.  Look for AltaGreatest daughters to have shallow udders with strong suspensory ligaments.  One area the AltaGreatest daughters will need to be protected on is their rump angle and pin width.  AltaGreatest will work well on your straight legged cows, as long as they have good foot angle. AltaGreatest has already been used as a sire of sons with such notable sons as Co-Op Upd Greatest Lifelong  (GTPI +2312), Farnear Briley Boy (gTPI +2273) and Farnear AltaBuzz (gTPI +2248). Interesting to note that AlaGreatest official proof is within 60 points of his initial genomic proof back in April 2011 of gTPI +2315.






PicardusPine-Tree Picardus
Planet x O Man x Rudolph

The second highest new release sire comes from the Wesswood-HC Rudy Missy-ET TV EX-92 3E GMD DOM family.  Picardus’ dam is an Oman daughter of Missy.  As his sire stack would indicate Picardus has a strong production proof with good components.  Picardus daughters are solid with open ribs and high wide rear udders.  One area that he will need to be protected on is his feet and legs.  Low foot angle combined with slightly sickled rear legs means he will need to be correctively mated for this. Picardus official daughter proof is only 31 points below that of his initial genomic proof in April 2011 at +2239.









YanoCo-Op Upd Planet Yano
Planet x Bret CV x Manfred

A product of the Co-Op breeding program, Yano debuts at #3 on the NM$ list.  Yano is the Planet brother to the very popular Massey, sired by Mascol.  Not surprisingly then Yano daughters are extremely durable with strong health and fertility traits.  Yano daughters will work well in a commercial environment though they may lack the dairy strength that some would expect.  They are not tall and can tend to be weak loined.  They do however have extremely strong udders with lots of ligament and snug attachments.









DieselJuniper Planet Diesel
Planet x O Man x Durham

Diesel’s dam has been a very popular bull dam in Europe with two sons already proven (Malke +1758 gTPI and Dada gTPI +1670).  While not a type improver, Diesel does offer strong components and high herd life.  His low somatic cell and high fertility will certainly make him a management trait improver.  However be careful because his daughters have been slower milkers from time to time.  While his udders and legs are sound, he will need protecting on his dairy strength and median suspensory ligament as well as rear teat placement.







Gold Chip

Gold ChipMr Chassity Gold Chip
Goldwyn x Shottle x Champion

The very popular Goldwyn son from Regancrest S Chassity-ET TL TY EX-92 GMD DOM has been leaving high type daughters that have been winning shows across North America.  (Read more: REGANCREST S CHASSITY – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist) So it’s no surprise that great grandson of Regancrest-PR Barbie-ET TV EX-92 GMD DOM would debut with a strong type proof.  Extensively used due to his well known cow family and strong genomic tests, Gold Chip daughters did not disappoint.  Gold Chip daughters are very tall and angular with great feet and legs and very snug udders.  One area breeders may want to protect Gold Chip daughters on is their depth of rib and width of chest.





Genomic Test Sire Highlights (Enrolled with NAAB)

Making his North American debut, Supershot goes straight to the top of the TPI and NM$ lists.  Supershot is followed by former #1 Alta1stclass and #2 Kingboy who now find themselves in 2nd and 3rd respectively.  Another new comer AltaHotrod finds himself in the #4 spot. Coming in at #5 is an early Cash Coin son Draco.

A closer look at new release genomic test sires:


Supershot-042014Cogent Supershot
Supersire x Super x Shottle

The much talked about Supershot did not disappoint when his official numbers came through.   The pedigree behind Supershot is certainly not well known among breeders with last 5 of his 8 generations coming from Dutch breeding. Behind that is the US cow family at Vir-Clar Holsteins, tracing through the highly acclaimed Tirsvad Patron Claire EX92. He hails from the same line as the famous Koepon Classy’s and Anderstrup Claire family, known worldwide for its ability to breed high-ranking females and bulls on numerous different bases.  Supershot has an extremely high genomic test and his pedigree indicates that he should be able to sire those extreme production daughters many breeders are looking for. Supershot should be protected on milking speed and dairy strength.






AltaHotrodGlen-D-Haven Castle
Jerod x Altaiota x Goldwyn

Another new sire debuting on the top gTPI list at #4 is AltaHotrod. While AltaHotrod does not have Planet, O-Man, Justice and Shottle in his pedigree, he does have Goldwyn.  However, he   is still a relative outcross sire because Jerod and AltaIota were not as heavily used.  Look for AltaHotrod to sire extreme production and conformation, with solid health and fertility traits.   While AltaHotrod daughters will not likely be winning the shows, he does have strong type numbers that will make for a significant type improvement in regards to classification and longevity.  AltaHotrod daughters will need to be protected for teat length.







DracoMr Delicious Coin
Cashcoin x Robust x Planet

Draco is an early Cashcoin son who debuts at #5 on the gTPI list.  Draco’s dam Miss OCD Robst Delicious from the WINDSOR-MANOR RUD ZIP-ET 3E 95 GMD DOM family is quickly proving that she can produce high genomic offspring.  She already has 47 offspring over 3,000 LPI and has other sons, MR Delicious Pre 57512, who will also be joining Draco on the top TPI lists shortly and Delta mentioned below.  Look for Draco to sire strong production with good components and durable type.  While not a health and fertility leader, he is sound in all areas.








DeltaMr Mogul Delta 1427-ET
Mogul x Robust x Planet

Joining Supershot in the over 1,000 NM$ club is Delta.  Delta is a Mogul brother to Draco and is from the WINDSOR-MANOR RUD ZIP-ET 3E 95 GMD DOM family.  Delta offers extreme health and fertility traits with solid type and strong production.  Breeders who are looking for tall framey two year olds will certainly not want to use Delta but he does offer significant udder improvement.  Delta is among the breed leaders for productive life.









BeemerPol Butte Mc Beemer
Mccutchen x Goldwyn x Shottle

A new high genomic type sire from the Barbie family that is sure to get a lot of attention is Beemer.  Beemer’s dam is BUTZ-BUTLER GOLD BANNER – VG 88-2YR who is one of the top cows in the breed for EBV type.  From the powerful Barbie family, Beemer is sure to follow in the footsteps of other family members like Brokaw and receive heavy usage during his sampling period.  At +23 DGV conformation in Canada Beemer is one point below the extreme breed leaders (Read more:The 10 Extreme Type Sires Most Likely To Sire the Next World Champion).  Look for Beemer to sire strong dairy cattle that have great udders and are extremely tall.  While his rumps can be a touch high, they should be fine by show standards.





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April 2014 Canadian Genetic Evaluation Highlights

There’s a New #1 in Town!

The highly anticipated bull, Flevo Genetics Snowman (O Man x BW Marshall), receives his first official proof in Canada and debuts at the top of the LPI list. De-Su Gillespy-ET (Bolton x Shottle) switches places with Mel-Crest AltaRazor (AltaBaxter x Goldwyn) this round, now sitting in positions #2 and #3 LPI, respectively. Previously #12 LPI, Morningview AltaToyota (Toystory x AltaFinley) takes a jump, landing at #4 LPI, while AltaIota (O Man x Ito) adds over 500 daughters to his production proof and hangs onto his #5 LPI ranking. Another bull adding a significant number of second crop daughters is Mainstream Manifold (O Man x BW Marshall) who adds over 1000 production daughters and climbs from #15 LPI in December to #6 spot this round. The entrance of three bulls new to the Top 10 LPI forced others downward in rank, including Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie (O Man x Die-Hard) from #6 to #11 LPI, Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood (Goldwyn x Durham) from #7 to #15 LPI and De-Su Authority-ET (Stol Joc x O Man) from #10 to #31 LPI. End-Road O-Man Bronco-ET (O Man x BW Marshall) sits at #7 LPI, UFMDubs AltaEsquire-ET (O Man x AltaSam) at #9 LPI and Sildahl Jett Air-ET (AltaBaxter x BW Marshall) at #10 LPI, all maintaining positions among the Top 10 LPI. Long-Langs Man-O-Man (O Man x AltaAaron) held #1 LPI since December 2012, but falls 360 LPI points landing him at #8 LPI this round. The addition of approximately 200 daughters to his production proof, as well as a new adjustment for non random sire usage, led to this significant change for Man-O-Man. This new adjustment affects all sires with over 30% of their milk-recorded daughters resulting from embryo transfer. Also noteworthy is Lirr Drew Dempsey (Goldwyn x Derry), who adds over 350 daughters to his type proof and as a result moves from #21 to #12 LPI and is the new #1 bull for Conformation.

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April Showers the Top LPI List with Interesting Newcomers

This release there are 140 young sire graduates as well as a first official domestic LPI for 15 sires first progeny proven outside of Canada. Among young sire recruits, Shottle remains the most common sire with 22 new sons, while Planet is the sire of 19 new sons. Ashlar, Million and Onward each have at least 10 new sons in this group as well. In December 2013, of 108 newly proven bulls only four penetrated the Top 50 LPI. April 2014 is a different story! This round the Top 50 LPI is infiltrated by 17 newly proven sires. Besides Snowman, the highest of these is Ammon-Peachey AltaCeleb-ET (Planet x Shottle) at #13, who becomes the new highest proven Planet son in Canada. The next highest new release at #14 LPI is Blondin Careyprice (Goldwyn x Shottle). Notorious south of the border, De-Su Observer-ET (Planet x O Man, maternal brother to Author at #31 LPI) receives his first domestic progeny proof securing him a spot at #17 LPI while newcomer Stantons Stanley Cup (Shottle x Convincer) takes #20 LPI. Two Planet sons from illustrious dams, Wabash-Way Excite (Planet x Wabash-Way Emilyann) and Fleury Gen Le Plan (Planet x Calbrett Shottle Lisamaree) debut at #22 and #23 LPI, respectively. Following closely behind at #24 is Fustead AltaStone (Planet x Elegant) who also claims the titles of #1 for both Milk and Protein. Other newly proven sires in the Top 50 LPI include Mr Cougar (#32 LPI, Alexander x Goldwyn), De-Su 541 Bartlett- ET (#32 LPI, Planet x Shottle), De-Su Stratton-ET (#37 LPI, Planet x Shottle), Gepaquette DG Shottbolt (#40 LPI, Shottle x Bolton), genetically identical bulls Larcrest-Caesar-ETS and Larcrest Cheech-ETS (both #41 LPI, Malicieux x Shottle), Dewgood Advance-ET (#44 LPI, Alexander x Goldwyn), Misty Springs Superpower (#47 LPI, Bonair x Misty Springs Shottle Satin) and De Rith AltaShare (#50 LPI, Shottle x Goldwyn).

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An Influx of New Top LPI Cows!

Ste Odile Manoman Model Saphir continues to lead the breed as #1 GLPI for the third consecutive run and is #2 for Fat. April’s highest newly indexed cow is Velthuis S G Snow Evening at #2 GLPI and tied at #2 for Conformation. This recent addition leads Stantons Observer EA Frenzy to step down one position to #3 GLPI. Maryclerc Snowman Crystal makes an entrance at #4 GLPI, while full sister to the #1 GLPI cow, Ste Odile Manoman Mod Platine falls to #5 GLPI. Other newcomers to the list include Robust daughter Larcrest Cinergy-ET at #6 GLPI, Sully Hartford Snwmn 282-ET at #8 GLPI, Comestar Lautamisha Snowman at #9 GLPI and Lookout Pesce SM Elsa finishing off the list at #10 GLPI. R-Z Baxter Caramel-ET rose an impressive 100 GLPI points from a previous rank of #40 and now sits at #7 GLPI. Aside from one Robust daughter, all new Top GLPI cows are sired by Snowman. Combined, three O Man sons sired 35% of the Top 1000 GLPI cows, including Man-O-Man (18.9%), Snowman (9.6%) and AltaIota (6.9%).

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