Archive for June 2014

Introducing the Bullvine Breeders’ Cup

Do you own the best kept secret in the dairy breeding industry?  Would you like the world to know about your amazing cattle?  Then enter them in the inaugural Bullvine Breeders’ Cup and showcase your animals to the world from the comfort of your own barn.

Not all great cows have the ability to win at the big shows and not all great cows are determined by what their genomic index indicates.  That is why we have created the Bullvine Breeders’ Cup.  Simply post a self-picture of your contender on Facebook or in the form below and tell us why your cow is worthy of being named The Bullvine Breeders’ Cup Champion.  Finalists will then be voted on by Bullvine readers as well as our official judge and equal weighting between both will determine the winner.

This is not just a contest for show cows or for those that have the highest index.  Equal consideration will be given to each animal’s pedigree, conformation, and progeny as well as their MVP status in your herd.  This is a contest to determine who is the best kept secret in the dairy business.

Winners will receive a feature article on about their cow and their operation, a banner ad on our website as well as use of the Bullvine Breeders’ Cup logo in the promotion of their animal.

Rules and Regulations:

  1. Animals must have calved at least once (1) to be eligible for the mature cow class competition.
  2. Competition is open to “in milk” cows only.  (Picture must show cow in milking form)
  3. No professional side shots of cows will be accepted.
  4. This is an all breeds competition.
  5. There are no classification or production requirements to enter.
  6. Animals can be clipped but preferably not fitted for the show ring.  (no toplines, no uddering)
  7. The top five (5) selected as finalists will be voted on and placed.
  8. ENTRY DEADLINE – Tuesday, July 31st, 2014.  No Late Entries Accepted.

Has the Show Ring Lost Its Function?

Over the past year, I have found myself wondering, “What is the function of the show ring?”  Attendance at shows has gone down, and there are fewer animals coming out.  But more concerning than anything else is that it seems that too many of the winners at the major shows  have had significant flaws and   do not truly represent the most productive, long-lived cows that were at the show.  This has me wondering if the show ring still has a function in today’s dairy industry.

Long have I listened to the three functions of showing dairy cattle: breed improvement, merchandising and marketability.  So as I am now pondering show ring relevance, I figured I would look at each of these three areas and see how well each one actually performs.

Breed Improvement

For years, there has been an ongoing debate about how well a top show cow would last in a commercial environment.  Over the past eight months, pretty much every cow that I have seen named Grand Champion at a Holstein show has had a significant functional flaw.  This definitely raises an issue for me because, if the show ring is supposed to be the best of the best, shouldn’t the Grand Champion be a great example of that?  For me, the question now becomes, “What is it that we are looking for?” For that, I turn to the Dairy Cow Unified Score Card (US) and Holstein Cow Score Card (Canada), and I find myself looking at the relative emphasis of each major category.  I question the relative weightings in relation to what a long-lived productive cow truly looks like.  (Read more:  She Ain’t Pretty – She Just Milks That Way!).  This became very evident to me at a judging school I recently attended.  On that day, the official panel (which was two representatives from AI) placed a cow at the top of the class who had a major rump problem which is usually associated with reproductive issues. Something you would expect someone who worked in the AI industry to be cognizant of.  At the bottom of the class was a very sound cow, placed there because she was not as “deep bodied and dairy as the other cows in the class.”  This caused me extreme concern. Not only did it kill my score/performance for the day, but also on a more significant scale, what does it say about us as an industry, if we are selecting these animals to represent the best of the best.

2year old - composite background

Ideal Show/Classification 2 year old

genomic 2 year old - composite background

Typical High Index 2 year old

efficient 2 year old - composite background

High productive and efficient production 2 year old.

For me, the issue here is not just a show ring problem.  It is also a classification issue.  The weighting on the score card is the same for both classification and show ring.  If we look at the score card and compare the correlations between production and productive life, we see significant issues arising around what should be benchmarks for a long-lived productive cow.


*Performance based score developed by using weights of correlations for productive life and production to each of the four major trait areas.

By looking at the correlations between actual performance data and the breed scorecards, two glaring issues come to light:

Too much emphasis on Mammary System

For years I have heard it said, again and again, it all begins with the cow’s udder.  Naturally, that makes sense, since we are talking about milk production.  What is interesting is that, while the correlation between Mammary System and Productive Life are very high, the correlation between Mammary System and actual milk production is actually negative.  My belief on this matter is that, since we have put so much emphasis on udders over the past 30 years, the Mammary Systems on most cows are to the point where they are more than sound for productive reasons.  In other words, we have done such a good job at breeding for strong well-attached udders that are well above the hock that we now have taken it to the extreme, where even cows with average udders are still correct enough to last several lactations and be productive cows.  Furthermore, and this is where the problem lies, the sires who provide the greatest udder improvement don’t actually sire enough milk.

Top 10 Proven UDC Proven Sires April 2014

NameMilkFatProtSCSConfStatureBody Depth
DE-SU OBSERVER-ET233691832.7112-2-4
DE-SU CIMARRON-ET289599882.691000
LONG-LANGS OMAN OMAN149083823.11126-2
DE-SU HISTORY-ET2083101812.72802
MORNINGVIEW LEVI132186742.5730-3
DE-SU ALTAGOALMAN-ET2856107892.773-2-3
CO-OP BOSSIDE MASSEY-ET115175662.52600
WELCOME BOL LATHAM-ET179778812.94722
KINGS-RANSOM B RUBLE307887922.987-2-2

In looking at the top 10 proven sires for Udder Composite you will notice that only 5 sires have a positive value for milk (PTAM) and only two sires (Buxton and Golf) are over 1000 lbs. of milk.  The top 100 UDC proven sires from the April 2014 Genetic Evaluations average a very low 551 lbs of milk (PTAM).

Top 10 Proven Production (PTAM) Sires April 2014

NameMilkFatProtSCSConfStatureBody Depth
DE-SU MUCHO 11209-ET1319102852.63920
MR CHARTROI ELOQUENT-ET1740106862.791231
PARILE LOCARNO177486842.67122-3
SANDY-VALLEY PANAMA-ET1841108742.4911-1-2
BUTZ-HILL LETTERS-ET199986852.7110-2-1
DE-SU THUNDER-ET1339100602.63164-2
DE-SU PHOENIX 588-ET2659113952.768-1-3
DE-SU SKYMONT 11195-ET163194742.7412-1-3
CHAMPION ALTABOOKEL196394792.8115-1-1

Conversely, if you look at the top 10 proven sires for milk (PTAM) you will notice that there are two sires (Ruble and Jigsaw) that are over +2.00 for UDC in fact the top 100 milk sires have an average UDC of 1.16.  In the top 100 proven Productive Life sires average +1.44 for UDC and +1.48 for PTAT. Therefore it’s very clear that the top sires for milk do not always have the best udders, and the top udder sires are not typically you high production sires.  Interestingly this leads to the conclusion that a high UDC is not as strong an indicator of either production or the ability to have high production over a cows lifetime as many believe.

Not enough emphasis on Functional Rumps

There certainly has been a strong positive trend over recent years to breed and select cattle with greater emphasis on reproduction.  With that has come a greater focus on rump angle.  This is an area where I am noticing the greatest discrepancy between the show ring and what it truly takes to be a long-lived functional cow.  It has been generally accepted that a level wide rump was a show ring rump and a high rump angle rump was a calving ease rump.  The challenge is that, over the past year, I have seen cows with extremely high pins being made Grand Champion.  While I love a nice boxcar rump as much as the next person does, it still needs to be at least level and not have a severe tilt from back to front.


There used to be a time that you could take a heifer to a spring show with the expectation that, if she did well, you would be able to sell her for significant dollars.  That has changed to such an extent that not nearly as many breeders are even sending animals to the spring shows anymore.  In fact, those that are looking to sell their animals are opting to send them to a Tag Sale instead.  Lately, that is proving to be a better avenue for merchandising your show animals.  For a couple of hundred dollars you can have your heifer clipped, fitted and worked with.  That is a fraction of the cost of taking them to a show yourself.  (Read more:  TAG – You are it! How and Why TAG Dairy Sales Are Successful)

One thing that came to light for me, as I was sitting watching the Best of Both World’s sale this week, hosted by St. Jacobs ABC, Ferme Blondin, and Crasdale Auctions, was that there is still  a  market for “show cattle.”  (Read more: Best of Both Worlds – Sale Report)  Now I am not saying that they are topping the major sales or bringing the highest revenue (Read more: An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions 2013).  What I am saying is that a cow that has had some success in the show ring and that can produce desirable type calves reliably is still very profitable.  An example of this was Ernest-Anthony Aphrodite-ET 2E 95 who sold for $21,000 at the sale.  While her show days are long behind her, she still carries significant value.  That is because she is able to reliably produce nice cut calves. She also flushes well, as was evident at the sale with many of those nicely cut daughters selling for $5,000 to $10,000. (Read more:  KUEFFNER DAIRY TEAMWORK “2 Dream the Impossible Dream!”) While the price of genomic animals has certainly fluctuated, a well-bred, nice pedigreed calf from a fairly well known show cow family continues to be one of the most stable markets. (Read more: The Judge’s Choice – Investment advice from Tim Abbott)


Ernest-Anthony Aphrodite-ET 2E 95 the Member 2009 All-American Produce of Dam, Member 2009 All-American Senior Best 3 Females, Member of 2007 Unanimous All-American Senior Best Three Females and Reserve All-American Produce of Dam sold for $21,000 at the Best of Both Worlds Sale. Of course Aphrodite is from the great Tri-Day Ashlyn-ET EX 96, the Supreme Champion from the 2001 World Dairy Expo and Royal Winter Fair.


Over the past two years, I have noticed a drastic decrease in the number of people attending cattle shows.  This has gotten to the point where many have started openly raising concerns about what is happening.  Take for example the recent Maxville Holstein Show (Read more: Maxville Holstein Show Results 2014) where it would have been generous to say there were 100 spectators in the crowd.  Furthermore, the average age of those spectators was well over 60.  If you were evaluating marketability by that attendance at the show, you would certainly have been disappointed.  However, here again, times have changed. Today, due to the Internet, more and more people are watching from home.  Especially if they live a significant distance away.  (Read more: Who is going to the show? Why attendance is down at the dairy cattle shows).  The statistics from our own coverage tell a very different story than does the attendance at the show.  We had over 10,000 people view the show results on our website on show day alone.  Over 1,300 people shared our webpage on Facebook and another 3,000 people liked or shared our pictures on Facebook.  Therefore, what has really happened? The answer is that the marketability of a show has gone from being that of a local attendance market to a worldwide market, where you can merchandise to people from around the globe (as long as the right dairy publications attend).  If the dairy publications don’t choose to attend your local show, there is still an opportunity to snap your own pictures, get them liked and shared around the world and produce your own viral marketing.  I have often seen a quick selfie by breeders at a show far outperform a professional side photograph on Facebook.

The Bulvine Bottom Line

When all is said and done, the viral nature of show results, pictures, and videos on the Internet prove that the show ring still serves a relevant position in today’s dairy industry.  There are certainly opportunities to further enhance the relevance of the show ring to the rest of the industry.  The best way to do that is in the type of cattle that we select at the shows.  For years, the show ring and type classification led the charge on the need to focus more on mammary system improvement.  Today we are at the point where cows’ udders in most herds in the world are very sound.  It’s now time for the show ring and type classification to again lead the charge when selecting for long-lived productive cows.  This will mean putting greater emphasis on functional rumps and functional cows.

Let`s ensure that the show ring has a relevant function in the dairy industry for years to come.



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Dairy Cattle Mortality – Lessons Learned

Facing death on dairy farms is definitely a hard part of dairy management.  On-farm death of adult dairy cows is a significant problem for both economic and animal welfare reasons.  Unfortunately, adult dairy cow death losses are on the rise.  It is time for recognition, monitoring and action to address this critical situation.

Rising Problem with Too Little Information.

Information from computerized dairy record systems suggests that mortality rates have continually increased over the last 10 years. In some states, adult cow mortality exceeds 10% per year. Very few formal studies have focused on this issue, yet dairy cattle death losses are a critical problem. Not only are these losses an economic disaster, they also represent very real problems with animal well-being. This would seem to be an issue requiring substantial veterinary attention, but at present it does not appear that veterinarians or producers have the information required to manage the problem appropriately.

Why Do Dairy Cows Die?

There are multiple reasons for cow deaths.

  • Training: Lack of trained caregivers on modern dairy farms.
  • Diagnosis: Significant health problems that are not identified in time for successful intervention.
  • Analysis: Causes of mortality are not carefully monitored or analyzed and, therefore, cannot be properly managed.

Necropsy:  Start where you don’t want to end.

The absolute first step is to acknowledge the problem and through record keeping and observation to change the outcome.  No one wants to have dead cows.  Avoidance and denial will not make the problem go away.  Therefore, the best place to start is with the negative outcome. Take steps to find exactly what caused the animal’s death.

Farm Necropsy is an Underutilized Tool

Veterinarians, researchers and () breeders are adamant that farm necropsy examinations should be used to help discover the cause of adult cow death.  Unfortunately, necropsy of dead animals is rarely performed on dairies, even though, other intensive livestock systems, such as poultry, beef and swine routinely use necropsy monitoring.  The lack of monitoring and information prevents accurate assessment of the problems and, therefore, prevents effective intervention.

First Comes Training

It might seem logical that farm staff should be trained in the prevention long before they learn how to perform on-farm necropsy examinations.  However, both skills are needed tools for everyone working with the herd. Veterinarians are not always present to perform the examination of a freshly dead carcass and therefore it needs to be done by trained staff in a timely and well-recorded manner.

The Dairy Cattle Necropsy Manual.  Get Your Hands on It!

If lack of information causes death, it follows that having the information drives the solution. A team at Colorado State University has produced the Dairy Cattle Necropsy Manual. Unfortunately, they report  “Very few producers or veterinarians have pursued this approach, attesting to the notion that monitoring actual cause of death has not been seen as a valuable pursuit.”  Ordinarily, dairy farmers are open to tools that affect their work day but, quite significantly, their bottom line. Studies suggest that at least 50% — half— of all cow death losses are caused by management related issues. This clearly puts the solutions in the hands of the people working with the cattle every day.

What Good is a Necropsy Examination?

There are three main reasons to see that necropsy examinations are able to be handled efficiently and effectively on your dairy.

  1.  Necropsy examination of dead animals provides information about the specific cause of death.
  2.  Investigation beyond necropsy findings helps determine why specific causes of death occur, so that management can be changed to minimize risks for future problems. Such investigation is rarely performed or tracked on dairies.
  3. Paying attention to causes of death can promote changes that substantially decrease cow health problems and death losses.

The Importance of Record Keeping

It is wrong to begrudge the time that it takes to keep good records. If the system is working effectively in other areas of the operation, it needs to be modified to capture information on causes of death so that it can be used to manage improvements. By themselves, the diagnoses will determine what the death resulted from.  They don’t necessarily provide information about why that specific cause occurred.  Change can only occur if consideration is given to all aspects of the historical information on the animal.  Factors such as time of the year, stage of lactation, housing and level of staff monitoring all provide useful information. The way that all  the variables work in concert with each other provides a basis for making management changes.

Going Beyond the “To Do” List

The focus has to shift from the immediate actions to be taken in dealing with the problem, to the bigger picture impacts of mature cow deaths.  Enough information and critical assessment needs to be applied to the determination of what the health challenges were that are impacting this situation.  Healthy cows not dead ones are the only acceptable option.

Training First

Whether you have had a lifetime on a dairy farm or are newly employed and without pre-existing cow management skills, it is quite possible not to have hands-on experience with the diagnosis and autopsy skills required in dealing with (mature cow deaths. The first step is to provide and become proficient in being able to identify disease in individual animals and respond with individual animal care.

Expert Consultation:

There are numerous reasons given for the fact that the overwhelming majority of sick cows on dairies are identified, diagnosed, and treated by farm workers rather than veterinarians. Time, money, accessibility, and strategic planning may be the excuses, but poor outcomes must then be accepted as the responsibility of managers and not brushed off as attributable only to any pre-existing problems with cow physiology.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It is unrealistic to hope that there could ever be a single simple answer to the problem of high mortality on dairies. That doesn’t mean that the problem cannot be dramatically improved by taking the right steps. This means recognizing and defining the problem, improving information systems to provide details necessary to take action, and monitoring appropriate metrics that promote ongoing attention to management corrections.

It is said simply and best by the researcher who strongly emphasizes:  “As much as anything, the simple act of recognizing mortality as a problem might be the most fundamental step toward controlling its progression.”



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Best of Both Worlds – Sale Report

top read 14 iconThe sale averaged a very strong $5,575 on 200 lots.  The team of St. Jacobs ABC, ferme Blondin, Crasedale Auctions did an outstanding job coping with the wet weather and the great cattle certainly enticed many breeders to make it out. Hosted at St. Jacobs ABC milking facility in Richford, VT, a brand new venture for Tim and Sharyn Abbott. St. Jacobs ABC has rented a facility for milk cows and heifers that is currently part of St. Pierre Farms. The sale featured something for everyone including several elite milking females, fancy heifers and promising choice lots. The rain the night before the sale certainly did not keep the crowd away.


Tim Abbot warmly welcomed the large crowed that made it through the rain to attend the picturesque sale location in Northern Vermont.  Tim stated, “Mark St Pierre and his family have built a very successful operation with thousands of acres and over 3200 milk cows. We will be working with them to lease the farm, get our feed, and have recipients for our programs. This family is one of the most successful in our area and we look forward to working with them. Our goal for the operation is simple. We want to breed cattle that are similar to our philosophy with our AI company, St. Jacobs ABC. We want great type cows, that have deep cow families and strong sire stacks and make you want to go the barn each morning.” Tim added, “The other key ingredient is Renee Baker. Renee and her husband, Chet have been long-time friends and Renee will be our partner in this operation providing day to day management for the farm and looking after the cattle. Renee has managed large herds, calf operations, her own farm and has looked after cows that she helped develop into Madison champions.”

Selling for $38,000 was Hazels Sid Harmony VG-87-2yr

Selling for $38,000 was Hazels Sid Harmony VG-87-2yr

Selling for $38,000 was Hazels Sid Harmony the fancy VG-87-2yr who is fresh since march.  Her dam is none other than Quality-Ridge Stormi Hazel 2E-96.  Consigned by Liddleholm, Harmony was purchased by St. Pierre Farms of Vermont.

Hazels Sid Harmony VG-87-2yr

Hazels Sid Harmony VG-87-2yr

Liddleholme Riches  EX-92 (Max score)

Liddleholme Riches EX-92 (Max score)

Liddleholme Riches certainly cashed in selling for $36,000.  Riches is the EX-92 (Max score) Heather Holme Velvet from a EX Toystory.   She complete 8 generations of EX from the Glenridge Citation Roxy Family.  Consigned by Liddleholm, Riches was purchased by Ben Glauser – Ferme Desauges.


Liddleholme Riches EX-92 (Max score)


Liddleholm-Y H G Rae EX-91

Liddleholm-Y H G Rae EX-91

Liddleholm-Y H G Rae scored EX from 7 generations of EX from the Roxies sold for $26,000.  Bred to Mr. Apples McGucci , completes 9 generations of EX from the Roxies.  Consigned by Liddleholm, Rae was purchased by T&L BC, Canada.


Ernest-Anthony Aphrodite-ET 2E 95

Ernest-Anthony Aphrodite-ET 2E 95 the Member 2009 All-American Produce of Dam, Member 2009 All-American Senior Best 3 Females, Member of 2007 Unanimous All-American Senior Best Three Females and Reserve All-American Produce of Dam sold for $21,000.  Of course Aphrodite is from the great Tri-Day Ashlyn-ET EX 96, the Supreme Champion from the 2001 World Dairy Expo and Royal Winter Fair. Consigned by Kueffner and was purchased by Caleb Norton, Iowa.


MS Chassity Snch Carly the VG-89-4YR from the one and only  Regancrest S Chassity EX-92 who sold in a package for $1,500,000 sold for $20,500. Consigned by Crasdale/Lindenright/Wilsim and purchased by Pleasant Valley Farm and St Jacobs ABC

Late entries to the sale

Updates for the Best of Both Worlds Sale

Sale order

NameFinal ScoreAge OwnerState
HILMAR MEGA-MAN 2912-ET924-03Hilmar Holsteins, Inc.CA
BLUE-HORIZON JASPER FORTUNE924-07Elginvue Cattle Mktng LLC & William R SampsonMN
FOUR-OF-A-KIND MICH MIRACLE924-11Chase & Willow OehmichenWI
DESTE DEUCE SASY925-03Bryce Gingerich, Eric Mast & Rebecca EbyIN
EDEN-VIEW WILDMAN DEMAND925-10James R. & Nina P. BurdettePA
WINDY-KNOLL-VIEW POCONOS-ET913-04James R. & Nina P. BurdettePA
QUARESMA FROST MATTIE 7858913-05Raymond M. & Susanne QuaresmaCA
GREENLEA-TM REAL AB-RED-ET913-06Cassidy Lynn SchirmerMD
STAR-TEX JASPER TENLEY913-06Lindsey TeixeiraCA
MAPLE-SLOPE GOLDWN ANGIE-ET913-09Bryce Gingerich & Kirsten S LambertIN
STOOKEYHOLM PLAID OREO913-09Mallarie & Jordan Stookey & Alyssa BowenIN
ROYOLA ROXBAX914-04Thomas M. AndersonWI
SAVAGE-LEIGH GOLD LINDA-ET914-06Christopher Wayne SavageMD
LEGEND DAIRY FANCY 12964914-07Legend Dairy FarmsCA
MAVIEW KATE SPIRTE914-07Maple View Farm, Inc.NC
ARETHUSA JASPER REBECCA-ET914-09Benjamin & Rachel CloningerPA
LAZY-A GOLDWYN MIA-ET914-09Lazy-A HolsteinsCA
MAVIEW ROZ MR BURNS-ET914-09Maple View Farm, Inc.NC
SAVAGE-LEIGH JASPER LEAH-ET914-09Bryce Gingerich & Sydney FreemanIN
WINDY-KNOLL-VIEW PANAMA-ET915-04James R. & Nina P. BurdettePA
HILMAR BOLIVER 1899-ET915-05Hilmar Holsteins, Inc.CA
MEL-DELIN GILTEX PRISCILLA915-09Giltex Holsteins & Mel-Delin DairyCA
WINDY-KNOLL-VIEW PLENTY-ET915-10James R. & Nina P. BurdettePA
LEVASH ALEX SUGAR916-10Jerome J. LevashWI
HERON-RUN THRONE EMBER918-08Willard, Jr. & Betsy YoderPA
MATOUSEK 29H38 463918-09Michael & Linda MatousekMN

Open the Barn Door to Dairy Experts

At some point, every dairy operator considers whether it is time to outsource some procedures or to get help with decision making.  The fear that arises with this option is, “What happens if the wrong ‘expert’ is chosen?”  Here are pointers in choosing the consultant that best fits your needs.

Who puts your farm first?

Some days you might think that picking out a consultant is as easy as 1 – 2- 3.  Or even 10.  Because those are the days that it seems like everybody has found their way in your lane, and they’re all so “perfect” that the choice won’t be difficult at all.  There are nutritionists that work for feed mills and freelance ones. There are vets from large practices and ones that specialize. Your finances can be analyzed, right-sized and sanitized by number crunchers strategic planners.  Which one should you choose?  The better question is, “Which one chooses to put your farm first?” If profitably solving your problems is their priority that is what you’re looking for. When the farm wins, all the suppliers associated with the farm win.  When the farm fails, all associated service providers also lose.  For long-term success, choose experts who put your success at least equal to or ahead of their own.

Problem Solvers or Product Pushers?

How can you tell whether the farm comes first?  A good measuring stick is the recommendations that you are given when problems are encountered.  Is your nutritionist’s first approach an attempt to sell you something to fix the problem or does your nutritionist ask a series of question to determine the root of the problem?  Does your consultant have time to work through all the details to get to the root of the problem or do you get a phone message, “If this is an emergency leave a detailed message and I’ll get back to you when my schedule allows.” The 24/7 logistics of a dairy farm and its myriad of details doesn’t lend itself to the problem solving on 9 to 5 office hours. Do you get the same answer every time? Maybe last time your problem was a dip in production.  Now you’re facing reproduction problems.  The problem changes but the solution remains “It isn’t our product it’s something you are doing wrong!” That might be but is your team player consultant part of the problem or part of the solution?

Good communicators with practical training and expertise

Whether you’re new in dairying or have generations of family experience to draw from, it is only common sense to realize that finding the right answer isn’t easy regardless of the number of credentials behind your name.  The real secret is the willingness and understanding that inspires dairy consultants to accept that they might not immediately know the answer.  However, because they are honest, competent and keeping up with the latest research, they can confidently assure you that a solution can be found.  That common sense and ability to communicate are the two most important traits to look for in any advisor you welcome to your farm?  Regardless of their area of expertise, they should communicate and cooperate for the benefit of the farm.  Don’t be upset to hear “I do not know, but I will find out for you?” That’s the first step. Then you want them to follow up? If the solution doesn’t work the first time, do they hang in and try, try again?  No one is perfect, but these are important characteristics that essential for a successful working relationship.

What is your responsibility?

Working with consultants is a two way street.  It is essential for you to communicate clearly and effectively with your nutritionist, veterinarian or financial advisor.  If you’re not providing all the details, you can’t expect them to provide sustainable and profitable answers. Be sure to ask good questions during farm calls.  Provide accurate data to assist in efficient problem solving.  Be respectful and fair in your discussions and decision making.  The goal is prevention, and that requires detailed information.  If you’re already in a crisis, don’t pick a consultant to be the scapegoat.  It takes a committed team pulling in the same direction to get things back on track.

What level of assistance matches your needs?

If you’re starting out in dairying or maybe thinking of a major expansion there are plenty of challenges ahead and how you handle those challenges could well mean the difference between success and failure.  Facing those challenges by yourself can be extremely difficult, and that’s why so many dairy consultants are available with expertise, field trials, products and services that can be of help in getting those decisions effectively tailored to your specific goals and needs.

Selection Criteria for Finding Consultants

It’s critical to choose the right dairy consultant if you want to have the best outcomes. However, what criteria do you need to apply to the selection process? Here are a few suggestions:

There are only a handful of stars

Every consulting company boasts of having a great team.  The fact is that every consulting company has only a handful of rock stars with them.  The rest of the team is a compromise they had to make to scale up the team for the increased business they need to bring in. The stars are easy to spot from the company blogs and who shows up to the new client meetings or travels everywhere speaking at industry seminars and association meetings. When you choose a consulting firm, you want to know who the rock stars are and see if they will be available for your project.

Define your dairy goals

While you’re very concerned about choosing the right consultant, there are many consultants who are just as detailed in their selection of clients to work with. The client characteristics that maximize the value of consultants’ time and expertise centre around the client being clear about their goals and expectations. It’s hard to work with someone who doesn’t know what they want … or at the very least, what is going wrong.  Consultants want to work with the client and not be left literally out in left field. Before you even start looking for a business consultant for your dairy, you need to be clear about what your goals are and how the consultant can help you achieve those goals. You also need to have some idea of what problems you might face in achieving those goals. Once you have those firmly in your mind, it’s time to go looking for a consultant.

Look for someone who asks questions

Does the consultant you’re talking to ask lots of questions about your dairy operation? Even though he may be very experienced in the dairy industry, no two businesses are ever the same so a good consultant will ask questions to establish where your business is at, whether it can grow and just how experienced you are in what you’re doing. Good consultants don’t limit their questions to only their area of expertise.  Dairying is multi-faceted, and each area can have an impact on the other.  The best consultants look at the big picture.

Look for someone who doesn’t know it all

Don’t expect your consultant to have an answer for every situation. Quite often, those that do are the very people you don’t want to employ. Instead, look for someone who admits that they don’t have all the answers but knows where to look, or who to ask, to find them.

Look for someone who understands the value of your money

A good consultant will be very aware that the financial resources of any dairy operation need to be used wisely. He or she will understand that you need to get the most value out of every dollar that you spend, and they will be able to clearly show you that you are getting that value when they make recommendations that involve spending your money.

Is Hiring a Consultant Worth the Cost?

In general, resistance to pay for advice is the main barrier preventing producers from using consultants. There is a wide range of private consulting being undertaken in agriculture.  Most dairy business consultants focus on business and technology management with some inroads into marketing, human resources, nutrition and succession.  Roles range from the provision of advice to facilitating change and providing training.  All these advisors charge for their services and you get what you pay for.  Consultants charge clients in a range of ways – from flat rates to cost per hour or per service; to costs based on farm or herd size (or a combination of these).  Costs depend on the type of service being provided.  There is usually some scope for individual negotiation and review.

So what should you do?

The consultant relationship you want is the one that ticks most of these following boxes:  

  • You are an important client to this consultant.
  • You recognize that it’s up to both of you to make the partnership work.
  • You’re prepared to give praise (and testimonials) and get the opportunity to do so because the consultant always goes the extra mile.
  • Sustainability and profitability are the goals everyone is working toward.
  • You can count on your consultant – whether financial, nutrition or herd health – to bring a fresh pair of eyes and an open, honest approach to improving your dairy operation.

A consultant helps you find your way

Even if your dairy business is sailing along quite smoothly and growing wealth for you there are still good reasons why it will pay to have a business consultant spend some time working with you.  As someone once said: “A business consultant is like a GPS unit that will guide you along the road to success.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

A good dairy consultant can take your business to the next level and isn’t that exactly where you want it to go?  If you choose your consultant wisely, then your dairy operation will grow and prosper. Choose the wrong consultant and your dairy is in for a very rough ride that it may never recover from. The choice is yours.



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Maxville Holstein Show Results 2014

Judge: Bruce Mode
June 21st 2014
141 Head

Roggua Dundee Evelyne  Grand Champion

Roggua Dundee Evelyne
Grand Champion

Grand Champion – Roggua Dundee Evelyne (Dundee), Yvon Sicard/Ghyslain Demers, QC
Reserve Grand Champion – Drumlee Mischief Denison (Denison), Ferme Blondin/Butz-Hill, QC & IA
Honorable Mention – MS Atwood Madison (Atwood), Pleasant Nook/Glenvue/Opportunity/Marty Unholzer, ON

Charwill Attic Marcy Intermediate Champion

Charwill Attic Marcy
Intermediate Champion

Intermediate Champion  – Champion – Charwill Attic Marcy, Gen-Com Holstein Ltee
Reserve – Brookvilla Goldwyn Brooks, Hodglynn HolsteinsKevin DoeberienerMichael Heath
HM – Grillsdale Workout Dundee, Gen-Com Holstein

Devans Remark Dempsey  Junior Champion

Devans Remark Dempsey
Junior Champion

Junior Champion – Devans Remark Dempsey (Dempsey), Robert & Bethany MacDonald, ON
Reserve Junior Champion – Sicy Ballet Atwood (Atwood), Ferme Yvon Sicard/Ghyslain Demers, QC
HM Junior Champion – Sagamie Atwood Mikaela (Atwood), Lookout Farm/Crackholm, QC

Premier Breeder – Ferme Blondin, Saint-Placide, Que.

Premier Exhibitor – Ferme Blondin, Saint-Placide, Que.

Junior Breeders Herd

1. Delcreek Holsteins, ON
2. Harvestacre Holsteins, ON

Junior Exhibitor- Velthuis

Junior Breeder – Delcreek


Junior Calf (10)

Claircrest Fever Tiki 1st place Junior Calf

Claircrest Fever Tiki
1st place Junior Calf

1. Claircrest Fever Tiki (Fever), Breamont/Kingsway/Frankhaven, ON
2. Winright McCutchen Perfection (McCutchen), Bryhill Holsteins, QC
3. Durham Yorick Vegas (Yorick), Ferme Beaudoin, QC

Intermediate Calf

MS Opportunity Lil Bonus 1st place Intermediate Calf

MS Opportunity Lil Bonus
1st place Intermediate Calf

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1. Ms Opportunity Lil Bonus, Jamie Black, Michael Heath, D&H Meier, NY & MA
2. Leachfield Atwood Patsy (Atwood), Breamont Holsteins, Frankhaven, ON
3. Delcreek Little Minion, Peter Rylaarsdam, ON

Senior Calves (25)

Sagame Atwood Mikaela 1st place Senior Calf

Sagame Atwood Mikaela
1st place Senior Calf

1. Sagamie Atwood Mikaela (Atwood), Lookout Farm/Crackholm, QC
2. Roggua Fever Raski (Fever), Barclay PhoenixJamie Black, ON & NY
3. Eastwest LJ Destry McIntosh ET (Destry), Alana Mckinven/Amelie&Charlotte Borba, QC & CA

Summer Yearling (11)

Dubeau Brokaw Voodoo Child  1st place Summer Yearling

Dubeau Brokaw Voodoo Child
1st place Summer Yearling

1 – Dubeau Brokaw Voodoo Child, Velthuis Farm 
2 – Trent Valley H P, Lookout Farm/Gerald D. Halbach
3 – Delcreek Muff Diver, Peter Rylaarsdam 

Junior Yearling (7)

Sicy Ballet Atwood  1st place Junior Yearling

Sicy Ballet Atwood
1st place Junior Yearling

1 – Sicy Ballet Atwood, Ferme Yvon Sicard/Ghyslain Demers
2 – Delcreek Roll The Dice, Jamie Black,Petra Black, M&L McGuire/Triple T Hol
3 – DCC Wrigglys Black Pearl, Michel Beaulieu 

4H Champion 


Dana Snowden with Delcreek Little Minion

1st – Dana Snowden with Delcreek Little Minion 
2nd – Patrick Baird with Elmcroft Dempsey Avery
3rd – Connor Halpenny with Ploegsway Chip Nutrino 

Intermediate Yearling

Devans Remark Dempsey  1st place Winter Yearling

Devans Remark Dempsey
1st place Winter Yearling

1 – Devans Remark Dempsey, Bethany MacDonald/Robert MacDonald
2 – Gendarra Goldn Revolver, Gendarra Farm
3 – GenCom Lauthority Mariska, Gen-Com Holstein Ltee

Senior Yearling

Brookhill Amazing Reaction 1st place Senior Yearling

Brookhill Amazing Reaction
1st place Senior Yearling

1- Brookhill Amazing Reaction, Montdale/Mountain Echo
2 – Pavue Windbrook Lavender, Lookout Farm/GHalbrach/Crackholm
3 – Crater Moonshine Sid, Velthuis Farms

Junior 2 Year Old (8)

Grillsdale Workout Dundee 1st place Junior 2 Year Old

Grillsdale Workout Dundee
1st place Junior 2 Year Old

1 – Grillsdale Workout Dundee, Gen-Com Holstein Ltee
2 – Gen-Com Lauthority Elya, Gen-Com Holstein
3 – Dortholme Goldwyn Alexis, CrackholmLookout Farm/Rob Heffernan

Senior 2 Year Old

Crovalley Sid A La Creme 1st Senior 2 Year Old

Crovalley Sid A La Creme
1st Senior 2 Year Old

1 – Crovalley Sid A La Creme, ferme blondin
2 – Willow-Marsh Sundance E-Red, Ferme Blondin
3 – Lookout Goldwyn Lalia, Lookout Farm, Eloc Farm

Junior 3 Year Old

Blondin Goldwyn Kally Blondin Goldwyn Kally Junior 2 Year Old

Blondin Goldwyn Kally
Junior 3 Year Old

1 – Blondin Goldwyn Kally, ferme blondin
2 – MS Rollnvw Gold Delilah-Et, Hodglynn Holsteins/Little Star
3 – Blondin Sid Symphony, Ferme Blondin/Nelson Eduardo Ziehlsdorff

 Senior 3 Year Old

Charwill Attic Marcy 1st place Senior 3 Year Old

Charwill Attic Marcy
1st place Senior 3 Year Old

1 – Charwill Attic Marcy, Gen-Com Holstein Ltee
2 – Brookvilla Goldwyn Brooks, Hodglynn HolsteinsKevin DoeberienerMichael Heath
3 – Mystique Goldwyn Boreale, ferme blondin/Ferme Mystique

4 Year Old

MS Atwood Madison,  1st place 4 Year Old

MS Atwood Madison,
1st place 4 Year Old

1 – MS Atwood Madison, Pleasant Nook/Glenvue/Opportunity/Marty Unholzer
2 – McIntosh Xmas T, Trent Valley/Jason Mell
3 – Kingsway Goldwyn Abba Dabba, Trent Valley/Jason Mell

Five Year Old

Drumlee Mischief Denison 1st place Five Year Old

Drumlee Mischief Denison
1st place Five Year Old

1 – Drumlee Mischief Denison, ferme blondin/Butz-Hill 
2 – Cobequid Goldwyn Leno, Sicard/Pierre Boulet/Ghyslain Demers/Butz-Hill
3 – Patience Dundee Precious, Breamont Holsteins/Frankhaven

Mature Cow

Roggua Dundee Evelyne  1st place Mature Cow

Roggua Dundee Evelyne
1st place Mature Cow

1 – Roggua Dundee Evelyne, Yvon Sicard/Ghyslain Demers
2 – EBY016 PS S Trinity, Pleasant Nook
3 – Meadow Green Jeany Outside, ferme blondin

Happy Cows Don’t Make Headlines

Two weeks ago, another “undercover” video from an animal rights group rocked the dairy world and gave the dairy industry yet another black eye.  (Read more: Dairy Cattle Abuse Video – A black eye for the dairy industry).  While tens of thousands of people across North America, and for that matter around the world, have now seen this brutal video, the fact is that most of them assume that the actions that occur on this video take place on all dairy farms on a daily basis.  Those of us that work in the dairy industry know this is not the case at all.  However, since Happy Cows Don’t Make Headlines, the general public is only exposed to the negative side of the dairy industry rather than the positive.

In the media business there is no question that if you can touch an emotion, whether it be positive or negative, you certainly can get attention and gain readership.  Anyone watching this horrifying video would be hard pressed not to get emotional when seeing   the abuses that occur.  As a result, the mainstream media has been very quick to jump on this story and continues to pound the dairy industry with their negative coverage.

Even we here at the Bullvine are guilty of exposing this story.  Some breeders commented to us that we should not cover this story.  Unlike other dairy publications, we have learned that burying your head in the sand is not the way to bring about change.  Instead, you need to be 100% transparent and address the problem head on.  We as an industry cannot hope that this story will “quietly go away.”  That is not going to happen.  Moreover, we need to stand up for ourselves and share the positive instead of hiding from the negative.

It’s at times like this when we all need to be strong dairy advocates and make sure that the general public actually knows the truth of what goes on in the dairy industry.  A great example of this is provided by Jerry Jorgensen from Ri-Val-Re Holsteins.  Jerry was disgusted by what he had seen in the video and certainly expressed his comments on social media.  However, he also took the time to produce a video that showed the public what actually happens on most dairy farms.

Jorgensen’s video provides an excellent explanation of how most dairy cattle are cared for.  Jerry applied his unique sense of humor to the video.  The challenge is that, while those in the dairy industry applauded the video and appreciated Jerry’s efforts, the video was viewed on YouTube by 4,000 people.  This is just a fraction of the over 140,000 people that viewed the Mercy for Animals video from Chilliwack Cattle Sales.

Carrie Mess (aka Dairy Carrie) a strong dairy advocate and very active social media personality (Read more: Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country) says the social media comments spurred by the Mercy for Animals video have been frustrating.

“The group that is responsible for this video has an agenda.  That agenda is… they advocate for a vegan diet.  They don’t like animal agriculture.  So when they release a video like this and try to paint all farmers with this huge brush, it’s so frustrating to me.  Any industry will have bad actors, but that doesn’t mean that everybody is.”

Carrie adds that on the hundreds of dairy farms she has been on she has never seen anything like that happening.  She does say that the video from Chilliwack is unacceptable,   ”There is no excuse for that kind of treatment of cows.”  Though she is also quick to admit that “sometimes I’m mean to my cows” and it’s because it can mean life or death.  Sometimes farming is messy, ugly, and tragic.  (Read more: Sometimes we are mean to our cows)

“I do want people to understand that these are very large animals and that we can’t necessarily just pick up with a couple of guys lifting her,” she explains.  “A cow is so big that if she lays down for too long, whether it’s because of an injury or illness, the cow is large enough that basically her legs go to sleep.  More so than you can ever imagine where she just can’t get up.  So if she’s laying down for too long and can’t get up, she’s not going to be able to get up…a down cow that can’t get up is going to be a dead cow.”

Now to be fair to the video from Chilliwack Cattle Sales, there are some actions that to the uneducated watcher seem pretty horrific, but to the average dairy farmer can be explained.  One such case is the rush to get a downed cow off of the rotary parlor before she is squished to death.  The cows are so large there is no other way to lift them than to use a tractor.  However, then the average dairy farmer would also ask, “Why was the cow down in the first place?”  If it was because she was afraid of the rotary parlor, which can be the case, then why was she being forced to go on it in the first place?

None of this is to say the abuse shown at Chilliwack Cattle Sales was justifiable in any way because it’s not.  However, this situation highlights a significant disconnect in our modern dairy production system.  How does the consumer, who doesn’t know anything about where his milk comes from, have a meaningful discussion with the dairy farmer who doesn’t have to think about the person at the grocery cooler buying it?

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the only way to prevent future videos of this nature is to give activists nothing to film.  Dairy farmers around the world need to look at their own operations and make sure that they run a farm that they’re proud to show to anyone, at any time, and are not afraid to do so, especially through social media.  Education is key, although it takes time and effort from both sides and doesn’t really prevent the possibility of problems slipping through.  Thanks to the power of social media we all have the opportunity  to help educate the  consumer about  how much we care for our dairy cattle and why the dairy community is one of the greatest in the world.  (Read more: Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World….)  Remember we cannot expect the general media to do it for us, because Happy Cows Don’t Make Headlines.



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9 Best Practices That Set The Best Dairy Operations Apart from the Rest

The dairy industry is an excellent place to discover people who are exceptional at what they do.  At The Bullvine, we are fortunate to meet and share with these remarkable people on a daily basis.  They tell us of the efforts they have invested in every area of the dairy industry from what they feed and breed to what they value in people and animals.  In short they pursue improvement and growth in all aspects of their dairy businesses. Of course, we can all benefit from emulating these role models.  However, do we really know what sets them apart?

1- The Best Dairy Businesses are People Businesses First

When you’re separating out the best cow managers, you can do it quickly by finding the best people managers.  Super-successful dairy farms recognize that they are primarily in the people business.  From the staff who works directly with the herd to other professionals and consultants, people are fundamental.  Training programs are in place to help new workers become oriented to the job. People are encouraged to help each other. Teams are encouraged, and cross training is expected.  The veterinarian, nutritionist and accountant are part of the team. Workers are considered valued team members.  Opportunities to improve are encouraged and supported. The best managers work to get the best out of staff.  This contributes to lower turnover which is also a characteristic of top dairy farms. Managers realize that, as cow numbers grow, staff numbers grow and managers must be people managers.

2 – The Best Have Clear and Measurable Expectations

The ability to clearly articulate their vision, including short and long term goals, is a skill exceptional managers develop.  Dairy staff are given clear responsibilities, they know what is expected of them and what they are trying to achieve. Regardless of herd size, every dairy owner/manager relies on other sets of hands to complete the work that is necessary to operate a dairy business.  One of the most common disconnects between a manager and subordinate is a basic lack of understanding of what is expected of the job, role or task.  The best operators have developed a disciplined ability in setting clear and measurable expectations not only for those people who are on their payrolls, but for their advisers as well.  There are well-structured crop programs, breeding programs, feed management systems, financial plans, annual budgets and job descriptions are well-structured. There are written protocols for livestock care, treatments and emergencies.  Machinery maintenance is planned and routine. Work schedules are developed, so everyone knows what is expected.

3 – The Best Focus on Production that Produces Profit

A characteristic that truly sets the best apart from the rest is focus.  It is easy to become distracted by opposing opportunities or encroaching challenges. We do this quite often in the dairy industry. Breeding? I’ll use sexed semen.  NO! I’ll try polled.  NO! Genomics is great.  My growth strategy? Definitely large AI companies only! NO! Homebred. All that flailing about creates enormous amounts of headwork and busywork, but it doesn’t guarantee success.  Successful farm businesses have the ability to focus on those things that are important to productivity and profitability.  They are not distracted for long by what others are doing, the newest fad, or the brightest paint.

Three main areas are particularly well managed by top managers:

  1. Milk quality and udder health and improved SCC.
  2. Short Calving intervals which impact milk production internal herd growth.
  3. Time management not crisis management empowered by advance planning and optimum implementation.

4 – The Best Excel at Informed Management Decisions

This skill isn’t about how to make decisions but about how to collect data and use it as a tool.  As an industry, we still do a pretty poor job of utilizing information (financial reports, production summaries, scorecards, etc.) to make informed management decisions, finding the tools, resources, and people needed for success.  Great managers have strong problem solving skills. If things are not going as planned or unforeseen problems develop, they quickly identify the problems, find alternatives, select solutions and make decisions.  Decisions are methodically arrived at.  Once made, they are implemented.  There is seldom much time wasted delaying the obvious.

5 – The Best Dairies USE Records

Dairy records, crop records and financial records are extensively used to monitor all aspects on every operation that achieves stand apart success.  They see collection of data not as a burden but as an invaluable tool.  Records are routinely used for specific purposes and with established benchmarks. Quality control principles are continuously developed to improve the value of the information from records. All levels, employees, managers, owners and outside consultants and farm professionals are solicited for information and insight and action planning.  They build data banks and use the information in working with special teams on the farm and those they consult with. The best farms use technology. Computers and social media are used to enhance record keeping and decision making and for speed and accuracy of problem solving, promotion and sales.

6 – The Best are Always Growing – 10% per year

The target of 10% a year may seem like an arbitrary number. On any specific dairy operation, that number could be raised up or down.  The point isn’t an exact number but the fact that an exact goal has been clearly set.  Top managers target an overall annual growth plan as a strategic business decision. They recognize that the dairy industry has been consolidating for decades.  Scale has become an increasingly significant dynamic for success. Growing size is not the sole reason, but it is one factor.  Beyond the added challenges of more cows this growth means more housing, more crops, more labour, more financing. Growth is desired not for the sake of growth itself but in order to maintain in a competitive position within the industry. Thus, efficiency targets must evolve/grow too.  Aggressive herd management, good reproduction performance and good health program that minimizes culling — can increase 10 % from within.  An alternative is to purchase expansion cattle.  Regardless of the process. It is a necessity to keep the facilities filled with producing cattle.  Best managers have a minimum of underutilized barn space.

7 – The Best Have an Attitude of Excellence

Good leaders know it is important to be aware of what separates them from other contenders as they continually strive to provide the best product for the end consumers. This attitude of excellence boils down to a never-ending attitude of doing the right things and doing things right.  An essential aspect of this is the recognition of the need to continuously improve results.  As farms get bigger it is important for individuals and teams to develop into the new roles.  This rarely happens without setbacks, pitfalls and hurdles. It takes courage to try something different. It is a risk that successful businesses must survive. Exceptional managers know that the must master the challenges that come from markets (milk, feed, land prices), production (milk, disease reproduction) and business (leverage, interest rates, liability). Continuous mastery of all the pieces … is what makes exceptional managers.

8 – The Best Leaders Value Interaction With the Dairy Community

Many people have success but haven’t built strong enough relationships with the community they have the pleasure to serve.  Just ten years ago, you might have asked what difference could one dairy farmer or even dairy farmers from one state or province make, when it comes to the global dairy community?  You were unlikely to be heard unless you were a world class cattle exhibitor, a large breeding company or a well-known speaker or conference trainer. Today armed with social media, handheld camera and dozens of free “apps,” you can make quite an impact.  You can organize a hundred or a thousand people. You can get them in sync with a weekly newsletter or charitable cause or research on issues to make dairying better, sustainable, or more profitable. Digital sharing provides global access so that you can self-market to your truest customers and share your dairy focus with the crowd that matters.

9 – Above Everything Else the Best are Real Leaders

The most important ability possessed by top dairy managers is leadership.  These individuals provide the leadership to get things started, keep them going, and to draw projects to a meaningful conclusion.  It is a person who has extraordinary vision and a strong desire for success. These individuals not only lead in decision-making including making tough decisions, but they also excel in a very unique way.  They know when to admit when a decision isn’t working. They admit it and then they move on. Too often on farms that don’t quite reach the top it is because consensus or vote taking is used to determine a new course of action and leads to paralysis by analysis.  It is rare to find a truly successful business that is really run by a committee of the whole, although, some of the best farms may seem that way. In reality, there is a gifted leader somewhere in the background that knows how to make it appear that everyone is involved.  This is a real gift possessed by top leaders. Some exceptional managers lead average teams of staff and yet produce excellent results.  Some exceptional staff if led by a weak leader produce very average results.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We have keyed in on nine best practices that set apart the best from the rest.  In actual fact, there is one 10th best practice that is necessary to make the rest work.  Only the very best are committed to taking action. The best are never satisfied with the status quo.  At the end of the day, every day, action separates the best from the rest.



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12 Lessons You Can Only Learn From Growing Up On A Dairy Farm!

top read 14 iconGrowing up on a dairy farm is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences anyone could ever have.  Now that I am a parent myself, I am constantly reminded of some of the unique experiences that only a dairy farm kid can have.

1 – The unpredictable circle of life

On a dairy farm on any given day, you can experience the highs of welcoming a newborn calf, or the lows of a favorite cow getting hurt and having to be culled.  While most kids may experience the death of a pet, a dairy farm kid gets to experience the complete circle of life, from birth, through raising to death.  A dairy farm kid gets to experience it all.  However, through everything a dairy farm kid also learns that no matter what happens you have to wake up each morning and plow on.  Regardless of what happened yesterday, today you still need to feed, water and care for all the cattle on the farm.

2 – Summer vacation means mowing hay or fixing fences.

While many kids get all excited about their summer vacation trip   to Europe or Disneyland, a dairy farm kid knows that their summer will consist of repairing the pasture fence, mowing hay, or training a 4-H calf.  There may not be the glitz and glamor of international travel, but the discipline and work ethic learning during these “staycations” will prove invaluable no matter what career is chosen later on.

3 – Baler twine can fix anything

While some kids grow up learning that duct tape is the fix all around the house, it pales in comparison to the power of baler twine.  From fixing broken fences, gates and keeping your pants up, the limitless potential of baler twine is invaluable around the farm.  Even now when I find myself in a pinch I think to myself “If I only had some baler twine I would have this fixed in no time.”

4 – A hard day’s work is not measured in hours

In most other walks of life, you will hear people talk about how many hours they have worked, but not on a dairy farm.  Dairy farm kids learn that there is always more to be done and, “If you have the time to calculate how many hours you have worked, you haven’t worked hard enough.”  Every dairy farm kid knows that the day starts well before sunrise with cows to be milked, and ends after sunset after the crops have been harvested, and the pregnant cows have been checked for calving.  The best way to appreciate how hard someone has been working is not by listening to them complain, but rather it is by shaking their hands and feeling the calluses from all the work they have been doing.

5 – Mistreat a cow and you are going to get kicked….hard

Recently there has been much made about a video released about cattle abuse.  While the actions in these videos are certainly deplorable, any kid actually raised on a dairy farm knows this is not how you treat cattle.  If you mistreat a cow, she is going to kick you, and hard.  Hooves are hard and can leave a bruise like none other. Mistreatment only escalates whatever problem you think you are dealing with.

6 – It’s better to lead than to push

When cows refuse to cross a gutter or go through the door it’s far more productive to lead them across than to try to push them.  Pushing them in this kind of a situation is pointless and is only going to lead to greater frustration for you. A far better way is just to lead them. Lead and they will follow. This kind of attitude can also apply in life.  Don’t push…lead.

7 – The measure of a man is not how much money they have but rather the community that supports them

While many love to tell you about how much money they have, a dairy farm kid learns pretty quickly in life that it’s not money that is the measure of a man, but rather how quickly the community around them supports them in the tough times.  Recently we have seen this very measure proven again and again (Read more: Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World….)

8 – Multitasking means doing more than two things at once

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard socialite mothers complain about having to watch the kids (which means having the nanny do the work for them) and then have to worry about cooking dinner (that again is done for them) and then have to be ready to go out and be sociable.  Really, try having to feed the family, feed the calves, milk the cows, be a taxi service for both the kids and the farm and then whenever you have time also be the accountant and referee between the kids fights. (Read more:  Dairy Farm Moms are Unstoppable and The Dairy Farmer’s Wife)

9 – You have to give love in order to receive love

Anyone who has ever taken care of a dairy cow has quickly learned that if you show them the love they will quickly show you the love back. When you take care of them, they will take care of you.  You discover that having a vigilant focus on your cows’ comfort and well-being is the key to a successful dairy farm.  Healthy, happy cows give more milk and lead far more productive lives than cows that aren’t treated well.  It’s been scientifically proven that cows with more love in their life will outperform any cows that aren’t being treated well.

10 – Nothing is more refreshing than a glass of ice-cold milk, fresh from the cow

Raw milk may not be everyone’s personal preference and is even considered “dangerous” to some, but anyone who was raised on a dairy farm agrees that nothing compares to it. After moving away from the dairy, I will never enjoy milk purchased from the store as much as I loved the creamy goodness of milk from your own herd fresh from the bulk tank.

11 – It’s possible to combine your passion and your paycheck

Far too many people, these days, are lost in their careers.  They are stuck in jobs that they don’t like, working in an industry that they could care less about.  In contrast, anyone who has grown up on a dairy farm certainly has been exposed to the passion that comes with being a dairy farmer.  Sure, the paycheck may not be as sexy, but a rewarding career is second to none.

12 – Nothing compares to working with family

Everyone talks about and values teamwork but there are no greater teams than the ones comprised of dairy families pulling together.  Growing up on a dairy farm the dinner table acts as the boardroom table and pretty much every decision is made over a dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes and a glass of ice cold milk.

Whatever “dairy dozen” you hold most dear, I have no doubt that they have a positive impact on your life — on or off the farm! 



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The Future of Agriculture: Time Bomb or Crystal Ball

Today our greatest dairy achievements could be at risk. At the very least there are seven issues that, if ignored, threaten to blow the agricultural industry to smithereens. These are food production, water conservation, climate change; land use; unpolluted air and animal and human rights. Each of these challenges holds within it the potential for disaster or positive improvement.  It is up to 21st Century dairy farmers to take responsibility for turning these threats into opportunities.

What are we as dairy breeders holding in our hands? Can we foretell a profitable, sustainable future? Or are we holding a time bomb that is set to explode?   

“We Want Food”

The oft repeated challenge is that agriculture must provide food to sustain a population of 9 billion at ever higher living standards by 2050. On the one hand, non-farm folks want the best food, and they want that to include the best quality, selection and quantity.  However, they want all of this produced on small (aka non-corporate) farms.  That unrealistic dream isn`t remotely possible because of the simple fact that the few remaining farmers would have the land, herd size or profit margins to feed themselves let alone the hundreds of non-food producing consumers who would be relying on them for subsistence neither. We all too easily forget that when we can’t feed ourselves, nothing else matters, because we will be dead in four or five days.  Having said that if there is a will to change there are now continuous digital communities that span the food chain and connect its many contributors. The potential is there to work together to help coordinate our food systems to meet the needs of the world`s hungry people.

“Without Water We Can’t Survive”

Perhaps the most threatening issue is the competition for dwindling sources of fresh water which are the key to providing for skyrocketing food, industry and living needs. Today, 70 percent of the global water withdrawals go to agriculture and food production for a rising world population.

This means that this is another area where farmers are targets of criticism. From the dairy side, all dairies must protect water from bacterial contamination to produce that safe milk. Furthermore, access to bodies of water on the farm must be restricted from cattle access and never in danger of manure contamination. Uncultivated areas should be maintained between fields and waterways. Responsible dairies test water quality regularly to ensure its quality. Enforcing such rules is difficult, and it is imperative that all water users address problems of inefficient energy production and traditional crop irrigation methods while dealing with ways to address issues caused by exponential population growth. There are numerous water agencies, but there is no coordination on ways to manage this shared resource. All levels including governments, international water management organizations, the private sector and businesses need collaboration in finding solutions.

One writer, referring to the documentary Blue Gold: World Water Wars, presents this chilling perspective.  “Wars of the future will be fought over water as they are over oil today. As the source human survival enters the global marketplace and political arena. Corporate giants, corporate investors and corrupt governments vie for control of our dwindling water supply, prompting protests, lawsuits and revolutions from citizens fighting for the right to survive. Past civilizations have collapsed from poor water management.  Can the human race survive?”

“There is No Fresh Air to Breathe”

As more of the population moves into city settings, livestock production becomes less familiar.  For some, the manure production is regarded as air pollution and not as a by-product of a necessary industry. Manure is valuable to fertilize soils that grow crops to feed dairy animals. Modern farmers are accepting the challenge of finding ways to collect, store and apply manure to land so that they can manage odours and GHG emissions. For example, bio digesters minimize odours and use emissions to make renewable energy: a double win! Managing manure is an important aspect of dairy farming. Whether it’s about saving electricity or recycling, we’re all becoming more aware of our carbon footprint and the importance of minimising it.

“Don’t Destroy the Environment”

Headlines would suggest that farmers are destroying the environment when, in actual fact, farmers were the original good stewards of land and water resources and should endeavor to be so today. These resources are, after all, how farmers make their living, so it makes sense to protect them. Analysis of complaints reveals that misleading perceptions are at the root of criticism. What the public perceives as an environmental problem often is not. It is rare that farm related benefits such as green spaces and wildlife habitat are acknowledged or counterbalanced with the fact that farms use far fewer resources than the average urban or suburban home. (Read more: Top 10 Misconceptions about Ag & Farmers)

“Give Me Land Lots of Land”

We drive our grandchildren crazy with road trips where we point out that the passing city skylines were fields as far as the eye could see when we were their age.  Even our farm was one of three on the horizon … Today there are six more houses here where green belt restrictions mean fewer sustainable farms and more suburbia encroaching all the time. In contrast, some places are seeing huge rises in the cost of land. The high prices not only keep younger farmers out, but also cause larger farms (that need expansion to remain sustainable) to move the entire dairy operation. It’s a catch 22 situation.  “Don’t use more land but also don’t use technology.” In many of these areas that are challenging the future for all of us, part of the answer could be provided by technology. Improved technology — fertilizers, pesticides, improved irrigation, new storage or processing productions, improved livestock genetics – can transform the productive potential of land and livestock. But, before that can be realized, those from all sides of the issue have to agree on the goal and the ways to achieve it.

“You’re wrong.  I’m right.”

With the growing metropolitan areas and consumer separation from food production, both sides are lighting the fuse that could blow food production to smithereens. Headlines grab our attention as accusations fly back and forth. Like fights between children, our immature wrangling could have fatal outcomes – for agriculture, for consumers — for the future.

“Animals Have Rights”

It has to start with accountability. There is nothing wrong with being accountable for the way we treat animals … and for the way we treat each other.  Everyone needs to accept responsibility for treatment of animals … and for treatment of humans as well.  Nothing is gained from smear campaigns or vicious attacks.  Rather than assumptions of wrongdoing there has to be a commitment to improvement. (For a balanced viewpoint on the relationship between animals and humans check this link)

“Who Will Produce the Food?”

The average age of North American dairy farmers is near 60. Every active dairy farmer has concerns about where the next generation of farmers will come from.  Not everyone starting out is prepared for the financial roller coaster, the 24-7 working hours and, topping it all off, the poor public image that are part and parcel of dairy farming today.  However, there is a silver lining.  A recent Fox news feature reported that Ag degrees are the hot ticket for job growth. They quoted data from the Food and Agriculture Education Information System that says enrollment in U.S. college and university agriculture programs are up 21 percent since 2006. The data show more than 146,000 undergraduates in Ag programs. (Read more: Common Misconceptions in Food and Agriculture).  Positive steps are being taking, such as one coming out of Michigan. On April 30, the USDA awarded MSU $3.9 million to help Michigan farmers adapt to changing climate, tackle food safety issues, and help small- and medium-sized farms better compete in the marketplace. (Read more: USDA issues grants to MSU for food security, production).

“Adapt Your Strategic Plan”

Without a doubt, your hard work created the success you have had in the dairy industry.  Successful cattle sales.  Show ring winners. Best crop grower in your heat zone.  You have built your dairy business on what you do best.  Are those same skills going to keep and sustain you in the future?  Are the trophies on the mantle going to take your herd where it needs to go? Is there a lineup at your barn door for the genetics you’re selling today? You had a winning strategy up to now, and it worked.  But now it is being threatened by one or all of the preceding issues mentioned in this article.  The single minded focus that got you here could be your biggest problem in going forward.

“We Can’t Afford to have More Questions than Answers”

Of course, all of these issues are real threats. It would be great if the sources could be instantly cured. However, the cures will take time and will not be easy.  Having said that, we can all begin to eliminate our own contributions to the problem. Prevention trumps treatment any day. Any step you take can be one small, but mighty contribution to defusing the global time bomb and finding new and better solutions for the social, economic and environmental impacts of agriculture and, in our case, dairying.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

When it comes right down to it, a future with sustainable, profitable food production isn’t a place we are going to … it’s a place we are creating!  The following graphic should give us the impetus to start the process with our own practices.

wasted food



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Sire vs. Dam – Which has a Greater Impact on Your Herd’s Genetic Improvement?

Too many people say that dairy breeding is an art. If they manage their herds this way, they will be unable to compete in an industry that grows with science. Art places value on the ‘family’ and sees both parents contributing equally shared value to their offspring. In practicing the science of dairy cattle breeding parents are not equal when it comes to which one is the most important when deciding upon a herd’s genetic improvement plan (Read more: What’s the plan? And Flukes and Pukes – What Happens When You Don’t Have a Plan, and Pick The Right Bull – Your Future Depends on The Decisions You Make Today!).

3 Factors Determine Genetic Advancement

On a simplified basis, the rate of genetic advancement in a dairy herd is primarily a function of three factors: 1) the superiority of parents; 2) the accuracy of the parent’s genetic indexes and 3) the generation interval expressed as the time between the birth of the parent to the birth of the calf. Dairy cattle breeders have, in the past, placed a priority on intense selection, but today with genomic information generation interval is necessary.

Four Pathways for Improvement

In a population of dairy cattle there are four groups, commonly called transmission pathways that are considered when determining the overall population rate of improvement. These pathways are: 1) the Sires of Bulls (SB); 2) the Sires of Cows (SC); the Dams of Bulls (DB); and the Dams of Cows (DC). Breeders do not have equally accurate information on each pathway and definitely do not apply equal selection intensity for each pathway.

Which Breeding Scheme is the Best?

The following table outlines the importance of the different pathways for three improvement schemes when animals are ranked and selected using total merit indexes like TPI, NM$ and LPI.

Comparison of Genetic Improvement Schemes

Pathway Selection % Accuracy Generation Interval Relative Emphasis
1. Traditional Progeny Testing Program
Sires of Bulls (SB) 5 0.99 7 44%*
Sires of Cows (SC) 20 0.75 6 22%
Dams of Bulls (DB) 2 0.6 5 31%
Dams of Cows (DC) 85 0.5 4.25 3%
Relative Total Merit Genetic Gain per Year = 100%
2. Genomic Testing Program
Sires of Bulls (SB) 5 0.75 1.75 34%
Sires of Cows (SC) 20 0.75 1.75 23%
Dams of Bulls (DB) 2 0.75 2 40%*
Dams of Cows (DC) 85 0.5 4.25 3%
Relative Total Merit Genetic Gain per Year = 185% to 200%
3. Genomic Testing Program with IVF
Sires of Bulls (SB) 5 0.75 1.75 30%
Sires of Cows (SC) 10 0.75 1.75 20%
Dams of Bulls (DB) 2 0.75 2 36%*
Dams of Cows (DC) 10 0.62 2 14%
Relative Total Merit Merit Genetic Gain per Year = 225% to 250%

* Pathway of most importance The Bullvine appreciates the assistance of Dr. Larry Schaeffer, University of Guelph, in providing information for the above  table. Further details can be found in Dr. Schaeffer’s 2006 paper “Strategy for applying genomic-wide selection in dairy cattle,” Volume 123 of Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics.

Progeny Testing has Served Breeders Well

Breeders have been successful when they used the results of the traditional A.I. progeny testing programs. That is when only elite sires are used to produce bulls (SB) for progeny testing, each year newly proven sires are used to produce the heifer calves (SC), Dams of Bulls (DB) are elite indexing milking females and the bottom 10-15% of the cows in the herd are not used to produce replacement heifers. (Read more: Why you should get rid of the bottom 10% and  8 Ways DNA PROFILING Your Whole Herd Will Improve Your Breeding Program) most important pathway, by quite a distance, is the Sires of Bulls (SB) at 44%. Combined the sire pathways (SB & SC) account for 66% of the total genetic progress. That is opposite to what many breeders say ‘Sires are not as important as cow families. The cow family, in a herd, dominates.’

Genomics gives 185 – 200%

Over the past five years, breeders have become familiar with the program whereby the genomic indexes on young animals are used for animal selection.  Even though this program is much discussed, it has been implemented on less than 10% of the farms in North America. In Holsteins, less than 7% of calves registered are genomically tested. Breeders are obviously not confident with the lower accuracies and the much shorter generation intervals. So let’s dig deeper to see what the facts are when it comes to rates of genetic improvement. With the genomics program the relative importance between pathways shifts to where the Dams of Bulls (DB), at 40%, is the most important followed next by the Sires of Bulls (SB) at 34%. Again in this program, as in progeny testing, very limited selection pressure is applied to Dams of Cows (DC), pathway resulting in only 3% of the total progress. The relative ratios of improvement from sire and dam pathways is 57:43. The telltale important fact is that by using a genomic program the rate of annual genetic gain is 185% to 200% of what can be achieved by using the traditional progeny testing program. Another important difference between these two programs is that considerable money can be saved by only having to progeny test less than half as many young bulls with the genomic testing program.

Adding IVF gives 225 – 250%

Some breeders add IVF to their genomic selection program however due to costs and the challenge of mating carefully to avoid inbreeding it is not for everyone. The accuracies of this program match those of the genomic testing program, but the selection intensities are increased for the Sires of Cows (SC) pathway and greatly increased for the Dams of Cows (DC) pathway. For all pathways the generation intervals are short, something many breeders state as being a concern.  These farms use IVF on maiden heifers to produce all of the next generation of animals. Again the most important pathway is the Dams of Bulls (DB) at 36%.  However, the differences between emphasis on the pathways is narrowed. The ratio of emphasis sires to dams is 50:50. Farms employing this program can have annual rates of genetic gain of 225% to 250% compared to what is possible for herds using a progeny testing program. To fund this more expensive program breeders often sell surplus embryos or animals.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Determining which parent pathway is the most important rests with which testing and selection program a breeder wants to follow. For breeders using the traditional progeny testing program by far the most important animals are the sires of the young bulls (SB) that enter A.I. progeny testing programs. For breeders wanting to advance their herds at a faster rate by using the less accurate genomic information and shorter generation intervals, the dams of the bulls (DB) is the most important pathway. No matter which program a breeder chooses it is important to have a plan and always use the best available animals.



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Let’s Help End the Nightmare – Fundraiser to Support the Stiles & Burdette Families Ends at Midnight

Eighteen days ago, Patricia and Mike Stiles woke up to a nightmare. One that they and their families are still going through today.  It’s a nightmare that is going to continue for some time to come.   Since that time the dairy industry from around the world has rallied to their support.  Sending out prayers, love, support and giving generously to aid them.

Both Patricia Stiles and her granddaughter, Reese Burdette, who Patricia risked her life to try and save, continue to fight their battles. (Read more: Patricia Stiles – Dairy Farmer, Grandmother, Hero, Fighting for her life!) Pneumonia is huge demon that both are facing, as well as the other infections and trauma that face burn victims. Surgeries for skin grafting are working, and slowly, but surely, Reese and Patricia are healing. Doctors have estimated at least 15 to 30 operations for the Reese over the next few months — many for skin grafting.

The dairy industry continues to rally around these families, with support and donations.  Thanks to the support of many of our community members, for the past two weeks we have been running a fundraiser to help these families deal with the costs associated with these many surgeries.

Highlights from the Helping Heroes

To see full details on these lots please visit Helping Heroes – Fundraiser to Support the Stiles & Burdette Families

How to Bid

There are three simple ways to bid; you can enter your bid in the comments below, place your bid on the Facebook, or email, and we will keep all locations up to date with the latest bids.


The Bullvine will act as a dairy breeder’s version of eBay. That means that once the sale is complete we will collect the funds from the successful bidder, notify the breeder who donated the lot of who and where to send the lot to. Once the winning bidder has successfully received the items, we will release the funds. The buyer will be responsible for all shipping expenses.

Please share this article to help raise awareness of this great opportunity to support the Stiles and Burdette families at this time.

Please continue to reach out to this family, and continue to pray for little Reese and Miss Patricia, and their family.

Dairy Cow Pen Moves – Better Penmanship. Better Results.

With three children who have had significant home moves in the last three years, I am very receptive to the idea that moving dairy cattle — although a fact of life — has impacts far beyond providing them with a simple change of scenery. Therefore, when I read the March 2014 issue of the Miner Institute Farm Report it seemed to speak to something I could relate to. Having said that, moving animals from pen to pen, or barn to pasture is necessary and, therefore, is not an option.  Or is it?

The Pitfalls of Too Many Moves

For the typical dairy animal, her farm residency may include six to eight pen moves per lactation not counting the sick or hospital pen (Read more: Hospital Pens for Better or Worse).  Depending on farm size and management strategy, during her lactation cycle an average cow might be housed in a fresh pen, high production pen, low production pen, far-off dry pen, and close-up pen. From a management standpoint, there are good reasons for these necessary moves but, until recently, very little attention has been paid to how cows adapt to these moves.  It is important to know how they are affected by stocking density. The main conclusion is that all pen changes are stressful for the animal.

How To Minimize Pen Moves

Current recommendations for managing the transition of dry cows or heifers into lactation would include the following moves (and duration of stay):

  1. From a lactating group into a far-off dry group (5 to 6 weeks).
  2. From the far-off group to a close-up group (approximately 3 weeks; heifers are often introduced here).
  3. From the close-up group to a calving/maternity pen (approximately 24 hours).
  4. From the calving/maternity pen to a fresh group (approximately 3 weeks).
  5. From the fresh group to a lactating group.

Who is in Charge?

Recognizing that all moves are stressful and that each group has specific needs, the ideal would suggest that there should be a pen manager for each different group. While it is possible for one person to manage different penning groups, it is wrong to commingle two groups with different needs.

Above All, Do NOT Overcrowd.

Overcrowding sometimes seems to make economic sense, but at a certain level it hurts your cows and your bottom line. Rumination, reproduction and milk quality may all suffer in an overcrowded pen. Think again when adding that “last cow” to the group.

Spanish research found that, milk production declined as stall stocking density increased.  Stocking density is an essential component of the cow’s social environment. It determines if she will meet her time budget requirements for feeding, resting and ruminating and, consequently, be healthy and productive. Pen size, as well as stocking density, has an effect on lying and ruminating time. Moving to a smaller pen decreased lying time and to a larger pen increased this behavior.

Research at Miner Institute found that, as stall stocking density surged from 100 to 142 percent, milkfat percentage was reduced and somatic cell count spiked. In fact, overstocked cows ate 25 percent faster and ruminated 1 hour per day less which explained the reduction in the milkfat test. Overstocked cows also experience a greater pathogen load in their environment, have greater teat end exposure to pathogens and may experience immune suppression. These changes could explain the observed adverse effect of overcrowding on milk quality.

Penning by the Numbers

Conclusions drawn from studies of pen stocking include the following:

  • Change in stocking density affected the cows’ response to regrouping. When cows were moved into a pen with a relative higher stocking density, time spent lying following regrouping decreased. Alternatively, when cows were moved into a pen with a lower stocking density, their total resting time increased.
  • Data from the University of British Columbia demonstrated multiple negative effects on feeding behavior and potentially rumen health in the 48 hours following the regrouping. They found that aggression at the feedbunk climbed two-fold, DMI (dry matter intake) dropped 10 percent, feeding rate rose 10 percent and rumination times were 10 percent lower after regrouping.

Studies have concentrated on various behavioral changes

  • Lying and feeding behaviors. Lying and feeding behaviors were monitored from 1 day before regrouping to 1 day after regrouping.
  • Social aggression at the feed bunk. Social aggression at the feed bunk was monitored for 3 hours following the delivery of feed on the day before and after regrouping.  Social aggression increased when stocking density increased and decreased when stocking density decreased following the regrouping.
  • Regrouping behaviors. Increasingly larger dairy farms result in increased social crowding and social mixing, which in turn causes social stress. Regrouping is more stressful for introduced cows than for resident cows.

Keep Your Pens Clean

Sometimes what seems easiest is counterproductive when it comes to dairy pen management. Although it would seem obvious from the parallel with human hospitals, there seems to be a letdown in sanitation protocols in dairy hospital pens.  With so much at risk, in terms of the lifetime production and animal health, overlooking pen cleanliness is a costly decision to make.

Timing is key
Data from Purdue University and the University of British Columbia indicated that moving cows later in the day and avoiding feeding times may be beneficial. This will minimize the reduction in DMI for resident cows as the majority of consumption will occur during the two hours after delivery of fresh feed anyway. Another benefit is that the new cows will enter a pen where minimal activity is occurring, which affords the greatest opportunity to eat and find other resources (resting space, water, grooming brush and so forth) with little competition.

A Danish study observed easier adaption to a new pen for first-lactation cows when introduced in pairs rather than individuals. The result was longer lying times for these cows. Most importantly, no pen moves should occur within one week of calving (other than to a calving pen) and, if possible, moves in the last 14 to 21 days of gestation should be avoided.

Finally, to avoid prolonging the final stages of calving, research from the University of British Columbia and Arahus University suggests moving dairy cows into a calving pen at least five hours before calving. While this may not always be possible, it does reiterate the importance of routine checks on a close-up group to watch for signs of the onset of labor.

Pen Moves Have Both Short and Long Term Effects

The benefits of a longer stay in the close-up pen are not limited to the transition period. Cows and heifers housed in this pen for at least five days produced more milk over the next lactation. This response was greatest for first-lactation heifers, resulting in 3,300 pounds more milk over the lactation. Lengthening the stay in the close-up pen to at least nine days improved production over the first lactation by an additional 2,200 pounds. The same trend, but to a lesser degree, was evident in cows entering their second or greater lactation.

Moving cattle between groups brings about a considerable change in behavior and a period of increased interaction for about 48 hours before social stabilization and the development of a stable hierarchy. These changes may have a negative effect on milk yield and health in the moved individuals.   Effects on milk production for mature cows moved after the transition period are small and short term in nature.  However, not all movements between groups should be considered equal, and the effect on individuals, first-lactation animals and subordinate animals in particular, during a high-risk period such as the transition period, may be greater and last far longer. Although detected changes in milk yield may be small, there may be longer-term effects on health and reproduction yet to be identified that are of greater significance.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Every pen move has two main parts:  the reason for the move and the intended outcome.

Keeping those two goals in mind, there are opportunities to reduce the negative impacts of physical moves while maximizing the potential of your dairy herd. That`s always a good move!



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Dairy Cattle Abuse Video – A black eye for the dairy industry

On Friday, a new undercover video from the non-profit group Mercy for Animals Canada was released showing abuse of dairy cattle at Canada’s largest dairy farm, Chilliwack Cattle Sales.  The video, shot by a former employee of the farm, shows dairy cows being whipped and beaten with chains and canes, as well as being punched and kicked.  This totally unacceptable conduct is a black eye for everyone in the dairy industry around the world.

The video is horrific.  To dairy farmers the video is heartbreaking.  A large majority of the people who dairy farm have family run organizations and treat their animals as if they are part of the family.  To see a dairy cow being treated in such a horrific manner is absolutely disgusting.

For their part, the Kooyman family has also expressed their concerns over the treatment of the cattle on their farm and they first suspended all employees involved, pending investigation, and have now fired them.  (Read more: Kooyman family in shock after allegations of employee animal cruelty and Employees terminated, cameras to be installed following release of video)  The challenge is that this should never have happened in the first place.  In watching the video, it would seem that these are isolated cases.  You see multiple employees abusing a cow at one time, even while knowing that they are being videotaped.  This indicates that the employees were comfortable with their actions.  It would seem to show that those actions were generally accepted on the farm.  Even though you, as owner or manager, might never take part in such actions yourself, what happens on your farm and how your cows are treated there is your responsibility.

As very large dairy farms are becoming more common, it often means hiring help that have not come from a dairy cattle or animal handling background, especially when trying to hire works for the night shift on farms that milk three times a day, as may have been the case here.  As a result, they have not been properly trained around dairy cattle and don`t understand animal behavior.  Quite likely, up to the point of being hired, they have not been exposed to the art of dairy stockmanship.  Recently we published an article about the lost art of dairy cattle stockmanship in response to growing concerns, which triggered our alarm bells.  (Read more: The Lost Art of Dairy Cow Stockmanship.  When Push Comes to Nudge.)   With the now firing of the individuals involved, there is potential additional legal action that could be taken by these individuals against Chilliwack Cattle Sales, claiming that this is how they were trained and the generally accepted conduct at the farm, and so firing them for these actions is unfair.

It’s really about culture and engagement

Ben Loewith from Summitholm Holsteins, one of Canada’s top managed herds, comments on the situation with proactive advice.  “Take this opportunity to discuss proper animal care with everyone on the farm.  Create a culture where improper handling is reported to you.”  Having been on Summitholm’s Lynden Ontario farm numerous times, I can attest to the fact that, at Summitholm, every cow is treated with the utmost respect and care.  This practice is a synchronization of the exceptional animal husbandry and people management of the Loewith family that is a priority of their personal management style.  They know that a comfortable cow is the most profitable kind of cow there is.  I have been told by employees at Summitholm, of which some have been there over 20 years, that “If you yell at a cow, let alone kick or hit a cow, you might as well start looking for new employment.”

The handling of this issue reminds me of a quote from Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Enterprises and sixth richest citizen in the UK, where he said, “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.”  Well, for me, the same is true on a dairy farm.  The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your cows.  Properly trained and respectfully treated employees follow the rules.  They know they are doing a good job, are less stressed, and use their energy toward being more productive. (Read more: 80 Ways to Build a Dairy Dream Team – Employees are what make dairy farms successful today)

The following are some key benefits of properly training and treating your employees:

  • Less risk
    A well-trained and managed employee is less likely to administer a wrong product or treat an animal incorrectly.  One mistake from an untrained or unhappy employee could cost you financially and personally.  Why risk your company’s reputation?
  • Consistency
    Happy well-trained employees are consistent employees.  When you have a good training program, you’ll have a much more dependable output regardless of employee pre-dairy experience.  You’ll see more consistent compliance with protocols, and workers will understand why following these protocols are necessary.  When employees follow protocols, production increases.
  • Better company culture
    While some may think that “corporate culture” is not relevant on a dairy farm, they could not be more wrong.  Workers cannot know if they are doing a good job if they do not clearly understand what the job requires.  Lack of training creates stress and a culture of disengaged employees, which can also lead to higher turnover.  Proper training and treatment help communicate the value of employees’ roles, which drives engagement and motivation for employees to put forth extra effort from the beginning.
  • Increased profitability
    Having fully developed and engaged employees will allow you, the owner or manager, to focus on strategic goals.  You’ll have confidence that employees know how to operate efficiently.  In addition, they too will have confidence, which further contributes to increased efficiency.  Knowing the proper protocols means that no one has to wait on owners or managers for instructions or approval.

Social Outrage

Dairy farmers from across the country took to social media to share their outrage towards the culprits who were caught abusing dairy cows. Many also tried to counter the negative press by sharing pictures and tweets about how animals are cared for on their farms.  Times like these are exactly why we need more dairy farmers involved in initiatives like proAction.  The proAction Initiative is a way of showing our customers and consumers that we have improved the management of our farms over time. That we take responsibility for our on farm food safety, quality of milk, care of our animals, and care of the environment. We are doing things to enhance biosecurity to limit or prevent diseases from coming onto our farms. It’s going to be a way of not only telling our consumers that we are doing a good job but we will have a way of measuring and proving that claim. It will be a way of defending our best practices that we are implementing on our farms. Showing is better than just telling all the great things we as Canadian dairy farmers are doing in the area of sustainability.  (Read more: TOM HOOGENDOORN- Family man, Farmer & Our Face to the Consumer!)  Michele Pay-Knoper, an agriculture agvocate points out that “We have a tendency to be modest, stubborn and independent – and extraordinarily busy milking cows, putting up hay and taking care of business. However, telling your story is a business practice today”.  (Read more: Michele Payn-Knoper – Standing Up and Speaking Out for Agriculture)

It’s times like these that we need to share messages and videos like the one Dairy Carrie – Carrie Mess – produced entitled “Undercover Dairy Farm Video”.    While the title might have you expecting to see something similar to that of the Mercy for Animals Canada at Chilliwack Cattle Sales, instead what you see is what really goes on behind the doors of a dairy farm which is calm comfortable dairy cows, eating and producing high quality milk. (Read more: Dairy Carrie – Diary of a City Kid Gone Country)

 The Bullvine Bottom Line

As dairy farms grow larger, it is important that the quality of stockmanship does not decline.  It is important to take the time to train your employees on what high quality stockmanship involves. Training and upgrading of animal handling skills is an ongoing priority.  The challenge is that everyone on the dairy operation must recognize the importance of proper treatment and care of the herd. Ideally, the monitoring is everyone’s role.  There can never be an “I didn’t know!” excuse. Ultimately, whether you have 10 or 10,000 cows, you are responsible for the proper care and treatment of your cattle.

For more an proper care and handling of farm animals check out The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Dairy Cattle.



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The Other Woman

Today marks my eighth anniversary with my amazing wife Zosia.  However, I have a confession to make.  There is another woman.  For a long time, I have denied her existence and told myself “It is okay.  She will never know.”  But as I think about it, I think my wife has known about the “Other Woman” all along.

For as long as, I can remember the other woman has been in my life.  She has been there for me whenever I needed her.  She has provided for me in times of need and has provided me with many life lessons.  Nevertheless, now I find myself in a quandary.  Trying to decide between my wife and the other woman.

Whenever I have to make a crucial decision in my life, I have always tried to write down the pros and cons of each option and   then use logic to sort things out.  Therefore figured that I would do that now.

My Wife The Other Woman Advantage
Attraction When I first met my wife, I was like damn; that woman is too hot for me.  I figured she would not even give me the time of day. I have probably taken more photographs of the other woman than anything else in the world.  I have seen her from all angles, appreciated her curves, and been amazed are her exceptional form. No question my wife
Motherhood ability We have three amazing children.  They certainly have brought new meaning to my life.  While I certainly used corrective mating to choose my wife.  Our children have each seemed to get a unique set of the genetics available. The other woman has often been called the foster mother of the human race.  She has been one of the chief sustaining forces of the human race. No question my wife.
Intelligence My wife never stops amazing me.  She is the smartest woman I have ever met in my life.  She has achieved so many great things in her life that I could never even imagine doing. Some people like to say that the other woman is not that smart at all.  I argue that those people just have not spent enough quality time with the other woman.  She never ceases to amaze you with her intelligence, if you give her a chance. No question my wife.

While my wife has never made me choose between her and the other woman, she has often complained that the other woman gets far too much of my time.  She feels that I focus too much on the other woman and not enough on her.  I am feeling this tug of war on a daily basis and soon I may have to decide between my wife and the other woman.


The Bullvine Bottom Line

For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about the other woman.  However, not in a sexual way, but rather, a passion for the dairy industry and the greatness of the dairy cow.  While my wife did not grow up on a farm, she has learned to accept my appreciation for dairy cattle and so far has been willing to share me with the other woman.  In fact, I guess I have always known this.  When I proposed to my wife, I had to let the other woman go.  In fact I had to let two of them go.  You see it was at a time when Mad Cow had stuck Canada and dairy cattle prices were extremely low, so I had to sell two cows in order to afford the engagement ring.


My wife is the most amazing woman I have ever met.  She puts up with my weirdness, which includes my annual weird anniversary post.  (Read more: How I Used Everything I Know About Animal Breeding to Choose My Wife, How I Used Inbound Marketing and Sales to Find My Wife and The Most Important Partnership in the World)  She has also learned to accept my long road trips to attend cow shows, cover a dairy event, or some other weird cow related happening.  In short, she gets me, and that is no easy thing to do. Fortunately, she is a psychiatrist.  That probably helps!


Zosia Hunt, you are the most amazing woman I have ever met, and the fact that you agreed to marry me eight  years ago and that we now have these three amazing children are the greatest things that have ever happened in my life.  Your understanding of the other woman just proves that you are my soul mate and that I could not be a luckier man. Happy Anniversary Zosia, I love you so much!



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Never a thorn in the career of Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red

Only one red and white Holstein has ever been the Supreme Champion at the greatest dairy show in the world, World Dairy Expo.  Her name  is Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red.  Redrose is easily one of the greatest Red and White cows in history and, with her recent passing, her legacy is sure to continue for   her owners Nicky Reape and Mark Rueth of Rosedale Genetics. (Read more: Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red EX-96 4E Passes)

 Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red EX-96 4E

Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red EX-96 4E
2011 Wisconsin Cow of the Year!
Grand & Supreme Champion, World Dairy Expo 2005
All-American 5-Year-Old 2005
Grand Champion, World Dairy Expo 2007
All-American 125,000 lb. Cow 2007
Holstein International World Red & White Champion 2006 & 2007
Reserve Senior Champion, World Dairy Expo 2004
Res. All American & Res. All-WI 4-Year-Old 2004

It was Redrose’s third dam, the legendary Stookey Elm-Park Blackrose that first got Rosedale Genetics started, and hence the applicable prefix for Nicky and Mark.  A long time and very talented fitter Mark worked with many of the greatest show cows in the world.  During his 12 years clipping for Indianhead,  Mark had developed a strong friendship with Bob Schauf owner of Indianhead.  In December 1990, Mark was working at the Elmpark Sale and a tall, pregnant Blackstar, out of the renowned  three-time All-Canadian & American Champion  Nandette TT Speckle Red EX-93 DOM, named Blackrose caught his attention.  (Read more:  The Notorious Jack Stookey)  “When I saw her wide rump and massive frame, I thought: You must be able to breed something good out of that.”  Though they ended up paying  somewhat more than they intended, Mark and Bob were successful in purchasing Blackrose and they did indeed  fulfill Mark`s prediction as they bred  some great ones.

Stookey Elm Park Blackrose-ET *RC EX-96 3E GMD DOM

Stookey Elm Park Blackrose-ET *RC EX-96 3E GMD DOM
All-Time All-American Jr 2-Yr & Jr 3-Yr-Old Cow
Res All-American 5-Yr-Old Cow 1995
All-American Jr 3-Yr-Old Cow 1993
All-American Jr 2-Yr-Old Cow 1992
Grand Champion, Royal Winter Fair 1995

Stookey Elm Park Blackrose would go on to score EX-96, be named All-Time All-American Jr 2-Yr & Jr 3-Yr-Old Cow as well as Grand Champion at the Royal Winter Fair in 1995.  Blackrose  would also become one of the two greatest type transmitting cows in history.  (Read more:  MD DELIGHT DURHAM ATLEE – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist).  The daughters of her sons INDIANHEAD RED-MARKER EX-CAN ST’99, MARKWELL KITE-ET EX-CAN ST’04 and INDIANHEAD ENCOUNTER-ET EX-CAN ST’05, would dominate the show ring, especially in the Red & White classes.  Her outstanding daughter by KINGLEA LEADER, ROSEDALE LEA-ANN EX-93-2E-USA GMD, produced the dam of Redrose, NORTHROSE-I LAVENDER EX-90-4YR-USA 5* (Note: Northrose is Nicky and Mark’s prefix for their Canadian registered animals).  D R Vaandrager, a long time fitter who had worked with Nicky and Mark, purchased some embryos from Nicky and Mark to help start his Lavender Holsteins in Abbotsford BC, Canada.  They decided to use the famous STBVQ RUBENS for one of their flush matings and successfully produced Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red.

Nandette TT Speckle Red EX-93 DOM

Nandette TT Speckle Red EX-93 DOM
3 All-Canadian & American Championship titles


Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red has called Rosedale home since its inception in 2001 when she was just a yearling.  While still needing development, Nicky and Mark saw great potential in Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red, “In my eyes, Redrose is a more dairy version of Blackrose,” comments Mark.  Just like Blackrose, who seemed to have instant success as a 2yr and 3yr old, Redrose was named 1st Junior 2 year old at the 2002 World Dairy Expo Red & White Show.  She would continue her success in 2004 when she was named second 4 year old and Reserve Grand Champion,  behind eventual grand champion CHAIREIN RUBENS PARADE-RED.  In 2005 Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red  followed  no one as she was  not only  named Grand Champion of the Red and White show, but also went on to be named Supreme Champion.  She would come back in 2007 to win the 125,000 Lb. Cow class and again be named Grand Champion of the Red and White Show.

Just like the great Blackrose, Redrose-Red is also leaving a legacy of  outstanding descendants  as:

Rosedale Adventaeous-Red-ET EX-92

Rosedale Adventaeous-Red-ET EX-92
1st Sr. 3-Yr. Midwest Spring Red & White Show 2010
KHW Kite Advent-Red x KHW Kite Advent-Red

Rosedale Gold-Mine

Rosedale Gold-Mine-ET *RC VG-89-2YR
HM All-American Jr 2-Yr-Old 2011
Goldwyn X Redrose-Red

Rosedale Black Ruby

Rosedale Black Ruby EX-94
Allegro x Redrose-Red


Rosedale Tea-Rose EX-94
(Redliner x Durham x Redrose)
Reserve All-American R&W 4 Year Old 2012
Nasco Type and Production Winner 2012


Distrigene x Tribute x Redrose

The story of Lavender Ruby Redrose will also be told  through her sons


VG 2 yr old By Rosedale Accolade EX94

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Nicky Reape and Mark Rueth are two of the most passionate dairy breeders there are in the world today.  They take amazing care of  their cattle and treat each animal as if it was  unique in its own right … because each one is.  Rosedale has enjoyed a great deal of success in the show ring since its inception back in 2001 and  many  outstanding accomplishments have been added  during this time.  While many breeders dream of  having a class winner at World Dairy Expo, Rosedale has had several, including  numerous Supreme Champion awards.  One of the highlights has to be the success of Lavender Ruby Redrose-Red, who certainly became part of the family and fan favorite around the world, as demonstrated  by the very popular birthday parties Nicky and Mark would post on their Facebook page.  While I am sure the passing of Redrose will  be tough for Nicky and Mark, she certainly has left a legacy for them to build on.  Redrose Red  is now laid to rest in a bed of roses next to her grandmother Rosedale Lea-Ann Excellent-93 EEEEE 2E GMD and her legendary great grandmother Stookey Elm Park Blackrose-ET *RC EX-96 3E GMD DOM.



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Dairy farming isn’t easy…..

Being a dairy farmer means working long days that start before the sun rises and don’t end until well after the sun sets.  Dairy farming isn’t easy.

Being a dairy farmer means staying up all night waiting for the first calf heifer to calve, and then having to help her in order to save her and her calf’s lives.  Dairy farming isn’t easy.

Being a dairy farmer means knowing when a cow is sick, in heat or has mastitis.  Dairy farming isn’t easy.

Being a dairy farmer means being able to balance a ration, a checkbook and crop rotations.  Dairy farming isn’t easy.

Being a dairy farmer means being able to make a halter or gate latch or just about anything with baler twine.  Dairy farming isn’t easy.

Being a dairy farmer means watching your prized cow flair up with mastitis and almost die and there is nothing you can do about it.  Dairy farming isn’t easy.

Being a dairy farmer means having to get waist deep in the manure to clear a jammed stable cleaner.  Dairy farming isn’t easy.

Being a dairy farmer means risking losing everything you own in a fire or natural disaster.  Dairy farming isn’t easy.

Being a dairy farmer means no lavish parties or long vacations to fancy resorts.  Dairy farming isn’t easy.


Being a dairy farmer is all worth it when you see the look in your child’s eyes the first time they see a calf being born.

Being a dairy farmer is all worth it when you get that very good two year old after you have spent many generations of corrective mating to get her.

Being a dairy farmer is all worth it when you see that 7 year old cow calve for the 5th time, attending to her newborn calf.

Being a dairy farmer is all worth it when you hear your children tell you that they want to dedicate their lives to providing safe and nutritious dairy products to feed a growing world.

Being a dairy farmer is all worth it when you watch your children grow up on the farm and learn the values that you hold so close to your heart.



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Remember when you thought microwaves were something you would never use and that Captain Kirk and Star Trek were beyond reality? Are you one of the Baby Boomers who claims to do without all the handheld gadgets and modern technology?  Then you are probably one of the Baby Boomers who isn’t also a farmer. Today modern dairy farmers of ALL ages are quite happy to hold the future in the palm of their hands.  They email, calculate, talk, text, video, chat and surf the web and look after calves, cows and crops with real time information and alerts that they access using their smartphones.

There are already thousands of apps which have been developed to assist in easier data recording, more accurate records, saving time and remote decision making. Dairy farmers are using smartphones or other mobile devices to increase efficiency and generate higher profits — a challenge in an industry beset by high input costs, low margins and continual uncertainty from Mother Nature.

Here’s a few Iphone, IPad and Android Mobil Phone APPS that meet farmer needs.

  • DTN/The Progressive Farmer. This robust app puts weather data, market data, grain prices, ag news and videos in the hands of the users.
  • Group dynamics: The data collected can indicate whether there is enough food available for the cows
  • PocketDairy is an Android-based app from Dairy Records Management Systems used to access herd records stored in the farm’s PCDART record-keeping system. The mobile app syncs wirelessly with the office computer that stores the records data can be retrieved anytime, anywhere.
  • PSU Dairy Cents is a mobile app offering two features – a quick calculation of income over feed costs and price comparison of various forages, grains and commodities to the Penn State Feed Price List and other users of the database.
  • Target Date calculates the amount of time between two dates.  Users can also choose to ignore weekends and holidays. This app is also useful for estimating livestock births or how many days until harvest.
  • Weather Bug gives users access to live radar, extended forecasts and weather alerts. They can also spy on the weather through more than 2,000 weather cameras located throughout the U.S. Another useful feature is Weather Bug’s GPS capabilities. It allows the app to share weather news relevant to the user’s current location.

Phone apps are appealing for farmers because of the instant access they provide to information and communication, whether from the barn, the field or on the road. The use of RFID technology is nothing new in farming, but it has traditionally been used to track animals as they move from farm to farm and into the food chain, and to prevent theft.  These recent applications however are active rather than passive – they transmit signals rather than waiting to be read. For instance, an app can let farm managers track the movement of every animal in the herd. Having such easily accessible and complete information is the perfect impetus to make management changes … save time … and save money. No wonder dairy farmers are developing app-titude!

APPs contribute to Cheaper, Safer Products

While farmers can gain immediate benefit from their smartphones and the burgeoning app market, the impact such technology holds could extend beyond the field or barnyard. It not only is helping to grow a better product and do so more efficiently, it is also helping to keep costs down and thereby benefiting the consumer too. Even more important, is that technology is contributing to providing a safer product as well. For example, consider how a robotic milker can sense through a cow’s temperature that the animal is sick. Without antibiotics, a program of separation and treatment can be initiated (without antibiotics) that keeps all of that stuff out of the food chain.  Mobile technology allows the farmer to break free of cables and cords and notebooks. Furthermore, the detail and efficiency of this small but effective technology not only helps on the production end of the spectrum but social media tools such as Twitter help in reaching out to consumers by giving them the opportunity to ask farmers questions about production. It is a win-win for both sides.  Information is available wherever and whenever -24/7.

What is the Impact?

Float Mobile Learning, a consulting firm that develops mobile strategies and apps for major agricultural organizations and Fortune 500 companies, has used previous market research to determine that 94% of farmers own a smartphone or a mobile phone. Four years ago, nearly half of American farmers were using a smartphone such as an Android or iPhone, up from 10% in 2010. Many others had tablets like the popular iPad.

What is the Difference?

Personally, I love the fact that recently a local farmer was able to watch his son compete in figure skating even though he himself was home working on the farm. Even better are the times when he can monitor the dairy herd while actually attending events where his children develop skills that he would have missed before the development of this technology.  The benefits of increased efficiency and saving money are well-documented and appreciated.  With a few touches on their iPad, a farmer can now turn on the fans remotely or observe a calving pen or have a quick check-in with the milking team.  However, even more gratifying is the way app technology contributes to solving various issues.  Perhaps it’s an animal health problem – “Hey! What does this look like to you?”  By snapping a quick photo with a smart phone and sending it to someone who can provide the answer, a speedy solution is sought and found.

The benefits of technology extend beyond the farm as well.

Farmers realize information is power in making decisions and they are quick to adapt when they see the value. Farmers are not afraid to use social media to communicate with the public and correct misperceptions or answer questions that consumers may have about agriculture. Farmers and ranchers across the country regularly turn to Twitter, YouTube and other media to compare stories, keep updated on new techniques and equipment being used and trade advice.

From Imagined Possibility to Real Time Speed

So much of the logistics of raising dairy animals happens in slow time.  The opportunity to excel comes when information can be collected and acted upon very quickly. Via real time alerts delivered to his smarpthone a dairy manager can know whether the cow is ill, or is in heat and ready to be inseminated.  Well before having to deal with full blown illness, a tracking app can let managers know two whole days before it can be seen by observation that the cow is sick.  If you can help the cows two days before, it’s money, because the cow, not being so sick, is easier to treat.  In one application, each cow wears a special collar, fitted with a wireless RTLS (real time locating system) tag.  The tags are read several times a second by sensors fitted in a grid in the roof of the barn. The data is sent from the sensors to a hub, where the cow’s every movement is collated and analysed using complex behavioral algorithms.

Coming Soon to Fingertips Near You

Software is being developed that will allow farmers to compare their operations with those of other app users. More information.  More informed decisions. Also, when Thermal Aid is released this fall, developers at the University of Missouri think they can help dairies avoid losses due to heat stress. They’ve produced a new mobile app that can detect the threat of heat stress in cows using nothing more than a smart phone. Much can be learned from Apps that track aspects such as temperature or habitual activity (laying down, sleeping, and eating). When coming into heat cattle typically walk more, socialize more … eat less due to increased activity … and therefore an app that signals these changes in behavior assists heat detection.  Likewise a lack of activity can indicate illness of lameness.

Around the World Apps are Awesome for Working with Cows

A quick surf review of the interview turns up many apps that are being used by dairies around the world.

  • Denmark:  CowView uses a type of RFID (radio frequency identification) called UWB (ultra-wideband) technology.
  • Ireland:  SmartFarm Apps – “Keep your farm in your pocket”
  • New Zealand:  Here I found numerous lists of apps. One is a Dairy Farm Grazing calculator.
  • The Netherlands: LelyT4C In Herd “Farm Management in the Palm of Your Hand”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It doesn’t come down to whether you should use Apps or not but, more importantly, the question is “Which ones?” Of course it all depends on your individual dairy needs and personal preferences. When you have that figured out, you will definitely find the right app-titude for dairying in the 21st Century.



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80 Ways to Build a Dairy Dream Team – Employees are what make dairy farms successful today.

If you need proof, take one example referring to reproductive data. The report shows that 73% of the difference in pregnancy risk in top herds from those in bottom rated herds, can be attributed to management practices and environment.  Put that in simple terms, and that means that dairy teams, or the people behind the cows, make an enormous difference in the success of every dairy operation.  It is a pleasure in National Dairy Month to applaud the men and women that excel in putting their dairy farm at the forefront.  The following 80 plus checkpoints are a part of what makes a dream cream team!

Established Overall goal

  • Establish a management system in which protocols are developed,
  • staff are trained to follow the protocols,
  • records are kept
  • data is evaluated

Sustainable and Repeatable Success

  • animals have long herd life
  • animals produce to their genetic potential
  • animal welfare is excellent

Clear Job Descriptions

  • Adherence to state/ provincial and federal labor regulations
  • Job descriptions are a tool that is used on the dairy.
  • Everyone is clear about who is responsible for each task.
  • Job descriptions for each of the following:
    • Full time manager or managers
    • Advisory teams
      • Veterinarians, nutritionists, consultants

Capable Manager

  • Recognizes that culture and morale come from the top
  • Is committed to helping staff be successful in their jobs.
  • Doesn’t assume that others understand what is wanted
  • Shares goals and expectations
  • Builds effective employee teams by grouping personnel with complementary skills
  • Has strong leadership and communication skills
  • Facilitates team interactions
  • Assists individuals when problems or conflicts occur
  • Applies rules consistently and without discrimination
  • Allows workers to ask questions for further clarification
  • Finds the right task for the right worker.
  • Answers “Yes!” to this question: “Would you want to work for yourself?”

Regular Tasks Not Overlooked

  • Consistent professional management
  • Conflicts are resolved (without destroying … )
  • Animal welfare follows a written Responsible Animal Care Policy
  • Set a good example of proper animal care

Employ Exceptional People

  • “Noticers” – These are valuable people on the dairy team because they take notice of what is unusual about what is happening and question and seek better ways to do things.
  • Family labor used recognized and appreciated.
  • Some dairy operations have an assigned person who serves as a trainer and is readily available, not allocated to any specific mandatory daily role on the farm.  This multi-skilled individual has the flexibility that allows for plugging the gaps caused by absentees to help maintain productivity levels or assist teams with special or understaffed projects.

Special Tasks Completed

  • Written mission statement and goals
  • Meetings are well-organized
  • Meeting are short and efficient
  • Set some clear rules of behavior
  • Establish a driving cause, issue or need.

Formation of Functional Teams

A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performing goals and approaches, for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. May include some of these, perhaps in combination, as well as others as suited to the particular dairy operation:

  • Milking
  • Pre-partum
  • Calving
  • Fresh Cows
  • Hospital
  • Feeding
  • Hoof Trimming
  • Cow Pusher
  • Stall Cleaner
  • Reproduction
  • Recor

Possess Effective Teamwork Characteristics

  • Good behavior and courtesy
  • Committed to a team effort
  • Proud of team achievements
  • Happy to come to work each day
  • Challenge each other with fresh facts and information
  • Shared sense of closeness and group purpose
  • Focus on practical applications of tasks to achieve goals
  • Team takes precedence over individual needs
  • Team experiences success
  • Successes are recognized and celebrated: positive feedback, recognition and reward.
  • Team accepts responsibility for its own performance

Supportive Environment

  • Provide clean safe and comfortable environment
  • Set up your parlor for milker safety and comfort, and you will have more productive and healthier employees.

Dream Team Tools

  • Technology: to provide data to aid in decision making
  • Training: Skills are developed through a combination of education and experience. Invest in employee development to reach top performance and for the benefit of the farm.  Take the time to explain what is expected and why it is important
    • Seminars
    • Videos
  • SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures): can be the difference between success or failure and provide significant performance improvements when properly and thoroughly carried out. SOPs provide focus for team efforts SOPs are the result of collaboration of managers, workers and advisers in writing down practices so activities are consistent
    • Simple steps
    • Flow carts

Regular Performance Evaluation

Measurement is an essential tool in growing an effective team.

  • The team functions effectively when the manager is away.
  • Regular assessment supports that cows produce well and reach their genetic potential.
  • Calf (and herd) welfare stands up to public scrutiny.
  • Turnover is used as a measurement tool as well by providing an opportunity to increase or change responsibilities of the remaining team members.
  • Incentives are provided that support the unique goals and objectives of the team and individuals:
    • Higher pay, greater job security, co-worker esteem, appreciation, a kind-word, performance appraisals.
  • Responding well to problems is important but not nearly as valuable to the dairy operation as preventing them in the first place.

Statistical Benefits of Having Engaged Employees:

  • Employee retention up 44 percent
  • Labor safety up 50 percent
  • Productivity up 50 percent
  • Profitability up 33 percent
  • Overall performance up 78 percent.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Achieving good management practice on dairy farms requires a skilled and motivated workforce. If you focus on the positive and seek steady improvement in the areas discussed, the cream team will more than likely rise to the top and take your dairy operation with it!!



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Having identified that a dairy animal has become sick the first action usually involves moving her to a hospital pen. This allows focus on the problem and, although the motivation is to keep the disease from affecting or infecting the rest of the herd, it actually can contribute to doing exactly that.

Avoid hospital pen moves.  Work first and foremost with Veterinarian

Dairy producers need to establish a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR). Working together they can find solutions and inaugurate protocols that manage health and avoid risky hospital pen moves.

  1. The number one priority is to avoid hospital pen moves.
  2. The first resource for avoiding pen moves is your veterinarian.
  3. The veterinarian can have one of the single largest impacts on the dairy.
  4.  train the staff on proper techniques
  5. develop the treatment protocols
  6. evaluate and review

Is Your Hospital Pen Helping or Hurting?

These are checkpoints to avoid in a hospital pen:

  • Don’t mix sick and fresh cow groups together.
  • Maternity pen and Hospital pen are distinctly separate (not combined) pen uses.
  • Dirty needles spread contamination as do contaminated stomach tubes.
  • Employ the best hygiene practices between cows during milking in hospital pen.
  • Manure contamination must be avoided (i.e. leaked milk from mastitis cows).
  • Target cow comfort.
  • Don’t overstock the Hospital Pen.
  • Be aware of social stress (it takes 3-5 days to become socially stable after a move).
  • Hospital pen animals are susceptible to developing another problem (i.e. the mastitis cow becomes lame).
  • Cows are 11 times more likely to contract Salmonella bacteria while in a hospital pen.
  • It is possible for hospital pen cows to become carriers of diseases (pneumonia, foot warts, enteric disease etc.)
  • Make sure that dairy staff has adequate training.
  • All hospital pen treatments must be monitored and reviewed.
  • Take full advantage of veterinarian expertise training ,supervising and monitoring

Hospital Pen Design Contributes to Cattle Care

  • Separate lame cows from sick cows.
  • Avoid water, manure and cow traffic between sick cows and healthy groups.
  • Design features that facilitate better and more convenient cow care
    • provide 30 inches of bunk space per cow
    • allow water space at one foot per cow
    • easy access through man passes in headlocked or non-headlocked pens
    • treatment chutes or tilt tables, hot/cold water ,storage and refrigerators for drugs and other equipment useful for treatments and/or recordkeeping
  • non-slip areas wherever sick or lame cattle walk (cushioned; rubber; sand)
  • hospital pen not adjacent to transition cows
  • convenient for treatment monitoring and milking
  • Protected from the environment (roof, shade cloth, fans etc.) to reduce stress
  • Misters and water should only be used over feed bunk

Trained People + Effective Protocols = Reduced Hospital Pen Time

  • Train employees regularly and monitor for compliance with treatment protocols
  • Limit employee access if the herd is large and more than one individual is required
  • Have staff member who specializes in dealing with sick cows
  • If possible, limit their activities to the hospital area
  • Wear protective clothes and gloves and change when leaving
  • Make washing machines/dryers available to employees, provide coveralls or employ a uniform service to help compliance in the area of preventing disease transmission.
  • Always be aware of and avoid cross-contamination
  • Care for and treat calves before breeding and treating sick cows
  • If possible, only the calf staff should look after sick calves
  • The example needs to be set by the owner or manager for best results
  • Treatment protocols should be reviewed at least annually if not more often.

Monitoring the Hospital Pen:  Record. Review. Repeat.

With the goal of drastically reducing the need for and use of the hospital pen, dairy managers need to look to and use all the tools available.

Record keeping is paramount.  

  1. Most dairy management software provides a means of tracking DIH (days in hospital).
  2. Record every health event (mastitis; pneumonia; lameness etc.)
  3. Record when cow moved into the hospital pen and when she moved out.
  4. Record each treatment intervention (medication; antibiotics; etc.)
  5. Review records regularly.
  6. Review trends.
  7. Repeat all steps.

HOSPITAL PEN Sanitary Protocols

To prevent disease being spread to other cows

  • Daily pen cleaning
  • Complete removal of retained fetal membranes and other residues of health events
  • Routine cleaning of the pen (including waterers) with a strong disinfectant
  • Decontamination of tools used in hospital pen (stomach pumps, pilling guns, halters, etc.)
  • Frequent monitoring and adjusting of cleaning frequency as needed
  • Handwashing is the most important thing to do to prevent transmission of infections.
  • Employees  wear latex or nitrile gloves, wash their boots and wear clean coveralls daily
  • Use footbaths in extreme situations utilizing

Hospital pen NO NO’s

On top of the fact that the move to the hospital pen is itself a stressor to an animal that is already vulnerable, the pens themselves can be risky environments because of potential of contracting a new infection. Recovering from one disease incident is much different than the survival rate after a cow gets a second disease, especially Salmonellosis or Mycoplasma mastitis. Salmonella infections can lead to reduced milk yield, weight loss, poor reproductive performance and death in dairy cows. Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) is another bacterium that easily can be contracted in the hospital pen. In one study, 70% of cows entering the hospital pen contracted M. bovis clinical mastitis within 12 days of entering the hospital pen. All dairy staff observing the hospitable pen need to be alert to any early signs of new illness.

Controlling Spread of Hospital Pen Diseases to the Dairy Herd

During their stay in the hospital pen, fresh cows can become carriers of disease. If they don’t show signs of a clinical infection and are returned to their regular pen, the bacteria they now are carrying can follow them back to the milking herd. For example, cows with subclinical Salmonella infections can shed the bacteria to their herdmates without showing any symptoms. This puts your entire herd at risk.

Mistakes in the Hospital Pen Can Lead to Drug Residue Violations

When cows with different illnesses enter the hospital pen, they also have different treatment protocols and needs. Mistakes can happen, which can lead to violative drug residues.

There are potential for slip ups:

  • leg band missed
  • timing or dosage confused
  • proper records not kept

Unfortunate results

  • Violative drug residues
  • Diminishing consumer confidence in the food produced
  • You could even lose your ability to do business if these mistakes continue.”

Hospital Pen Problems are Expensive

Contagious mastitis can be passed via equipment or milkers’ hands from sick cows to herdmates.

  • Each outbreak of mastitis costs $200 per case
  • Mycoplasma outbreaks often begin when sick cows are grouped with fresh cows.  Mycoplasma cost can add up to $20 per day
  • Each case of Metritis costs between $304 and $354 in losses of production and performance.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

In a perfect dairy world, the hospital pen would be eliminated entirely, or at the very least, underused.  In the real world hospital pens are frequently needed in order to deal with health issues.  It is the job of dairy managers to make sure that the hospital pen doesn’t itself become a disease source. Information and awareness cost nothing but, combined with appropriate and timely action, could make a significant herd health difference. How does your hospital pen score? Better? Or worse..?



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Helping Heroes – Fundraiser to Support the Stiles & Burdette Families

I cannot think of a better way to kick off National Dairy Month, than doing what the dairy industry does best….supporting our community.  A week ago tragedy struck the Stiles and Burdette Families when Patricia Stiles and her husband Mike, awake to smoke, only to discover their house was on fire, and they need to get their two grandchildren out.  While Mike and the youngest grandchild Brinkley Burdette made it out relatively safe, Patricia and seven-year-old Reese Burdette, where not as fortunate and now find themselves with severe burns to their body and a long road ahead.  (Read more: Patricia Stiles –Dairy Farmer, Grandmother, Hero, Fighting for Her Life!)  Over the past week, there has been an amazing showing of support for these to great families, and since our article Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World we have had many breeders offering their support and willing to make donations to help support these families at this time of need.

Over the next few days, we will be releasing three donated lots per day to help raise funds to cover the hospital expenses these families now face.  The auction will end on Friday June 13th at midnight.  100% of the proceeds will go to the bank account that has been set up for the families.

Lot A – 4 #1 Reginald embryos from JACOBS SID MIKA VG-87-2YR

Current Bid: $900/embryo (Bids in $50 increments)

JACOBS SID MIKA - Flyer pink

Everyone remembers when Justin Burdette awarded BONACCUEIL MAYA GOLDWYN EX-95-2E-CAN the 2013 World Dairy Expo Holstein Grand Champion. (Read more:  World Dairy Expo 2013 Holstein Show Results and  World Dairy Expo 2013 – Memories to last a Lifetime) Well, here is a chance to buy into this great cow family and support the Burdette family in this time of need.  JACOBS SID MIKA is the very promising VG-87-2YR that was 3rd at the Quebec International Show last year and has all the makings of her legendary mother Maya.  With Reginald showing he can sire great ones as well, you know these embryos have the potential to be very special. (Read more: FERME JACOBS: SUCCESS IS ALL IN THE FAMILY! and Ferme Jacobs 2013: A Journey of Magic, Maya and Mastery!)

Lot B – 5 #1 Kingboy embryos from Ri-Val-Re Obsrver Salsa VG-86-2YR

Current Bid: $400/embryo (Bids in $50 increments)

Ri-Val-Re Obsrvr Salsa - Flyer pink

From the heart of Ri-Val-Re comes these great embryos that will have a brother sampled through Select Sires by Relif P as well as sisters that are 2400 gTPI. These embryos will have a parent average TPI of over 2300 with the potential for a 2400+ gTPI calf. This is a great opportunity from an emerging cow family and support a great cause. (Read more: BREEDING RI-VAL-RE: Where Looking Good in the Stall Is Just As Important As Looking Good On Paper)

Lot C – 11 x 16 framed print of DALEMCEE-J COUNCILLER TAUNTRA

Current Bid: $640 (Bids in $20 increments)


The very talented artist Gary Sauder has donated an 11×16 (actual size of the picture) framed print of DALEMCEE-J COUNCILLER TAUNTRA EX-95.  Tauntra is the showing winning cow exhibited by Patricia and the Stiles family.  This painting was originally commissioned by Patricia and Mike.  Gary has the unique ability to truly capture these great cows in their truest form.  (Read more: GARY SAUDER: The Muse in His Studio) Don’t miss you chance to get this amazing painting and support Patricia at this time.

Lot D – 12 x 12 canvas print of ANNA ( Steel cow )

Current Bid: $500 (Bids in $20 increments)

Steel Cow - Anna

Original Paintings by artist Valerie Miller can be found in art collections worldwide and are available exclusively through ( STEEL COW ). Valerie captures the personality of each of “the girls” in original acrylic paintings after going out into the field and studying and sketching them. “The girls” are all named after friends or family. This is your opportunity to take home Anna. Anna love’s country boys and pickup trucks, but she really is just a farm girl at heart. Here is your chance to support to great farm girls and take home an amazing canvas print by the very talented Valerie Miller. (Read more: Steel Cow’s Valerie Miller: Larger than Life with Her Cow Girls)

Lot E –  4 #1 Atlanta-P  embryos from Luck-E Talent Kiki *RC EX-93

Current Bid: $800/embryo (Bids in $50 increments)

Luck-E Talent Kiki - Flyer pink

From 8 generations fo VG or EX these Atlanta-P embryos are very special. Atlanta-P is +3.50Type +689M & +2048M. Altanta-P’s dam is Luck-E Advent Atlanta EX-94 96MS 5yr. When your this good it’s not luck it’s Luck-E.  (Read more: Luck-E Holsteins: The Harder they work, the Luck-E-r they get!)

Lot F – 16 x 24 vivid metal print by Farmgirl Photography

Current Bid: $500 (Bids in $20 increments)

Farm girl photography

Danae Bauer has a real talent for capturing those special moments. She combines that ability with her passion for dairy cattle and she has taken some amazing photographs. Danae is offer a 16 x 24 vivid metal print from any of her Farmgirl photographs. Vivid metal prints are show-stopping conversation pieces and add an artistic edge and contemporary elegance to the photographs This makes a very special gift for those dairy farmers that you know that spend just as much time talking to cows as much as they do people. (Read more: DANAE BAUER: Capturing the Passion)

Lot G – 17.5 x 14 Signed and Numbered Lithograph by Bonnie Mohr – Sweet Summer

Current Bid: $600 (Bids in $20 increments)

Bonnie Mohr - lot g

The art of Bonnie Mohr stimulates, engages, and inspires both the heart and the mind, from her rural, American pieces of country life to her poetic, peaceful images of inspiration. The essence of Bonnie’s art is that it reflects who she is, 100 percent. Every facet of her life is threaded into the canvas of her work, and after growing up and living on a dairy farm, she began painting her passion — cows. (Read more:  Bonnie Mohr – Science and Art Together Creates a Holstein Love Story) In her work Sweet Summer a perfect summer day at the farm unfolds with rolling hills in the background, the white barn, farm buildings, and silo; green trees border the beautiful pasture where a herd of Holstein cows graze and wander peacefully amidst the purple clover in the fields. A note from Bonnie: The rosy colors and sweet smell of clover dwell abundantly in most pastures across the upper Midwest, every summer. If you have ever approached a herd of cows out in the pasture – they will inch towards you out of complete curiosity. This painting is one of pure enjoyment and love for dairy cows and enchanting summers of rural America!  Don’t miss you chance to get this amazing painting and support Patricia at this time.

Lot H – 5 #1 Alexander embryos from Arethusa Shottle Domino EX-93

Current Bid: $400/embryo (Bids in $50 increments)

Arethusa Shottle Domino - Flyer pink

Not only does Domino come from a show winning pedigree with her dam Cherown SY Delilah EX-96 4E USA being named honorable mention grand champion at the 2001 Royal Winter Fair, but also her daughter, Arethusa Sanchez Dice EX-92(Pictured Above) was recently named Intermediate Champion at the New York International Spring Show demonstrating these she can also breed great ones.  Here is your chance to get in on one of the great show cow families in the breed today. (Read more:  Arethusa: A Winning Focus)

Lot I – 17.79” x 21.35” framed poster of Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra

Current Bid: $370 (Bids in $20 increments)

lot i lr

Laurens Rutten is probably one of the most talented show ring livestock photographers in the world. He has taken some of the greatest show ring photographs in both Europe and North America. No photograph has been seen by a larger audience than Decrausaz Iron O’ Kalibra *RC EX-96-CH. O’Kalibra was voted the 2013 Most Influential Cow In Switzerland and The European Champion of 2013. She was Grand Champion Swiss Expo 2013 & 2012. O’Kalibra is simply one of the greatest show cows in the world today. (Read more: DECRAUSAZ IRON O’KALIBRA: Simply the Best) Here is your chance to get a framed print of this amazing cow and support a great cause.

Lot J –  3 #2 Declan IVF female embryos from Dubeau Dundee Hezbollah EX-92

Current Bid: $600/embryo (Bids in $50 increments)

Dubeau Dundee Hezbollah  - Flyer pink

Talk about a pedigree that has it all. If you are looking to invest in superior bloodlines this package has it. In HEZBOLLAH you have the great SNOW-N DENISES DELLIA EX-95-2E-USA GMD DOM 5* and COMESTAR LAURA BLACK VG-87-3YR-CAN 24* and in Declan you add MD-DELIGHT DURHAM ATLEE EX-92-4YR-USA DOM GMD 6*, BRAEDALE BALER TWINE VG-86-2YR-CAN 33* and SCIENTIFIC DEBUTANTE RAE EX-92-4YR-USA DOM GMD 3*. Declan’s EBV for type are outstanding at +3.59 PTAT, +3.08 UDC and +2.30 FLC, in Canada his just as impressive at +16 Conformation, +14 Mammary Systems, +12 Dairy Strength, and +12 Feet and Legs. Hezbollah is becoming a great brood cow. Of her first 8 classified daughters, 6 are VG including 2 at VG-87! We know of 3 more fresh that should be VG as well.  (Read more: The Judge’s Choice – Investment advice from Tim Abbott) What more could you ask for?

Lot K –  16 x 20 signed and ready to hang canvas print EMMA CALDWELL – “Holstein”

Current Bid: $300 (Bids in $20 increments)

Emma Caldwell - lot k

Emma Caldwell’s paintings are depict dairy cattle, and they are a celebration of the dairy community. In her art she strives to capture the calm air and that tremendous physical strength that is absolutely necessary in an enduring cow, but also present her as feminine, dairy and stylish. Together generations of the dairy community have worked together to develop this hard working, strong healthy animals that we milk today. The dairy industry is working to help support our own once again. (Read more: Emma Caldwell’s Art Stirs Mind and Heart!) Emma is proud to be able to contribute to this great cause and be a part of this incredible community.   Don’t miss your opportunity to help celebrate the Holstein Cow and support Patricia and Reese.

Lot L –   21.35” x 17.79” framed poster of KHW Regiment Apple-Red

Current Bid: $225(Bids in $20 increments)

lot l apple

KHW Regiment Apple-Red has done it all.  She wins shows, she classifies high and produces loads of milk.  Her daughter can be seen at the top of the biggest red and white shows in the world, and her decedents dominate the Red & White Index lists.  At this past years World Dairy Expo, she showed off her trademark depth, angularity and balance but that was not enough for the living legend. Apple-Red was able to take things to a level that might never be able to be repeated ever again. Her clone, KHW Regiment Apple 3-Red-ETN who is the spitting image of a younger Apple-Red was the only cow that was able to beat her on this day. Yes you could say she was beaten by herself. And to add to the growing legend, her daughter MS Candy Apple-Red-ET was named Honorable Mention Grand Champion.  (Read more: KHW Regiment Apple-Red – Beauty, performance, and even more record accomplishments ) Here is your chance to remember this amazing accomplishment with this limited edition framed print.

Lot M –  Choice of Aftershock embryos from Quality Holsteins

Current Bid: $800/embryo (Bids in $50 increments)

lot M quality

Quality Holsteins has generously donated your choice of 4 Aftershock embryos from two amazing cows.  (Read more: Quality Holsteins – Well-Deserved Congratulations and Quality Cattle Look Good Every Day) First up are 2 After Shock embryos from the legendary QUALITY CARLTON PAM EX-97-6E 4*.  Pam was the first EX-97 bred and owned cow in Canada.  She was nominated All-Canadian in 2003 and has already produced 5 EX daughters and 9 VG and made over 230,000 lbs of lifetime production.  She really has done it all.  Also available are 4 Aftershock embryos from QUALITY GOLDFINZ EX-92-2E.  The fancy Goldwyn daughter from QUALITY B C FRANTISCO EX-96-3E 21*.   Goldfinz first two daughters have both scored VG in their first lactation.  Winning bidder can choose any 4 of these 6 embryos. This a great opportunity to purchase some of the highest quality embryos available in the world and support a great cause.

Lot N – 5 doses of Deer Hill Francis EX-91

Current Bid: $100/dose (Bids in $20 increments)

lot n Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca

Talk about an extremely rare opportunity. Deer Hill Francis EX-91 semen is extremely limited supply and has never before and will never again be publicly available. Of course Francis is the Sweet Pepper Willy Sam (Desblay Rebel Willy x Sweet Pepper Jaye Sherry EX94 Max Score) from the legendary Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca 3E-94. Francesca’s has been the Grand Champion World Dairy Expo 2012, 2010 Grand Champion Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 2012 All-World 6 & 7 Year-Old Ayrshire 2012 Total Performance Winner World Dairy Expo 2012, 2011 Nasco and International & Type Production Award World Dairy Expo 2012, 2011. Francesca, wasn’t just a cow who had great show ring accomplishments, she was a cow who won the hearts and minds of breeders the world over. She was one of those rare cows that transcended her breed to be loved by all. (Read more: The Magic of Francesca)Here is your chance to bring the greatness of Francesca into your herd and support a great cause.

Lot O – 4 #1 Doorman embryos from VIEUXSAULE SEAVER ELSI VG-86-2YR

Current Bid: $700/embryo (Bids in $50 increments)

lot o vs

From the same family as the extremely popular Immunity+, HealthSmart, Genomax and Robot Ready, VIEUXSAULE FLAME.  VIEUXSAULE SEAVER ELSI VG-86-2YR is continuing the legacy of her dam VIEUXSAULE ALLEN DRAGONFLY EX-94-2E-CAN 16* (Read more: VIEUX SAULE ALLEN DRAGONFLY: 2013 Canadian Cow of the Year Nominee) and grand dam VIEUXSAULE OUTSIDE MARY SOLEX-95-3E-CAN 4*.  Elsi’s pedigree brings persistence and performance together. It is repeated on the sire stack side as well where Dragonfly’s sire stack is loaded with bulls that Canadian breeders hold in high regard. Here is your chance to get in on an emerging cow family and support a great cause.

Lot 0 –  One of a kind CUSTOM PAINTED MILK CANS from Debbie Cornman Studio

Current Bid: $720 (Bids in $20 increments)

lot p

Debbie Corman offers her unique artistry to one of a kind milk cans that are cherished by all. Deb is a self-taught Calligrapher and Artist and combines these two great talents to create unique items that are treasured by all. She has spent over 30 years developing her skills as an accomplished painter doing animal portraits, decorative painting, pen and ink, and watercolor and combines those talents to create amazing pieces of art from milk cans. Here is your opportunity to get custom painted milk can with your favorite cow; barn or whatever you want painted on it by Deb. Don’t miss this chance to get an amazing piece of memorabilia for your dairy operation.

Bidding ends at midnight on June 13th.

How to Bid

There are three simple ways to bid; you can enter your bid in the comments below, place your bid on the Facebook, or email, and we will keep all locations up to date with the latest bids.


The Bullvine will act as a dairy breeder’s version of eBay.  That means that once the sale is complete we will collect the funds from the successful bidder, notify the breeder who donated the lot of who and where to send the lot to.  Once the winning bidder has successfully received the items, we will release the funds.
The buyer will be responsible for all shipping expenses.

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