Archive for July 2014

Are Your Females Reproductively Ready?

It matters not whether you are breeding or implanting heifers or cows in your herd; the question is are they cycling and are their uteruses in the state that they can receive a fertilized egg and establish a pregnancy. It’s big bucks off the bottom line if your females are not cycling when they should. It means carrying more animals than necessary, extra feed costs, extra labour, semen and embryos down the drain. We all know that the number one reason for culling is reproductive failure. It all comes down to being proactive rather than reactive when managing for reproductive success.

On Being Prepared

I was reminded of how important this is when I visited a very successful 200 cow dairy on a hot (90F) and steamy (80% humidity) day in August of last year.  I was impressed to see that the cows were producing, on average, 5.7 pounds of fat plus protein per day. What really drew their reproduction program to my attention was when the owners showed me a fifth lactation cow that was almost eight years old. She was producing 120 pounds of 4.0% fat and 3.5% protein milk having calved 83 days previously and at that moment she was in standing heat.

The purpose for my visit was to study the equipment the herd was using to monitor the health and reproduction in their herd (Read more: Better Decision Making by Using Technology and Robotic Milking: More than just automation it’s a new style of herd management.). My take away from that visit was that it takes being prepared for both the cows and heifers to be ready and able to get pregnant. Furthermore, the heifers in the herd were starting to be bred a 12 months of age and on average were calving at 22 months. They were breeding their heifers by weight. As the owners told me their success story, they were not stressed about getting animals in calf although they were looking for information so they could do an even better job on their reproduction program.

Beyond the Feed

Every nutritionist, worth their salt, carefully considers and advises dairymen on how to best feed their animals from birth to herd removal in order to achieve reproductive success. Semen handling, insemination and implantation techniques and sire, cow and heifer conception rates are topics that vets, reproduction specialists and semen sale people advise owners and staff on. Moreover, now geneticists are producing genetic indexes for fertility, pregnancy rate and body condition scores. And the staff working on the reproduction in herds are continually being trained on how to achieve success.

But it goes further than that in order, as Sue Brown of Lylehaven Holsteins (Read more: LYLEHAVEN: Developing the Dream) told us, for the vet to report the great news “She’s Pregnant”.

The Britt Theory

In 1992, Dr. Jack Britt, well know and very respected veterinarian from North Carolina State, published an article entitled Impacts of Early Postpartum Metabolism on Follicular Development and Fertility. Don’t let the title frighten you. This paper comes from a vet that grew up with dairy cows, judged cows in college, conducted research and educated students at Michigan State, NC State and U of Tennessee and has spoken extensively to breeder groups about reproduction in dairy cattle.

In short, Dr. Britt brought to the attention of all of us that the follicles that are available for ovulation, at the time of heat, were produced 60 – 80 days before a heat. The state of the female’s health and wellbeing when the follicle started to be formed is very important. Dr. Britt’s paper reported that “If follicles are exposed to adverse conditions such as severe negative energy balance, heat stress or postpartum disease during the initial stages of growth, this could affect gene expression, resulting in impaired or altered development. Such an impairment could result in the formation of dysfunctional mature follicles, which produce poor oocytes and result in the formation of weakened corpora lutes”. In other words, poor follicles won’t develop properly, and the resulting egg will not conceive. End of story.

Although Dr. Britt’s paper was published over twenty years ago, all breeders should ask themselves if it has relevance for their dairy operation.

Britt Theory Supported

Numerous other researchers have supported Dr. Britt. Their work includes more detailed study of the effect of NEB (Net Energy Balance) on embryo development, stressed cows and follicular development, follicular development and the ET donor, environmental factors that disrupt oocyte function and much more.

Beyond the Cow Herd

It does not start and stop with the milking cows. Heifer breeding in a herd likely makes up 25% of the breedings on a farm. Having healthy, well grown heifers able to conceive at 12 months of age takes both a plan and follow through action.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Conception will not just happen. Drugs alone won’t solve the problem. As breeders, we need to dig deeper and truly know what goes on in our herds reproductively. Success takes having a plan. Success takes a team approach – vet, nutritionist, technician, repro specialist, owner and staff.  Are you ready?




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15 Strength Sires That Will Still Fit In Your Stalls

For the vast majority of Holstein breeders, success is not about winning first prize at a cattle show. What they do want are heifers and cows in their herd that efficiently convert high forage based diets into growth and milk products that consumers will buy.  For those breeders tall animals are not the ideal. In fact many breeders are saying that they want cattle that have more heart and lung capacity (Read more: 5 Things You Must Know About Secretariat, Lung Capacity and Dairy Cattle) and less stature to go along with high production, improved reproduction and functional udders and feet and legs. (Read more: Feed Efficiency: The Money Saver)

Moderating Frame

Since size, stature and strength are some of the more heritable type traits in the North American type classification evaluations; it is possible to moderate stature and increase the capacity of chest and heart and lungs depending on the sires used. The challenge is to do that while placing major emphasis on production, health and reproduction traits. As udders and feet and legs have been improved significantly over the past twenty years in herds focused on producing milk, there is less need to place as much emphasis there. As always there are no perfect sires, so it takes careful corrective mating. Instead of generation after generation of breeding for increased stature, it may require that breeders use some sires that are negatively rated for frame traits. (Read more: Are Today’s Holstein Cows Too Tall?)  Today the majority of sires have high ratings on stature than on strength (USA) or chest width (Canada). To increase strength and capacity the sires used need to have higher indexes for strength or width than for stature.

Sire Suggestions

If your dairy breeding model is about production, efficiency and functionality from heifers that are 1150 pounds and 55 inches, calving at 21 months and cows that are up to 1600 pounds and 58 inches at fourth calving, then here are some sires that may suit your needs. The first requirement for making this list was that the sire have a high CM$ value. Cheese Merit was selected instead of Net Merit as the increased global demand for milk will likely come from the protein content.

Bryhill Science P

(200HO06584, Uno x Shottbolt x Goldwyn x September)

Science will be attractive to breeders wanting to introduce the polled gene into their herd. For a polled sire, he has high ratings for CM$ 756 and gTPI 2297 (71%Rel). His stature (+1.79) and strength (+1.20) ratings are moderate so, except for tall and large framed cows, he will hold but not decrease those traits. His inbreeding is slightly above average given his sire stack. His strengths are udders (+2.50), fat (89) and protein (42) yields with good Productive Life (+4.1) and PTAT (+2.75). His pins are high, but his DPR is +0.8 otherwise he has no significant limiting factors.

Bush-Bros Mog Fairfax

(14HO07349, Mogul x Freddie x Lancelot x Nitro)

Fairfax has a high rating for CM$ 974 with a moderately high rating for gTPI 2359 (71% Rel).  His stature (+0.49) and strength (+0.24) ratings are breed average which leads to a lower gTPI given his fat (73) and protein (42) yields. He excels for DPR (2.4), SCS (2.66), PL (7.0) and Calving Ease (5.6). Breeders who are wishing to have average framed cattle that have good udders (+2.36) with non-traditional sires back in his sire stack and desirable management trait ratings should look up Fairfax’s proof sheet.

Cogent Supershot

(224HO02881, Supersire x Robust x Shottle x Aerostar)

Supershot has been a very popular sire for IVF programmed females over recent months. At CM$ 1110 (highest on this listing) and gTPI 2625 (71% Rel), he is at the very top. Currently, his semen price is very high but breeders willing to wait can expect it to decrease. His stature (+1.07) and strength (+1.01) ratings indicate he will leave moderate framed cattle. His strengths are milk (2528), fat yield (100), protein yield (85), PL (7.4) and DPR (1.9). He has no negatively rated type traits, but neither does he excel for type (PTAT 2.2).

Co-op Bosside Massey

(1HO09527, Mascol x Bret x Manfred x Megabuck)

Massey in one of the few sires where his strength proof (1.54) exceeds hi stature proof (+0.94). These ratings along with his 96% Rel gTPI proof (2260) and CM$ 838 make him a sire that breeders wanting strength and production should definitely consider. His sire stack is quite different from other sires in North America. With over 700 daughters in his proof, breeders can expect that his proofs will hold up over time. His SCS proof is excellent (2.52) and he has good ratings for PL (3.7), DPR (0.9) and Udders (2.21). He needs to be protected for high pins and straight rear legs.

Denistier Discovery

(147HO02479, Mogul x Bowser x Toystory x Outside)

Discovery fits the mould well for sires that commercial dairymen wanting less frame should consider using with stature (+0.52) and strength (+0.07). His sire stack is enough different so as to not be a concern about inbreeding. He has excellent ratings for Management Traits – CE 5.5, DCE 5.4, PL 7.4, SCS 2.63, DPR 2.9, and Rump Angle 1.94 and good indexes for milk (1512), fat (65), protein (51) and feet & legs (2.49). In total, he has a very high CM$ 950 rating and a relatively high gTPI 2415 (72% Rel). He will need protection for straight rear legs (-2.25).

De-Su LTM Rodgers 11379

(7HO12023, Lithium x Russell x Wizard x Mtoto)

Rodgers has an uncommon sire stack and excels at CM$ 1008, and his gTPI is high at 2450 (72% Rel). With stature at 0.86 and strength at 0.12 his daughters can be expected to be medium for frame. As with other sires in this listing, he has very high Management Trait indexes – PL 7.7, SCS 2.65 and DPR 2.7. His Maternal Calving Ease at 3.9 is excellent, and his Calving Ease at 5.8 is very good. His milk (1626), fat (86) and protein (57) are also very good. His overall type. PTAT 1.68, is only slightly above average yet he has no serious type weaknesses.

EDG Rubicon

(151HO00681, Mogul x Robust x Planet x Bolton)

Although Rubicon’s sire stack contains many heavily used sires, his CM$ 1004 and gTPI 2531 (72% Rel) standout with moderate ratings for stature (1.50) and strength (1.15), and it warrants his inclusion in this listing.  PTAT 2.68, UC 2.41, FLC 2.54 and PL 6.3 say that his daughters should be trouble free cattle. Breeders desiring medium framed cattle with all other traits well above average should look up Rubicon.

Farnear Alfalfa

(29HO17516, Supersire x Freddie x Shottle x Buckeye)

Alfalfa’s indexes for stature (-0.26), strength (-0.07) and body depth (-0.72) make him the kind of bull breeders wanting to genetically decrease the frame of their cattle should consider using. He has high indexes for CM$ 935, gTPI 2354 (73% Rel), Milk 1622, Fat 71, Protein 49, PL 8.9, DPR 1.3 and MCE 4.6. His full brother Farnear Admiral (7HO12233) has very similar ratings and could also be considered.

Gillette SGO Myspace

(200HO10003, Mogul x Planet x Bolton x Shottle)

Breeders wishing to breed medium framed cows, but not wanting to move away from the breed’s popular sires might consider Myspace.  With stature at 0.69 and strength at 0.22, he fits this listing.  He has high indexes for CM$ 913, gTPI 2402 (73%), Milk 1805, Fat 82, Protein 58, PL 6.9, MCE 5.5 and SCS 2.68. He has good ratings for PTAT 2.46 and DPR 1.0, and he indexes are all positive except for very slight negatives for teat length and set of rear legs, side view.

Mainstreet Manifold

(200HO00042, Oman x BW Marshall x Emory x Adan)

Manifold is a 97% Reliability sire with a unique breeding pattern. Strength at 1.53 and stature at 0.59 says that his daughters are stronger than they are tall. He is just the type of sire that breeders who are wanting to breed for strength, but not for stature should be considering. He is a calving ease specialist (3.7) with good ratings for CM$ (761), gTPI (2188 (97% Rel), PL (4.3) and DPF (1.2).   Breeders should expect to get daughters that are average for type (PTAT +1.18).

MR Mogul Delta 1427

(203HO01468, Mogul x Robust x Planet x Elegant)

Although Delta is rated slightly higher for stature (+0.81) than strength (+0.04), he is just breed average for both of them. He makes this listing because of his extremely high ratings for CM$1076 (second on this listing) and gTPI 2567 (73% Rel) even though he is only average for frame traits. His strengths that get him highly rated for total merit include milk (1643), fat (93), protein (60), PL (7.8) and SCS (2.60) His DPR is 1.2 and, beyond the frame traits, he is positively rated for all type traits (PTAT 2.75).

MR Moviestar Mardi Gras

(534HO00025, Mogul x Planet x Shottle x Oman)

Mardi Gras is slightly higher for stature (+1.31) and strength (+0.78) than most sires in this listing, these traits are rated much lower for his other type ratings. His specialties are CM$ 926, gTPI 2467 (72% Rel), udders +2.96, PL 6.9 and DPR 2.3 with good rating for all other evaluations. His sire stack contains extensively used sires, but his EFI is not high.

RH Superman

(200HO07846, Supersire x Man-O-Man x Baxter x Durham)

Superman is not yet a year old and semen is not yet available but he is a bull to watch for in the future.  His Canadian indexes include Stature +2 and Chest Width +8 which would indicate that he would be the type of sire that needs to be included on this listing. He is rated at 3525 for gLPI (65% Rel) which puts him at the very top. Other traits with 99%RK ratings include Milk 2564 kg, Fat 126 kg, and Protein 96 kg. Traits with 98%RK ratings are CONF 11, Herd Life 113 and DCA 110.

River-Bridge Co-op Troy

(1HO11056, Mogul x Freddie x Mascol x Trent)

Troy is another top sire with CM$ 1057 (third highest on this listing) and gTPI 2508 (72% Rel) that is only average for strength (0.34) and stature (1.06). His strengths include PL 8.6, SCS 2.50, DPR 2.7, UC 2.37 and FLC 2.50. His only limiting factor is straight rear legs -2.07.

Westenrade Altaspring

(11HO11437, Mogul x Gerard x Mascol x Laudan)

Altaspring is the highest rated type sire (+2.82) on this listing yet he is only above average for strength (1.10) and stature (1.62). He is high for CM$ 967 and very high for gTPI 2546 (71% Rel). He is an all-round bull with no significant weaknesses in all his indexes.

There’s a Pattern

Eleven of the fifteen sires on this listing are sired by Mogul (8) and Supersire (3). That should not be a surprise given that for frame traits these two sires are not highly rated. Mogul is rated (USA) Stature 1.59 and Strength 0.79 and (Canada) Stature 1, Chest Width 1 and Height at Front End -6.  Supersire is rated (USA) Stature 1.25 and Strength 0.91 and (Canada) Stature 0, Chest Width 5 and Height at Front End -4.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

As Mogul and Supersire have been used extensively as the sires of A.I. bulls in the past few years, breeders can expect to have more strength bulls available in the future than there have been in the past ten years. Breeding for width and strength are likely to be topics that discerning breeders will be breeding for in the years ahead.




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Sounds rule the dairy day. But even those who rise when the cock crows and listen intently for pasture moos or dog alerts or the rumble of properly working farm machinery, can’t honestly say that they are masters of the finer aspects of attentive listening.  Author Stephen R. Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) says, most of us have had years and years of learning how to read and write, and to speak but then he asks a revealing question, “How much training have you had in listening?” Well, the answer for most of us is “None!”

Cows and Communication.  You’ve Got to Market Both!

There are so many skills to learn as a dairy farmer. Even more if you intend to be profitable and sustainable in an industry that is consolidating many pieces into larger and larger dairy operations. The pieces should fit together like a puzzle. However we sometimes skip the work needed to win our customers hearts and wallets. We think we can talk our way into the marketplace but, in actual fact, we need to listen first. Consider this. If you listened to your potential customers of semen, embryos or animals better than anybody else could, how do you think it would affect your sales?

It’s fine to promote your milking stats, classification scores or showring successes but, if you aren’t listening to your marketplace, all you will probably hear is the echo of your own voice.

Every one of us in the dairy industry is a salesperson of one sort or another. Whether it’s an idea, an association, a service or a product, we all have something to sell. Quite often it’s that personal agenda that we carry around with us that prevents us from really listening. “Everybody wants show type/genomics/ ” or “Nobody wants show type/genomics” Fill in the sales feature of choice. It isn’t the feature that we need to establish first. It is listening to the customer first. Our business grows when we focus on the customer’s frame of reference ahead of our own.

Here at the Bullvine we are well aware that enthusiasm can have us pushing an agenda that is mostly ours and not necessarily that of the majority of breeders. Having said that, we have been shown over and over again that listening and asking questions goes much further than talking and telling. It is the only way to understand what is happening in the marketplace and who is asking for what. Listening doesn’t mean there is only one way. It means listening to the market you are intending to serve. It means knowing what they want more than pushing what you’ve got.

Are we Car Salesmen or Cow Salesmen?

The day of the fast talking cattle salesman with a big car and the “right” connections, no longer sells cattle. Today in the dairy industry, as in most other businesses, new tools are in our faces every day.  Genomics, robotics, nutri-science and much more combine with instant worldwide communication.  Today the choices for both selling and buying are multiplying exponentially.

  • Social media makes it easier for customers to express their needs. Imagine! They expect to be listened to. “Don’t talk me into changing my mind about the kind of cows to work with. Listen and give me what I want.”
  • Live cattle auctions are facing challenges from attendance to lineup to top price relevance.
  • Show string marketing isn’t the “sure” thing it once was.

Where are Your Customers Talking From?

There was a time when your strategy for selling would be based quite specifically on geographic location. Unless you had an “in” with specific buyers or cattle dealers, you were pretty much limited to selling what the local marketplace wanted. Today you can set your strategy based on your dairy vision and particular skill and, find a market worldwide. This means more focused targets, deeper discussions about customer wants and providing and maintaining an ongoing relationship. But first off, it means gaining expertise in the digital marketplace.

Come and Get It?

So you know what the dairy cattle buyers want. You know what you have. How do you put the two together? Whether you use social media, tag sales, auctions or simple word of mouth you have to be found. Sales don’t happen unless the market knows what you have and how to find you. More and more the marketplace is customizing the product to a specific buyer. When you can customize your product to a specific marketplace you can leave the pontificating, posturing and politics behind.

Who do YOU listen to?

When you’re talking all the time, you’re limited to what you already know. When you’re listening, there is much to learn.  Having said that, if you just listen to people who reflect back who you are (and what you believe in) – then you’ll stay where you are.  Anti-genomics.  It’s fairly simple to pick the crowd to talk to.  Pro showring.  You know where to spend your time.  It makes for comfort, but it doesn’t make for progress. Comfort may be your goal but if you’re feeling stalled, perhaps you need to set your GPS for a different dairy destination.

The RIGHT information at the RIGHT time from the RIGHT source.

Even the smallest dairy operation has the marketing budget to make use of listening skills. It’s not expensive to listen. It starts with knowing what your customer wants. Insights derived from that information means you can take action. So what? What does the customer want? How will my dairy operation respond? If the market wants a genomic baseline of 2400+ gTPI, why are you settling for 2000 to 2300 gTPI in your breeding decisions? When you serve the type market are you seeking the udders and legs of longevity or do you breed for the showring judge who gives the advantage to stature?

Do You Hear the Criticism?

Marketplace criticism is valuable. Especially if you listen closely and make changes. If your sales are bogged down, finding out the cause is especially necessary. What a lever to get you unstuck! Use the power of two way communication. Social media adapts the old formula: “Two ears. Two eyes. One mouse.” Listen first and then respond pro-actively. Don’t hide from criticism. Accept and respond by making adjustments. One of the telltale signs of success are those dairy/genetics operations that are building new brands and experiencing exponential growth in a fraction of the time it takes to “launch”, advertise and push your own agenda. If you’re so busy putting your own stamp on the marketplace – regardless of what they’re asking for – you are also squashing any creative new direction that could take you to the next level.

Customer first. Then what?

We can all understand and repeat the sales mantra, “The customer is always right!”  That’s what the message so far has been emphasizing.  It’s easy to accept that the one who listens the best will serve the customer best.  But there is other listening that can lift your business higher on the ladder of success.

Listen to your Dairy Staff

Sometimes we forget that the people who work with the calves, heifers and cows every day have the clearest picture of the assets we are trying to sell in the marketplace. Here is a listening skill that is absolutely basic to dairy success that is too often overlooked. What does your staff say about working in the milking parlor with your cattle?  What do they like about certain cow families? What insights do they have that can be used to attract buyers to your operation.  Even more than the glossy ad or a catchy tag line is the endorsement of someone who works every day in the barn or in the show ring.   Simple question.  “What is she like to work with?” and then really listening to the answer.  That is the easiest, fastest and most effective way to re-start, re-design and remake a dairy marketing strategy that is stagnating.  Listening begins in the barn.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Now listen up. It’s fair to say that dairy cattle marketing can be complicated. However, if you put some of these listening skills to work in your dairy marketing strategy, the next sound you will hear could be coming from your cash register. Dairy genetic businesses sell best when they listen best! Cha-Ching!




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Over Exposure – Sunshine not always good for dairy farmers

Extended days of sunny weather – at just the right temperatures – those are the conditions we welcome so that our crops can grow and thrive.  However, the sun can beat down too hard, too hot or too long. When that affects crops, we are prepared with irrigation, new plant breeds … whatever it takes to protect the harvest.  However, when it comes to the sun beating down on our own heads, arms shoulders… backs… we may not be as conscientious about preventing the damage. The hazards of extended exposure to the sun is one of many side effects of this career called farming and can lead to skin cancer, premature aging of the skin and suppression of the immune system.

“One in five will get skin cancer in their life!”

Every year more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in more than 2 million people.  In the US there are over 600,000 cases with 9.000 deaths each year. One person dies from melanoma every hour in the United States.  Anyone can get skin cancer however the incidence among farmers, who spend much of their workday outdoors, is noticeably higher than in the general population, and it is increasing.  In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, outdoor workers experience twice the amount of non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas) compared to those who work indoors. Fortunately, skin cancer is highly curable if found early and can be prevented.

Over Exposure

Sunburns, though a contributing factor, are not the main cause of skin cancer. It is rare that one severe sunburn is attributed with skin cancer.  It is the build up of repeated exposures that result in damaging changes to the skin.  Of course, summer months are more harmful and the midday hours of bright sun most destructive. While those are obvious, it is important to recognize that sunburn is possible during other seasons, on cloudy days and at other times of day.  Even on a cloudy day, 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds.

Spot Skin Cancer and See a Doctor

It is important to be aware to changes in your skin.  A new growth, mole of discoloration, or a sudden change in an existing mole are signs that you should see a physician. It cannot be overemphasized that early detection is the first step in successful treatment. It could save your life.  Early detection of all types of skin cancers is crucial for successful treatment.  In the case of melanoma, it is critical.  The 5 year mortality rate for whites with melanoma is 85 percent and for blacks it is 70 percent (NCDEHNR).  The earlier the detection, the greater are the chances of survival.

Where to Look

With many farm jobs, requiring working while bent over, the back of the neck and ears are exposed and perhaps not as easily monitored as face, eyes, arms and hands.  It is always best to wear protective clothing, hats, sunscreen and sunglasses.

Hats On!

Farmers should wear wide brimmed hats with a brim of at least 4-inches. Not everyone would choose to wear the bright red wide-brimmed hat that is my “haying” hat.  But those extra inches of shade have made a tremendous difference, not only, in preventing sunburn and heat stroke but also in my comfort while bouncing across the fields in my favorite tractor (of course hubby gets the tractor with the air-conditioned cab). The usual ball caps worn by farmers don’t provide enough coverage for the most vulnerable areas – tops of ears, temples, face and neck.  When my sons were young, they had a summer tradition of shaving their heads.  One year, that coincided with a hatless day in the sun and “crispy bacon” was the description of the painful resulting sunburn.

It’s A Cover Up

What you wear is most important in protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays (UVR). Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Tightly woven and light-colored fabric can actually keep the body cooler in the sun and will protect against cancer-causing rays. UV radiation reflects off water, sand, concrete, light-colored surfaces and snow.  Even when wearing a hat, UV radiation will reflect off the surface and can damage the skin.  High-quality sun protective clothing is available, or you can use a sun-protective solution that you can wash into everyday clothing to make it protective.

What’s Your SPF Score?  Are you Choosing or Losing?

Any product that is not “Broad Spectrum,” or has an SPF below 15, must have a warning stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.  New water resistance claims on the front label must indicate whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours.  Apply more often if you are sweating.

You should apply sunscreen every day to exposed skin – and not just if you are going to be in the sun.  UVB rays cannot penetrate glass windows. However, UVA rays can, leaving you prone to damaging effects if unprotected.

You are at Risk! Men are Risking the Most

Those who have a family history of skin cancer, numerous moles or freckles or a history of severe sunburns early in life are at a higher risk of skin cancer as well. To minimize the harmful effects of excessive and unprotected sun exposure, protection from intense UV radiation should be a life-long practice for everyone.  Research has shown that men are less likely than women to protect their skin when outdoors.  Of course, once there is a problem, the protection is more likely.

DO IT NOW! Check your face, ears, hands and arms before reading any further.  What do you see?  Is your physician working with you to monitor changes?  Make an appointment. Now.

Denial Could be Fatal.

It is unfortunate that sunburn or the potential of developing skin cancer are not seen by farmers as something deserving preventive action.  Because it doesn`t (until it`s fatal) affect their ability to farm it doesn`t receive high priority.  Although simply wearing protective clothing and applying, sunscreen could go a long way in preventing future problems, the inconvenience and added heat results in what could be a fatal decision.

“One person every hour dies from melanoma in the United States.”

The good news is that melanoma is highly curable if detected on the skin at an early stage.

UVA exposure also is known to lead to signs of premature aging of the skin, such as wrinkling and age spots. The UVB rays are the sun’s burning rays (which are blocked by window glass) and are the primary cause of sunburn. A good way to remember it is that UVA rays are the aging rays and UVB rays are the burning rays. Excessive exposure to both forms of UV rays can lead to the development of skin cancer.

For Want of a Tan — a Life was Lost

Being well-tanned is often associated with being healthy.  Those who are pale skinned are (sometimes wrongly) assumed to be sickly.  The truth probably lies somewhere in between.  Unfortunately, baking our bodies on the beach or on a tanning bed to achieve just the right “glow” could have very dangerous results. While few farmers spend time in tanning salons, the equally dangerous effects of that movie star tan, although obtained from days of working instead of playing, can be equally harmful.

How Much Sunscreen

The type of sunscreen you use is up to you. Be sure to toss outdated products, as they will lose their effectiveness.  Don’t forget that lips get sunburned, too.  Apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with an SPF or higher.  When using sunscreen, be sure to apply it to all exposed areas and pay particular attention to the face, ears, hands and arms.  Coat the skin liberally and rub it in thoroughly. Surveys have revealed that most people only apply 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen.  One ounce, which is enough to fill the palm of your hand, is considered to be the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly.

Stay Out of the Noon Day Sun

Although working outdoors when the sun is less intense, before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., may not easy, sometimes rescheduling chores to times when exposure is lessened can be achieved. Finding available shade may be hard, but creating shade where you work with an umbrella or awning is a great idea. You certainly now see more tractors with a canopy to protect the operator from exposure to the elements. Avoid long workdays spent outside in the sun, especially from May-October.  You should also wear wraparound sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UBV rays.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Don’t become a statistic.  Skin cancer is preventable.  Keep a weather eye on your exposure at ALL times.  Always be aware of changes to your skin.  When it comes to spots, remember this powerful reminder from the American Academy of Dermatology:  Prevent. Detect. Live.




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Ontario Summer Holstein Show Results 2014

top read 14 iconDATE July 25, 2014
LOCATION Lindsay Exhibition Grounds, Lindsay, ON
JUDGE Gerald Coughlin,
ROGGUA DUNDEE EVELYNE Grand Chamoion  Ferme Yvon Sicard, Ghyslain Demers

Grand Champion
Ferme Yvon Sicard, Ghyslain Demers

Grand Champion – Roggua Dundee Evelyne (Regancrest Dundee-ET), Ferme Yvon Sicard & Ghyslain Demers
Reserve Grand Champion – Cobequid Goldwyn Leno (Braedale Goldwyn), Butz-Hill Holstein, Ferme Yvon Sicard, Ghyslain Demers, & Pierre Boulet
High BCA Honorable Mention Grand Champion – Signature R Katness (Regancrest Reginald-ET), Glennholme Signature Holsteins & Todd Edwards
Intermediate Champion - Signature R Katness (Regancrest Reginald-ET), Glennholme Signature Holsteins & Todd Edwards

Intermediate Champion – Signature R Katness (Regancrest Reginald-ET), Glennholme Signature Holsteins & Todd Edwards

Intermediate Champion – Signature R Katness (Regancrest Reginald-ET), Glennholme Signature Holsteins & Todd Edwards
Reserve Intermediate Champion – Dortholme Goldwyn Alexis (Braedale Goldwyn), Crackholme Holsteins, Lookout Holsteins & Rob Heffernan
Honorable Mention Intermediate Champion – Kingsway Goldwyn Dallas (Braedale Goldwyn), Kingsway Farms & Trentward Farms


Junior Champion – Devans Remark Dempsey (Lirr Drew Dempsey), Bethany McDonald
Reserve Junior Champion – Ms Duckett Dyment Coral-ET (Amighetti Numero Uno-ET), Gracehaven Holsteins & Royal Lynn Holsteins
Honorable Mention Junior Champion – Trent Valley H P (St-Jacob Destry Heztry-ET) Gerald Halbach & Lookout Holsteins

Junior Calf

Claircrest Fever Tiki  1st place Junior Calf

Claircrest Fever Tiki
1st place Junior Calf

  1. Claircrest Fever Tiki (Crackholm Fever), Gene Iager & Joel Phoenix
  2. JPB Bradnick Sexy Lady (Regancrest- GV S Bradnick-ET), Crackholm Holsteins & Lookout Holsteins
  3. Farrow S Victorias Secret (Ourown Goldwyn Sylvestor-ET), Far-Row Holsteins
  4. Lachancia Elaborate Titane (Stantons Elaborate), Ferme Kamlake & Stephane Tardif
  5. Ploegsway McCutchen Bally (De-Su Bkm McCutchen 1174-ET), Howard Doner, John Vanderploeg & Willdina Holsteins
  6. Seavalley Atwood Yantzys Pride (Maple-Downs I-G W Atwood), Cassie Carr & Seavalley Holsteins
  7. Comestar Aliky Goldwyn (Braedale Goldwyn), Jeff Stephens
  8. Claircrest Fever Barley (Crackholm Fever) Clair Petherick
  9. Dappledale Avalon Carmel (Farnear-TBR Altaavalon-ET), Carl Phoenix & Family & Dappledale Holsteins
  10. Fricosons Uno Elysium (Amighetti Numero Uno- ET) Fricosons Holsteins

Intermediate Heifer Calf Class

MS DUCKETT DYMENT CORAL 1st place Intermediate Calf

1st place Intermediate Calf

  1. Ms Duckett Dyment Coral-ET (Amighetti Numero Uno-ET), Gracehaven Holsteins & Royal Lynn Holsteins
  2. Elmcroft Dempsey Avery (Lirr Drew Dempsey), Emccroft Holsteins
  3. Quality Brokaw Annie (Mr Atwood Brokaw-ET), Quality Holsteins
  4. Sicy Aftershock Lemone (Ms Atlees Sht Aftershock-ET), Ferme Yvon Sicard & Julien Sicard
  5. Butlerview Brokaw Cami-ET (Mr Atwood Brokaw), Genervations, Mapelwood, O’Connors Land & Cattle Co, Patty Jones & Paul Kruger
  6. Ronbeth Chelios Saide (Domicole Chelios), Loval Farm
  7. Leachland Atwood Megabyte (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood-ET), Colin & Karen Leach
  8. Riverdown Atwood Jiggalo (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood), Justin Velhuis & Riverdown Holsteins
  9. Kingsway Airlift Gosling (Canyon-Breeze At Airlift-ET), Kingsway Farms
  10. Maplekeys Windbrook OMG (Gillette Windbrook), Maplekeys Farms


Senior Heifer Calf



  1. Hi-Maintenance Gold Chip LV (Braedale Goldwyn), John & Bonnie Ayars & Kenroe Farms
  2. Aleah Millen Naughty By Nature (Mr Chassity Gold Chip-ET), Aleah Farms LTD, Joel Stillman, Ronald Werry & Werrcroft Farms LTD
  3. Kingsway Goldwyn Elsie (Braedale Goldwyn), Kingsway Farms & Millen Farms
  4. Kingsway Goldwyn Lipsmack (Braedale Goldwyn), Kingsway Farms
  5. Mapel Woodd Goldwyn Glitter (Braedale Goldwyn), Agriber Societa Agricola SRL, Al-Be-Ro Land & Cattle, Cormdale Genetics Inc., & T & L Cattle LTD
  6. Vale-O-Skene Windbrook Bianca (Gillette Windbrook), Bethany McDonald & Robert Macdonald
  7. Clarkvalley Sanchez Miata (Gen-Mark Stmatic Sanchez), Certified Holsteins, Clarkvalley Holsteins & John Dortmans, JR
  8. Crovalley Sid Rain (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Crovalley Holsteins
  9. Mount Elm Windbrook Pacifica (Gillette Windbrook), Neil & Bryan Anderson
  10. Benrise Braxton Lilith (Regancrest S Braxton-ET), Benchop Farms

Summer Yearling


  1. Trent Valley H P (St-Jacob Destry Heztry-ET) Gerald Halbach & Lookout Holsteins
  2. Claircrest Sid Dare Devil (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Clair Petherick
  3. Hanalee Saloon  Claire (Sandy-Valley Saloon-ET), Gary Hazeleger & Hank & Nancy-Lee Hazeleger
  4. Hodglynn Windbrook Fantasia (Gillette Windbrook), Hodglynn Holsteins & Little Star Holsteins
  5. Mount Elm Loves to Dance (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Cormdale Genetics Inc
  6. Pamphily Lavanguard Maika (Comestar Lavanguard), Kevin Moffet, Myriam Coulombe & Sebastien Moffet
  7. Smithden Mascalese Amelee (Zani Bolton Mascalese-ET), Smithden Holsteins Inc.
  8. Crovalley Sid Athlete (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Crovalley Holsteins
  9. Kingsway Shadow Cabob (B-Crest Shadow-ET), Kingsway Farms
  10. Calbrett McCutchen Lila (De-Su Bkm McCutchen-1174-ET), Lilyking Farm

Junior Yearling Heifer Class


  1. Jacobs Charlie Drayo (Mr Chassity Charlie-ET), Jamie Farrell, Marbrae Holsteins & Mosnang Holsteins Ltd.
  2. Sco-Lo-Coons Atti Banshe-ET (Allyndale-I Attic), Little Star Holsteins
  3. Crovalley Atwood Patricia (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood), Crovalley Holsteins
  4. Smithdeango Bella (Smithden Bolton Bango), Smithden Holsteins Inc.
  5. Vanderway Snowin L-Red (Tiger-Lilly Ladd P-Red-ET), Clarview Hoslteins & Vale-O-Skene Holsteins
  6. Sicy Ballett Atwood (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood), Ferme Yvon Sicard & Ghyslain Demers
  7. Mell-Wood-I Goldwyn A Ha (Braedale Goldwyn), Loval Farms & Sandra Osborne
  8. Beaverbrock Sanchez Darling (Gen-Mark Stmatic Sanchez), Beaverbrock Farms
  9. Crovalley Gold Akitkat (Mr Chassity Gold Chip-ET), Crovalley Holsteins
  10. Ms Tara GC Tally-ET (Mr Chassity Gold Chip-ET) Matt Yates, Ron Werry, Joel Stillman & Tristan Rae

Winter Yearling Heifer Class


  1. Devans Remark Dempsey (Lirr Drew Dempsey), Bethany McDonald
  2. Beckholm Sid Trista (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Beckholm Hosteins
  3. Crovalley Lavanguard Adele (Comestar Lavanguard), Crovalley Holsteins
  4. Aleah Millen Naughtys Secret (Braedale Goldwyn), Aleah Farms LTD, Matthew & Tyler Yates & Millen Farms
  5. Glennholme Goldwyn Katch (Braedale Goldwyn), Glennholme Holsteins, Signature Holsteins & Todd Edwards
  6. Gendrra Goldn Revolver (Ploegsway Goldnuts), Gendarra farm
  7. Craigcrest Rubies Gold Charm (Braedale Goldwyn), Willdina Holsteins
  8. Beaverbrock Rose Marie (Allyndale-I Attic), Beaverbrock Farms
  9. Donafton Midas Gold (Sellcrest Midas-Red-ET), Burnetthill Holsteins
  10. OCD Fansty Las Vegas-Red-ET (Sweet-Peas Real Fantasy-Red), Armstrong

Senior Yearling Heifer Class


  1. GGI Atwood Bambi (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood), Crovalley Holsteins
  2. Crovalley Sid Alba (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Crovalley Holsteins
  3. Beaverbrock Goldwyn Zoey (Braedale Goldwyn), Beaverrock Farms
  4. Claircrest Stanley Marvelous (Gillette Stanleycup), Clair Petherick
  5. Hanalee Lauthority Aphrodite (Comestar Lauthority), Hank & Nancy-Lee Hazelberger
  6. Lylehaven Gwd Lalita-ET (Braedale Goldwyn), Fricosons Holsteins & Golddream Genetics
  7. Ms Co-Vale Attic Lalita-ET (Braedale Goldwyn), Armstrong & James St. Cyr

 Junior Two-Year-Old Cow Class


  1. Signature R Katness (Regancrest Reginald-ET), Glennholme Signature Holsteins & Todd Edwards
  2. Dortholme Goldwyn Alexis (Braedale Goldwyn), Crackholme Holsteins, Lookout Holsteins & Rob Heffernan
  3. Maplekey’s Sid Odyssey (Pint-Tree Sid-ET), Maplekeys Farms
  4. Quality Sid Fanta (Pine-Tree-ET), Quality Holsteins
  5. Eastriver Goldwyn Deb (Braedale Goldwyn), Hazbro Holsteins, Kingsway Farms & Millen Farms
  6. Mount Elm Goldwyn Nickelback (Braedale Goldwyn), Beckholm Holsteins
  7. Millbrooke Sid Carissa (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Jeff Stephens
  8. Loasis Reginald Lesly (Regancrest Reginald-ET), Ferme Yvon Sicard & Pierre Boulet
  9. Valleyville Sanchez Vernie (Gen-Mark Stmatic Sanchez), Quality Holsteins
  10. Phoenix Lauthority Jazz (Comestar Lauthority), Emilane Holsteins, Gary troup, Gracehaven Holsteins & Vale-O-Skene Holsteins

Senior Two-Year-Old Cow Class


  1. Kingsway Goldwyn Dallas (Braedale Goldwyn), Kingsway Farms & Trentward Farms
  2. Keylas Sid Roxanna (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Douglas Winger
  3. Valmar Colton Wendy (Lookout Pesce Goldwyn Colton), Clarkvalley Holsteins
  4. Cavanaleck BG Bruin (Braedale Goldwyn), Hodgylenn Holsteins, Weavercroft Farms & Frank & Diane Borba
  5. Garay Sid Alexia (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Crackholm Holsteins & Lookout Holsteins
  6. Aleah Damion Langley (Erbacres Damion), Aleah Farms LTD
  7. Kaymanor Jersey Devil (Regancrest Dundee-ET), Peter Leach
  8. Mount Elm Destry Snakebite (Scientific Destry-ET), High Point Farms & Neil Bryan Anderson
  9. Morcrest Goldwyn Diamond (Braedale Goldwyn), Beckholm Holsteins
  10. Milksource Goldwyn Jenay (Braedale Goldwyn), Royal Lynn Holsteins

Junior Three-Year-Old Cow Class


  1. Beckholm Goldwyn Deelila (Braedale Goldwyn), Beckholm Holsteins
  2. Kentville Fremont Rockstar (Duckett-Sa Fremont-ET), Kentville Holsteins
  3. Millbrrok Attic Dingo (Allyndale-I Attic), Ed Meulendyk
  4. Ms Tri-Dee Rm Atwood Tara (Maple-Downs-I GW Atwood), Arethusa Farm
  5. Ms Rollnvw Gold Delilah-ET  (Braedale Goldwyn), Hodglynn Holsteins
  6. Rainyridge Jordan Erika (Gillette Jordan), Crovalley Holsteins

Senior Three-Year- Old Cow Class


  1. Crovalley Knowledge Akika (Sicy Knowledge), Arethusa Farm
  2. Roswitha Watch out Sindy (Gillette Watch Out), Allstar Gen, Ferme Yvon Sicard & Roswitha Holsteins
  3. KHW Regement Apple C-Red-ETN (Carrousel Regiment-Red-ET), David Dyment, Michael & Sheryl Deaver, & Unique Holsteins
  4. River Dale Mr Sam Ella (Regancrest-Mr Durham Sam-ET), Hazbro Holsteins, Kingsway Farms & Millen Farms
  5. Clarkridge Picolo Pam (La Presentation Picolo Red), Clarview Holsteins, Gary Troup, Vale-O-Skene Holsteins
  6. Fradon Goldwyn Alain (Braedale Goldwyn), Brent Butcher & Jeff Stephens
  7. Marfloacres Damion Lulu (Erbacres Damion), Quality Holsteins

Four-Year-Old – Cow-Class


  1. Kingsway Sanchez Arangatang (Gen-Mark Stmatic Sanchez), Kingsway Farms
  2. Ms Atwood Madison-ET (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood), Pleasant Nook, Glenvue Opportunity & M. Unholzer
  3. Cherry Crest Goldwyn Aspire (Braedale Goldwyn), Bonnechere Holsteins, International Genetics LTD, Regwall Holsteins, Rusendale Farms Inc, & Trekikil Holsteins
  4. Kingsway Goldwyn Dandy (Braedale Goldwyn), Kingsway Farms
  5. Starbrite atwood Delrose (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood), Starbrite Holsteins
  6. Ernest-Anthony Astoria-ET (Braedale Goldwyn), Arethusa Farm
  7. Phoenix Baxter Geometry (Emerald-Acr-SA T-Baxter), High Point Farms
  8. Ronbeth Mitey Safari P (West Port Arron Doon Mitey P), Ronbeth Holsteins
  9. Signature Sanchez Amigo (Gen-Mark Stmatic Sanchez), Signature Holsteins
  10. Merlholme Denzel Tequila (La Presentation Denzel), Clair Petherick

Five-Year-Old-Cow Class


  1. Cobequid Goldwyn Leno (Braedale Goldwyn), Butz-Hill Holstein, Ferme Yvon Sicard, Ghyslain Demers, & Pierre Boulet
  2. Eastside Gold Offering (Braedale Goldwyn), Maplekeys Farms
  3. Kingsway Goldwyn Abrakazoo (Braedale Goldwyn), Dave Renaud, Kingsway Farms, Millen Farms & William Barnum
  4. Beckholm Goldwyn Pricilla (Braedale Goldwyn), Beckholm Holsteins
  5. Kingsway Sanchez Litpstick (Gen-Mark Stmatic Sanchez), Kingsway Farms
  6. Claircrest Goldwyn Classic (Braedale Goldwyn), Clair Petherick
  7. Crovalley Jasper Madonna (Wilcoxview Jasper-ET), Crovalley Holsteins

Mature Cow Class


  1. Roggua Dundee Evelyne (Regancrest Dundee-ET), Ferme Yvon Sicard & Ghyslain Demers
  2. Eby016 Pss Trinity (Pursuit September Storm), Pleasant Nook Farm
  3. Nipponia R D Lizabeth (Regancrest Dundee-ET), Kingsway Farms, Ronald Werry & Trentward Farms
  4. Gerann Roy Grendel (Roylane Jordan-ET), Quality Holsteins
  5. Quality Goldwyn Flinco (Braedale Goldwyn), Quality Holsteins
  6. Quality Goldwyn Flansco (Braedale Goldwyn), Quality Holsteins
  7. Crovalley Lheros Vixen (Comestar Lheros), Crovalley Holsteins
  8. Altona Lea Goldwyn Galaxy )Braedale Goldwyn), Frank Barkey & Family
  9. Claircrest Astro Adorable (Oseeana Astronomical-ET), Clair Pehterick

Breeder’s Herd of Three Animals

  1. Kingsway Farms, Gordon McMillan
  2. Quality Holsteins
  3. Ed Meulendyk

Dairy Herd

  1. Kingsway Farms, Gordon McMillan
  2. Quality Holsteins

Premier Exhibitor – Crovalley Holsteins

Premier Breeder – Kingsway Farms

Ontario Summer Jersey Show Results 2014

DATE July 24, 2014
LOCATION Lindsay Exhibition Grounds, Lindsay, ON
JUDGE Gerald Coughlin, ON


Grand Champion – Arethusa Response Vivid (Response), Arethusa Farm, ON
Reserve Grand Champion – Lone Pine On Time Believe (Ontime), Avonlea Genetics Inc & Anselmo Vasconcellos, ON & Brazil
HM Grand Champion – Pleasant Nook Tequila Mae (Tequila), Pleasant Nook Farm, ON

Lone Pine On Time Believe (Ontime) Intermediate Champion Avonlea Genetics INc & Anselmo Vasconcellos, ON & Brazil

Lone Pine On Time Believe (Ontime)
Intermediate Champion
Avonlea Genetics Inc & Anselmo Vasconcellos, ON & Brazil

Intermediate Champion – Lone Pine On Time Believe (Ontime), Avonlea Genetics Inc & Anselmo Vasconcellos, ON & Brazil
Reserve Intermediate Champion – Pleasant Nook Tequila Mae (Tequila), Pleasant Nook Farm, ON
HM Intermediate Champion – Arethusa HG Victoria (Hired Gun), Arethusa Farm, CT


Junior Champion – Charlyn JK Sherry (Keeper), Lookout, Frank & Diane Borba & Gerald Roefs, ON

Junior Champion – Charlyn JK Sherry (Keeper), Lookout, Frank & Diane Borba & Gerald Roefs, ON
Reserve Junior Champion – Elliotts Sterling Imperssion (Impression), The Sterling Syndicate, CT
HM Junior Champion – Riview Verbatim Sophie (Verbatim), Riview Jersey(4H Katie Babcook) ON

Champion 4-H – Hollylane Response Chalou (Response), HOllylane Jerseys, ON (4-H Courtney Ray)
Reserve Champion 4-H – Sleegerholm Giller Jango (Giller), Mike Sleegers (4-H Laura Deklein), ON

Peewee Showmanship (2)
Reid Barkey
Liam Bullock

Premier Breeder – Enniskillen Jerseys, ON
Runner Up- Avonlea Genetics

Premier Exhibitor – Enniskillen Jerseys
Runner up- Paullor & Pleasant Nook (tie)


Junior Calf (7)


1. Homeridge Hg Honey (Hired Gun), Lookout, Frank & Diane Borba, Abe Light, Eric Hetu, QC, NY
2. Hird’s Stealth Lucinda (Stealth), Nathan Wade, ON
3. Arethusa Vespera (Redford-ET), Arethusa Farm, CT
4 .Roesbett Vr Barbie Doll (Verbatim), Gerald Roefs (4-H Project For Dani Karn), ON
5. Paullor Impression Josette (Impression ET), Paul & Lorraine Franken & Mike Sleegers, ON

Intermediate Calf (7)


1. Rosebett V sultry (Verbatim), Gerald Roefs, ON
2. Parkview Master Kiwi (Master), Tim Staring, Taylor & Will VanderMeulen (4-H Will VanderMeulen), NY & ON
3. Gleholme Excitation Nina (Excitation), Robert & Bruce Mellow, ON
4. Bell City Gentry Marina (Gentry), Hollylane Jersey & Bell cCity Jersey, ON
5. Marlau Tequila Fable (Tequila), Lauren Lambert & Weavercroft Farms Ltd., ON

Senior Calf (12)


1. Domy Kyros Arcadia (Kyros), Laurent lambert &Weavercroft Farms Ltd., ON
2. Sleegerholm Giller Jango (Giller), Mike Sleegers 4H Profjec tfor Laura Deklein, ON
3. Marlau Joel Maria (Joel), Laurent Lambert & Weavercroft Farms Ltd., ON
4. M Signature Tina Maries Bordeaux (Verbatim), Lookout & Frank & Diane Borba, QC & CA
5. Enniskillen Sultan Suzy (Sultan), Enniskillen Jersey (4H Benjamin Sargent), ON

Summer Yearling (9)


1. Riview Verbatim Sophie (Verbatim), Riview Jersey(4H Katie Babcook) ON
2. Kellogg-Bay Sincere Impression (Impression), Diane & Frank Borba, Carol & Frank Borba & Loookout Jerseys, ON
3. Hollylane Response Chalou (Response), HOllylane Jerseys (4H Courtney Ray), ON
4. Claircrest Velocity Butterfly (Velocity), Clair Petherick, ON
5. Glenholme Impressionable Trait ( Impression), Robert & Bruce Mellow (4H Curtis Ruta), ON

Junior Yearling (10)


1. Elliotts Sterling Imperssion (Impression), The Sterling Syndicate, CT
2. Hollylane Response Harlem (Response), Hollylane Jerseys & Lorne Ella, ON
3. Homeridge Gammon Biscuit (Gammon), Tara McKinven & Trailbblazer Jerseys, QC
4. Hollylane R Joey Pistachio (Joey), Hollylane Jerseys, ON
5. Marlau Tequila Faby (Tequila), Laurent Lambert & Weavercroft Farms Ltd. ON

Intermediate Yearling (5)


1. Charlyn JK Sherry (Keeper), Lookout, Frank & Diane Borba & Gerald Roefs, ON
2. Claircrest Velocity Dazzler (Velocity), Clair Petherick, ON
3. Sleegerholm Reagan Ikea (Reagan), Mike Sleegers & Ari Ekstein, ON
4. Enniskillen Jade Suzy (Jade), Enniskillen Jerseys, ON
5. Maplebrough I Pod Mindy ( I Pod), Frank Barkey & Family, ON

Senior Yearling (5)


1. Claircrest Spoirit Vivacious (Spirit), Clair Petherick, ON
2. Avonlea Jade Karlinna 9Jade), Avonlea Genetics, ON
3. Paullor Tequila All-out (Tequila), Paul & Lorraine Franken, ON
4. Edgelea Reward Phoenix (Reward), Joel Bagg, ON
5. Garhaven Comerica Delux (Comerica), Tim Hunt, ON

Junior Herd (4)

1. Hollylane Jerseys, ON
2. Laurent Lambert, QC
3. Clair Petherick, ON
4. Enniskillen Jerseys, ON

Junior 2 Year Old (12)


1. (BU & BO) Arethusa HG Victoria (Hired Gun), Arethusa Farm, CT
2. Pleasant Nook Tequila Daiquiri (Tequila), Pleasant Nook Farm, ON
3 Homridge V Buttons (Verb), Lookout, Frank & Diane Borba , Homeridge & Mike Heath, QC, CA & MA
4. Paullor Vivitar Rambe (Vivitar), Paul & Lorraine Franken, ON
5. Avonlea Sizzle of Milo (Verbatim), Avonlea Genetics & Tom Breakell, ON

Senior 2 Year Old (6)


1. Pleasant Nook Tequila Mae (Tequila), Pleasant Nook Farm, ON
2. TJ Classic Verbatim Victoria (Verbatim), Avonlea Genetics, Michael P Heath & Purple Heath, ON, NY & MA
3. Enniskillen Sultan MCT Suzy (Sultan), Enniskillen Jerseys, ON
4. Jaspar Colton Chocolate (Colton), Randy & Tara Bullock, ON
5. Sleegerholm PJ Reward Joni (Reward), Laurent Lambert & Weavercroft Farms Ltd., QC & ON

Junior 3 Year Old (9)


1. Avonlea Comerica Velvet ET (Comerica), Patty Jones & GMO Holdings, ON
2.Enniskillen Tequila Mamie 48 (Tequila), Enniskillen Jerseys, ON
3. Marlau Socrates Arcadios (Socrates), Patty Jones & Cybil Fisher, ON &WI
4. Paullor Valour Fargo (Valour), Paul & Lorraine Franken, ON
5. Signature Verbatim Tia Marie (Verbatim), Lookout & Frank & Diane Borba, ON & CA

Senior 3 Year Old (6)


1. Lone Pine On Time Believe (Ontime), Avonlea Genetics Inc & Anselmo Vasconcellos, ON & Brazil
2.Pleasant Nook Action Markelle (Action), Pleasant Nook Farm, ON
3. Homeridge on Time Maiden (On Time), Laurent Lambert & Wavercroft Farms Ltd. ,QC & ON
4. Enniskillen Action Maie36 (Action), Enniskillen Jerseys, ON
5. Lorivale Grand Prix Veranda (Grand Prix), Hollylane Jerseys, ON
6. Webb Doon Comerica Luchios (Comerica), Ian & Christina Pettey &B Don & Liz Muldoon, ON

4 Year Old (13)


1. Paullor Ressurection Geneva (Ressurection), Paul & Lorraine Franken, ON
2. Avonlea CF Giggles Gypsy Rose (Action), Avonlea Genetics & Cybil Fisher, ON &WI
3. Avonlea Kookie Dough (Action), Avonlea Genetics, ON
4. Enniskillen Sultan Asy 2 (Sultan), Enniskillen Jerseys, ON
5. Donnobelle Laser Tan (Laser), Randy & Tara Bullock, ON

5 Year Old (2)


1. (BO & BU) Paullor Giller Glinda (Giller), Paul & Lorraine Franken, ON
2. Pleasant Nook Happy Birthday (Iatola), Pleasant Nook Farm, ON

Mature Cow (6)


1. (BO & BU) Arethusa Response Vivid (Response), Arethusa Farm, ON
2. Hawk Pond Midnight Maestro (Maestro), Christine Desrosiers & Julien & Charles Sicard, QC
3. Lookout Res Bella (Ressurection), Lookout & Frank & Diane Borba, QC & CA
4. Enniskillen MCT Suzy III (C Tops), Enniskillen Jerseys, ON
5. Maple Ridge Golden Girl (Guapo), Hollylane Jerseys & Ed McMorrow, ON

Breeders Herd (4)

1. Avonlea Genetics, ON
2. Pleasant Nook Jerseys, ON
3. Paullor Jerseys, ON
4. Enniskillen Jerseys, ON

“It’s just stuff….”

A year ago Clarence and Wendy Markus were abruptly awakened in the night to discover that 30 years of their family’s hard work was burning to the ground. (Read more: Your Barn is on Fire!)  A thousand times over the past year, Clarence has shared with everyone his unique perspective on that fateful night….”It’s just stuff”.   Despite the loss and upheaval to their lives, Clarence and the entire Markus family have come to see something that could have defeated them has become a blessing. They are extremely appreciative of the outpouring of support from the dairy community around the world.  As members of the dairy industry, we all know that the dairy community is the greatest.  (Read more: Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World….)  Nevertheless, sometimes it is harder to remember and accept Clarence’s message that, “It’s just stuff.”

There are those who might take Clarence’s comments lightly, while agreeing with the observation “They’re just cows” or “It’s just a barn.” They may too quickly overlook  the amount of hard physical work, the time spent, the late nights or the costs involved for “just a cow” and the memories that “just a barn” hold for generations of a dairy farmer’s family.  For families like the Markus’s, dairy farming is more than just an occupation. It is more than a career. It is a way of life.  Therefore,  when the cows are lost, and the barns are destroyed, it is like getting  laid off, fired or downsized from your chosen career and having your place of work completely eradicated.. Seeing all that was lost in this horrific fire, I don’t take Clarence’s words, “It’s just stuff” lightly. And neither does he or his family.    What he is sincerely highlighting is the fact that everyone was safe.  Clarence and his wife Wendy were not harmed in the fire.  Their four kids, spouses and many grandchildren are all safe. They are able to appreciate that as a blessing especially when it was combined with the amazing support of the many community members from around the world who have reached out to them.

I contrast this story with the tragic   one of Patricia Stiles and Reese Burdette.  (Read more:  Patricia Stiles –Dairy Farmer, Grandmother, Hero, Fighting for Her Life!) They too were awakened in the night to a devastating fire.  However, unlike Clarence and Wendy, their fire was not in the barn, but rather in the house.  Unlike the Markus family who were able to remain safe, Patricia and her husband Mike had their two young grandchildren, Reese and Brinkley, in the house and they had to help them escape the blaze.  Tragically for Patricia and Reese, they did not make it out unharmed.  Both suffered   massive smoke inhalation and burns to most of their bodies. While Patricia is now out of the hospital, after a tough battle to regain her health, Reese still finds herself battling in hospital.

It is at a time like this that you can appreciate Clarence’s perspective on “stuff” as compared to family health, life and safety. .  While there are large differences in the  economic cost of the Markvale fire and the Waverly one, all of us can agree that  , the damage to the health of our hero Patricia and her sweet granddaughter Reese far outweigh the losses of “stuff”.  .

You see, ultimately the old stuff lost in the fire can be replaced by new stuff.  This was the case on display yesterday as Markvale opened their doors to their new facility.  However, instead of the day being about the fancy new barns, it was about the community that supported them and made it possible.  It was about giving heartfelt thanks for how fortunate they were that everyone was safe and that they are members of such a caring community.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Fire has a way of destroying the old and making room for the new.  A forest fire clears the underbrush and dead trees and makes room for the new to grow and thrive.  This is exactly the way the Markus family sees it as each of their three sons will continue on as dairy farmers and members of this great fraternity.  Fire can also be devastating, as the Burdette and Stiles families have been experiencing.  All of these families have certainly been reminded of the lesson that “it’s just stuff.”  Stuff can be replaced. However being a member of this great community and having your health is irreplaceable and far more important than just stuff.




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Reynolds Family R&R: Relationships! And Recognition!

Family teamwork has been the strength of the dairy industry for generations all over the world.  It is hard work, and many learn to welcome rest and relaxation whenever the opportunity presents itself. At Reyncrest dairy in Corfu New York R&R is about relationships and the remarkable way they are building dairy success, heritage and legacy not just today but far into the future.

Reyncrest Dairy

Andy Reynolds and his family of five share a passion for dairy farming. He points out the highlights of where they are today.  “Currently at Reyncrest we milk right around 1000 cows with 900 young stock all housed on one site. We farm about 1800 acres that is rotated between corn, alfalfa hay, and wheat. In addition, we have our show animals that are kept separate from our main herd. We usually have between 4-6 milk cows and 10-15 heifers in the show herd.”


“It’s All Relative at Reyncrest”

The entire family enjoys the opportunity to develop a two-pronged approach: milking herd and dairy show string. “My family all takes an active role in the dairy.  My parents, John and Shelley, run the farm, taking care of business decisions and daily work. My sister Mackenzie manages the commercial dairy.  My brother Tyler manages feeding and the show program.  I work with the show animals, calf program and anywhere else I am needed when I am home from school.”

“Shared Family Focus”

Although everyone works together to fulfill the big picture of the dairy operation, each family member has their particular focus.  “My brother does most of the sire selection with a general basis of 1000 pounds of milk, 2.0 type, and positive PL and DPR from good cow families. On the commercial side Semex does all of our matings and we have been using many genomic young sires to further genetically advance our herd.” They adjust their focus for the show string. “On the show side we tend to watch the show ring closely and see up and coming bulls that we may want to use on our cows. We try to find the best cross for our cows that will make the ideal mating. We look for bulls that will mate well with our cows that will produce stylish, dairy heifers with long legs and necks, and will go on to make show cows.”

Reyncrest Real Laredo-Red
Senior & Grand Champion of Junior Show NY Spring Red & White Show 2014

“Seeing Red has Been Remarkable for Reyncrest”

Whenever hard work pays off it is rewarding for everyone involved.  The success of Reyncrest Real Laredo-Red represents that achievement for the Reynolds family. “She not only has done well as a cow but she did well as a heifer too. She was nominated red and white AA fall yearling and calved in extremely well and was named Intermediate Champion of the Red show at New York Spring Show. After the show Laredo-Red was purchased by Milksource Genetics. I hope she will be very influential in getting our prefix out in the industry.”


“Reynolds Family Gatherings Now Include Multiple Champions”

Andy is justifiably proud of breeding multiple Jr All-American Nominations. “It isn’t easy showing at the World Dairy Expo with a bought animal but when you can competitively exhibit your bred and owned animals, nothing beats it. Seeing the calves born and raising them from the beginning is extremely rewarding especially when they do well in the show ring too!” The word “well” is an extreme understatement in this case.  At the 2014 New York Spring International Red and White Show, Andy was on the halter when Reyncrest bred and owned animals earned the spotlight as Intermediate Champion and Senior Champion and, ultimately, Grand Champion of the show.

New York International Spring Show 2014  Senior Champion and Grand Champion of Junior Show - Co-Vale Zenith Darla exhibited by Andrew Reynolds   Reserve Senior Champion and Reserve Grand Champion of the Junior Show - Mill-Wheel Adv Carolina-ET  exhibited by Andrew Reynolds

New York International Spring Show 2014
Senior Champion and Grand Champion of Junior Show – Co-Vale Zenith Darla exhibited by Andrew Reynolds
Reserve Senior Champion and Reserve Grand Champion of the Junior Show – Mill-Wheel Adv Carolina-ET  exhibited by Andrew Reynolds

“Family Pedigree is an Investment Decision”

“Normally the pedigree is one of the first things that always catches our eye, whenever we purchase a cow.” Andy explains. “Everyone has particular cow families that they really like or do not. So for us that is the biggest thing that initially attracts us because we want cow families that we can market and make a return on investment.”  Beyond that, the Reynolds family have a long term strategy. “When buying cows, it isn’t always about buying cows for just this year. We like to buy cows that are more immature and will continue to develop and get better as they get older.”

“Lasting Style that Places First!”

Breeders who already know the Reynolds family emphasize that their cattle receive remarkable care — every day! Undoubtedly that has led them to their remarkable success. For those eager to know how Reyncrest bred three champions, Andy highlights the process. “When picking matings for our homebred cows we watch the show ring for new bulls to use that are winning shows to produce our ideal mating.” They always target long-lived and stylish cows and sire selection at Reyncrest is also customized to meet specific goals. “For me it is hard to say just one sire and it is different from heifers to cows. Goldwyn is still a favorite in both heifers and cows. However, more recently I would have to say in heifers I really like the Armanis, Doormans, and Brokaws because the calves I have seen are my kind being extra stylish and fancy. In cows, I like the Sids a lot. The Sids in the show ring and the cows that we have calved in at our dairy are all really consistent with adequate strength and incredible udders. Cows that will last into the future.”


“Extraordinary Mentors and Trusted Advisors”

Andy is enthusiastic about the exceptional mentors available to him. “I have had many influences in my life that have really impacted myself and my family. I would have to say from a young age and into now that Jonathan and Alicia Lamb have been by far the biggest outside influences in my life and my siblings’ lives.  They have been like second parents to my siblings and I and have given us tons of advice and connections in the dairy industry.”

Co-Vale Zenith Darla   Senior Champion and Grand Champion of Junior Show - NY International Spring Show 2014   Exhibited by Andrew Reynolds

Co-Vale Zenith Darla
Senior Champion and Grand Champion of Junior Show – NY International Spring Show 2014
Exhibited by Andrew Reynolds

“Showing the Way!”

In the show ring, Aaron Eaton has been a considerable influence in helping take us to the next level in the show ring. I would have to say Pat Lundy is another big influence in my life always giving advice and helping get our animals looking their best. Moreover, Kelly Lee has always been there giving me showing advice and teaching me her knowledge of cattle. However, the biggest mentors in my life have been none other than my family.


Ludwigs-DG Elegant-ET
First Spring Yearling & Reserve Junior Champion of the Junior Show – New York International Spring Show 2014
Exhibited by Andrew Reynolds

“Inspiring, Caring and Generous”

Andrew is thankful that the Reynolds siblings have each benefited from family nurturing. “Our parents have supported us throughout our entire lives in whatever endeavors we have pursued. My brother Tyler and sister Mackenzie have put up with me and taught me everything they know, and I am extremely grateful for all the advice I have been given.”

“Rising by Degrees”

The future continues to unfold for Andy and even as he develops his own path he follows in the family footsteps. “I will finish my degree at Cornell University and then hopefully join my siblings at our dairy and continue to expand our dairy. Our goal is to be able to continue to expand our dairy along with having an elite group of registered show cows.”


“Reyncrest goes Beyond Roadblocks”

With his typical positive outlook, Andy isn’t stopped by roadblocks. “Things are always bound to happen for the good or bad so be prepared for anything.” Andy feels that it is especially important that you should always be asking good questions – and taking action. These two things can move your dairy, your career and your family forward “Take advice and ask as many questions as possible because you can always learn something.”

“Family is the Tradition”

The Reynolds family success is built on the recognition that “Because we all love what we’re doing, the togetherness of our family dairy business is awesome!”  Andy sums it up perfectly. “Everything that happens in the show ring provides incredible experiences that I will always remember and love.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The Reynolds family is delighted with their show ring success, but they value the dairy operation for making it possible. “At the end of the day the dairy is what allows us to do all of that.”  Togetherness is the key according to Andy. “The fact that my entire family is involved in the dairy and that we enjoy what we do every day is truly rewarding and what I am the proudest of.” Remarkable relationships. Remarkable Reyncrest Results. That’s the Reynolds family legacy of R&R!




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The Real Story Behind Glenridge Citation Roxy

Glenridge Citation Roxy EX-97 is a true legend of the dairy breeding industry.  Holstein enthusiasts around the world voted Roxy as the “Cow of the Century.”  But did you know this breeding icon almost never existed?

At the 1958 Sale of Stars in Toronto, the Ontario Association of Animal Breeders (eight A.I. units at the time) bought a bull calf, Rosafe Citation R, for an unbelievable price at the time of $30,000 from H.J. Wilcox, who had purchased his dam, Glenvie Nettie Jemima (EX-13*) earlier that year at the age of 15 for $9,000 at the Rosafe Dispersal hedging his bets that she would have a son.  Ontario Association of Animal Breeders was placed him in service at a cost of $7.00 per service, $2.00 above the normal rate, and breeders used him enthusiastically. When the first Citation R calves were being born it was discovered that he was a Red Carrier, something that was seen as undesirable at the time (Read more: Is Red Still Relevant?).  In line with A.I. practice at the time, Citation R was returned to the Wilcox family, who in 1961 sold Citation R to Don Marcos Ortiz, owner of Santa Monica Ranch in Mexico for $33,000.  As those early Citation R daughters developed they dominated the show ring.  With a limited supply of semen available and in high demand in Canada and the US, it prompted Curtis Breeding Service and the Canadian A.I. units in 1966 to bring the semen back.  This was just in the nick of time for Roxy, as the following year Lorne Loveridge, breeder of Roxy, was looking for the right mating of his top cow Norton Court Model Vee, Roxy’s dam.

As a calf Roxy was a tall, gangly heifer that really did not attract much attention from anyone, until she calved for the 2nd time.  It was at this time she caught the eye of Doug Blair and Lowell Lindsay. (Read more: Sire facility dedicated to Alta founder, Doug Blair and Lowell Lindsay To Be Inducted Into Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame)  Blair, part owner of Western Breeders’ Services (forerunner to Alta Genetics) at the time, was looking for bulls to buy, as was Lindsay, who was sire procurement officer for United Breeders.  When they saw Roxy, they were overwhelmed.  They discussed buying her on a 50-50 basis, but they couldn’t come up with the hefty sum Loverridge was asking for.  Enter Bob Miller (Read more: Bob Miller – Outstanding from Any Angle).  Miller was a Canadian born cattle photographer who had immigrated into the US and started his own herd Mill-R-Mor.  Miller was summoned to the Loveridge farm to photograph Roxy and her dam Vee. Miller for quite some time had been searching for a cow family to build his breeding program around.  He had some very specific requirements.  Roxy and her family met all of them – type, production and longevity.  Miller fell in love with Roxy but didn’t purchase her at this time.  Later that year Roxy was named Reserve Grand Champion at the 1972 Canadian Western Agribition, and was nominated for All-Canadian consideration as a four year old in 1973.  Loveridge had already started to realize that his location precluded many visitors from seeing the cow and her family.  It was at this time Miller returned to Glenridge and purchased Roxy and half interest in her dam.    Loverdige considered Miller’s Illinois location more suitable for promotion and marketing and the pair as well as Vale, Roxy’s ganddam, and Glenridge Emperor Rocket (EX-96-3E), Roxy’s three-quarter sister by Downalane Reflection Emperor, moved to Mil-R-Mor.

In Miller’s hands Roxy made four records over 1,000 lbs of fat.  With career totals of 209,784 lbs of milk, 9,471 lbs of 4.5% fat.  Making her the 3rd generation of 200,000 lbs of lifetime production.  She was also one of the very few to ever score EX-97 points.  Roxy was also a member of eight All-American, All-Canadian or Reserve All-Canadian groups, and with Glenridge Emperor Rocket was three times All-American Produce of Dam and all-Time All-American Produce of dam in 1984.


Glenridge Citation Roxy EX-97-4E
Queen of the Breed I & II
Member of the All-American Produce of Dam ’77, ’78 & ’79
Member of the All-American & All Canadian Get of Sire ’79
1st cow of the breed to have 10 Excellent dtrs
International Cow of the Century 1999
Dam of the 1st 30* STAR brood cow in Canada
7 of her EX daughters earned Gold Medal Status
Dam of 16 EX daughters
She has 3 descendents with 15 or more EX Dtrs! (Roxette 17, Lana Rae 20 & Integrity Robin 15)
The only 4 Generation direct line group of cows with more than 11 EX dtrs: Roxy 16, Roxette 17, Dixie Rox 11, Bstar Roxie 12)
Highest producution Roxy is Brigeen Convincer Rhonda EX-95, 66,320 lbs milk in 365 days
Highest Classified Roxy female is C Hanoverhill Tony Rae EX-96
Highest Classified Roxy male is Sir Ridgedal Rustler Red EX-97
Roxy has more than 300 EXCELLENT descendents

Brood Cow Extraordinaire

Even though embryo transfer was in its infancy, Miller placed Roxy on an E.T. program where she produced 30 E.T. offspring and three natural calves.  She had 20 daughters and was the first cow to ever have ten Excellent daughters.  Eventually, this led to 16 daughters scoring EX, four more were VG and there were 4 Excellent Sons.

Mil-R-Mor Roxette EX-Can GMD-DOM 30*

Mil-R-Mor Roxette
EX-Can GMD-DOM 30*

Roxy’s most impactful daughter Mil-R-Mor Roxette (EX-30*) is not without her own story.  Until 1977, Bob Miller had never sold a Roxy daughter.  At the encouragement of Horace Backus, Miller consigned Roxy’s Elevation daughter, Roxette, to the National Convention Sale that year, being held in Columbus Ohio.  Enter the legendary Peter Heffering (Read more: Hanover Hill Holsteins: Peter Heffering 1931-2012).  Heffering had some investors who were looking to purchase some top animals, but would need to a little time to bring the money together.  Backus and Heffering agreed to terms and Heffering came to the Convention Sale and purchased 19 head for $207,600.  Among the cattle purchased were J.P.G. Standout Kandy, the top seller at $41,000 who was named All-American Aged Cow that year and again two years later. He also purchased Mulder Elevation Mazie, who would become a member of two Elevation All-American Gets.  As well he purchased Mil-R-Mor Roxette at $25,000, the third highest seller in the sale.

R Peter Heffering commented “We felt that Roxy was one of the breed’s great cows and probably the best daughter of Citation R. Elevation was making a lot of good offspring, so when the Elevation heifer was coming up for sale at  the National Convention Sale, we bought her as a foundation female for the herd. Roxette flushed well and turned out to be one of the strongest transmitting daughters of Roxy.”

After the sale, Miller raised objections.  He hadn’t been consulted about his heifer being sold on investor terms, with a third down on sale day and the balance over the next two years.  Rumors spread that the deal almost collapsed, though Miller has said years later that he was glad Roxette ended up at Hanover Hill.


Stardale Leader Roxy EX-95-UK 7E
5 Milking dtrs in UK: 1 x EX, 2 x VG-87 & 2 x VG-86
5 generations average over 93 points for type!

Roxette produced 17 EX daughters and helped establish Roxys as the breed’s most consistent Excellent family.   She became Canada’s first 30 star brood cow and scored 20 stars in the UK where she had many fans after leaving 11 of 22 daughters scored Excellent. Roxette moved first to Bond Haven, where she bred a Dixiecrat daughter, Bond Haven Dixie Rox, who superseded her dam as EX-93 2E 52* after moving to the UK.  Stardale Leader Roxy EX-95 7E, by Comestar Leader from a Mr. Mark Cinder daughter of Rox, is one of the most popular brood cows in the UK.  Leader Roxy produced over 100 tons of milk with her eighth lactation totaling almost 14,000 kgs in 305 days after a seventh lactation yield of 15,200 kgs at 5.27% fat and 3.29% protein for her owners, the Willsbro herd. Leader Roxy has proven to be a solid investment. Purchased for 8,500gns at the 2006 Stardale Sale of the milking herd of Robert and James Burrow, she has to date bred 16 daughters, 13 of which hold the Willsbro prefix, and her nine classified daughters have all scored Very Good or Excellent.

According to research, there are now over 381 EX Roxy’s whose pedigrees run in a continuous line of Excellent cows back to Roxy and hundreds more through her sons.  One of the greatest contributors to that in recent years has been Gloryland Lana Rae EX-94-2E-USA DOM.  So far 16 of her 21 classified daughters have reached EX, with all 20 averaging 90.9 points.  Lana is from an EX Lindy daughter of Hanoverhill Tony Rae EX-96-2E, then Hanoverhill TT Roxette EX-94-2E USA, then Roxette.  The highest scored daughter of Lana Rae is one of her five Durham daughters, Glory-Land Liberty Rae EX-95 EX-95-3E-USA DOM 4*. Liberty Rae was sold for $410,000 in the 2008 Cowtown Sale. She went on to win first Aged Cow, Best Udder, Senior and Grand Champion at the 2009 Vermont State Show.  Liberty Rae has 16 EX daughters.



It’s also this side of the family that produced Scientific Debutante Rae EX-92-4-YR GMD DOM 3* (Durham x EX-Jubilant x EX-96 Hanoverhill Tony Rae EX-96-3E then TT Roxette) who was the 2005 World Dairy Expo Reserve Champion, 2010 Global Red Impact Cow of the Year, and the dam of many notable Red and White sires, highlighted by Scientific Destry.

Reserve All-American 5-Year-Old 2012

Also from TT Roxette comes the extremely influential polled brood cow, Golden-Oaks Perk Rae –Red P EX.  Perk Rae is an eighth generation Excellent polled Roxy. The polled gene in combination with red and Roxy has made Perk Rae the cornerstone of the marketing program at Golden Oaks Farms. Perk Rae traces back to the Roxys through Scientific Beauty Rae-ET *RC EX-90 who is sired by Rubens, then Jubilant Rae and Tony Rae. Sired by Perk-Red, Perk Rae has numerous daughters worldwide and sons at ABS Global, ABC Genetics and Trans-World Genetics. (Read more: GOLDEN-OAKS PERK RAE – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist).


Other notable descendants of Roxette are her sons Raider (Starbuck) who was a very influential bull across Canada and the United States in the mid-1990’s and Royalist (Sheik). A full sister to Hanoverhill Raider is Hanover-Hill Star Roxy EX-92 2E. Star Roxy was twice nominated All-American and had four EX-94 offspring, three daughters and one son. Her great grandson, STBVQ Rubens VG-88 ST’98 GM’03, added udder quality, style and airiness not previously seen in the red and whites. This earned him the Premier Sire banner at World Dairy Expo for six years in a row.

Mil-R-Mor Toprox (EX-94-3E-GMD)

Mil-R-Mor Toprox (EX-94-3E-GMD)

Mil-R-Mor Toprox (EX-94-3E-GMD) was the highest record daughter of Roxy, and one of the breed’s first 2,000 lb. fat cows.  Sired by Hilltop Apollo Ivanhoe (VG-GM). Her most famous descendant of recent times is Brigeen-C-Integrit Robin EX-95.  One of the highest scoring Integrity daughters worldwide, Brigeen-C Integrit Robin was bred from Haselmere Prelude Rhoda EX-91 3E. Rhoda descends from Brigeen Southwind Rhonda VG-88 2* via Mil-R-Mor SWD Rockette VG-86, who in turn is out of Mil-R-Mor Toprox 3E-94. Mary Briggs, one of the partners in Brigeen Farms, describes Roxy’s in The Holstein History, as “Healthy and fertile – the indexes around the world for somatic cell count, fertility and longevity highlight the family’s real strengths.  They are above average in size and substance and are even-tempered, seldom fighting or stupid. They aren’t a nuisance: they just go along doing their business”.

Bottom Line

These days we see the Roxy’s all over the world having great results in the show ring, the bulls are hitting the top Genomic rankings and family members sell for sky-high prices at auctions.  You can’t pick up a catalog from a top sale without finding a female descendant that traces back through her maternal line to Roxy.  They are all out of different branches, but trace back to the one and only QUEEN- Roxy! Glenridge Citation Roxy has touched every corner of the Holstein world, bringing style, power and longevity to the breed. And she is a real cowman’s favorite with show style to boot.  While it was Red factor that almost resulted in the greatest cow in the history of the dairy breed, Glenridge Citation Roxy EX-97 GMD 6* having never been born, it is now the Red factor, re-introduced to the family through Triple Threat that is having the greatest impact on Roxy’s legacy today.

To read more great stories from some of the most legendary cows in the Holstein breed read “The Holstein History”.

The Seven Deadly Sins of the Dairy Breeding Industry

No matter what industry you look at there are always going to be those people who are immoral, shiftless, self-gratifying and good-for-nothing.  Throughout the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church hierarchy emphasized teaching all lay people the Deadly Sins.  We here at the Bullvine decided to take a look at the Seven Deadly Sins in the context of the dairy breeding industry.  The following is what we found:


Who hasn’t lusted for money, food, fame, power or sex? Come on. We are not monks.  So we are all guilty of this at some point or another.  In the dairy breeding industry there are those who lust for money, fame and power.  Lust for these three desires has led many dairy breeders to their downfall.  Instead of just making their breeding and farm decisions based on sound judgment, they let the desire for money, fame or power influence them and, in the end, make investments or decisions that make no rational sense.  Funny that the animal associated with lust is the dairy cow.


Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires. This is often interpreted as selfishness. Essentially it is placing concern with one’s own interests above the well-being or interests of others.  This is one area that I can say very confidently that most members of the dairy community are actually not as guilty of.  (Read more:  Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World….).  However, there are those that have a tendency to overindulge in show ring results.  While I am as big a fan as anyone of the tanbark trail, I often have to remind myself that it is just a passion and remember where it fits relative to the rest of the dairy industry.


Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of material possessions.   “Greed is a sin directly against one’s neighbor, since one man cannot over-abound in external riches, without another man lacking them.”  Lately, I see the dairy breeding industry getting “greedy” with their genetics.  Empire building A.I. companies are not sharing their early release semen, and breeders are now not willing to sell embryos from their top females.  Greed has undoubtedly infected the dairy breeding industry.


Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work.  It certainly would be really hard to accuse most dairy farmers of avoiding physical work. However, there are definitely some areas where sloth is starting to creep in.  No, I am not talking about the skyrocketing number of breeders who are switching to robotic milking systems. These breeders are changing the type of work they are doing as opposed to the amount of work they do.  What I am talking about here are the breeders who are looking to take the easy way out.  On the tanbark trail, it is the breeders who expect to win at the big shows, but don’t realize how much work it takes and fail to do the work 365 days a year that it takes to achieve success.  For the average dairy breeder, I notice sloth tendencies when they make their breeding decisions.  Instead of taking the time to carefully do effective research on the best mate for their cows (Programs like GPS) they look for a quick and easy answer for their breeding programs. (Read more: gPs– Genetic Profile Systems – Dairy Cattle Breeding Made Simple).  Another example of sloth in the dairy breeding industry, is livestock photography.  Many professional photographers have gotten lazy and have let their ethics slide to a point where it is now downright sinful.  (Read more: Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct)


Wrath, also known as “rage,” may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.  Feelings of anger can manifest in different ways including impatience, revenge, and self-destructive behavior. In the dairy breeding industry, I notice this vice in many breeders choice of which A.I. unit to purchase their semen from.   Instead of purchasing semen from the A.I. company that has the best sire for their animal, some breeders let their anger for a certain organization cloud their judgment and lead to diminished returns in their breeding program.  There are also those who have turned their wrath on us here at the Bullvine (Read more: The Bullvine: Wanted Dead or Alive and  Why I Don’t Care If You Like Me)


Envy is the desire for others’ traits, status, abilities, or situation. There are many (yes I say many) dairy breeders that are guilty of this.  From those whose envy is relatively mild, such as case of envy over ownership of a certain animal, or breeding success to those that turn almost green with envy over the success of their fellow breeders.


In almost every list, pride is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins and the source of the others. It is identified as believing that one is fundamentally better than others, failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others and excessive admiration of the personal self.  In the dairy breeding industry, I notice this in many old school breeders who fail to recognize new tools such as genomics.  They believe that their “breeding strategy” is far superior to that of others and let pride get in the way of achieving even greater success.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Remember – no one is perfect. Sin, like death, is an unassailable fact of life. It is also one of the last great taboos for public debate. We here at the Bullvine feel that it is possible and necessary to talk about sin in ways that enrich our industry, as well as our personal lives.     These sins have been the downfall of some. However, others find success through overcoming them. It is important to recognize the vices you’re susceptible to and to manage them. Otherwise, these seven deadly sins will be the downfall of your dairy breeding program.




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Don’t Blame Your Cows for Lack of Production…

Maybe you’ve seen this happen.  You’re so confident in yourself and your milking team that you consciously or unconsciously have started skipping a few steps.  Or, you have gradually taken on new staff – perhaps a family member or someone selected from the wider community — and you assumed that you didn’t need to review or test their understanding of milking basics because, after all, they know all about it. Then suddenly you’re presented with proof of low milk production and you don’t know how it happened. It just sneaks up on you. Fortunately there’s always a reason.  In this case, it’s up to you to find both the cause and the solution to declining milk production.

Are Your Records Measuring Up?

You have to start with your records.  If you cannot clearly identify the problem, you will find it doubly hard to come up with a way to solve it. Ideally, your milking team is well aware of the benchmarks you are targeting.  Check your records and see if gaps have developed in the achieving the following goals:

  • SCC UNDER 200,000. Evaluate the herd for a high incidence of subclinical or clinical mastitis.
  • CMT: 70% of the herd with linear score of 1 and 2
  • TEAT HEATH: 80% of the herd with no teat end problems. Erosion, eversion, cuts or sores dealt with on a scheduled basis.
  • AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION: minimum of 70-75 pounds of 4% fat corrected milk.
  • PEAK PRODUCTION: Set parameters so that you know if heifers and second lactation or older animals are reaching peak production.
  • LACTATION LENGTH: 290 to 310 days with an average length of 296. Anything less than 270 days is considered a short lactation.
  • DRY PERIOD:  Check to see if dry cows have had a dry period of not more than 6 weeks.

Testing. Testing.

  1. Re-check milking procedures. Double check for efficient milk practices.
  2. Take milk samples and run culture and sensitivity tests.
  3. Screen rations or individual feeds for molds and mycotoxins.
  4. Test milking equipment. Poor letdown can be caused by extremes in vacuum.
  5. Test rations and forages to identify deficiencies or imbalances.
  6. Test to find toxicities from chemicals, fluoride and other chemicals.
  7. Test water for impurities or anything that might lower intake.
  8. Stray voltage should be examined when other obvious factors appear normal.

There are obviously other tests that can be performed based on your individual goals and strategies.  The point is not the number of tests. It is about the quality of the data that you have for informed decision making.

Don’t Assume You Always “Know” Best of “Do” Best.

Faulty milking practices always contribute to lower milk peaks and shorter lactations.

  1. Let-down: Poor milk letdown obviously has a negative effect on milk production.  There are many causes that can be determined and managed.  Some cows need a second stimulation to fully let down their milk.  This needs to be recognized, recorded and allowed-for in the milking routine SOP.
  2. Timing:
  3. Too soon or Too Late. When the milking machine is attached is very important.  After proper prepping, milking should be within 0.5 to 2 minutes. Being put on too soon or too late after preparation causes problems.
  4. Too long. When the milking system requires more than six minutes of machine time per cow, problems can arise.
  5. Sanitation:

In the dairy business, you must keep constant vigilance to avoid bacteria.  You don’t want it to infect the milking cows.  You don’t want it in the milk. It’s false economy to save time or money by skipping cleaning procedures.  In the end, you could be facing a problem that is not only hard to eradicate once it has set it, but in some cases could mean the loss of cows.

Back to Basics to Turn Around Low Milk Production

Now that you have some numbers to work with, it’s time to go back to the beginning. It’s like baseball, which I love.  Batters (especially the good ones) are known for stripping down their swing and rebuilding it. However, the rebuild has to have a foundation.  It’s not enough to continuously tweak something here, and something else there just because your stats are “suddenly” showing that you are striking out more often. When you do that, you get so far from the foundation that it becomes all miss and no hits!  Batters (and their coaches) start at the beginning, rebuilding piece by piece, doing the hard work of getting back to the basics. They do the hard work of rebuilding by grinding through what was once simple, all over again.

Here’s the Secret

Make sure you have your Standard Operating Procedures in place, and that everyone knows what is expected. The secret to success isn’t about making your own rules.  It’s all about rules that are effective and that everyone completes properly – every single day – exactly the same way.  On dairy operations, there is a risk of slippage (or suddenly being faced with low production) the moment we think we no longer need the foundational elements that made us successful milk producers in the first place.

Nine Basic Steps that should be Part of Your Standard Milking Procedures

  1. Dry-wipe dirt and debris from the first cow’s udder.
  2. Pre-dip all four teats with the green dip cup.
  3. Strip two squirts of milk from each teat and observe for abnormal milk. (*You should have a SOP in place for dealing with abnormal milk.)
  4. Return to the first cow and thoroughly wipe with a clean towel.
  5. Attach the unit to the first cow and adjust.
  6. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the second and third cows in the side.
  7. Begin at step 1 with the fourth cow on the side and repeat procedure with each group of 3 cows until all 12 units are attached.
  8. When all units have detached, post dip all cows and release.

Once again the perfect SOP is not necessarily these exact eight steps.  The best SOP for milking procedures at your dairy is the one that is developed by your milking team, practiced, revised and performed daily, and that gets the best production from the milking herd.  No surprises!

Eat Well! Live Long! Milk Often!

As discussed so far, there are many little things that can add up to the significant problem of declining milk production. If none of the preceding scenarios are contributing to your situation, maybe it is time to look at the age of your cattle, the nutrition provided for your herd and finally, milking frequency.  Consider this three-point proposition: 1. Cows who live longer milk more. 2. Cows who eat more give more milk. 3. Cows who are milked more often give more milk.  After all, cows need optimum health and energy to produce to optimum levels. With the right nutrition in place, then check your system to reduce the stress and strain.  More frequent milking can be another way to enhance udder health, increase production and extend the milking life of your cows.

Time to Test Again!

Perhaps you have come full circle in your strategic review, with all of your staff involved, and you are certain that all the SOP procedures are being followed by all milking staff.  At this point, any problems in milking performance that are discovered must be a result of a more severe deficiency either in the design of your SOPs or with the health of your herd.  Call in your consultants: nutritionist, veterinarians, feed suppliers or other dairy peers whose opinion and objective viewpoint can give you a different perspective. It’s never too late and getting the best data is the place to start. Information is the key.  So once again in addition to the testing previously outlined, the following information should be tracked and posted:

  • Somatic cell counts
  • Standard plate counts
  • Preliminary incubation counts

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Don’t blame your cows. Consistently good milk production is all about doing the simple things. It is built on the foundation elements that we know we should do, over and over, day after day. Success means following a few of the most simple rules and following them correctly and consistently.  It isn’t glamorous but perfecting the basics works whether you’re goal is hitting home runs or milking a high producing dairy herd. Remember don’t blame your cows for lack of production…you’re the problem, and you can be fixed!




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Bons-Holsteins: The Type that Wins!

2014 editors choice graphicWhen you hear that Bons Holsteins took home three major trophies at the Dutch National Holstein Show in June, you might conclude that assuredly they have an eye for cattle and a passion for the show ring. But if you make any further assumptions, you might entirely miss the most important factor in their showring success.

The Bons-Holsteins team from the 2014 NRM Show

The Bons-Holsteins team from the 2014 NRM Show

“Bons-Holsteins is a home bred farm. In the last 60 years, we never bought a cow, heifer or embryo.”

Nico Bons of Ottoland in the Netherlands proudly benchmarks that he and his wife Lianne are the fourth generation to farm Bons-Holsteins.  As the youngest of the Bon family siblings, Nico has already faced the challenges of his dad passing away in 1999 and an accident that kept his brother from taking over the farm. Today with his mother Dikkie Bons the couple milk 65 cows and have 75 young stock on the 40 hectare farm. Undoubtedly, their young daughters Tessa and Anouk and son Ruben.

Left: Bons-Holsteins Koba 191 EX-91 - Int. Champion Int. Show Libramont 2013 & Sr. Champion in 2014!!! Right: Bons-Holsteins Koba 175 EX-90 - 2nd Calf Jasper dtr from the great home bred Koba cow family

Left: Bons-Holsteins Koba 191 EX-94 – Int. Champion Int. Show Libramont 2013 & Sr. Champion in 2014!!!
Right: Bons-Holsteins Koba 175 EX-90 – 2nd Calf Jasper dtr from the great home bred Koba cow family

100% Homebred – Scoring better all the time.

Every generation of the Bons family has moved the dairy operation forward while remaining committed to the homebred philosophy. 65 cows 29x EX and the rest is VG or better. Average score VG89. All bull calfs stayed on the farm and are sold to other farms as jumping bulls, and a few of them go to A.I. There are six cow families we are working with: Bons-Holsteins Aaltje, Bons-Holsteins Dikkie, Bons-holsteins Ella, Bons-Holsteins Koba, Bons-Holsteins Hannie and Bons-Holsteins Roza.

Bons-Holsteins Koba 191 (EX-94) Grand Champion NRM 2014 Res. Int. Champion Holland Holstein Show 2013

Bons-Holsteins Koba 191 (EX-94)
Grand Champion NRM 2014
Res. Int. Champion Holland Holstein Show 2013

One Goal Above All  “To Breed a European Grand Champion”

When Nico took over the farm in 1999, the average type score was GP 80.3. What remarkable progress to be averaging VG89 in 15 years!  Nico had been to Canada in 1994 and worked on Bosdale Farms in Ontario. “What I saw there were really nice balanced cows.” He reports that the experience had a big impact on him. “I knew right then what my goal would be.  I wanted to breed the European Champion cow and lead her by myself in the showring!”

Nuit de la Holstein Libramont 2013  Sr Champion Bons-Holsteins Ella 158 EX-93 (Mailing) & Reserve Sr Champion Bons-Holsteins Ella 153 EX-91 (Allen)

Nuit de la Holstein Libramont 2013
Sr Champion Bons-Holsteins Ella 158 EX-93 (Mailing) & Reserve Sr Champion Bons-Holsteins Ella 153 EX-91 (Allen)

“Showing cattle is a lot of work.”

Nothing really worth achieving is easy and Nico Bons is emphatic about the hard work involved in showing dairy cattle. He advises anyone interested in focusing on show cows to realize that fact and “to try to get people around you who really want to help you and listen to their advice.” He gives examples of mentors that have positively influenced him. “The cowfitters I have worked with in the last few years have sent me in the right direction. Three that I have learned the most from are Michael Halliwel, Joel Phoenix and Paul Petriffer.” Along with the hard work, Nico advises that you have to be prepared for ups and downs. “I had my luck to start from the bottom. I know what it is like to stand in last place in the showring” But this successful showman concludes. “Sometimes you win sometimes you lose. Never give up.”

Top Advice, “Don’t be mad at the Judge.  Breed a better cow. Win next time.”

Nico cherishes his family traditions and also learns from key mentors that have crossed his path as he seeks to achieve his goals. “Its difficult to say exactly who had the biggest influence on me. I think Ed Bos (From Bosdale farms) had a significant impact on me becoming the dairy breeder I am now. My training period at Bosdale showed me that you have to work really hard to get results in the show ring.My father added the one thing that I always remember. “If you are disappointed on show day about your placings, don`t be mad at the Judge but breed a better cow so that he has to make you Champion next time.” Hard work and taking responsibility are what have put Bons-Holsteins at the front of winning lineups.

 Bons-Holsteins Ella 158 EX-93 (Mailing)

Bons-Holsteins Ella 158 EX-93 (Mailing)
Res Champion Mature Cow NRM 2014
1st place Sr. Cow Holland Holstein Herd Show 2012

Trophy Shelf Chronicles Rising Showring Success

Nico Bons started working toward his ultimate showring goal first with successes at local shows and then by showing at a national show in 2003.  In 2007 international success was achieved in Paris and later in Libramont Belgium 2013 which  Nico describes as “one I liked the most.” when Bons-Holsteins Ella 158 (EX-93 Mailing) was named Grand Champion. Nico describes the cows that are winners for him.”I think there are two cows I am most proud  to have bred: * Bons-Holsteins Koba 167 (EX-91 Stormatic). She was a really tall cow (1.76 Cm.) and was made for the show ring. She was not only big but had balance in her frame and an udder that was close to perfect.” He explains that others found her special too. “ I loved to lead that cow into the showring. Whenever she entered the ring, you would hear spectators talking about her!” It isn’t surprising in this homebred herd to find that Nico’s second choice for breeding success is related to his first choice. “The second cow is the recent Grand Champion from the Dutch National Show (June 2014) Bons-Holsteins Koba 191 (EX94 Jasper). (Read more: Bons-Holsteins Koba 191 Grand Champion at NRM 2014)  The funny thing is these two cows are half sisters.. they are both descendants of Bons-Holsteins Koba 152  (EX-92 Integrity). She is not as tall as her half-sister, but she is a cow with almost no faults! She is extremely balanced… and is a real Queen in the ring. I feel quite strongly that she can do a great job at the European Confrontation. That’s the goal for this cow in the future!”

Bons Holsteins Ella 167 VG-89 2yr. 1st Intermediate Class Libramont 2012 1st Intermediate Class National HHH-Show 2011 Champion Jr. 2yr. Old HHH Show 2010 Champion Jr. 2yr. Old & Best Udder Libramont '11

Bons Holsteins Ella 167 VG-89 2yr.
1st Intermediate Class Libramont 2012
1st Intermediate Class National HHH-Show 2011
Champion Jr. 2yr. Old HHH Show 2010
Champion Jr. 2yr. Old & Best Udder Libramont ’11

Bons-Holsteins has Three Show Toppers at 2014 Dutch National Show

The Bons are building their show ring success. “We go to eight shows a year.” Reports Nico adding that showing is a strategic marketing plan, along with their website and Facebook. Nico feels that showing “ is an excellent tool to let the world know what you are doing.” Bons-Holsteins average 1500 visitors a year and each visitor receives a herd flyer.  This marketing plan earned positive reinforcement in June at the Dutch National Holstein Show in Zwolle.   Bons Holsteins won an amazing three championships! Bons-Holsteins Koba 191 (EX04 Kas[er_ was the Grand Champion. Reserve Senior Champion went to Bons Holsteins Mailing Ella 158. Koba 195, a full sister to Koba 191, was named the Intermediate Champion.

Nico Bons has favorite  “Winning” Bulls

With such a strong focus on type, there has to be a strong emphasis on bull selection. Nico lists his favorites: “At the moment we use a lot of Atwood and Lauthority, a little less from Shadow, Talent, Goldwyn, Jasper, Chelios, Seaver and sid. Referring to Jasper and Stormatic, Nico explains why they were chosen. “The reason to use these two bulls is because the Integrity was a little heavy boned. As a result,  we were looking for the bulls who could give us the bone quality. The Integrity cows’ strongest points were rear udder and rump so the choice of Jasper was easy. That’s where you have to protect this bull for.” Nico moves on to Lauthority. “I like my young Lauthroity heifer calfs. I think he can make some show winners.” His has only one hesitation. “ I am a little afraid about the rear legs… sometimes they are a little hocked in.” As well he likes Seaver. “Seaver is one of the bulls we just used recently and I see a lot of good 2 yr.olds in Belgium with great udders. You have to use him on refined boned cows.. I use him on my Stormatic and Talent daughters.”

nico bons judgingHere comes the Judge

With his passion for breeding show cows, it was only a matter of time until Nico entered the show ring as a Judge. In 2013, his name was added to the European Judges Panel by the EHRC. He finds it both a rewarding experience as well as a source of continued learning. “Atwood is the bull who surprised me every time I judge show. We know you have to watch his rumps but if they are ok you get some special ones!”

Not blinded by numbers Nico still builds on the Canadian Kind

One of the biggest differences Nico has observed over his breeding career is in the way breeders choose bulls. “In the past, we used our eyes and followed our heart to make the right pairing. Then came indexes.” Nico feels that indexes meant “breeding by numbers” as he calls it. He goes on. “After a few years we realised that the cows we created were ok as milk producing cows but had no strength and power anymore. And then came genomics.” Once again, Nico feels “we are losing our eye for good cow families.“ Nico feels that too much is being sacrificed for speed.  “In my opinion that makes it a crazy system, if the goal is all about getting the highest absolute number!”

“Trusting their eyes keeps people coming back”

Bons-Holsteins knows how important it is to have the confidence of  buyers in the dairy marketplace. Change can be threatening as Nico explains. “ At first I was afraid that, if I was not involved in genomics, I would not sell embryos or good cattle anymore.” However, he happily reports that hasn’t happened. “I get more and more requests for embryos and good cattle.” He sums up his reasoning for the cause of this continued success “The people who buy here are looking for something they can have confidence in and they buy what their eyes can see. Not being disappointed si what brings people back to buy again.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The emphasis on show type has been a winning formula for Bons-Holsteins and Nico agrees.  “I think the biggest accomplishment is the total herd of homebred cows that we now have! From when we started in 1999 until now they have changed a lot.” He is proud of the Bon family teamwork that focuses on getting better all the time. “ I did not do all this work alone but my wife and mother helped me every day!”  Today with daughters Tessa and Anouk the Bons family are proud to meet the challenges of their shared vision and take their place in Holstein dairy breeding for years to come. They are definitely the type that wins!



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The Wealthiest Dairy Farmer in the World…

You don’t have to talk to many dairy farmers who have committed their lives to the safe production of quality nutritional milk to discover that there are many different ways to be wealthy in the world.  Wealth means a lot more than just financial success.  However, sometimes, especially when times are financially tight, we forget that we are all wealthy in one way, or another.

Over the years I have become a big fan of a gentleman named, Robin Sharma, starting when I read his book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.  It was Robin who first opened my eyes to the fact that there is more to life than just making money and specifically “there is no benefit in being the richest man in the graveyard.”  He defined and introduced me to the following seven elements of wealth:

  1. Inner wealth
    This includes a positive mindset, high self-respect, internal peace and a strong spiritual connection. Positive people with a positive outlook on the world can be happy – Always. I have been fortunate in my life to have married a wonderful woman, who is a psychiatrist. (Read more:  How I Used Everything I Know About Animal Breeding to Choose My Wife and The Other Woman) In our many conversations about people’s mental health, I have come to realize that this might be one of the biggest areas that many of us overlook when we judge our wealth.  My wife deals with people from all economic backgrounds every day. Your financial health has very little to do with your mental health.  Yes, lack of income is very stressful. However, there are also pressures on those who have significant wealth.  I can remember when I was about 16 years old, a very “wealthy dairy farmer” from our community committed suicide.  At the time, I can remember wondering why he would do such a thing.  He had a financially successful farm and a great family. How could he possibly want to leave all of that?  It’s now at an older age that I can appreciate that he suffered from inner health issues.  Try this: Have a positive mental attitude and try to be sad at the same time. I don’t think it’s possible. With a positive attitude, life appears to be positive. Inner wealth really helps.
  2. Physical wealth
    Your health is your wealth. What’s the point of having all the money in the world if you get sick doing it? Why be the richest person in the graveyard? For me, it took having a heart attack to realize this.  Before that, I worked 80 hours a week, and drank copious amounts of Coke in order to compensate for my lack of sleep.  Upon having my heart attack, and realizing that I was risking losing it all and not being there for my children as they grow up that I knew that my lifestyle had to change. A person who is not healthy cannot enjoy life. If you want to learn the importance of wealth, ask someone who is not feeling well or facing health issues (Read more: Patricia Stiles –Dairy Farmer, Grandmother, Hero, Fighting for Her Life!).
  3. Family and social wealth
    Do you have loving parents or a caring brother or sister or friends who can come to your help at any time you want? Family and friends are another form of wealth.  We are fortunate to be part of the greatest community in the world (Read more: Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World….).  However, one of the things about being part of this great community is being an active participant in it.  No one gets to the end of their life and regrets making their family their first priority. Imperative in this is forging deep connections with friends and members of your personal community (including mentors, role models and trusted advisors).
  4. Career wealth
    When we have success in our chosen career, we feel a sense of fulfilment. In the dairy industry, this could mean earning a Master Breeder shield or production achievement awards.  This is another type of wealth.  Actualizing your highest potential by striving for your professional best is incredibly important. Earning recognition in your profession brings a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. It helps you to make your mark. Being world class in your work is also good for your self-respect.
  5. Economic wealth
    Yes, money is important. Not the most important thing in life but very important. It absolutely makes life easier and better. Money allows you to live in a nice home, take beautiful vacations and provide well for those you love. And as Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the outdoor gear company Patagonia, has said: “The more I make, the more I can give away. So, earn more to give more.”
  6. Adventure wealth
    We feel happy when we visit a new place or meet new exciting people. We feel happy when we are able to take the challenge and deliver more than expected. Adventure is another form of wealth.  To be fulfilled, each of us needs mystery in our lives. Challenge is necessary for happiness. The human brain craves novelty. We are creative beings, so we need to be constantly creating if we hope to feel joy. Lots of adventure (ranging from meeting new people to visiting new places, to trying new things) is an essential element of authentic wealth.
  7. Impact Wealth
    Perhaps the deepest longing of the human heart is to live for something greater than itself.  That is part of what drives the majority of the dairy farmers I have met in my life.  Each of us craves to be significant.  To make a difference.  To know that the world has somehow been better because we have walked the planet.    This is just one of the reasons that dairy farming is one of the most rewarding professions in the world.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Money alone does not define wealth.  There are many rich people who are unhappy and unsuccessful as human beings.  By focusing on improving these seven elements of wealth to higher levels, you will not only be richer in the eyes of those around you, but you will also find contentment in who you are as a person. That is when you will truly be the wealthiest dairy farmer in the world.



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Germany – Football and Dairy World Champions?

The world watched yesterday as Germany became world champions for the fourth time thanks to a stunning extra-time winner from super-sub Mario Gotze.  Germany is the first European team to win a World Cup in North or South America.  Germany won its fourth World Cup by displaying a team unity that was above and beyond anyone else in the tournament. Each man knew his role and the Germans moved as a unit with clockwork precision.  This same teamwork and precision can be seen in the German dairy industry.  In honor of Germany’s World Cup victory, we decided to take a closer look at the German Dairy Industry.

Dairy Cattle Numbers

In Germany half of the farms are specialized in livestock, with the main group (>25%) are dairy farms.  With a production value of about 10.6 milliard Euro (2009) cattle production (milk and beef) contributes about 25 percent to agricultural output in Germany. Germany is the world´s largest exporter of breeding cattle and one of the leading countries in the export of bovine semen.   Germany has around 12.5 million head of cattle in total, including 4.2 million dairy cows and 0.7 million suckler cows. Germany has the largest dairy cattle herd and the second largest cattle population in the European Union.

Graph 1 – Cattle Production in Germany 2013

cattle breeding in germany-5

The main areas for cattle are in the North Western part of the country (Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia) as well as the Bavaria region in the South Eastern part of Germany.

Graph 2 – Cattle Stock in Germany

cattle breeding in germany-4

More than 40 breeds are kept of which 80% belong to the major breeds: German Holstein black and white and red and white (67.3%); the German Fleckvieh (26.4%) and the German Braunvieh (5.1%). The remaining 20% are shared by eight local rare breeds and about 30 beef breeds. The diversity of the cattle breeds also shows the differences of the regional climate and the fodder availability from the north to the south. In the north and East German Holstein black and white and German Holstein red and white are the most common breeds. In the south, Simmental and Brown Swiss Cattle are dominant. With that, Germany has the largest Holstein herdbook population worldwide. About 2.2 million Holstein cows are officially milk recorded. Every year around 1,000 Holstein and Red Holstein young bulls are progeny tested.

The average yield of a Holstein cow in Germany is 9,013kg in 305 days of 4.00% Fat and 3.33% Protein.  The German Fleckvieh (Simmental) average about 7,210 kg in 305 days of 4.09% fat and 3.48% protein.  The German Braunvieh (Brown Swiss) average 7,190 kg in 305 days of 4.16% Fat and 3.55% protein.

Housing Systems

In Germany, there is a wide range of different management systems ranging from small family operated farms with 50 – 60 cows to large-scale operations with over 2,000 cows. The fact that German Holsteins prove to be successful under these widely varying feeding and management systems, both in the barn and on pasture, underlines their extraordinary adaptability. This adaptability is also shown under various climatic conditions and makes German Holsteins an export sales hit.

  • 74% of dairy cows in loose/freestall operations
  • 21% of dairy cows in tie stalls
  • 42% of dairy cows utilize pastures

Dairy Cow Rations

Cows in Germany are fed based on forages [silage (mainly grass and corn) or hay i.e. alfalfa], concentrate [grains (barley, wheat, and corn), protein sources (soybean meal and rapeseed meal), and other by-products (sugar beet pulp, etc.)] and common additives. The ratio of forage to concentrate varies from 60:40 to 40:60 percent but mainly forage based diets are used.

More than 130 years of German Holstein Breeding

In Germany, the first official breeding cooperative was established in Fischbek near Altmark in 1876. The objective was “to use pure-bred sires of the black-and-white Lowland Breed“ to develop this breed in pure-breeding. From then on, the number of regional breeding associations and breeding cooperatives increasingly grew to merge into larger organizations over the years.  To this day, Germany has numerous powerful cow families whose foundation cows can be traced back to the very first registrations in the herdbooks of North German breeding areas.

For a while, most of the breeding organizations kept on registering black-and-white as well as red-and-white animals in one herdbook and the breeding goal for both breeds was identical. Later on, breeding organizations were formed that exclusively dealt with Black-and-Whites and Red-and-Whites respectively.

Due to the world wars, the breeding organizations’ business was severely impeded. However, thanks to the commitment of enthusiastic breeders, the herdbook organizations took up their activities over and over again. This fact ensured the survival of the German Holstein industry and its qualities in West Germany as well as in East Germany.

In the mid-sixties, herdbook associations and AI studs intensified their cooperation. This led to a number of larger breeding organizations that stamp the German Holstein industry to this day. Following the reunification of Germany, the dairy cattle industry in the East German states reorganized itself according to this model too. In the meantime, the breeding goals for Black-and-Whites and Red-and-Whites became more and more similar to each other with the result that, in 1996, a common breeding goal was laid down, and the German Holstein Association (Deutscher Holstein Verband e. V. – DHV) was founded.

For decades, German breeding programs have been carried out according to the latest findings. They form the cornerstone for the high production and the functional conformation of the German Holstein cow. In addition, productive life, fertility and udder health are highly rated traits.

Due to its federalist structure and its special livestock breeding act, Germany has numerous different breeding organizations. There are 14 organizations which are involved in Holstein breeding.

german structure

During the past years most of the former independent herdbook organizations and A.I. centers have merged into powerful breeding organizations, uniting herdbook, breeding program, artificial insemination and marketing under one roof. Most of the DHV members are organized in such merged breeding companies. TopQ and NOG (North-East-Genetics) are large nation-wide co-operations between different breeding companies. To become more efficient, the co-operative partners together run sizeable breeding programs. Furthermore, the partners work close together on the field of research, product development, and scientific analysis of the breeding programs.

The milk recording organizations are independent.  Milk recording, at about 85% usage,   is higher than in any other country of the world. Among others, their staff members register all animals and transmit the data to the United Data systems for Animal Production (VIT). Under the federal program, the computer center VIT in Verden is responsible for the estimation of breeding values for Holsteins and Red Holsteins and processes all data registered. VIT publishes the breeding values as well as data for the business analyses of the dairy farms. VIT also connects all breeding organizations through a widespread online-communication system.

National Index – RZG

german rzgThe Total Merit Index RZG guarantees a balanced breeding considering milk production, functional herd life, conformation, reproduction, udder health and calving traits according to their economic importance. The Total Merit Index combines a number of individual trait indexes and makes it easy for the breeders to choose a bull according to all relevant traits. Today, the Total Merit Index (RZG) includes production (RZM 45%), functional herd life (RZN 20%), conformation (Udders, Feet & Legs 15%), reproduction (RZZ 10%), somatic cell count (RZS 7%) and maternal calving traits (RZKm 3%). To date the RZG is one of the world´s most popular total merit indexes for the Holstein breed.

In 2009, the German Holstein industry implemented genomic selection as a new tool in its breeding programs. The model was completely developed by the German data center VIT, and was among the first in the world that became ICAR/Interbull approved in August 2010. Therefore, semen of sires with a genomic enhanced breeding value (gEBW) from VIT is allowed to be sold all over Europe without any restrictions. Within the scope of EuroGenomics, more than 27,000 proven sires are involved in this genomic project to evaluate the gZW today. EuroGenomics is not only the largest training site for genomic evaluation but also represents the complete European and Northern American genetic background of the Holstein breed.

Popular German Cows


Loh Nastygirl (Marbach x Marshall)
Grand Champion German National Show 2013.
3.8 La:  48,310 Kg    3.20%     3.15%
Type. 4 La: 96-94-96-95/95


WIT A-Klasse (Classic PS x Stadel)
Senior Red Holstein Champion German Holstein Show 2013.
3 La: 30,345 Kg 3.72% 3.46%
Type, 3 La: 94-93-88-94/92

FG Ice EX 90 (Jasper 2 x Lee)
2013 Intermediate Reserve Champion on the European Holstein Championship 2013 in Fribourg, CH


The Bullvine Bottom Line

Germany has the largest Holstein herdbook population worldwide. Germany is the world´s largest exporter of breeding cattle and one of the leading countries in the export of bovine semen. Now, as the world is recognizing Germany as a football powerhouse, the German dairy industry should also be recognized as a dairy cattle powerhouse.




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The Genomic Roller Coaster – Hold on it’s going to be a bumpy ride

Since the very first genomic young sire lists were published in April of 2011, it certainly has been a very bumpy ride for the dairy breeding industry.   Top sire lists are changing almost monthly. Contract sires seem to go cold even before breeders have a chance to breed their animals.  This has many breeders feeling dizzy and asking “Does this genomic index thing really work?”

We here at the Bullvine decided to take a closer look.   We took the Top 20 gTPI sires from April of 2011 and compared them to the Top 20 proven sires from April of 2014 to see who performed better over the past three years.  The reason we are using the top 20 sires is that based on semen sales, most breeders, when using high index sires, prefer to stick to the very top of the list.  Therefore, doing a comparison on the top 200 or even 100 sires would not be an accurate representation based on actual usage. The following is what we found.

TABLE 1 – Top Genomic Sires April 2011 to April 2014


The top 20 Genomic Sires from April 2011 dropped about 10% upon receiving their official daughter proofs in April 2014.  Key areas that saw significant decline were DPR (57%), PTAF (31%), PTAM (27%), PL (24%) and PTAP (26%).  This tells us that the genomic markers used in April 2011 for these traits were not as accurate as say SCS, SCE, DCE, UDC and PTAT, which saw less significant declines from April 2011 to April 2014.

TABLE 2 – Top Proven Sires April 2011 to April 2014


On average, the top proven sires from April 2011 held up pretty well on the April 2014 results seeing only 3% decline.  Though interestingly we do see the same trend as in the genomic sires where the PL, DPR, PTAF lead the way with the greatest declines.  Also of interest are the changes in ranking.   In April 2014 the top three sires from this list were Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie, Regancrest Altaiota, and Lotta-Hill Shottle 41 none of which were in the top 5 in April 2011’s top proven sire list.

TABLE 3 – Comparison of Top Genomic and Proven Sires from April 2011 (April 2014 values)


If you had used the top 20 genomic sires from April 2011 rather than using the top 20 proven sires from April 2011, you would have come out 3% ahead.   More importantly let’s look at each sire did in the actual ranking.

TABLE 4 – Ranking of Top 20 Genomic and Top 20 Proven Sires from April 2011 in April 2014 values


Interestingly none of the top 7 sires in April 2014 were from the top 3 on the April 2011 Top Genomic or Top Proven Sires list.  In fact, the top proven sire in April 2014 was Robust, who was 14th on the Top 20 Genomic Sires in April 2011.  The top Genomic Sire from April 2011, Shamrock, is actually in 17th spot on this list. That is more than 200 points behind Robust, who in April 2011 was 169 TPI points behind Shamrock.  That is a 370 point swing between these two sires.  When you think about this from the effects it has on your breeding program, owners of daughters from Ladys-Manor Pl Shamrock, Mr Chassity Gold Chip, and Wabash-Way Explode who once thought they would have the next list toppers for sure. Now they find themselves (on average) behind daughters of Roylane Socra Robust, De-Su 521 Bookem, Sully Altameteor, RMW Armitage, Co-Op Upd Planet Yano, De-Su Observer, UFM-Dubs Sherac, and Vendairy Wonder.   When they were making their mating decisions back in April 2011, breeders thought the first group would surely outperform the second.

Analysis reveals an even more alarming situation than this.   What it shows us is that sires that were not even on the Radar back in April 2011, ended up outperforming the top 20 Genomic sires from April 2011.  In fact, 4 of the 10 sires from April 2011 were not in the top 20 Genomic or Proven Sires in April 2011, and 25 of the top 30 proven sires from April 2014 were not on the top 20 Genomic or Proven Sires lists in April 2011.

TABLE 5 – Top 10 Proven Sires April 2014


TABLE 6 – Top 40 April 2014 Proven sires that were missed


While a few of these sires may not have been missed because they   were about to receive their proven daughter proof shortly, the majority fall into a situation where they were just not as high ranking as the top Genomic sires from April 2011 but they held their values much better.

When looking at the 25 sires that were in the top 40 proven sires in April 2014 that did not find themselves in the top 20 Genomic or Proven Sires in April 2011, a strong trend starts to show itself.  All of these sires were within 15% of the top genomic sire from April 2011, Roylane Socra Robust.   This tells us is that you can’t only use the top 10 or 20 genomic sires, if you expect to have the best results in your breeding program.  In fact, you need to consider sires that are within 15% of the top genomic sire. When you compare the top 20 Genomic Sires from April 2011 to these 25 sires you find the following:

TABLE 7 – Comparison of Top 20 Genomic Sires from April 2011 to Missed Sires


Applying this analysis to today’s breeding strategy shows us that we cannot just use the top 20 Genomic sires that are available, in order to have the best long term results.  Instead, we need to use sires that fall within 15% of the top current genomic sire, Cogent Supershot, who has a current gTPI of +2625.  That means all sires that are 2231 TPI currently could easily be in the top 10 proven sires in April 2017.  That will be a list of sires that has over 600 bulls on it.  Even if you remove the two proven sires (Robust and Dorcy) as well as those sires that are older and about to receive daughter proofs shortly, you are still left with over 500 genomic sires to choose from.  That means that currently there are over 500 genomic sires that could be in the top 10 proven sires in April 2017.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While many breeders battle to get their hands on the early release semen of the top 10 genomic sires, and A.I. units are putting extremely high prices on this semen, analysis of performance data from the top sires in April 2011 shows us that these sires are not necessarily going to outperform the other available sires.  Breeders who used sires like Ladys-Manor Pl Shamrock, Mr Chassity Gold Chip and Wabash-Way Explode now find themselves behind sires such as Den-K Altagreatest, Pine-Tree Picardus, and Altaceasar.  These were all sires that in April of 2011 were not even on most breeders’ radars.   While genomic indices are an excellent tool for helping develop a short list of sires to use.  Performance data shows us that sires that are within 15% of the genomic sires can still produce a top 10 sire.  For your breeding program, this means that you need to take a look at all sires who are within 15% of the top sires and consider them for use.  This will help you develop your own shortlist, and then using corrective mating tools like GPS (Read more: gPs– Genetic Profile Systems – Dairy Cattle Breeding Made Simple), will help you determine exactly which of these sires will perform best on a mating by mating basis.  You can’t just use the top 20 Genomic Sires and expect to get ahead of everyone else.  Past performance shows this just doesn’t work.

The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


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

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

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Are New Dairy Farmers Prepared?

When our family dairy farm was at a crossroads in 1988, we asked our three children how they felt about dairy farming.  At that time aged 11, 14 and 17, they didn’t see themselves as future dairy farmers and so their grandparents’ animals went under the hammer.  Within ten years we were not only the proud parents of a manager for a Canadian A.I. company, an animal nutritionist for an American feed company  and a budding dairy marketer who owned and operated his own business, but hubby, and I had moved onto the farm and were both working for a national dairy genetics marketing association.  So much for not foreseeing our continuing future in the dairy industry.

“Learn to Do By Doing”

That 4H motto, “Learn to do by Doing” is an excellent mantra for anyone looking seriously at a dairy farming career. What four out of five of us were not prepared for in 1988 was the daily care and management of a dairy herd. With the exception of Murray. Murray was not only up to the challenge but, throughout 45 years of our married life, always managed dairy cows – in addition to whatever other career responsibilities he has taken on. While this has led to exciting opportunities and rather major challenges it probably isn’t a roadmap that others would choose to follow.  The good news is that to this day we live next door to the 96-year-old matriarch of his family who has lived her entire life here.  In today’s dairy marketplace, there has been so much change that it is forcing new and different ways to do well as new dairy farmers.

Required Education & Training

Dairy farming has always meant mastering many skills including feeding, administering medication, managing waste, operating milking equipment two to three times daily, and other daily duties. A growing number of dairy farmers hold a two or four year degree in dairy science, animal science, agriculture, or a closely related field of study that is the driving force in moving their goals forward since coursework for such degrees generally includes dairy science, anatomy, physiology, reproduction, crop science, farm management, technology, and agricultural marketing.  Nevertheless, there is no substitute for direct, hands-on practical experience and working on a farm with dairy cows is a necessary prerequisite for becoming a dairy farmer.

From Family Tradition to Farm Apprenticeships

In the past, the majority of new farmers learned the business from the ground up on the family farm.  Today those opportunities are dwindling and those who are inspired to choose a dairy career often apprentice with an established operation before venturing out on their own.  Those who intend to remain viable recognize that a lifetime of learning – classroom instruction, farm visits, seminars, videos and Internet – is necessary for the continuous improvement that is necessary for a sustainable, profitable dairy business.

New Education and Training

When you do a little research to discover the resumes of successful dairy farmers or, for that matter, most people working in the industry, you learn that many have backgrounds in 4-H, ag-education or courses and seminars to round out their hands-on expertise.  Today’s dairy operators hone skills in calculating application rates, determining genetic merit of livestock or trading grain on the futures market.  Continuing your agricultural education is like money in the bank.  You can farm without it, but it`s sure a lot easier to farm with it.

New Dairy Farmers Start Out Herd First!

Canadian dairy farmers face the first hurdle of quota purchase before they can become part of the national dairy industry. Figuring out a way to get a foot in that door is a major challenge. In the US, many beginning dairy farmers pursue a “herd first” strategy—that is, they buildup their herds before they make fixed investments in land and buildings.  This is a logical first step which builds equity, before investing in buildings and equipment which can depreciate quickly. Cows are also an investment that is relatively easy to buy and sell. The “herd first” strategy is a good way to start generating an income while managing debt.

Advice from Those Who Have “Been there done that!”

  1. Get experience on someone else’s farm before going it on your own. Build equity in cattle, while you work.
  2. Get a positive credit and community history in the area where you want to farm.  It is invaluable to have support and references from local farmers and Ag business people.
  3. Be willing to start a little lower than where you want to end up. A farm that needs work may also come with an entry price that can be the first step to your dairy dream.
  4. Buy used equipment and keep it in good condition.
  5. Whenever possible use your own sweat equity.  Production costs can be controlled if you are willing and able to do more than you hire someone else to do.
  6. Farming is always ready to teach patience.  You can’t get everything at the beginning. A plan that adds value every year is one that will see you build a sustainable operation.
  7. Listen to, learn from and work like other successful farmers.
  8. Target having a barn full of cows as soon as possible, so that you can keep the milk and cash flow flowing.
  9. Don’t get too far into debt. Specifically, stay at or under $2000 per cow
  10. Management skills are essential. Work smarter, not harder.

What is the Outlook for Dairy Farming?

Hundreds of new farmers get started in dairying every year.  Compared to other types of livestock farming, dairying can provide a higher income per animal, a monthly milk check, and, in many areas, more markets.  As the average age of farmers continues to climb, there will continue to be farms selling our or needing to be taken over.  Here a young farmer may find the perfect partner/mentor to work with in planning a future that includes farm ownership.  Modern dairy succession is not always through family lines and, in fact, non-related succession will probably become the norm that it is in other industries.

The Off-Farm Job is Important

In a Wisconsin survey (1996-1999) 51 percent of 300 beginning dairy farmers or their spouses worked off farm.  It reported that “Twenty-four percent of those taking over the family farm and 33 percent of those starting out on their own had off-farm jobs. Off-farm jobs can provide beginning farm families with additional income, health insurance, life insurance and other benefits.  Off-farm income can help meet family expenses when milk prices are low.  With an off-farm job, often a family farm can support two households without having to expand herd size or increase the number of milkings per day.”

Research and Development

Most major industries recognize the necessity of having constantly evolving research and development to keep the industry moving forward.  When times are good, we imagine that the markets will stay that way and feel overwhelmed when outside forces impact what we have grown comfortable with.  As much as we need a new generation to take over the dairy operations, we need next-generation scientists and researchers with a passion for dairy to choose careers that will have a positive impact on dairying.  Whether it’s genetics, engineering, architecture or economics, new minds need to accept the challenge of finding solutions, and creating new ways to provide food under changing environmental, political and demographic conditions. It’s frustrating for young people who enter agricultural graduate programs when times are good to discover that funding has been cut, and their futures are anything but sustainable. Five or more years of budget cutting and financial downturns, is having a detrimental effect on dairy research and development.

New Facilities

The positive outcome of the constant change in the industry is that there is a change in educational institutions as well. The Rayner Dairy Research and Teaching Facility in Saskatchewan, Canada plays a significant role in teaching undergraduate and graduate students within the College of Agriculture and Bioresources and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Research conducted in the new facility will involve dairy nutrition and feed development, animal fertility and health, animal management, technology development, and development of green technologies for improved sustainability. The facility will also be used to further research from the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, College of Engineering, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, and VIDO/InterVac.

USDA Help for New Farmers

New and beginning farmers are the future of American agriculture,” said US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Krysta Harden. “The average age of an American farmer is 58 and rising, so we must help new farmers get started if America is going to continue feeding the world and maintain a strong agriculture economy. The new policies announced June 23, 2014 will help give beginning farmers the financial security they need to succeed. Our new online tool will provide one-stop shopping for beginning farmers to learn more about accessing USDA services that can help their operations thrive.”  Agriculture institutions worldwide are revising and upgrading their dairy offerings.  In Canada, the University of Guelph answers the challenge with a Dairy Education Series which they report is “available as a resource for university and secondary school students, industry personnel, and interested consumers around the world.” As well the University of Guelph has a new dairy facility: The Livestock Research Innovation Centre. Construction began in 2013.

USDA’s New Farmers website has in-depth information for new farmers.  The New Farmers website has been built on issues identified by new farmers as top priorities. It will also feature instructive case studies about beginning farmers who have successfully utilized USDA resources to start or expand their business operations.The website includes how to increase access to land and capital; build new market opportunities; participate in conservation opportunities; select and use the right risk management tools, and access USDA education, and technical support programs.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Dairy farming is constantly evolving from a craft to a science, and more extensive training is necessary, especially for those starting out. There are many tools that new dairy farmers must recognize and use well. Those who make the wisest use of all the education, mentorship and hands-on tools will be the new dairy farmers that also stand out.




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5 Things You Must Know About Secretariat, Lung Capacity and Dairy Cattle

Breeding the next generation cattle is always a combining of the females we have in our herds with the breed leading sires to obtain even more profitable herd in the future. How big our Holstein cattle need to be and how their bodies function are important matters that future focused discerning breeders are asking about and discussing with fellow breeders.

How Do You Measure Size?

Many different yardsticks exist in dairy cattle to measure size. It can start at the muzzle and goes all the way to the pins. For some breeders, it starts at the ground and goes to the top of the cow. In the perfect cow it a combination of everything – front to back and top to bottom. However, are all areas that measure capacity of equal importance? Alternatively, are there some areas that are more important than others?

Type classification programs and the show ring deal with many areas relative to width, depth and total mass. There are many areas, but I seldom hear reference made to the lung capacity that an animal has. Sometimes we hear mention of width of heart, as a measure for the size of the lungs. However, do we know, for sure, if animals that have more width of chest and heart actually have a greater lung capacity?

Do You Consider Lung Capacity?

We know that in humans the ability to take in air and add oxygen to our systems is essential for every person especially physical workers, mountain climbers or Olympic athletes. Do cattle breeders consider the capacity of their animals’ lungs? If they do, how do they know if animals have more or less lung capacity?  As in human environments, dairy cattle are subjected to high altitudes, high temperatures and airborne diseases and our cattle are expected to perform no matter what. Every breeder knows that calves that have had severe pneumonia will not reach their genetic potential to produce milk.  So less lung capacity due to loss definitely has an effect on performance.  In cows, the more milk produced, the more blood that must flow to the udder. Every drop of blood requires oxygen. Larger lungs facilitate the addition of more oxygen to the blood.

Measuring Lung Capacity

One question that remains unanswered for me is this: “By breeding taller and taller Holsteins with narrow and narrower width between their front legs and also less width side to side in the heart region, have we decreased the lung capacity of our breed?”

I know from hands on experience that cows in hot climates differ in their ability to cope with sweltering weather. Especially when the temperature does not drop during the night. It’s hot sometimes for weeks on end. I have seen, in such an environment, wide chested cows able to produce 100 pounds (45 kgs) of milk in 113F (45C) temperature days. Moreover, in the same herds small heart and narrow chested cows have froth dropping to the ground from their mouths. They are panting, and even when cold mist is sprayed on their backs they can barely produce 80 pounds (36 kgs).  In large herds, the managers do not often choose to take the steps necessary for the narrow cows to be comfortable. It’s a matter of economics not animal treatment. Trained staff are often not available on the farm.  The narrow cows self eliminate from the herd.

During physical exams, people often blow into a device to measure their lung capacity. It’s not so easy to get a measure of an animals’ lung capacity. Somehow we need to know more about lung capacity and its impact the productive ability of our dairy cattle.

More Thoughts on Lung Capacity

There may be a way to physically measure lung capacity in dairy cattle but then to collect enough data to do genetic evaluations is a very costly task. Could an animal appraisal be done on heifers at weaning for a number of traits? Besides lung capacity, additional traits could include weight, feet, height, vigour and rumen function. After all, we need the type of weanling that will grow into heifers able to calve at 20 months and then quickly become productive and profitable member of the milking cow herd. Herd replacements are the third biggest cost item on dairy farms yet we often do not track and manage the heifer herds as well as we should.

It would be possible if we knew both lung capacity and genomic make-up of a sample group of heifers to develop a genetic evaluation system to breed for lung capacity without having to directly measure lung capacity on every animal.

Lessons from Secretariat

Let’s let our thinking move beyond dairy cows to race horses. For those breeders not familiar with Secretariat, he was perhaps the greatest racehorse in history. He won every race in the Triple Crown, the three biggest races that horse greatness is judged by. Not only did he win all the races, but he won that last one by 31-lengths. Destroying the competition. Charles Hatton of Daily Racing Form comments on Secretariat as follows “ Secretariat had depth of barrel, with well-sprung ribs for heart and lung room …. with the big rear end, the straight legs, huge lung and blood-pumping capacity, and his great size, he was a phenomenon waiting to happen ….. He lost only five times in his career … He was on the threshold of track or stakes records in most of his races and he broke them in his Triple Crown races … after his death, at 19 years, in 1989 post mortem examination revealed that his heart was two-and-a-half times the size of a normal heart for a horse his size. Not enlarged. Just big. There’s an equine gene for it. He had that too.” If there’s a gene for heart size in horses then likely there is a gene for lung capacity in dairy cattle.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Breeders select and care for their animals so they can maximize their lifetime profit. We know and are learning more every year about the genetic makeup of our dairy animals. It is time to think about how our animals’ lungs operate in order to complement the balanced nutrition, sound management, high-calibre genetics and cow friendly environments that we provide. Maximizing oxygen intake is important.




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A Bedtime Dairy Tale: Once Upon a Hard Place…..

If you want your dairy queens to reign at the top, you have to start with what is underneath!

Remember the story of the Princess and the Pea?

She could feel a pea through several mattresses.  In our dairy barns, we have productive queens and royal princesses who have that same sensitivity … in their bovine feet.  Everything they walk on, sleep on or stand on affects their comfort, health and how long their dairy reign will last.Cows on pasture can choose where to lie down, or more importantly, change to a more comfortable spot, as far as what they walk and lie down on.  However, nothing is perfect, and mud, stones, wind, rain and excessive heat and cold can add discomfort to the presumed better outdoor conditions.  Looking inside the barn, logic tells us that sand would be the softest, mouldable bedding … but, that would have to be sand that isn’t clogging machinery or providing other problems for the human side of the dairy operating equation.

There are Always Trade-Offs When Choosing Bedding

Efficiency and effectiveness also add to the variables you have to consider when choosing bedding.  It might be hugely efficient to have automatic scrapers, slatted floors or automatic spray cleaners but, if these are making cows nervous and causing slips, falls and lameness the efficiency and savings in work hours may be completely eradicated by less production, more illness added vet costs and increased culling. Ultimately cattle welfare is complicated.

Whether your cows are princesses or queens, your choice of bedding will be influenced by whether it is tie stall, free stall, or open style. Cost and labor efficiency are high priorities to factor in as well.  

Well-packed beds, like the excellent ones maintained at cattle shows are definitely cow-comfortable. They require constant maintenance to stay manure free.  On the one hand, the added tasks mean that you are very aware of the manure from each cow and the regular observation allows problems or changes in status to be noted and dealt with in a timely and efficient manner. On the other hand, you incur the added labor costs and expense to replace or maintain the pack.  Furthermore, the best bedding material for combating lameness may not be best for udder cleanliness. Relative concerns regarding such different problem areas will also influence bedding material recommendations.

 “Our mission is to improve the lives of animals through research education and outreach.”

That is the mission statement of The Animal Welfare group at the University of British Columbia goes like this.   (Link: They studied barn design and management, and their results showed three areas that have the biggest impact on animal welfare:

  1. Providing deep bedding
  2. Professional management with Standard Operation Procedures
  3. The use of technology to detect illness

Deep Bedding Makes the Most Difference in Lameness

The team at the Animal Welfare group at UBC concluded that bedding is the single most important feature that can reduce lameness on dairy farms (From the Hoard’s Dairyman webinar with Dan Weary, the University of British Columbia.) The researchers studied cow comfort and barn design, and the differences in how people build and manage their farms in Canada, the US and China and found that the lying surface provided to the cows made a significant difference.

  • Farms using deep bedding have 50% lower lameness rates than those who don’t.
  • The north east of the US has a higher lameness rates compared to California dairies that use deep bedded recycled dry manure solids.
  • The use of deep bedding reduces hock lesions, with 95% less hock lesion rate.

If you can see the floor under cow, you will have problems with lameness and hock lesions.

Sometimes Big is Better for Cow Comfort

To draw a comparison to human comfort let’s look at bed and breakfasts and hotels.  Sometimes the small intimate B&B has the edge because of the one on one attention.  However, there are times when the bed may have seen too many guests or is restricted because of the small inn ambience.  It’s nice to get a consistent night’s sleep at a big hotel chain with a comfortable mattress. However, back to cow comfort.

Desirable Characteristics of Bedding

There are two driving factors behind good bedding choices. One is cow comfort, and the other is farmer comfort. The two sometimes pull in opposite directions. Nevertheless, cow comfort must win out whenever the decision affects the cow spending most of the day lying down processing feed into milk.

  • Bedding must be comfortable to lie on.
  • Because cows are large animals, bedding must offer uniform support.
  • Coolness in summer and warmth in winter will promote cow comfort.
  • Dry bedding is critical for comfort and reduction in pathogen growth.
  • Good footing is essential for injury prevention.
  • Nonabrasive bedding promotes both comfort and injury reduction.
  • Besides whatever physical comfort dairy workers need, there are the financial comforts that require that bedding be cost efficient and labor efficient.

Six Cow Comfort Choices

Studies are accumulating data that shows that with increasing comfort daily lying time increases and hock scores improve for lactating and non-lactating cows. Here are some options to consider as part of your environmental and animal welfare strategy.

  1. Compost, or composting material, is used as bedding in open style barns. Cows find this comfortable as observed by lying time. As well, foot and leg health has positive improvement with this system. The nature of the material requires that the facility have good air circulation.  Teat cleaning will also need scrupulous attention. Good management is required and includes the challenges of daily tilling and regular replacement of the material.
  1. Geotextile Mattresses manufactured from a variety of materials are commercially available. These may be used in either tie stall or free stall barns.  They are marketed as requiring no bedding, but research has shown (see Bernard, et al. and Tucker and Weary) that added bedding makes the mattresses much more attractive to cows. Mattresses are generally installed in rows and come in a variety of sizes to fit typical stall sizes.
  1. Paper may be available inexpensively or even free in the vicinity of paper mills or shredding companies. Chopped recycled newsprint has also been used for dairy bedding. Both can be effectively mixed with other bedding materials. Fineness of chop will influence bedding characteristics. Because the material must be kept dry, storage factors into consideration.
  1. Sand can be an excellent choice of bedding. Because sand is an inert material, it will not tend to promote growth of pathogens, though when mixed with manure, the manure will support pathogen growth. Particle size is of great importance. Too small a particle size (or too much organic matter mixed in) will hold water too well. Large particles (> 3mm) will not be comfortable to lie on. Sand that is naturally occurring has rounded edges and is more comfortable as bedding than manufactured sand that comes from crushing rock. The potentially negative side of using sand as bedding comes in the disposal. In a liquid manure handling facility, sand must be settled out and disposed of. If this could be done in such a way as to reuse the cleaned sand, however, it would become a benefit.
  1. Sawdust and Wood shavings are commonly used bedding materials for dairy cows. They have the advantage over sand of being broken down by microorganisms in the disposal system, but they have the disadvantage of allowing growth of microorganisms (pathogens). Addition of lime to bedding may reduce growth of pathogens. The smaller particle size of sawdust makes it more absorbent than wood shavings and quicker to break down. However, small particle size is also associated with rapid growth of bacteria and other harmful pathogens. Cost and availability tend to be deciding factors in choice of material.
  1. Straw composts well and reduces in volume when composted, better than sawdust or wood shavings. It is important when using straw as bedding that the particle size be small, preferably fitting through a ¾ inch screen, both to increase animal comfort and to shorten breakdown time. Bedding absorbency as well as comfort to animals varies according to the species as well as to the chop size. Straw is an attractive bedding alternative when it is produced on the farm.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is much to consider in removing that uncomfortable pea in your dairy facilities.  The first discomfort may be with the associated costs and the difficult logistics of implementing change. There is no doubt that cow comfort practices affect lameness and longevity.  Accept the comfort challenge and you may find that “happily ever after starts with better bedding.” 




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SCC vs Mastitis Resistance – Which one fits your breeding goals?

Dairy farmers want to avoid mastitis. It’s expensive – antibiotics, lost milk, extra staff time and lost genetics. Furthermore every dairy operations targets to have the food safety and milk product quality that consumers want and deserve. When SCC testing through DHI and subsequently SCC sire proofs became available significant improvement tools were available to dairy cattle breeders. Breeders knew from experience that some cows and cows families were more prone to getting mastitis. Although somatic cell information was a great first step, it wasn’t the total answer. Breeders questioned if SCC could be too low and if very low SCC cows actually have less ability to fight off infectious agents that cause mastitis. So breeders asked the researchers to investigate further.

Canadian Stats Lead to First Mastitis Resistance Ratings

At CDN, breeders and researchers put their heads together in 2007 and decided to ask breeders to report on eight cow health events (Read more: Is Animal Health Important to You?) to get the necessary field information on incidences. For more than five years, 40% of Canadian milk recorded herds have been reporting if a cow has had mastitis and any of the other seven health diseases since her last test day. That information plus her somatic cell scores and genomic profile were combined to develop animal genetic ratings for mastitis resistance that will be released for the first time by CDN (Read more: Mastitis Resistance Selection: Now a Reality!) on August 12, 2014. By using the negative of a mastitis case plus the actual facts on SCC and genomic profile, a new tool will be in the hands of breeders to use in making their selection decisions.

The study of the data collected showed that Mastitis Resistance has a heritability of 12%, similar to the heritability of an important trait like feet and legs and therefore it is possible to improve it genetically. As many discerning breeders suspected, the study showed only a moderate association between a positive genetic rating for SCC and incidence of clinical mastitis in first lactations (44%) and later lactations (58%). SCC genetic indexes are an indication of few mastitis cases but a considerable distance from the accuracy breeders expect.

Mastitis Resistance Sire Proofs

After developing the formula calculating genetic evaluations for mastitis resistance, CDN researchers then compared the results to existing known facts. It was found that Sire Proofs for SCC have a correlation of 80% with Sire Proofs for Mastitis Resistance. That is moderately high but not perfect. And Sire Proofs for Mastitis Resistance were strongly associated with incidence of mastitis in first lactations (85%) and later lactations (90%). Note that the associations for first and later lactations are closer for Mastitis Resistance than they are for SCC.

When CDN publishes the genetic indexes in August, the scale will be 100 for average with a standard deviation of +/- 5. The following table produced by CDN is very interesting.

Source: Mastitis Resistance Selection: Now a Reality! CDN July 2014

Source: Mastitis Resistance Selection:
Now a Reality! CDN July 2014

This table provides for breeders some information details for both clinical mastitis (actual mastitis cases) and sub-clinical mastitis (SCC).  On a population wide basis breed average bulls (100) for Mastitis Resistance will have 92% healthy daughters with an average SCC of 178,000 in their first lactation.  In later lactations an average bull will have 88% healthy and an SCC of 226,000 in second lactation and 292,000 in third lactation. It should be noted that if a bull is used that only has a 91 rating, breeders can expect his third lactation daughters to average 400,000 SCC. In many countries 400,000 is now, or soon will be, the maximum allowable for milk to be accepted for shipment off-farm. As mentioned the numbers in this table are for an average herd. Individual breeders with less mastitis incidence can expect healthier animals and lower SCC average. However herds, with higher than average mastitis incidence, can expect poorer results.

In August Mastitis Resistance sire proofs will be published by CDN for Ayrshire, Holstein and Jersey breeds. Due to the large number of Holstein bulls with proofs and genomic profiles, CDN will publish genomic evaluations for Mastitis Resistance for the Holstein breed.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

CDN Mastitis Resistance genetic indexes will increase the accuracy of selecting animals for their ability to avoid the significant cost of udder disease. It is the tool that breeders have been asking for. It came about when breeders, researchers and genetic evaluation officials collaborated. Look for bulls or cows that are 105 or higher before considering them to be significant breed improvers.




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USA vs Canada – Who is Genetically Superior?

With Canada celebrating its national holiday this week and today being US Independence Day, we thought it only fitting to see which of these two great dairy cattle breeding nations has the edge when it comes to dairy cattle genetics.

We decided to look at 5 areas -Total Index, Production, Health and Fertility, Longevity and the Show Ring.  For each category we calculated the top 100 Canadian or USA bred animals.  For country of origin we used the country they were registered in.  Each area carries a 20 point total.  The following is what we found.

Total Index – BPI

Naturally the US will dominate the TPI list and Canada will dominate the LPI lists so we decided to use our own BPI index as a gauge to determine which country has the top sires in the total balanced index category.  (Read more: Bullvine Performance Index)



Total Index – BPI

While Canada is coming on strong in the genomic sire lists, on the whole the BPI index is dominated by the USA.

Verdict: 3 Points to Canada and 17 Points to the USA


For top production sires we used a weighting of 50% PTAM, 20% PTAP, 5% %PTAP, 20% PTAF, 5% %PTAF



With 82% of the top proven and genomic sires for production, the USA dominates the production section of this competition.  However it is interesting to see that Canada is getting stronger with 30% of the top genomic production sires.  This stronger showing may also be a result of Canada’s national index, LPI having more production weighting than that of the American TPI.

Verdict: 4 Points to Canada and 16 Points to the USA

Health and Fertility

For Health and Fertility we used the following weightings SCS 20%, DPR 20%, SCR 20%, SCE 10%, DCE 10%, SSB 10%, and DSB 10%.



It isn’t surprising, since the USA’s national index, TPI, has a heavier weighting on Health and Fertility, to find that the USA absolutely dominates this list.

Verdict: 2 Points to Canada, 18 Points to the USA


For longevity we used the following weightings -PL 50%, MS 30%, F&L 10%, BC 5% and DC 5%.



Given that Canada does put a high emphasis on type and, as a result longevity, it’s not surprising that Canada does have a strong showing in this category.

Verdict: 3 Points Canada, 17 Points USA

Show Ring Success

For the show ring we decided to take a look at the top 5 placings from this past year’s World Dairy Expo and Royal Winter Fair to see who dominates in the show ring.



One area where Canada does dominate the USA is in the show ring.  At both National Shows Canada came out on top.  Although the USA did have an edge in the cow classes at World Dairy Expo, Canada absolutely dominated the 2013 Royal Winter Fair.

Verdict: 14 Points to Canada and 6 Points to the USA

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Final Verdict: Canada 26 USA 74


Not surprisingly the USA comes out on top of this North American Battle.  In fact the USA comes out on top when compared to any country in the world and Canada comes in 2nd place in the world ranking.  While Canada’s passion for the show ring certainly helps them in this competition, even in the index categories Canada performs better than their cattle numbers would indicate.  Canada has 1/10 the cattle numbers of the USA but wins 15% of the index market share. In the end, national pride always finds a way to wave the flag!!



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5 SOP Mistakes Most Dairy Farmers Are Making

A Standard Operating Procedure or SOP refers to clearly written step-by step instructions on how to complete a particular job or procedure on the dairy farm. Typically there are SOPs for milking routine, calving, fresh cow monitoring, vaccinations and treatment of sick animals.

Unfortunately, like many oft-repeated actions that we consider automatic, there can be parts of the process that get forgotten or, over time, eliminated.  Needless to say, that has a direct effect on the quality of the procedure and the profitable outcomes being achieved on your dairy farm.  Also negatively adding to these results is the fact that there may be people trying to carry out the SOPs who do not have a background in farming or who have been newly assigned to the task, who find the instructions confusing, hard to understand or even impossible to carry out.  Unfortunately, this is happening 80 to 90 percent of the time.  In other words, the most frequent part of the repeated SOP actions is that they are not being done correctly.

SOPs must be ready for Hand Off.  Sign Off. And Check Off.

Are your SOPs in the barn office?  In a drawer?  Posted on the wall? Well, that might be too far from the action to be effective in making a difference to your dairy operation. A step up from merely knowing where the SOPs are kept is having them available on clipboards that are in each area being dealt with.  With SOPs in hands managers and workers can check off the steps when a SOP is completed, then sign-off and see that the paperwork gets to the office for the manager to review and act upon.

Could you make a SOP video?

One simple way to consider whether your SOP’s are correct is to try to make a video using the SOP instructions only. If you have to change, edit or ask someone, “How do you actually do this?” then you will quickly understand that not only are poorly developed SOPs costing you time but also money. Properly implemented SOPs help reduce variation in how a task is performed.  Dairy cattle thrive on consistency, and when tasks such as milking and feeding are performed correctly and consistently, cow performance is optimized.

Here are five of the top mistakes that dairies make time and time again in standard operating procedures (or SOP’s):

Mistake #1: Distributing SOPS that sit on a shelf or computer desktop.

SOPs should be dynamic and regularly reviewed. Even more important is that they should be printed in all necessary languages and posted where they are seen and used.  The language used should be the same language as that which is spoken in the dairy with the emphasis not so much on what you cannot do, but on what can be done. Forget corporate or legal talk and put the focus on helping staff understand what to do and how to do it correctly.  Implementation of SOPs can be particularly beneficial in milking routine and parlor operation, maternity (calving) management, treatment of sick animals and in fresh cow monitoring programs. It isn`t only health and diseases that need SOPs.  Staff needs to know what to do to respond to low feed intake or heat stressed animals as well.

Mistake #2:  Managers and employees are not included in writing the documents.

It is only logical that people are much more likely to accept and use a SOP that they have had a hand in developing. Being left out risks upsetting workers and producing a poorly written SOP. Furthermore, engaging staff in designing the SOP means that they will have a commitment to seeing the SOP put into practice. The most important benefit is that it is quite likely that they will have good suggestions and ideas. When included in a regular process of evaluation of SOPs, the entire team will benefit from more efficiency, cost effectiveness and quality production.

Mistake #3: Sharing the ‘How’ but forgetting to explain the ‘Why’

Many SOPs pass the ‘how’ test but not the ‘why’ test?  This means that company processes get repeated without people ever questioning why they need to do something.  Over time staff is taught processes that solve problems that no longer exist.  Decide what will be achieved through using SOPs and how those procedures fit in with goals targeted for dairy performance and health. Many benchmarks exist in the industry to help measure quality and efficiency in specific areas. People are much more likely to follow procedures exactly when they understand why they are important to profitability and to their paychecks too (especially if incentives are included). In addition, sharing “why” demonstrates that you care about the workers as part of the dairy team.

Mistake #4: SOPS written in a boring style with too much text

Educational researchers have found that 83% of human learning occurs visually.  We all know how easy it is to learn from a picture than a page of poorly written or complicated text.  Yet, probably less than 50% of the standard operating procedures use photos or diagrams.  (Read more: 5 Mistakes Companies make with their Standard Operating Procedures) Being able to reduce the number of cases of mastitis or pneumonia could pay for the setup of usable, well-written SOPs and any computer or paperwork system needed to keep them working well.

Mistake #5: Negative writing style

It is human nature to ignore negative words such as “don’t or “can’t” and instead hear the word after.  So if you say, “Don’t run” many will just hear run.  Rather than tell people what you don’t want them to do, say what you want.  So say “Walk slowly” instead. Often, standard operating procedures are full of negative language.  Too often SOPs are negative and even treat the reader as if they are already disobedient. If it is unclear, it will be ineffective.

Five Steps to Take Your Standard Operating Procedures from Bloopers to Super

  1. Get an outsider to read your standard operating procedures.  This is a great litmus test, as to how well a lay-person understands the information.  Often, when you’re an expert in your field you have “The Curse of Knowledge”.  This means the more you know in a certain field the harder it is to break the information down, so that a new person to the field can understand it.  Either you give more information than a person needs to understand or too little.  It also is valuable to tap the expertise of technical advisers such as the vet, nutritionist, or extension agent.  Finally — Give it your kids.  If it’s well written, a child should be able to understand it.
  2. Ask “Why?”
    Go through every procedure and ask why do we do that?  You’ll be surprised about how much redundant information you have that can be deleted.  Most people naturally want to do a good job and knowing why a procedure is necessary helps develop the worker’s job knowledge and enhances his or her ability to contribute to future procedure revisions and improvements. Make the purpose easy to understand so that everyone is committed to completing work procedures consistently and accurately.
  3. Go out and do the procedures according to the SOPs
    This is an excellent way to test if they’re still relevant and whether they make sense. Use this time to take clear photos that you can add into your documents. Standard operating procedures used in combination with planned training and regular performance feedback lead to an effective and motivated workforce. Ensuring that your standard operating procedures are correct is important for business safety and productivity.  Start improving your procedures now and ensure that all staff are doing the right procedure every time, everywhere.
  4. Provide Training. Training. And More Training.
    Train or retrain everyone as necessary to follow the procedure correctly. Even with very detailed steps, it is necessary to train all workers.  Otherwise, individuals will interpret the meaning of procedures in different ways, leading to inconsistency in work routines and performance. Everyone has to be accountable for their steps in the SOP.  Some dairies have both the manager (of each area) and the worker sign off on every SOP.  Then it is reviewed by the owner or dairy manager. Nothing is left to memory. The SOP isn`t designed to reward perfect memory. It is intended to create repeatable quality.
  5. Measure SOP Effectiveness
    Ultimately the proof of the success of a SOP is in the response of the cattle.  Effective parlor procedures can be measured by milk volume, milk quality and udder health. Calving procedures directly impact calf health. Whatever the procedure, there will be a corresponding animal improvement or escalating problem to be observed and measured.  For example, if you suddenly have a month where there are more than the usual number of calf mortalities, there is either slippage or an error in the SOP. It`s time to review and revise the SOP. Dairy herd performance is optimized when you successfully take each SOP from blooper to super!

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Using SOPs means that dairy managers and advisers benefit from consistent work performance and predictable results. Workers benefit from increased confidence and a sense of achievement. The goal is always to minimize the critical incidents. The SOP development process is an excellent way for managers, workers and technical advisers to cooperate for everyone’s benefit.  SOPs can mean the difference between success and failure by establishing a baseline for continuous improvement.



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What’s The Score on Skinny Cows?

A significant amount of information can be determined from analyzing how cows look.  Much the same as in the popular press, growing attention is being paid to detecting skinny cows and determining what “working” weight is and what is “too thin.”  The day to day 24-7 nature of dairy farming is providing data that concludes that detailed observation of Body Condition Score can help to prevent health, reproduction and production problems in dairy cattle.

Do You Know the Score?

Traditionally nutritionists, vets and farmers have relied on the five point BCS system outlined by Ferguson and collaborators in 1994. The challenge with this system is that it relies on trained individuals to be consistent in their scoring approach and assess each cow in a repeatable manner, something that it typically not the case. Moreover, BCS tells us nothing about the internal fat stores.  Body condition scoring should be monitored by someone that has be trained and who is well acquainted with the scoring guide. Some recommend using an outside source to score alongside a permanent employee a few times a year to ensure scores do not drift. This frequently happens  when one person is responsible for body condition scoring. “When individuals see the same herd every week, their scores can easily shift up or down, which can be corrected by working with an outside expert.”

Ultrasound and Back Fat Mobilization

A solution to human BCS assessment issues is the use of ultrasound as an alternative to assess total carcass fat. A report that discusses ultrasound results summarized. “When the thickness of back fat of dairy cows was assessed in a 2012 trial by van der Drift, back fat thickness decreased by 35 ± 26 % from the week prior to parturition to 8 weeks after parturition. The marked decrease in back fat thickness suggest mobilization of body adipose stores to aid in maintaining energy balance while also showing that not all cows experienced the same onset and extent of mobilization. This difference in back fat mobilization may be due to more than just differences in energy balance. The contribution of other body adipose stores may also play a role.”  (Miner Institute: Are skinny cows really skinny?)

Transducer Scans Give Reliable Measurements

A newer method to determine total body fat stores utilizes the same principles as van der Drift and others, but takes into account the contribution from both back fat and kidney fat. This method uses a 3.5 mHz transducer that scans the animal at the first lumbar vertebra and the 13th rib for assessment of kidney fat depth and approximately 15 cm for the cow’s midline. Clipping the cow may be necessary to improve image quality and ensure proper measurement. When carcass kidney fat was compared to ultrasound measurements of kidney fat depth, there was a strong correlation (r2=0.93), suggesting that assessment of kidney fat depth via ultrasound can provide a reliable means to measure a crucial contributor to whole body adipose stores.

What Do You Know About Thin Cows and Heifers?

There are significant issues relating to thin cows and heifers.

  • Cows that lose one or more BCS units from calving to 60 days in milk are much more likely to be anovular (not cycling) compared to cows that lose less than 1 BCS unit (40.6% vs.  17.9%)
  • Under-conditioning, or thinness, can frequently lower production and milkfat levels because of insufficient energy and protein reserves.
  • Thin cows often do not show heat or conceive until they start to regain—or at least maintain—body weight. In feeding these animals, care must be taken to maintain production while increasing body reserves.
  • Thin heifers may not grow rapidly enough to reach puberty by 13 to 15 months of age.
  • Thin heifers may also be too small to calve at 23 to 25 months or to carry enough weight to maintain a normal first lactation.
  • Thinner cows are at a greater risk of infectious or inflammatory diseases, such as uterine infections.
  • Thinner cows were less able to compete for scarce feed resources, prolonging hunger and further increasing the risk of disease.
  • Thin cows at calving become even thinner cows at peak milk production.  Any animal below BCS 3.0 must be managed immediately to increase BCS.
  • If cows enter lactation with lower-than-desirable BCS, they often don’t peak as high and are hard to get bred back. These cows typically have higher intakes once they enter the milking string, but the extra energy they consume from the ration is used for daily maintenance rather than milk production and reproductive function.
  • Field observations suggest that cows that are too thin at calving (BCS <3.25) may have insufficient body reserves to support normal peaks or may exhibit a loss of persistency in milk production.  In either case, whole lactation milk production suffers.

What to Do

Early lactation thin cows that are not high producers are not getting enough energy. Be sure that all nutrients are balanced properly and that dry-matter and water intakes are adequate.

Heifers that Score below 3- may indicate a nutritional problem. If heifers are allowed to become too thin, they will not grow at the proper rate and may have reproductive problems later on.

By boosting energy and protein levels, you can safely provide the extra condition your cows need and help them perform at their genetic potential. This will also be beneficial for milk production and reproductive performance.

Although well-managed farms will sometimes have a small proportion of thin cows because of health issues (e.g. mastitis, metritis or lameness cases), ensuring that young and mature cows calve at the correct BCS minimises the need for intervention.

Take A Picture!

Because of the changing nature of Body Condition Scoring having an evolving and accessible record, can be as simple as a camera click away.  The value of a picture record is that, when taking BCS photos of the same cow 45 to 60 days later, a producer can determine if the management changes are having the desired effect.

Producers are encouraged to body condition score cows at least four times during the year to determine best management practices:  1) Weaning, 2) Pre-Breeding 3) Pre-Calving and 4)Late Lactation.  Some commercial programs provide the flexibility of using photos of cows within your own herd or cattle type to use in the reference gallery.  No matter what color or breed type of cattle you own, you can now build your custom collection of BCS photos to use in your reference gallery.   Once producers have collected BCS measurements from a pasture or group of cows at one point in time and then followed up with BCS measurements at another point in time, they can calculate the mean or average for a selected date range.  It then becomes easy to determine if cows are gaining, slipping or maintaining their condition.

Is Thinness an Individual Problem or Herd Crisis?

Producers must pay attention to those cows that are consistently lower on the scale.  If their condition begins to slide, that might be an indication that the rest of your herd might begin to slip as well.  Being able to look at your herd and determine how healthy it is based on body condition scores means you can make adjustments to increase pregnancy rates and calf health.  It’s just one more, no-cost way to add to your bottom line.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Body Condition Scoring, when used correctly, can be a great indicator of the success or failure of your dairy nutrition program and should be an ongoing activity. It is one more tool to use to improve herd health and profitability.  Got skinny cows?  What’s the score?



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From Beakers to Breakthroughs Milk Reveals Its Secrets

The breaking news out of Australia was all about milk. “Unlocking milk’s formula could save lives say scientists” from Monash University.

The opportunities that could (grow) from this study include:

  • New formulas for premature babies
  • Weight loss drinks
  • New drug delivery systems

This ground breaking research was published in the journal ACS Nano, the Monash University For the first time the research goes well beyond the known nutritional values of milk and provides detailed insights into the structure of milk during digestion. This study delves into the detailed structure of milk and how its fats interact with the digestive system.

Research Reveals Interaction of Milk and Digestion

This unique approach to the study of the makeup of milk was funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). Dr Stefan Salentinig and Professor Ben Boyd from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) led the team that looked at the nanostructure of milk to find out how its components interact with the human digestive system. Their findings are detailed in the article published in 2013:  Formation of Highly Organized Nanostructures during the Digestion of Milk. The Australian team discovered milk has a highly geometrically ordered structure when being digested. Dr Salentinig said the research provides a blueprint for the development of new milk products. It could also lead to a new system for drug delivery. “By unlocking the detailed structure of milk we have the potential to create milk loaded with fat soluble vitamins and brain building molecules for premature babies, or a drink that slows digestion so people feel fuller for longer. We could even harness milk’s ability as a ‘carrier’ to develop new forms of drug delivery.”

Breakthrough Research is Needed for Dairy Development

The dairy industry urgently requires this kind of breakthrough science that has the potential to improve global health and cure disease. It is easy from the day to day side of milk production to keep scientific research at arm’s length forgetting that it moves the dairy industry forward.The Monash research team recreated the characteristics of the digestive system in a glass beaker. They then added cows’ milk.  They found that “an emulsion of fats, nutrients and water forms a structure which enhances digestion. The breakthrough made by Monash University team was the discovery that milk has a “unique structure” during digestion, which they have described as “similar to a sponge.” In simple terms Salentinig summarizes”We found that when the body starts the digestion process, an enzyme called lipase breaks down the fat molecules to form a highly geometrically ordered structure. These small and highly organized components enable fats, vitamins and lipid-soluble drugs to cross cell membranes and get into the circulatory system.” 

Specialist Instruments Simulate Digestion

The progress in science gains further impetus from the astonishing progress in recent years in medical technology. Collaborations among physical scientists, engineers, and doctors have given us CAT scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and a wide variety of therapeutic devices.  This was also part of the work in Australia. As well as laboratory work at MIPS, the researchers accessed specialist instruments at the Australian Synchrotron to simulate digestion and accelerate the research. Using enzymes present in the body, water was added to milk fat to break it down, and the Synchrotron’s small angle X-ray scattering beam showed that when digested, the by-products of milk become highly organised. Dr Salentinig said the structure is similar to a sponge, potentially enhancing the absorption of milk’s healthy fats. He further elaborates “We knew about the building blocks of milk and that milk fat has significant influence on the flavor, texture and nutritional value of all dairy food. But what we didn’t know was the structural arrangement of this fat during digestion,” The possibilities promise exciting results. “We could even harness milk’s ability as a ‘carrier’ to develop new forms of drug delivery.”

A Post Genomics Revolution

The dairy world has been changed by the genomics revolution and the practical benefits are more evident all the time. It is important to recognize how strong science provides practical benefits to the dairy industry. However, that strong science cannot exist without support.  It is especially important not to neglect fundamental research. It is from this curiosity-driven, disciplinary research that projects such as the one from Monash can contribute to understanding and real progress for the dairy industry. We need research to lead the way to advances in detection, diagnosis and treatment of dairy diseases and even ways to advance human health prevention, diagnosis and treatment.  Although it is unlikely that science and technology will solve all the problems, it is equally unlikely that they will be solved without research.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

With regards to milk, the next phase of the research studies at Monash University includes working with nutritionists to make stronger links between these new findings and dietary outcomes. Ultimately the plan is to utilize these findings to design and test improved medicines.  The Australian researchers have the vision, commitment, and most importantly, the funding. It only proves that Mother was right, “Don’t cry over spilled milk!”  Instead, we should applaud, encourage and support dairy research, wherever we are.



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