Archive for December 2014

2014 Breeders Choice Awards – Tanbark Trail Edition Nominations

Back by popular demand, the 2014 Breeder’s Choice Awards – Tanbark Trail Edition are better than ever. The final show ribbons and rosettes have been awarded for 2014 and now it is your turn, the passionate dairy breeder, to decide who is the “Best of the Best”. With many class winners from World Dairy Expo not attending or repeating their victory at the Royal, there are sure to be some interesting results.  (Read more: International Holstein Show – World Dairy Expo 2014 and Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show 2014)


The Breeder’s Choice Awards celebrate fan favorites in the show ring, index cows, sires and dairy celebrities.  It stands alone as the only major award where real people – not industry insiders – determine the winners.

Enter Your Vote


Spring Heifer Calf

Winter Heifer Calf

Fall Heifer Calf

Summer Yearling Heifer

Spring Yearling Heifer

Winter Yearling Heifer

Fall Yearling Heifer

Milking Yearling

Junior 2 Year Old

Senior 2 Year Old

Junior 3 Year Olds

Senior 3 Year Olds

4 Year Olds

5 year old

Mature Cow


The Top 14 of 2014 – The Bullvine’s Most Popular Articles of the Year

Every year we wonder if it will be possible to top the year before (Read more: Top 13 of 2013 – The Bullvine’s Most Popular Articles of the Year). Fortunately, thanks to the support of you, our loyal readers. 2014 was our best year yet.


Listen in on two dairy breeders’ conversation and you might think you were listening to an entirely different language.  The show ring, dairy cattle breeding and the dairy farming industry are full of strange terminology that most people would simply not understand.  Here are 22 phrases that have totally different meanings to dairy breeders. (Read more: DAIRY SLANG: 22 PHRASES THAT MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS TO DAIRY BREEDERS )


Have you ever wondered what it takes to have a successful Facebook page for your dairy farm?  Well, look no further! (Read more: THE TOP 10 DAIRY BREEDER FACEBOOK FAN PAGES AND WHY THEY’RE SUCCESSFUL)


In picturesque upstate Vermont, the team of St. Jacobs ABC, Ferme Blondin and Brian Craswell Auctions Ltd. did an outstanding job coping with the wet weather to host this great sale at the St. Jacobs new dairy facility. (Read more BEST OF BOTH WORLDS – SALE REPORT)


On a beautiful Ontario summer’s day judge Gerald Caughin placed some of the best cattle in the world. Check here to see complete results (ONTARIO SUMMER HOLSTEIN SHOW RESULTS 2014).00


This is one of the best kept secrets of the tanbark season.  Timed just a few weeks before World Dairy Expo, here is a showcase of what the champion state herd from the past 2 World Dairy Expo’s has to offer. Clearly, it is one of the best shows of the year (Read more: EXPO PROVINCIALE DE MONTMAGNY).


Everyone wants to breed the next great one. The popularity of this article proves it. (Read more: THE TOP 10 HOLSTEIN SIRES OF 2014 THAT WILL SIRE THE NEXT WORLD DAIRY EXPO GRAND CHAMPION)


Every year it seems like the Red & White show at World Dairy Expo is never short of a story line.  Last year it was the domination of Apple. This year it was the great Seisme vs Apple competition.   (Read more: INTERNATIONAL RED & WHITE SHOW – WORLD DAIRY EXPO 2014)


In its sophomore season the Fantasy Exhibitor contest added more excitement and much more discussion to the 2014 Tanbark season. (Read more: FANTASY EXHIBITOR© – WORLD DAIRY EXPO 2014)


For those looking to take a risk, these 10 sires will breed the extremes.  They will either hit a home run or miss miserably.   Sometimes that is the risk you have to take in order to breed the next great one. (Read more: THE 10 EXTREME TYPE SIRES MOST LIKELY TO SIRE THE NEXT WORLD CHAMPION)


Growing up on a dairy farm is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences anyone could ever have.   Here are just a few of the many lessons you can learn growing up on a dairy farm. (Read more: 12 LESSONS YOU CAN ONLY LEARN FROM GROWING UP ON A DAIRY FARM)


Always one of the top shows in the world, it’s not surprising that The Royal comes near the top of our list.  This year’s show was a showcase for some of the greatest cattle in the world, with Hailey taking that next step to securing her spot as one of the greatest in history. (Read more: ROYAL WINTER FAIR HOLSTEIN SHOW 2014)


How would you react if you woke up tomorrow morning to find that an eviction sign had been posted on your farm and you and your family had a deadline to remove yourselves and your goods? What if the expropriation was being carried out by no less than the army and your legal rights amounted to absolutely zero? (Read more: SAVE FRANK & MARJORIE MEYERS FARM – THE ARMY IS AT THE GATE & THIS FARMERS NUMBER IS UP!)


There is no question that the Holstein Show at World Dairy Expo is one of the highlights every year.  This year the popularity of the show hit such levels that we had over 20,000 people ping our server in under a 1 minute span. That crashed our server momentarily.  The excitement from the show ring was just that hot.  (Read more: INTERNATIONAL HOLSTEIN SHOW – WORLD DAIRY EXPO 2014)


Imagine this….You wake up in the wee hours of the night to smell smoke. You discover that your house is on fire. And your grandchild is trapped in her bedroom with no way to escape.  What would you do? This is exactly the scenario Patricia Stiles faced.  This tragedy has gripped the dairy industry and helped prove why the dairy community is the greatest in the world. (Read more: WHY THE DAIRY COMMUNITY IS THE GREATEST IN THE WORLD…)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

2014 was certainly a great year.  Just like the show at World Dairy Expo you wonder if the next year will be able to top the previous year. It always does.  The same can be said here at the Bullvine. We’re always looking for new stories and things to do to make the next one better than the last.  Watch for even greater things planned for The Bullvine in 2015.



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Editor’s Choice 2014 – The Top 12 Picks from the Bullvine

Welcome to December 2014 at The Bullvine.  It is the final month of another exciting year and time to pick a dozen articles for “Editor’s Choice 2014”.  I hope you will join me in looking back at which articles exploded out of the gate, which ones won our reader’s hearts and which ones brought attention to agriculture and the dairy industry.

12. MAKING IT BIG! World Dairy Expo and The Royal!

A single dairy class may only take up half an hour – a whole show one day — but in terms of breeding, buying, planning, fitting, travelling, preparing and follow-up, dairy shows represent a significant investment of time and money. It is no surprise then that huge numbers of our readers follow The Bullvine reports from across North America and around the world (Read more: International Holstein Show – World Dairy Expo 2014, Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show 2014 and International Red & White Show – World Dairy Expo 2014 ). Like our readers, we enjoy the showcase opportunities that World Dairy Expo and the Royal Winter Fair provide.  Live attendance, broadcasting and connecting with cows and breeders is what we like best. Bringing our readers as close as they can get to the show, without being with us on the scene, easily makes our top 12 picks of 2014. Thus both these North American showcases make our list of top picks.

11. ROSY-LANE HOLSTEINS – “Don’t Follow the Herd”

It’s not enough to know who the big show winners and top selling animals are. Dairy breeders are looking to understand, not only what got them to these lofty positions but also, how exceptional dairies are winners at producing milk.  They want to know the decisions that were made before the award went on the mantel and the money went into the bank.  Dairy breeders everywhere study the stories of great entrepreneurs like Quality Holsteins and Don Bennink. Lloyd and Daphne Holterman at Rosy-Lane Holsteins would tell you it isn’t a matter of one person or one ingredient.  They would say that success comes from a functioning partnership of people, teamwork and strategic planning. (Read more: ROSY-LANE HOLSTEINS – “Don’t Follow the Herd!”). This was a great interview and stands out as an example of how following your dairy breeding vision leads to success.

10.  The 10 Outlier Sires that Will Accelerate Genetic Gain

Recommendations on which sires to use always draws the attention of Bullvine readers. When our articles combine, not only list toppers but also important topics like reducing inbreeding, they draw increased attention (Read more: The 10 Outlier Sires that will Accelerate Your Genetic Gain the Fastest). These are the posts that our readers often refer back to, when discussing which bulls can offer the most genetic advancement. This article rang the bell with many breeders.

9. Why Braedale Goldwyn Wasn’t a Great Sire of Sons

An important part of what we do involves opening up discussion about what is not working too! When we identified Goldwyn, undoubtedly the greatest sire of show winning daughters, as less than a great sire of sons it generated many comments. The theory put forward in this article will be something bull breeders are likely to pay close attention to in years to come. (Read more: Why Braedale Goldwyn Wasn’t a Great Sire of Sons)

8. The 7 Most Influential Holstein Brood Cows of the Modern Era

Second only to bull lists are articles that turn the spotlight on cows. The seven cows included in this article cover all areas of breeding from show winners, to red, to polled, to dams of AI sons (Read more: The 7 Most Influential Holstein Brood Cows of the Modern Era). It is every breeders dream to breed one such cow. Clearly there is not a common definition of what makes an outstanding brood cow. This look back at the most influential cows may provide inspiration for those to come.

7. 50 Sires That Will Produce Feed Efficient Cows

For a second year, the Bullvine provided a list of sires using our Bullvine Efficiency Index (BEI). This index rewards bulls that sire cows that get the job done in the milking parlor after consuming the feed at the bunk. This approach to selecting sires has caught on with many of our readers. New or novel breeding strategies, although not always popular, definitely catch the attention of our readers and we enjoy the discussion and feedback that is generated.  (Read more: 50 Sires that will Produce Feed Efficient Cows)

6. Look Who’s Talking – Dairy Slang

We regularly cover the major issues, the controversial ones and those that everyone finds difficult. That’s why it is sometimes fun to take a look at the lighter side of the dairy industry.  So much of our time is focused on words, grammar, spell checking and expression, it was a special treat to look at dairying from the spoken word side. (Read more: Dairy Slang: 22 Phrases that mean different things to dairy breeders) It then continued with conversations on The Bullvine’s new platform ‘The Milk House’ (Read more: Introducing The Milk House – Dairy Breeder Networking on Facebook). Dairy breeders from New Zealand and Australia helped bring us up to speed on the lingo used by our counterparts from ‘Down Under”.  (Read more: Australian Dairy Slang – They say things a little differently down under)


Like many who follow The Bullvine, although motivated by dairying, we too are most inspired by people.  That is why our top five picks are based on people from the dairy industry. We are inspired by the personal stories, the amazing achievements and the many ways that real life people face the challenges of growing a 21st Century dairy. Although focused on cows, the dairy industry is, at its heart, all about the people.

5. FORGET KATE – The Dairy Industry has Kassidy Upton

The fact that the  interview with Kassidy Upton caught fire among Bullvine followers, was no surprise in an industry that values the success of its young members most of all. The celebrity level success that this young lady is attracting will inspire young people from inside and outside of agriculture (Read more: Forget Kate – The Dairy Industry Has Kassidy Upton). For dairy folks it is especially encouraging that Kassidy feels that her farm background has contributed to her achievements – not only in international competition but also in landing an acting role.  Certainly not everyone expects a girl from a dairy background to rise to the top of the Miss Teen Canada Globe competition or to win a part in a movie. It is unexpected until you learn the whole story. That is why it was one of my favorite picks and inspired us to continue to seek out articles on the ways agricultural is building a positive image through role models like Kassidy Upton.

4. BONS HOLSTEINS “The Type That Wins”

“Bons-Holsteins is a home bred farm.  In the last 60 years we never bought a cow, heifer or embryo.” Thus begins a fascinating international story that, remarkably, also includes a significant amount of showring success. Nico Bons explains how family teamwork has successfully propelled them toward the shared dream of “breeding a European Grand Champion.” The emphasis on show type has been a winning breeding formula for this family in The Netherlands and we learn that – worldwide – there is a common passion for dairying that unites dairy breeders.  (Read more: Bons-Holsteins: The Type that Wins!)

3.  JOHN ANDERSEN “Building a Field of Dreams”

For the John Andersen family, dairy farming is a family affair. The unique part of this story is the way in which they have managed to balance family life while building a dairy business and managing a very large milking herd. Furthermore, they have brought both commercial and pedigree dairy farming together in a successful manner that many would consider an unlikely combination. Here is an entire family – multi-generations with a full-range of dairy skills – who are focused on dairying and setting a model for the industry (Read more: JOHN ANDERSEN – COMMERCIAL and PEDIGREE – Building a Field of Dreams).

Facing Impossible Odds

Sometimes the odds seem insurmountable.  The top two Editors’ Picks for 2014 certainly fall into that category.

2.  SAVE FRANK AND MARJORIE MEYERS FARM – “The Army is at the Gate and this Farmer’s Number is UP”

Here was a story that inspired The Bullvine to rally the troops in a call to action. Ironically, the call to action was one that we hoped would stop actual military troops from taking over a family farm. The battle for the Meyers family to be allowed to stay on their farm seemed doomed from the start.  Too little.  Too late.  The opposition was too big.  And – in the end — the outcry became enormous too, as the story spread and many took up the cry for a fair resolution to this travesty. Nevertheless, despite the support from thousands, the Meyers were evicted. The numbers didn’t count except to Frank Meyers (Read more: Save Frank & Marjorie Meyers Farm – The Army Is At The Gate & This Farmers Number Is Up!).


Sometimes all you can do is pull together, pray and offer support.  That is what became the unifying force for everyone touched by the events that forever changed the lives of Patricia Stiles and Reese Burdette. Seven months ago Patricia saved her grand-daughter Reese from a fire.  She too suffered burns. Both faced a fight for their lives. That fight goes on to this day. It is a tough struggle. (Read more: Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World…)

The great thing about communities is that they pull together, when times are tough.  The dairy community – the agricultural community – and all those who identified themselves as part of a community that could reach out to Patricia and Reese — did that and continue to do so.  So many months of struggle and setback. Many more months to go.  As we enter into the Christmas season, let us be thankful that these lives were spared.  Help and prayers are needed now – perhaps more than ever – as this courageous family faces the long road ahead.  Patricia and Reese have won our hearts. We sincerely appreciate the grace of their families and thank them for keeping updates coming, despite how hard that has to be for everyone involved. We thank all those in the worldwide community who through prayers and fundraising are providing ongoing positive support. That is why the dairy community is the greatest in the world.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

At the end of each dairy day, we can’t guarantee that everything is perfect.  But we love what we do and dairying will always be our passion. We care for our families, our cattle and our community. Here at The Bullvine we are thrilled that you have made The Bullvine part of your online home, and that you use this platform to express yourselves, far and wide, around the globe. We’re growing together in dairying and look forward to continuing our conversations with you in 2015.



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A Guide to Understanding How to Breed For Feed Efficiency and Fertility

Are your breeding decisions in tune with where you want your herd to be in the future? As I follow the breeder discussions on The Milk House (Read more: Introducing The Milk House – Dairy Breeder Networking on Facebook ), I see three different approaches: 1) Some breeders are asking what to breed a cow or heifer to, in order to get a show winner; 2) Some are saying that Holsteins are not the only breed and that Jerseys can also get the job done at returning a profit; and 3) The majority are saying that they want to stay with Holsteins but neither the show ring nor only filling the milk pail to overflowing suits their breeding plans for the future. This latter group want cows that, on average, stay in the herd into at least their fourth lactation, and that are efficient at converting feed to milk. They must also be fertile.

The good news for the third group of breeders is that there are two interesting new ratings that can assist them when it comes to sire selection for feed efficiency and fertility.

New Indexes for Feed Efficiency & Fertility

With the revisions to the TPI® formula (Read more: US Genetic Evaluation Changes: Are You Keeping Up?) made on December 2nd, Holstein USA added indexes for Feed Efficiency (FE) and Fertility (FI) for breeders to use when they evaluate sires for their daughters’ ability to convert feed to milk and for combining the various indexes that relate to fertility.  The weighting of these indexes in the TPI® formulae are not large – 3% for Feed Efficiency and 13% for Fertility. Breeders wishing to place more emphasis on either or both of these areas in sire selection can eliminate bulls, during their selection process, that are inferior for one or both of FE and FI.

In order to provide information, that may be useful to breeders, The Bullvine has taken the top fifty daughter proven sires on Holstein USA’s Top 100 International Bulls -December 2014 list and selected and analysed the top ten sires for both of these indexes. The top fifty gTPI® proven sires are 2210 gTPI or higher.

Feed Efficiency Index

Table 1 lists the top ten sires for Feed Efficiency (FE) as well as these sires’ indexes for other traits that breeders normally use when evaluating sires to use in their breeding programs.

Table 1 Top 10 Proven Sires for FE (Feed Efficiency) that are in top 50 gTPI

Sire and NAAB CodeFENM$*gTPI*PTATMilkFatProteinFIPLSire Stack
1. Robust177767(1)2504(2)0.99114381491.86.3Socrates x Oman x Manat
2. AltaFairway 11HO10980163643(3)2303(18)0.46145772520.54.7Planet x Oman x Morty
3. Manifold 200HO00402154575(9)2286(20)0.36144069521.93.7Oman x BW Marshall x Emory
4. Facebook 200HO03753150512(33)2366(4)1.51128180472.21.1MOM x Airraid x Shottle
5. AltaGreatest 11HO10928145619(6)2338(11)1.18210454600.55.2Planet x Bolton x BW Marshall
6. AltaPhonic 11HO10997145539(20)2262(25)0.3891469431.52.5MOM x Nifty x Lynch
7. Mogul 7HO11314142728(2)2586(1)2.84114381490.35.1Dorcy x Marsh x Bret
8. Mixer 7HO11313128543(16)2332(12)1.75897604203.6Dorcy x Marsh x Bret
9. Myrle 29HO14828128554(12)2278(21)0.697869361.13.8Lief x Encino x Oman
10. Erdman 1HO09800126631(4)2260(28)-0.5299159323.66.9Planet x Ramos x Amel

* Bracketed number is the rank within NM$ or gTPI

Robust, the #1 NM$ sire and #2 gTPI®, easily comes to the top for FE. In second place is AltaFairway. All bulls on this list are superior for their ability to sire high production daughters with their proofs averaging Milk 1258 lbs, Fat 69 lbs and Protein 46 lbs. Further study of these bulls shows that they have a variety of sire stacks, have high Productive Life (4.3) but are not outstanding for type (PTAT 0.96) or fertility (FI 1.3). The indexes of these ten sires have a better correlation between FE and NM$ than between FE and gTPI®. It should be noted that only Facebook and Erdman, on this list, are over 2.0 for FI. Breeding for feed efficiency will not automatically get improved fertility.

Fertility Index

Table 2 lists the top ten sires for Fertility Index (FI) as well as these sires’ indexes for other traits.

Table 2 Top 10 Proven Sires for FI (Fertility Index) that are in top 50 gTPI

Sire and NAAB CodeFINM$*gTPI*PTATMilkFatProteinFEPLSire Stack
1. Wright 7HO11235.3631(4)2355(8)-0.194012820729.6Freddie x Wizard x Rudolph
2. Sobieski 1HO098535.1501(37)2311(15)0.443634525904.3Freddie x Lynch x Duce
3. Denim 1HO102185615(7)2356(7)-0.738955271147.3Freddie x Wizard x Mtoto
4. Freddie 1HO087844.6533(23)2349(9)0.518663328775.6Oman x Die-Hard x Metro
5. Sapporo 200HO037734.5438(82)2248(29)1.065723211435.9Jeeves x Goldwyn x Outside
6. Army 1HO096594.5338(203)2210(49)1.06-1002721742.2Jet Stream x BW Marshallx Rduolph
7. Gallon 29HO146844489(42)2245(30)0.4213803331744.9Jeeves x Goldwyn x Oman
8. Yano 1HO100854530(24)2210(50)-0.154511523647.6Planet x Bret x Manfred
9. Sherman 7HO111643.9432(93)2230(35)0.67632924823.6MOM x Shottle x Roy
10. Petrone 7HO11693.8549(13)2361(5)1.396243213477.5Super x AltaBaxter x Buckeye

* Bracketed number is the rank within NM$ or gTPI

Wright (Read more: TPI® – Do we have it all wrong?) comes to the top of this list. The first three on the list are all Freddie sons and Freddie himself is #4 on the list.  Knowing that leads to the question – Who says the fertility is not heritable or at least that there are sire lines that have daughters that are superior for fertility? The averages for these ten sires give a very clear indication that selecting for higher production is inversely related to fertility. As well, PTAT and FE are only slightly positively correlated to fertility. And that fertility (FI) has no correlation to NM$ or gTPI® for sires that are in the top 50 gTPI®.

Except for Freddie himself, breeders are not likely to recognize the names of the other nine bulls in Table 2. It is noteworthy to see that the ten sires in Table 2, on average, are high for PL (5.9). Cows that have a high genetic ability to get pregnant stay longer in herds. Commencing to select sires for FI but not at the total expense of production will be a wise decision for breeders that focus on profitability in their breeding programs.

Always Compare to the Top Sires

When making comparisons and selecting sires, it is always useful to know what the profile is for the best in the breed.  Table 3 contains the index averages for the top 10 gTPI® daughter proven and genomic sires. The genomic list is limited to sires born in 2013, as this is the group of sires that breeders are likely to be using currently or in the near future.

Table 3 Index Averages for Top 10 Proven and Genomic Sires – December 2014

Feed Efficiency (FE)104170
Fertility Index (FI)2.81.7
Productive Life (PL)5.86.4

It goes without saying that the averages for these two top 10 sire lists are outstanding. Due to Freddie’s influence, the top 10 proven sires are very high for FI. While for FE the genomic list is far superior due to their milk, fat and protein indexes being almost double those of the proven list.

In studying these lists it did come to our attention that Mogul (#1 gTPI®) is the sire of six of the top 10 genomic sires. As well, Robust is the second sire for six of the genomic sires and Planet is the third sire for six of the genomic sires. Most breeders feel that inbreeding levels should not be ignored. Mogul, Robust and Planet are not closely related but it is always wise to check on the Expected Future Inbreeding level of a sire before purchasing semen (Read more: The Truth about Inbreeding, Twenty Things Every Dairy Breeder Should Know About Inbreeding, 6 Steps to Understanding & Managing Inbreeding in Your Herd and 12 Outcross Sires to Help Control Inbreeding).

By comparing the group average in Tables 1, 2 and 3, it can be seen that the top Fertility sires in Table 2 lag behind the other groups except for FI and PL. Also note that the Feed Efficiency sires in Table 1 are generally equal to the top 10 proven sires in Table 3. And except for fertility (FI) the genomic sires in Table 3 are the highest indexing group.

Sires to Select

The first sort of sires available should be the top fifty sires for NM$ or gTPI®.  A few bulls that may qualify for their total merit and are significant improvers for FE and FI are listed below:

Proven Sires

  • Facebook (2366 gTPI & 512 NM$)
  • Denim (2356 gTPI & 615 NM$)
  • Robust (2504 gTPI & 767 NM$)
  • Manifold (2286 gTPI & 575 NM$)
  • Altaphonic (2262 gTPI & 539 NM$)

Genomic Sires

  • Supershot (2675 gTPI & 848 NM$)
  • Rubicon (2718 gTPI & 864 NM$)
  • Hotshot (2661gTPI & 815 NM$)
  • Delta (2709 gTPI & 873 NM$)
  • Draco (2642 gTPI & 810 NM$)

Polled Sires

  • Powerball-P (2534 gTPI & 653 NM$)
  • Multitude-P (2249 gTPI & 418 NM$)
  • Ewing-P (2229 gTPI & 510 NM$)
  • Yahtzee-P (2408 gTPI & 588 NM$)
  • Ladd Man-P (2201 gTPI & 365 NM$)

Red, RC and high PTAT sires do not rank high for either feed efficiency (FE) or fertility (FI). One exception is Mogul at 2.84 PTAT who received 142 for FE however his FI is only slightly above average at 0.3.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Breeding for feed efficiency is closely related to breeding for increased production. However breeding for increased milk yield is counter-productive to increasing the genetic merit of females for reproductive traits. Based on our study of the new indexes for feed efficiency and fertility, we recommend that breeders select bulls that are over 80 pounds for fat and protein combined and that are over 1.0 for FI.

The Dairy Breeders No BS Guide to Genomics


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

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

Download this free guide.




All a Dairy Breeder wants for Christmas is…

Most dairy breeders are pretty simple.  Give ‘em  a VG-89-2YR who wins Intermediate Champion at Expo and they will be happy.  If you are stymied about what to buy your father, wife, brother, sister, best friend or hired help, but can’t afford that 2700 TPI heifer from an early release sire, we have prepared a list of top 10 unique gift Ideas for the special dairy enthusiast in your life.

6275686-fa3d011e8c4b4890d291b6dd46f5bee3-fp-14180575812014 World Dairy Expo and 2014 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show Photo Books

Due to the extremely popular demand for  last year’s photo books, we  brought them back for 2014.  These 90 page 10”x 8” coffee table books each contain over 200 hi-resolution photos.  You can relive all of the action and excitement of the 2014 World Dairy Expo Holstein Show and The Royal Winter Fair 2014 Holstein Show with these one-of-a-kind photo books.  Check out these photo books here.

A Special Lady from Steel Cow

Although she is neither a dairy breeder nor a show ring competitor, artist Valerie Miller of Steel Cow is, nevertheless, completely hands on in her relationship with cows. This passionate painter not only paints her girls larger than life but she also aligns their bovine characteristics with dear family members and friends.  These paintings are admired by all and make a great Christmas gift for the dairy breeder on your list.  Steel Cow’s Valerie Miller: Larger Than Life With Her Cow Girls.

Puttin on the RitzyPaintings by Gary Sauder

Since the first time I saw Gary’s work on Facebook, I was amazed by the super-realism of his paintings.  His passion and understanding of what great dairy animals look like comes through in each and every one.  We had the chance to interview Gary in our feature article – GARY SAUDER: The Muse in His Studio. To order some of Gary’s fine art work visit Cow Art and More.


The Dairy Queen: A History of the Jersey Breed Worldwide

This 300-page book is a great Christmas present for anyone interested in the Jersey breed.  It chronicles the origins and development of the Jersey breed through detailed text and photos.  Be sure to check out our interview “THE DAIRY QUEEN” HAS ALL THE ANSWERS! with Co-Author Derrick Frigot.  He tells how this book came to be and what makes it so unique.  Supplies are limited, so be sure to check out their Facebook page and order your copy for the Jersey breeder in your life.



Emma's recent painting "Hailey" of the great RF Goldwyn Hailey.

Prints by Emma Caldwell

Probably one of the most talented young artists I have ever come across, Emma Caldwell is well on her way to becoming a worldwide household name.  Although she is  just starting out in her career, she has already done some amazing paintings of Hailey, Smurf, and Francesca.  Check out our feature interview with Emma, Emma Caldwell’s Art Stirs Mind and Heart, as well as her many great prints available from her web shop.







Millionaires in the Cornfield: The Glory Days of the National Dairy Cattle Congress by Norman Nabholz.

For me, Norm is probably one of the greatest cattle minds of the past 50 years.  It only takes a few moments of chatting with Norm to recognize his passion for this business we all love.  His book is easy to pick up but hard to put down.  Not only does it recount the achievements of legendary breeders and showmen with words and countless pictures, the background information and this behind-the-scenes look  are most entertaining and interesting.  The Bullvine had a chance to sit down and interview this multi-talented man in our feature article – HALTER, PEN and GAVEL.  That’s Just the Norm.\

The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook

Facebook Page for Their Farm

Instead of wasting hundreds of dollars on a web page that no one will ever read, give the dairy breeder in your life a Facebook page that will reach the world.  The best part about it? It’s free!  That’s correct, it will cost you nothing.  All you need to do is download this simple guide, The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook and you will be well on the way to helping the dairy breeder in your life market to the world.

Edward Young MorwickThe Chosen Breed and The Holstein History by Edward Young Morwick

Anyone who likes history, even in the slightest, will greatly appreciate either the US history (The Holstein History) or the Canadian History (The Chosen Breed) by Edward.  Each of these books is so packed with information that they are each printed in two separate volumes.  We had a chance to interview Edward – Edward Young Morwick – Country Roads to Law Office and you get a true sense  of his passion and quick wit and they  also come shining through in his books.  Be sure to get your copies of amazing compilation of Holstein history in these books.

Legends of the Tanbark Trail

Legends of the Tanbark Trail by Tim Baumgartner

Dairy cattle have been on exhibit for nearly 200 years and taking home the coveted title of National Grand Champion has always been a compelling force.  Tracing the first 100 years of U.S. national dairy cattle shows, Legends of the Tanbark Trail is a salient account of the people, the places, and the superb and unparalleled animals that have graced the show ring throughout its history.  Be sure to get your show enthusiast their copy of this special book.



Prints by Bonnie Mohr

For a long time Bonnie Mohr has been the industry standard for great dairy paintings.  Like many, our family has had the opportunity to appreciate Bonnie’s great work.  My wife has presented me with   a Bonnie Mohr print every year on our anniversary.  That is why when we had the opportunity to interview Bonnie – Bonnie Mohr – Science and Art Together Creates a Holstein Love Story-; it was an honor for us.  Be sure to check out her website for more extraordinary fine art from rural America.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Instead of buying the tie that they might only wear for weddings or funerals, or those  work gloves that could get lost the first time they are worn, consider these 10 great gift ideas.  Not only will they thank you for connecting them to their dairy passion, but also our  thoughtfulness will touch dairy breeder’s hearts and make lasting memories this Christmas!

Be sure to LIKE and SHARE this post on Facebook to let your friends and family know exactly what you are wanting for Christmas.


Put Some Jolly Into Your Very Dairy Christmas!

The holidays are almost here. And along with it, another seemingly endless list which demands that it, and you, are checking twice. Regardless of the chores, breeding, feed, finances, calvings, frozen pipes, storm damage …. And the fifteenth bull calf in a row … you are definitely feeling that you’re on thin ice.

The gifts, the tree, the perfect pies and turkey …. Christmas at the Farm … in some in one month.  No wonder we’re stressed exhausted and in some cases, dairy depressed.

We may catch ourselves envying the non-farm neighbours who head to warmer climates for their winter break. After all, how hard is it to care for a cat (and maybe a dog)? They can even choose to sleep in while they get time off from that barely stressful 9-5 job that pays their bills so effortlessly.

Oops!  Want a little cheese with that whine?

Try to remember that not everything about Christmas on a dairy farm is bad! And everything OFF the farm isn’t perfect either.  Almost everyone has to deal with debt loads, decision making and lack of control over the weather. While they may not be as isolated as the typical farmer, they also don’t have nearly as much hands-on control of their daily living.

Long days and late nights may make Christmas parties, concerts, sleigh rides and ski hills seem out of reach. Don’t get your Christmas stockings in a knot yet.  Put a wreath on the barn door.  Remind yourself where the Christmas season started. Have you got a Santa Claus hat?  Put it on your favorite cow.  After all, she never tires of giving her best to you every day.  Now that your workplace and staff are in a holiday moo-ed, take fifteen minutes to invite your family — or a neighbour to enjoy a hot chocolate.  Find a place where the view of your farm, cattle, or pastures will recharge your energy.

Here Comes Christmas Stress!  Right down Dairy Farm Lane!

Christmas is a time of waiting … and hurrying and worrying. The very fact that it is seen as a time to celebrate sets us up for the measuring, comparing and competing that can add huge stress to an already busy time.  Unfortunately, just when there are all these added challenges, we seem determined to respond to them in ways that aren’t usual either.

  • Don’t cut off your usual support groups.  While bemoaning what you’re missing don’t cut yourself off from church, 4-H or coffee at the local diner or Timmy’s.  That hour isn’t going to make your list any shorter, but you will confirm that you’re not the only one coping with Christmas.
  • Make a Happy Christmas in the Stable.  Don’t take your anxiety out on your cows.  Remember Christmas started in a stable.  But regardless of your faith beliefs, taking care of animals (and friends) takes the focus off ourselves.
  • Take Care of YOU:  Seasonal stress can show itself through coughs, colds, flu, aches and pains.  If you have annual visits from these ailments, try to anticipate the trigger situations and take steps to prevent getting worn out.
  • Make the Job a Game:  If you’re missing family activities. Bring Christmas fun to your farm.  Surprise your staff by wearing antlers or hanging mistletoe.  It’s surprising how the sound of laughter can change drudgery to fun
  • Ask for what YOU Need:  Never mind your list for Santa.  If you’re feeling low, share that with those closest to you.  There may not be an easy solution, but it’s important not to carry the whole load by yourself! Every little hug helps!

Make Someone Else Happy!

We all know how our outlook can change in an instant, when someone shines the light of appreciation on what we are doing.  Make sure you light up someone else’s day with a sincere, “Thank you!” Everyone struggles.  Don’t add to their stress with criticism or shared anxiety about all the troubles of the world.  Find a piece of happiness to share with someone else!

A written thank you note to family who give up some of their time for the farm could make a big difference.  A note to staff shows that you appreciate them beyond the daily dairy grind.   The very effort of putting your thoughts of gratitude on paper will make a difference in your own outlook too!

Put Some Fun in Your Own Life!

Every year I have fun performing in Christmas Musicals and Concerts.  This year, various issues tempted me to give up this frivolous behavior.  However, fate stepped in, and just as I was about to give up my ladies’ performance choir – our new leader asked me if I would assist her with the stage managing.  Well, there’s nothing like being needed to make you forget your troubles.  Believe – herding cows or even cats — is less work than getting forty-five women on and off stage three times in one show!

Having recently turned 65, it seemed like this, finally, should be the year that I stopped putting on costumes and doing home groan comedy routines.  But – like clockwork— I woke up one morning giggling at an idea that occurred to me for my church Altar-Ego “Sister Page Turner” to deliver.  Our church is struggling through a somewhat dark period, and I thought the topic should be “Light!”  Thus- “Batteries Not Included!” will, hopefully, send a message of hopefulness.  As usual, trying to see the humour in an awkward situation actually does help.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Learning to deal with stress takes time but, in the end, we develop coping strategies that help in many areas of life — not just in the barn. So friends, give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back.  The work you do goes far beyond your own farm gate.  Chin up! Here at The Bullvine we’re glad to share our issues, concerns and joys with you.  We’re proud of you. Have yourself a very – merry – dairy Christmas.


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TPI® – Do we have it all wrong?

What does it mean when the #8 proven TPI® sire in the world is unmarketable?

That is the exact question that came up this week, when Pine-Tree Freddie Wright received his first official proven sire evaluation.  It was not because he performed below expectations.  It was not because he did not rank high enough.  Wright is the #8 proven TPI® sire in the world and the highest sire in the top 200 TPI® sires for PL and DPR.  Yet he has not been returned to active service.

Marketing vs Mating Tool?

In the past we have discussed the Merits of TPI® as a marketing tool versus a mating tool, (Read more: TPI™ and LPI – Marketing or Mating Tools?), but here is a circumstance where it may not be either.  Usually, when a sire debuts in the top 10 TPI® sires in the world, the A.I. company marketing him expects to see significant returns on their investment.  Even in the Genomic Era there are still certain markets and segments of the North American breeding industry that will only, or almost only, use proven sires.  Yet Wright will turn out to be a footnote and not the lead story for the December 2014 US Holstein Genetic Evaluations.  Or will he?

To get to the heart of this story, I guess we need to look closer at the pedigree of Pine-Tree Freddie Wright.  Wright is a Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie from Pine-Tree Missy Wanda-ET EX-90, who is a granddaughter of the great Wesswood-HC Rudy Missy-ET TV EX-92 3E GMD DOM.  So Wright is indeed blessed with a very marketable maternal pedigree.

The problem

The problem actually starts with the paternal side of his pedigree.  Despite being the #9 proven TPI® sire in the breed, Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie is a marketing dead weight.  This is scary considering the fact that he is #2 TPI® sire that is 99% reliable for type and production, behind Bookem, and that he has 2 sons in the top 10 TPI® proven sires, and 4 in the top 20. You would think a high ranking sire from such a marketable maternal side and proven sire stack would be marketing gold…but he is not.

The challenge really comes when you start looking closer at his evaluation and how he achieves such a high ranking.  You see, like all Freddie sons, Wright is not very high ranking for his overall conformation improvement.  In fact, he is a negative 0.19 for PTAT and -0.03 for UDC and +0.14 FLC.  Furthermore, the recent Genetic Evaluation base change certainly did not help Wright, as his numbers would have appeared much better before the recent 0.99 base change for PTAT (Read more: US Genetic Evaluation Changes: Are You Keeping Up?).  With a sire ranking as high as Wright, you would think he must have insane production numbers, in order to achieve such a result.  Well again, in Wright’s case, that is not so.  He is only +401 for milk with 28 lbs. of Fat and 20 lbs. of protein.

How does he do it?

With numbers like these you start to wonder, just how does Wright rank so high on the lists?  Well, the answer is simple. He is an extremely impressive 9.6 for Productive Life (PL) and 5.4 for DPR.  This not only ranks him as the highest for both of these traits in the top 200 proven TPI® sires, he is actually the highest PL proven sire in the world, by almost 1.4 points (17%), and is in the top 50 of all proven sires for DPR.  So you would think that, in this age of wanting to breed for longer lived cows (PL) and cows that have high fertility (DPR), a sire like this would be marketing gold… would think.

The challenge is Wright is a sire who finds no market segment to love him.  His -0.19 PTAT makes him a challenge for type for high index breeders as he is sure to lower perceived type improvement and, coming in  under the magic 1,000 lbs. for milk and 48 lbs. of combined fat and protein, means that production focused producers will not touch him.  Hence, the reason he has not been returned to active service.   Wright has no one to love him.

Is it an issue with the formula?

This then brings us to the question, “Do we have the TPI®   formula all wrong?  Since the #8 TPI®   proven sire is unmarketable?”  To that I say, “ No!”  Despite the recent adjustment in the formula to actually increase focus on production, you will still have sires like Wright achieve success.  As is evident by #7 proven TPI® sire, DE-SU FREDDIE DENIM 646-ET.  Who actually is lower than Wright for all major traits except for the new Feed Efficiency.

The issue here is as much perception as it is genetic advancement.  You see, while many view TPI® as a marketing tool, it is first and foremost a tool for genetic advancement, and despite Wright’s shortcomings for type evaluation and production, he does offer significant genetic advancement in health and fertility.  In fact, he may be the greatest proven sire in the breed for improving longevity.  The challenge is that most breeders do not realize that, if you are truly going to breed for longevity, you can’t just look at type evaluations, as it has been proven that extreme classifying cows are not always the best example of long lived productive cows (Read more: SHE AIN’T PRETTY – SHE JUST MILKS THAT WAY!).  If you analyze Wright’s, numbers, they tell you that he will effectively give you 1 more lactation than using an average sire (A PL of 9.6 equates to 288 more days of milking per daughter).  So despite his lower type numbers, the Wrights do last and, unlike other sires in the top 10 TPI® sires, he is not a negative for production, so that extra lactation will in fact be a very productive one.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

One of the challenges for Wright may just be the fact that he is at the wrong AI unit.  That is not to say there is anything wrong with Select Sires.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite.  Select is enjoying a wealth of genetic results lately.  They have the top 3 TPI sires, 5 of the top 10 and 35% of the top genomic sires in the breed today.  If Wright had been at any other AI unit, he probably would have been returned to service, as is the case for #7 TPI®   sire Denim, who has lower numbers for most traits and has a similar sire stack. The TPI® formula is doing exactly as it should. It is identifying those animals that have the most to offer in terms of genetic gain. It’s time for the marketplace to understand this and get over their hang-ups and stop letting stigmas scare them away from using certain sires.


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TPI * is a service mark of Holstein Association USA, ©2014

HOW TO DODGE DAIRY DISASTERS – 7 Ways to Be Ready for Almost Anything!

Every dairy operation faces the unexpected.  Sometimes on a daily basis.  The key is to foresee the negative and plan ahead to stave off downtime. Of course, unexpected emergencies mean dairying interrupted: health, natural disaster, financial, personal. It’s the unexpected part that causes problems. Having said that, there is nothing new under the sun so we should try to be prepared and, hopefully, face fewer unforeseen downtimes. While you can’t really predict or control nature, the economy or world markets, you can control (at least partly) the effect that they have on your business. The goal is not to let a natural disaster, human error or even a security breach lead to the destruction of your dairy operation. It’s very hard to recover from “unplanned downtime” and, if it becomes extended, it could mean that recovery is impossible. Preparedness is really about giving yourself options.

7 Priorities:  Planned and Prepared

If you’ve made it this far, take a quick look at this list of seven items. Check off what you have in place on your dairy.  If you take care of one item that is currently missing from your preparedness plan, at least you will be further ahead than you were yesterday.

  • People Plan
  • Livestock Plan
  • Livestock Disaster Box
  • Facility Plan
  • Natural Disaster Plan
  • Financial
  • What Many Forget

People First: Planned and Prepared

We all imagine that we would know what to do if faced with fire, flood or tornado.  Depending on the frequency of these occurrences in your area, you may be more or less prepared.  It can’t be left to chance.  The first priority is people safety.  That can only happen if there is a plan in place and everyone is trained in exactly how to follow it. Every person must know what to do and how to do it.  Practicing for a disaster may seem negative, at first consideration but, if you have ever been faced with impending disaster, you know how your response must be immediate.  It could mean the difference between life and death.  Beyond the equipment to fight fire, control flooding or board up against wind and hail, everyone must have the personal safety gear and training to know what is required. If you never get to use the training you have had, that isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

Livestock:  Planned and Prepared

When we have ensured the safety of people to the best of our ability, we are in a far better place to effectively look after the livestock in our care. When faced with the stress of evacuation, we need to have a clear idea of what options are available so that we don’t add to the stress of an already stressful situation. Depending on the type of disaster, it could take days for help to come. Every facility will have to determine a basic response and give consideration to an exit strategy. Getting to high dry land or moving cattle through smoke or debris may have a chance of success, if a plan has foreseen the particular needs that will be required. If the emergency situation is ongoing or vastly destructive, it will be absolutely necessary to have longer term preparation, including facilities or shelter to move to. Survey your property for the best location for animal sheltering (free from debris, hazards from potentially falling or fallen trees etc.)

Livestock Disaster Box: Planned and Prepared

  • It is human nature to avoid bad news. It is also human nature to procrastinate. The two together might prevent you from dealing with disaster planning and preparation.  If you do only one thing (after taking care of your family emergency kit) make sure that you have a livestock disaster box that is prepared and accessible. Check off items you have ready to go.
  • Ropes, halters, chains
  • Feed, hay, supplements and medicines
  • Copies of ownership papers
  • Buckets or feed nets
  • Garden hose
  • Flashlight or lantern
  • Blankets or tarps
  • Wind-up flashlight.
  • Hand crank or battery powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Multipurpose tool (i.e. Swiss army knife)
  • Livestock first aid supplies

Note: Often we place our emergency kits where we think the emergency will occur.  That, in itself, could make the kit inaccessible.  Having two or more will ensure against this problem. Two key things for your livestock disaster box are accessibility (i.e. not in a locked cabinet) and secured shelving.

Facility – Planned and Prepared

Changing weather patterns have presented new problems for modern dairy operations.  Recently unusually high winds in our area saw tree destruction, overturned equipment and battered buildings putting pressure on an already busy harvest season. It was not easy trying to repair damage and prevent new issues, while the wind was literally taking control out of the hands of repair crews. Besides the danger to people and animals from wind-blown objects, electricity and feed supplies were facing spoilage and complete destruction. Storage of volatile or dangerous chemicals has to be taken into consideration. What was previously safe must now be modified for the new uncertain possibilities.

Natural Disaster: Have a Plan. Be prepared.

In most cases, the response time and resources in rural areas are greatly reduced.  Handling disasters, those catastrophic events that stretch the capacity of communication, can only be approached with preparedness and pre-planning. Have you taken care of these 8 items?

  • Know your area and what disasters are possible.
  • Review any experiences you have already dealt with in the past. What worked?  What didn’t?  What would have helped? Take action on the answers to those questions. Involve everyone.  Someone may alert you to something you are forgetting.
  • Generator – Every dairy should have one to cope with electricity outages. Milking and manure handling must go on. Make sure your generator is in good working order. Check that you have extra fuel.  An extended power outage in our area a year ago, also meant shortages of diesel fuel.  Thankfully our remarkable supplier delivered on New Year’s Eve!
  • Snow load. You don’t know when it could happen but make sure your buildings are engineered and maintained to hold. Regular snow removal is necessary.  Don’t wait!
  • Feed contamination. Flooding, winds, fire … all can cause spoilage. Provide protection.
  • Crop destruction. Disasters don’t wait for the post-harvest season. What is your plan?
  • Develop an emergency response and fire prevention plan for your dairy. The local fire, rescue and emergency management authorities may be able to provide recommendations. Be observant of fire bans. Get a fire permit and attend to all fires all the time
  • Winter and spring run offs can turn small tributaries into major rivers – quickly. Be sure you have provisions in place to protect against flooding.

Financial Emergency. Planned and Prepared.

From the simplest question, “Where are the important papers, or computer files?” to more serious “What happens if everything is lost?” Complete losses to fire, natural disaster or an unforeseen calamity must be given consideration. You must prepare for how your dairy operation can function in the aftermath. Beyond the paperwork and obvious losses and animal safety concerns, how will you handle a decrease in milk income or increased building, equipment or replacement costs? What insurance should you have in place?

Five Things Many People Forget To Plan and Prepare For

  • No electricity. What does that impact?  How will you release animals?  Open doors?
  • Know your evacuation routes. How will you get yourself and your animals out of the barn if the normal exits are blocked or destroyed?
  • Dangerous materials. Even though safely stored under normal conditions, a natural disaster can turn safe into extremely dangerous. Consider how to mitigate this possibility.
  • Designated meeting spots. Pick an area near the home to meet in the event of a fire.  Choose another that is in the region, in case everyone is scattered and can’t get home. Who is your backup for livestock care in that case?
  • Schedule regular times to review, test and update your emergency plan, supplies and information.

The Bottom Line

Each year, thousands of dairy operations face emergency situations that could change their lives forever. Your dairy livelihood could depend on how you plan and prepare.  It’s easy to let life get in the way of preparing for the future. Ironically, that very life is shaped by what we do, or don’t do, TODAY!


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US December 2014 Genetic Evaluations Highlights

Many changes were expected this round, with the adjustments to the Net Merit Formula (Read more: The New Net Merit Formula – The Winners & the Losers) and the base changes (Read more: US Genetic Evaluation Changes: Are You Keeping Up?).  The -0.99 change in PTAT certainly had many talking as the top PTAT sire, Eclipse Atwoods Archrival, went from 4.84 to 3.88 and no sires are over that magic 4.00 PTAT that so many type focused breeders had been using as their filter for sires to look at.  (Read more: 8 Steps to Choosing What Sires to Use).

To see complete lists visit our Genetic Evaluation Section

Mogul as expected #1

Probably the worst kept secret was that MOGUL (007HO11314, Mountfield SSI Dcy Mogul-ET TR TY, Dorcy BY x Marsh x O Man, Born:  06/22/2010, Reg No: HO840003006972816) was going to debut at #1 TPI.  Long has Mogul been popular because genomic sons like Rubicon, Delta, and Silver are ringing the bell on the genomic lists and breeders rave about the daughters. It therefore comes as no surprise that he is the #1 sire.  In fact Mogul’s type proof actually increased 0.88 points, when you factor in the 0.99 base change and now finds himself at a very respectable 2.84 which, under the old base would have been 3.83.  Where Mogul   is outperforming the most, is on his NM$. He now stands at 728, which would have been 912 on the old base which has him 59 points higher this round and just behind Robust as the #2 NM$ proven sire.  Another area that Mogul’s official evaluation is much higher than his genomic proof was his productive life (PL), where he went from 5.0 to 5.1 despite a 1.0 point rollback with the base change.  Look for Mogul to sire great udders, very good feet and legs and solid dairy strength.  While he will improve chest width, he may need to be protected on body depth for those looking for your elite classifying 2 year olds.

Robust jumps 3 spots

Moving up from his #3 position in August to the #2 spot in December is ROBUST (007HO10524, Roylane Socra Robust-ET  TR, Socrates x O Man x Manat, Born:  12/23/2008, Reg No: HOUSA000064966739).  While Robust’s production did drop slightly (90 lbs of Milk, 5lbs of Fat and 2lbs of Protein) he saw a significant increase in his productive life value.  Going from 5.3 for PL in August to 6.3 in December despite the 1.0 point rollback.  Robust’s production proof is now 99% rel and his type evaluation is at 98% rel, meaning that very soon he will enter the 99% rel, where he would easily stand as the #1 sire ahead of current #1 and #3 overall sire BOOKEM (007HO10721, De-Su 521 Bookem-ET TR TY, Planet x Ramos x AltaHershel, Born:  02/21/2009, Reg No: HOUSA000066636657) who is strongly holding his numbers, with the base change.

Facebook drops to #4

Former #1 TPI sire FACEBOOK (200HO03753, Marbri FACEBOOK TR TV TL TY TD, Man-O-Man x Airraid x Shottle, Born:  03/28/2010, Reg No: HOCAN000010847042) is now in the #4 spot.  While Facebook’s type numbers held strong, his production dropped by 161 lbs more than the rollback to +1281 PTAM and his productive life dropped from 2.8 to 1.1, 0.7 points greater than the rollback.  So while his TPI may not have changed very much, +2366 this round vs +2356 last round, that is mostly the adjustment in the base formula calculation masking an actual 10% decrease in his numbers, due to lower new daughter information than his initial daughters.

Petrone debuts at #5

The 2nd highest newcomer to the list is PETRONE (007HO11169, Welcome Super Petrone-ET TR TY, Super x AltaBaxter x Buckeye, Born:  07/23/2010, Reg No: HOUSA000069207641). Petrone actually outperforms his parent average by 6% on the strength of his much higher than expected Productive Life scores (7.5 actual vs 6.1 base adjust genomic values from last round).  He also had much higher rankings for DPR (+3.7).  Petrone is not a high production sire (+624 PTAM, +32 Fat, +13 P), but does have solid type numbers (+1.39 PTAT, +1.50 UDC, +1.37 FLC), and outstanding health and fertility traits.  A typical Petrone daughter has an outstanding mammary system, with strong ligaments and teats that are slightly to the inside. They have solid feet and legs, but could be protected on their body depth and dairyness.

Numbero Uno comes out at #6

While debuting at #6 may not be considered a disappointment, big things were expected of NUMERO UNO (200HO07450, Amighetti Numero Uno TVLy   TY, Man-O-Man x Shottle x Boss Iron, Born:  07/15/2010, Reg No: HOITA017990915143).  This has some asking “What happened?”  Daughter numbers are low (169 in production proof and 60 in his type evaluation) and they are certainly not living up to expectations.  They are performing as expected for type but are substantially (50%) lower than his expected production values.  With the US TPI formula putting more emphasis on production and feed efficiency, this does have a negative impact on sires like Numero Uno. There certainly is the chance that, with the addition of more daughters and daughters further into their lactations, his production values could increase. However, if these early daughters are an indicator of what’s to come, there will be many breeders disappointed with the end result.

Denim jumps 26 spots to #7

The biggest mover of this evaluation has to be DENIM (001HO10218. De-Su Freddie Denim 646-ET   TY, Freddie x Wizard x Mtoto, Born:  10/15/2009, Reg No: HOUSA000068656227) who goes from #33 last round to #7 this round, with the addition of 400 daughters to his production evaluation and 102 daughters to his type evaluation.  Most of this dramatic change can be attributed to the significant increase in his productive life values from 5.7 to the now outstanding 7.3. Denim also had an increase from 2.9 DPR in August to 5.6 now.  While you certainly would not expect a Freddie from a Wizard to have very much type, and Denim does not (-0.70 PTAT, -0.48 UDC) he does have okay feet and legs (+0.53 FLC) and daughters are much more durable than his type evaluation indicated, highlighted by his significant increase in productive life as his daughters prove themselves. His daughters are extremely fertile and have outstanding components, but will need to be protected on his wide teat placement, partly due to lower ligament scores, and his angularity and body depth.  Just like his sire, Denim daughters are not fancy, but they are proving to milk hard and last.

Wright enters at #8

Another newcomer to the official proven list is WRIGHT (007HO11123, Pine-Tree Freddie Wright-ET, Freddie x Wizard x Rudolph, Born:  07/02/2010, Reg No: HOUSA000069169765).  It certainly seems that, when it comes Freddie sons, they have to earn their stripes before they can top the list.  This is probably as a result of the fact that they are not fancy to look at and they tend not to perform well on genomic testing. But, when the daughters start calving and performing well in commercial environments, they seem to outperform expectations. With the addition of daughter information, Wright takes a significant jump in his Productive Life (7.8 in Aug to 9.6 in Dec) and DPR Scores (3.7 in Aug to 5.4 in Nov).  In fact he is the highest sire in the top 200 TPI sires for PL and DPR.  A typical Wright daughter has a strong component test, sound udders and great health traits.  They do require protection on their dairyness, body depth and size as they can best be described as a low maintenance commercial cow that just keeps outperforming expectations. Though his low overall production may see him closer to the beef truck than the milk truck (Read more: TPI – Do we have it all wrong?)

Stability at the top

Rounding out the top 10 TPI sires are the very stable Freddie (001HO08784, Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie   TY, O Man x Die-Hard x Metro, Born:  10/31/2004, Reg No: HOUSA000060996956) himself and Dorcy (029HO14142, Coyne-Farms Dorcy-ET BY, Bolton x Bret CV x Rudolph, Born:  09/17/2007, Reg No: HOUSA000139005002).  In fact there are 5 sires in the top 10 that are over 96%+ reliable for Production and Type.  This is a strong indication of how, in the genomic era, sires are reaching this reliability pinnacle very quickly.

Modesty tops the Genomic List

Topping the Genomic Sire list is Modesty (Bacon-Hill Pety Modesty-ET   TY, Pety x Supersire x Bolton, Born:  06/25/2014, Reg No: HO840003013654627) at +2826 gTPI.  Modesty is a Pety (Mogul x Explode x Mac) from Supersire out of Unique-Style Bolton Money EX-91 DOM, the dam of high genomic sons  Montross, Milson and Mills.  At just six months of age it will be a while before Modesty has semen available.  He is certainly an outlier at 387 points higher than his parent average TPI of +2439.  With the majority of his contribution coming from his sire, Modesty certainly has the makings of being the next dominant sire of sons (Read more: Why Braedale Goldwyn Wasn’t a Great Sire of Sons).  Rounding out the top three genomic sires are Halogen and Charismatic.  De-Su Halogen 12342-ET BY (Halogen x Paradise x Bookem, Born:  04/23/2014, Reg No: HOUSA000072851885) at +2815 gTPI and Charismatic (147HO02492, Seagull-Bay Charismatic-ET, Catalyst x Mogul x Robust, Born:  06/28/2014, Reg No: HO840003124720331) at +2809 gTPI.  (View complete US High Ranking Genomic Sires for December 2014) follow closely behind Modesty. To see complete lists visit our Genetic Evaluation Section

Rubicon tops sires over 1 year old

Topping the list of Genomic Sires that should have semen available currently or very soon is Rubicon (151HO00681, Edg Rubicon-ET  TV TL TY, Mogul x Robust x Planet, Born:  12/20/2012, Reg No: HOUSA000072128125) at +2718 gTPI.  With a sire stack that reads like a who’s who of the genetics world, it’s not surprising the Rubicon will have the ability to throw the extreme list toppers.  In fact the cow family behind Rubicon has been doing that for many generations with his 2nd dam being SANDY-VALLEY PLANE SAPPHIRE VG-87-2YR-USA.  Rubicon has extreme components with a combined Fat and Protein of +149 lbs and added to that he has over 2.26 on Type. He is in rare company.  But what really makes Rubicon stand out is his sire stack that demonstrates the ability to sire extremes.  Similar to Modesty, Rubicon’s Chromosomal PTA’s would indicate that he will make a much better sire of bull mothers than a sire of sons.

Delta #2 over 1 year old

The #2 genomic sire over a year of age is Delta (203HO01468, Mr Mogul Delta 1427-ET, Mogul x Robust x Planet, Born:  01/31/2013, Reg No: HOUSA000072128216) at +2709 gTPI.  From Miss Ocd Robst Delicious-ET VG-86 DOM the dam of other high genomic sons such as Director, Dozer and Denver (the #4 gTPI sire over 1 year of age) from the Windsor-Manor Rud Zip TV TL EX-95 3E GMD DOM cow family.  Delta has extremely high ratings for CM$891 and milk (1441), fat (82), protein (50), PL (7.8) and SCS (2.77). His DPR is 2.1 and he is positively rated for all type traits (PTAT +2.19, UDC +1.95 and FLC +1.76). Delta should sire extreme mammary system improvement, specifically rear udder height and attachments, and also solid feet and legs.  Delta will need to be protected on his body depth and overall stature.

Silver shines at #3 over 1 year old

Rounding out the top 3 gTPI genomic sires over 1 year of age is Silver (029HO17573, Seagull-Bay Silver-ET   TY, Mogul x Snowman x Planet, Born:  04/10/2013, Reg No: HOUSA000072156794) at +2683 gTPI. Silver is a Mogul from the Snowman sister to Supersire.  Like Supersire, Silver has the ability to leave extreme production.  And just like Supersire he will have a significant impact as a sire of sons as well.  Ranking in the top 1% of the breed for Milk, Fat, Protein, Type, and Udders tells you that Silver is going to make a lot of noise before all is said and done.

Archrival new #1 PTAT sire

Debuting at the top of the type list is the genomic young sire Archrival (187HO01000, Eclipse Atwoods Archrival-ET, Atwood x Shottle x Champion, Born:  02/02/2013, Reg No: HOAUS000H01786521) at +3.88 PTAT just ahead of his sire Atwood.  Due to the base change of 0.99, no sires are over 4 points for PTAT anymore (Read more: US Genetic Evaluation Changes: Are You Keeping Up?). While his dam may not be well known in North America, his pedigree certainly is.  His 2nd dam is Sherona-Hill Champ Angel VG-89-USA EX-MS 2yr from the 2003 All-American Jr 2 year old Amlaird Lee Alice EX-94-USA.  She is, of course, the sister to BVK Atwood Abrianna EX-92-USA & Arianna VG-89-USA 2yr from the great MS Kingstead Chief Adeen-ET EX-94-USA 2E DOM and the dam of Atwood, Aftershock, Golden Dream and many more.  Look for Archrival to sire extreme improvement across the board, as he is at +2.00 or more for most type traits.  He will need to be protected on his rump angle as well as on pin setting. To see complete lists visit our Genetic Evaluation Section

Powerball-P tops the polled list

Topping the polled sire list and over 1 year of age is Powerball-P (534HO00031, View-Home Powerball-P-ET  PC TY, Earnhardt P x Robust x Zenith, Born:  05/20/2013, Reg No: HO840003011789392) at +2534. Powerball is less than 200 points behind Rubicon, the top genomic sire over 1 year old.  Polled has certainly been making rapid improvement over the past few years and Powerball-P is now leading the charge.  (Read more: Polled Dairy Cattle).  From the WESSWOOD-HC RUDY MISSY EX-92 3E GMD DOM cow family,  Powerball-P is certainly in high demand (Read more: The 7 Most Influential Holstein Brood Cows of the Modern Era).  His outstanding production proof (+1085 PTAM, +53 Fat, +54 Protein), combined with his solid type numbers (+1.61 PTAT, +1.49 UDC) and high productive life (+4.3) and good calving ease (SCE 6.7Z%, DCE 4.2%) make Powerball-P the polled sire that will launch polled to the top of the genomic lists.  Powerball-P will need to be protected on his body depth and height at front end. To see complete lists visit our Genetic Evaluation Section

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The base change every 5 years, as opposed to every year as in Canada, certainly takes getting used to for most breeders.  Especially those used to seeing type traits over 4 points who are now seeing that there are no sires over 4 points.  With former high  genomic sires like Mogul, Bookem, and Facebook now topping the proven sire list, the surprises each proof round have been eliminated.  Combine that with the fact that most genomic young sires are identified at 2-3 months of age and almost a year old before they enter semen production, there really are NO surprises with each round.  While this stability is great for breeders and the rate of genetic advancement, it certainly does take some of the WOW away from proof day.  However, as we have found on The Milk House that certainly does not stop breeders from talking (Read more: Introducing The Milk House – Dairy Breeder Networking on Facebook)

To see complete lists visit our Genetic Evaluation Section

Holstein Highlights – December 2014 – Canada “Likes” Facebook!

Narrowly missing an official proof in August, Marbri Facebook (Man-O-Man x Airraid) starts his proven career this December at the top of the LPI list. Facebook already has nearly 300 production and 120 classified daughters in his Canadian proof. De-Su Gillespy-ET (Bolton x Shottle) moves up in rank to #2 LPI, while former breed leader, Mel-Crest AltaRazor (AltaBaxter x Goldwyn), falls 76 points landing him at #3 LPI. Previous #2 LPI, Regancrest AltaIota-ET (O Man X Ito), falls 130 points now ranking #16 LPI. Quebec-bred bull from the La Presentation Daurel family, Pellerat Planet Lego (Planet x Goldwyn), follows next in line at #4 LPI making him the second highest newly proven sire this round. Tied at #5 LPI are Mainstream Manifold (O Man x BW Marshall) and VA-Early-Dawn Sudan CRI-ET (Jammer x Sailor). Manifold added over 750 daughters to his production proof and 650 daughters to his type proof since August. As a result, his LPI increased, boosting him up from his previous position at #9. Sudan also took a jump up the list from his former position at #17 LPI, thanks to an extra 100 points gained this round. The final new entrant to debut on the Top 10 LPI list is another Canadian-bred bull, Mapel Wood Boulder (Man-O-Man x Shottle, #7 LPI) from Gen-I-Beq Shottle Bombi. Following next is Lake-Effect AltaCaliber-ET (Goldwyn x Shottle), who also increased roughly 100 points since last round, leading him to a substantial leap from #26 to #8 LPI. Rounding out the Top 10 LPI are well-known sires, Man-O-Man at #9 and Freddie at #10.

A New #1 Conformation Sire in the Top 50 LPI

December sees 97 young sires graduate to proven status as well as a first domestic LPI for 24 sires initially progeny proven outside of Canada. Man-O-Man sired 23 of the newly proven bulls in Canada this round, for a current total of 26 proven sons (averaging 2606 LPI), of which 14 are among the Top 100 LPI. Planet also has a huge influence with 17 of his 57 proven sons occupying positions in the Top 100 LPI. Beyond the three new entrants into the Top 10 LPI mentioned above, the Top 50 acquires seven newly proven sires, the highest of which is Gibbs M-M Denalli-ET (Man-O-Man x Bolton) who ranks #11 LPI. At #21 LPI, Regancrest-GV S Bradnick-ET (Sanchez x Shottle) is the next highest newly proven sire. Bradnick also becomes the new #1 Conformation sire at +20, taking the title from Lirr Drew Dempsey who now ties for second at +19 Conformation with Mr Chassity Gold Chip-ET and another newcomer, Gibbs-I Claynook Dude (Atwood x Bolton, maternal brother to Denalli). Following on the heels of Bradnick are three Man-O-Man sons, namely Welcome Powerbroker-ET (Man-O-Man x Goldwyn) at #23 LPI, Ralma-RH AltaCello-ET (Man-O-Man x Goldwyn) at #24 LPI and Dykster AltaOmis (Man-O-Man x Shottle) at #25 LPI. Other newly proven bulls to penetrate the Top 50 LPI this round include Genervations Energy (Planet x O Man) at #34 LPI and Siemers Toys Hero 9710-ET (Toystory x Durham) at #44 LPI. Another popular genomic young bull of interest that receives his first official proof is Genervations Epic (Superstition x AltaBaxter), landing at #51 LPI with 300 production daughters and 165 classified daughters.

Five Newly Indexed Cows Infiltrate the Top 10 GLPI!

Fending off the strong competition, Ste Odile Manoman Model Saphir hangs on tight to her position at #1 GLPI for the fifth consecutive proof release. The highest newly indexed cow this round is Sully Robust 720-ET (Robust x Planet), who comes in at #2 GLPI and is tied at #1 Protein with Tannahill Man O Man Sandy. Larcrest Cinergy-ET maintains her position at #3 GLPI but falls to #2 Fat, being surpassed by the new breed leader Lindenright Brewmaster Dollars (Brewmaster x Manifold). Following next are two cows carrying the “Velthuis” prefix, namely Velthuis S G Snow Evening at #4 GLPI and Velthuis Supersonic Alyssa at #5 GLPI (dam is Velthuis SG MOM Alesia), making her the second highest newly indexed cow this December. Ste Odile Manoman Mod Plantine (full sister to Saphir) and MS Lookout Pesc Bkm Bria-ET both change rank, but maintain a place among the Top 10 GLPI at #6 and #7, respectively. Two of the three cows that complete the Top 10 GLPI this round carry the “Ste Odile” prefix and are daughters of Saphir (#1 GLPI), leading to an impressive total of four out of the Top 10 GLPI from this herd. Ste Odile Sudan Model Venus ranks #8 GLPI and Ste Odile Moon Model Luna ranks #10 GLPI, both receiving their first official index this December. Lindenright Bradnick Moovin On is also newly indexed this round, arriving at #9 GLPI and becomes new #1 Conformation cow with +21.

Source Canadian Dairy Network

Dairying Breeding in 2025

Almost weekly, there are news updates on what dairying will be like in the next quarter year or the next year.  Just recently, there have been some significant alarms surrounding the farm gate milk price in the immediate future. Supply will exceed demand, and the milk price has already dropped to below the cost of production for UK dairymen. In the United States, the farm gate prices will be lower in 2015 than they have been in 2014. Yet in Australia, according to a leading A.I. manager, the strong demand for Australia milk in SE Asia could continue to keep the farm gate price level.

However, strategic planning on dairy farms and in dairy cattle breeding must look much further into the future than 3 to 24 months. We here at the Bullvine decided to consider global circumstances that will determine the genetics that will be needed in 2025 in order to assist breeders as they transition from their current breeding programs.

The future milk market will be vastly different than it is today:

  • Market Size There will be one billion more people by 2025. FAO predictions are that the demand for milk protein from dairy animal sources, including cows, goats, buffalo and sheep, will be in strong into the future. Market size could well be over 25% above what it is today. To keep pace with that expansion, breeders will need to increase production by 2.5% per year for the next ten years. Whether that is by increasing average cow production by 2.5%, cow numbers by 2.5% or a combination of both, will be a decision that each manager will need to make. Making no change in output will mean that the farm will fall behind. Not a good situation as the margin of revenue over costs narrows.
  • Milk Production LocationTwo current global trends will continue – urbanization everywhere and significant global population increases in Asia and Africa. An increase in milk production will need to occur on those two continents; otherwise considerable expense will be incurred in moving dairy products from the countries where production exceeds demand. Many developing countries have recognized the need for increased milk production and have already initiated programs to domestically produce a higher proportion of their milk. Breeders in developed countries cannot automatically expect to expand their volume of production in order to meet the demands for milk from Africa and Asia.
  • Milk Products The vast majority of milk will not be consumed in a liquid unprocessed form – it will be eaten. The trend toward consumers wanting natural products will continue. Consumers will know the product source and product composition in exacting detail. Breeders will need to be produce milk that has attributes for which they have not previously been paid. Processors will want to know more than the fact that the milk they buy is 4% butterfat and 3% protein. Processors will base their payment to producers on the level of specific proteins and/or fatty acid composition. Since breeders currently do not have genetic information on the composition of the protein or butterfat that their animals produce, they will be at a disadvantage compared to the processor. A2A2 milk in Australia (Read more: 12 Things You Need to Know about A2 Milk) already receives a premium farm gate price. Breeders there are already using sires genetically tested to be A2A2.

Dairy farming will be different as well:

  • Herd SizeIn developed countries a minimum of 300 – 500 cows will be needed to cover the cost for the purchase of technology. Breeders in those countries will design their operations based on their strengths and specialties. While in countries with developing dairy industries herd size will vary from a few cows per owner in village herds to very large herds that are located in close proximity to cities and that buy all their inputs. Breeding decisions will be made by groups of cows and not on an individual cow basis.
  • Automation There is no doubt that dairying, like all other modern industries, will undergo very significant changes in the degree of mechanization that will occur. Cows will be electronically monitored for a multitude factors. Managers will be focused on managing systems and will have much less time to attend to problem animals. The traditional definition of a breeder’s cow sense will be replaced by breeders using facts, figures, and information on which to base decisions. (Read more: The Future of Dairy Cattle Breeding Is in the Data and Robotic Milking: More than just automation it’s a new style of herd management.)
  • Feed – Forages and human food processing bi-products will form the majority of the animal diets. Dairy cow diets will be more finely tuned and balanced on a profit generated basis, instead of on a production level basis. Managers will make the investment to obtain expert advice.
  • Genetic Merit –The level of the genetic ability of the general population of dairy cows for their ability to return a profit to their owners will need to be 25-30% higher than it is today. Breeders, over the next decade, will need to invest in the genetics that return their farms the most profit.
  • Animal Welfare – Big strides will continue to be needed in animal welfare. Cow comfort and cow mobility will be continuously monitored and will be essential to herd profit. Consumers will demand that cows be polled, not be confined to a tie stall and treated humanely. Breeders will need to use genetic information to help address some of these issues.

Beyond the farms, other factors will affect dairy farming:

  • The Environment – Practices that are detrimental to the environment will not be tolerated. The current list of factors including greenhouse gas levels, GMOs, carbon footprint, and damaging product residues is only a short list of what farm managers will have to keep on top of in 2025.
  • Research / Education – Research and Development (R & D) will be an integral part of every business decision. Some farms will produce milk as well conduct R & D. Ownership of intellectual property will be closely guarded, which will be a new approach for many parts of dairy farming. Continuing education will be something farm managers will consider important to keep current with on a daily or weekly basis.

What will this all mean for animal breeding?

There will be no looking back. Cows will need to be different and genetically improved from what they have been in the past and what they are today. The changes in the TPI™ and NM$ formulae that will be implemented on December 2nd will not be progressive enough for 2025.

It will take research and development to change the genetics of our cows. It could even go as far as the need to develop a new breed or new strains of cows.  Breeders will need to take action. Breeders, their leaders and the suppliers of genetic products and services need to be taking time right now to understand how the genetic profiles of the cows of 2025 will need to be different than the genetic profiles of today’s cows.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It cannot be assumed that someone other than breeders will address the challenges of developing the cows best suited for 2025. A vibrant, viable and sustainable dairy breeding industry in 2025 is not guaranteed, but it is possible. The payoff will be that the breeding industry will be able to shape its best future.


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