Archive for December 2015

Top 12 Editor’s Choice Articles 2015

Today it is my pleasure to select a dozen personal favorites from articles published in 2015. The readers of the Bullvine are passionate about every area of dairying and they too have favorites that they appreciated with their interest, comments and feedback. Now I have the opportunity to dig deeper and reveal even more of the loves and even the un-loved issues that hit close to home for all of us this past year. With twelve articles in hand, I see that they appeal to me because they show how dairy breeders are seeking the best for their cows, their families and the dairy industry. I hope you will join with The Bullvine and be inspired by the heartwarming stories, passion and leadership that motivate our days all year round.

#12 – Smoking Is Good For You! 

I never know exactly what will be coming across my desk but it’s never dull and the titles regularly range from catchy to controversial.  That was the case with “Smoking is good for you.”   This article about Genomics put attention on what was one of the biggest recurring focus points of 2015.  It was noted that breeders feel that “AI companies ‘are forcing’ genomics down their throats, in the same way that the tobacco companies ‘forced’ smoking down the throats of millions, by using the weight of doctors’ credibility.” However, what I like best about this article is that everyone was encouraged to take a more reasoned approach, “Unlike cigarettes, where there is certainly no question left about the health risks of smoking, genomics and cigarettes are not interchangeable.  There is significant proof that genomics does, in fact, provide good ‘health’ for your dairy breeding program.”  To genomic detractors, The Bullvine asks “Where is your smoking gun? Where is your proof that genomics does not work?’ (Read more)

#11 – When Good Drugs Go Bad

Many of the issues in the dairy industry require each one of us to make a personal decision about how we feel about them.  Having said that, the health of our dairy cattle is less subjective and The Bullvine takes the reporting of accurate information as a serious responsibility and we always encourage breeders to act responsibly. “Regardless of who is the “most” right or wrong, if you are anywhere on the spectrum between production and consumption, you must share the responsibility. And the appropriate ACTION!” (Read more)

#10 – Dairy Girls ARE Making a Difference in the Dairy Industry

While The Bullvine doesn’t hesitate to put the spotlight on the controversial issues it is obviously much more satisfying to bring attention to positive and inspiring people and events.  Both came together at the Dairy Girl networking evening at World Dairy Expo in October. Laura Daniels Dairy Girl Network founder and president from Heartwood Farm in Cobb, Wisconsin welcomed one hundred and eighty women and expanded on the goals of The Dairy Girl Network.  It was exciting to applaud the many ways that dairy women are making a difference, not just because they are different, but because, especially when networking together, they share and expand the same dairy passion.”   (Read more)

#9 – Teardrops on My Work Boots

Spending most of your life working in and connected with the dairy industry, means that you directly experience a full range of the joys and sorrows connected with working with cattle.  The entire Hunt family has personal experience with those emotional times but Murray and I were particularly moved by Andrew’s heartfelt perspective on the sale of dairy cattle at Huntsdale. We loved the way he summarized the beginnings, development and ongoing legacy of Huntsdale Farms in a way that made us appreciate the life work and legacy of generations of our family. (Read more)

#8 – The Lighthearted Side of the Bullvine

Balance is important in cattle breeding and in life. The next articles that struck a chord with us both expressed the themes of love, marriage and humor – not necessarily in that order.  Last week we published “Take that Off!”which was a follow up piece to one we posted earlier entitled, “Take This Farmer and Laugh Ever After” Judging from the feedback received on both these pieces, it seems clear to me that there are many parts of the dairy community that everyone relates to.  That common experience brings us together and I am thankful that Murray is such a good sport and great husband.

#7 – Are Breed Associations Missing Important Breeding Signals?

It probably isn’t surprising that the next article, “Are Breed Associations Missing Important Breeding Signals”, continues to highlight how important relationships are in the dairy industry.  In this case, the issues move out of the family and into the leadership of the industry. Although it isn’t about marriage it is about trust and shared goals. “The relevance of “right” or “wrong” depends on where the reader sits.  It isn’t a battle to claim victory.  It’s an effort to initiate conversation and, where needed, promote active change.” (Read more)

#6 – Could Breed Wars Be Heating Up?

Change is difficult.  Change when it comes to the cattle we love is an even more threatening concept.  Having said that, a sustainable dairy industry will depend on how well we deal with issues that can help us grow, regardless of where our specific breed focus currently is. “Today breeds are more than color markings, unbroken lineage, and tradition. Breeds in the future, on a global basis, will be about their genetic makeup and how they serve the needs of the dairy food industry. “Accurate visioning, strategic planning, research and development and effective service provision are all integral to what breeds need to do on a continual basis. If that means there will be increased competition for market share amongst breeds, so-be-it.” (Read more)

#5– Rump. Is it Beauty or Utility?

Standing in fifth place in The Bullvine Editor’s Choice 2015 selection is “Rump. Is it Beauty of Utility?” One of the most exciting aspects of writing articles about the dairy industry happens when we are able to research the answers to questions raised by dairy breeders.  In this case, years of experience had us asking the question ourselves.  We brought together the information and summarized, ‘In short, the reason rump may be significant is because of its role in ‘getting the cows in calf and getting the calf out’. It does not require beauty to do that. It’s about utility when it comes to the rump. Why should breeders emphasize rumps at the expense of other body parts known to have more influence on profit?”  (Read more)

#4 Gene Editing – Is It the End of Dairy Breeding?

With so much access to and experience with the dairy industry, there is always a temptation to look into a crystal ball and forecast the future. “In 50 years the world population will require 100% more food and 70% of this food must come from efficiency-improving technology.  Unless someone discovers how to dairy on the moon, we are going to have to become significantly more efficient in our milk production methods.  Gene editing offers the potential to meet this demands.  Current genetic advancement rates will be hard pressed to meet in 50 years what gene editing can offer in under ten years’ time.  Sure a small number of very vocal consumers will be opposed to gene editing, but the masses want cheap, safe milk.  Gene editing, since it is not transgenics, offers this possibility.  This raises the question, “Are the dairy breeders of the future actually scientists sitting in labs?” (Read more)

The Top Three Editor’s Choices of 2015!

#3 A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Number 3 on my list is not actually inspired by the written word of an actual article.  In 2015 we at The Bullvine challenged ourselves to go to the next level in making information fast, informative and relevant for our readers. This meant attending meetings, shows, sales and dairy farms and, simultaneously, the creation of a huge data base of pictures, videos and audio interviews. I am always astonished at the way a great picture adds that real time reality that inspires even greater passion for dairying. You can write articles ‘until the cows come home’ but then it’s the pictures like the ones taken at World Dairy Expo, The Royal and Le Supreme Laiteir and more.


#2 The Bullvine as Hosts, Tutors, Students and Teachers.

When The Bullvine began, the goal was to initiate give-and-take with dairy breeders.  We have been honored and delighted to share the insights, questions, hard work and vision of dairy enthusiasts. In 2015 this communication became even more real time when we began hosting webinars.  This has been particularly effective in answering questions around Genomics.  Now those in the labs and those on the farms can raise their concerns and work together to make sure that everyone knows where the other side is coming from. Check out our webinars section to see how this new interactive feature allows us to give, receive and discuss information.

First Place On The Bullvine Editor’s Choice List Brings Us Back To Our Most Important Dairy Asset …. Dairy People!

#1 Oakfield Corners Dairy

With the 24/7 nature of dairy farming, all of us have been asked what keeps us going.  Of course, the cattle are at the center of everything, but the key to success is the people. Whenever there’s a challenge, we turn to those with experience.  Every year the most viewed articles and largest body of feedback is for those about people who describe the passion, methods and vision which has brought them to where they are today. At Oakfield Corners Dairy, Alicia and Jonathan Lamb and key team members Kelly Lee and Adam Dresser are a great team and they shared their perspective with The Bullvine. With 6000 cows and three dairies, it is fascinating to learn how they face the issues and challenges of modern dairying.  Through the video interview we can learn and be inspired (Watch video here)

The Bullvine Bottom Line for 2015

Throughout the year we loved reflecting the innovation that takes place in the dairy industry.  We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you all the best as we continue this amazing journey together in 2016!



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The Top 15 of 2015 – The most read articles of 2015

While we always try to be as forward thinking as we possible can, it’s at this time we take a look back.  Once again we had a record year with the largest number of visitors in the dairy industry.  While our innovative show coverage this year certainly attracted record setting visits with the top 10 viewed shows all receiving more views than the 2014 World Dairy Expo Holstein Show, here are the top 15 articles (non show results) from the past year.

#15 – Used Car Salesman, Ducks, and the Future of the Dairy Cattle Breeding Industry
If it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck and walks like a duck.…it is usually a goose. That is how I sometimes feel when I attend certain elite dairy cattle auctions. You attend some of these high-end auctions, and you see the top prices that some of these animals sell for, and you can’t help but be amazed. But, something just doesn’t feel right. You never see a complete buyers list from these sales. Heck, you sometimes don’t even see people actually bidding on these animals. And yet they get knocked down at $200,000+ for a 2-month-old? Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. It feels like you have been sold a lemon by a used car salesman. It just feels dirty. (Read more)

#14 – Australia misses its quota prices
Much has been written about what goes on in the market free-zone of the southern hemisphere. The truth in 2015 is that unless the farms have no mortgage, private price contracts with niche companies or no paid staff, Australian producers are as exposed as any other nation’s to low milk prices. It is hard to generalise on the producer’s position in the world’s third-biggest milk exporting country, because of its size and diversity. The state of Victoria produces 66% of the country’s total milk production (and 86% of the country’s export milk). So it is Victoria that gives the most complete focus to what the bulk of Australia’s dairy farmers face up to every day. (Read more)

#13 – Introduction to Genomics – Zoetis Webinar #1 Video
For decades, much has been known about the bull’s side of the pedigree while little information was available for dams. Now, genomic testing helps us discover much more about females. The first webinar in the series focuses on the basics of genomics to provide producers with a better understanding of the benefits of knowing more about their heifers. (Watch video)

#12 – Donnanview – The Culmination of a Lifetime Journey in Dairy Farming
The Bullvine sat down with Donny Donnan of Donnanview Holsteins to discuss his journey in developing this amazing herd that will be offered for sale next week. Donny and his wife Bev have spent their lifetime breeding great dairy cattle. Opportunities to invest in herds like Donnanview are few and far between. Not only a Master Breeder Herd, home of the 2014 Canadian Cow of the year, sires in AI, but they are also 90% VG and EX cows. These achievements have been built over years of intuitive, selective breeding choices. Not since the likes of Hanoverhill’s complete dispersal have we seen a herd of this size and quality, sell all at once in a public auction. Join us in watching this video as Donny explains how they have achieved this success and who has helped them along the way. (Read more)

#11 – 16 Sires That Will Help Limit Inbreeding – October 2015
Genetic diversity is a critical problem in the Holstein dairy cattle breeding industry. On the one hand, the rate of genetic gain has accelerated but also has the rate of inbreeding. With $23 lifetime cost per percent inbreeding, it is easy to overreact and try to avoid inbreeding at all costs. The trick is not to use sires that are inferior, but rather to have a balance of genetic improvement and enough of an outcross not to accelerate the inbreeding. These 16 sires will do just that and help control the rate of inbreeding in your herd. (Read more)

#10 – Immunity+ Does It Actually Work?
Since we first heard about High Immune Response, now marketed as Immunity+*, the Bullvine has been a big fan of the theory behind this research. But, as with all things that are proposed in theory, there comes a time when you need to put the numbers to it to validate the theory. As the saying goes “In God we trust. All others bring data”. So here at the Bullvine we did just that. (Read more)

#9 – Are Dairy Cattle Shows Holding Us Back?
Dairy cattle shows started out as a breed awareness tool. They then became an improvement tool. More recently they primarily function as a marketing opportunity for breeders and a training process for youth. Today many breeders are thinking that shows have gone beyond their best before date and are not serving a purpose for the vast majority of dairypersons. Let’s talk about show standards and show procedures. (Read more)

#8 – Select Sires – Sire Tour 2015
In a Bullvine video exclusive join Select Sires Holstein Program Manager, Charlie Will, as he tours us through some of the top proven sires at Select Sires. Including PLANET, MOGUL, EPIC, GOLD CHIP and BRADNICK. See these amazing bulls as the parade around the Kellgren Center. (Read more)

#7 – Roybrook Revisited
Legendary Holstein breeder Roy Ormiston celebrates his 100th Birthday in a few weeks hence. Bruce Jobson and Roy recount the legacy of Roybrook in an exclusive interview. In this unique conversation, Bruce included some additional datelines for reader clarity and understanding. (Read more)

#6 – Culling for $$$ – The Six Animals You Need To Cull Immediately
Today I drove past a crew of highway maintenance workers and one was pounding in a stake, one was holding the stake, one had a white hard hat and was obviously the crew chief and three were watching. Like most Bullvine readers, my mind reacted by saying – “Now isn’t that an inefficient use of our taxpayers dollars!” Fifty percent of that crew were taking their pay check but not giving back. You could be correct if you were to say that I judged too quickly. Perhaps I did not have all the facts. Most of us are quick to judge outside situations. However when it comes to our own milk producing work force are we business like, when it comes to the number of workers required to get the job done? (Read more)

#5 – Stud Wars Episode III – The Conflict for Control
There is no question when it comes to semen sales having a great product is key to financial performance. In the Stud Wars the battle for top sires is key to maintaining market share. With that in mind The Bullvine once again takes a look at just which artificial insemination companies have the power and what ones are falling behind. (Read more)

#4 – The 12 Sires You Should Consider Breeding Your Show Winning Goldwyns To
Let’s face it there are two undeniable facts in the international show ring; One, that Goldwyn has the most show winning daughters over the past ten years, And two, that if you have been using Goldwyn you were pretty much breeding for a unique show type animal. But the questions becomes what do you breed you current Goldwyn’s to in order to breed the next generation of show winners. With this challenge in mind the Bullvine took a closer look.  (Read more)

#3 – Grace Under Pressure
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Who we are as human beings presents itself more fully at times of adversity than at times of ease. I have had the pleasure of knowing the Burdette and Stiles families a long while know and always found they to be great people, but over this past year I have learned through their actions after the horrible accident that happened to them, that they are also people of extraordinary character.  (Read more)

#2 – Show Ring Ethics: Cheater’s Never Prosper….Or Do They
When we were young, we were always told to be honest and never to cheat. The phrase “Cheaters never prosper” was ingrained in us from an early age. But, as we grow older, we begin to wonder about this statement. We all know people who have cheated and were not caught and they sure seem to have prospered. This phrase also baffled me when seen in the show ring. At my local county show, the exhibitor that took all the big awards might also be known as one of the greatest “cheaters” in the history of dairy cattle showing. So how can we say that cheaters never prosper? (Read more)

#1 – The 16 Sires Available in 2015 That Every Dairy Breeder Should Be Looking At
With weekly evaluations now being released, it can be hard to sort out exactly what sires are available and which ones you should be using. To help you sort through the confusion, we have compiled the 16 sires that we think all breeders should consider using. Instead of producing one generic list, we looked for the four top sires in each key breeding area. (Read more)

Top 15 News Stories of 2015

With over 33,000 subscribers and the most daily subscribers in the world…The Bullvine Daily has become the #1 source for news in the dairy industry.

  1. The World’s Largest Dairy Farm Will Be Home to 100,000 Cows
  2. ‘Murdering’ farmer turns over new leaf
  3. Austin Ayars Killed in Farming Accident
  4. Dairy Farmers in China dumping milk and putting cattle down as milk prices plummet
  5. Three sisters killed in tragic farming accident
  6. World’s largest robotic dairy barn produces happy, high yielding cows
  7. Wisconsin father and son died after falling into a manure pit at their family farm.
  8. Animal abuse alleged at major dairy company
  9. Woman Made Her Favorite Cow a Bridesmaid at Her Wedding
  10. Reese Burdette and Patricia Stiles Update – June 22nd 2015
  11. Smurf Completes World Record Career
  12. 250 Animals Die in Barn Fire at Quebec Dairy Farm
  13. Washington and Oregon Dairy Farmers Evacuate Cattle After Rising Flood Waters
  14. Barn fire at Stoneden Holsteins
  15. Still no charges after video showed cows being beaten on dairy farm

Top 15 YouTube Videos of 2015

What a year for Bullvine TV. In the past year Bullvine TV had over 1 million viewers, that is almost 40 times the number of viewers as any other dairy publications videos.

  1. The Royal 2015 Supreme Champion
  2. World Dairy Expo Day 1 – Tuesday September 29th 2015
  3. Junior Champion 2015 Northeast Fall National Holstein Show
  4. Grand Champion — 2015 Northeast Fall National Holstein Show
  5. Intermediate Champion – 2015 Northeast Fall National Holstein Show
  6. Quality Farms – April 2015 – Dairy Breeder Interview
  7. World Dairy Expo – 2015 International Holstein Show – Post Show Interviews
  8. Gen-Com Holsteins – March 2015 Dairy Breeder Interview
  9. World Dairy Expo Day 5 – Saturday October 3rd 2015
  10. World Dairy Expo Day 2 – Wednesday September 30th 2015
  11. All-American Dairy Show 2015 Supreme Champion Parade
  12. World Dairy Expo Day 3 – Thursday October 1st 2015
  13. World Dairy Expo Day 4 – Friday October 2nd 2015
  14. Select Sires Sire Tour 2015
  15. Junior Champion Ontario Summer Holstein Show 2015

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We certainly appreciate all of those who have helped us make this year a record setting year in the dairy publication industry.  Without your support we could not deliver the most wide reaching thought provoking articles, interviews, videos the dairy industry has ever seen.

Dairy Farmer Fashion – TAKE THAT OFF!

I don’t consider myself a clothes snob of any kind. I even enjoy what some would call strange outfits.  I don’t turn up my nose at hand me downs. I shop discount racks.  I’ve been known to take scissors and re-design a dress into a skirt, a blouse, or even a shawl. I like to think of myself as being almost as creative as the blogger lady who wrote about turning a dog sweater into a skirt! Well. She goes a little further than I would, but you get the picture.  I am broadminded in the area of fashion.

Having said all that, today the point of my rant is my hubby’s clothes choices. As you know, he’s a senior citizen and his name is Murray.  However, if you are visiting Huntsdale or you are a neighbour within hearing distance (anything up to 4 km) you wouldn’t be blamed if you were convinced that his name is “IsThatWhatYou’reWearing?” “AreYouKiddingMe?” or “WhyIsn’tThatIntheWash?”

Now actually, Murray can appear to be quite attractive. But don’t let this trick you the way it does me. He has me fooled with his thick white hair and his twinkling eyes and his big smile. He is a great hugger, and 99% of our daily interactions are just right.  But today we are talking about his choice of barn clothes. That’s where the attractive part becomes challenged. Now … it’s only fair to acknowledge that for the last three months the fields and barns at Huntsdale have not held a single cow. Nevertheless, chores are still a major part of the daily routine. Every day Murray needs barn clothes.  Moreover, every day it becomes an issue between us, especially if I catch him before he gets out the door.

You are probably asking, “Does he have a choice?” Yes.  He has lots of barn clothes.  Six Rubbermaid tubs to be exact. All sorted by specific item: jeans, overalls, sweatshirts, t-shirts, etc. As well there are several wall hooks in his personal work changing room.  And, furthermore, a washing machine is the first thing that he sees, when coming in from the barn or when going out to the barn.  My point?  He lacks for nothing in the “How-to-have-clean-barn-clothes-department!” However clean barn clothes for Murray are as rare as a good hair day is for Donald Trump.

So how does this scenario happen so often you ask?

Well. Sometimes, it starts when he is walking rapidly past where I am involved in my daily routine and says something like, “Hey! I’m going next door to pick up some fresh eggs!” Helpful. Yes.  Eat local?  Great!  But…he has a strange pair of pants on … the legs look like they wear shortened using a dull knife …. They are held up with a belt (also too big) that he has tried to “tie” because there are no holes in the right place.  When he turns around … there is something fresh and fragrant hanging from the shirt that he’s been wearing for longer than my memory reaches back  It is obvious that  he didn’t quite clear the area when he was housecleaning in the newly cow-free stable.

“Are you going like that?” I ask.  “Of course!” is the short reply. “I’ve been working.  They are farmers too! No problem.”

Yes!  For Murray, when it comes to clothes selection, that “I’m working” part covers a lot of dirt, grime and dairy airs!”

And of course, he’s right. This egg picking up outfit is probably not a big deal.  But the same outfit, or one very like it, also makes the suitable list, when he heads out to the feed store, a fast food restaurant or choir practice!

If he saved pennies like he saves clean clothes, we would be laughing all the way to the bank, and I probably wouldn’t care what he was wearing! Wrong!  I would care.

However, he is only stingy, when picking out barn clothes … He refuses to change them before they are standing waiting for him jump in. His argument, “Why put on clean clothes, when I am only going to get dirty?”

My argument … the embedded dirt is so ground in by the time I get to it with my super Washing-Soda-Oxyclean-Tide” treatment that I’m fighting a lost cause.

In frustration, I have pointed out the choices folded and waiting and he says incredulously, ““But these are all good. Why would I wear them?” “Because they are clean.” I reply and add. “No one is going to whip their head around, when you go by and ask, “What is that smell?”

To give him credit, he keeps his hair tidy, his teeth clean, he helps in the house and provides social and work outings that are vastly entertaining …. But this smelly Freddy the Freeloader look alike always sends my wife meter into the danger zone. And it’s not that I don’t have ragged fragrant days of my own … But … the world is still sexist enough that when he looks so unkempt… I imagine I can overhear observers saying. “Poor Murray.  His wife obviously doesn’t keep his clothes clean!” Well, I would if I could get at them!

So what is the answer?  Well, I always say, “Name the problem and you have the solution”.  And I have a plan. Gradually those wretched barn clothes handed down from the cousin, father-in-law or uncle twice his size are gradually reducing in numbers until, like the cows that necessitated wearing them, they will eventually be gone to greener pastures.

But, so far, he isn’t fooled. I am now starting to hear, “You threw out my good overalls!”  “Would those be the ones with the binder-twine strap and the ripped off pocket?” I innocently ask. “Yes!” is the horrified explanation. “They were broken in just the way I like them! I loved those ones.”

So now it’s my turn to listen and be understanding and sympathetic. We all have our quirks.  It isn’t really too surprising that I find myself standing over a washing machine in an attempt to “break in” a load of blue jeans, coveralls and sweatshirts picked out for his role of a general handyman. They look and feel even older than they already are.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Who says there’s nothing new after 46 years and 4 months of married life? If old is what he wants … I am ready to become an expert at old looking. That’s what married teamwork is all about. He wears a better fit, and I don’t have a fit!  It’s a win-win!



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Why Balance Breeding is No Longer Relevant

In the 1960’s “Best to Worst” for conformation and production ranking revealed that there was a wide range in all dairy breeds. There were first calf Holstein cows that lost their median suspensory ligaments at calving time. There were Jersey first calvers that did not produce even one pound of butterfat per day. Our dairy cattle have come a long way forward in the past half century.

Balanced Breeding Got Us Here

The bottom end cattle in all breeds have disappeared. Those tail-enders were still here until the early 1980’s but then the Balanced Breeding approach came into vogue. With it came the use of genetic indexes for both production and type. This meant that genetically inferior daughter proven sires were no longer available from AI companies. Young sires only entered organized sampling programs if they had superior parent averages and progressive breeders used genetic indexes in breeding, marketing, and culling. The saying “We’ve come a long way baby” now rang true. Balanced Breeding started in North America but soon became global. Today the question has changed to “Will Balanced Breeding Still Be Relevant in 2020 and Beyond?”

What is Balanced Breeding?

Originally Balanced Breeding meant that equal emphasis was placed on type and production (milk and fat present) when making a breeding decision. It followed the breeding era when breeders would place the entire emphasis on either type or production. Yes, either or, and never the twain did meet. So even a program that placed 50% emphasis on each of type and production was a significant step forward.

Balanced Breeding usually meant using sires that did an overall good job of producing above average, but not exceptional, progeny.

Total Merit Indexes Fit the Balanced Breeding Approach

In the 1990’s total merit indexes were developed by genetic evaluation centers and breed societies to bring a reasoned and balanced means of ranking both males and females. What started out as a type and production index (often called type production indexes) has now been expanded to include many traits beyond type and production. Today every dairy cattle breeding country has, at least, a couple of total merit indexes that are routinely being fine tuned as more genetic indexes come along for more traits or as research shows that revisions are needed in trait emphasis. (Read more: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TPI AND LPI)

In fact, today it has reached the stage where there are so many total merit indexes published that bottom line focused milk producers can feel confused, dismayed or even that their genetic improvement needs are being ignored. With 20% of dairy producers producing 80% of the milk in many developed dairy countries, it is important that the genetics needed and used by milk producers not be ignored by bull breeders, female replacement breeders, and genetic markets.

Once again The Bullvine is asking, “Is the Balanced Breeding approach still relevant for milk producers?”

The Problems with Balanced Breeding

What it boils down to is that total merit indexes are a one size fits all approach. However, herds do not have the same levels of genetic merit for all traits. They do not have the same culling reasons. They do not have the same profit-loss scenarios. One size does not fit all. Add to that the fact that to improve below average cows for lowly heritable (<.10 %) traits (i.e. DPR) the sires used, in successive generations, must be very highly ranked (top 5%).  Furthermore, sires can have high TPI’s but they can be inferior for essential traits. (Read more: SHE AIN’T PRETTY – SHE JUST MILKS THAT WAY!)

Balancing gives you average, but it does not give the opportunity to rapidly genetically improve traits where a herd has a significant deficit. It is almost impossible to breed the exceptional if every breeding decision is based on getting an animal average for everything.  Balanced Breeding is least risk breeding and does not push the already exceptional to new heights. (Read more: BREEDING FOR LONGEVITY: DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE – IT’S MORE THAN JUST HIGH TYPE)

Today’s Scenario and Tomorrow’s Needs

As a result of what has been achieved through Balanced Breeding, milk producers consider udders, legs, milk and component yields and somatic cell counts to be at very acceptable levels. BUT not so for the genetic levels for fertility, animal health, disease resistance, mobility and length of herd life. In fact, they have deteriorated over the past two decades.  Today 30+% of the differences between herds for herd profit can be attributed to these lowly heritable traits.

Read any milk producer discussion blog and you will see their concerns about the genetic fall back for conception, for cows’ and heifers’ ability to resist production limiting diseases, for cows to breed back by 100 DIM, for cows to remain in the herd into their 4th+ lactation, for females that calve easily, for heifers that calve by 22 months of age and the list goes on.

Sires that can produce daughters that have the genetic ability to remain in a herd to complete their fourth lactations will increase their daughters’ lifetime profit by 33%. That is significant! (US$2,500) In US Holsteins that can be achieved by using sires that are 8.0 or higher for PL. In Jerseys the best PL sires are 6.0 or greater for PL.  In Canadian terms it means using sires that are 110 or greater for HL.

So Why Not Make It Simple? Select for High PL or HL!

Could it be as simple as using sires that rank relatively high for NM$, CM$ or Pro$ and which leave long-lived daughters? If a cow does not have good yield, functional type, good fertility, an ability to stay healthy and transition easily, she will not remain in the herd for four or more lactations.

Expressed another way – is the ability to produce for many lactation (high PL or HL) the most important trait that milk producers need to select for?

Total merit indexes are excellent tools for ranking sires according to breed society improvement strategies (i.e. TPI, JPI, LPI, PTAT or CONF) or populations outcome strategies (i.e. NM$, FM$, CM$, GM$ or Pro$) but bottom line focused milk producers need to dig deeper and find sires that will produce daughters that have the genetic ability to last an extra lactation above the herd average.

Which Are Some of the High PL Sires?

The Bullvine brings the following sires to milk producers attention. The sires in the tables below have very high PL’s or HL’s and they are positively genetically indexed for NM$ or Pro$, SCS, DPR or DF and DCE or DCA. It is quite unlikely that milk producers have ever read about the majority of these sires in a magazine ad or have ever considered using most of them.

Table 1: High Ranked Productive Life (PL) Sires in USA

11.6 gCo-op Achilles RC (1HO12267)Cabriolet x Colt P7175.52.735.16.6460.82454
10.1 gJaloa Ransom Terrific (14HO07471)Ransom x Shamrock7334.92.734.67.9670.532409
9.8 gKP-ACK AltaSousa (11HO11609)Midnight X Meteor6914.52.645.77.6571.042469
9.6 gMR Shot Dozer (151HO00696)Shotglass x Robust8182.92.556.78961.822618
9.6 gCo-op Graceton (1HO11840)Mandora x Meteor6973.82.812.86.7531.682492
9.6 gLadys-Manor Pred Latrobe (29HO17794)Predestine x Super6284.42.6556.7391.542339
9.4 pPine-Tree Warwick (29HO16315)Super x Wizard4424.42.726.36.810.582074
9.1 pDe-Su Ransom (147HO02431)Robusr x Ramos6933.
8.6 pPine-Tree Freddie Wright (7HO11123)Freddie x Wizard5955.
8.3 gDangie S-Sire Jax P RC (14HO07525)Super Sire x Colt P7072.72.694.87.3901.242496

Table 2: High Ranked Herd Life (HL) Sires in Canada

HLSire (NAAB Code)Sire StackPro$DFSCSDCAM SpeedInbrF + P (kg)CONFLPI
118 gRichmond-FD Troy BUB (1HO11648)Troy x Lithium25051102.341111048.5511783190
118 gSandy-Valley-I Plaza RC (200HO10298)Halogen x Uno22871122.2911010210.5510093111
118 gBush-Bros Miday 277 (14HO07620)Midnight x Tape24441122.571071029.0713723102
118 gSSI STL Reality (7HO13205)St Louis x Ziggy24051132.421081049.7510373082
117 gPeak Altabugatti (11HO11641)Canaro x Uno24491122.691101119.77108143272
115 gCompass-TRT Layton P (29HO17783)Long P x Robust20951102.761061027.1311592997
115 gBryhill Prde Labrinth P RC (1HO11626)Pride x Cameron19341072.881041047.0511882958
115 pCrackholm Fever (200HO05592)Goldwyn x Blitz14711052.611101016.3548122715
113 pCangen Pinkman (200HO06320)Super x Baxter22131062.641101046.08119112964
111 pMinnigan-Hills Day (1HO10458)Super x Bolton20311082.771031026.65107113048

Milk producers that milk other breeds can find top PL or HL sires for their breed by going to CDCB or CDN websites.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It is important to recognize that progressive breeders always know that if you keep asking questions — including “Is this still relevant? – That you will find better answers! Total merit index, at best, places 10-15% emphasis on PL or HL. Yet, the analysis of on-farm financial records shows that the most successful milk producers place 30-35% emphasis on length of herd life when it comes to sire selection. No breeder aims to be average.  Balancing all traits to get an average cow will not lead to exceptional genetic and performance results.



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The 2015 Dairy Farmers Christmas Wish List

While some would wish for 12 doses of Goldwyn semen or a higher milk price, with 18 days left till Christmas here are 18 realistic Christmas gift ideas for the dairy farmer on your list:

  1. 2015 World Dairy Expo and 2015 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show Photo Books
    Due to the extremely popularity over the past two year’s photo books, we brought them back for 2015. These 80 page 10”x 8” coffee table books each contain over 150 hi-resolution photos.  You can relive all of the action and excitement of the 2015 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.
  2. Paintings 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 wonderful artwork visit Cow Art and More.
  3. Get the gift of maximum genetic progress
    Why not give the dairy breeder on your list some embryos from their favorite cow or even a gift card for semen for that young sire they have always wanted. Check out our mating recommendations section for some ideas, or Sire Proof Central to find that needle in a haystack sire to change your breeding program.
  4. 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.
  5. The 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 real sense of his passion and quick wit and they also come shining through in his books.  Be sure to get your copies of an amazing compilation of Holstein history in these books.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 remarkable 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.
  8. Prints by Bonnie Mohr
    For a long time, Bonnie Mohr has been the industry standard for excellent dairy Like many, our family has had the opportunity to appreciate Bonnie’s great work.  My wife has purchased me 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. A True Type Model of their Favourite Cow
    Give them that special gift that will stand out for years to come. When ordering from Holstein Canada you can even get these items painted with the same markings as your favourite cow.
  13. A New Smartphone
    If there is one thing we have learned since starting The Bullvine, it is that Dairy Farmers love to check out the latest news on their smart phones. More than half our web traffic comes from a mobile device.  So make life easier for the dairy farmer on your list and get them that smart phone that makes reading the last news on The Bullvine, or gossip on Facebook that much easier.  While your at it, be sure to join the world’s largest community of dairy breeder discussion, The Milkhouse.  There are over 5,000 members, and 20-30 posts every day about all the issues that face Dairy Producers from around the world.
  14. We Need a Show – 50 years of World Dairy Expo
    World Dairy Expo will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016, and to celebrate this milestone, journalists have collaborated to create a historical book reminiscing on 50 years of Expo memories. The limited edition commemorative book, We Need a Show, gives insight into how the show began, explores the struggles and successes over the years, and looks into what the future might hold. Order Here
  15. Coupons for relief milking
    It may seem silly to some, but dairy farming is a 365 day per year job, and sometimes you just need time to step away for dinner with their partner. Coupons for 2 or 3 milkings might just be the gift they never forget and greatly appreciate.
  16. A Show-Cation
    Taking relief milking to another level, how about giving the Tanbark enthusiast on your list a vacation, or as we like to call it a Show-Cation to World Dairy Expo or The Royal. Better yet maybe you can send them to IDW in Australia or European Championship show in France.  If you cannot be there be sure to check out The Bullvine for coverage of all these great shows and more.
  17. A Great Pair of Work Boots
    Never underestimate the power of a pair of comfortable, warm work boots. When mucking around chasing that fresh heifer who just doesn’t want to go into the robotic milker nothing beats a pair of great work boots.
  18. A Subscription to The Bullvine
    For those that are tight on budget, go for a FREE subscription to the largest dairy breeder publication in the world. Filled with over ten daily news items and feature articles, this subscription is the gift that keeps on giving year round.

Moving Beyond Phenotype: genomics vs. size-based traits – Video

Accelerating (Enhancing) genetic improvement via genomic testing has been available to US dairy producers for more than five years. As a result of the learnings from the commercial usage of genomics, new findings are uncovering new facts in relation to historical alternatives used for heifer selection; such as focusing on increasing Average Daily Gain (ADG) to increase production. With the advent of genomic evaluations and the highly improved accuracy it brings to genetic estimates used in many former studies, it’s important to re-evaluate common standard beliefs.  The sixth installment of this video series covers the following topic areas related to size-based traits and genomics:

  • Common standard beliefs in heifer raising
  • How do genomic size estimates relate to real life height and weight measurements?
  • Standard #1 is evaluated:  When should heifers start being bred?
  • Standard #2 is evaluated:  What is my best measure in calves to predict future performance?


david erfDavid Erf is a member of the Zoetis Dairy Technical Services team as a dairy geneticist. In this role, he assists with the CLARIFIDE dairy genomic testing program. He helps customers realize the full potential of genomic testing, and spends a great deal of time educating others in the dairy industry. David has over 20 years experience in the Artificial Insemination industry and has served on numerous boards and committees dealing with genetics in the dairy industry.  Dave has a BS from the Ohio State University, and a M.S. in Dairy Cattle Breeding from the University of Minnesota.  Dave and his family also manage and show cattle as part of Curvecrest Farm, a registered Brown Swiss herd, and he resides with his family in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.



Genomic Webinar Series

A webinar series developed by Zoetis and Holstein Association USA will be an educational resource for current and prospective CLARIFIDE® customers and Enlight™ users.

Through a series of online presentations dairy producers will be able to better understand:

  • How genomic testing works
  • How genetic improvement and genomics can benefit the future of their herd
  • How to utilize the data generated from genomic testing to make more effective management decisions.

The webinars will be moderated by The Bullvine with presentations by Zoetis or Holstein Association personnel. The Bullvine is an online source for dairy genetic and other industry happenings around the world, through their coverage via articles, videos and podcasts.  Viewers will attend the presentation live at a specified time and date, and archived presentations will be accessible through other websites after each presentation.

The following webinars will take place from Noon to 1:00 pm Eastern  time (9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Pacific time) as follows:

Topic/Title Speaker Date
An introduction to genomics  Cheryl Marti July 8
Proving the technology works: How producers have benefited from using genomics Dan Weigel August 5
Using genomics testing strategies to accelerate genetic progress  David Erf August 26
The economics of genomics Cheryl  Marti October 7
Putting genomic results to work Lindsey Worden November 4
Moving Beyond Phenotype: genomics vs. size-based traits David Erf December 2
Making progress on low heritability traits Dan Weigel January 6

This webinar is proudly sponsored by:

zoetis[1]      USreglogo_HA    bullhead-150

Sire Proof Central – December 2015 Evaluations

Proofs are being released world-wide for the December 2015 run.  Sire Proof Central has had over 20,000 visits from around the world before lunch on proof day alone looking for the complete one-stop shop for everything you need to know.

USDA Proof Information

For the 3rd consecutive proof run, the domineering US chart-topper is Seagull-Bay Supersire-ET (7HO11351) . He has now broken the +2700 GTPI threshold for proven sires and 151 TPI points over the #2 sire Seagull-Bay Headliner-ET (7HO11419), his full brother. Their dam, Ammon-Peachey Shauna-ET, is now classified EX-90 GMD DOM. Next dams include a VG-86 DOM Planet x VG-86 Shottle from the Wesswood-HC Rudy Missy family. Supersire’s highest son, Cogent Supershot (224HO2881), didn’t receive an official proof this run, but if he would have, he would have ranked #2 with a +2683 GTPI. Supershot has 10 sons all over +2700 including the #3 and #4 high ranking genomic young bulls – De-Su Supershot 13181-ET and DG Charley. The remaining top 10 sires remained unchanged besides the addition of newcomers S-S-I Bookem Morgan-ET (7HO11383) and Pine-Tree AltaOak-ET (11HO11202). Select Sires once again dominates the proven sire list controlling 8 of the top 10 spots.

Canadian Holstein Proof Information


For previous genetic evaluations go to Sire Proof Central

Canadian Holstein Highlights – December 2015 – Brewmaster Still Leads with Pressure from Impressive Newcomers!

Securing the #1 position for LPI and Pro$ for the second round in a row is Mapel Wood Brewmaster (Garrett x Shottle) with the exact same LPI of 3199 and a Pro$ change of only $67. Brewmaster also maintains his dominance as the #1 bull in the breed for Fat while the breed welcomes several impressive newly proven sires. Ranking #4 for both national indexes, and highest newcomer, is Chartroise Smurf (#9 Milk, tied #9 Protein), who is among the first group of Snowman sons proven in Canada and out of Chartroise- I Planet Safron. A second newly proven sire that penetrates the Top 10 list for both LPI (tied #7) and Pro$ (#8) is Roylane Boxer Punch 4311-ET, who is a Boxer son out of the prolific Seagull-Bay OMan Mirror-ET and is therefore a maternal brother to Roylane Socra Robust-ET. Five other sires rank among the Top 10 for both LPI and Pro$. These include the full brother Freddie sons out of the well-known Ammon-Peachy Shauna-ET, namely Seagull-Bay Shaw-ET (#2 Pro$, #9 LPI, #1 Milk, #1 Protein) and Seagull-Bay Sargeant-ET (#3 Pro$, #10 LPI, #5 Milk). After adding over 130 daughters to his production proof and 120 classified daughters, Minnigan-Hills Day-ET (Super x Bolton) takes a significant jump up for both LPI and Pro$, now ranking #5 (from #27) and #10 (from #30), respectively. OCD Stargazer-ET (Super x Elegant, #6 LPI, #6 Pro$, #4 Milk) and Rosylane-LLC AltaLeo-ET (AltaMeteor x Nifty, tied #7 LPI, #9 Pro$) complete the list bulls ranking in the Top 10 for both national indexes.

Two sires that excel for LPI this round are De-Su McCutchen 1174-ET (Bookem son out of Sully Shottle May-TW) in #2 position (#19 Pro$), and Amighetti Numero Uno ET at #3 LPI (Man-O-Man x Shottle, #11 Pro$). From the other perspective, two sires perform stronger for Pro$ than LPI, including Cangen Pinkman at #4 Pro$ (Super x Baxter, #11 LPI) and the highly anticipated newly proven sire Seagull-Bay Supersire-ET at #7 Pro$ (#21 LPI, tied #6 Protein, #9 Fat), who is a Robust son and maternal brother to Shaw and Sargeant. Among the breed leaders in August, Mountfield SSI Dcy Mogul-ET loses ground and slips from #3 for both LPI and Pro$ to land in #20 and #16 spot this round, respectively.

Other newly proven bulls this round that reach Top 25 status for LPI or Pro$ include Sandy-Valley Saloon-ET at #12 LPI (AltaIota x Planet, #23 Pro$, #3 Protein), De-Su AltaLaker-ET at #13 LPI and #13 Pro$ (Bowser x Planet), Willem’s Hoeve W-H Rup at #12 Pro$ (Super x Goldwyn, #34 LPI), Wargo-Acres Merritte-ET at #17 LPI (Bookem x Bolton, #76 Pro$), Velthuis Alpine at #24 LPI (Snowman x Planet, #46 Pro$) and Dymentholm S Sympatico at #25 LPI (Snowman x Planet, #40 Pro$). This brings a total of eight newly proven bulls entering the Top 25 for LPI and six entering the Top 25 for Pro$.

Newly Indexed Cows from “Silverridge” Prefix Top Charts

Silverridge V Munition Earwig is the highest newly indexed cow, impressively claiming the #1 spot for both GLPI and Pro$ (#9 Milk). Five other cows rank among the Top 10 for GLPI and Pro$ this round. These include newly indexed red-carrier Snowbiz Uno Enya at #6 for both indexes, Ri-Val-Re Num Uno Bee-ET (newly indexed) at #2 Pro$ and #7 GLPI, Sully Numero Uno Maribel-ET (#7 GLPI, #8 Pro$) and Bofran Brewmaster Fab (#3 Pro$, #9 GLPI, #5 Fat).

Two other cows carrying the Silverridge prefix land in the Top 10 for GLPI after attaining official status this round. Silverridge V Doorman Ensure ranks #2 for GLPI (#22 Pro$, tied #8 Conformation), making her the highest GLPI daughter of Val-Bisson Doorman (#2 MACE LPI), while Silverridge V McCut Elicia ranks #5 for GLPI (#29 Pro$, tied #8 Conformation). Ensure, Elicia and the previously mentioned double chart-topper, Earwig, trace back to a common maternal grand dam, Calbrett Planet Eve. At #3 GLPI this round is the previous #1 cow, Stantons McCutchen 1174 Agree, who ranks #13 Pro$. Rounding out this illustrious group for GLPI is the well-known Ste Odile Manoman Model Saphir, who falls from #3 to #9 GLPI (#27 Pro$).

Four cows not yet mentioned rank among the Top 10 Pro$ this round. At #5 Pro$ is Sully Robust 720-ET (#12 GLPI), who is a maternal sister to Maribel (#7 GLPI, #8 Pro$). Newly indexed this round, Stantons Supersire Eleyah, takes #8 Pro$ and is tied at #9 Protein, while her herdmate, Stantons Epic Caramel, follows being tied at #9 Pro$ with another newly indexed cow, Monbriant Shaw Genes (#24 GLPI, tied #6 Protein). Also noteworthy is newly indexed Dudoc McCutchen Regret P, who is the highest ranking polled cow for GLPI tied in #66 position.

Canadian Reports and Lists

Source: CDN

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