Archive for May 2016

Who needs another index?

Have you asked yourself or a fellow breeder that question? Genetic or management indexes are created for at least one reason or purpose.  It seems like every AI unit has developed their own index for one purpose or another.  Here are some Bullvine thoughts on multi-trait genetic indexes that are designed to assist breeders in genetic improvement and marketing. These indexes are usually referred to as total merit indexes.

Others Use Indexes

Read any business article and you will not get far without reading about the Dow Jones or Consumer Price indexes. Both are designed for specific purposes. They are to reflect the price trends in a selected group of companies on the NY Stock Market, or prices consumers must pay for a selected basket of goods that they usually purchase. We regularly hear whether they are trending upwards in inflationary times or down when the economy is trending negative. However, indexes do not end with the economy. Think about it – personal health indexes, student performance indexes, and equipment performance indexes all part of what we have in our daily lexicon.

Why Total Merit Indexes?

In the 1980’s, dairy cattle marketers were claiming to have the #1 bull or #1 cow in their country or the world. #1 for type, #1 for milk, or #1 for fat % improvement. Even then total animal improvement focused breeders were asking which animals put the total package together. As opposed to being single trait wonders.

In response, breeds and genetic evaluation centres saw the need for indexes that combined, on an appropriately weighted basis, the traits in need of improvement. In the United States, combined indexes like TPI, NM$ and JPI were created, and they came into wide use by breeders in their selection and marketing. In Canada, the index, created by all organizations working together, was LPI. Other country total merit indexes included BW in New Zealand, RZG in Germany, ISU in France and NVI in the Netherlands.

The principle behind all these indexes is that dairy cows are not bred with only one or two traits in mind. Some breeders indicate that having breeding indexes makes breeding dairy cattle more complicated. However, from our exposure to breeders, The Bullvine hears that having total merit indexes assists breeders who want to breed for lifetime profit or to compare animals before buying semen or embryos.

Blindly following a total merit index is not a good practice. Breeders need to know the purpose for which a total merit index is designed. BW (New Zealand) is designed for year round grazing and low body mass. JPI (American Jersey) is designed with an emphasis on milk solids production.

Breeders need to have goals and a herd breeding plan to make maximum use of total merit indexes. Readers may wish to refer to previous Bullvine articles when establishing a herd breeding plan ( Read more: What’s the plan?, 4 Steps to Faster Genetic Improvement, 8 Steps to Choosing What Sires to Use).  Breeders need to look five years into the future to decide what will be the criteria they will judge their females by. It is entirely possible if a breeder plans to operate his dairy farm business differently in the future than they have in the past, it could be time to use a different total merit index than they have utilized in the past.

Have Genetic Indexes Been Useful?

Annually CDCB and CDN publish reports showing ever increasing rates of genetic advancement for NM$ and LPI, respectively. In fact, a recent CDN article states that half of the gain in Canada can be attributed to increased genetic merit.

In the barns around the world, individual breeders are seeing gains in their cows’ ability for production, type and now SCS. When a breeder makes extensive use of sexed semen, it can be expected that 80% of a herd’s improvement can be attributed to the sires that have been used. Definitely having total merit index rankings three times a year gives breeders the opportunity to find new top sires and to eliminate bulls that may be high for one or two individual traits but in total are not able to do a complete job. Since the introduction of TPI and LPI, one of the outcomes has been that high type sires, with inferior production ability, are used very infrequently on a population basis.

Current Reality in Genetic Indexes

With many total merit indexes and many many individual trait indexes routinely published, it can be both time consuming and confusing to keep up-to-date.

Yet the fact is that the number of indexes is increasing with every index run. For example, in the past year, there have been three new trait indexes for mastitis resistance, fertility and feed efficiency. In 2015 new added total merit indexes were Pro$ (CDN) and DWP$(TM) (Zoetis), the latter being an index produced by a private company (Read more: Can you breed a healthier cow?, The Complete Guide to Understanding Zoetis’ New Wellness Traits – CLARIFIDE® Plus, Will Genetic Evaluations Go Private?)

Tomorrow’s Indexes

Every year new indexes for important traits for varying herd management systems will continue to come into the world of dairy cattle breeding. The following questions may assist breeders in deciding upon which genetic indexes to consider:

  • Is the new index designed for the way you plan to practice dairy farming?
  • Why would you not take the opportunity to use new relevant information?
  • Who can give you the most objective view of new genetic indexes?

One size does not fit all.  Not every new genetic index, total merit or individual trait, will assist a breeder in breeding an ever more profitable herd.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Are there too many indexes? Only if you don’t have a breeding plan, and you don’t make the right choice of a total merit index for your herd. It is not about the total number of genetic indexes. In the end, it’s about being selective and only using what’s best for you.



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Top Producer Panel – Robotics conference

Join seven of the top DeLaval VMS producers from North America, Europe, Oceania and Latin America as they share and build knowledge around the DeLaval integrated robotic solution and best practices for robotic milking.

Is Danger Lurking in Your Milking Parlor?

As dairy producers, do we know how to describe the way we want the milking parlor to operate?  Certainly “efficient”, “clean” and “productive” come quickly to mind.  But do we consciously include “safety” on that priority list? When asked, we probably answer that we all want to work safely in the milking parlor! Certainly there are many great reasons we have for being in the dairy business, but facing danger every day is not one that we want to brag about. What are we willing to do to make 100% sure that the milking parlor is a safe place?

We have a problem.  Whose safety are we concerned about?

There are many dangerous places on a dairy farm. At the top of the list is the milking parlor. With its 24/7 schedule and the combination of cows, people and equipment all coming together in one place, it isn’t surprising that insurance companies report that every year dairy workers sustain serious injuries. Of course, that list can quickly expand to include the cattle that are in and out of this location on a daily basis. There is the potential to create a world of hurt for both cows and people. Of course, we must be ready to admit that “to err is human” and then, having said that, do everything possible to make sure that a safer milking parlor is an accepted responsibility.

NINE Milking Parlor Dangers and How to Avoid Them

If you have ever tried to sit down to create or recall all the possible safety issues that can occur in a milking parlor, you will have created a long list. Today at The Bullvine we are looking at ten main areas to consider when making your milking parlor a safe place for workers – both human and bovine.

  1. Heading for a Fall
    Milking parlor safety issues can begin outside of the milking parlor.  When cows are being moved to the parlor from pens or barns, they can walk through, mud, manure and other environmental situations that mean they are tracking wet materials into the parlor and thus contributing to potential safety issues. Dairy workers are also transmitters of materials that can cause slips.  Wear proper, well-maintained footwear that has good slip resistance features.
  2. Slips, Lapses, and Mistakes
    Once inside the parlor the very water that is used to keep the area clean can be a problem if it creates slippery surfaces. Someone will have the responsibility for keeping floors clean, but that must also include being alert to situations where there is too much water. Lack of traction on excessively smooth or wet surfaces is a hazard. Hopefully, original planning ensured that the flooring provides slip-resistant footing for both staff and livestock with a roughened surface on concrete ramps and floors in animal facilities. If this isn’t in place, the mistake in design must be corrected. Once that is in place, you must guard against water, milk or algal buildup on concrete surfaces.  Anything that spills from wet feed to manure can contribute to slippery surfaces and dangerous footing. Here again, proper footwear is a necessary part of milking parlor safety preparedness.
  3. There’s No Such Thing as a Good Trip — in the Milking Parlor
    Tripping can also be caused by different floor levels, broken concrete, and obstacles. Open drains or drainage holes should be covered with a firm, flush-fitting grate. Encourage everyone who works in the milking parlor to report damaged or pitted concrete so it can be repaired. Make sure to put in place a regular resurfacing or maintenance plan. Ensure that all open pits and drains have covers or guard rails. You may think that everyone is familiar with particular situations, but accidents are exacerbated by fatigue, multitasking and lack of communication. Have SOPs (standard operating procedures) in place and provide regular training updates in all aspects of equipment maintenance and safe operation. Raise standards wherever and whenever possible.
  4. Control the Hazards of Hoses
    As previously mentioned (#1), water can be a major contributor to safety hazards. Make sure hoses, pipes and taps are maintained at all times and that they are not causing ongoing drips or leaks. Schedule complete flushes and visual checkups for walking lanes. Provide storage for hoses or pressure washers so that the equipment itself does not become a tripping hazard.  Hoses and other obstacles should be secured to the walls and kept out of the way.  Hoses – when under pressure — can produce whiplash injuries. Injuries also can occur when hoses  The injury can be caused by the whipping hose itself, blowing debris or the release of high-pressure or high-temperature water. Always be alert for ways to reduce risks of injury.
  5. Safety Starts on the Drawing Board
    Good design makes safety a priority. We all know how badly designed steps can create a daily and very dangerous hazard. Lighting, surfaces, functional storage and equipment access and maintenance need to be built into the work area.  After that, one must acknowledge that safety issues can also arise from lack of skills or mechanical error. This also means planning for and writing down planned Safe milking parlors always have checklists in place to make sure there aren’t breakdowns in the following three areas: (1) communication, (2) training and (3) teamwork. The goal is to make sure that you have enough of all three.  If you skimp on any one of these standards, you will see a corresponding rise in unsafe situations.
  6. People Must Be Prepared to Work Safely­
    Some safety measures are as simple as being appropriately dressed for the work that is carried out in a milking parlor. Waterproof clothing, proper footwear and correct gloves for specific situations, all contribute to working safely. ­ Chemicals used for washing and cleaning equipment are potential hazards for staff, animals, and the milking parlor environment, and all precautions should be observed. Another potential hazard often associated with milking time is the accidental inoculation of veterinary drugs when administering routine shots, such as hormones in the Ovsynch program. Women should not administer shots in the Ovsynch program, especially if they are pregnant. Regularly scheduled training in all aspects of safety, including biosecurity, can be a definite asset in making sure that your milking parlor is safe, productive and risk-free
  7. Electrical Safety in the Milking Parlor
    It goes without saying that all electrical equipment must be kept in good repair. Updating lighting in older facilities increases visibility and should be adequate for both day and night operations. Seek experienced advice on avoiding electric shock hazards in the milking parlor. Always use an electrical system and equipment grounding that meet requirements of the national electric code. Use ground fault circuit interrupter with stock water heaters, power tools, and other equipment. Make sure fuse boxes, switches, and electrical outlets in wet areas are moisture proof. Avoid the risks which result from using homemade or temporary electrical solutions.
  8. Don’t Make Milking a Risky Business!
    Sometimes we become so familiar with the work we do in the milking parlor, that we become complacent. This can lead to inattentiveness and could cause safety lapses.  Even worse are lapses in good judgment.  The milking parlor is not the place to climb on or sit on gates or railings.  As much as a good working atmosphere is much to be desired, the milking parlor is not the place to participate in horse play.  What starts as harmless fun can too easily escalate into a dangerous situation. Don’t play the blame game. Hold all individuals responsible for working safely in the milk house.
  9. Animal Awareness
    Last but by no means least in working safely in the milking parlor is anything that involves how working safely with dairy cows. Throughout the milking process, staff must move cattle into, around and out of the milking parlor. There are many opportunities for accidents to occur. While experience will always improve animal handling, it is the responsibility of those who manage the milking parlor to make sure that there is sufficient training. There are typical behaviors that can be expected from bovines … such as kicking forward and out to the side.  Unfortunately, sick animals do not behave normally and care must be taking in working around an animal that is suffering from a condition such as mastitis or that is agitated because of unfamiliar procedures or caregivers.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

As with the maintenance of any well-oiled machine, milking parlor safety protocols can always use a tune-up.  A milking parlor relies on many moving parts to get the job done, and all of the parts have to run efficiently from pre-milking to post-milking to ensure milking parlor safety for everyone — human or bovine. Check your operation’s benchmarks in the areas discussed. The priorities should always be threefold: Reduce risks.  Raise standards. Be safe.



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4 Steps to Faster Genetic Improvement

I often see on Facebook or in the Milk House discussion group where a breeder shows a picture and perhaps some of the achievements of a cow or heifer and then asks Facebook friends or other Milk House members for suggestions on a sire to breed or flush her to. Personally, even though I love mating dairy animals, I do not answer these requests. This is not because I don’t have an opinion but because I seldom know what the animal’s performance or genetic facts are and, more importantly, I don’t know what the owner’s goals are.

For me, there are four important steps involved in improving an animal or a herd: 1. Measure first 2. Set goals 3. Narrowing the list of sires 4. Choosing the best mate for your cow.

Step #1: Measure First

Dairy cattle improvement long ago moved past the practice of only doing a quick visual of an animal before selecting a sire to improve one or two physical characteristics. The modern dairy animal is a complex milk producing machine that must tick many boxes to return maximum lifetime.

Until genomics arrived on the scene in 2008, the vast majority of breeders were satisfied to simply know the animal’s recorded performance in the milk pail and, if not official type classification, then at least any observed type weaknesses that the animal possessed. Over 95% of breeders used the actual performance results and not the genetic indexes for production and type traits when breeding cows.

With genomic indexes has come a rapid increase in the number of traits for which genetic indexes are available. No longer are production, SCS and type the only primary traits considered in improving the genetics of an animal or a herd.  In fact, for the majority of owners, those traits are today taking a back seat to additional traits such as reproduction, length of life, milking speed, inbreeding and age at first calving. As yet owners are still, in 2016, using the phenotypic value when measuring and not the genetic value for these new, front and center, traits.

The saying goes “you cannot improve what you do not measure”. Measurement has vastly improved and today much can be learned in the two years from conception to first breeding and the four years from conception to end of the first lactation. Today the question is, “Which traits are most worthwhile?” You have the option of considering feed conversion efficiency, haploids that affect fertility, age at first heifer estrus, protein composition, fat composition, ratings on early embryonic death and perhaps fertility in the very high producing cow. These are a few in an ever growing list.

In 2020 knowing a few basic facts will no longer be enough to succeed. By that time, the scope of what traits are measured will expand considerably. Breeders planning to have their herds remain current in the population will need to be measuring more and more traits. Services for measuring will no longer be only breeds and DHI, many new service providers are now or soon will be on the scene (Read more: WILL GENETIC EVALUATIONS GO PRIVATE?)

Step #2: Set Goals

The Bullvine regularly urges dairy breeders to have a breeding plan for the herd. (Read more: What’s the plan?, Are you a hobby farmer or a dairy business?, and Dairy Cattle Breeding Is All About Numbers). Just as frequently we hear back from our readers regarding their plans. Recent reader shares have told us about wanting to decrease the average mature stature of their Holstein cows. Other have shared that they are breeding for a totally polled or A2A2 Kappa-Casein herd. Still others want purebred Holsteins that conceive when milking heavily like they did half a century ago. By the way, keep those letters on goals flowing to us.

The point we wish to make in this article is that you will never arrive at your breeding goal if you do not have a plan to get you there. Take the time right now, perhaps while you are relaxing after first cut hay, to do a complete and realistic breeding plan for the next five years. Having a plan will mean that the next two steps, #3 Narrowing the list of sires and #4 Choosing the best mate for your cow, will be much easier and will have a much greater chance of being successful. A plan can be either a whole herd plan or for a portion of the herd. For many breeders, the plan may vary from cow family to cow family. In all cases, the plan should include the three (maximum five) traits that are to receive primary emphasis. Most A.I. companies have trained individuals who can work with owners to define the genetic goals, and thereby the plan, for the herd.

Step #3: Narrowing the List of Sires

It is no longer effective to choose sires simply from the top five TPI, LPI, NM$, Pro$, CM$, PTAT or DWPS$ sires and hope to achieve the goals set in #2 (above). “Why isn’t it possible?” you ask. A quick check shows that if your goal is to significantly improve your Holstein herd’s genetic merit for fertility, thus requiring a bull be one standard deviation about average, there are only two of the top five Pro$ sires that can do that. Choosing three of the top five means defeating your plan. And if your goal is to improve your herd for SCS, there are three of the top five proven Holstein TPI have a SCS index of over 3.00. You must zero in specifically to be successful.

Total merit indexes are an excellent guide to narrow the list of sires to be considered for use in a herd.  After narrowing your list of potential sires to the top 25 for the total merit index of your choice then eliminate all sires that are NOT significant improvers for your three primary traits.

Here are some example primary traits and minimum rating for a sire to be classified as a significant breed improver.

Table 1 Minimum Index Values for a Holstein Sire to be a Significant Improver

CDCB Evaluations CDN Evaluations
DPR 2.5 DF 106
PL 4 HL 106
UDC 2 MS 6

It does not matter how popular, how marketed or how high a sire is for TPI or LPI if he has genetic indexes that are significantly above average for your primary traits, then he’s not for you.

Achieving your genetic plan should be Job #1, when it comes to which sires to buy semen from. Two rules of thumb included: 1) semen price should not deter you (five doses of $100 semen will be quickly paid back when the one daughter gets in the milking herd); and 2) do not over buy on number of doses (with three index runs a year, there are always new top sires for your primary traits coming available.) If you don’t have the semen from former leaders in your tank, then you will not be tempted to use it.  Genetic advancement has never been as fast as it is today. We can expect it get even faster.  Don’t hold your herd back in the past.

Step #4: Choosing the Best Mating for your Cows

The Bullvine recommends that breeders find a mating program that uses genetic indexes for both sires and cows or heifers and that allows breeders to place added emphasis on their primary traits. Most A.I. companies have a mating program that can be adapted to a breeder’s genetic plan, and that can use any sire no matter what their ownership.

The objective should be to mate individual cows to one of the sires that have the superiority in your primary traits (see #3 above). It makes little sense to mate your -1.0 DPR cows to a sire that is less than +3 .0 DPR even if there is a remote possibility that you may get one daughter that wins your county show. County show winners most often can not garner extra dollars in the sales ring. But cows that are above average for DPR can stay in the herd longer and thereby achieve higher lifetime profit.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

All four of these steps are integral in being successful in achieving genetic advancement in your herd. You will have financial rewards every year and, as well, you will be rewarded by passing on a genetically superior herd to your successors or when you decide to sell your herd.



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Western Spring National Holstein Show

May 19 – 20, 2016 — Richmond, UT
Judge: Pat Conroy, IN

UTAG GUTHRIE ZEEZLER Grand Champion 2016 Western Spring National Utah State University

Grand Champion
2016 Western Spring National
Utah State University

UTAG GUTHRIE ZEEZLER Grand Champion Utah State University BUTLERVIEW DOOR CAMILLA-ET Reserve Grand Champion Triple Crown Gen, Mitch Hockett & Josh Wright UTAG GUTHRIE ZEEZLER HM Grand Champion Utah State University

Grand Champion
Utah State University
Reserve Grand Champion
Triple Crown Gen, Mitch Hockett & Josh Wright
HM Grand Champion
Utah State University

BUTLERVIEW DOOR CAMILLA-ET Intermediate Champion 2016 Western Spring National Triple Crown Gen, Mitch Hockett & Josh Wright

Intermediate Champion
2016 Western Spring National
Triple Crown Gen, Mitch Hockett & Josh Wright

CACHE-VALLEY DAMION LILLY Intermedaite Champion of the Junior Show

Intermediate Champion of the Junior Show

MEL-TINA ACTION LACY-RED 1st place R&W Junior 2 Year Old & Intermediate Champion 2016 Western Spring National Robert Teixeira & Melvin Lee Medeiros

1st place R&W Junior 2 Year Old & Intermediate Champion
2016 Western Spring National
Robert Teixeira & Melvin Lee Medeiros


CROSS-WAKE MORE ANNALYSE-ET Junior Champion 2016 Western Spring National

Junior Champion 2016 Western Spring National

Junior Champion – Open Show: CROSS-WAKE MORE ANNALYSE-ET (Scottmore Moregold-ET), 1st place Winter Yearling, Graisson Schmidt & Mandy Brazil
Reserve Junior Champion – Open Show: PAPPYS DOORMAN ROUSEY-ET (Val-Bisson Doorman-ET), 1st place Fall Calf, Pappys Farm LLC
Honorable Mention Junior Champion – Open Show: PAPPYS GOLDWYN REESE (Braedale Goldwyn), 1st place Fall Yearling, Pappys Farm LLC

Junior Champion – Jr Show: MS GILTEX ATWOOD CANDI-ET (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood-ET), 1st Jr owned Summer Yearling, Gianni Cozzitorto
Reserve Junior Champion – Jr Show: WHEY-MAT BROKAW ALISE (Mr Atwood Brokaw-ET), 1st Jr owned Fall Yearling, Kael Leak
Honorable Mention Junior Champion – Jr Show: MS CACHE-VALLEY RUBY RUE-TW (STBVQ Rubens-ET), 2nd Jr owned Fall Yearling, Xander Harris

OAKFIELD DEF SELENA-RED Red & White Junior Champion

Red & White Junior Champion

R&W Junior Champion – Jr Show: MS LADD SUSIE-RED-ET (Tiger-Lily Ladd P-Red-ET), Spring Yearling, Donavan Miguel   R&W Reserve Junior Champion – Jr Show: DOUBLETREE DEVAS SHAILY-RED (Triplecrown Destrave-Red-ET), Fall Yearling, Coltyr, Kayd, Slayter, Syree & Taryn Goss

Champion Bred & Owned Heifer of the Junior Show: WHEY-MAT BROKAW ALISE (Mr Atwood Brokaw-ET), 1st Jr owned Fall Yearling, Kael Leak

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Winter Heifer Calves – RED (2)

1. LEAK-BROS RNGLDR RISSA-RED (Leak Ringleader-Red), Jordan & Matt Leak
2. BALLAND PRST LEESA-RED (Balland Winters Pursuit-Red), Donald Ball

LEAK-BROS RNGLDR RISSA-RED 1st place Red & White Winter Heifer Calve

1st place Red & White Winter Heifer Calf

Winter Heifer Calves – BLACK (10)

ROLL-N-VIEW BRADNICK EMV 1st place Winter Heifer Calf

1st place Winter Heifer Calf

1. ROLL-N-VIEW BRADNICK EMV (Regancrest-GV S Bradnick-ET), Cranehill Genetics
2. LEAK-BROS RNGLDR RISSA-RED (Leak Ringleader-Red), Jordan & Matt Leak
3. TRIPLECROWN ARCHRVAL 231-ET (Eclipse Atwoods Archrival-ET), Triple Crown Genetics
4. PAPPYS DOORMAN ROSE-ET (Val-Bisson Doorman-ET), Pappys Farm LLC
5. MS CARAIBES ARCH CHAMBER-ET (Eclipse Atwoods Archrival-ET), Jeremiah Lungwitz, Doubletree Dairy & Blair Mickelson

Fall Heifer Calves – RED (5)

OAKFIELD DEF SELENA-RED 1st place Fall Heifer Calf

1st place R&W Fall Heifer Calf

1. OAKFIELD DEF SELENA-RED-ET (Scientific B Defiant-ET), David & Dustin Espindula
2. VERMEHLIA CANTINA-RED-ET (Blondin Prodigy-Red), Cranehill Genetics
3. YARD-O-UTE GEORGETT-RED-ET (Air-Osa-MLE Malone-Red-ET), Matthew Kyle Leak
4. MISS A2 ALY-RED-ET (Blondin Prodigy-Red), Skyhart Farms
5. RUANN DORINDA-54804-RED-ET (MD-Valleyvue Carson-Red-ET), Stephen & Patrick Maddox

Fall Heifer Calves – BLACK (22)

PAPPYS DOORMAN ROUSEY-ET 1st place Fall Heifer Calf

PAPPYS DOORMAN ROUSEY-ET 1st place Fall Heifer Calf

1. PAPPYS DOORMAN ROUSEY-ET (Val-Bisson Doorman-ET), Pappys Farm LLC
2. GILTEX DOORMAN BEV-ET (Val-Bisson Doorman-ET), John Chapman
3. BUTTER-DELL AFTERSHOCK WINN (Ms Atlees Sht Aftershock-ET), Kent & Craig Buttars
4. YARD-O-UTE DM ELLIE-ET (Val-Bisson Doorman-ET), Wade Yardley
5. OAKFIELD DEF SELENA-RED-ET (Scientific B Defiant-ET), David & Dustin Espindula

Summer Yearling Heifers – RED (3)

RUANN ADDI BONNIE-50492-RED (Mr Ansly Addiction-P-Red-ET), Stephen & Patrick Maddox

RUANN ADDI BONNIE-50492-RED (Mr Ansly Addiction-P-Red-ET), Stephen & Patrick Maddox

1. RUANN ADDI BONNIE-50492-RED (Mr Ansly Addiction-P-Red-ET), Stephen & Patrick Maddox
2. TRIPLECROWN-JW RING-RED-ET (Lookout P Redburst-Red-ET), Triple Crown Genetics & Josh Wright
3. MS LADD SUSIE-RED-ET (Tiger-Lily Ladd P-Red-ET), Donavan Miguel

Summer Yearling Heifers – BLACK (14)

PAPPYS GOLDWYN RAINDROP-ET 1st place Summer Yearling

1st place Summer Yearling

1. PAPPYS GOLDWYN RAINDROP-ET (Braedale Goldwyn), Pappys Farm LLC
2. MS GILTEX ATWOOD CANDI-ET (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood-ET), Gianni Cozzitorto
3. SKYKOMISH CORVETTE JANE (Sonnek GC Corvette-ET), Michael & Jessica Oliver
4. SCO-LO CONTRAST RICOCHET-ET (Larcrest Contrast-ET), D. & D. Espindula & M. & B. Dores
5. WENDON DOORMAN MIRLOT (Val-Bisson Doorman-ET), Christian Cunningham, Miles Macray & Madison Price

Spring Yearling Heifers (10)

T&L Cattle & Brandon Kooyman

SPALLVUE BROKAW ICE CREAM 1st place Spring Yearling

1. SPALLVUE BROKAW ICE CREAM (Mr Atwood Brokaw-ET), T&L Cattle & Brandon Kooyman
2. CLAQUATO ARMANI SUN DAZE (Mr Apples Armani-ET), Gary Werner Young
3. CALORI-D RS ARMANI RYLEE (Mr Apples Armani-ET), Rebekah & Stephen Mast
4. MS GILTEX ATWOOD MAUI (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood-ET), Gilbert Texeira & Nate Goldenberg
5. CACHE-VALLEY BRKW HALLI-ET (Mr Atwood Brokaw-ET), Matthew Kyle Leak

Winter Yearling Heifers-RED (1)

RUANN CONSTACE-46398-RED-ET 1st place Winter Yearling

1st place R&W Winter Yearling

1. RUANN CONSTACE-466398-RED-ET (Tiger-Lily Ladd P-Red-ET), Stephen & Patrick Maddox

Winter Yearling Heifers-BLACK (11)

CROSS-WAKE MORE ANNALYSE-ET 1st place Winter Yearling

1st place Winter Yearling

1. CROSS-WAKE MORE ANNALYSE-ET (Scottmore Moregold-ET), Graisson Schmidt & Mandy Brazil
2. KUK-LAN GOLDWYN JODY-ET (Braedale Goldwyn), Doubletree Dairy
3. BENBIE ALTA5G MILEY (Mr Lookout Pesce Alta5G-ET), T&L Cattle and Brandon Kooyman
4. DAPPLEHOLM ARMANI MAVERICK (Mr Apples Armani-ET), Casey, Chase & Chloe VanderEyk
5. BBM KINGBOY ADELA-ET (Morningview Mcc Kingboy-ET), Gilbert & Robert Texeira & Manuel Silveira III

Fall Yearling Heifers -RED (2)

MS ESKDALE ABS LUNA-RED-ET 1st place R&W Fall Yearling

1st place R&W Fall Yearling

1. MS ESKDALE ABS LUNA-RED-ET (Apples Absolute-Red-ET), Eskdale Dairy
2. DOUBLETREE DEVAS SHAILY-RED (Triplecrown Destrave-Red-ET), Coltyr, Kayd, Slayter, Syree & Taryn Goss

Fall Yearling Heifers -BLACK (11)


PAPPYS GOLDWYN REESE (Braedale Goldwyn), Pappys Farm LLC

1. PAPPYS GOLDWYN REESE (Braedale Goldwyn), Pappys Farm LLC
2. KUK-LAN ATWOOD JOESY-ET (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood-ET), Doubletree Dairy
3. BOISBLANC SID VENUS (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Joe & Amber Price, Josh Wright & John Andersen
4. MS ESKDALE ABS LUNA-RED-ET (Apples Absolute-Red-ET), Eskdale Dairy
5. ON-CLOUDNINE BRKW 181-ET (Mr Atwood Brokaw-ET), Casey, Chase & Chloe VanderEyk

Junior Best Three Females (6)

1. Pappys Farm LLC
2. Whey-Mat Holsteins
3. Harris Dairyland

Premiere Breeder of the Heifer Show Pappys Farm

R&W Junior Two-Year-Old Cows (1)

MEL-TINA ACTION LACY-RED 1st place Junior 2 Year Old

1st place R&W Junior 2 Year Old

1. MEL-TINA ACTION LACY-RED (Mr Apples Action-Red-ET), Robert Texeira & Melvin Lee Medeiros

Junior Two-Year-Old Cows (5)

PAPPYS GOLDWYN RAVEANN-ET 1st place Junior 2 Year Old

1st place Junior 2 Year Old

1. PAPPYS GOLDWYN RAVEANN-ET (Braedale Goldwyn), Pappys Farm LLC
2. MEL-TINA ACTION LACY-RED (Mr Apples Action-Red-ET), Robert Texeira & Melvin Lee Medeiros
3. RUANN G W AT ELLIE-42714-ET (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood-ET), Stephen & Patrick Maddox
4. JACOBS WINDBROOK AVERY (Gillette Windbrook), James Manni
5. MARDELEN MCCUTCHEN LIANNE (De-Su Bkm McCutchen 1174-ET), Butter-Dell Holsteins

R&W Senior Two-Year-Old Cows (3)


1st place R&W Senior 2 Year Old

1. WESTCOAST ABSOLUTE ROULETT-RED (Apples Absolute-Red-ET), Triple Crown Genetics & Josh Wright
2. YARD-O-UTE AMISTAD CECE-RED (Mr Apples Amistad-ET), Wade Yardley
3. WEDGWOOD ABSLTE TOPSY-RED-ET (Apples Absolute-Red-ET), Skyhart Farms

Senior Two-Year-Old Cows (11)

BUTLERVIEW DOOR CAMILLA-ET 1st place Senior 2 Year Old

1st place Senior 2 Year Old

1. BUTLERVIEW DOOR CAMILLA-ET (Val-Bisson Doorman-ET), Triple Crown Genetics, Mitch Hockett & Josh Wright
2. MS GOLD BARBARA BRISK-ET (Val-Bisson Doorman-ET), Triple Crown Genetics, Mitch Hockett & Josh Wright
3. STRANSHOME GOLD ANNISSA-ET (Braedale Goldwyn), Matthew Kyle Leak
4. BUTTER-DELL SID SERENA (Pine-Tree Sid-ET), Dallin Buttars
5. WESTCOAST ABSOLUTE ROULETT-RED (Apples Absolute-Red-ET), Triple Crown Genetics & Josh Wright


Futurity Winner

R&W Junior Three-Year-Old Cows (1)

DOUBLETREE APPLE ACE-RED 1st place R&W Junior 3 Year Old

1st place R&W Junior 3 Year Old

1. DOUBLETREE APPLE ACE-RED (Mr Apple Jack-Red-ET), Doubletree Dairy

Junior Three-Year-Old Cows (4)

PAPPYS ATWOOD FELMA 1st place Junior Three Year old

1st place Junior Three Year old

1. PAPPYS ATWOOD FELMA (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood-ET), Alex J. Papageorge
2. DOUBLETREE APPLE ACE-RED (Mr Apple Jack-Red-ET), Doubletree Dairy
3. CACHE-VALLEY GOLD SHOT 2768 (Cache-Valley Gold Shot-ET), Harris Dairyland
4. DAN-MAUR CB AFTER COFFEE (Ms Atlees Sht Aftershock-ET), Chris Baginski

R&W Senior Three-Year-Old Cows (1)

BUTTER-DELL DESARAE-RED-ET 1st place Red & White Senior Three Year old

1st place Red & White Senior Three Year old

1. BUTTER-DELL DESARAE-RED-ET (Scientific Destry-ET), Kent, Robyn & Paul Buttars

Senior Three-Year-Old Cows (13)

DOUBLETREE GOLD CHIP ANNA 1st place Senior Three Year old

1st place Senior Three Year old

1. DOUBLETREE GOLD CHIP ANNA (Mr Chassity Gold Chip-ET), Doubletree Dairy
2. CHRISTHILL WINDHAMMER MOLLY (Gillette Windhammer-ETS), L&L Pires Dairy
3. DOUBLETREE GOLD KELLY-ET (Mr Chassity Gold Chip-ET), Doubletree Dairy
4. RUANN SLEEMAN SILVA-25080 (Vioris Sleeman), Stephen & Patrick Maddox
5. WADELAND BRADNICK JAYLEE (Regancrest-GV S Bradnick-ET), Wadeland South Dairy LLC

R&W Four-Year-Old Cows (2)

CANYON-BREEZE R DEW-RED 1st place Red and White Four Year Old

1st place Red and White Four Year Old

1. CANYON-BREEZE R DEW-RED (Fradon Redliner-Red-ET), Gilbert Texeira & MB Luckylady Farm
2. MS TCG-JP RADIANT-RED-ET (Scientific Destry-ET), Joseph K. Panter & Triple Crown Genetics

Four-Year-Old Cows (9)

UTAG GUTHRIE ZEEZLER 1st place Four Year Old

1st place Four Year Old

1. UTAG GUTHRIE ZEEZLER (Fustead Goldwyn Guthrie-ET), Utah State University
2. COREDALE ALLOY EVELYNE (Ladys-Manor FC Alloy), L&L Pires Dairy & Daniel J. Martin
3. CANYON-BREEZE R DEW-RED (Fradon Redliner-Red-ET), Gilbert Texeira & MB Luckylady Farm
4. MS TCG-JP RADIANT-RED-ET (Scientific Destry-ET), Joseph K. Panter & Triple Crown Genetics
5. UTAG REDLINER ESTHER (Fradon Redliner-Red-ET), Utah State University

R&W Five-Year-Old Cows (1)

RUANN R CONQUEST-14459-RED 1st place Red and White Five Year Old

1st place Red and White Five Year Old

1. RUANN R CONQUEST-14459-RED (Hurtgen-Vue Reality-Red), Stephen & Patrick Maddox

Five-Year-Old Cows (11)

VANDYK-K PARLIMENT 1st place Five Year Old

1st place Five Year Old

1. VANDYK-K PARLIMENT (KHW Kite Advent-Red-ET), Matthew Kyle Leak
2. MS GILTEX SANCHEZ LIZ-ET (Gen-Mark Stmatic Sanchez), Gilbert Texeira, Virgil Kronberg & Ken Melvold
3. RUANN BRAX PAIGE-10597 (Regancrest S Braxton-ET), Stephen & Patrick Maddox
4. CANYON-BREEZE AF ARLETT-ET (Ms Atlees Sht Aftershock-ET), Steven Gillins
5. RUANN R CONQUEST-14459 (Hurtgen-Vue Reality-Red), Stephen & Patrick Maddox

Aged Cows (8)


UTAG SPEARMENT ZOE 1st place Mature Cow

1. UTAG SPEARMINT ZOE (Pine-Tree Spearmint-ET), Utah State University
2. PAPPYS GOLDWYN NATASHA-ET (Braedale Goldwyn), Pappys Farm LLC
3. GILTEX ATWOOD BOUNCE-TW (Maple-Downs-I G W Atwood-ET), Gilbert Texeira
4. CANYON-BREEZE AT REASON (Canyon-Breeze Attraction-ET), Steven Gillins
5. UTAG EFFORT KAYANN (Utag Dundee Effort-ET), Utah State University

150,000 Pound Cows (6)

COUNTRY-HOME MORTY SANDY 1st place Production Cow

1st place Production Cow

1. COUNTRY-HOME MORTY SANDY (Stouder Morty-ET), Doubletree Dairy
2. ESKDALE PRONTO MONTAGE (Windy-Knoll-View Pronto-ET), Eskdale Dairy
3. DOUBLETREE ROY BILLIE-ET (Roylane Jordan-ET), Utah State University
4. CACHE-VALLEY LARAMEE 2294 (Pine-Shelter Laramee Mor-ET), Zaidie Harris
5. PAPPYS RYAN FELMA (Markwell Durham Ryan-ET), Alex J. Papageorge

For cow class pictures click here

Who Reaps the Benefits of “Bigger”?

In 2016 dairy operations everywhere are coming face to face with the pressure to “go big or go home.” Big business impacts all areas of our daily lives.

  • Entertainment is big business.
  • Politics is big business.
  • Computerization is the biggest business of all.

It isn’t surprising that the dairy industry is consistently implored to use big business principles when planning for the future.

Is “BIG” Synonymous with “BETTER”?

Big may not always be better, but good business sense is recognized as the foundation that any viable enterprise is built upon.  To support two or more family units or partnerships, the dairy must have cash flow, infrastructure, and good management.  Scrutinizing financial considerations and long-term viabilities is necessary before committing to growing bigger. These two areas are included in the following checklist of nine items to consider when deciding if expansion is right for your dairy operation.

  1. Are you READY for the RISKS?
    Managing risk and capitalizing on opportunities are two ways used by the most successful businesses to separate their operations from those that are fading fast. Sometimes weighing risk is instinctive and is done almost without conscious thought. But defining risk is crucial to seek out solutions and gain confidence in deciding whether to grow or to stay the same? People who are risk-averse may consider that avoiding change is the safest route.  But, as the dairy industry changes and grows, maintaining the status quo could well be the riskiest choice of all.
    Before taking even one step forward, it is well worth your while to take a quick look at where you’re standing right now! Ask yourself if there is something that you could be doing better? Even if getting bigger is the right choice, getting better before going bigger could smooth the way for expansion. For example, maximizing milk production per cow is the place to start. Do you know the industry averages for milk, fat, and protein yield? Where does your operation fall?  If you are below average, address that problem before considering expansion.
  3. Are we talking DAIRY LIFESTYLE or DAIRY LEGACY?
    Expansion is going to affect your loved ones. There is no way that a 24/7 dairy operation can be separated from the family side of the operation. Expansion decisions may give you more time with family if more staff can be added to complete the work.  Perhaps more family will be brought onto the team. Do you want more help?  More time with family?  More revenue?  The expansion decision is going to affect your loved ones: both the current generation and the next ones. Are you building a dynasty or planning for retirement?
  4. What’s HEALTH Got to Do with It?
    Expansion depends on the health, creativity and physical and mental stamina of its leader. Take time for yourself to guard against burnout. Stress and burnout lead to illness, relationship breakdowns and more. Stay healthy so that you can steer your ship through expansion to success. But don’t forget to give the same consideration to each team member. Staff –whether family or not – need to feel that all aspects of their contribution matter. They need to feel empowered and that they are contributors to the success of the dairy farm. They need to feel valued if they are to support and sustain the transition ups and downs which are a normal part of the expansion process.
  5. How Good Are Your Management Skills?
    Expansion is complicated. Realistically, you are looking at expansion not only of herd size and milk production goals but also changes in the day to day duties that make up your work day. Of course, hopefully, it includes expansion of your bottom line.  But, before that, it could all fall apart and cause panic and pandemonium, if you do not have the management skills to keep everything – cows, people and equipment and systems– running smoothly.  An expanded operation means dealing with more of everything — including problems.  Are you task-oriented?  Or people-oriented?  Are you solutions oriented?  Can you give up areas of responsibility to others? How prepared are you to deal with a bigger and much different job than you have been used to in the smaller operation?
  6. Is your Infrastructure Solid?
    Okay! You have done your homework. You have the people and the will and the plan to expand.  But do you have the land?

If you don’t have or can’t buy land, can you buy the forages you will need for an expanded herd? Realistically we should have started with land availability because it is the single most important element that will govern the success or failure of your expansion plan. This could be a deal breaker.  Not enough land or availability of feed.  No expansion.

Other factors of your infrastructure are the next challenge.  Do you have manure system? Is there enough feed storage?  What parlor capacity do you have for your expanded herd? Are you ready to handle the need for more or better equipment?  What maintenance plan is in place now and after the expansion.  Failure to carefully consider any of these can bring your forward-looking expansion plans to a screeching halt. If you’re breathing a sigh of relief, because you already have considered all of these, then you’re in great shape. However, before moving on decide how you will use the dollars saved by economies of skill to develop an even better infrastructure that includes employee training, education, and remuneration as well as investment in new technology. The bottom line is more productivity throughout the entire operation.

  1. Succession Planning is Essential
    At, its most basic, a succession plan is a documented road map for your dairy. When it’s in place, it provides a guide that partners, heirs, and successors can follow in the event of your death, disability or retirement. Are you mentoring the next generation? Does everyone know who will be responsible for the next stage in ongoing farm operations? Simply growing without planning for a smooth succession, means you are not taking advantage of the full potential of your dairy’s development.  Having a well-ordered succession plan in place means that history, education, and goals can be a part of the learning experience of the next leader on a daily basis. Many dairy operations experience their most significant challenges when it comes to a sudden situation where the hand-off of management comes as a shock or without understanding or preparation.
  2. Can you “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”?
    You may have clearly determined that expansion is the best way for your dairy to remain viable and sustainable but you are not fully prepared to achieve that goal until you prepare for the banker? Of course, it’s a tremendous advantage if your banker has the background to understand a dairy operation. In many cases, this doesn’t happen. Nevertheless, thorough preparation can make it possible to satisfy the bankers’ questions and at the same time provide a learning experience for this lender. Expansion may bring new timings of payables and receivables and create greater financial strain. You must have a strategy for controlling costs and keeping control of debt. Be ready to disclose fully all factors relating to your request for expansion. The list will include, but won’t be limited to, how much working capital is needed to long-term cash-flow assumptions, transition and construction-phase issues, contingencies and having a well-documented plan. The better you can quantify these areas, the more likely your expansion plans will be approvable and bankable.
  3. Technology Is VERY Important!
    limitations on the dairy that could limit expansion of your dairy. Operational technology can overcome challenges of available labor. Training your staff in new dairy technology is important to maximizing the potential of your operation, whether it involves 100 cows or 1,000 cows.
  4. It’s Up to You!
    Don’t wait until the decision to expand has either passed you by or is forced upon you by circumstances.  Planned expansion is the best way to ensure that your dairy is profitable.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

At the end of the day, there are only two choices: success or failure. It’s a lot of pressure but with foresight, preparation and the courage to follow your expansion dreams, you too could reap the benefits of bigger!  



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It’s Time to Make Dairy Shows Relevant, Again

Show supporters can quote many reasons for why the time, effort and resources that they put towards exhibiting cattle are positive. At the same time, there are detractors who question why breeds and sponsors should support cattle shows. The detractors see no benefit to dairy cattle improvement from the show circuit.

What is Relevant Today?

What is seen as relevant differs over the entire spectrum of dairy cattle breeders?  Something that is relevant to one group is not as important to another.  The show competition is not about focusing on a win or lose for one of these groups over their differently focused peers.  It’s about having a showcase not only for breeders but the consuming public.  To stay relevant dairy breeders and breed associations must take the opportunity to be the kind of leaders and visionaries that advance the dairy industry. Being relevant requires that new ideas are continually being brought on board as times and circumstances change. The Bullvine offers some thoughts for dairy show organizers to consider in raising the bar for the future of the industry.

Minimum Production Required

Since type is the deciding factor in the show ring. Ways to include production in shows has been tried in numerous ways.  Over fifty years ago, The Honorable Harry Hays, Canadian Minister of Agriculture, initiated a federally financial supported program that required that cows or dams of heifers meet minimum production requirements. The program lasted for many years until a subsequent government looked for areas to reduce the federal government agriculture budget and eliminated the support. While it lasted, the program assisted with more official milk recording and breed improvement.

Just two years ago Holstein USA raised the minimum production from 125,000 lbs to 150,000 lbs for cows to be eligible for entry into Production Cow Classes at Holstein designated shows. This move reflects the increasing levels of production.

It was fascinating at the 2016 Swiss Expo to see a twenty-year-old that had produced 200,000 kgs. Back when she was a heifer she had been a class winner at the very first Swiss Expo. Now that is not a class that shows might consider, but it was interesting to see this grand matriarch paraded.

Best by Age

For perhaps two decades now, show have had an Intermediate Champion or Best Junior Cow. This category has been very well received. Could the champion categories be extended to have a Champion Calf and Champion Yearling?

Recently, at two high-quality North American Spring Shows, Junior Two Year Olds have been named Grand Champion Female. That has not been without controversy.

Often judges state that they give preference to mature females. The words often used are that ‘she has stood the test of time”.  And, by comparison, the more junior cows which have not calved as often will have their day in the bright lights when they mature.

So what is the purpose of naming the Grand Champion Female? Is it to reward age or to identify the best in the show without bias related to maturity. In fact, it may even be a question of using maturity for placings of first and second lactation cows.  It is our observation that lack of body depth in first and second lactation is not all that bad. Young cows should look like young cows.

Best by Index

The organizers of the recent Canadian National Convention Holstein show took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and introduced a class for genomically indexed heifers.  The show was organized by members of Holstein Canada from Western Canada. The concept for the class was put forward more than two years ago by Dr. David Chalack of RockyMountain Holsteins. An interesting side note is that Harry Hays and David Chalack, two show class innovators, both originate from Calgary Alberta.  The Hays and Chalack Families have been long time supporters of Canadian Holstein improvement and foreign cattle marketing. David puts it this way “Shows must be relevant to not only today but also in the future. Genomic indexes are twice as accurate as the old Parent Average Indexes. Our shows need to be leading by example in bringing out the quality of animals that will meet the future needs of all breeders”. He continues “ The show organizers considered making the requirements higher for individual parts of the LPI but in the end decided to set the LPI at a reasonable level. I was thrilled to see the interest in the class. Western Canada Holstein breeders throw the torch to shows, anywhere on the globe, to take the show ring to new heights.”

The class was truly a success. The top two placing heifers, with at least 2600 LPI, from the first five heifer classes paraded before the show judge. The Champion Index heifer was Barclay Doorman Cobra exhibited by Hamming Holsteins from British Columbia, and reserve was also exhibited by Hamming Holsteins. Winning both Champion and Reserve Index Heifer indeed gives this owner a great marketing opportunity.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

With much talk about shows becoming less and less relevant in dairy cattle improvement, it rests on the shoulders of breeds and show organizers to put in place new classes that extend the reach from type only to include all aspects of dairy cattle breeding which includes production, durability and health and fertility. The time has come for highlighting modern dairy relevance in the show ring.



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Why NOT to Crossbreed – 2016 Holstein World Conference Video

Join Dr. Tom Lawlor, Executive Director of Research and Development for Holstein USA as he debunks the many myths about crossbreeding and provides an alternative genetic strategy that not only provides maximum genetic gain but does so while maintaining purebred status. This presentation was part of the 2016 Holstein World Conference held in Argentina.

About the presenter

Dr. Tom Lawlor is the Executive Director for Research and Development for the Holstein Association of America. Dr. Lawlor has been with the Association for the past 30 years and has led the Research and Development department for much of this time. In addition to his involvement with research, he plays a key role in performing genetic evaluations, working with dairy geneticists, collaborating on international projects and educating members about Holstein genetics. Dr. Lawlor holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science from the University of Massachusetts, a Master of Science in animal breeding and genetics from Montana State University, and a doctorate in animal breeding and genetics from Cornell University.


Fort McMurray Wildfires: Why You Need An Emergency Dairy Disaster Plan

The majority of us have never experienced anything even remotely similar to the devastating wildfires that have affected the Fort McMurray, Alberta region. It is mind boggling to consider what the evacuees are going through.

As of May 5, the Alberta government reported that the fire covered an area of approximately 85,000 hectares. This is significant; the consumed area is now half as many hectares as were destroyed in the entirety of both 2008 and 2013.

If your dairy farm was to be put under a mandatory people evacuation order, would you have any idea what needs to happen?



Of course, emergencies and disasters by their very nature can occur at any time and without warning. You might think that there is absolutely nothing you can do …. but that would be incorrect.  The more you are prepared for potential disaster, the better you will be able to act, minimizing panic and confusion when an emergency occurs.


Relatively speaking farms have more to lose than other companies when a disaster – natural or otherwise — strikes because of the combination of an imminent threat to animals as well as people.


It could be that you have plans in place for evacuating workers from all structures on your dairy farm.  But are those plans and the materials needed up-to-date?

It is good planning to have all building exits clearly marked.  DC emergency lighting marking exits is a good idea.

The first step is to call 911.  However, in disasters the size of Fort McMurray, the emergency lines may be down or overloaded.  In any case, make sure that the address of your dairy location is clearly marked at the entrances and that all staff knows the address.  It seems simple, but it is one of those things that can be difficult or impossible to remember under stress.


In the case of a barn fire or dairy property-specific event, the first priority is to ensure that no person is harmed. Evacuation of people who could be injured and care for those injured have the highest priority.  Always take actions to prevent the involvement of additional people in the event. This means isolating all affected areas from inadvertent involvement by keeping the curious away.

During an emergency, evacuation routes from barns, buildings, and sites must stay clear.


Any contingency planning must consider the potential for injuries to people.  First aid staff and evacuation teams, rescue equipment and vehicles should be part of any emergency dairy evacuation plan.

Before you go any further, ask yourself these five basic questions:

  1. How well is your dairy prepared right now, if disaster should strike?
  2. What procedures do you already have in place for an emergency situation?
  3. What potential emergency situations could occur?
  4. If necessary, how will staff return to the disaster zone, if it’s allowed, to attend to animals?
  5. Who is the leader in times of disaster including when the owner or manager is absent?


  1. Put a plan in place for quickly evacuating occupants and animals. It is preferable to prepare to move at least 72 hours ahead of landfall (in the event of hurricanes). Procrastination could be especially problematic. Once the emergency hits, roads may become restricted or even impassable.
  2. Have enough transportation available and plan for where the animals will be taken.
  3. Be sure to have access to portable loading ramps to load, or unload animals.
  4. If your Plan A destination also requires evacuation, it is a good idea to have a Plan B already in place.
  5. Of course, during this time period, additional biosecurity measures will need to be in place.
  6. During the disaster event, animals will continue to require feed and water both during transportation and at the destination they are to be taken to.
  7. It is unfortunate but quite likely that the measures taken will have to remain in place for an extended period of time. Does your plan allow for long-term housing?
  8. If safe, accessible, locations are a problem, it is a good idea to establish an emergency plan with locations such as fairgrounds, racetracks or exhibition centers.
  9. Accommodation will need to include milking equipment for lactating cows.
  10. Milk will need to be stored separately from the cows of other herds. Milk “pickup” companies should be notified where to pick up the milk.


  1. Ensure that there will be enough feed supplements and sufficient medication supplies available at the destination.
  2. Minimize the contact among animals from different premises.
  3. Verify the health and vaccination status of animals which must be co-mingled.
  4. Handle mortalities in a manner which will minimize the possible spread of contagious disease.
  5. Monitor the health and well-being of the animals on at least a daily basis, whether sheltered in place or evacuated.
  6. Seek appropriate veterinary medical advice and services where there is suspicion of an animal disease problem.
  7. Whether you evacuate or shelter in place, make sure you have adequate and safe ways to separate and group animals appropriately.
  8. Have specific actions in place to be carried out by assigned people. Assign responsibility for checking all areas to ensure that o person or animal is overlooked.
  9. Specific actions should include people to close doors, shut off power or fuel sources or to shut down computers and equipment.
  10. Be particularly aware of the possibility of contaminants or toxins getting into the feed or the animals.


  1. How do animals get out of their containment areas?
  2. What needs to happen for the animals to be physically evacuated?
  3. Once removed from the structure or area under threat, where will the animals be moved to?
  4. Do you have a plan in place (with neighbors or friends?) if the animals require off-property housing and transportation?
  5. Do you have accurate records of current inventory of animals? Where is it kept and is it easily accessible?
  6. What needs will your dairy animals have once they have been evacuated?
  7. How will you address the ongoing needs of your animals throughout the duration of the evacuation order or disaster recovery time period?
  8. Information is key during an emergency. Current status and ongoing updates must be communicated keeping everyone informed regarding evacuation routes, road conditions, materials and equipment, the location of resources and other elements.
  9. Decision-makers need access to maps, phone directories and other information regarding supplies and resources.
  10. Emergency plans need to identify what supplies and equipment will be necessary when an emergency occurs.
  11. As much as possible run simulation drills with staff


By developing a dairy disaster plan, you are in a much better position to respond, recover and restore your dairy operation if disaster strikes. Educate all dairy staff about the types of emergencies that may occur. Train them in the proper course of action for emergency situations and, as much as possible, run simulation drills with staff. Make sure they understand the components of your evacuation plan and who will be in charge during an emergency. Being ready for a disaster takes planning and practice. Be prepared.



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“Let’s Talk About Getting Away with Murder!”

I am a huge fan of crime and punishment television shows.  The juicier the episode headline, the more I am prepared to make time to watch and learn how, in under an hour, murder and mayhem can be solved and the guilty parties brought to justice. Unfortunately, even TV shows are not maintaining clear distinctions between black and white, guilty and innocent.

One such program, “How to get away with Murder” leads you to believe one thing while something quite the opposite is closer to the actual truth. 

Which brings me to the charges that activist groups lodge against farming practices. Misdirection is one thing, as long as you have no personal stake in the outcome but when headlines imply “Farmers are Murderers” we are no longer spectators only.  It isn’t that long ago that undercover videos and animal right activists capturing headlines with their horrifying revelations, which would have been considered ludicrous when applied to the dairy industry.  Not so today.

We Can’t  Change the Channel or Wait for the Season Finale

TV series “How to Get Away with Murder” can win ratings by revealing the truth in the last episode.  Unfortunately, real life on dairy farms means you have to go beyond the Neilson ratings.  To remain viable, the ratings that our consumers apply to us really do mean life or death to the longevity of our dairy industry and our self-respect.

There’s No Easy Out!  Be Prepared to Answer Difficult Questions

Once you’ve managed to reign in that first desire to give back as good as you’re getting, it’s time to respond smartly. If you’re attacked on social media or through live news or written media, give yourself a cooling down period and then respond with something positive, something pro-active and, at the same time, recognize the position of the challenger. Don’t let negativity fill you with anger.  Taking attacks personally only allows your emotions to cloud your judgment. Nothing good will come of acting irrationally. Of course, all of this assumes that you are running your dairy ethically and responsibly.  There is never any excuse for cutting corners on human or animal health, care, and management.


It rarely happens that an attack comes along when you have everything at hand to diffuse the situation. By their very nature attacks are meant to blindside you. Thinking on your feet when emotions are running high is difficult for anyone.  When you feel that it is unjustified, you are at an even further disadvantage.  Having a good game plan is one way to be prepared.  Sinking to the level of the accusers, is rarely successful, so let’s use the word ATTACK itself as a six-step acronym for the best response:

A: Always Answer and Acknowledge:

When it comes to attacks on farm practices, both producers and consumers have a vested interest in making sure that food is healthy and safe. Acknowledge that we share the same goal and attempt to answer their concerns.  Running for cover is not a solution.

T: Take Time.

When someone gives you the finger verbally or in actual fact, try your best to respond with a thumbs up. There must be something positive in the situation that you can build upon. At the very least, it is an opportunity to begin a dialogue instead of a beat down.

T: Tell the Truth.

Sometimes the simplest response is the best response. All dairy managers have put serious thought and effort into providing good conditions for their dairy herd. Honestly sharing the planning that goes into making it possible for each dairy animal to live up to their best potential is a terrific way to move toward less angry observers and to influence supportive dairy consumers.

A: Agvocate with Anecdotes.

We all have stories about the work we do. Anecdotes always gain more ground than anger. Tell stories that speak honestly to the concerns of the attacker.  When there is fear that you’re uncaring, respond with examples that they can relate to.

C: Connect and Change.   

Ultimately you want those who have attacked your farming practices to have a change of mind. The best thing you can do is to try to determine what is igniting their negative viewpoint. When you know the situation that is influencing their perceptions, you have an opportunity to answer in a way that doesn’t demean their concerns but, at the same time, helps them to grow their understanding.

K: Know when to quit

It is one thing to welcome, give and take viewpoints with those who have genuine questions and concerns, but it is important to know when to draw the line. If things get out of hand, and shouting or name calling begins, it’s time to stop.

Will you be able to fix everything? Probably not.  But a positive attitude and outlook can be a game-changer over time.

Many of the concerns raised by non-farm people stem from the fact that they humanize cows.

They attribute their feelings to the needs of the dairy cow. Rather than debate the inherent differences between people and bovines, it is a much better idea to build on the understandings they can relate to. Everyone understands needs for food, warmth and comfort.

Social Media and Angry Outbursts

The online dialogue we enjoy with most people on The Bullvine or through The Milk House is enriched by the varied perspectives of those who bring their concerns to the forum. When discussion goes too far, we have the ability to moderate the conversation or ban or delete those who merely want to use the page as a platform for their attack viewpoint. We have also had a face to face confrontations, where the only choice was to agree to disagree and excuse ourselves from the situation. The majority of our audience is interested in moving forward not tearing apart. Our time and energy is for those who consume the dairy products that dairy farmers are so passionate about providing. Walking away may leave the door open for better discussion another day.

Where Does Misinformation Come From?

Everyone is entitled to hold their own opinions and concerns, and that includes strong feelings about the way the food they eat goes from the farm to the table.  It is only natural to seek out information on how that happens.  Unfortunately, with all the benefits of modern day information exchange, there are opportunities for error. What sources do attackers use?

Newspaper headlines?  Undercover videos?  Emotional outbursts from activists? Only after getting a better grasp of where the question is coming from, you will you be able to give the best answers. The key to increasing their understanding is learning what practical experience they have had up until now.  If it’s all through media or hearsay, it would be great for you to set up an opportunity for them to visit a farm.

Reflect their concerns with examples they relate to.

For example, we are often asked why animals are taken from their mothers, raised in hutches, undergo clipping or hoof trimming and many other questions usually arising from seeing animals at local fairs or cattle shows.  There are numerous ways to relate each of these concerns to many of the health and safety protocols used by responsible parents.  The main goal is to manage bacteria, infection, and clean food issues in a farm setting — whether it’s in a barn or a field. Calves are not born in sterile hospital rooms and throughout their lives, decisions must be made to prevent them from being infected by environmental pathogens or by germs from other animals.  Nutritionists, Veterinarians, dairy staff, work 24/7 to give them the best opportunity for healthy growth and to eventually become producers of healthy milk.  Most people can relate to this responsible team approach.

Turning Foes into Friends

For the majority of activists, their hope is that they can sway public opinion away from supporting farmers.  Always respond with a calm, level head. You probably can’t change their opinions and can only hope that your responsible actions will be seen by those who are reasonable in their evaluation.  It is unfortunate that there are extremists who go beyond verbal challenges to tactics of harassment and intimidation, and this too greatly diminishes public support for their position.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

When you’re under attack, there is a rush of adrenaline in the hurry to defend and respond.  The key thing to remember when responding to attacks is to LISTEN. Always try to diffuse drama with dialogue.  After all, neither side wants the other to “Get away with murder!” Hear! Hear!



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The Future of the Dairy Cattle Genetics Industry – 2016 Holstein World Conference Video

Join the Bullvine’s Andrew Hunt as he shares what major changes have occurred recently in the dairy genetics industry and what the future holds.  This presentation was part of the 2016 Holstein World Conference held in Argentina. Areas covered in this video include:

  1. Genomics
  2. Sexed Semen
  3. IVF
  4. Epigenomics
  5. Nutrigenomics
  6. Gene Editing

About the Presenter

Having grown up a rural dairy farm in southern Ontario, Andrew learned early in life the value of community and a hard day’s work. Leveraging that experience and work ethic, Andrew started his own Animal Genetics marketing company that launched some of the most engaging and innovative campaigns. Broadening his horizons brought Andrew to the world of corporate leadership, sales and marketing where he helped many fortune 500 companies increase performance. These successes lead to the founding of the Inbound Sales Network, the fastest growing lead generation company in the world. Inbound Sales Network leverages the power of a “virtual” network of sales and marketing experts to provide world-class solutions at a fraction of the cost of traditional ad agencies. It’s a new kind of marketing company for the new way companies do business. With over 100,000 followers and subscribers, Andrew truly is a world leader.

Prepping calves for successful group feeding – Robotics conference

Join Dr. Bob James from Virginia Tech as he discusses how to successfully preparing and raise heifers in group housing environments. Dr James covers everything from the very start with dry cow nutrition for optimal body condition and health, through coordination of facilities and people, colostrum management, and much more. You won’t want to miss this insightful presentation by Dr James.

About The Presenter

DELAVAL - VMS2016-01-34Dr. Bob James is the dairy extension project leader in the Dept. of Dairy Science with additional responsibilities in teaching and research. He received the University Academy of Teaching Excellence Award in 2010. Bob’s research has focused on management of growing calves and heifers, and a Jersey milk replacer was developed based upon Virginia Tech studies in which he participated. Most recently, his research has focused on sanitation and management of automated calf feeding systems. He is a founding member of the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association and served as the conference chairperson several times. Bob received his B. S. degree from the University of Delaware and M.S. and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. After two years on the faculty at West Virginia University, he returned to Virginia Tech. Bob has made presentations and consulted with calf ranches, dairies and feed companies in more than 20 U.S. states, Canada, South America , Asia and Europe.

How to Make the Facebook 10 Most Wanted List

There are numerous good reasons why you don’t want your name to be on a MOST WANTED criminals list.   But today we are going to talk about 10 good reasons to work hard to get your dairy farm to be on a MOST WANTED FACEBOOK list. To be a Facebook Most Wanted you need to identified, recognized and sought after. Let’s look at ways you can use this form of social media to capture positive attention.

  1. Post an Action Photo
    Share photos of your employees in action. Show photos of changing seasonal activities around the farm. It’s especially good to show staff as they handle the animals, from calving to milking. Get your readers in on the action. Post two or three and ask for readers to “like” the selection or choose their favorite. When a new calf is born, ask for suggestions for names.  Give them the parameters you’re working in.  For example, the name must start with letter “M” or fit in with the “Domino Family”.
  2. Look Behind-the-Scenes
    Quite often people think of just one activity on the dairy farm, and that is usually milking. You can post pictures that show how your business operates behind the scenes. This lets them see your office or shots of the variety of people who come to the farm and gives them a more dynamic understanding of how full each day is. When they see the large number of people you interact with: veterinarians, consultants, numerous feed suppliers and of course, the big tanker trucks that pick up the milk – they will gain an appreciation for how much organization and logistics it takes to get milk from the stable to the table.
  3. Show the Funny Side of the Farm
    Many non-farmers have romanticized ideas of how easy, simple and bucolic life on a dairy farm must be. We all know that there is a lot of hard work involved in this 24/7 career, but there are also opportunities to acknowledge the lighter, brighter and fun side of working with animals on a farm.  The previously mentioned animal shots are a start to winning engaged followers, but many farm families are also creative in the way they bring togetherness and fun to their routine.  Picnics in the field.  Shots of future farmers with their favorite “pet” calf.  Family conversations taking place anywhere on the farm, from haylofts to manure pits to leaning on the top rails to look at animals.   I am fully convinced that this is how our family learned to look at life “from both sides of the fence.” Life on the farm is hard work but it is never boring or dull, and there’s always room for laughter and fun.  This humanizes food producers and is something that will benefit us too as we count — and post — our bovine blessings!
  4. “Let’s Talk!”
    Sometimes when we feel that dairy farmers are understood; we bemoan the fact that we don’t have time to defend ourselves against what seems like constant criticism. Rather than worry about what we aren’t doing right, by using Facebook we have the opportunity to start a conversation — or a monolog — about what we’re doing right.  What we are hoping for is to engage our audience in affirming dairying as a business.  Instead of just seeking for a “like” when you give a status update, give your non-farming viewers an opportunity to share their perspective.  Instead of “I’m off to the barn for milking at 4m.” you can say, “Headed out for the 4 a.m. milking and ask, “What do you do to get your morning started right?”
  5. “Can you help me?”
    People love to answer questions. Even more, than that they like to help solve problems. When you are mystified about non-dairy concerns, you can honestly ask for clarification. It’s a great way to build trust.  There is no need to whine or be negative about bad press, but as you build Facebook followers, you will naturally have some questions raised about your animal care of farm practices.  If you deal with the questions openly and honestly, you will have readers who become more invested and engaged in understanding what dairy farming involves.
  6. “Show Off Your Employees”
    Whether it’s a small family farm or very large dairy production center, another great way to show your personality is to show off your employees. Post pictures of your calf care team.  Post an interview with your herd manager.  If you are installing something new … make and post a video diary of your staff getting the job done.  The best thing about this kind of content is that it humanizes dairying and contributes to the image of teamwork between employees and animals that makes everything flow smoothly.
  7. “Share a Pat on the Back!”
    Another facet of recognizing the human side of your dairy team involves congratulating them! This includes simple birthday and anniversary congrats but also recognizes extra-curricular studies or certification that your staff earns, as thy continue to grow their dairy strengths and abilities.  This one small pat on the back – shared openly on Facebook – builds both self-esteem and teamwork.  A simple “way to go” actually goes a long way toward building for the future.
  8. Keep Calm and React to Controversies Promptly
    In this 21st Century, there is always something controversial going on. Sometimes it’s not directly related to dairying, and you can comfortably piggyback your opinions on the news by offering your viewpoint.  This can generate a lot of buzz – especially if your position is an alternative one. But, while this may cause arguments, it is still more comfortable than when the controversy directly involves you or your farm. When you are in the middle of controversy, the key is to react promptly and honestly. But don’t just say your opinion. Support your position with facts and evidence.  Keep calm.  Don’t over-react.  Accept responsibility if that is called for. Things happen. The goal is to keep the conversation open. Name calling and character assassination can destroy all the good that you have been trying to build.
  9. Give Testimonials
    Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if all our hard work earned us those lovely little testimonial pieces that scroll by on Facebook news pages? We may not have the celebrity status for this, but there is nothing stopping us from being a promoter of our fellow dairy breeders.  What is surprising about the idea of recognizing with photos and/or videos of what other dairy people are doing, is the fact that so few people take some time to do it.  At the end of the day, the best promotion comes from the stories we share – and that get shared — about the great job we are doing. Is your dairy neighbor generous with his time in leading 4-H?   Has another local dairy farm consistently topped the production or management lists?  Do you know someone who donates produce, time or finances to those who are less fortunate?  Facebook is excellent at giving a face to the heroes among us.
  10. A Facebook Farm Tour is Worth a 1000 Words
    It goes without saying that those farms which have the staff and time to give tours unanimously report a growing level of support from the public who takes part in the opportunity. When non-farmers are able to get face to face with dairy staff, they rarely leave without a heightened understanding of the passion that inspires dairy folks. For the rest of us, Facebook is the answer. Sometimes all you have to do is answer the recurring questions with a picture or quick video. The main thing here is to engage with what people want to know. It’s a close as you can get to a personal meeting. Use your virtual tour as a way to open the door to ongoing trust and communication.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Try some of these ten methods to get your Farm Facebook page on the most sought after lists. It’s good for the dairy industry when farm Facebook postings become Most Wanted. To miss this opportunity would be a crime.



To learn how to get your farm on Facebook download this free guide.



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