Archive for January 2022

Horror Trip Finishes on a High Note

The top price for the Glenalla and Snowfed Tag sale was $13,000 and it was paid for four-year-old, Glenalla Links Clover, who went on to finish third in the four-year-old class which included the Reserve Senior Champion Jersey and Best Udder of the Jersey Show.

The three-and-a-hour hour ferry ride passes through some treacherous water between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

When 14 hours turned into 60 calamitous hours trucking 33-head from the South to the North Island, the Gilbert family knew they were up against it more than usual at the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE). 


Just north of Cheviot in North Canterbury their truck’s clutch went, which left them stranded on the side of the road with the cows on-board (top and bottom) from 9.45pm until 3.30am the next morning, when they were towed 92km back to a mechanic’s garage in Rangiora.


The cavalry arrived soon after in the form of the Stewart family, who run Cresslands Farms, just out of Rangiora. Graham Stewart brought their truck in, they off-loaded the cows between trucks in two trips, and took them back to Cresslands. At that point the cows and heifers had been on the truck for 14 hours. The Cresslands team, which include Josh Norton and Andrew Stewart, then got them milked out and into Cressland’s show paddocks on hay racks to rest and recover.

Westbourne T Bone Yoko finished 4th in the five and six-year-old class that her herdmate won. She didn’t sell.

The replacement truck they arranged also broke down (before they loaded up) and they had to find a back-up for the back-up truck. The next truck got to the ferry, only to be turned away because it didn’t have a booking – a booking that Peter Gilbert had an email confirming. But the cows were turned away nonetheless, and had to be trucked 28km back to Blenheim, and unloaded in the saleyards until the booking could be re-scheduled for later that day. They finally arrived in Feilding Saturday morning, having been milked four times in 60 hours.

Glenalla and Snowfed Farms knew they had the toughest recovery to settle their team if everything went perfectly. Let alone if there were problems. They also had the added extra pressure because they were offering their whole team for sale in a “Sell the Show String” Tag sale (excluding their clients’ animals who either boarded at their farm, or who were showing in their team).

The Tag sale format they are using was new for New Zealand, but it is common throughout the world. It involved Glenalla and Snowfed pricing their animals during the week. If the price worked for buyers, they would be sold.


Then, Glenalla and Snowfed – like most of the showgrounds – heard the news that the New Zealand government had gone to the red traffic light COVID-19 protection framework – limiting exhibitor numbers on-ground to 100 (plus event staff).

It was more bad news for a first-time Tag sale that depended on people and energy.

Premier Tequila Sweet won the five and six-year-old class for Glenalla and Snowfed Farms.

“It worried me when no-one was going to be at the show apart from exhibitors,” Peter said. “It was scary enough doing the sale, I thought, and it became a little bit more scary when there was no public there.”

It’s was another lesson in tenacity and teamwork.

“We had sort of decided if we could get a 50% clearance, we’d be pretty happy.”

They achieved a remarkable clearance, selling 17 of the 21-head they offered (81%) for a gross turnover of around $80,000.

The top price was $13,000 for their four-year-old Jersey, Glenalla Links Clover, who went on to finish third in the four-year-old class which included the Reserve Senior Champion Jersey (and Best Udder of the Jersey Show).

“It’s fair to say we are pretty thrilled with how it went. We always said we were prepared to sell our best, so we showed that we will,” Peter said.

He was also thrilled to see a number of young breeders buy.

“We always hoped that would happen, and that’s why we had some reasonably cheap lots in there.”

When it came to getting the cows out on show day, Peter credited the team around them for being able to turn the cows around in time to have a competitive show.

They would go on and win their first ever Premier Exhibitor banner.

“I was amazed how they came out. It was a real team effort, but I think we’ll all be pretty glad when the cows are safely home,” he said.

Glenalla and Snowfed Farms faced the toughest road to get their teams out on-song after a nightmare trip. Premier Tequila Sweet won the five and six-year-old class.

The good news is the homeward-bound truck home will only be carrying around 19-head as a result of the sale (including animals that were sold that are going to South Island buyers and some new animals that will board at Glenalla and Snowfed).

Safe travels Glenalla and Snowfed.

The Top 10 Editor’s Choice Articles of 2021

Entering a New Year gives The Bullvine two good reasons to review the year just past. The obvious first look allows us to (ascertain) whether goals were achieved. Secondly, this look back reveals what challenges remain. Of course, everyone reading this did not face the same choices in 2021.

The right choice for a dairy breeder might be less than perfect or even unnecessary for a dairy scientist or the milk marketing department in your area. Relevant action is different for a dairy veterinarian than it is for a supplier of genetic or nutrition services.

Every year we enjoy this process and are pleased to invite you to join us in reviewing 2021 from your dairy point of view.


Dairy problem solving and dairy decision-making belong together. Nevertheless, before dairy breeders can use current and future genetic indexes to breed problem-free dairy cows, they must identify what problem they are targeting.

This article starts with identification and then provides 5 steps to undertake. From the outset, the writer makes it clear that “Dairy farmers and their advisors must be open-minded in sire selection and include traits that will reduce animals with problems.” In 2021 being open-minded was intended to allow breeders to approach their herd genetics problems and find new strategies. (Read more: How Milk Producers can Breed Problem Free Dairy Cows)


Dairy breeding would be much simpler if we only had ourselves to please but producing what buyers need and will pay for cannot be overlooked. In prioritizing dairy managers are aware that feed costs are seventy percent of the variable on-farm costs. As a result, income over feed costs (IOFC) is being more closely monitored and used by dairy farmers and their advisors. Feed efficiency indexes are a new tool in the genetic toolbox. Many feed efficiency indexes are published for breeders to use and other countries, primarily from western Europe, are developing more. Five International indexes are pointed out in this article. (Read more: Feed Efficiency Indexes – Which One Will You Use?)


There is a momentary temptation to substitute “high-ranking politicians” for “high-ranking sires” when looking back at this article.  Is it too much of a reach to recognize that politics has an impact on dairy farming?  Having said that no matter what you choose you will face limiting factors.  In 2021, The Bullvine encouraged all dairy cattle breeders to expand their use of genetic indexes. “As sires account for over 90% of a herd’s genetic improvement, refining and focusing sire selection to include more economically important traits will be a wise business decision.” (Read more: Today’s High-Ranking Sires Are Not All Equal)


Dairy farms in the US are consolidating at a faster rate today than any other agricultural commodity. Depending on your personal situation that can mark new beginnings or a fast ending. We realize that consolidation does not boil down to a simple “either” “or” decision. In simplest actual fact terms, less than 6% of dairy farms are milking almost 60% of the total number of cows. At the top end of the scale, the average herd size is more than 3,000 cows. The total number of cattle is not getting smaller even as the total number of farms is dropping dramatically but this article notes, “It is all too easy to get mired in milk, money and politics.” (Read more: The Future of Dairy Consolidation)

#6. STUD WARS MAY ’21 Attack of the Clones

Modern society seems to be driven by competition.  Having said that, we need to take a moment to acknowledge that progress is never made by simply standing still. As in the national dairy herd, national AI organizations are consolidating. In this article, which is graphically supported by colorful pie charts, dairy breeders are given numerical percentages that show who is winning the Stud wars — based on the selected criteria that drives decision making. More than 10 lists are analyzed including TPI; NM$; PTAT PROVEN; PTAT GENOMIC; POLLED; RED and WHITE; PROVEN SIRE LINEUP; GENOMIC SIRE LINE-UP and TOP PROVEN SIRE LINEUP. (Read more: Stud Wars May ’21 Attack of the Clones)

#5. LEARN FROM THE BEST HERDS – A Canadian Perspective

We are midway through our Top 10 and we are looking back nine months to present another dairy perspective. Dairy Farmers gauge their practices and performance by comparing their herds to those of fellow farmers.  In Canada, one way to compare dairy herds that participate in Lactanet’s recording, testing and management services is the annual Herd Management Score Report. The Bullvine thanks Harley Nicholson for his generous time and commitment in conducting the survey. Special thanks go to the 12 progress dairy farmers who have achieved superior performance and willingly shared their vision for their farms and herds. (Read more: Learn from the Best Herds)


At this time one year ago, we probably thought we were nearing the end of the Coronovirus, however, dairying worldwide continues, at this very moment “in the continuing shadow of Covid”. Re-reading this article, we see how even as everything remains the same, there is much that is changing. Were we ready for the challenge?  Did we meet it?  Are we better prepared to move forward now? (Read More: Dairy Farming in the Continuing Shadow of Covid)


When this video was presented we urged everyone to “get inspired by the mega-successful Master Breeder Marc Comtois and his son Steve as they present this inside look at Comestar with their move to DeLaval robots.”  We also extended thanks to the Semex Alliance and DeLaval for presenting this great session.

Certainly, 2021 was a year where unusual connections and improved alliances were the order of the day.  Dairy Breeders are justifiably proud of progressive breeding, ideas, and management.  There is much to learn from this video produced by Comestar, Semex Alliance, DeLaval. (Read more: Robots at Comestar Holsteins – Video Tour)


Despite lockdowns and cancellations, THE BULLVINE once again rose to the challenge of providing their loyal audience with interactive competition.  Many in the dairy industry see themselves as amateur geneticists and enjoy the thrill of the hunt for first place.  Sometimes there are those who reach for the golden ticket by picking the wild card. Whether visiting barn stalls, show rings or browsing through online pictures and videos, dairy amateurs turn into dairy professionals in no time at all.  The Breeders Choice Awards, like this annual Bullvine review, offers the added stimulation of competition.  The prize and bragging rights are keenly sought after. (Read more: Breeders Choice Awards) 


It is appropriate that our look back at 2021 climaxes with an article that wraps up the best parts of everything we value in the story of Erbacres Snapple Shakira – The New International Superstar.  Here we find a great story, exceptional breeding, hard work and vision, interweaving in the best of all possible ways! The people are passionate.  The love of this very special queen of the showring is heartwarming. “With so many facts already recorded in the historically exceptional story of Shakira, the question becomes, “Where will Shakira go from here?” Each person who has known her best answers from a different perspective, but they all share the same confidence, “Whatever happens next, Shakira, will continue to set new records and leave outstanding genetics.” And so we wrap up an exceptional year with an exceptional dairy cow who epitomizes the mantra, “On with the Dairy Show!”  (Read more: Erbacres Snapple Shakira – The New International Superstar)


As we at The Bullvine wish you “Happy New Year”, we extend sincere thanks for the hard work, discipline, and determination of readers, dairy breeders, photographers, videographers, writers, and dairy industry businesses that accepted new responsibilities during these sometimes strange and often difficult times. 2021 taught us that dairy must continue to have an agile, flexible culture and be willing to adapt to changes as fast as possible. It is a privilege for The Bullvine to journey beside you into 2022 in search of the best that dairying has to offer.




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2021 Breeders Choice Awards – Tanbark Trail Edition – The Finals

Once again, COVID-19 has certainly changed the world we live in.  Again this year with there has been a very limited number of shows, and as a result, there has never been a more important time for the Breeders Choice Awards – Tanbark Trail Edition, a competition that lets you the breeder decide. So make your vote count. The top 10 animals as per the votes from the qualification round in each category will then compete for the finals.  This phase will run from January 14th to the 27th 2022.   



Please ignore: “If you are human, leave this field blank”

2021 Breeders Choice Awards – Tanbark Trail Edition – Qualification Round

Once again, COVID-19 has certainly changed the world we live in.  Again this year with there has been a very limited number of shows, and as a result, there has never been a more important time for the Breeders Choice Awards – Tanbark Trail Edition, a competition that lets you the breeder decide. So make your vote count.

This year the completion will be broken into three rounds:

  • Round 1 – Qualification
    This phase will run from January 6th to 13th.  It is open to all animals who exhibited on the tanbark trail in the 2021 calendar year, with many of the top animals be prepopulated in the nomination forms. Voting during this stage will only take place on
  • Round 2 – The Finals
    This phase will run from January 14th to the 27th 2022.  The top 10 animals as per the votes from the qualification round in each category will then compete for the finals.  Voting during this stage will take place on as well as on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
  • Round 3 – The Championships
    The phase will run from February 3rd to 10th.  Each category winner will compete for Junior, Intermediate and Grand Championships as applicable to their age.  Voting during this stage will take place on as well as on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).


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