Two well-known Canadian barns have opened their doors to a decorated Australian cow family.
The news bubbled up in the lead-up to Australasia’s premier dairy show – International Dairy Week (IDW) – which will be held at Tatura (two hours north of Melbourne) between January 17 and 22.
This year’s Holstein judge is Pierre Boulet, from Montmagny, Québec and he is at the epicentre of the story.
Pierre and his partner, Katie Coates, milk 110 Holsteins. Pierre also deals in thousands of cattle annually for commercial dairies and export. He is the co-owner and auctioneer for Les Encans Boulet.
Pierre’s keen eye to find the good ones and develop them is well documented (particularly) through the achievements of three EX97 global household names in the business – Thrulane James Rose EX-97-2E 3*, Bruynland Storm Kendra EX97 and Loyalyn Goldwyn June EX97.
In November, Pierre bought milking yearling Fraeland After Bash VG87 for $24,500 from Fraeland Holsteins, in Ontario, through the Sale of the Stars at The Royal.
After Bash’s granddam was Australia’s two-time IDW Grand Champion Holstein (2005 and 2007) – Fairvale Jed Bonnie 94-ET EX-1E.
The Aftershock daughter is out of an EX95 Goldwyn, which Ontario dairyman Steve Fraser (Fraeland Farms), imported in a package of embryos from Jed Bonnie. Steve came into the embryos because he is the co-owner of Jed Bonnie with Leslie Farms – his good friends and colleagues in Australia – who managed Jed Bonnie on behalf of the partnership during the height of her career from their northern Victorian base.
Steve, who last saw Jed Bonnie aged 15 when he visited Australia in 2014, says her Goldwyn daughter is a head-turner and a favourite at Fraeland.
“Even this fall, when she was milking about 19 months, visitors were amazed at the cow for her dairy length, udder and her mobility for an eight-year-old cow,” Steve said.
“We don’t fit her into our program, we try to work with hers. She is quite the cow to work with. She is the boss around here. She is an extremely dairy cow with an awesome udder. She may not have had the stature to run with some of the cows at the Royal or WDE in her prime. But she is fast becoming a great brood cow.
“I have sold heifers locally for people to show that are now developing them into VG two-year-olds. I have exported embryos from her to Europe, New Zealand, Australia and even sold some locally. She is due early March to Doorman and she will be flushed heavily again next year.
“With the few daughters she has, and how they have developed, we would really like work with her reproductively and not worry about how much we show her now.”
Although showing is no longer a priority, the Goldwyn held her own, winning Reserve All Ontario Junior two-year-old in 2009, 1st Jr 2yr and Res Int. Champ Autumn Opportunity 2009 and 2nd 4yr Dufferin Wellington show 2011. She was also 2nd 5yr and Res Grand Dufferin Wellington 2012, 2nd 5yr Autumn Opportunity show 2012 and 1st aged cow and Hon. Men Champ Dufferin Wellington 2014.
“I do rate the Aftershock as a tremendous young heifer with an extremely high-ceiling future. She has an incredible udder. She is so very correct through her loin, rump and rear leg. Currently she lacks a bit of balance. She is very tall with an open rib but you would like to deepen her rib and give her some more width of chest. To be honest, she is made quite a bit like her granddam, Jed Bonnie, as a first lactation animal. If all goes well, she could be quite a cow in a year or two.”
Pierre confirmed he had big plans for the young cow.
“I noticed her before the sale and kept my eye on her in the ring in hopes of buying her,” Pierre said. “She has an exceptional bone quality, she’s very dairy and has a great udder. When cows have feet and legs like hers, you know they’ll be around for a long time. To top it off she has a great pedigree behind her, and she comes from a good family.
“She’s due back in the fall so we will be working with her to get her in top shape to hopefully bring to the fall shows,” he said. “I really like bringing that kind of pedigree into the barn with a good sire stack and strong family because it’s the type of families that you want to breed from and develop.”
The root of the family comes from Master Breeders Fairvale Holsteins, owned by Ross and Leanne Dobson, in Tasmania.
Fairvale is Australia’s most successful prefix when it comes to breeding Grand Champion Holsteins at IDW – despite being separated from the mainland by 240km of ocean and expensive transit costs.
Still, three cows – bred and reared at Fairvale – have collectively won five IDW Champion Holstein titles (for three different exhibitors) between 2005 and 2014.
The anchors for the Bonnie family internationally is the EX95 Goldwyn at Fraeland and an EX94 Derry daughter at Bluechip Genetics in Australia (Fairvale’s longtime partner in marketing its profile animals).
The Derry, now 10, was the lucky result of the single C-grade embryo Fairvale and Bluechip retained after they sold Jed Bonnie to Leslie Farms and Fraeland in 2004 soon after she had won Reserve Champion Holstein at IDW milking over 300 days, set for IDW 2005.
Fairvale and Bluechip have since sold 40 embryos from the Derry, and 30 live animals. Ten Bonnies remain at Bluechip – including the 2015 IDW Junior Champion, Bluechip Goldchip Bonnie (x VG87 Shottle x EX94 Derry x EX-1E Jed Bonnie). The Goldchip will return to IDW this year as a milking senior two-year-old.
“Over the years, Bluechip have developed and shown many Bonnie family members from their branch of the family,” Steve said. “Our Goldwyn Bonnie does not have as many daughters as the Derry, but they all have been showable and marketable and I am starting to admire and like the consistency in which this family breeds for show type,” he added.
Fraeland has an 88-point second calved Sid and two October 2015-born Bradnick daughters. Goldwyn Bonnie is carrying a Doorman heifer and two more Doorman heifers will be born in the spring.
Pierre has never visited Australia before. Now, he has a vested interest in seeing what the country has to offer – including seeing the full sister to After Bash sell at IDW (she will be offered by Windy Vale Holsteins).
He also has Australian partners in Goldwyn June (Diamond Genetics – Justin Walsh, Phil Duncan and Matt Warnes) in addition to Kevin Doeberiener, of Ohio. The final piece to the jigsaw puzzle will be landing on Australian soil and seeing what the top cows in the southern hemisphere look like lined up in the ring together.
“I’ve always heard of the quality of the Australian genetics and wanted to make it to the show for several years,” Pierre said. “I guess the opportunity just never presented itself, and it all seems to be happening around the same time. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to visit a bit and check the cow families out.”
This is a journey that begs the question – could it signal a subtle shift as North American breeders widen their net looking for fresh genetics in a market, saturated with core families?
The Bullvine will be at IDW capturing pictures, interviews and results with CrazyCow In Print – the publications known the world over for bringing the complete story.