Archive for Investment Advice

Used Car Salesman, Ducks, and the Future of the Dairy Cattle Breeding Industry

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

The National Auctioneers Association has the following key codes of conduct that are requirements for membership:

  • Members must not build unreasonable expectations about the outcome of an auction in the mind of a potential Client in order to secure the Client’s business.
  • Members should conduct their business affairs so as to promote a positive image of their business and therefore the auction profession.
  • Members shall provide customers with a clear understanding of all the terms and conditions of the auction.
  • It is highly recommended that Members communicate terms and conditions of the sale in written form prior to the commencement of the bidding.
  • Members should, to assure better service to the seller and to prevent misunderstandings, enter into written agreements or, at a minimum, clear oral agreements that set forth the specific terms and conditions of the engagement.
  • Members have an obligation to conduct their business affairs in a professional manner, developing their contract forms with this Article in mind.
  • Members must ascertain all pertinent facts necessary to implement a professional marketing campaign.

For the most part, some elite dairy cattle genetics auctions in North America are like the Wild West and only choose to adhere to these codes when it suits them.  Things like full disclosure of buyers lists (a must for a public auction), no reserve or agreed upon minimums on lots unless publically disclosed prior to the auction, all monies must be paid out in full at time of sale unless mutually agreed upon by all parties prior to the sale.

There are some egos in the dairy cattle breeding industry that are as big as or even larger than real estate mogul, television superstar, and author Donald Trump. One of the things that has made Donald so rich is his ability to identify and close lucrative deals. The challenge is that in the dairy industry we have some who think they are Donald Trump, but their actions are more similar to a used car salesman.

Personally, I have the theory that ­­the bigger the “show” someone has to put on, the bigger the scam is that they are trying to hide. When the numbers makes sense and the potential investment pencils out well (Read more: The Bullvine Dairy Cow Investment Calculator), you don’t need to put on the extravaganza and make it into a “party” to get people to attend. Discerning investors will attend because that is exactly what good investors do. They buy investments that will make them money.   They don’t need to be plied with booze or schmoozed with parties to get them to open up their wallets. The smart investments do the talking for them.

Don’t get me wrong. There are often times at these sales where the investment makes sense.  That is why you see many AI companies coming and buying these animals.  They have penciled out that the cost of acquisition for these females, combined with the cost of producing elite bulls from this purchase, is a wise investment for their organization.  That is because they have done the math and realize that in the long run the cost of this program combined with the ability to control their own product development is cheaper than continually sourcing their bulls directly from seed stock producers (Read more: SHOULD A.I. COMPANIES OWN FEMALES?,  WHY GOOD BUSINESS FOR A.I. COMPANIES CAN MEAN BAD BUSINESS FOR DAIRY BREEDERS and MASTER BREEDER KILLED IN TRIPLE HOMICIDE).  Unfortunately, in the long run, it is actually a bad thing to sell to these companies as they will be buying less and less from seed stock producers as they produce their own bulls.

For the past few years, I have been writing about this very issue and how it will kill the seed stock industry. (Read more: WAS THE GENOMIC INVESTOR BOOM NOTHING MORE THAN A BIG PONZI SCHEME?WHO KILLED THE MARKET FOR GOOD DAIRY CATTLE? and HOW I KILLED THE DAIRY CATTLE MARKETING INDUSTRY)  However, this past week I was reminded why things may not entirely become controlled by the A.I. industry and other genetic corporations.  As I was visiting Oakfield Corners Dairy for a Bullvine TV Interview (Oakfield Corners Dairy (OCD) – Dairy Breeder Video Interview) prior to their Spring Sensation Sale (The Oakfield Corners Dairy Spring Sensation Sale) I was reminded that all is not doom and gloom for seed stalk producers. There are certain types of seed stalk producers that will not only compete with the large AI companies, they actually have a competitive advantage over them.  That is because they have a cost effective recipient pool. OCD milks over 6,000 dairy cattle. Even the large AI companies cannot compete with that when running their programs that cost upwards of $5,000 per live calf.

The other factor that became evident when I was chatting with the Lamb family, and the team at OCD is that they are just great quality people.  There was no sense that I was being “sold” a bill of goods.  They are great salt of the earth people, who are smart business people running a great business.  I was not being plied with booze, or being talked into joining some buyers group that never materialized.  And that’s probably why when one of the highest GTPI (+2765) heifers, OCD Delta Missy,  did not get knocked down at some ridicules price like $1,000,000 or even $300,000. Instead, she was sold for $190,000 to the Progenesis program from Ontario.  There was not some buyers group that needed to be pulled together after the sale, there was not some deal that had to be worked out afterward.  There was a clear, smart investment at a good price for all parties involved.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

These events have helped rebuild my faith in the elite dairy cattle genetics marketplace.  Sure there are going to be significant challenges, in particular for those running small to mid-size programs when it comes to competing with the large operators and the AI companies.  But it reminded me that even in today’s digital age, where you can see pictures and videos of animals selling in a public auction,  it’s still important to invest with  people you know and trust.  For me ,as a result of my personal dealings, that means people like Brian Craswell Auctions, Ferme Blondin, Pierre Boulet Auctions, Norm Nabholz, MD-Hill Auctions, Kueffner Holsteins, Jeff Stephens, The Cattle Exchange, Tom Morris and Blue Chip Genetics are all people that I know and trust. I don’t get that icky used car salesman sense when dealing with them.  I am not saying that you should only use these people.  What I am saying is work and invest with people that have good reputations. If you don’t know them personally, ask someone who does.  If you don’t get a good sense about it, remember Donald Trump’s famous quote “Sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make”.


Not sure how much to spend on that great 2 year old or heifer?
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Are you getting the Maximum Return for your Investment in Dairy Cattle Genetics?

It is a fact that dairy farmers do not need to own animals of documented and high genetic merit in order to produce milk. Many very successful milk producers use sires of more than one crossbreed to rotationally cross their herds. Purebred breeders planning to be profitable in the future should have a clear plan for how they intend investments in high genetic merit animals (aka purebreds) to augment the revenue from their farm.

Go Big or Go Home

The Bullvine has published articles on how to invest wisely in dairy genetics. Bruce Jobson’s article Roybrook Revisited on the famous Roybrook Herd contains Roy Ormston’s thought that “all breeders need to invest in the highest quality seed stock they can afford and life is too short to start with poor stock”. Andrew Hunt’s article “6 Ways to Invest $50,000 in Dairy Cattle Genetics” identifies that the best return on investment (+47%) comes when you invest $20,000 to $25,000 in the two best high genomic heifers you can find from top families. His second best (+38%) is the purchase of the very best, high genetically ranked, two-year-old. ALL other alternatives will yield a negative ROI.  In purely financial terms, you get more for your money by investing only in the best.

 The $10,000 Question

Pennsylvania dairyman John Kiser got the idea to poll dairy breeders on what how they would invest $10,000 in breeding stock.  He posted the following question to the over 3,000 members on The Milk House discussion group.

You have $10,000 to invest in cattle/embryos or semen. Which would you choose?

  1. Buy 50 embryos from genomic heifers” (basically high production commercial cattle)
  2. Buy 20 embryos from an Excellent cow to make show calves
  3. Buy 1,000 straws of semen from various bulls hoping to cash in later (like the folks selling Goldwyn semen)
  4. Buy one young foundation type of cow

Although John called it a hypothetical question, actually it is very relevant. It covers the choices that every breeder faces when investing to improve the genetics in their herd.

The Top 4 Investment Choices

Here is a summary of the first fifty-two responses to John’s $10,000 question:

  1. Embryos from genomic heifers (15%)
  2. Twenty embryos to make show calves (39%)
  3. Invest in 1000 straws hoping to cash in later (10%)
  4. Buy one foundation cow (36%)
  5. (10 responses selected an option other than those offered)

Clearly the majority of respondents from the Milk House survey are not thinking along the same lines as Master Breeder Roybrook and The Bullvine’s recommendations when it comes to getting returns from their investment in genetics. They fall more in line with another Bullvine article “Master Breeders are not Home Run Hitter’.

 Fantastic Opportunity? Or Waste of Money? How do you spend genetic investment dollars?

Although all dairy operations expect a return on investment, when it comes to genetics, the $10,000 question produced a variety of answers in targeting that goal. It is important to weigh the options in terms of success rate. We will look at them ranked on popular choice and then consider the financial implications.

Buy 1000 straws of various bulls hoping to cash in later: Many respondents mentioned that with the quick turnover of bulls these days this practice no longer made business sense.  One person suggested that ‘elite young sires start out at $100+ and likely with only one in fifty, at best, possibly being in demand in 3-5 years this was sure fire way to have a significant negative ROI.

Embryos from Genomic Heifers: Many commented that they, as yet, did not have enough confidence on genomics to go that route. Although many that did not select this option did say it may well be the best choice for the future. No respondents mentioned it, but investing in embryos from multiple heifers spreads the risk and gives the best opportunity to get a high outlier. Some did mention that $200 per embryo seemed low for unsexed embryos from top heifers, but they recognized that bargains could be had. After all, 2400 to 2500 gTPI heifers can produce 2700+ gTPI calves when mated to elite sires.

Buy a young foundation type of cow:  A popular choice for respondents, this option left open to respondent’s interpretation what a foundation cow is. Assuming that would mean a cow with pedigree, production, classification, cow family and genetic appeal it is a practice many breeders may be most comfortable with when it comes to building the genetic level in their herd. It also has the limiting factor, as some respondents mentioned, of having only one cow and cow family for the herd. As far as ROI, The Bullvines calculations, referred to previously, show an ROI of -77% for this option.

Embryos from an Excellent cow to produce Show Calves: The fact that this was the most popular choice identified that the majority of group members responding were thinking in traditional terms of breeding and generating revenue. None mentioned that only the very best show calves now command the top dollars and that many showy calves from Excellent dams sell in sales for under $3,000. Remember it cost $2,500 to get a heifer to milking age. For what is happening to sale prices consider reading An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions and An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions 2013. Another fact mentioned by one respondent was the fact that putting all your eggs in one basket (one Excellent cow) may not be the wisest decision.

Other Options: 20% of respondents mentioned that they would use the $10,000 differently with the majority preferring to purchase two high genomically indexing heifers that have the indexes and are sound for conformation but they could be the least fancy heifer of a flush. And yes a couple of respondents mentioned using the dollars elsewhere including for other farm improvements or farm family purposes.

Keys to Genetic ROI Success

Success is not something that is automatic when it comes to breeding a top individual animal or an entire herd. Where once breeders determined their success in terms of a single individual animal, success has now moved to where it is not only about animals but also about business success (ROI).

Some keys to being successful in the future are likely to include:

  1. Be prepared for the industry to change as much in the next five years as it has in the past twenty years. The demand for genetics will be focused on the top 1 to 5%.
  2. Have a documented plan covering genetics, marketing and finances as measured by profit. (Read more: What’s the plan?, Flukes and Pukes – What Happens When You Don’t Have a Plan)
  3. Your plan needs to be dynamic, fit your farm, include the continual incorporation of new technology and contain a chapter on human resources to achieve the plan.
  4. A business plan for genetic ROI success also includes using opportunity, consideration of risk and keeping costs under control.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The sale of genetics from your herd in the next few years will change if it has not already done so.  It will be about selling superior not average genetics. Investing for your future returns from genetics needs to be all about business.


Not sure how much to spend on that great 2 year old or heifer?
Want to make sure you are investing your money wisely?
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10 Tips for Purchasing Dairy Cattle Embryos

Now more than ever buying embryos may be one of the best decisions breeders can make to accelerate the rate of genetic advancement in their herds.  With the price of semen going up and the cost of embryos coming down, it  is a great time to think about buying.  In order to help you make the right decision for your herd, the Bullvine asked breeders what advice they would give to breeders who are looking to purchase embryos.  The following are the top tips that we received:

Set Your Goals

There is no question that first you must know your plan, before you invest any money into genetics, embryos, semen or live cattle.  Regardless of your situation, a well-thought-out business plan is necessary before you start spending money on genetics.  Like any other viable business, your farm is more likely to succeed when investing in embryos when your goals and strategy are part of a written business plan.  (Read more: What’s the plan?)  ” You have to know your herd, your cow and yourself before you make even one mating decision.” Points out Ari Ekstein of Quality Farms ltd. (Read more: Quality Holsteins – Well-Deserved Congratulations)  Dann Brady from Ferme Blondin shares this viewpoint  “There is a niche market for so many different breeding goals, don’t try and focus on all of them.  Find where your passion is and builds from there.”  (Read more about Ferme Blondin in our feature article FERME BLONDIN “Passion with a Purpose Builds Success”)

Take No Bull

Considering that the breeder of the embryos you are buying will probably have all the male sales accounted for, you should make sure that you purchase only female embryos.  Buy them reverse sorted female or sexed to eliminate males.  Jerry Jorgensen from Ri-Val-Re Holsteins shares “Before doing anything, set your goals.  What do you want to achieve?  Set YOUR goals and where you want to be.”  (Read more about  Jerry Jorgensen and Ri-Val-Re Holsteins in our feature articles – BREEDING RI-VAL-RE: Where Looking Good in the Stall Is Just As Important As Looking Good On Paper and $10,000 a dose Polled Semen).

KHW Regiment Apple-Red-ET EX-96 DOM  2013 HI Red Impact Cow of the Year  Res Grand Champion, Grand Int'l R&W Show 2013  Grand Champion, Grand Int'l R&W Show 2011  All-American R&W Aged Cow 2011  HI World Champion R&W Cow 2010 Unanimous All-American Jr 2-Yr-Old 2006 All-American R&W Jr 2-Yr-Old 2006 HHM All-American Jr 3-Yr-Old 2007 Nom All-American R&W 5-Yr-Old 2009

KHW Regiment Apple-Red-ET EX-96 DOM
2013 HI Red Impact Cow of the Year
Res Grand Champion, Grand Int’l R&W Show 2013
Grand Champion, Grand Int’l R&W Show 2011
All-American R&W Aged Cow 2011
HI World Champion R&W Cow 2010
Unanimous All-American Jr 2-Yr-Old 2006
All-American R&W Jr 2-Yr-Old 2006
HHM All-American Jr 3-Yr-Old 2007
Nom All-American R&W 5-Yr-Old 2009

It’s a Family Thing

If you are looking to build generations of success, it helps to purchase from cow families that have already proven themselves over multiple generations.  Jimmy Perreault of Vieux Saule Holstein highlights the need to buy from strong pedigrees, which is something they have done very successfully“ (Read more:  Vieux Saule Holstein: Rooted in Family Values).  Families like that of KHW Regiment Apple Red, Quality Charles Francisco or Thrulane James Rose, almost sell themselves.  Pierre Boulet highlights “Thrulane James Rose with all of the success that she has had, she obviously creates an enormous amount of demand for genetics from her and her daughters.”  So this leads him naturally to the most important reason Rose is unique.  “There is a whole other aspect that we have to consider with Rose and that is the publicity that she has generated for us.  A cow like her puts our name out around the globe, attracts people to our farm, and indirectly generates business for the other genetics that we offer.”  Once the word is out, it is a lot easier to share your breeding philosophy and the successes that have come from it.  (Read more: FERME PIERRE BOULET: FIRST COMES LOVE THEN COMES GENETICS)

THRULANE JAMES ROSE EX-97-2E-CAN 3* ALL-CANADIAN MATURE COW 2009,2008 ALL-AMERICAN MATURE COW 2009,2008 GRAND ROYAL 2009,2008,2006 Supreme Champion - World Dairy Expo 2008

GRAND ROYAL 2009,2008,2006
Supreme Champion – World Dairy Expo 2008

Max the Stack

Tried tested and true a cow’s/calf’s sire stack is probably one of the most reliable things you can look at.  Maxime Petitclerc of Ferme Petitclerc, highlights that it’s a must.  “Whether you are looking at high index animals or show winners, their sire stack can go a long way in predicting future breeding ability.  Pierre Boulet comments “When I like what I see, the next thing that I check is the pedigree for the family and the sire stack.  The family is obviously important because a solid family that consistently breeds well takes away a lot of risk.  At the same time, the importance of the sire stack is often disregarded.  When a cow or heifer is backed by several generations of great bulls it gives you the reassurance that there is solid, well proven genetics in her blood.”  (Read more: FERME PIERRE BOULET: FIRST COMES LOVE THEN COMES GENETICS)

Do Your Homework

It’s important to look at more than just their indexes and classification.  It’s also important to do careful homework.  One key area that we have always found important is to see how well the family flushes.  When looking to have the greatest effect on the genetic advancement of your herd, your purchases need to be very fertile.  A good “chicken” will outperform a great cow that does not flush.  Take the time to make sure that the family you are considering has the ability to flush 7+ embryos per time.  (Read more: What Comes First The Chicken Or The Egg?)

Know Your Costs

For every breeder, the return on investment is going to be different.  Depending upon availability of recipients and flush costs, your costs of production will be different.  Also, budget for about a 50% conception rate, combined with the fact that 50% of the resulting progeny will be male.  That is why it’s important to know both what your costs are going to be and what your targeted revenues are.  To help calculate your costs download our Dairy Cow Investment Calculator.

Know Your Risk Threshold

If this is your first time purchasing embryos, and especially if this is your first time implanting embryos, it’s better to purchase $200 embryos instead of $2,000 ones.  The learning curve and understanding of what it takes to get good conception rates can be very costly when spending significant amounts for the purchase of the eggs.

Know the Market

If you are planning to sell any of the resulting progeny, it will be important to have an accurate assessment of their value, so you know how much you should invest.  To learn what current market prices are check out AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO WHAT SELLS AT THE BIG DAIRY CATTLE AUCTIONS 2013

Make the tough choices

With so much Embryo Transfer and IVF occurring on top animals and many people buying embryos from yearlings, it can be hard to determine which animal you should purchase embryos from.  Buying on genomic indexes is quite accurate, and it will become more accurate as more animals are genomically tested, and then performance tested.  It is quite simple in the end.  Buy the sister that most closely meets your needs.  To learn more read Which Full Sister Do I Buy?

Think Outside the Box

Innovative, forward thinking breeders have been and will always be the people who move dairy cattle breeding ahead.  They are not satisfied to only think within the box.  They use the approach that works for them.  That is always the best alternative.  (Read more: Investing in Dairy Cattle Genetics – Think Outside the Box).

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Purchasing embryos can be a great way to accelerate the rate of genetic advancement in your herd, without opening your herd up to potential health and other concerns.  Prices for high quality embryos are as low as they have ever been, making it one of the greatest rates of return you can get in the genetics marketplace.  By following these 10 tips, you can greatly accelerate not only your rate of genetic gain, but also you’re learning curve and ROI.



Not sure how much to spend on that great 2 year old or heifer?
Want to make sure you are investing your money wisely?
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Jersey vs. Holstein – The Debate Continues

One of the things that makes the dairy community great is the passion producers have for what they do.  One area that we have found that brings out the most passion is debating which breed is the best.  While there are many ways to look at it, the most logical way is to look at which breed is the most profitable.

Since we first joined this discussion back in May of 2012, (Read more: Holstein vs. Jersey: Which breed is more profitable) there have been many interesting points raised on both sides of this question.  So we here at the Bullvine decided to take a deeper look at this issue and see if we could get more insight into this much debated topic.

Now first let`s be clear.  This is a very lopsided debate because Holsteins are the primary breed on 92% of the farms in North America, and Jersey is only the primary breed on about 3.5%.  But man you have to love the passionately vocal nature of most Jersey breeders.

Feed Conversion

With feed accounting for between 52 and 58 percent of the total cost of production, any significant advantage for either breed is its ability to convert feed into milk solids, especially with the increased costs of feed these days.  While the superior overall production ability of a Holstein vs. a Jersey (Holstein 24,291 lbs of milk 888lbs Fat 3.66 % Fat 765 lbs Protein 3.15 % Protein vs. Jersey  16,997 lbs milk 776 lbs Fat 4.57% Fat 633 lbs Protein 3.73% Protein)  has  long been documented the true numbers lie in how well each breed converts their feed intake into milk and milk solids In a Dairy Science paper they looked at feed intake studies for 4 breed groups: Holstein, Holstein x Jersey, Jersey x Holstein and Jersey, where all cows were fed the same ration, were housed in the same type of pens and were milked together.  The results found that Holstein had the highest intake and the highest production yield.  However, Jersey converted a higher percentage of their intake to production than Holstein did.












669 (6.8%)

599 (6.4%)

496 (5.2%)

334 (4.2%)


2,666 (27.25)

2,468 (26.5%)

2,425 (25.6%)

2,085 (26.2)


27 (0.3%)

32 (0.3%)

33 (0.3%)

21 (0.3%)


5,968 (60.8%)

6,057 (65.1%)

6,162 (65.0%)

5,259 (66.0%)

The bottom line result of this research was that Jerseys were 6% better at converting intake into production.  That may not seem that significant until you factor in that feed costs are 52-58% of total costs.  That difference represents a 3.3% increase in profitability.  One thing is for sure, feed efficiency is certainly one area that we need to have more supporting research in order to develop genetic indices.

Milk Price

One of the key factors determining which breed is better depends on where you market your milk.  Certain pricing models favor fluid milk production while others favor component production.  Fluid markets certainly favor Holstein while component markets favor Jerseys.  Pennsylvania researchers used a farm level income and policy simulator (FLIPSIM) model to predict farm performance under fluid pricing or component pricing in Pennsylvania.  Under fluid pricing, a high producing (13,961 pounds) 60-cow Jersey herd could expect a net cash income of $32,300 versus $63,100 for a high producing (20,600 pounds) Holstein herd.  Under component pricing, the same Jersey herd would increase in net cash income to $55,400 versus $61,100 for the Holstein herd.  Under component pricing, a Jersey herd could expect an increase of about $23,000, while the Holstein herd would decline slightly.  Combine that with the increased feed efficiency of the Jersey’s mentioned above and, depending on the pricing model in your area, Jerseys would become a more profitable option.  Especially when you factor in the less volatile milk solids market as compared to fluid milk pricing.


For years Jerseys have enjoyed the reputation of being far superior to Holstein.  However, increased attention to this area by many producers may have changed or at least narrowed the gap.  This is certainly an area that many breeders are paying attention to, specifically the scores for Conception Rate (CR), Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) and Calving Interval (CI).  The Days to First Breeding (DFB) declined for Holsteins from 92 d in 1996 to 85 d in 2007.  A similar trend was not observed for Jerseys, possibly because synchronized breeding is more common in Holstein herds than in Jersey herds.  As far as conception rates are concerned, Jerseys still have a slight edge over Holsteins.  But that trend is also changing.  As Holsteins have gone from 2.5 NB (Number of Breedings per lactation) in 1996 to 2.6 in 2007, while Jersey’s have gone from 2.2 in 1996 to 2.4 in 2007.

Now one area that I often hear comments from producers about is the value of the resulting calves.  Specifically that drop bull calves that will be sold for beef.  One of the great strategies I have seen employed by many Jersey and even top Holstein herds is to breed the bottom 10% of their herd to a beef sire.  As they know they will not be needing the resulting females or males from these animals the value of using a beef sire, typically more than compensates for the Holstein versus Jersey drop calf price.  Another management or reproduction tool that many producers are using is sexed semen which allows them to greatly decrease the number of female calves needed for replacements.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Holstein and Jersey cows both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Holsteins are larger and have higher salvage value than Jerseys.  Jerseys tend to be more efficient and typically have fewer reproductive challenges. Each have an advantage under milk pricing that favors their particular productive strengths.  The first area you need to look at for what breed is better for you, is the milk pricing model in your area.  If it is a fluid market, then typically Holstein would be more advantageous. If the price model favors component pricing, then you would typically be better off milking Jerseys.  After looking at the price model, you certainly need to adjust your management to maximize the reproduction and feed efficiency for the breed you have chosen.  Even your housing set up could be better suited for one breed over the other.  While I am sure the Jersey versus Holstein debate will go on for years to come, there are certain new trends that may be contrary to previous beliefs and new feed efficiency information that are opening many producers’ eyes.


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An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions 2013

Breeders often want to know how to price the animals they wish to sell or in order to value their inventory. But it does not stop there. Breeders also use sale prices to determine which sires they should use to generate future revenue from genetic sales. In order to assist breeders The Bullvine has analysed five sales held in Canada between October 24 and November 07, 2013. Those sales are the Genibeq V Sale, the Leading to the Royal Sale, the SnowBiz Dispersal, the Jetstream Global Greatness Sale and the Sale of Stars.


In total 408 live animals, 27 choices and 74 embryos sold for a total sales value of $5,000,045. Heifers averaged $10,280 (338 head), cows $14,290 (70 head), choices $15,922 and embryos $873. Each sale had its own focus for the animals sold and as might be expected the sale averages ranged from $3,500 to over $19,000. Yet the story goes much deeper than simply the averages.

Heifers Sell According to Earning Power

Recently the marketing focus has been on heifers. This was very evident in these sales with heifers being 83% of the live animal sold. Within the heifers there was a considerable price range according to their merit. The averages according to group are as follows:

Analysis by Buying Motivator - Heifers

Table 1 – Analysis by Buying Motivator – Heifers

NameCountrySireMGSBPI (%)

Clearly the heifers in most demand, based on the prices paid, were polled or those with a gLPI over 3300. Six heifers with gLPI over 3300 sold for over $50,000 and three polled heifers sold for over the $50,000 mark. Red Pedigrees had a good average however when the top seller was removed their average dropped to $9391. Top sellers were:

  • Red Families – $195,000  Crasdale TRJ Supersire Aroma  [Supersire from Apple Family] (Sale of Stars)
  • Polled – $200,000  Snowbiz Ladd P Sunshine [Supersire from Splendor Family] (SnowBiz)
  • gLPI over 3300 – $165,000 Coyne-Farms Pdestine May [Predistine with gTPI +2587 (#18), AI contracted] (Global Greatness)
    $100,000 Cookiecutter JC Hawn [Jacey x Halo back to Dellia Family with gTPI +2564] (Global Greatness)
  • gLPI 3000-329 – $100,000 MS Chassity Snow Carrie [Snowman from Barbie Family]  (SnowBiz)
  • 1st Choice – $100,000 1st Choice by Camaro (DGV LPI 3310) or Satisfaction (DGV LPI 3428) from Da-So-Burn Burberry (Uno x Dorcy) gTPI 2648 (Global Greatness)

Although heifers do not usually have a flush history, it was evident from the prices paid that buyers had done their homework when paying top dollars and had selected from families which flush well (Read more: Three Things to Consider When Investing In Genomic Heifers, Informed Heifer Buying – Are you fully prepared? And What Comes First The Chicken Or The Egg?).

Breeders making mating decisions now with the view to selling heifers in the future can expect the market to remain strong for both polled and elite genomically tested heifers from proven cow families.

Unique Brings Top Dollars in Cows

With only 70 cows in total selling in the five sales the averages by grouping were not as broadly based as with the heifers. The groupings for gLPI where changed from the heifers as milking cow gLPIs are lower. The averages according to group are as followsAnalysis by Buying Motivator - Cows

Table 2 – Analysis by Buying Motivator – Cows

LONG-LANGS OMAN OMAN-ET3461180895940.260.2812
DE-SU GILLESPY-ET275425577469-0.18-0.1214
FREUREHAVEN NIAGARA2665222693770.110.038
UFM-DUBS ALTAESQUIRE-ET26451100115670.690.264
ENSENADA TABOO PLANET-ET262526019283-0.01-0.029
GEN-I-BEQ BRAWLER2511122464540.170.1112
OCONNORS JAY2510143567760.130.2411
GEN-I-BEQ TOPSIDE2472133181500.30.0513
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REGANCREST-RB MILES-ET1125-35350.520.055
STANTONS SVEN112313534555-0.030.090
CRACKHOLM DESERT112340847380.310.230
CLAYNOOK BAIT112357424230.040.036
PLAIN-O DURHAM ROSS-331-ET1121-252-129-0.020.1613

The only cow selling for over $100,000 was the show winning Sr 2 Year old Futurecrest Aftershock Tahlia (Aftershock x EX94 All-Canadian Goldwyn daughter). She sold for $150,000 and added $12,499 to the average sale price of her group. She is bred back for the 2014 show season which offers a great opportunity for her purchaser.

As a point of reference, registered purebred first calf heifers, not performance recorded, were selling in Ontario in the range of $1,800 to $2,400 during the time period of these five sales. Definitely performance recorded cows bring higher prices. As well their owners get the benefit of having information for both breeding and management purposes.

Same Time Last Year

Since sales a year ago during Royal Week, when The Bullvine reported on three elite sales (Read more: An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions), there has been a significant drop back in sale prices. Some observations comparing 2013 prices to 2012 prices include:

  • Sale topping prices in 2013 are 50% of those in 2012
  • 2013 sale average prices are about 65-70% of 2012
  • Show and Red pedigree heifers have lost ground in 2013 on prices compared to Polled and elite gLPI heifers
  • Average cow prices in 2013 were 136% of heifers prices compared to 190% in 2012

Throughout 2013 it has been reality check time when it comes to dairy cattle auction sale prices. More and more buyers are placing confidence in genomic information and are willing to pay top prices for the top genomic heifers.

Opportunities Taken

We often hear the comment from the pedigree person – now that was smart buying, after the auctioneer has struck down an animal at a lower than expected sale price.  Opportunities are taken by breeders when a top of the breed animal is purchased with the plan to immediately start flushing, when an outcross but high indexing animal is purchased for a good prices or when a very high genomic heifer that is quite young or needs time to develop is knocked down to the buyer at a lower than expected price. Another scenario is when a young heifer is purchased that becomes a show winner the following year. But that last scenario is a very hard one to identify until the next show season is underway.

Some opportunities taken that the Bullvine saw during these sales include:

  • Dudoc Supersire Orgasme P (Born July 2013, Polled, RDC, DGV LPI +3225, gTPI 2329, PL 4.2, & DPR 0.7, Supersire x Magna P) [$15,200] (Genibeq)
  • Jumau Mascalese Anika (Born June 2013, DVG LPI +3558, CONF +15, %F +0.40, %P +0.18, SCS 2.57. Mascalese x Man-O-Man x Goldwyn) [$7,800] (Genibeq)
  • Quality Windhammer Tally (Born June 2013 Windhammer daughter of the Futurecrest Aftershock Tahlia, the $150,000 show cow) [$8,000] (Leading to Royal)
  • Snowbiz Sympatico Sade (Born July 2013, GTPI 2417, NM$ 809, PL 6.2, DPR 1.2, DGV LPI 3392, CONF 15, a Sympatico from the Splendor Family) [$7,000] (Snowbiz)
  • Legend-Maker Mag Magnificent P (Born March 2011, #1 R&W tested polled cow in Canada, Outcross Polled Pedigree, Magna P from Rita Ranger Family) [$5,100] ( Snowbiz)
  • 1st Choice Female Mardi Gras, gTPI 2505 & NM$ 803, from Butlerview Uno Sho-Off, gTPI 2472, from Adeen Family) [$9,000] (Global Greatness)
  • MS Brocarde Uno Bun (Born October 2012, gTPI 2320, NM$ 719, PL 5.0 DPR 1.0. Uno from Barbie Family) [$4,200] (Sale of Stars)
  • Knonaudale Munition Humor (Born July 2013, DGV LPI 3424, CONF 18, LP 4.1, DPR 1.0, Munition from Shthollerwood from Dellia Family) [$6,000] (Sale of Stars)

Every sale has bargains but, of course, it is only a bargain if the animal fits within a breeder’s breeding or marketing plans (Read more: What’s the plan?, Let’s Talk Mating Strategies and FACT VS. FANTASY: A Realistic Approach to Sire Selection). A sound knowledge of breeding trends and taking time to do one’s homework before attending a sale or signing in to bid on-line are both on the must do list.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

If marketing animals from your herd is an important source of income for your farm, then knowing what buyers are looking for and what they will pay above average prices for is important. The industry has moved to where young high genomic and/or polled heifers are the in demand group.  When planning for future sales take into consideration that health, fertility and longevity traits are gaining in importance. Planning for the future based on sound principles and buyer preference can be rewarding when it comes to selling animals at auction.



Not sure how much to spend on that great 2 year old or heifer?
Want to make sure you are investing your money wisely?
Download our Dairy Cow Investment Calculator.



Dairy Cattle Investment: Are You In or are You Out?

Investing in dairy cattle can seem risky to many breeders.  Doing so, when prices are setting new records, can scare even the most confident among us.  However, more recently, prices have taken a downward trend and now could be the time to ask, “Am I in this for the long haul?  Or do I prefer to sit on the sidelines?”

With many sales coming up throughout North America, there are certainly going to be lots of animals to choose from.  For the first time in recent years, supply might be greater than demand.  There are two main reasons for this.  First, so many of the top cattle have been on extensive IVF programs that the owners of these cattle have way more daughters than their breeding program needs.  (Read more: FAST TRACK GENETICS: More Results in Less Time and IVF: Boom or Bust for the Dairy Industry)  Considering the significant investment that IVF requires, these breeders are looking to recoup their expenses as soon as possible.  Also typically these calves are most valuable at as young an age as possible, so that their indexes are as high relative to the rest of the breed as possible (Read more: Informed Heifer Buying – Are you fully prepared?)

The second reason that prices may be the lowest we have seen in years is that it appears that we have passed the investor bubble that funded massive investment and high prices over the past few years.  Many early investors are now realizing that there were more expenses associated with running their genetic programs than they first anticipated (i.e. IVF, recipients, feed etc.) and are starting to wonder if it was a wise investment after all.  Most were thinking their investment have a short-term 2-3 year payout and not take longer than that.  Perhaps they didn’t account for three specific things:

  1. Flush history of the animals they were purchasing.
    Even with IVF there is no comparison on the return of a family that flushes well compared to one that only produces 4-5 eggs even on IVF.  IVF may give more progeny than you would have had using traditional flush methods, but it also incurs more expense.
  2. Cost of recipients
    One area many breeders/investors do not account for when first purchasing is recipient costs.  From that purchase to, feeding and then adding on implanting expenses, the investment in recipients can often outweigh the cost of the actual donor animal.  After multiple years of flushing and then starting to flush the progeny of the original donor, these costs can skyrocket.
  3. True return on investment
    First things first.  I know many investors invested without even having a clear plan.  “They just wanted to make big money.”  In addition, thought that ROI would happen quickly.  Many perceptive and knowledgeable investors would have realized that a significant return would have to come from semen sales and not from live animal sales.  The problem with building your program around semen sales is that you first need to be in the top .1 percent of the breed and secondly it takes many years to actually see this payoff.

Having said all that, now just may be the wise time to invest.  You see the initial whoosh has passed and prices are now dropping on many great animals.  Over the past few months I have seen animals that are within the top .2 percent of the breed selling for less than $5,000, sometimes even less than $3,000. (Read more: Where did the money go?)  Many naysayers would say this is the price these animals should be selling for anyway.  Those who are willing to do their homework, invest their time and not just their money, are now able to pick up some great animals that can significantly advance their breeding programs.  Even if you have no interest in doing IVF on them, at those prices they can make their return with just traditional flushing techniques, or even just breeding them normally.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is no question that any marketplace is going to have its highs and lows.  It’s those with the perception to understand when the highs are and when the lows are that are going to make the most return on their investment.  In the dairy genetics marketplace there is no question we are currently entering a down period.  The thing many wise investors will realize is that it takes two years of planning in advance to know when it’s the time to invest and when it’s the time to sell.  Just now, if we look two years out, it looks pretty safe to say that prices will be higher.  That is simply market economics.  Therefore, those with the cash flow to invest in some additions to their herd may find that “Now!”  is the exactly right time for them to buy.


Not sure how much to spend on that great 2 year old or heifer?
Want to make sure you are investing your money wisely?
Download our Dairy Cow Investment Calculator.


Informed Heifer Buying – Are you fully prepared?

In the heat of an auction buyers need to be well aware of the genetic merit of the animal they are bidding on. Sales managers make every effort to make sure that the numbers in the sales catalogues are accurate and complete, however there is frequently added information that potential buyers did not have when they closely reviewed the catalogue before the sale. Additionally at times buyers may not be aware if the animal in the sales ring is of elite genetic merit.

In an attempt to give buyers interested in purchasing an elite young female to add to their breeding or marketing program from future sales this fall, the Bullvine has analyzed the heifers born and registered in the herd books in North America from March 2012 to August 2013. This group of females was chosen as they are likely to be the ages of heifers that will go through sales auctions over the next two months. The information from the CDN files was used as it is the animal information that is available free of charge.

Breed Toppers

Buyers are advised to have at their fingertips the total merit indexes for the very best animals so that they can value an animal that they are considering buying. The following table lists the averages for the top twenty-five heifers.

Figure 1.0 Top Twenty-Five North American Heifers (Born March 2012 to August 2013)


Some points worthy of note from this table are: i) do not compare the Holstein and Jersey LPI values as the formulae differ; ii) the top 25 Holstein heifers are a very elite group with the DGV LPIs exceeding the gLPIs by 161 points; iii) Red Carrier Holsteins heifers have made considerable improvement in the last couple of years by the use of top BW sires on RC or Red females; iv) Polled Holsteins heifers have and are likely to continue to make rapid advancement again by the use of top horned BW sires on polled females; and v) the values listed for the Red Holstein heifers are parent averages as only two of the top twenty five heifers were genomically tested.

Use these benchmarks as you review the sales catalogues either on-line or using a hard copy of the catalogue.

Top Values

Often buyers wish to know benchmark numbers beyond the LPI value. The average index for the top five heifers for each trait in each animal category are as follows:

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Remember these are the averages for the very best five animals in the various categories.

Sires of the Heifers

Buyers often want to know the sires of the top heifers. Knowing the sires of the top twenty-five heifers gives an indication of who the competition will be when you are marketing in the future from your purchases.

Sires with more that two daughters in the various categories are listed below. Each category has twenty five heifers. The bracketed number is the number of daughters the sire has on the list.


  • Seagull-Bay Supersire (8)
  • De-Su BKM McCutchen (5)

RC Holstein

  • De-Su BKM McCutchen (6)
  • Seagull-Bay Supersire (5)
  • Mountfield SSI Dorcy Mogul (4)

Polled Holstein

  • Sea-Gull Bay Supersire (9)
  • Da-So-Burn MOM Earnhardt P (5)

Red Holstein

  • Dymentholm S Sympatico (8)
  • Curr-Vale Destined (5)
  • Tiger-Lily Ladd P-Red (5)


  • Sunset Canyon Dimension (5)
  • All Lynns Valentino Marvel (4)

Health & Fertility

In the Holstein breed many breeders are starting to place increased emphasis on the Health and Fertility rating that CDN assigns animals. The value assigned can be found by looking up the animal on the CDN website. Factors used in calculating the H&F index include: Herd Life; SCS; Daughter Fertility; Milking Speed; and some other correlated traits.

The top five Holstein heifers in the various categories had average DGV Health and Fertility ratings as follows:  Holstein 465;  RC Holstein 413;  Polled Holstein 423. Clearly an animal over 375 to 400 for H&F is at the top of the breed. An H%F value is not available for Red Holstein as so few of them are genomically tested.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It is important to know the genetic superiority of an animal when purchasing or using them in your breeding or marketing program. It is the Bullvine’s hope that the above statistics will assist. Wise investment should give you a leg up on moving your herd forward.


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Investing in Dairy Cattle Genetics – Think Outside the Box

The Bullvine has produced many articles on investing in genetics using genomic information including our early article 6 Ways to invest $50,000 in Dairy Cattle Genetics. Other Bullvine articles included Craswell Common Sense – Go For the Total Package, Mapel Wood Farms – Invest in the Best Forget the Rest,  The Judge’s Choice – Investment Advice from Tim Abbott, and the Bullvine’s frequent articles on top picks in upcoming sales (Read more: Dairy Cattle Investment Advice). All these articles deal with finding and investing in the very top genetic animals.  Today these investments are usually virgin heifers. Specifically, they are the ones that everyone sees in the press, in on-line sales catalogues or on Facebook. These young females usually sell for over $20,000 to $25,000. But what does a beginning breeder do? With limited capital what options are there if you want to kick-start the genetic level of his herd or start a new cow families? You need to think outside the box.

Invest Your Time

The term ‘sweat equity’ is often used when a person takes on a project themselves rather than hiring an outside expert.  Well the sweat equity when it comes to buying top genetics is the time that you will need to invest in researching and finding animals. This is not meant to say that your time is worth little. What it does mean is that breeders, taking this approach, will need to search, search, search,…study, study, study,… and above all exercise patience until they find the right one(s).

At every sale there will be some good buys. It just takes time to do your homework to know which ones are good and which ones you will regret.

The Concept

A concept that bottom line focused beginning breeder might consider is to buy a top heifer for $6,000 or less. Flush the heifer and put embryos in your low genetic merit animals. The heifer will need to have a Net Merit of $775, a gTPI™ of 2400 or a DVG LPI of +3200.

Some folks may ask why invest in a heifer and not in embryos. Well it comes down to economics. Embryos from top cows sell for $1500 to $2000. It takes five unsexed embryos to get a live heifer. Then you must factor in that perhaps only one in four heifers will have high enough genomic numbers to be near the top and you can have $30,000 invested in getting a top daughter. It is more cost effective to buy a heifer about which you already know the genomic numbers.

So the challenge or opportunity, depending on how you look at it, is to find and buy a heifer that does not top the charts but is close to the top and that will give you progeny whose genomic indexes exceed, by a considerable amount, their parent average and that is  also an animal that does not cost an arm and a leg to buy.

Know Your Focus

As most breeders do not attend or participate in showing, the focus for breeders early in their careers will be cow families, high lifetime yields, fertility and ability to stay in the herd and not be culled. In the future that check list is likely to include feed and labor efficiency. Above all when you’re starting out establish your focus. It will change over time but searching for show genetics one week, protein yield the next week and then before the month is out five other traits is not likely to get you to where you need to be. This is especially true if you are working with only a couple of heifers at any given time. Unlike breeders with a larger program who can likely cover a number of breeding fronts at one time.

Don’t let the excitement of the sale get the better of you.  Keep your focus and know your criteria, your price may be different than someone elses, that’s ok.  You have to do what works for your plan.

Purchase Criteria

Breeding chart topping heifers and bulls can not be achieved by starting with animals that are only moderately above average (for example gTPI™ of 2000 to 2200 or gLPI of +2800 to +3000). You need to be starting with animals that are 95% Rank or higher at least for the major traits you are breeding for.  Starting any lower will mean that you are two to three generations away from having chart toppers. The Bullvine polled a number of people who have had success in topping the charts and they provided the following necessary ingredients for success:

  • Cow Families – success is much more likely if you purchase heifers from cow families that have high genomic values
  • Sire Stack – make sure the sires behind the heifer are high indexing and that the sires’ indexes compliment your objectives
  • Ability to Flush – you need to get 6+ embryos per flush and there are differences between families in how they flush (Read more: What Comes First The Chicken Or The Egg)
  • The Heifer will need to produce well, for milk fat and protein, and classify GP83 or higher in her first lactation. Eventually she will need to score VG.
  • The heifer’s genomic indexes (DGVs) will need to be within 200 for gTPI™ or 300 for gLPI of the very best heifers on the lists
  • A cow with many daughters with very high genomic indexes is a family you should be buying from
  • Likely the heifer you will be able to afford will be the third ranking full sister by a high genomic evaluated bull. It is how she will breed that will be important not that she’s third ranked.

What are the Facts

Knowing that the our readers like to see the actual facts, the Bullvine did an analysis on the top one hundred indexing heifers born and registered from January to June (inclusive) in 2013 in North America. The sources of the data for this study was CDN as it is the only source where breeders are not charged for look-ups. Here is what we found:

  • All but three of the top one hundred indexing heifers are sired by bulls with only a genomic index. Those three are sired by bulls on the top ten International gTPI™ list.
  • Females with a DGV LPI below +3200 can produce top daughters when mated to the best bulls available. The dams of the top one hundred heifers with DGV LPIs below +3200 broke out as follows: 2 have daughters in the top ten; 18 in the top fifty and 35 in the top one hundred.
  • As we would expect the top 20 heifers are a very superior group. i) All are from well known high indexing cow families. ii) All are over +3500 for their gLPI averaging + 3568; iii) Their DGV LPIs exceed their gLPIs by 338 on average.  iv) Seven are sired by Seagull-Bay Supersire, five by De-Su BKM McCutchen and eight by six other high genomic bulls. v)  These twenty heifers make the top of the list because they are exceptionally high for traits like fat yield, protein yield, herd life, SCS, daughter fertility and mammary system. vi) Worthy of note in the fact that only one  of the twenty does not have positive indexes for %F and %P.
  • One dam MISS OCD ROBST DELICIOUS-ET has seven daughters that make the top one hundred list. Her Butz-Butler Shotglass daughter tops the list at +3682 gLPI and her DGV LPI is a very high + 3909; that DVG LPI is 401 over the DVG LPI average of her parents. The Crocket-Acres Elita Family has three heifers in the top twenty.
  • One heifer, S-S-I Zeus Mae 9096-ET, stands out as far exceeding (by 640 LPI) her parents in DVG LPI. Her sire De-Su Robust Zeus 11009-ET (DVG LPI +3301) and dam S-S-I Observ Manteca 7197-ET (DGV LPI + 3020) are not list toppers in their own right but together they produced this #6 heifer.

The Short Story

It is possible to get top progeny (daughters and sons) from females that may not quite be at the top of the indexing lists, provided, you use complimentary mating (Read more: Let’s Talk Mating Strategies)  and the very best sires available on those females.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Innovative forward thinking breeders have been and will always be the people who move dairy cattle breeding ahead. They are not satisfied to only think within the box. They use the approach that work for them. That’s always the best alternative.


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Which Full Sister Do I Buy?

It used to be that when you went to a high quality sale you looked the animals over and selected one or two that would most help your herd and were within your price range. That was when a cow produced one calf every thirteen months and proven A.I. sires stayed in vogue for half a decade. Well that was yesteryear and yesteryear is behind us now.

What do you do today if there is a choice of three high genomic full sisters in a sale? To become the successful buyer here is what do you need to do?

Homework Required

Very definitely before going to the sale you need to research the national data file to get the facts. Don’t get only the pedigree but also the dam’s performance, the sire’s indexes, the number of and indexes of the siblings. And it does not stop there. You need to decide if the animal you may buy will give you the opportunity to achieve your goal. Bidding without having a goal and plan and knowing the facts is dangerous. Not physically dangerous, but dangerous from an investment point of view. This homework will pay big dividends in time.

Step One – The Plan

Decide what your plan or goal is in buying.  Do you want the animal for improving your herd, for breeding top indexing progeny, for selling embryos … etc? You decide. Play it as if you are the manager of a major league baseball team. Will your decision on the player’s contract (aka animal) you purchase enhance your team’s chances of winning the World Series? I always admire how cool and confident 99% of the baseball managers are. They have a plan for the game and for the year and they stick to it.

In setting your plan, you will need to decide which piece of information is most important for you. Is it TPI, LPI or NM$? Or does the pedigree have cow family or show appeal? Or is it high genetics for Health & Fertility or longevity that you want to add to your herd? Are there any minimum index values that you will not go below when purchasing? Does the conformation of the animal you are purchasing matter? Be fully prepared.

Step Two – Know the General Sales Details

Check out on-line or using a hard copy catalogue what is listed about the sale lot. And what the terms are for payment. Very definitely you need to know the animal’s health & vaccination status. In the future we will need to know the health status of all animals at the sale. As biosecurity and the health status of animals is becoming more important every day. The Bullvine strongly suggests that you wear clean clothes to the sale and most definitely clean footwear or plastic boots over your footwear. We can’t be too clean.

Canadian Dairy Network - Progeny List 2013-08-15 08-16-07Step Three – Check Every Animal Detail

Now it is time to get down to the nitty gritty details.

Check to make sure you know if the sire stack and the cow family qualify according to your plan. If you are looking for something novel or non-inbred, make sure those criteria are met. Do an extensive check of all the dam’s progeny. Are there other full sisters not offered in the sale and what are their indexes? You do not want to have a choice of the three poorest full sisters with the seller having the best ones that will be competing with you for selling embryos. Also check out the half sibs for their genomic indexes. They may be high and the competition for selling embryos.  Check not only the performance of the parents but also the gTPIs or gLPIs.  Personally I like to carefully review the DGVs (Direct Genomic Values) of the sisters and compare them. DGVs are the basis on which every animal’s index is built.

If you are wanting to operate in the elite of the Holstein breed, you will need to be thinking of only buying animals over 2400 gTPI, over 3000 gLPI or over 700 NMS, over 2.0 PTAT / +9 CONF, below 2.90 SCS, above 3 Productive Life / 108 Herd Life and above 1.0 Daughter Pregnancy rate / 105 Daughter Fertility for black and white horned animals. As yet few if any polled or red animals have reached these levels but it will not be long before that occurs.

Step Four – At the Sale

Now you are ready to attend the sale with your research file and chequebook in hand. Remember the clean clothes and footwear. Do a thorough inspection of all of the full sisters present. Try to imagine what they will look like as they grow. Will they make at least GP83 and 9,000 kgs in their first lactation? We all know that heifers go through many stages before they calve but feet, legs, stature/mass, strength of topline, pin setting,… are all body parts that can be judged at any stage of life. Make sure you ask for any updates to the catalogued information. Often those details are crucial when you are deciding to bid or not or what level you are prepared to bid to.


Everyone has their own techniques they use when bidding. Some want to know who they are bidding against. Others like to bid quickly or slowly.  There are almost as many techniques as there are bidders. Do whatever works for you.


While at the sale make sure you network with breeders and marketers.


International Intrigue 2013

In preparing for this sale Lot 2 stood out for me. It was a choice of three Cashcoin females from the Lot #1 MS C-Haven Oman Kool, a high indexing fresh VG87 first lactation Man-O-Man and the #2 protein cow in North America. The sire stack was Cashcoin x Man-O-Man x Shottle x BW Marshall x Patron x Aerostar. All well respected sires. These three full sisters were very early Cashcoins. The indexes were not in the catalogue as the calves were very young but it was reported that the genomic information would be available on sale day. My last minute research before leaving for the sale showed that there were about seven Cashcoin x Kool daughters but none had genomic results in the CDN data system. As you would expect all seven have exactly the same PA LPI when I looked them up.

MS C-Haven Oman Kool  VG-87-2YR

MS C-Haven Oman Kool VG-87-2YR

When I got to the sale Kool was there and she looked awesome – what a mammary system and she was milking 111 lbs per day. However the calves were not present being less than two months old and likely not old enough to be health tested to enter Canada. The genomic information was available and they very very similar and high. The ranges in indexes were gTPI 2418 to 2426, gLPI 3357 to 3413, NMS 789 to 809, Productive Life 4.8 to 6.2,  DPR 0.2 to 0.9 and PTAT 2.72 to 3.00. The update sheet said the buyer would get the 2nd choice from the three. I wondered how these three compared to the other four. I tried logging into CDN and find out the DVGs for the other four but I could not find out that information. The question, at sale time, being would potential buyers have enough facts to feel confident to bid, knowing that these three were like peas in a pod for their indexes but where did they rank compared to the other four. I had done my homework but would have liked to know more.

MS C-Haven Oman Kool VG-87-2YR

MS C-Haven Oman Kool VG-87-2YR

Since the sale I have done some checking and I found that the three offered were #3, #4 and #5 based on gLPI of the Cashcoin x Kool daughters. All are within 46 gLPI of each other.  The second choice of these three is only 120 LPI behind the #1 and 62 LPI behind the #2.  Of course the end to the story has not been written and I do not know which of these three full sisters the buyer took. But I know how the calculation formula for  gLPI indexes works and with all seven of the Cashcoin x Kool daughters so close it will depend very much on their own performance as cows that will identify which one is the best.  The buyer likely made a very good decision having paid the very reasonable sum of $18,000 for the second choice of the three offered at the sale.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

In general full sister are not as close as the three Cashcoin x Kool’s above. Often there is clearly one that stands out.  The key is to do your homework and the vast majority of the time you will get an animal that will fulfill your needs.  Buying on genomics indexes is quite accurate and it will become more accurate as more animals are genomically tested and then performance tested. It is quite simple in the end. Buy the sister that most closely meets your needs.



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Dairy Cattle Sales in a Digital World

With the introduction of the Internet and social media, the dairy cattle auction business has gone through a tremendous change.  In the beginning there was dairy cattle marketing 2.0 where dairy breeders could use the power of social media to promote their cattle. More recently there has evolved dairy cattle auctions 3.0.  This is where dairy cattle breeders are able to harness the triple powers of internet marketing and social media and websites like Holstein Universe, Holstein Plaza, and Eurogenes to actually sell their genetics to the world.

IMG_3364_edited-1In our recent analysis of what is selling at the Canadian Auction sales of 2013, we found that high genomic animals, (animals that are over 3,000 LPI) outsold all other animals by a whopping 61%.  (Read more at An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions).  This change in market demand has coincided with changes in how these sales can now be run.  A great example of this is the recent Genomic Giants Sale series held in Quebec (Read more: The 2013 Genomic Giant Sale Was a Giant Success!) and the Planet Holstein Sale at the 2012 World Dairy Expo (Read more: The Plant Explodes at World Dairy Expo – 2013 Planet Holstein Sale Recap).  Both of these sales had outstanding sale averages ($33,775 and $40,853 respectively) and yet none of the animals were actually present at the sale.  The reason this startling change works is that breeders’ buying decisions are backed by confidence in genomics and in the favorable buyer satisfaction guaranteed terms.  Breeders are investing in these animals with confidence.

The next evolution of these sales is about to happen as they are taken fully online.  There have certainly been many breeders who have taken advantage of social media (Read more: The Dairy Breeders Guide to Facebook) and there is no question about how it helps promote your sales consignments (Read more: Nothing Sells Like Video).  However these are all tools that facilitate the sale but do not actually result in the sale.  That is where sites such as Holstein Universe, Holstein Plaza, and Eurogenes  can help.  (Read more: EUROGENES: You Love It.  They List It! and Tag Sales: What are they? What makes them successful? and What does the future hold?) Breeders from around the world are looking to actually purchase genetics.  While sites like Facebook are great for getting the message out there, you also need a platform to list all your genetics.  Enter Holstein Universe, Holstein Plaza and Eurogenes.  Holstein Universe is like an online tag sale.  Tag sales have caught on like wildfire in North America and Holstein Universe is the digital version of a tag sale.  Holstein Plaza and Eurogenes are a combination of donor listing services, live auctions and news and events.  Breeders are looking to not only market their genetics to the world, but also to join the community and list actual genetics for sale.  These three sites offer all these aspects.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

For years the knock on the internet and social media has been,”Yeah that’s great but how do I actually make money?  How do I actually sell something?  Instead of just using the internet and social media as a large megaphone, how do I use it as a sales tool?”  That is where online auction sites and dairy community sites have greatly changed the game.  No longer is it just a tool to get the latest news about your genetics out to the world but you can actually sell to the world.” Cha-ching!!



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The Dairy Cattle Investor’s Guide to Spring Sales Madness

Spring is in the air and it seems to do things to people’s heads.  Maybe it’s being cramped up in the barn all winter, or maybe it’s because we start a new show season and much like the start to a pro sport everyone thinks they still have a chance at this point.  With that in mind, The Bullvine decided to take a closer look at some of the sales coming up and find out which consignments caught our attention.

Genomic Giants SaleGenomic Giants Sale

April 3rd – Victoriaville QC Canada – More details and catalog

With over 40 to be offered that have a gPA LPI of over 3,000 or a gPA TPI of over 2,500, there is no question that this sale is going to attract a lot of attention.  In fact there are even three heifers in the sale that have over 4,000 DGV LPIs.  With so many outstanding individuals in this sale, there are sure to be some great buys and many wise investments.  Here are the lots that, on paper, caught our eye.

    Supersire x Observer x Bolver
    From the same family as the popular TAG sires Domain and new release Determine, at 2619 gTPI and 3757 gLPI Ruth numbers well no matter how you look at it.  She was the #3 gTPI female on the March genomic run and is the #2 Supersire in the breed.  That also makes her the #12 gTPI female in the world.  These high numbers combined with a strong family flush history makes Ruth a money making machine.
    Mogul x Shottbolt x Boliver
    Sure to attract the interest of many, including the A.I. companies, this Mogul is also from the same family – Domain and Determine.  Her DGVs are off the charts at +4179 DGV LPI.  That is 559 points above her gPA LPI.  While I would like to see her dam’s DGVs be higher than her gPAs there is no question that this heifer will be in demand with her extreme fat and the fact that she is the #2 Mogul in the breed.
    Numero Uno x Watson x Justice
    Being in the top 10 gTPI heifers in the world pretty much gives  you a license to print money.  Combine that with the strong family flush history and here is a rare opportunity to get into the genomic powerhouse De-Su breeding at the very top and you have a great package.  Her dam Chart Topper is due in May and looks great at Bryhill (Read more: Bryhill International Genetics: 10 Big Steps To Following Their Dream)
    Earnhardt P x Observer x Shottle
    There is no question that polled is hot (Read more: Polled Genetics – Way of the future or passing fad? and $10,000 a dose Polled Semen) and Dallas is a polled heifer believed to be the #4 GTPI Polled heifer in the breed.  While I would love to mate this heifer to some high health and fertility sires, Dallas has strong type numbers and outstanding production that will certainly have her in high demand for sons to service the massive commercial market that many A.I. companies covet.
  • T-SPRUCE MOGUL 7260 – Lot 36
    Mogul x Planet x Shottle
    For those of you who don’t think good plus is good enough (Read more: Is Good Plus Good Enough?) this lot may not be for you.  However, as this sale has proven before, it is certainly good enough for the genomic market (Read more: Janardan – The Making of a Genetic Super Star and TAG’s Genomic Power Sale Averages an Outstanding $30,167).  This may be a sleeper lot that if her dam could ever jump up to VG status could prove very profitable. Strong production with solid type helps this heifer to be among the top 10 gTPI *RC in the breed.
  • Other lots to watch for
    • EDG MIST UNO MYLIFE – Lot 2 – The #11 gTPI female in the world.
    • LACTOMONT NIKOTA SARGEANT – Lot 6 – DGV LPI over 4,000
    • JOSEY-LLC UNO SANGARIA – Lot 16 – Over 3,000 DGV LPI Red Carrier
    • T-SPRUCE MAYFIELD 7251 – Lot 43 – Could be the #3 *RC polled female in the breed.
    • CLOVIS MOGUL SPECIAL – Lot 71 – DGV LPI over 4,000

Crackholm Spring Fever Sale IIICrackholm Spring Fever Sale III

March 29th – Saint-Hyacinthe QC Canada – More details and catalog

Also in Quebec there will be another outstanding installment of the Spring Fever Sales managed by David Crack Jr.  Crackholm  Holsteins.  Not to be outdone by the Genomic Giants Sale, this sale also has many high genomic females and also features some show-winning animals as well.

  • DE-SU 1912 – Lot 1
    Mogul x Oman x Ramos
    Similar to the Genomic Giants Sale, lot 1 in the Crackholm Spring Fever Sale III is right from the heart of the De-Su program.  This heifer is a sister to the former #1 gTPI heifer in the world, De-Su 1438 sired by Shamrock.  Their dam Clear-Echo M-O-M 2150 is the #5 gTPI cow on the locator list (12/12). This rare opportunity will not go unnoticed as she sells ready to flush and her outstanding components combined with strong type will make her in demand the world over. Also selling in the sale (lot 5) is the Peoti sister to EDG CT UNO CINERGY lot 1 in the Genomic Giants Sale who has a DGV LPI of 3855, which is 200 points over her gPA LPI.
    Mogul x Bookem x Jose
    This heifer really is the complete package.  Her gPA TPI of +2479 combined with a gPA LPI of +3651 makes her attractive no matter what base you are looking at her from.  What really makes her stand out is her DGV LPI of 4069, making her one of the rare few over 4,000 since CDN introduced its new regression formula.  Her dam is fresh and looks good at Welcome-Stock farms. This heifer is higher than her pa’s in every major category.
    Mccutchen x Man-O-Man x Lauden
    Coming in as the #1 LPI Mccutchen in the world will certainly attract attention.  This fancy Oct 2012 is also within 2 months of the oldest McCutchens, something not to be lost on many looking to get ahead in the genomic race.  While this heifer does have outstanding DGVs, you may want to make sure that you protect her on health and fertility in each mating as her sire stack and genomic test indicate this is her biggest area for improvement.
    Mayfield x Man-O-Man x Shottle
    Honey’s dam COOKIECUTTER MOM HUE who recently scored VG-88-2YR could very well be the #1 LPI cow, or at least a top 10 LPI cow in Canada come this next round.  This Mayfield daughter has outstanding numbers including a DGV Conformation of +21.  Combine that with a family that has proven to flush well and is in demand and you have an outstanding money making machine.  Also selling are her AltaSuplex, Cobra and Epic sisters.
    Observer x Socrates x Boliver
    For those of you looking for something that is already milking there is Observ Saint.  From the same family as Super, Obersv Saint is a potential top 50 LPI cow in Canada.  She is fresh since January and gave 38.2 kg of 5.5%F and 3.0%P on her first test.  She has balanced breeding values, but you may want to protect her on type especially rump and dairy strength, as both her sire stack and genomic test indicate this.
    Windhammer x Baxter x Hailey
    Adding a little spice to the genomic mix are many family members of the great RF GOLDWYN HAILEY EX-97, 2012 World Dairy Expo and Royal Winter Fair Supreme Champion.  Highlighting the bunch are Wind Hailey and Wind Hello, the Windhammer daughters from the VG-86-2YR daughter of Hailey.  Given the type potency this family has proven to produce (read more.  Dominate Expo Quebec) combined with the Windhammer these heifers are sure to be impressive.

Vente Nationale at Expo PrintempsVente Nationale de Printemps

April 3rd – Victoriaville Quebec – More details and catalog

Held in conjunction with the Quebec Spring Show, the Vente Nationale de Printemps is certainly a sale you will not want to miss.

    Man-O-Man x Shottle x Champion
    This VG-2yr sells fresh since August 13.  This heifer has the potential to be a top 100 gLPI cow and comes from a family that has flushed well in the past.  While she may not be a top 10 gLPI cow, she will certainly be a great seed animal in any breeding program.
    Numero Uno x Superstition x Talent
    Brin’s Dam,  Rainyridge Super Beth *RC VG-86-CAN 2yr, is the #2 *RC CTPI Cow in North America and the #3 DGV LPI *RC cow in Canada.  Combine that with the fact that Beth’s dam is none other than the great Rainyridge Talent Barbara EX-95 (Read more: Lasting Legacy –  A Tribute to Rainyridge Talent Barbara) and you have one extremely marketable package.
    Mogul x Planet x Shottle
    With an extremely popular sire stack, Mimi is a sister to the hot new release sire MR MOVIESTAR MODEL from Jetstream Genetics.  The Productive Life, Health Trait blood lines of the Wesswood-HC Rudy Missy family pours the best into this heifer that is extremely balanced.  Add to that a family that flushes extremely well and you have a money making machine.
    Mayfield x Man-O-Man x Shottle
    Honey is a full sister to lot 8 at the Crackholm sale, so you will certainly have the opportunity to see just what these heifers are worth before sale day.  With the highest LPI heifer from Hue selling for $130,000 at the 2012 Planet Holstein Sale (Read more: The Planet Explodes at World Dairy Expo – 2012 Planet Holstein Sale Recap) and Hue herself selling for $200,000 at the Sale of Stars (Read more: Genomic Stars Shine at Sale of Stars) this is certainly a family that is in demand.
    Mogul x Observer x Shottle
    This heifer is the complete package and her 2nd dam UFM-DUBS SHERAY EX-USA is the former #1 CTPI cow in the breed.  This heifer has outstanding balance to her index and offers an outstanding opportunity to build around that as the family has proven to flush well.
    Shaw x Shottle x Justice
    Talk about combining two of the hottest genomic families in the world.  On the paternal side you have the great Ammon-Peachy Shauna VG-87-2yr (Read more: Ammon-Peachy Shauna: 2012 Golden Dam Finalist and Charting the right course at Seagull Bay Dairy) and maternal side you have WABASH-WAY-I SHOTTLE EMBER VG-86 1st Calf, dam of MR LOOKOUT P ENFORCER +3837 gPA LPI and MR LOOKOUT P EMBARGO +3467 gPA LPI.
  • Other lots to watch for:
    • T-GEN-AC LAYNE RUSSIA – Lot 20 – Super Layne from the same family as Domain.
    • LOOKOUT PESCE PNDE KARMA – Lot 25 – Epic from MS C-HAVEN OMAN KOOL the extremely promising Man-O-Man daughter now housed at Bulterview Genetics.
    • STE ODILE MODEL CRISTAL – Lot 32 – Sudan Cri x from #1 GLPI Cow in Canada, LES091 BAXTER MODEL RUBIS VG-87.
    • JACOBS GOLDWYN CHARM – Lot 40 – Full sister to Robrook Goldwyn Cameron EX-92, All-Canadian & All-American 2011 & 2012, Res. Intermediate Champion 2012
    • VALLEYVILLE SANCHEZ VERNIE  – Lot 45 – Full sister to Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-892yr (Read more: The 2012 Breeder’s Choice Awards – Tanbark Trail Edition and Quality Holsteins – Well Deserved Congratulations )

quest for success online catalog 2013-1The Quest for Success Sale

March 22nd – Marion WI, USA – More details and catalog

Not wanting to  focus only on Canada there are also some great opportunities to be had south of the border.  Leading the way is The Quest for Success Sale hosted by Bella-View Holsteins.

    Mogul x Observer x Socrates
    Catching our eye pretty quickly is Lyanna with her outstanding genomic test results highlighted by her gTPI of 2421 and gLPI of 3485 and an impressive DGV LPI of 3849. With no Man-O-Man, Goldwyn, or Shottle, Lyanna certainly has a lot of options in sire selection (Read more: 12 Sires to Use in Order to Reduce Inbreeding).
    Contender x Advent x Skychief
    Wanting to have something for everyone this sale also has a nice selection of red animals on offer.  Highlighted by A&M-BUSHMAN SUNBURN the HM All-American Red and White spring calf and maternal sister to the 4x All-American, MD-Hillbrook Sunburst-Red-ET EX-92.
    Colt-P x Mitey P x Redliner
    For those of you looking for something a little different there is GOLDEN-OAKS COLT POPPY-RED the homozygous polled Colt-P from the Perk Rae Family (2012 Golden Dam Finalist).
  • Other lots to watch for
    • L-L-M-DAIRY S S PHAWN – LOT 2 – gTPI +2476 gLPI +3178 DGV +3343
    • WEBB-VUE CAMERON 6611 – Lot 3 – •#5 GTPI Cameron daughter
    • REGANCREST MOGUL DANCER Lot 26 – GTPI +2366 GLPI +2939/ DGV +3293
    • T-GEN-AC MOGUL ROSSI – Lot 63 – GTPI +2384 GLPI +3015/ DGV +3223, Dam is a maternal sister to the dam of Lot 1 DE-SU 1912 in the Crackholm sale.

Co-Vale Tag Sale 3-19-13-1Tag Sale at Co-Vale

March 19-25 Preble NY, USA –  More details and catalog

Continuing on from the success of the 2012 Co-Vale tag sale, the following lots that caught our eye.

  • First North American Choice form Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra*RC EX-94-SW – Lot B
    Certainly catching our eye for a long while now has been O’Kalibra (Read more: The All European Championship Show: The greatest SHOW on earth and Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra Wins Grand at the 2013 All European Championship).  Not only is O’Kalibra one of the greatest show cows in the world today but she also comes from an outstanding pedigree.  She is from the same family as Dudoc Mr. Burns and Granduc Tribute.  This calf will be the 1st heifers available from O’Kalibra available here in North America.
  • Also catching our eye are:
    • Lot A Choice of full sisters to 2012 All American 4yr old T-Triple-T Gold Prize EX-92
    • Lot 18 MD-Dun-Loafin Lau Elly-  Full sister to MD-Dun-Loafin Lauth Elli All-Canadian & American Fall Calf 2012
    • Lot 28 Jacobs Sid Beauty – Pine-Tree Sid from Jacobs Goldwyn Brittany EX-95, 1st 4yr-old Royal Winter Fair 2011

Milksource catalog-1Milk Source Tag Event

March 22nd – 23rd Kaukauna WI, USA –  More details and catalog

For those of you wanting to get a little color with your show ring winners there is certainly the Milk Source Tag Event highlighted by Blondin Redman Seisme (2 Time WDE and RAWF R&W White Grand Champion), Budjon-Nitzy Destiny Red and Dupasquier Contender Whitney.



franchise kind iiThe Franchise Kind II

March 25th Syracuse NY, USA – More details and catalog

If red and white Holsteins are not enough, or you prefer Jersey, you certainly do not want to miss the 3rd installment of the Franchise Kind sale.  Highlighted this year by Page-Crest Excition Karlie (All-Canadian Senior 2-Year-Old 2012), Woodsview Excitation Tracy (2nd Jr 2yr old WDE’11 and 3rd Jr 2yr old RAW ’11) and South Mountain Socrates Lavish (Show results) this sale is certainly going to be one of the top Jersey sales of the year.  Watch tomorrow for interview with sale co-manager Dusty Schirm.

taste_of_ontario-1Canadian National Convention Sale – Taste of Ontario

April 10th Ancaster Ontario, Canada – More details and catalog

Rounding out the major spring sales is the Taste of Ontario sale held in conjunction with the Canadian National Convention.  Highlights include daughters of many of the great show winners including

  • Lot 5 – JACOBS GOLDWYN CANDY – Full sister to Robrook Goldwyn Cameron VG-87 2Yr, All-Canadian & All-American 2011 & 2012
  • Lot 6 – BOULET WINDBROOK CLOTY – Windbrook x Boulet Goldwyn Chalou EX-95 2E 2*, Champion Bred & Owned WDE, Madison 2012 H.M. All-Canadian 2012, Res. All-American 2012
  • Lot 8 – QUALITY MOGUL FIXI – Mogul x Shottle x Goldwyn x Quality B C Frantisco EX-96 3E 18*, Supreme Champion 2004 & 2005, believed to be the highest index member of the Frantisco family

The Bullvine Bottom Line

With all the excitement around a new year, it is easy to get caught up and make investments that you may regret later.  It is always best to do your homework and invest wisely.  These lots are the ones that caught our eye and are sure to help spur on the spring sale madness.



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Genetics a cash cow

Do you own a cash cow?
Click on this picture and tell us who and why.

Implanting inexpensive embryos in the “bottom third” of a herd is a great way to earn additional money through genetics.

That was the message from ABS St Jacobs representative Michael Heath at International Dairy Week.

“A lot of large US herds have started buying embryos to develop their own genetics programs,” he said.

“(Embryos) are a very inexpensive way to get into great cow families.”

US dairy farmers Jonathan and Alicia Lamb have made a name for themselves in the industry and generated extra money through herd sales since they began implanting embryos a decade ago.

Milking 4200 cows, Mr Heath said the couple have recipients for 2100 embryos each year and have quickly developed the pedigrees in their herd.

It cost another US farm, milking 750 cows and planning to implant 250 embryos this year, $250,000 for individual embryos and a few “donor cows”, Mr Heath said.

Expecting about 75 females worth $6000 each would generate $450,000, he said.

Other benefits of using embryos with deep pedigrees include extra animals to cull harder and the ability to put cattle into sales.

Mr Heath said it was crucial those looking to market animals and embryos had a good fertility program, heat detection and reproductive efficiency in the herd as well as an “outstanding job caring for the calves”.

A direction for marketing is also a must, while Mr Heath advised to plan ahead with an idea of the specific sale or sales in mind for the animals when purchasing embryos.

Drawing on examples from his own experience, he said he has had Holsteins, Jerseys, Red and White Holsteins and polled animals that he has marketed in a number of ways.

Mr Heath also said polled dairy cattle have become very popular in the past 18 months, topping all major sales.

Source: Weekly Times Now

RF Goldwyn Hailey: Cash Cow or Cash Hog?

2012 was certainly an amazing year for RF Goldwyn Hailey and her owners Gen-Com Holsteins.  There was a time that when winning Supreme Champion at both the World Dairy Expo (Read more – World Dairy Expo 2012 Holstein Show – A Battle for the Ages ) and The Royal (Read more – The 2012 Royal Winter fair Holstein Show – One of the greatest stories ever told!) would have been a license to print money.  Your name would be legendary and you could milk that cash cow for years and years to come (Read more – The Story Behind How Two Full Sisters Dominated Expo Quebec).  However, with recent changes in the marketplace (Read more – Who Killed the Market for Good Cattle?  and the Insiders Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Auctions) the question becomes,”Is Hailey a cash cow or a cash hog?”



In years past  a cow such as Hailey would have been a cash cow for her owners Gen-Com Holsteins. Today she appears to be more of a cash hog,  not only is she not providing the rivers of cash that most would expect but actually she requires that capital/cash that being a show cow at the level of Hailey demands.

The Financial Numbers Behind Hailey

Before you think I am certifiably crazy, let’s take a closer look at the numbers.  First of all consider the recent  World Classic Sale at Madison. Hailey’s Sid daughter sold for $30,000 (Read more – World Classic 2012 Highlights).  It is also well known that embryos are in high demand, so let’s put a value of $5,000 per embryo from Hailey.  Now a couple of factors that make Hailey a little different from your average cow is that you cannot  flush her as often and that she costs a lot  to take care of.  Often Hailey is housed a custom facility costing a lot more than your average housing.  Using the Return on Investment Calculator, we plugged the follow numbers in using a conventional embryo transfer program:

  • Boarding expense per day   $20
  • Years of productive embryo production – 3
  • Flushes per year  – 4
  • Flush strike out ratio 25%
  • Base cost per flush $ 650.00
  • Cost per embryo $ 150.00
  • Recipient price $ 1,500.00
  • Conception rate of recipients 45%
  • Sale price per embryo $ 5,000.00
  • Sale price per live heifer $ 30,000.00
  • Advertising expense/year $ 5,000.00
  • Other promotion expense $ 10,000.00
  • Number of embryos per flush 8

What we find, when using Microsoft Excel’s Goal Seek function, is that the current break even value for RF Goldwyn Hailey is $212,808.40.  This is what she is worth based on the sale price of her genetics currently.  If you think using IVF makes things better think again, remember that you have about an extra $5,000 to $7,500 in expense in order to produce an IVF female (Read more – IVF: Boom or Bust for the Dairy Industry).

Why Pay So Much?

Now I know you’re saying, “Hey Hailey is the greatest show cow in the world, and we see cows like Cookview Goldwyn Monique EX-92 sell for $490,000 at the International Intrigue Sale (Read More – International Intrigue – The Secret Is Exposed).”  Looking for answers, I figured I would go directly to the source.  In our interview just before the Royal with Monique’s co-owner Jeff Butler of Butlerview Farms, Jeff made a very interesting comment that caught my attention.  He pointed out that “Type brings the foot traffic to the farm.  But genomics and pedigree get them buying.” (Read more  Exciting Times at Butlerview).


Show Winnings:

Think about it.  Here is a guy who very clearly understands the marketplace and has invested in what is probably the best show string in the world today.  With some of the prices they have paid, you wonder how they could ever make a profit on these animals.  But then his comments start to make more sense to me.  They don’t need to make their profit from each of these animals.  Some of these animals are purchased to get people through the door.

It’s with that single change in thinking that everything becomes much clearer.  It’s like having a great playmaker in Hockey.  They may not score all the goals (i.e. make all the profits) but what they do is make every player around them play much better.  You see you can have a team of super stars but if they can’t work together, you can’t win (Look at the NBA’s L.A. Lakers our Baseballs L.A. Dodgers).  The same is true in the elite genomics world.  Having  a team of show super stars on their own will not make you rich.  What you need, in addition to them, are  cattle that you paid far less for, but since the super stars are attracting the  attention, buyers  are willing to pay more for the progeny of these other great animals.

In Butlerview’s case, this model still means buyers are accessing some of the best genomic animals in the world.  Furthermore, instead of Butlerview having to spend that much more in marketing or advertising, the money spent on these top show cows helps decrease marketing expense of these Genomic animals, They  drive up traffic and demand so that Butlerview  can make their margins with the Genomic animals. When you start to look at it as a genetic operation as a whole and not so much on  a cow by cow basis only, purchases like Monique make a lot of sense. Dollars and cents.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There is no question that everyone loves to win, and that RF Goldwyn Hailey did a lot of that in 2012.  It’s also important to make money.  That is where the Butlerview model makes a lot of sense. Use the type super stars to get buyers through the door and have plenty of other high genomic and high pedigree animals right there to help convert that traffic into cash.  It’s not that you make your money off the super star herself. You make your money from how much easier the super star makes it to sell the genetics from your other cattle.  It’s at this point that I realize that some of these show super stars are not cash hogs, but actually agents for other cash cows.



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An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions

There is no question that most breeders buy on instinct as much as from anything else. They do their homework on the pedigree of the animal and take a close look at the conformation , but for the most part when determining just what that animal is worth, they rely on instinct as much as anything else. In trying to put numbers to this use of instinct we took a closer look at the recent most recent major cattle sales, Genetics By Design, Sale of Stars and Genomic Prospects Sale, and tried to see what trends appeared. The following is what we found.


Average Sale Price by Type of Consignment

Segment#Avg. LPIAvg. Sale Price

We all know that cows sell for more than heifers and top picks can draw some good prices. We wanted to take a closer look at this so we broke down each group to see what trends came out.

What motivates buyers?

In looking to see what types of animals get the top prices, we looked at the results in the following segments >3000 LPI, <3000 but >2000 LPI, < 2000 LPI, R&W, Polled and show pedigree animals. The results are as follows:

Analysis by Buying Motivator

Segment#Avg. LPIAvg. Sale PricePrice/LPI Point
>2000 LPI <30001642589$16,384$6.51
<2000 LPI561637$8,879$5.42
Show Heifers or All-Canadian Pedigree522005$17,154$8.56

It is significant, to say the least, by how much top index animals outsold all other purchase motivators. Animals that had GLPI’s over 3,000 outsold all other animals by a whopping 61%. Even though they only had on average LPI’s that were about 700 points higher than the group of animals between 2000 and 3000 LPI they outsold them by almost three times. This highlights the importance of being within striking distance of the top of the list (within 10% or 300 LPI points). Anything outside of that just doesn’t get the same level of demand.

Also interesting was how much having polled adds value to an animal. Even though on average the polled consignments had a lower LPI than the 2,000-3,000 LPI group, they attracted more than double the average sales price. This indicates that many breeders are seeing and responding to the demand for polled genetics (Read more- Polled Genetics: Way of the Future or Passing Fad?). It is especially noteworthy that Polled Genetics received 39% premium per LPI point compared to Red and White animals (Read more – Is Polled the NEW Red?).

Top Index Cows Draw Top Dollars

As the chart below indicates, the closer you get to having a over 3000 LPI cow the greater the price.

Analysis of Animals Over +3000 LPI

Segment#Average LPIAverage Sale PricePrice/LPI Point
Picks273268$40,056 $12.26
Heifers503288$63,004 $19.16
Cows33426$190,000 $55.46

What this also brings to light is just by how much high index cows outsell others. This trend continues in heifers as well.

Average Sale Price of Heifers

Segment#AVG LPIAvg Sale PricePrice/LPI Point
>3000LPI503288$63,004 $19.16
>2000 LPI <30001032571$13,221 $5.35
<2000 LPI381514$7,691 $5.08

Of interesting note is how this changed with picks. Picks from current show stars and polled picks actually attract similar dollars as the top genomics animals.

Avg Sale Price of Picks

Segment#Average LPIAverage Sale PricePrice/LPI Point
>3000LPI273268$40,056 $12.26
>2000 LPI <3000332739$19,092 $6.97
R&W122000$27,542 $13.77
Polled172298$39,219 $17.07
Show Heifers or All-Canadian Pedigree61666$39,917 $23.96

Continuing a downward trend is how much less top show animals or progeny from top show animals are commanding at these sales. Top show cattle are still in demand, however, the recent sales performance would indicate that picks for cows that are showing this year command higher prices than those from years past.

Avg Sale Price of Show Animals

Segment#Average Sale Price

Looking at what sires attracted the highest prices, we see daughters of Uno, Epic and Man-O-Man come to the top. While daughters sired by the limited supply sire, Snowman, and the outcross sire, Sudan, actually don’t seem to sell as well as equivalent LPI animals. A strong market also exists for the top polled sires, Earnhardt-P and Colt-P.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

There are many additional aspects for what drives the top dollars at sales, such as flush ability (Read more – What Comes First the Chicken or The Egg?),however, as we found out in our article 6 Ways to invest $50,000 in dairy cattle genetics, the numbers clearly support that you need to GO BIG OR GO HOME, when it comes to investing in the top genetics at sales today!



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The 2012 Royal Sales Preview

With over 300 of the top animals in the world about to be sold over the next two weeks we thought it would be worthwhile to help Bullvine readers navigate around the three main sales: the Genomic Power Sale (GPS) on November 2nd; the Genetics by Design Sale on November 6th and the Sale of Stars on November 9th.  It can be hard to compare animals across sales. We  compiled lists of all the sale animals and here are the lots that we will have our eye on. They are outstanding!

Top GLPI Animals

OCONNORS PLANET LUCIAGenetics By Design13823
MAPEL WOOD LAST DANCEGenetics By Design33710
OCONNORS BOULDER LUNAGenetics By Design63537
OCONNORS LAST HOPEGenetics By Design23534
GEN-I-BEQ LEXOR PLAGESale of Stars453398
MAPEL WOOD M O M LUCYGenetics By Design123299
BOLDI V S G EPIC ASTERSale of Stars73240

OCONNORS PLANET LUCIA (Lot #1 Genetics by Design)



Leading the way is none other than the #1 GLPI cow in Canada.  This is only the second  time that the current #1 LPI cow in Canada has been offered at public auction.  The first time being when Crackholm Comestar Memory sold in the Vente Comestar Edition Sale 2000 for $77,000 to Wauregan Farms in Maine from consignors Comestar and David Crack. There is nothing more marketable than being #1 (Read more – The Sensational 6 North American Genomic Holsteins We Would Invest In). If you are looking for an investment opportunity where the work is done, and you just need to flush and make money, Lucia could be the one for you. If you want a heifer, there are 10 Lucia daughters, 9 of them over LPI +3000, also being sold in the Genetics by Design Sale.


Topping the GPS sale and the highest DGV heifer available is STE ODILE MOON MODEL AMALUNA.  Amaluna is the #5 GPA LPI heifer in Canada. Her Man-O-Man dam is yet to classify but her 2nd dam is LES091 BAXTER MODEL RUBIS  VG-87-3YR-CAN is the #27 GLPI Cow in Canada. This heifer is also the #1 DGV LPI animal that will be offered at +4188. While I will want to check out the rump on this heifer she has it all, production, durability, health and fertility as well as a very advanced sire stack, Moon x Man-O-Man x Baxter x Goldwyn.

OCD MOGUL FUZZY NAVEL (Lot #5 Sale of Stars)

This highest GPA LPI animal in the Sale of Stars is OCD MOGUL FUZZY NAVEL.  Fuzzy Navel’s dam, OCD Man-O-Man Fantom, recently scored GP-83 at 2 weeks fresh, and she will score higher. She is off to a great record so far, producing 83 lbs. milk with 3.9% fat and 2.9% protein on her first test. Navel’s 2nd dam by “Shottle”, Felic Forgive VG-85-DOM, has a record of 28,020 lbs. milk, 4.0% fat and 2.9% protein as a 3-year-old.

Genomically Gifted

MAPEL WOOD LAST DANCEGenetics By Design33818
OCONNORS BOULDER LUNAGenetics By Design63656
OCONNORS LAST HOPEGenetics By Design23561
FUSTEAD MGL SEBRING 8037Sale of Stars233534
OCONNORS PLANET LUCIAGenetics By Design13520
B-S-D HUNTER PARIS 6081Sale of Stars473513
GEN-I-BEQ LEXOR PLAGESale of Stars453454

OCONNORS LIVING THE DREAM (Lot #14 Genetics by Design)

Following closely behind Amaluna for the highest DGV LPI in the breed let alone available at public offering is OCONNORS LIVING THE DREAM.  Living the Dream is the Epic daughter of the Man-O-Man sister to Planet Lucia, MAPEL WOOD M O M LUCY.  She is gifted in many ways, not only is she from the Lylehaven Lyla Z family, but she also one of the highest daughters in the family for health and fertility.  This heifer’s DGV’s are through the roof, with her DGV’s for all the major conformation traits being at least 1 to 2 points higher than her GPA’s.  It will certainly be very interesting to see who sells for more between Amaluna and Living The Dream.




The second highest DGV heifer in the GPS sale is BENNER FORK JANARDAN.  Selling open and ready to flush Janardan is from the #3 GLPI cow in Canada BENNER PLANET JAKOVA GP-83. Janardan is the #1 De-Su Fork daughter in Canada. A first choice Mogul from Janardan sold for $75,000 in the World Classic Sale (Read – World Classic 2012 Highlights). This heifer has a DGV for Conformation of +19, combine that with high production and outstanding durability and she is ready to be flushed to the top health and fertility sires, such as Lithium or Krunch to get the next great one (Read – Top 12 Genomic Young Sires To Use For Maximum Genetic Gain).

B-S-D HUNTER PARIS 6081 (Lot #47 Sale of Stars)

The highest DGV LPI heifer in the Sale of Stars is B-S-D HUNTER PARIS 6081. Paris is the #3 GPA LPI Hunter daughter in the world.  Her DGV LPI of 3513 is 321 points higher than her outstanding Parent Average.  This heifer is very similar to Janardan in that she has amazing production, durability and type numbers, but could also mate well to some of the top health and fertility sires.

6 Other Lots Catching Our Eye




SEAGULL-BAY SNOW DARLING is the Snowman daughter from none other than AMMON-PEACHEY SHAUNA. Darling has 4 generations of #1 TPI Sires (Snowman x Planet x Shottle x Oman). Combined with that, her dam was recently selected one of the top five most complete cows in the world today (Read – 2012 Golden Dam: The Results Are In). Here is a rare opportunity.


For those of you hoping to cash in on a  sleeper, there is the 1st Choice MAYFIELD from TRAMILDA OBSERVER LYNN .  Lynn has a DGV LPI 472 points higher than her PA GLPI.  This De-Su Observer daughter is from an outcross pedigree (Socrates x Lou x Forbidden).  She is among the top 10 TPI Observer daughters in the world.  Though, this balanced heifer has it all,  I will be checking out her rump very closely.

SUNTOR MAN O MAN JELENA (Lot #3 Sale of Stars)

Catching our eye earlier this year was OCONNORS GOLDWYN JASMINE EX-92-CAN the Goldwyn Sister to Oconnors Jay (Read – The Bloom Is On Oconnors Goldwyn Jasmine). Selling in the Sale of Stars as lot 3 is her VG 2yr old daughter SUNTOR MAN O MAN JELENA.  Jelena really is a great package, she has a great type and production pedigree, proven sons coming out of the family and she herself has a strong genomic test.  A great opportunity to get into an emerging cow family.

MAPEL WOOD SUDAN KAYLEIGH (Lot #91 Genetics by Design)

Maybe lost in all the great Lyla Z progeny at this sale will be WIAMY KYANA BOLTON VG-88-3YR-CAN and her daughters.  The highest of her daughters is MAPEL WOOD SUDAN KAYLEIGH and she sells as lot 91.  Possessing a little bit of an outcross pedigree (Sudan x Bolton x O Man) for most Canadian pedigrees this heifer has strong production, durability and health and fertility numbers.   I will be watching to see if her rump and dairy strength are enough to potentially go VG as a 2yr old.

COOKIECUTTER MOM HUE (Lot #2 Sale of Stars)

After selling her daughter LOOKOUT PESCE EPIC HUE for $130,000 at the Planet Holstein Sale (Read – The Planet Explodes at World Dairy Expo – 2012 Planet Holstein Sale Recap) Lookout and Pesce are now selling MOM Hue herself.  There is no question Hue is becoming a genomic super star as all her daughters are over 3,000 LPI and most are well over their parent averages. Hue herself has DGVs much higher than her parent averages and will certainly command a lot of attention at the sale.

MAPEL WOOD EPIC GOLDRUSH (Lot #135 Genetics by Design)

For those of you looking for something with a little colour to it, there is MAPEL WOOD EPIC GOLDRUSH.   This high genomic red heifer is the #7 GPA LPI R&W heifer in Canada.  Her  2yr old dam MORSAN MANOMAN FOOLS GOLD RED recently scored VG and is off to a great record.  Goldrush has a great balance between production and type and will be sure to attract lots of attention for those in the Red market.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

With so many great animals set to sell there are sure to be many great buys.  Find the one that is right for you!



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World Dairy Expo Winners: Investment Worthy

It’s seems like every day there is some new rumor about an astronomical price being paid for the “next great one” and many breeders find themselves asking themselves “How can they afford to pay that money for those cattle?”  While there is still some element of “all I want to do is win” the real way most of these breeders will make money is to sell off the fancy calves out of these great type cattle.

With that in mind we looked at the class winners from the recent World Dairy Expo and analyzed which ones that we feel have the proven genetics that you can be confident will stamp out those top type calves that will bring you the big prices in the sale ring.  Here are our top 5:




Talk about a cow with a bright future.  Not only did R-E-W Happy Go Lucky win honorable mention as a milking yearling at the world’s premier  Holstein show but also she has the pedigree and sire stack to back it up.  Happy Go Lucky is out of Arethusa Outside Leslie (VG-87) and the next dam is All-Canadian Milibro Cousteau Leila (EX-94).  Her outstanding type sire stack goes Goldwyn x Outside x Cousteau.  While the rumors about just how much Butlerview paid continue, there is no question this is one of the most valuable type cows on the planet.




In BVK ATWOOD ARIANNA VG-89-2YR-USA has many great things going on.  Linebred by Butlerview and Ruppert’s to be great, Arianna is just that.  Her sire Atwood’s MD-DURHAM ATLEE EX-92-4YR-USA DOM GMD 2* (2012 Golden Dam Finalist) is a granddaughter of Arianna’s own dam the great MS KINGSTEAD CHIEF ADEEN EX-94-2E-USA DOM 2*.  While some would call it inbreeding, anyone who was at the show and saw Arianna and her sisters knows that this is linebreeding at its best.  When you look at Adeen’s progeny, you notice an area of potential improvement is the mammary systems and especially her feet and legs, two areas that Atwood excels greatly in.  When you look at enough Atwood’s you would say that maybe they would need some improvement in their rumps, something Adeen has proven she can stamp out.  There is no question Arianna and her sisters are a great example of modern linebreeding.




When BUTZ-BUTLER GOLD BARBARA VG-87-2YR-CAN sold for $187,000 at the recent International Intrigue Sale, many where asking was she the one?  (Read – International Intrigue: The Secret Is Exposed)  Well all those questions were answered on the colored shavings.  Barbara dominated the class.  The freak factor is extremely low on this one as Barbara probably has one of the greatest type pedigrees I have ever seen.  Her dam is none other than REGANCREST BRASILIA EX-92-2E-USA DOM 1* who of course is the daughter of 2012 Golden Dam finalist REGANCREST-PR BARBIE EX-92-7YR-USA DOM GMD 3*.  For me there is no question that Barbara will just keep stamping out great calves.  As both her pedigree and type index  show that she will just keep putting out big dairy cows with great legs and udders and boxcar show rumps.  As Judge Heath  noted, she is just one massive milk truck, both genetically and in the ring.


4yr old class - WDE 2012

4yr old class – WDE 2012

Now, for me, this next one came in from off the radar a bit.  Since winning T-TRIPLE-T GOLD PRIZE VG-89-2YR-USA junior champion at the 2009 World Dairy Expo as well as the Royal I had not heard that much about her.  But man did she send a resounding message on the colored shavings at this year’s expo winning the 4yr old class.  Prize’s sire stack reads as a who’s who of the show sire world, (Goldwyn x Dundee x Linjet x Chief Mark). In that sire stack you pretty much have every sire of a recent Expo Champion represented (when you factor in that Goldwyn is a James son and Chief Mark is the sire of Skychief).  It really should not have been a surprise that Prize has  such an amazing udder given that such sires as Goldwyn, Linjet and Chief Mark are in her pedigree.   Those are also the exact reasons why you can be confident she is going to produce great daughters.




No list is complete without RF GOLDWYN HAILEY EX-97-2E-CAN EX-94-5YR-USA.  As we have mentioned before, Hailey is the real deal (Read – The Story Behind How Two Full Sisters Dominated Expo Quebec).  Her dam, MELLHOLM LOUIE HANAH EX-92-2E CAN 2* was a show winner in her own right, winning HM.  All Canadian Sr. 2YR honors back in 2005.  When you cross the chest width, body depth and pin width of Hanah on the bone quality and set of legs and the proven ability to sire show winners of Goldwyn, the real question is, “How could you miss?”  When you add in the fact that she also has two full, sisters RF Goldwyn Halona VG-88-2YR-CAN and RF GOLDWYN HALTON VG-86-2YR-CAN then you understand why Hailey is the real deal.  It’s for that reason you realize why her daughter sold for $30,000 at the World Classic Sale (Read – World Classic 2012 Highlights).

The Bottom Line

There is no question that if show style  and high type indexes are in the pedigree, it shows in the ring.  There are exceptions and, no doubt, it’s finding the exceptions to the rule that makes breeding cattle so addictive. Your chances of getting back your investment rise exponentially if show quality is in the pedigree. Smart investors applaud all the winners as it takes a great deal of intelligence, and skill to breed and develop cows to this level.  The question then becomes once you have taken a cow to this level how can you maximize your return on your effort?  For us that means doing your homework knowing which ones have the highest probability to pass it on.



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The Investor’s Guide to World Dairy Expo

With so much excitement and major sales during the week of World Dairy Expo it can be easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm.  To help potential investors or to guide those who love studying the market, here are 15 lots we will be watching during the two major sales (Planet Holstein and World Dairy Classic 2012).

Planet Holstein Sale

Date: October 4th 2012
Location: Sheraton Hotel



KAMPS-HOLLOW ALTITUDE EX-95-DOM - maternal sister to lot 1

KAMPS-HOLLOW ALTITUDE EX-95-DOM – maternal sister to lot 1

This HUNSBERGER ALCHEMY daughter has it all. High GTPI (+2335), Red and maternal sister to KHW REGIMENT APPLE-RED EX-95-USA the 1st Aged Cow and Senior & Grand Champion R&W of World Dairy Expo 2011.Their dam KAMPS-HOLLOW ALTITUDE EX-95-DOM has had every bull put into stud make the active proven line-up. She already has three family members in the top 10 GTPI *RC and Red lists (SCIENTIFIC THE BIG APPLE-ET *RC, KHW SHAMROCK ARALYN-ET *RC, and FAR-R-LA ANAHEIM ANGELIE-ET *RC) with herself being the #3 Red GTPI heifer in the USA. With this cross, you can expect this heifer to have an extremely well attached udder. Alchemy is a good mating on Altitude as she has proven to produce progeny with a touch straighter leg. It also appears to be a good corrective mating for the rump structure.



RI-VAL-RE SHTLE WENDI VG-88 - Full sister to the 2nd dam of lot 2

RI-VAL-RE SHTLE WENDI VG-88 – Full sister to the 2nd dam of lot 2

In RI-VAL-RE ALCHEMY NIKOLE you get the #1 GTPI *RC or Red female, and the #1 $NM *RC or Red. However, unlike Adeline, this cross of Alchemy on RI-VAL-RE SUPER NIKE does cause me some concerns in what her rump will be like and as well concerns on cleanliness of bone. Though she does rank as the #1 *RC or Red and will have plenty of demand for embryos f, you still need to make sure that she has the potential to be a VG 2yr old. However, this heifer does have a nice balance of production, durability and health & fertility.  Also from a marketing perspective, when the only picture you have to use is the full sister to the 2nd dam, that causes me concerns.





When COOKVIEW GOLDWYN MONIQUE VG-89-3YR-CAN sold for $490,000 at the International Intrigue Sale she sent notice that she is a serious contender for years to come (Read – International Intrigue – The Secret Is Exposed).  Her wins at Quebec Spring Show, NY Spring International, and Ontario Spring Discovery demonstrated that she is a contender for it all this year.  While Atwood makes a logical cross of high type cow with hottest new type sire, I have some concern on this cross from a rump perspective.  Yes by the numbers the rumps are a corrective cross, but I am worried that with so much Goldwyn blood that you are liable to get high pins or low pins instead of the happy median.  Physical inspection will answer this question.  Nevertheless, if Monique gets the care you know she will at Butlerview and if the heifer does combine the best of both parents, you could be buying into something pretty special. (Also note that her Windbrook daughter is set to sell in the 2012 Sale of Stars at the Royal)





Fresh from their sale topping consignment at the Gillette Visions 2012 sale with RALMA-RH MANOMAN BANJO VG-88-2yr (Read Gillette Visions 2012 Sale – Great People, Great Cattle = Great Results) comes another high index heifer from Lookout and Pesce, this time tracing back to SNOW-N DENISIS DELLIA.  LOOKOUT PESCE EPIC HUE is the #2 GLPI heifer in Canada and the #1 Epic in the world.  In Hue you have a heifer that has a DGV LPI of +4362, some 43% higher than her already outstanding parent average.  Her major conformation traits show many in the +20’s which alone is something unheard of.  Combine that with over 2000 kg’s of milk and positive components and Hue really is the complete genetic package.  As long as she looks the part, this heifer could be a really special package for someone ready to make a splash in the index market.  As far as the dam’s ability to turn out, after seeing how Banjo turned out and the level of care they get at Lookout, there is very little risk here.  (Her full full sister that is not genomic tested yet LOOKOUT EPIC HALO sells in the 2012 Sale of Stars at the Royal)



COOKIECUTTER MOM HALO VG-87-2YR - dam of lot 7&8

COOKIECUTTER MOM HALO VG-87-2YR – dam of lot 7&8

Another one to watch from the Dellia family will be COOKIECUTTER MOG HANKER and COOKIECUTTER SHMRK HAZE (Who was originally scheduled to sell in the International Intrigue sale).  Sired by Mogul and Shamrock respectively these heifers are from COOKIECUTTER MOM HALO VG-87-2yr (Who also is set to sell at the 2012 Sale of Stars at the Royal), the dam of COOKIECUTTER PETRON HALOGEN the #1 GTPI bull in the breed (GTPI +2690).  Just like Hue (Lot #9) these heifers have it all:  production genomic test and type.  As far as genomic tests go these heifers are toss-ups to choose between.  You will have to go old school to figure it out.  Use your eyes to determine which one has enough frame and rump structure to score VG as a 2yr old.  (Note also selling in the World Classic sale is their Supersonic sister who has slightly lower genomic numbers).





FUSTEAD MOGUL LANA is the #24 GTPI heifer in the breed.  Lana is the Mogul sister to S-S-I DOMAIN LITHIUM the breeds #2 GTPI bull with progeny on the ground.  She has no Planet, Shottle or Goldwyn in her pedigree.  Lana possesses outstanding production, durability, and health and fertility numbers though they’re not quite as high as her full sister FUSTEAD MOGUL LILAC (whose numbers are about 7% higher).  Her genomic test would indicate that she should easily live up to expectations though I will be looking to see if she has enough body depth and frame  to go VG as a 2yr.




AMMON-PEACHEY SHAUNA VG-87-2YR-USA - 2nd dam of lot 11

AMMON-PEACHEY SHAUNA VG-87-2YR-USA – 2nd dam of lot 11

For those of you looking to get into the hottest genomic families in the world, AMMON-PEACHEY SHAUNA VG-87-2YR-USA this is a great opportunity. There is no doubt that Robust has been the best mating on Shauna (Read – Ammon-Peachy Shauna – 2012 Golden Dam Finalist) and DE-SU BKM MCCUTCHEN is a great follow up cross, combining two of the biggest index families in the world. With eight females to choose from you are pretty much guaranteed to get a list topper.







With so much selective mating, it’s getting harder to find list toppers that are outcrosses to the major bloodlines.  In BUTZ-HILL OH MY-MY you get no Shottle, Bolton, or Planet in the pedigree and DGV for LPI over 3400.  On top of that her 3rd dam is none other than EASTSIDE LEWISDALE GOLD MISSY EX-95-CAN. This cross is a great blend of production, durability and health & fertility.  Though watch for her to have slightly less type than expected.  A close inspection of the heifer will reveal if she is a potential VG 2yr old, and if she passes, you may have an extremely rare genetic package.  (Note also selling in the World Classic sale is her Shamrock sister who has slightly lower genomic numbers).



World Classic 2012

Date: October 5th, 2012
Location: Alliante Energy Center
Catalogue –



RF GOLDWYN HAILEY EX-97  - dam of lot 1

RF GOLDWYN HAILEY EX-97 – dam of lot 1

With her full sister RF GOLDWYN HALONA VG-88-2YR-CAN, RF GOLDWYN HAILEY EX-97 sent notice to the world at this year’s Expo Quebec (Read – The Story Behind How Two Full Sisters Dominated Expo Quebec) that she is more than just a fluke and that there really is  great breeding behind this 3rd generation EX.  After spending last year in Missy’s shadow, she will be a strong contender to win it all (Read – Who’s Next? World Dairy Expo Holstein Show Preview).  Selling in the classic sale is her Pine-Tree Sid daughter.  While Goldwyn has proven to be a great cross on Hailey’s dam MELLHOLM LOUIE HANAH EX-92-2E CAN 2 combining the chest width, body depth and pin width of Hanah on the bone quality and set of legs and the proven ability to sire show winners of Goldwyn.  The question becomes, “Is Sid the correct cross on Hailey?”  There is no doubt that the heifer should have a bolted on udder, so it really comes down to her legs, dairyness and frame.  The real question then becomes “does she have the legs to be the next generation of great show cow?”



HARVUE ROY FROSTY EX-97 - dam of lot 2

HARVUE ROY FROSTY EX-97 – dam of lot 2

Selling as the second lot is the daughter of the other expected contender for Grand Champion in the Holstein show HARVUE ROY FROSTY EX-97.  However, for Frosty this is become second nature to her, as she has been Supreme at Madison in 2009 and 2010.  It`s interesting to surmise, how the daughter of Hailey drew lot 1 status compared to the daughter of the already ‘been there done that’ HARVUE ROY FROSTY EX-97?  Maybe it is because of the calve’s actual conformation?  This cross causes me the same concerns as the Atwood out of COOKVIEW GOLDWYN MONIQUE VG-89-3YR-CAN (Lot 1 in the Planet Holstein Sale), in that  you may have too much Goldwyn in the pedigree?  While there is no doubt that Goldwyn has been the most dominant show sire of the past decade, I am wondering if his son FUSTEAD GOLDWYN GUTHRIE will bring the needed mobility that this cross needs.





What happens when you combine probably the most popular young show cow in the world, CRAIGCREST RUBIES GOLD REJOICE VG-89-2YR-CAN with what could be the next great type sire, REGANCREST-GV S BRADNICK (read more – 7 Sires to Use in Order to Breed the Next World Dairy Expo Champion)?The answer is  you get CRAIGCREST REJOICE AYAME.  While there has been much discussion among show breeders if they should use high type genomic young sires on great show cows, that is exactly what Elgin Craig did with this mating.  On paper, it is an amazing cross.  The heifer has Parent Averages in the double digits for all major type traits.  While many might argue that Rejoice did not need much improvement, Bradnick does bring the rump improvement that was needed based on sire stack.  In addition, what a sire stack it is, Bradnick x Goldwyn x Dundee, that is a potent type stack.  If this heifer lives up to her sire stack, she could be a very special one in her own right.





For those of you that would prefer to invest in a little more established show stack, there is Morsan Miss Demeanour.  Demeanour is an Aftershock from EASTSIDE LEWISDALE GOLD MISSY EX-95-CAN.  Here you get a proven sire that is (+16 Conformation, +3.32 PTAT) from last year’s Supreme Champion.  However, it will be interesting to see if this heifer will have enough frame and capacity to compete at the highest levels.




LOT 46 – DE-SU ECOYNE 2043

DE-SU 7091 - 2nd dam of lot 46

DE-SU 7091 – 2nd dam of lot 46

For those of you looking for an index fix, there is DE-SU ECOYNE 2043.  With a GPA TPI of +2501 and GPA LPI of +3642 this heifer is one of the highest anywhere in the world (#19 GTPI in the USA).  Those not 100% confident in genomics may call this a risky play (The French maternal brother to CO-OP BOSSIDE MASSEY and cow family still to prove itself on the proven sire side).  This heifer has DGV values 9% higher than her already world leading indexes (DGV LPI +3967).  She has some of the highest production, durability and health & fertility numbers I have ever seen, but it is the type cross that has me concerned.  There is no doubt this heifer will have an outstanding udder.  I will be watching to see what how clean her legs are as well as how much frame she has.  These are both limiting factors of her dam and sire. (Also note that since so little marketing has been done of the family you will be pulling the bulk of the work yourself.  The numbers are great, but that is only half of the story).



SCIENTIFIC DELUXE RAE EX-91 - dam of lot 48

SCIENTIFIC DELUXE RAE EX-91 – dam of lot 48

For those that want to dial the genomic dial back a notch, and kick it a little more old school, have a look at SPEEK-NJ ATWD DELLA RAE.  Here you have a marriage of the Adeens and the Roxies.  The number of World Dairy Expo winners in this pedigree is outstanding.  You have a potent type sire stack with the genomic test to back it all up.  The interesting part about this lot is that it’s not only her that is up for sale.  They are also offering 11 pregnancies, so you are able to kick start your program in a big hurry.  Therefore, if you believe in the heifer, you are able to hit the ground running.  It will be interesting to see what price will be paid for such a large package from a virgin heifer who is not an index topper.



In all the excitement of World Dairy Expo there will be money flying everywhere.  From the show cows that will sell in the barn to the many animals selling in these and other sales a, there will certainly be lots to talk about.  For those who are wanting to get a head start or just see what all the hype is about, these lots will make sure your basis are covered.



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Gillette Visions 2012: Lots to watch for

Heading to the Gillette Visions 2012 Sale next week?  Wanting to invest in some great cattle?  I am answering “Yes!” to both questions. However, before I go to what is sure to be a great sale, I am going to analyze the lots that catch my eye so I can decide which would be good ones to invest in.  While I am sure Lot 1, Gillette S Planet 2nd Snooze VG-86 2Yr will sell very well.  I am looking for the lots that maybe won’t be the sale toppers but offer great value to those looking to get started in investing in top cattle.  The following are my 10 lots that “look-good-on-paper”.  It will be interesting to see if they have the goods on sight too. (Note: Click here for full sales results, photo’s and analysis).(Read Top Three Things To Consider when Investing In High  Genomic Heifers And 6 Ways to Invest $50,000 in Dairy Cattle Genetics).





First catching my eye is the heifer with the highest direct genomics in the sale GILLETTE EPIC JINGLE (DGV LPI +3768).  Jingle’s DGV for LPI is over 1000 points higher than her parent average, telling you she got the best of GILLETTE SHOTTLE JEWELL VG-86-3YR CAN (Maternal sister to Gillette Jordan) and GENERVATIONS EPIC (A sire that seems to consistently leave progeny with DGV’s higher than the parent average).  Epic should bring the feet and leg improvement that Jewell needs, though I will be looking closely at this calf to see if she has enough dairy strength.  While Jewell scores well for dairy strength, the sire stack indicates that this could be her challenge.



Dam of lot 61 - BENNER PLANET JAKOVA GP-83-2YR

Dam of lot 61 – BENNER PLANET JAKOVA GP-83-2YR

Next to catch my eye is the heifer with the highest official genomic evaluation in the sale DONNANDALE EPIC JAYLO (GLPI + 3536).  From the #3 LPI cow in Canada, BENNER PLANET JAKOVA GP-83-2YR, Epic is a nice cross on Jakova as you notice, both by her genetics and classification that she needs the rump and mammary system improvement that Epic will provide.  Epic also brings the much-needed attention to health and fertility that is gaining importance to many breeders around the world.  While the GP-83-2yr old score on Jakova might scare some away, given the herd that she is in, and the way the industry is heading, (Read more – Is Good Plus Good Enough) it does not concern me.



Dam of lot 10 - R-Z BAXTER CARAMEL VG-89-2YR-CAN

Dam of lot 10 – R-Z BAXTER CARAMEL VG-89-2YR-CAN

Catching my eye for her outstanding and unique sire stack (Sudan x Baxter x Goldwyn x Justice) is MARYCLERC SUDAN CARAMINE the Sudan daughter of R-Z BAXTER CARAMEL VG-89-2YR-CAN.  From the heart of the Ralma Christmas Fudge Family (Read more 2012 Golden Dam), this pedigree has it all, production, durability, and health and fertility.  Combine that with a dam who is the 3rd generation VG-89-2yr and you have a potent breeding package.



3rd dam of lot 8 & 9 - RALMA CHRISTMAS COOKIE VG-89-3YR-USA DOM

3rd dam of lot 8 & 9 – RALMA CHRISTMAS COOKIE VG-89-3YR-USA DOM

Possessing the highest sire stack in the sale are Caramine’s sisters by Snowman, CLEROLI SNOWMAN CARAMILK and her full sister GILLETTE SNOWMAN CASSIDY. Giving the edge to Caramilk, I would be most interested in the one that possesses the best rump. That is the one type area in this cross that concerns me. For that and the health and fertility aspects I would give an edge to the Sudan mating on Baxter Caramel (see preceding selection).





For those of you looking for a more immediate impact there is RALMA-RH MANOMAN BANJO.  Also from the Ralma Christmas Fudge Family ((Read more 2012 Golden Dam), Banjo is fresh and if living up to expectations should look amazing.  In Banjo you get a fresh 2yr old that is ready to rock and roll.  Her DGV’s are 342 points over current GPA LPI, so the potential for great things to come is there.  I am sure she will be generating loads of attention, I will be closely looking at her feet and legs to see if she can outperform her pedigree in this area.



2nd dam of lot 20 - REGANCREST G BROCADE EX-92-4YR-USA DOM

2nd dam of lot 20 – REGANCREST G BROCADE EX-92-4YR-USA DOM

I have been watching the storyline for FARNEAR BROCADE P BUFFY for a while now (Read – Shooting for Planet Buffy) and this cross of Windbrook has me very intrigued.  CLEROLI MP WINDBROOK BLUFFY DGV LPI of +3365 is 870 points higher than her parent average (2495).  In this pedigree you go right back into the heart of one of the greatest breeding cows in the world today REGANCREST-PR BARBIE EX-92 GMD DOM (Read – 2012 Golden Dam Finalists).  I am always looking for animals that are extremes and there is no question that Windbrook Buffy has gotten the best that Windbrook and Brocade P Buffy have to offer.  I also like this cross because Planet has tremendous health traits and Windbrook would protect the feet and legs and add strength.



2nd dam of lot 22 - REGANCREST G BRIZELDA EX-90-4YR-USA DOM

2nd dam of lot 22 – REGANCREST G BRIZELDA EX-90-4YR-USA DOM

Continuing in the Regancrest breeding comes LESPERRON BOULDER BREEZEL the Boulder daughter of REGANCREST-I SANCHEZ BREEZE VG-86-2YR.  Breeze’s dam REGANCREST G BRIZELDA is one of the top PTAT cows in the world.  She of course is the daughter of REGANCREST-PR BARBIE EX-92 GMD DOM.  What catches my attention with Breezel is, not only how much her DGV’s are higher than her PA’s (2472 vs. 2154), but also how insanely high her DGV’s for conformation are (+22 Conf.).  There really is no question that she has the ability to continue Barbie’s ability to transmit great conformation.  It’s something this family does like clockwork.





A sleeper lot for me might be MIDLEE EXPLODE VICTORIE.  While Victorie’s dam APPLERIDGE GOLDWYN VICK VG-87 is not a household name and I have expressed my concerns about Explode in the past (Read – Eight Proven Holstein Sires To Watch For or To Watch Out For), this lot  still gets my attention.  She possesses strong production, durability, health and fertility numbers and  has  good honest breeding, generation after generation tracing back to SUNNYLODGE CHIEF VICK ET VG-86-2YR-CAN 31*.  If you are looking for a good breeding cow family, this may be the cost effective lot for you.



2nd dam of lot 59 - DE-SU 7051 VG-88-6YR-USA DOM

2nd dam of lot 59 – DE-SU 7051 VG-88-6YR-USA DOM

Rounding out this epic list (pun intended) is LOOKOUT-PESCE EPIC NEVIS.  I have been looking for ways to get into the De-Su breeding program and Nevis provides that, since she is an Epic daughter of DE-SU 9842.  This heifer is a genomic triple threat possessing production, durability and health and fertility.  With her Supersonic sister selling for $46,000 in the Island Heat Wave sale and Nevis having the higher DGV’s, it will be interesting to see what she brings.


The Bullvine Bottom Line

While I still want to see each of these lots (plus some others) live, these are the ones that stand out as having the greatest potential return for the investment dollar.  And hey, if you’re at the sale, come over and say, “Hi!”   I always enjoy talking with passionate dairy breeders.

To get your copy of the catalogue click here.



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Which is Your Most Profitable Cow?

Early in my working career, working as a dairy cattle improvement specialist, I was invited to take part in a dairy producer education day with the theme of “Which is your most profitable cow?” That morning program had been organized by an Agriculture Agent in an area not far from my home farm. This effective educator had had a long career as a County Agent, specializing in farm bookkeeping and the use of records on the farm. His plan for the day was to have a variety of speakers who would bring varying points of view on cows that could make a profit. The day had over 150 people in attendance. He had done a good job of getting the crowd out. He wanted producers to go home with ideas on genetics, feeding, management and record keeping. I, personally, learned a great deal from the points of view shared by both the speakers and the crowd.

Is it the show kind?

The lead-off speaker was a well known showman who two years previously had purchased a tall, deep bodied, sharp chined, good uddered four year old cow with feet and legs that were not the best. He had worked with the cow to get her to walk just right in order for her not to show off her questionable feet and legs. He had done such a good job that the previous year she had been Grand Champion at the Royal, All Canadian and eventually her daughters would also do very well at Madison. Everyone in the crowd knew what he had paid for the cow, as she’d been purchased at a public auction. So the excellent showman and cow developer described how he would be able to sell sons of her to AI and daughters and granddaughters to foreign countries. That for him was his most profitable cow, yet for the vast majority in the crowd they could not personally identify with this showman. Buying cows in the rough and developing them was not in their expertise. The speaker did not get any questions.

Is it the balanced kind?

The next speaker was the sire analyst from a successful AI coop, who had recently been designated as an Official Judge and who would go on to be a very successful international dairy cattle judge. He spoke about bulls that can consistently sire daughters that can win in the show ring and at home can produce very good volumes of milk with a minimum of 3.8% butterfat. His speech mainly dealt with how a sire analyst uses his knowledge to search the breed office records before he goes on-farm to check out all members of the family of young sires already on the ground and that could pass health tests to enter into the young sire sampling program. Many in the crowd were interested in his presentation as dairy cattle breeders always want to know who the next hot bull is. However the producers present did not go away with any gems of knowledge on which would be the bull they should start using. Balancing strengths and limitations gives an average but not necessarily profit.

Is it the index kind?

At that time, nearly four decades ago, cow indexes for production traits had just been produced by genetic researchers and were starting to be used by some early adopters. So the third speaker was a recent college graduate whose family farm had decided to invest in two cow families that had placed cows at or near the top of the index list. This speaker, although not long in the tooth as a cattle breeder, was eager, entertaining and informative on what he had learned in buying into the cow families. He spoke of BLUP and the need to treat all cows in a herd in a like manner for accurate indexing. However few in the crowd comprehended the value or benefit of cow indexing or how that could be translated into cow profitability. From the questions asked of this speaker, it was obvious that there were more doubters than believers in the crowd. By the way, this speaker through sound business and breeding decisions and the use of ET has developed an excellent herd of high performing cows earning him a Master Breeder designation. But, on that day, his speech did not resonate with the crowd on what should be their most profitable cow.

Can you use a pencil to calculate?

I was the fourth speaker on the program. Newly out of graduate school where I had developed the “Dollar Difference Guide to Dairy Sire Selection” I was to speak about that new listing service. I focused my presentation on how to use the guide when selecting proven bulls to produce profitable cows. The formula was similar to the present day Net Merit index only it did not include traits beyond milk and fat. The Dollar Difference would eventually be replaced by the Canadian LPI system for ranking both males and females. I received many questions both in support and questioning how dairy cattle could be bred using just numbers and not the human eye. In fact the crowd all on their own debated the merits of selecting for yield only, selecting for the balanced Canadian kind or the merits of selecting only for the recently adopted Canadian Holstein true type model. To say the least I learned much that day about delivering a speech, about getting the crowd involved in the discussion and how to react as a speaker to both support and criticism. Yet, in the end, I likely did not help producers when they went home to breed profitable cows.

What works in the barn?

The final speaker was a quiet middle aged man, who dairy farmed locally with his wife. They milked thirty cows in an older tie stall barn, having taken over the farm when his father had been killed in a farm accident. They were raising a family of five very bright children, two of whom were already in university. They were devoted pupils of the county agent’s farm records and bookkeeping club. I had heard many in the crowd during the coffee break time question what this man could bring to the crowd as he seldom attended cattle shows, their children’s 4H calves were always at the bottom of the class, he did not attend breed meetings and they only owned a few purebred cows. He started his speech with an explanation of how people learn and then proceed to describe his most profitable cow. She always stood in the same stall at the far end of the barn. It had a steel plate as the floor over the stable cleaners. She was a purebred Holstein classified Good 76, milked ten percent below the herd average, gave milk of 5% butterfat, ate mainly the feed swept to her that the other cows did not eat, never kicked, was loved by his children, first calved at 24 months, conceived every time on first AI service, had never seen the vet, never had mastitis and was now 72 months old milking in her fifth lactation. Well the crowd, almost laughing, thought he was joking. He wasn`t! For him she was his most profitable cow. Obviously the county agent had selected him to speak because his views were different from what all of the breed, DHI and AI recommendations would be and from what the other speakers thought to be the most profitable cow.

Lesson learned?

At the end of the day, I spoke with many producers present and the buzz was about the final speaker. They remarked on how he had made the day beneficial for them because he had shared real life practical experience with them. His way of farming meant breeding cattle, raising a family and that cows were present on farms to bring financial returns to the farm and not just to look pretty. These were all points I heard mentioned by the crowd. Yes profit is in the eye of the beholder. Dairy cows exist to feed the world. And yes every cow does not fit every dairyman’s view of the most profitable cow.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Every farmer and every farm has their own individual situation. One type of cow is not the most profitable for everyone. But it is important that every cattle breeder takes the time to decide which, for them personally, is the most profitable cow. And then it’s equally important that they take the next step and breed for that type of cow. Your reality is the source for your profit..

What has your experience been?  Please share in comments box below.



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Top Three Things to Consider When Investing In High Genomic Heifers

Over the past year there have been prices in excess of $200,000 dollars paid for high indexing genomic heifers.  For many breeders the changes that have resulted from the higher reliability that genomics provides has prompted them to invest “the farm” when it comes to buying into these potential cash cows.  However, where to invest your money and which animals are worth it and which ones are not can be a very risky proposition.  With that in mind, we compiled the following recommendations

Making the short list

While purchasing the #1 GLPI heifer may provide you with the greatest chance of getting a top cow, it is not a guarantee.  In looking at the top 10 GLPI heifers, you notice an interesting range with most having an LPI of 3200 to 3400 points, but there are some that have GLPI’s of 2300 to 2500.  You don’t have to buy into the very top of the list, but it does make it easier. Similar is true for the GTPI list as well.  Though it’s highly recommended that you purchase a heifer who has DGV’s higher than her parent average.



There are also cow families that seem to be increase significantly generation after generation.  One such family is the world renowned Lila Z family.  While Lila Z herself is only 1165 GLPI, descendants are currently the #1 GLPI heifer and #1 GLPI bull.  That is because generation after generation in this family seems to come to the top.  This means that you can consider purchasing embryos or heifers from animals that have a GLPI of about 2900+ or 2000 GTPI if it is a family that has proven to produce much higher genomic progeny generation after generation. But be careful don’t assume that they all will.  Check the family history.



Lesson:  While purchasing at the top provides you with the greatest potential it is worth taking the time to see how your choice stands up generation after generation.  Certain cow families like Lylehaven Lila Z and Ammon-Peachey Shauna seem to consistently put out high genomic descendants.

Never Under Estimate the Power of the Stack

When it comes to providing the greatest reliability for your investment, nothing compares to looking at the sire stack.  One thing I have learned from your tried and true breeders is whether you are breeding for index or show cattle, nothing beats a good sire stack.  Proven sires have a much higher reliability than genetic predictors do.  A heifer’s sire stack is a great way to eliminate the hothouse effect (for more check out it’s in her genes…).

Lesson:  When investing in dairy cattle it can often be buyer beware, a great way to mitigate the risk when purchasing into cow families that you are not familiar with is to look at their sire stack.

Flush History

Nothing can make or break an investment in genomic heifers like a poor flush history.  You will make or break the bank depending on how well they flush.  As the numbers show in What comes first the chicken or the egg?  There really is no comparison when it comes to the most important factor in the profitability of your genetic and embryo programs.  In fact, for each embryo flush where a donor is able to produce over 10 eggs per flush, you will typically see 24% greater return on your investment.  It takes a rare case (1 in a million) to have a cow that flushes less than seven embryos per flush to be a profitable investment.

Lesson: as much as you spend a great deal of time researching the pedigree and looking at your potential purchase’s conformation, there really is nothing more important than her own and her family’s historical flush ability.  Take the time to make sure that the animal you are considering will be able to flush 7+ embryos per time.  If you are not sure they will, or there isn’t an available flush history on the family (strongly maternal) wait.  Look for a new animal.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

With big dollars being spent on top genomic heifers, and even more breeders wanting to get into investing in top genomic heifers, taking the time to do your homework is very important.  Investing in the correct families which have generation after generation of proven genetics can save you future headaches.  Taking the time to make sure that they are able to produce significant numbers of embryos can make you a great deal of money.  (To learn more about his read 6 Ways to Invest $50,000 in Dairy Cattle Genetics). Take the time to consider these factors and you will see the reward for it.

What has your experience been?  Please share in comments box below.



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Dairy Cattle Showing: For Ego or Profit?

There is no question that, for many dairy breeders, there is nothing more exciting than winning at the Royal or Madison.  Along with the fame comes the fortune.  But what happens for the other 99% of people who don’t win?  Do they make any money?  Does their need for inner self-gratification get satisfied?

There are many reasons that breeders show their cattle at the local fair, such as supporting their local community, or helping teach their children the joys of the dairy cattle community.  However, when it comes to competing at the championship, state and national level, is there really justification for the time, effort and expense?

Over the years, I have seen a few things happen when it comes to making money in the show cattle business:

  1. A breeder either “gets lucky” or “by design” breeds a great one, and, if they are fortunate enough to know what they have, they sell it for a significant profit to one of the many cattle dealers that run the roads.
  2. When it comes to buying the top animals, it really comes down to a small group of buyers.  These buyers seem to trade cattle like they are playing cards, and it’s hard to tell if money is actually being made, or is it the same money going around in circles.
  3. Unknowing breeders purchase progeny from these cattle hoping that they can breed the next great one.  (For more on this read Great Show Cows: Can They Pass It On?)

Should Dairy Cattle be more like Race Horses?

The dairy cattle industry is not like the horse racing industry that has gambling revenue to support their cause.  I can still remember in Ontario when they wanted to add slot machines to the horse racing tracks and the breeders fought it tooth and nail.  In the end it more than quadrupled there prize money and made many breeders very very rich.  Is there any way we could add betting on show results?  (Oh wait that is a can of worms we may not want to touch. Watch for it in a future Bullvine article).

In reality, the only ones that really make money at this are the small few that have a class winner at Madison or the Royal, or those that are fortunate enough to get lucky with a homebred animal that can compete at the National level.  All the rest are spending a great deal of money to support their ego.

Athletes vs. Doctors

I equate it to the same amount of money that big time sports players make.  Yes, you see these million dollar contracts for the big name athletes.  However, for every one of those there are twenty that you never heard of that spent a great deal of time and energy chasing a dream.  The scary part is that, much like in real life, the big name athletes seem to make more money than say a doctor.  They’re good at a game.  Doctor’s save lives.  The same is true at the top sales.  You see the major show cattle selling for millions of dollars and yet the top LPI or TPI cattle don’t sell for as much.  Don’t the top TPI or LPI cows drive the most profit for dairy breeders? Shouldn’t they command the highest prices?

The Bullvine Bottom Line

When investing in show cattle the big question you need to answer is why you are doing it.  Are you investing to make a huge profit?  If so I wish you luck.  However, if you are investing because you love preparing  great cattle to parade in top showcase events or love the thrill of competing against the best in the business then more  power to you.  The big thing is know your own reasons and stay within what works for your operation.  Profit. Ego. Passion.  Where do you pull into the line?



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LESSONS LEARNED: 6 Dairy Cattle Investment Secrets Revealed

As hints of summer start to make their mark on farms and fields across Canada, future farmers look forward to the end of another school year, however, school is always in, when it comes to breeding cattle. There is always something new to be learned by those who want to move to the head of the class. How many checkmarks have you got on your breeding report card?



Gary Hazeleger of Hanalee Holsteins,  has 20/20 vision when he looks back on the success he and fellow-investors, Hazbro and Darcroft, have had since purchasing Mapel Wood Shottle Lili in 2010 at the International Intrigue Sale, hosted by Mapel Wood.

6 Dairy Cattle Investment Secrets

  1. Investing in cattle is not for the faint of heart.
    For most of us, it helps to analyze the success achieved by others and see what, if anything, applies to our own particular situation. Gary Hazeleger of Embro Ontario accepts the always changing aspect of cattle breeding. He notes that “Although Genomics has added a new measure of confidence to decision making, there is still nothing that guarantees a 100% sure thing when you’re investing in cattle.”
  2. Identify the most correct animal.
    Gary starts the report card on Lili by describing his own first impression of her. “I remember seeing her as a baby calf and thinking that she was the most correct calf in the sale. She was a little bit small to show as a calf but still very correct.” With his interest aroused, he goes on to explain what sealed the deal. “It didn’t hurt that both Comestar Goldwyn Lilac and Lylehaven Lila Zhad been two of my favorite cows over the past few years. So a few of us got together and decided to purchase Lili.”






  3. Expect a true winner to be a hard worker too.
    In the dairy business, it’s counterproductive if you have to baby your genetic leaders. Gary Hazeleger had no such problems after deciding to go with Shottle Lili. “Of course, the last two years have confirmed that this was the right decision. Lili is amazing to work with. She just does her thing every day. She milks a lot, doesn’t get sick and stands there looking great all day long. She is a real pet in the barn.” Who could ask for anything more? Nobody. But this VG-88 2 year old goes above and beyond ordinary. “She is a tremendous dairy cow with an amazing udder and a perfect set of feet and legs. As for production she is really using up a good chunk of the quota we have right now. Her 2 year old projections are 305d 14929 5.4F 951 3.1P 501 (BCA 375 657 398). She had 6.8% butterfat on her last test.”
  4. Learn to Deal with the Repercussions.
    Is there a downside to all this investment success? “Yes!” says Hazeleger. “She makes staying under quota very difficult.” And, wouldn’t you know, this overachiever doesn’t stop there. “We have only flushed her once in her first lactation and she produced 16 eggs by Lauthority.” Of course, this is having a very positive impact on Hazeleger’s herd. “Whenever you have a young cow such as Lili in your barn, it makes you more excited to get up in the morning and also brings more interest into the rest of your herd. It seems that it’s almost every day that someone new wants to stop in and see her and, while they’re visiting, they see all the other cows as well.”
  5. Spread the Good News
    Hazeleger confirms that the interest goes well beyond the immediate area of Embro. “We have had a lot of interest in Lili from all over the world. Some of the countries include United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, United States and also Canada. Ten eggs from Lili’s first flush were sold to the UK.” All this interest is starting to focus on her progeny, which now includes two December 2011 Lauthority bulls and her February 2012 natural heifer by Pine-Tree Sid.
  6. Share the Secret of Your Success
    It certainly seems that his experience with Lili has put Gary Hazeleger in a great position to offer advice to breeders who are looking to purchase top genetics. “My advice would be to stick to good cow families and heifers that are sired by good bulls. With genomics now moving so quickly there are cows and bulls that come and go, but the good proven families always keep coming back such as the Lila Z’s, the Gypsy Grands and the Laurie Sheiks.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Only time will tell if Lili’s successful report card can be repeated but Gary thinks you can raise the odds of making the grade if you study two complimentary indicators – genomics and physical traits – that worked in her case:
“You need to purchase animals that not only have high genomics but ones that also are very correct in their physical traits.” Gary Hazeleger



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Holstein vs. Jersey: Which Breed Is More Profitable?

For years, Jersey breeders have touted their high fertility rates, calving ease, and greater milk solids than Holsteins as a viable alternative to Holstein breeders looking to increase their profits. A recent Holstein International article, Feed Conversion: Building a More Efficient Engine, adds another item to the list, feed conversion.

Jersey the More Efficient Engine

A recent research paper in the Journal for Dairy Science compared the input requirements of two different production systems, Holsteins and Jerseys to produce a given amount of cheese. In their research of over 13,000 herds spread across 45 states, Dr. Jude Capper and Dr. Roger Caddy found that it would take 109 Jerseys to produce the same amount of cheese as 100 Holsteins. What they also found was that they would have just 74% of the body mass and produce 81% of the milk volume, 80% of the Green House Gases and would only require 68% of the water and 89% of the land requirements. So in essence Jerseys would be more efficient at producing the same amount of cheese.

Jersey as Percentage of Holstein

In their article, Holstein International also points out another Dairy Science paper published last year that looked at feed intake studies for 4 breed groups: Holstein, Holstein x Jersey, Jersey x Holstein and Jersey where all cows were fed the same ration, were housed in the same type of pens and were milked together. The results found that Holstein had the highest intake and the highest production yield. However, Jersey converted a higher percentage of their intake to production than Holstein did.

Item Holstein










669 (6.8%)

599 (6.4%)

496 (5.2%)

334 (4.2%)


1,666 (27.25)

2,468 (26.5%)

2,425 (25.6%)

2,085 (26.2)


27 (0.3%)

32 (0.3%)

33 (0.3%)

21 (0.3%)


5,968 (60.8%)

6,057 (65.1%)

6,162 (65.0%)

5,259 (66.0%)

New Zealand Leading the Way

As the dairy industry moves away from focusing solely on overall production and starts to focus more on the overall profitability of their farming operations, key metrics like feed conversion are sure to gain increased importance in breeding programs. Similar to how Scandinavian countries lead the way with Health traits, countries like New Zealand are leading the way by using body weight as an indicator of feed intake and making it apart of the Breeding Worth (BW) index. Countries such as Australia have also started to incorporate weight into their national indexes by using type classification data as a predictor of body weight. While body weight in time may not be the best measure of efficiency, it is what is currently available. One of the interesting findings was that even under the New Zealand system the cows are getting larger, though at a slower than expected rate.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

It is clear that the dairy industry is moving towards producing a more profitable cow. With low heritable health traits already gaining a great deal of focus, it only makes sense that the next step will include efficiency. For many Holstein breeders this may be a wake up call that they need. In the same way that other industries first focused on overall production and then had to put more focus on efficiency, dairy producers now have to do the same. For many breeders this may mean either cross-breeding with the more efficient Jersey bloodlines or putting greater focus on efficiency in their breeding programs. Never forget for one moment that feed costs represent 55% of the inputs on a dairy operation. Efficiencies gained here can be significant. It’s no longer about who can produce the most, it is about who can produce the most with the least cost.


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Misty Springs Clearly On Course!

Whether the topic is stocks, real estate or cattle breeding, it is important to do your homework and capitalize on the information available to you. That is what Dominique and Kathy Merminod owner operators of Misty Springs Holsteins did with their best investment decision to date. “Investing in Willsona Freelance Sizzle at the Gen-I-Beq sale has certainly been the most profitable.”



Look at Pedigrees from Both Sides of the Family

Profits are the obvious measure of success for any area of investing but the Merminods of Little Britain Ontario add. “The investment into the Aldonhill Brilliance Red family has been the most consistently rewarding investment. This would be both on the male and female side of the equation.”  This double payback is a recurring theme when the couple report on the successes they have achieved.  “Consistent breeding patterns within the family both on the maternal and paternal side of the pedigree are important to us. From the animal themselves we look for a good balance of dairy strength and open rib.”




Learn from the Past … avoid the “If Only” regrets   

The learning curve in cattle investing is steep. Occasionally you assess where you stand and perhaps think of modifications you might wish you’d made. The Merminods look at their investments analytically. “There aren’t really any of them that we wish we could have back. Every one of them has taught us something along the way and has had an impact on the decisions that we make today. We were runner up bidder on embryos from an Online embryo sale from Diamond Genetics. If we had only bid higher, we could have had animals from Snowman’s family very early.”  Experience builds the confidence to take those risks.


The Right Partners …. A Marriage Made in Heaven

Some cattle investors mitigate the risk involved by working with partners. “We do so cautiously” is how Kathy and Dominique assess their philosophy in this area. “If we are working with partners, we look for someone who is like-minded and shares the same breeding goals that we have.” This husband and wife team sums it up in their own terms. “The problem with partners is that it is very much like a marriage without the benefits that keep it exciting!”


The View From the Far Side of Genomics

Genomics has had a tremendous impact on the industry.  The Merminods explain their approach. “We use Genomics as we would any other tool. We still look for consistency within the family and a balance of type and production. Genomics gives us an opportunity to increase the tools that we have at our disposal to make the selections for heifers and in selecting bulls to use. We don’t rely strictly on the numbers or select for only a few select traits. For us, balance and consistency are still of paramount importance.  The industry is still in the early stages of learning how to use genomic information and there are many mistakes to make along the way. It will be interesting to see what the next few years bring. We feel that using strictly young sires to stack numbers is not the way to go and could end up costing the industry as a whole and set the industry back in its breeding advances. We feel that there will be a shift of emphasis from health traits back to conformation because it seems that with the emphasis the way it currently is, and the numbers coming in the way we see them coming, we are going to lose in the area of conformation.”


Insider Tips

The potential for investing in dairy cattle is growing every day.  The Merminods have advice for new breeders who are starting to invest. “Look for an animal whose family transmits both on the female and male side of the pedigree. Chose an animal that you can breed from. Don’t be afraid to purchase the sister with the second highest genomics, she may the one who transmits. Make sure that the investment isn’t more then you can afford to lose.”



“There has been a shift in focus to health traits and genomic information. The average cow today is the equivalent of what would have been considered to be the highest level in past years. Make sure you do your homework and really examine all aspects of the pedigree.”  Dominique and Kathy Merminod, Misty Springs Holsteins



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What Comes First The Chicken Or The Egg?

When it comes to the profitability of your genetic programs, nothing compares to a cow’s ability to flush.  A good “chicken” will outperform a great cow that does not flush.  To demonstrate let’s take a look at a comparison of a “B” level cow that flushes well versus an “A” level cow that does not flush well.

Common Factors

Here are the common assumptions in both cases:

  • Boarding expense per day ($10)
  • Years of productive embryo production (3)
  • Flushes per year (4)
  • Flush strikeout ratio (25%)
  • Base cost per flush ($650)
  • Cost per embryo ($150)
  • Recipient price ($1,500)
  • Conception rate of recipients (45%)
  • Advertising expense/year ($1,500)
  • Other promotion expense ($500)
  • Ratio grade A/B embryos (70%)
  • Ugly duckling rate (40%)


“A” “B”
Purchase price $50,000 $25,000
Sale price per embryo $3,000 $1,500
Sale price per heifer $20,000 $10,000
Numbers of embryos per flush 5 10


“A” “B”
Total Revenue per flush $7,875.00 $7,875.00
Total cost per flush $3,087.50 $5,525.00
Total profit per flush $4,787.50 $2,350.00
Total heifer sales per year $8,748.00 $8,748.00
Total boarding expense $11,314.50 $11,679.00
Total promotional expenses $4,000.00 $4,000.00
Total Revenue $83,694.00 $54,444.00
Total Profit $18,379.50 $13,765.00
Return on investment 37% 55%

The Bullvine Bottom Line

As the numbers show, there really is no comparison when it comes to the most important factor in the profitability of your genetic and embryo programs.  In fact, for each embryo flush where a donor is able to produce over 10 eggs per flush, you will typically see 24% greater return on your investment.  It takes a rare case (1 in a million) to have a cow that flushes less than seven embryos per flush be a profitable cow.  Therefore, as much as you spend a great deal of time researching the pedigree and looking at your potential purchase’s conformation, there really is nothing more important than hers and her families historical flush ability.  Take the time to make sure that than animal will be able to flush 7+ embryos per time.  If you are not sure they will, or don’t have any flush history on the family (strongly maternal) wait. Look for a new animal.  Your pocket book will thank you.




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FERME PIERRE BOULET: First Comes Love Then Comes Genetics

When it comes to investing in cattle, there are those who only get it right some of the time and there are those who get it right quite often. Such a case could be made for Pierre Boulet, who has built Ferme Pierre Boulet Inc. on successful cattle investments based on his first impression. “The way that I have always bought, and the way that I will always buy, is to look first and foremost at the cow or heifer in front of me.  If I don’t like what I see in front of me, I don’t go any further.” Obviously, he has gone further more than once.  Looking back at several winners he starts by saying, “In each of their cases, I fell in love with the animal first. When I looked at their pedigrees, the breeding consistency of their dams and the great sire stacks, I knew that I had a low risk investment.”


PEDIGREE AND SIRE STACK: Don`t have one without the other

Pierre considers other factors before he makes the final commitment to invest. “When I like what I see, the next thing that I check is the pedigree for the family and the sire stack.  The family is obviously important because a solid family that consistently breeds well takes away a lot of risk.  At the same time, the importance of the sire stack is often disregarded.  When a cow or heifer is backed by several generations of great bulls it gives you the reassurance that there is solid, well proven genetics in her blood.” Located in East Central Quebec, Pierre is enthusiastic about cattle breeding and his growing list of winners.


STAR QUALITY: Laws of Attraction:

Pierre has no problem singling out the cow that rises to the top. “There is obviously Thrulane James Rose with all of the success that she has had she obviously creates an enormous amount of demand for genetics from her and her daughters.” And this leads him naturally to the most important reason Rose is special. “There is a whole other aspect that we have to consider with Rose and that is the publicity that she has generated for us. A cow like her puts our name out around the globe, attracts people to our farm and indirectly generates business for the other genetics that we offer.” Once the word is out, it’s a lot easier to share your breeding philosophy and the successes that have come from it.




FOUNDATION FAMILY: The Flush of Success

Ferme Pierre Boulet has excelled in both sales and the show ring. One investment has been especially important says Pierre. “I have to point out Viapax B C Madison who is now VG 6*.  I purchased her as a heifer in a sale.  She has become the source of a fantastic family for me which has had several show winners and breeds all around great cows.  I have been able to heavily flush her, her daughters and her grand-daughters, so she is really the foundation of a family that has generated lots of business for me.”


PEDIGREE POTENTIAL: The Future Looks Great

Pierre’s philosophy of love at first sight and strong cow families is working consistently for him. “Other cows that have turned into great investments for me are Howes B C Sassy EX-2E 7*, Pineland Goldwyn Tidbit VG-89 and Lindenright Goldwyn Royce VG-89-2YR.  Sassy I bought as a heifer, Tidbit and Royce as fresh young cows.  I always look for the future of an animal, how she will develop and her long-term potential.  In all of these cases they were animals that had the build to mature and develop extremely well.”







COMMON SENSES TELLS US “You Can’t Take The Bad Ones Back!”

There is no way to turn back the clock on a bad investment.  It’s tempting to think that those who are extremely successful in the cattle breeding business don’t ever make mistakes.  Pierre sets that legend to rest. “  There are always some that you wish you could take back, but that’s the name of the game.  One cow that comes to mind I had invested $40,000.  She was a great cow with a great pedigree. She did really well for us at the shows and we had fun with her.  However, we were never able to make our money back since we couldn’t get any embryos out of her and no calves either.  But that’s all part of the business. Every investment has risks and you have to be prepared to assume losses when there are risks involved.”


GENOMICS: Using This New Trend as an Added Tool

Obviously, in the last five years the whole genomics question comes into play for everyone in the cattle breeding business however Pierre feels it hasn’t changed his viewpoint. “Personally, the impact has not affected me all that much. I still go with the basics, look at the animal in front of me, consider the sire stack and family.  If she has these basics and the genomics are an interesting aspect of that particular animal, then I start to consider her numbers. At the moment many people rely entirely on genomics, and I think that we will see that tendency turn more toward using genomics as a tool that people consider (much like the way we used LPI scores)  rather than relying entirely on its outcome.”


BEAUTY AND FUNCTION: They Work for Everybody

The functional cow is a huge focus for our industry, as much for the show ring cows as the commercial cows.  Great feet and legs, great udders, and the importance of health traits will just continue to grow in popularity.  We work with lots of show cows and deal thousands of commercial cattle, udder quality, teat placement, rump angle and locomotion are characteristics that both markets put a lot of emphasis on. I think that the tendency to work towards a well-balanced, functional cow will continue to grow in popularity.


IT`S YOUR BUDGET: Make it Work for YOU!

Of course the budget that you have is a big consideration, when you have a considerable amount to invest, looking into good young cows (who have gone through the riskiest part of calving) who come from families reputed for their breeding capacity with great sire stacks is the best way to go.  I am not saying invest in a cow you think will clean up the Jr 2 class at The Royal, but you can go a long way breeding from a young cow that is VG first calf.  When someone has a bit less budget, investing in embryos from this same type of family, a family that has proven its breeding capacity and great sires is probably the best way to go.



The most important thing to consider and the first thing to look at is whether you like what you have in front of you or not. If you don’t like the cow, no matter what is behind her, you don’t go any further than that.




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Yvon Chabot: Invest In The Complete Package

The complete package can mean different things to different people. Yvon Chabot, President and General Manager of Cormdale Exports Ltd., has  many years of experience in the dairy industry judging, investing and working in sales. For him, the complete package must include type, pedigree and genomic potential.

 1. TYPE

At the top of Chabot’s list is type. “She doesn’t need to have show type, if it is an animal with numbers, but she needs to have good functional type, good feet and legs, good udder promise, width to her and a solid top line. She needs to be showing good development for her age.”




“Pedigree and sire line up” are second on Yvon’s criteria for a complete package. As an example, Yvon points to a purchase he made in February 2008 with Ferme Fleury of Victoriaville in Quebec. “We purchased Calbrett Shottle Lisamaree. She was a promising fresh two year old out of Shottle, who was emerging as a superstar with his second crop.” The investment has been very good. “We have sold daughters for top dollars, sold nearly 100 embryos and over 12 sons to AI. She is due now for her third calf and we hope to get her EX after she calves.”  Type and pedigree in the same package.


“In the past, I would have liked to buy milking young cows out of the hot sire of the moment. That is what happened when we bought Lisamaree.” But that was before genomics. In the changing marketplace, Yvon responds to new demands. “Now, most of the genetic business is done with virgin heifers in order to produce the next generation of high indexing animals. Now, I would say, that heifers between 4-8 months would be the age group where I would like to buy into.” Young sires with high genomics are used extensively in flushing. Everybody wants to have the #1 heifer/bull of the next generation.


  • Do your own homework
    You’ve heard it before, but Yvon says it again. “Look at sales reports from the last 6-12 months, to see which cow families, which offspring of which bull and what level of indexes bring top dollars .This will give you an indication   of the possible returns on potential investments. Talk to merchandisers, export agents and AI people to gather as much information as possible on cow families, what sires are being used and so on.
  • Be patient
    Don’t expect your investment to be paid for in full within six months. Think long term. Sometimes, if flush performance is not great it may take longer to see a return. You might not be able to move too many embryos, but, with time, merchandising live offspring could make your investment valuable.





It is a proud day when everything you’re looking for comes together in one animal as it did for Chabot and his partners when they purchased Lylehaven Lila Z. “We purchased her the week after I had placed her at the Royal Winter Fair in 2002. It was kind of special as it was the first significant investment I was making on my own. She had been purchased with Gen-I-Beq group and Mary Inn Holsteins.” She went on to perform, winning the All-Canadian title in the Junior Yearling class. “We later sold Lila Z for a significant amount of money to Albert Cormier and Genervations a few months before she was due with her first calf.” For Chabot, Lila Z’s impact did not end with her sale. Yvon bought her daughter at the Comestar Sale in 2006. “I invested in Comestar Goldwyn Lava, the Goldwyn daughter of Lila Z along with Groupe Gen-I-Beq and a friend from France Frédéric Lepoint. We still own Lava. She has been a great donor and has become a great brood cow. We have been able to merchandise over 100 embryos from her and she has over 20 sons in AI around the world, many offspring have been sold for good money and we are working with her daughters .Her son Lavaman has been the top GLPI bull for a couple of proof rounds.” Lila Z certainly represents investing in the complete package.




The Bullvine Bottom Line

Success in cattle investing happens when you find the total package: “Lila Z wrote an impressive story. I am proud to be part of it.” Yvon Chabot




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CRASDALE COMMON SENSE: Go for the Total Package

Informed Viewpoint: Brian Craswell from Hunter River PEI often has the best seat in the house when it comes to studying cattle.  With his wife Amber, he has built Crasdale Farms Inc. into a thriving dairy operation. This lifelong on the job education has been further enhanced by his other business, Brian Craswell Auctions Ltd. Positioned behind the microphone he has the clearest sight lines in the building as great opportunities come and go in sales ring.  Over and over again he witnesses the thrill of getting in on an opportunity or the defeat when that opportunity is missed when the final hammer falls before a decision was made.  His other centre-of-the-showring position as show judge is probably the best view of all.  Brian has judged the Royal Winter Fair (2003) and World Dairy Expo (2010). He has traveled to many countries around the world to share his talent for ranking cattle. Of course Brian Craswell is well positioned to have an informed viewpoint on dairy cattle investing.

Winterbay Goldwyn Lotto  EX-95-5YR-USA

Winterbay Goldwyn Lotto EX-95-5YR-USA

Stick to a Winning Strategy:  When looking to invest in dairy cattle Brian starts with his own feelings. “First I have to like them.” In today’s market, he then looks for two other attributes:  cow family and genomics. “I want the total package.” Says Brian who points to Winterbay Goldwyn Lotto as the best investment he ever made in terms of profit and how the animal turned out.

Be Willing to Walk Away: Brian admits that not every deal has been perfect.  He says, “I heard about a cow once and made myself like her.  She wasn’t what I liked and she didn’t turn out.”  He probably wishes he had followed some good advice he was given. “An older dealer told me one time that if you have to make yourself like them, then walk away.”

You Don’t Win Every Time:  Despite knowing what to look for and Brian acknowledges that sometimes you walk away from a deal and sometimes the deal walks away from you. He recalls that this very thing has happened a few times.  “I almost bought Lacoulee Justine Goldwyn when she was a December calf and 4th at a show.  I didn’t and she went on to be Jr Champion at the Royal.  I was runner up on the Jr Champ from the Royal Winter Fair last year when she sold in The Canadian National Convention Sale.” He goes on, “I also was runner-up on Pineland Goldwyn Tidbit when she sold in our Opportunity East Sale as a 2 year old.” You don’t win every time.



Take Calculated Risks: Craswell Holsteins has invested in both young stock and already proven cattle.  Going back to his focus on cow families Brian points out, “I will not hesitate to buy young ones from great families that I like. Sometimes the calculated risk of buying them younger enables you to pay a little less.”

Keep Up With the Changing Marketplace:  In the past five years Brian sees that the marketplace “has changed immensely with the emphasis that is being placed on genomics.  This has driven the price of high genomic animals up and, in particular, the younger high animals.” He recognized that debate is going on. “Some would say that genomics has devalued animals.  I would argue that it has raised the bar on the high ones and widened the spread.”

Brian says, “In This Business, You Don’t Have a Crystal Ball”: But then he goes on to say “Genomics is here to say and the use of it will find its place.  Right now it is almost everything in the high end market.” He often refers to his philosophy of balance in the cow business and he foresees “genomics coming into balance with great cow families with numbers”.  Again he focuses on the complete package.

Know the market. Know your customer: There is so much to learn in this business and Brian encourages those who are starting to invest in dairy cattle to “try to find a member of one of the great cow families that has that total package and invest at the top end of genetics right from the start.” Of course this is expensive but by focusing on these top animals “you can cash flow it with embryo sales, while you build your own branch.”

BULLVINE BOTTOM LINE: It’s all about the package.

“You need to have the package that people want to successfully market your cattle business.” Brian Carswell, Crasdale Holsteins.



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6 Ways to Invest $50,000 in Dairy Cattle Genetics

If you are like many breeders who see the opportunity to invest in high-end genetics cattle but you’re not quite sure what way to do it, this article is for you. The days of finding that $40,000 2yr old and only having to pay $20,000 are far behind us.  Genomics has changed everything and those who have the top cattle know they have the top ones.  The following are six ways you can invest in top cattle.  We take a look at the risk in relation to the return as well as the outcomes you should expect.

1. The Complete Package – Invest in a $40,000 to $50,000 2yr old

This means you go out and buy the single best 2 year old you can afford in the $40,000 to $50,000 price range.  This means she is the complete package.  She has already calved, will score, or has already scored VG and is from a high in demand genomic family that has proven to be decent flush cattle.  Also remember not to sacrifice sire. It is very important that is animal not only has the top female side, but also the top sire stack.

Based on the above here are the expected inputs: Using the Dairy Cow Investment Calculator here is the expected performance:
Purchase price $50,000.00 Total Revenue per flush $9,187.50
Boarding expense per day $10 Total cost per flush $4,062.50
Years of productive embryo production 3 Total profit per flush $5,125.00
Flushes per year 4 Total heifer sales per year $7,654.50
Flush strike out ratio 25% Total boarding expense $11,460.30
Base cost per flush $650.00 Total promotional expenses $4,000.00
Cost per embryo $150.00 Total Revenue $84,463.50
Recipient price $1,500.00 Total Profit $19,003.20
Conception rate of recipients 45% Return on investment 38%
Sale price per embryo $2,500.00
Sale price per live heifer $12,500.00
Advertising expense/year $1,500.00
Other promotion expense $500.00
Number of embryos per flush 7
Ratio grade A/B embryos 70%
Ugly duckling rate 40%


By purchasing the complete package you limit your risk while still delivering about a 12% return per year.


2. Hedge Your Bets – Invest in two $20,000 to $25,000 2yr olds

This means you go out and buy two potential VG two year olds that are decent flush potential, and while their progeny will not be sale toppers they will fit the mid-market.  Warning, buying the 4th best daughter of a cow, or maybe not a popular sire, thinking it will not matter, is a big mistake.

Based on the above here are the expected inputs: Using the Dairy Cow Investment Calculator here is the expected performance:
Purchase price $50,000.00 Total Revenue per flush $4,4100.00
Boarding expense per day $10 Total cost per flush $4,062.50
Years of productive embryo production 3 Total profit per flush $347.50
Flushes per year 4 Total heifer sales per year $11,022.48
Flush strike out ratio 25% Total boarding expense $20,920.60
Base cost per flush $650.00 Total promotional expenses $4,000.00
Cost per embryo $150.00 Total Revenue $41,407.44
Recipient price $1,500.00 Total Profit $(34,513.16)
Conception rate of recipients 45% Return on investment -77%
Sale price per embryo $1,200.00
Sale price per live heifer $9,000.00
Advertising expense/year $1,500.00
Other promotion expense $500.00
Number of embryos per flush 7
Ratio grade A/B embryos 70%
Ugly duckling rate 40%


Contrary to popular belief this mid-market strategy just does not work.  With the increased expenses from double the number of animals as well as the much lower sale price of animals, this strategy actually causes you to lose money.


3. They Could Be Big Time – Invest in two $20,000 to $25,000 heifers

This means you go out and buy the two best heifers you can find. That when calved you stand a strong chance of one going VG and is from a high in demand genomic family that has proven to be decent flush cattle.  This equation equates to one of the two turning out and the other one being just an average cow.  Remember: Don’t sacrifice sire stack.

Based on the above here are the expected inputs: Using the Dairy Cow Investment Calculator here is the expected performance:
Purchase price $50,000.00 Total Revenue per flush $9,187.50
Boarding expense per day $10 Total cost per flush $4,062.50
Years of productive embryo production 3 Total profit per flush $5,125.00
Flushes per year 4 Total heifer sales per year $9,185.40
Flush strike out ratio 25% Total boarding expense $11,460.30
Base cost per flush $650.00 Total promotional expenses $4,000.00
Cost per embryo $150.00 Total Revenue $89,056.20
Recipient price $1,500.00 Total Profit $23,595.90
Conception rate of recipients 45% Return on investment 47%
Sale price per embryo $2,500.00
Sale price per live heifer $15,000.00
Advertising expense/year $1,500.00
Other promotion expense $500.00
Number of embryos per flush 7
Ratio grade A/B embryos 70%
Ugly duckling rate 40%


By investing in two heifers you do increase your risk compared to buy a complete package 2 year old but you also increase your potential reward.


4. Heifer Hedge Your Bets – Invest in four $10,000 heifers

This means you go out and buy 4 heifers that have potential to be VG two year olds that have decent flush potential, and while their progeny will not be sale toppers they will fit the mid-market.  While the temptation may be to buy heifers of lesser demand sires, the risk in this play is very big.

Based on the above here are the expected inputs: Using the Dairy Cow Investment Calculator here is the expected performance:
Purchase price $50,000.00 Total Revenue per flush $4,410.00
Boarding expense per day $10 Total cost per flush $4,062.50
Years of productive embryo production 3 Total profit per flush $347.50
Flushes per year 4 Total heifer sales per year $11,022.48
Flush strike out ratio 25% Total boarding expense $20,920.60
Base cost per flush $650.00 Total promotional expenses $4,000.00
Cost per embryo $150.00 Total Revenue $41,407.44
Recipient price $1,500.00 Total Profit $(36,513.16)
Conception rate of recipients 45% Return on investment -81%
Sale price per embryo $1,200.00
Sale price per live heifer $9,000.00
Advertising expense/year $1,500.00
Other promotion expense $500.00
Number of embryos per flush 7
Ratio grade A/B embryos 70%
Ugly duckling rate 40%


Again similar to the mid-market cow strategy this approach just doesn’t work.  With the increased expenses from double the number of animals as well as the much lower sale price of animals, this strategy actually causes you to lose money.


5.  Go for the Gusto – Invest in best 15 embryos you can find

This means you go out and contract a high-genomic mating from a high in demand genomic family that has proven to be decent flush cattle.  Also, consider that you need to purchase recipients and raise the heifers, leaving you with 7 calves.  For the sake of this equation we will leave the bulls out of it and expect that one of the 3 females turns out as a two year old.

Based on the above here are the expected inputs: Using the Dairy Cow Investment Calculator here is the expected performance:
Purchase price $50,000.00 Total Revenue per flush $9,187.50
Boarding expense per day $10 Total cost per flush $4,062.50
Years of productive embryo production 3 Total profit per flush $5,125.00
Flushes per year 4 Total heifer sales per year $9,185.40
Flush strike out ratio 25% Total boarding expense $11,460.30
Base cost per flush $650.00 Total promotional expenses $4,000.00
Cost per embryo $150.00 Total Revenue $89,056.20
Recipient price $1,500.00 Total Profit $13,595.90
Conception rate of recipients 45% Return on investment -27%
Sale price per embryo $2,500.00
Sale price per live heifer $15,000.00
Advertising expense/year $1,500.00
Other promotion expense $500.00
Number of embryos per flush 7
Ratio grade A/B embryos 70%
Ugly duckling rate 40%


While there is a little less return than going out and buying a 2yr old complete package, when you factor in the X factors of the bulls as well as the fact that 1 of the other 2 heifers could turn out this opportunity provides the maximum return but comes at the maximum potential risk.

6. Embryo Hedge Your Bets – Invest in 30 mid-market embryos

This means you go out and buy 30 embryos from VG two year olds that are decent flush potential, and while their progeny will not be sale toppers they will fit the mid-market.

Based on the above here are the expected inputs: Using the Dairy Cow Investment Calculator here is the expected performance:
Purchase price $50,000.00 Total Revenue per flush $4,410.00
Boarding expense per day $10 Total cost per flush $4,062.50
Years of productive embryo production 3 Total profit per flush $347.50
Flushes per year 4 Total heifer sales per year $11,022.48
Flush strike out ratio 25% Total boarding expense $20,920.60
Base cost per flush $650.00 Total promotional expenses $4,000.00
Cost per embryo $150.00 Total Revenue $40,407.44
Recipient price $1,500.00 Total Profit $(56,513.16)
Conception rate of recipients 45% Return on investment -113%
Sale price per embryo $1,200.00
Sale price per live heifer $9,000.00
Advertising expense/year $1,500.00
Other promotion expense $500.00
Number of embryos per flush 7
Ratio grade A/B embryos 70%
Ugly duckling rate 40%


This is probably the worst investment you could ever make.  With the mass numbers of animals you have to care for as well as the limited return, this strategy is a no go from the start.


The Bullvine Bottom Line

While everyone looks at these sales toppers and wonder how they ever make money when they pay so much for these animals, as our return on investment analysis above shows, it’s actually the other way around.  Buying the best genetics you can possibly afford limits your risk and delivers your maximum return. In reality the price difference between the top cattle and the mid-market cattle is actually not large enough.  Remember this analysis is for total return on investment, not overall herd genetic gain.

1. The Complete Package 2. Hedge Your Bets 3. They Could Be Big Time 4. Heifer Hedge Your Bets 5. Go for the Gusto

6. Embryo Hedge Your Bets

Strategy Best 2yr old Two 2 yr olds Two best heifers Four heifers Fifteen best embryos Thirty embryos
Revenue $84,463.50 $41,407.44 $89,056.20 $41,407.44 $89,056.20 $41,407.44
Profit $19,003.20 $(34,513.16) $23,595.90 $(36,513.16) $13,595.90 $(56,513.16)
Risk Low Low Medium Medium High High
Yearly Return On Investment 12% (25)% 12% (20%) 5-25% (18)%
Notes Least risk with a positive reward Biggest loss potential with only limited up side But does have the potential of 24% if both heifers turn out The dream of buying that one that might surprise every one is just that  – a dream.  Genomics has caused that bubble to burst When you factor in that you could have higher conception rates and sale of bulls, this scenario actually has the largest up side, but at the highest risk There is just nothing to say about this. Unless your goal is to improve the overall level of your herd in the shortest amount of time possible.

The bigger question should be whether to buy the best 2 yr. old you can afford, the best heifer, or the best embryos.  The answer  depends more on how fast a return you would like and how much risk you are willing to take.  If you want instant return with the least amount of risk, buy the can’t miss 2 year old.  If you want the maximum return over the long term, buy the best embryos you can get.  And of course if your goals are  somewhere in between, buy the best two heifers you can afford.

The big thing this analysis shows “GO BIG OR GO HOME.”


What has your experience been?  Please share in comments box below.



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Mapel Wood Farms – Invest in the Best! Forget the Rest!


Len Vis, owner of Mapel Wood Farms, says his motto has always been:  “Invest in the best and forget the rest”. It was the driving force behind his first investment in 1991 in Mark Diamonds who became the brood mare of Mapel Wood Farms and it is what led him and his partners to invest in Bombi and Lilac.  “Investing in top cow families never lets you down.  You may not get it this generation or the next generation but those genetics always breed through eventually.” On any measurement scale, records, show ring, progeny or the bottom line these two families represent where Len sees his farm going in the future!


Len points to the dramatic changes happening in the dairy industry not only in the past five years, but in the last year.  He says, “The biggest change is that 90% of people coming to Mapel Wood are interested in heifers.” This was not previously the case when people wanted to look at cows. “I have never flushed so many virgin heifers as I have in the last year and we are getting big money for their embryo’s.”  Knowing what the market wants and providing it for them is another part of aiming for the best!




In every area of running the Mapel Wood operation, Len relies on getting his homework done right.  This means investing in the right people to work with. He speaks with pride about his full-time employees, Chris Naves and brother Harold Vis and that he can rely on them 100% to keep things running smoothly and sale or show ready every day. Choosing the right investing partners is more homework done right that pays off.  Len says it is important for partners “to have the same philosophy, goals and commitment.” For him it has been a great experience.  “My two best partners have been GenerVations, Dave Eastman, and the O’Connor Brothers, Sean and Kelly.”


When you get to the real homework behind success in the cattle business Len is emphatic. “I never go to a sale on a whim.  If I’m in the market I have animals that I’ve got premarked in my catalogue.”  This is only the start of the decision-making process. For him the next thing is conformation. “I look at the ones I’m interested in.  If they don’t make it on conformation, they’re scratched!”  He has the steps clearly prioritized. “Cow families first.  Then sire stack. Then I start doing history on flush history.” Vis says there is nothing worse than buying something that doesn’t flush. You can be sure he always asks the seller about the flush history of the family. He looks at records. He thinks Holstein Canada’s free service is great. “A lot of times you just go on Holstein Canada. If you see 10 daughters from one mating, you know the family flushes.” Homework isn’t finished until he has checked out pictures. “For marketability, I like to see the dam and granddam all pictured.” Having said all that, the real test of getting your homework right is that final decision, to buy or not to buy. Len cautions, “Remember the Calf in the sales ring has to look the part. Conformation is still the most important thing when it comes down to the final bid. If she’s in the ring and you gut says something isn’t exactly right. Pull back. You’ve got to love that calf 100%!”

GEN-I-BEQ SHOTTLE BOMBI VG-89-6YR-CAN 2*, Shottle x Champion x Baler Twine, GLPI +2750


Success for Len Vis and Mapel Wood Farms means making sure that all the numbers add up! Years of experience have given him some benchmarks for investing.  Investment benchmarks have changed pretty dramatically. “It used to take 1 kilo of quota to buy a good animal.  Today it takes 3 or 4 kilos of quota.” He feels the right animal will pay for your quota.  “When I started out in the business, if the right animal came across I would be willing to sell a kilo of quota to buy her.” He explains, “Your investment can triple in one year. A lot of guys don’t know that. Quota takes forever to pay off but buy into the right cow family you can have it paid off in no time.” That’s MapelWood math.


For better or worse, Genomics is on everybody’s page these days.  “You can’t be in the dairy business without genomics affecting you.” Regardless of all the controversy Len hears and wonders about he says, “Genomics have helped every farmer because hopefully Semex or your semen company is not buying those bulls that don’t have a chance ever to make it.” That’s the good news. He goes on, “Five years ago I did not sense Genomics was going to be this big. I don’t think anybody did.  What studs thought they would be selling young sire semen for $100?”  He knows it is the ongoing debate.  “There are so many different army camps of people… some are all for it …. Some are sitting on the fence waiting to see.” Waiting is not a key part of Len’s goal setting.


Len’s goal is that people will come to Mapel Wood Farms as the “one stop to shop”.  He aims to be the “Wal-Mart of the cattle investing world.” The aim is to offer the best in several areas. “We want to have high genomic cows and heifers, show cows, red and white genetics, and polled genetics.” Aiming to have the best he is very enthusiastic.  ”Currently we’re buying embryos from Europe and still buying heifers and cows. Just recently we just sold a six year old cow for big money.” It pays to do your homework!


Len is looking forward but he points to his own history. “Diamonds was a good investment but it was three generations later that I realized what a great investment that was. Sometimes when you invest you don’t reap the benefits the next day. That doesn’t mean you just sit and wait.” Obviously Len feels you must have a timeline like he and his partners did with Bombi and Lilac. “Five years ago we had a game plan. Today we are up to 300 head. We have been buying recipients.  We’re constantly flushing.”  From the beginning there was a target. “We are gearing up for a sale in November 2012.  Nothing has been done on a whim. We are going to see the results of our five-year game plan.” 

BOTTOM LINE:  Aim to be the Best!

“When you invest in the best – cow families, embryos, and heifers – your farm will rise to the top.” Len Vis, Mapel Wood Farms. 




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Lylehaven Lila Z : Was She Really Worth $1.15 Million?

When the hammer dropped for $1.15 million for Lylehaven Lila Z  EX-94 9* at The Triple Crown Sale, many in the crowd wondered was she really worth it?  Or was it a marketing ploy?  As someone who was involved in the marketing of the sale, many came and asked me if she really did sell or was it all BS?  My answer was, “If anyone can make her worth that, it’s Albert Cormier and Dave Eastman.”  When you add to that team Comestar, Whittier, ADI, and Kelser Hill, you have some pretty big names backing a big sale tag.  In the end, you could argue that she is worth twice that.

Having worked first hand with Dave and Albert in the promotion and sales of Calbrett-I H H CHAMPION, I knew the potential this team had to maximize the revenue.  They had a semen distribution and marketing engine that was taking the world by storm, combined with a proven track record of maximizing the revenue of top females as well.

Love at First Site

According to Albert Cormier, it was love at first sight when he saw Lila Z and her dam Laura at a Quebec show in 2003.  He loved her conformation.  He loved her cow family.  He recognized that he had found the right cow at the right time.

In Lila Z they saw the next Skys-The-Limit Claire  EX DOM 12*.  Like Claire, Lila Z came from a great pedigree with generations of performance.  However, unlike Claire, Lila Z came from a family of great embryo producers.  Something that will make or break you in the genetics game.

With 67 registered progeny in Canada alone, you cannot really doubt her ability to flush.  Lila Z has eleven sons in AI.  Globally there are another 35-40.

Some notable highlights:

#28 GLPI Cow in Canada


Daughter of Lexicon

#29 LPI Sire in Canada

Let’s look at the numbers?

When we are talking about $1.15 million, the only numbers that matter are the ones that are on the profitability column.   When it comes to Lila Z, there is no shortage of that.

Using our return on investment calculator, we took a deep dive into the numbers. Let’s assume the following:

  • Boarding fee per day $10
  • Years of productive embryo production 6
  • Flushes per year 5
  • Flush strike out ratio 25%
  • Base cost per flush $650.00
  • Cost per embryo $150.00
  • Recipient price $1,500.00
  • Conception rate of recipients 45%
  • Sale price per embryo $5,000.00
  • Sale price per live heifer $50,000.00 (Very conservative considering CALBRETT GOLDWYN LIZA VG-88-2YR-CAN 2* sold for $175,000 in the ADI 2nd edition sale)
  • Advertising expense/year $4,500.00
  • Other promotion expense $1,000.00
  • Number of embryos per flush 20 (Flushed 21 embryos in her first flush Cedarwal, Bradner Farms and T&L Cattle when they first purchased her)
  • Ratio grade A/B embryos 70%
  • Ugly duckling rate (they can’t all be pretty) 40%

The results are as follows:

  • Total Revenue per flush $52,500.00
  • Total cost per flush $10,400.00
  • Total profit per flush $42,100.00
  • Total heifer sales per year $111,780.00
  • Total boarding expense $23,722.50
  • Total promotional expenses $26,000.00
  • Total Revenue $1,933,680.00
  • Total Profit $733,957.50
  • Return on investment 64%
(Please note: these are our estimates and not the actual numbers)

The Bullvine Bottom Line

When you see that Lila Z can generate $1,933,680 in revenue over 6 years, and that allows for keeping half of the females for the next generation and no semen sales, it’s easy to see why Lylehaven Lila-Z could easily have been a steal at 1.15 million.  The reason? High demand combined with a prolific ability to flush.  That is the magic combination when dealing with such extreme cattle.



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What do you think? Was she worth it?

The Judge’s Choice – Investment advice from Tim Abbott

“What’s the plan?” We hear or refer to that question several times every day.  It’s the driving force when growing a business, or when you’re a resolving problem in the board room or, for those of us in the cattle industry, when you’re in the barn.  People like Tim Abbott thrive on finding the answer. The owner of St. Jacobs ABC knows that having a good plan, from the barn to the board room, is the cornerstone of success in the dairy cattle business today. Whether you are starting out or have more than twenty years in the business like he does, Tim says the first step must be, “Chart a plan”. That comes first. Then, you have to “know how your investment can accomplish your goals.” He sums it up clearly, “I think you need a plan for any investment in our business.”

“One size does not fit all!”  When it comes to investing in the dairy cattle business this can be modified to,” One plan does not fit all!”  You have to have a plan and it has to be a focused plan. That’s where the critical differences come in for someone like Tim Abbott.  “Whether it is show cattle or genomics or great maternal lines” he insists “You must have a plan for what you want to achieve”.

“Know what cattle you are focused on.” “For us we really prefer to buy cows.” He recognizes “There certainly is good money in buying the right heifer.” But he returns to his point, “At St. Jacobs ABC have focused on show animals, so milking cows are our preference.”

 “Investment cows need star power.” Here Abbot continues to fine tune what St. Jacob’s is looking for. We want “a cow that can become iconic as an individual”.  You might be wondering how they find that winner.  Tim explains, “The cows must have a sire stack that tells us they can be great and a maternal line that has proven to be successful.” You can never have too much information.  It is the basis of decision-making and good planning. “We always try to figure out how many daughters it will take to pay off our initial investment. We like to stay in the range of 10 or less daughters to get the purchase price back.”

Which brings Abbott to how important budgeting is to the planning process?  “Be sure you can afford to pay for what you buy.”

“Is that in the budget?” It seems a no brainer but the devil is in the details and in the budget too! Tim cautions” You need to budget for the expenses after your purchase.  IVF, flushing recips, advertising – these will add up no matter what your investment level is. Be sure you have the money for all of this.”  The money and what you spend it on is the key to success. “Over the years we have spent too much on average ones.” Although hindsight is 20/20, when looking at some past decisions he says he wishes “we had stayed with the great ones.”

“Stick with the great ones!” Tim feels that in today’s market, “There is very little middle ground.  Cows are commercial or very valuable.” In the last five years genomics has had a huge impact on the cattle business. “The genomic business is fantastic right now and the upper end has great value for the next generation and embryos.”

“Weigh In on the Genomics Debate” Tim’s view on this phenomenon is “Good breeder, type cows and heifers don’t have enough value in my mind but that is reality. IVF has had a huge impact because you can make daughters so efficiently and I think that is why the middle ground cattle have lost some value.

“Where’s the focus for St. Jacobs ABC?” Abbott summarizes the key issues. “We have chosen to stay out of the genomics game and focus on cows that are like our bulls … high type, great sire stacks and good female lines.”

 “Stay positive. Be careful.” “I think the good ones, whatever your focus, will continue to have tremendous value.  I think people will have to be careful with IVF not to make too many daughters of certain cows and watch the market very closely”. He sees three possibilities:

  • Big herds that have great access to recipients will have some success for sure.
  • Show cows will remain very valuable
  • Top genomic animals will be great property



As things change with testing bulls, the value of top genetics could keep going because of the potential for breeders to have very valuable bulls.  I think we will see some similarities to when there were many breeder proven bulls….the VERY top will make top dollars.” Tim Abbott, St. Jacobs ABC.



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Morsan Farms – Money Well Spent

Imagine someone comes up to you and says, “Make a huge commitment of your family, your money and your time.  Put it all into the Holstein dairy business. In less than ten years you will have one of the country’s largest dairy herds and your farm prefix will be recognized around the world.” It’s quite probable that you would assess that person as a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Is it hard to believe? Yes!

Could it happen? Also, “Yes”.

The proof of this success story is Morsan Farms Ltd. owned and operated by Morris and Sandra Thalen.  They are living the dream.  When they moved their dairy operation to Ponoka, Alberta in 1996, they milked 200 commercial grade cows. Today 80% of the herd is purebred. They milk between 1600 and 1800 cows and own about 250 dry cows, as well as 3500 head of young stock. They have genetics from 300 cow families and provide breeding stock to dairy farms in 21 countries. While it may sound like an “as seen on TV sales pitch”, their success is actually based on their skills as producers and business managers.

Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy - Grand Champion WDE and Royal '11

Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy - Grand Champion WDE and Royal '11

Don’t Waste Time Looking in the Rear-view Mirror

The minute we are faced with outstanding success, human nature makes us ask, “Yeah but.  What mistakes did you make along the way?” It could also be human nature that successful businesses don’t spend a lot of time on their mistakes or the would’a, could’a, shoulda’s.  Chris Parry, who manages the genetics and marketing side of the business at Morsan Farms Ltd, points out, “there is something to be learned even with those few purchases that could have worked out better”.  He recommends that you “Do your homework. Make the decisions.”  That is probably what led to one of their biggest successes. Chris points to Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy. “She has to be the biggest name so far.”

Teamwork is Your Best Investment

With obvious pride Morris and Sandra say, “It’s been a great privilege to work with our children and see their interests in Morsan Farms develop.” The Thalen’s know that this family teamwork is mirrored by their eighteen full time staff and is the foundation for their continued success. The dairy business is all about relationships – cattle and people – on the farm and off.   Morris says, “Our philosophy is complete customer satisfaction. I can tell you that for every 1000 animals we sell, 950 of them are sold over the phone.  That has everything to do with trust.”

With their rapid growth, exacting attention to detail and over-riding goal of delivering the very best, it isn’t surprising that Morsan Farms Ltd. has attracted many partners. In the business world, volumes have been written on the pluses and minuses of business partnerships. Chris Parry has a positive outlook on this part of the business. “Investing with partners can be extremely beneficial to long-term business as long as all management matters are clearly defined ahead of entering into any investment agreement. There are many examples of successful partnerships and a few examples of unsuccessful partnerships”. He considers and then adds, “I think partnerships that don’t work are the ones where partners receive unexpected surprises which cause friction.  In most cases our experience with partners has been exceptional.” He sums up the partnership discussion by saying, “We have a lot partners who have now become great friends of the business.”

It is an exciting time to be in the dairy cattle business and Chris was emphatic that the first step in investing in dairy cattle is to know your own goals first.  He offered many possibilities. “I think if you are looking to invest in genetics the key is to decide what your expectations are? To improve your herd? To market genetics? To market the business? To bring in a direct or indirect return on the investment? To put bulls in AI and work in the genomics market? When these questions are answered then it’s time to do your homework”. Doing the homework is what Morsan Farms Ltd. is obsessive about.  The “first step is to identify the consistent cow family and the best member of that family you can find. Then it is simply down to the investment level you are comfortable with and your expectations on the return on that investment”.

Where is the Excitement in Cattle Investing Today?

MS Chassity Goldwyn Cash

MS Chassity Goldwyn Cash

Everyone is talking about Genomics.  Morsan Farms Ltd. has a plan.  Chris Parry’s personal view is “I look at this as a positive not a negative. Lots of investment has been made in this new area of the industry which would not have been made before. A good percentage of this investment has come from outside of the industry and this is a good thing”. He cautions, “The danger here is again down to expectations. Know the science and know this part of the industry and your investment will be justified” He throws in a word to the wise, “Make sure you invest in genomics backed by a good sound cow family so if you don’t get the number you still have something to work with.” When pressed for examples Chris pointed out, “Over the past two years or more the majority of the purchases have been based on genomics most notably in cows like MS Chassity Goldwyn Cash, MS Atlees Shottle Aubry, MS Atlees Goldwyn Ariel just to name a few”. Chris summed up this discussion by looking to the future. “I would say the genomic investment will continue to be the driving force in the industry but I see the investments made will have a higher degree of calculation and understanding.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: From Day One, Set Yourself Up for Success!

Everyone involved with Morsan Farms Ltd. shares real enthusiasm for their work.  They see breeders as dedicated people, like themselves, who are passionate about the industry. “We have to be. To work the long hours we all put in 365 days a year in all-weather conditions takes a unique breed of people. This is normally the same drive that makes your business investments succeed”.  It all comes down to teamwork.  Good information.  Trust you’re your first impression when looking at a potential investment is normally the correct one. Talk to people in the industry whom you respect.  Get good information.  Don’t fall for the hype.”

Morsan Farms is an example of exactly that path. Relatively unknown just six years ago and now a well-respected brand name in the industry backed by an extremely dedicated family and motivated professional staff.  



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