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
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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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