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.



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World Dairy Expo 2013 – Memories to last a Lifetime

Every year we wonder if this year`s Expo will be able to surpass benchmarks set in the past..  This year was no different.  Coming into Expo, there was perhaps a little less optimism.  No one could foresee   that a former Expo Champion would add to her already great legacy or that a new legend was set to begin.  Unexpected.  Yes.  But that is exactly what happened.

A Living Legend Makes and Appearance

We arrived late to the show, after trying to juggle multiple companies in very different industries.  This meant that the first show that I got to see was the Brown Swiss Show.  Looking back, this show set the tone for the rest of my week as I witnessed and recorded one the greatest colored breed show cows of all time, OLD MILL E SNICKERDOODLE OCS EX-4E-94-USA, who made an appearance.  (Read more: The 12 Greatest North American Colored Breed Show Cattle of All-Time).  While Snickerdoodle did not add to her record 7 Grand Champion awards at Expo, as she was showing in the dry cow class, she did win her class and the hearts of all in the building who raised the roof with their applause.  (Read more: Elite Dairy Has Banner Day at International Brown Swiss Show).



Apple Takes Things to Whole New Heights

If Snickerdoodle gave us a glimpse into the past, KHW Regiment Apple-Red gave us a look into the past, present and the future.  Sure she looked amazing and was named Reserve Grand Champion.  She showed off her trademark depth, angularity and balance but that was not enough for the living legend.  Apple-Red was able to take things to a level that might never be able to be repeated ever again.  Her clone, KHW Regiment Apple 3-Red-ETN who is the   spitting image of a younger Apple-Red was the only cow that was able to beat her on this day.  Yes you could say she was beaten by herself.  And to add to the growing legend, her daughter MS Candy Apple-Red-ET was named Honorable Mention Grand Champion.  (Read more: KHW Regiment Apple-Red – Beauty, performance, and even more record accomplishments and History Made At the 2013 International Red & White Show).  Watching Apple, Apple clone and her daughter sweep the Red & White Show will be a memory I will never forget.  Having the honor to be right there and taking the pictures to preserve that memory was priceless.

KHW Regiment Apple-Red Adding to her legacy

KHW Regiment Apple-Red
Adding to her legacy

Paul Ekstein – Grumpy Old Man?  I think NOT!

There is no shortage of awards given out during World Dairy Expo.  Two of the biggest are the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award and the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award.  Coming into the show, I was well aware that Paul Ekstein would be receiving the much deserved McKown Master Breeder Award.  (Read more: Ekstein Named Fifth Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award Winner and PAUL EKSTEIN – 2013 Recipient of the Prestigious McKown Master Award).  I have had the pleasure of knowing Paul my whole life.  First it was by a reputation that might have you thinking of Walter Matthau from Grumpy Old Men.  However, since starting the Bullvine, I have had the pleasure to get to know Paul on a whole new level.  The biggest thing that touches me is just how much he cares.  When I suffered my heart attack or have had to deal with the challenges that come with running the Bullvine, Paul and his son Ari have been amazing supporters and good friends.  So when Bert Stewart, lifelong friend of Paul’s and university classmate presented him with his award, my heart was overflowing and my trigger finger was snapping pictures as fast as I could.  I knew family and friends would want as many pictures as possible to preserve this moment of well-deserved recognition.

Paul Ekstein receiving the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award from life long friend Bert Stewart

Paul Ekstein receiving the Robert “Whitey” McKown Master Breeder Award from life long friend Bert Stewart

Grumpier old men?

Speaking of someone who appears grumpy on the outside but is golden on the inside, Richard Caverly winning the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award surprised me.  (Read more:  Maine Native Wins Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award)  Not because he was not a very deserving winner.  He is.  In fact Richard’s list of accomplishments and the cattle he has worked with reads like a Who’s Who of the show ring greats – Gold Prize, Nadine, Melanie, Delilah, Ashlyn, Victoria, Veronica and Frannie.  It’s the cow on the end of that list that stands out for me.  Sweet-Pepper Black Francesca was last year’s Grand Champion of the Ayrshire show for the 2nd time.  In wanting to learn more about this cow, I started chatting with Richard more and more and found that the story behind this cow is truly amazing.  (Read more: The Magic of Francesca)  What I learned was that, not only was this cow an amazing show cow, but she did something even more magical.  Francesca changed the lives of Richard and his wife Beverly, in a way that no other cow possibly could.  United by their passion for great cattle, Richard and Beverly are two of the most amazing people I know.  That is why when I learned of Frannie’s passing the tears started to fall.  Watching the Ayrshire show this year was tough for me, as I knew that, for those in the ring, there would be moments of extreme happiness, but for Richard and Beverly, the memories of “Frannie” would come back again.

Richard Caverly winning the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award

Richard Caverly winning the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award

A Picture is Worth Twenty-Thousand Words

Over the years I have had the opportunity to attend Expo many times.  But this year would be a first for me.  This year I would be in the ring taking pictures.  I think I must have annoyed the heck out of the Expo staff prior to the show.  I was repeatedly checking to make sure that I would be able to take pictures in the ring.  For me it meant that I would be experiencing a dream come true.

You see I have been able to experience the show as a fitter, as a showman, but never have I been able to sit right there and get the same exact view the judge gets and see  who is the best of the best.  Last year at Expo I sat in the stands and took pictures from there.  This year I wanted to take things to a completely new level.  Since last year’s show I took the opportunity to take pictures at as many shows as I could.  I pretty much forced my father to go to every show with me, 19 in all.  Many required that we drive all night to get to the show, spend the whole day taking pictures, and then drive all night to make it back in time to attend meetings for my main company the next day.

In preparation for this amazing opportunity I also took more than 60 hours of training on the technical side of photography.  You see I am not a photographer by trade.  I learned graphic design as a must when I started Elite Breeders back in University.  When I started that company I didn’t even own a computer of my own and then I was presented with the opportunity to market Calbrett-I H H Champion, the #1 LPI sire in the world, for GenerVations.  I had to get a loan from my grandfather, buy a Mac, and Photoshop and do a catalogue and ads for them, all while even learning the basics of how to use the programs.  This time I was going to be prepared.  Sure none of the video companies could even imagine shooting under these conditions.  The show ring combines two of the most challenging circumstances a photographer can encounter, low light and action.  In order to be able to get the pictures that would preserve the memories I have had to invest over $20,000 in camera equipment alone.  No small investment for a digital magazine that until this point has had no revenue sources at all and is driven by the passion of our team.

One of the great things about attending so many of the top shows, is that I had the opportunity to see many of the contenders before the Expo.  This insight made it possible for me to do a very complete preview of the show.  (Read more: World Dairy Expo 2013 Holstein Show Preview – Everything You Need To Know To Get Ready For the Show).

Armed with this insight and the camera equipment to get the pictures, I was ready to get to work.  Since last year’s World Dairy Expo our readership has grown to over 10,000 readers on a daily basis, the largest in the industry.  So I knew that people would be watching.  But man I could have never expected the results that we have had.  Pictures such as the naming of the Junior Champion and Grand Champion went viral.  In the past week since the show, the pictures that we shared have been seen by over 1,000,000 people and liked or shared by over 10,000 people.  That is more than all the other Dairy publications combined.  Scary to think for a magazine that is just over 18 months old.

Junior Champion Female honours went to the 1st place Spring Yearling Calf, Cameron Ridge Atwood Beauty exhibited by Gene Iager and Chris & Jennifer Hill, Thurmont, Md.

Junior Champion Female honours went to the 1st place Spring Yearling Calf, Cameron Ridge Atwood Beauty exhibited by Gene Iager and Chris & Jennifer Hill, Thurmont, Md.

For me it’s a humbling experience to have our hard work be rewarded the way has been.  The team here at The Bullvine has put in many long hours to put out four unique articles a week.  That is 16 articles a month.  When you consider that the average magazine does about four a month you understand the amount of work that goes into producing The Bullvine.  On a daily basis we are always looking for new and different ways to add engagement to what we do.  This was highlighted by our recent Fantasy Exhibitor contest which received over 5,000 entries and was seen by over 50,000 people on our website alone.  (Read more: Fantasy Exhibitor – World Dairy Expo 2013 Edition – The Results!).  For the Bullvine team being at Expo was amazing.  Having so many people from all walks of the dairy industry come up to us and tell us just how much they appreciate what we do was inspiring.  It’s moments like these that drive us on a daily basis to do better.

Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn, exhibited and owned by Ty-D Holsteins, Drolet & Fils, Ferme Jacobs, A. & R. Boulet, Inc, who was crowned Grand and Senior Champion of the 2013 International Holstein Show.

Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn, exhibited and owned by Ty-D Holsteins, Drolet & Fils, Ferme Jacobs, A. & R. Boulet, Inc, who was crowned Grand and Senior Champion of the 2013 International Holstein Show.

Here are some of the over 4,000 pictures I took during my 3 days at World Dairy Expo 2013.

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The Bullvine Bottom Line

Just like each of my children (who are my first love) every World Dairy Expo is different and unique in its own way.  The 2013 Edition will certainly be an extremely memorable one for me.  Expo is where legends are made.  This year we saw two great legends add to their story and new legends, Bonaccueil Maya Goldwyn and the amazing team at Ferme Jacobs emerge.  From all of us here at The Bullvine, we want to say thanks to you the exhibitors and breeders who, with commitment and passion, make these awesome memories turn from dreams to reality!

What's next for us here at the Bullvine?  Well today we will all be at the Rockton World's fairy where my children, Drew (6), Ethan (4) and Zabrina (3) will be showing for the first time.

What’s next for us here at the Bullvine? Well today we will all be at the Rockton World’s fairy where my children, Drew (6), Ethan (4) and Zabrina (3) will be showing for the first time.

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KHW Regiment Apple-Red – Beauty, performance, and even more record accomplishments

2013ectNo matter how you slice it, dairy history was made in Madison Wisconsin last weekend. Many of the cattle who paraded around that showcase ring have long resumes of wins behind them.  KHW Regiment Apple-Red is no different.  In 2006 she was the unanimous All-American Jr 2 year old.  In 2010 she was the World Champion R&W Cow (Holstein International). In 2011 she was the unanimous All-American R&W Aged Cow. But on October 5th 2013, at the appropriately themed Centre of the Dairy Universe, Apple-Red made an entry in the history books that will be hard for her peers to top! (For complete Red and White Show Results)

KHW Regiment Apple 3-Red-ETN Grand Champion International Red & White Show 2013 Reserve Supreme Champion World Dairy Expo 2013 Clone to Apple

KHW Regiment Apple 3-Red-ETN
Grand Champion International Red & White Show 2013
Reserve Supreme Champion World Dairy Expo 2013
Clone to Apple

KHW Regiment Apple-Red

KHW Regiment Apple-Red
Reserve Grand Champion World Dairy Expo 2013

MS Candy Apple-Red-ET Honorable Mention Grand Champion International Red & White Show 2013 Daughter of Apple-Red

MS Candy Apple-Red-ET
Honorable Mention Grand Champion International Red & White Show 2013
Daughter of Apple-Red

Side by side – three Apples — had their shining moment in the spotlight at World Dairy Expo 2013 and set new benchmarks at the top of the ladder of show ring success. Never before was the red carpet so gloriously Red and dominated by a single family!  While the crowd roared their approval of the final placings assigned by Judge Michael Heath, the record books took note that for the first time ever one special cow not only earned Reserve Grand Champion but was flanked on each side by the Grand Champion, her clone, and, on the other side by her daughter, the Honorable Mention Grand Champion. From every angle it was a sight to see. These three cows are almost identical! They are tall, angular, cherry red and with outstanding rear udders. It is almost impossible to tell them apart. Of course, this apple picking would not be complete without recognizing that Apple-Red’s brother, Advent-Red was Premier Sire of the Red and White Show. To top it all off Apple 3 went on to be named the Reserve Supreme Champion at WDE 2013! You will need a bunch of hampers for the awards, if you choose Reds for your dairy breeding bucket list.  Is it any wonder that, for the crowd that witnessed these moments live, that lineup of three will be the stuff of expo-show-and-tell for years to come?

Apple Hits The Bucket of Wins List

It was over seven years ago that Mike Deaver, Edgerton, Wisconsin, picked a cherry red apple to bring to the show ring.  The momentum has been building ever since. In truth the exceptional characteristics of the family had started well before Mike saw the Apple of his eye. Apple-Red is backed by no less than six direct dams that are Excellent, all with Multiple E’s. Her sire is Carrousel Regiment-Red-ET a plus proven Rubens son out of the very popular Stelbro Renita Ranger EX94 8*.

KHW Regiment Apple-3-Red-ETN is owned by Westcoast Holsteins of Chilliwack, BC. Reserve Grand Champion Apple-Red-ET is owned and exhibited by Apple Partners of Edgerton, Wisconsin. Honorable Mention Grand MS Candy Apple-Red-ET was shown by Frank and Carol Borba and Frank and Diane Borba of California.  They went home with full baskets thanks to the prizes earned by their Apples.

It was also a thrilling show for spectators to watch, as Judge Michael Heath of Westminster, Md., and Associate Judge Mike Berry of Albany, Ore., placed a total of 250 Red and White Holsteins in the rank and file behind these top three. “The quality is visible from one end of the line to the other!” was an oft repeated declaration from an enthusiastic Michael Heath.

Apple Fills the Pail As Well

Often when we hear about show cows, we see that they excel for type but seldom do we see a cow that shows, flushes and then also produces almost 72,000 kgs of milk in four lactations and that milk is 4.8%F and 3.8%P. This is exactly what Apple-Red-ET does. These high component tests not only go far back in Apple’s pedigree but her daughters also are carrying on that tradition. Her show winning daughter Candy has produced 50,000 lbs of milk, 4.5%F & 3.8% P in her first two lactations. Apple herself has an outstanding +0.96%F (MACE CDN).

Apple Has a Taste for Genomics Too

As you might expect Apple has been flushed to many great sires. Her top genomic tested daughter is MS Apples Uno Armana DGV LPI +3276 (+0.53%F, +0.29%P, +18 CONF, Herd Life119 & Daughter Fertility 107) and her top genomically tested son is MR Apples Armani (Goldwyn) DGV LPI +2975 (+0.89%F, +0.39%P % +15 CONF). Uno has been a great mate for Apple with seven of her top ten genomically tested daughters sired by him. However the story is not complete. Apple has many young progeny that have yet to have their genomic numbers published.

Apple Also Shines Around the World

Since red color is popular throughout the dairy world, we can likely expect to see Apple’s influence expand exponentially as her genomically tested sons get purchased by AI and get used. The polish on this Apple family is likely just beginning. For example, in Australia Bluechip Holsteins and their partners have had sale topping Apple daughters and granddaughters. (Read more:  Dean and Dianna Malcolm: Gobsmacked in Australia and Dean and Dianna Malcolm: Forward in Five Gears!) Dean Malcolm of Bluechip provides his perspective “She‘s not just red, she’s cherry red. She’s out of a Durham, she transmits rear udders, she’s from an amazing family and she has the numbers.”  Dean goes on “Everyone who bought into the Apple family is enjoying the ride because their owners / managers, in the USA, are doing such a super job. It’s proof that if you buy good families from good cow men who continue to market, a lot of the work is already done for everyone”.

Francisco Rodriguez of Colganados in Columbia/USA reports how emotional his parents where when they watched Apple-Red’s accomplishments at Expo.  They could not believe they have genetics from this great cow.  Rodriguez own another clone to Apple, KHW Regiment Apple A1-Red-ETN (Read more: Francisco Rodriguez: Passion with a Purpose). They also own Apple’s daughter by Redburst Miss Apple Snapple-RED (Owned with Erbsen, IL and Muriel) who placed 5th in the Spring Heifer Class.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Many people are putting the genes of this cherry red Apple into their herds and for good reason.  The Apples are appealing to the eye, have productivity in the milk pail and are mothers of progeny with great potential. The Apple family are an investor’s dream – already proving that they are capable of bushels of success.

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Is Red Still Relevant?

After attending the Ontario Red and White Show (Read more: 2013 Ontario Red & White Holstein Show Results) and watching the events unfold at the US Red & White Convention Sale, I find myself asking if red is still relevant in the marketplace?  To answer that question I thought I would look at both sides of the argument.

The Case for Red

For years there has been growing demand around the world for Red and White Holsteins.  In the US last year the largest total number of Red Holsteins were registered in history.  The top selling animal for $184,000 at the Parade of Perfection Sale, OCD McCutchen Duchess-ET *RC, was a red carrier from Curr-Vale Obsrvr Delta and the second highest seller at the World Classic sale for $122,000 MS M-P Dak 4777 Pie-Red the #1 gTPI Red Animal in the USA at the time.  In Europe, at the recent All-European Show in Switzerland, the top sellers were all red & white or red carrier animals.

Blondin Redman Seisme EX-96 2E

Blondin Redman Seisme EX-96 2E
Reserve Supreme Champion Royal 2011 & 2012
Grand Champion R&W Royal 2010, 2011 & 2012
Grand Champion Red & White Madison, 2010, 2011 & 2012

Red Holsteins are also seeing their greatest success and popularity ever.  Cows like Blondin Redman Seisme EX-96 2E and KHW Regiment Apple-Red-ET EX-95 2E are two of the most popular cows in the world today.  Many descendants of Apple are winning in both the show ring and on the red index charts.

KHW Regiment Apple-Red-ET EX-95 2E  Unanimous All-American Red & White 1st 4-year-old & HM Senior Champion, 2012 International Red & White Show

KHW Regiment Apple-Red-ET EX-95 2E
Unanimous All-American Red & White
1st 4-year-old & HM Senior Champion
2012 International Red & White Show

Then there are red sires like Kulp-Dale Golden PP-Red.  Golden PP-Red’s first five units of semen sold for $50,000 (Read more: $10,000 a dose Polled Semen).  With that came a 90-day exclusive guarantee, a unique deal struck between some very progressive thinkers.  While there is no question being the highest homozygous polled bull at the time-helped drive the demand, the fact that he is red also added another desirable element to his market appeal.

The Case against Red

First let’s look at it from a milk production standpoint.  While some will make the comment that their red coat helps them in the heat, in reality red coat actually has relatively low relevance to efficient milk production.  Even polled that is more a consumer/animal welfare issue than it is a herd management issue, has more relevance to efficient milk production than red cattle.

Then there is the issue of genetic potency.  The top R&W proven sires are almost 18% lower for genetic merit than the top black genetics available, and the top *RC are 17% lower.  When it comes to young sires, the top Red or Red Carrier bulls are 9% lower than their black contemporaries are.  While it does show that Red genetics are advancing at a fast rate they are still a significant distance behind.  This means that red breeders have to take a substantial genetic loss in order to obtain the red gene.

Part of the reason for red’s relevance issue may be the popularity of polled (Read more: From The Sidelines To The Headlines, Polled Is Going Mainline!, Why Is Everyone So Horny For Polled?, Polled Genetics: Way Of The Future Or Passing Fad?).  For years red has been one way for breeders to breed for something unique.  Something that makes the animal special.  Both in the barn and in the sales ring polled has gained significantly in industry popularity.  While proven polled bulls are almost 23% lower in genetic merit than their horned contemporaries, genomic polled sires are 13% behind.  This shows that polled genetics are actually advancing at a faster rate than red genetics.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While it is hard to predict the future, there is no question that the demand for polled is both a good thing and a bad thing for the red and white breed.  With polled being far more prevalent in red and red carrier cattle, the Red and White breed has seen significant increase in demand as a result of the increased demand for polled.  That blessing can also be a curse.  Since polled has now gone mainstream, many of the top polled sires are no longer red or red carriers.  Contrary to polled, Red and White cattle will always have a challenge gaining traction in large commercial herds.  For that reason it is destined to be a niche market.

However, after attending recent red and white events and seeing the demand for red in Europe, there is no question that while small in number, red and white breeders are some of the most passionate in the industry today.

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FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ: Passion with a Purpose

As we research topics here at The Bullvine there is always an undercurrent of expectation.  You never know the “when” or “where” of the next big surprise.  Most often it is the “who” that makes our days special.  As we began the background work on a series we have planned on robotic milking, we lined up several interviews (Read more – Robotic Milking: More than just automation it’s a new style of herd management).  It became obvious that the go-to expert in this area would be Francisco Rodriguez, DVM, Holstein Breeder, Dairy Management Advisor Automatic Milking for DeLaval North America.  Not only did we get tremendous insight from his experience in this new and growing field but, once again, we met a passionate cow man who is following a dream.

Five Farming Generations in Colombia

Francisco is the 5th generation of farmers in Colombia. His grandfather was a dairyman, cattleman and one of the pioneers in the genetic development of the Paso Fino horse. Francisco, like others in his family, inherited that love for raising livestock. He recounts how his own interest was ignited. “Our dairy was relatively small and my Dad needed a simultaneous job to keep up with his new family. Then he joined Semex Colombia as a sales representative, I remember going to the farm since the beginning of my life, but I got in love of Dairy cows when every month a catalogue or a magazine from Canada or USA arrived home. Instead of reading about superman or batman I started reading about Starbuck, Aerostar, Raider, Laurie Sheik, etc. etc. I developed a true love for cows and genetics becoming the foundation of my life together with my passion for business, as my mother has had clothing stores her entire life, allowing me to get the entrepreneur spirit at a very young age.

Single Minded Student

Because of his passion for dairy cows and horses, Francisco decided to go to Vet School after graduating from High School. He had tremendous academic success and was the best student in the faculty for four years in succession. After graduation, Francisco’s internship continued in the USA. “When I finished my Vet School I started an internship in one of the largest and most progressive western dairies in the USA. I learned from the management of an operation milking thousands of cows.”

Vet-Businessman in Colombia

After one year gaining experience, Francisco made the decision to move back to Colombia.  His career now became more business focused as he adapted to the opportunities arising there. “When I arrived in Colombia two very interesting things happened. My Dad Francisco Rodriguez and my genetics mentor Juan Pablo Muriel started a partnership and became the exclusive Select Sires Dealership in Colombia!!” This was exciting explains Francisco because of the opportunity it gave him to understand both the genetics industry from both the Canadian and the US perspective.  A new opportunity soon presented itself. “At the same time DeLaval hired me as a Sales Manager for The Andean and Caribbean countries, working with farmers from 1 – 30,000 milking cows, from Water Buffalo to High yielding Holsteins, and traveling all over the world learning the different dimensions in milk production. “

More Diversity. More Studies. Big Vision.

By now, it was clear that Francisco like generations before him could comfortably handle several different challenges at the same time.  He clarifies. “Simultaneously with my work at DeLaval I continued developing my business skills graduating from Business School as a Strategic Marketing Management Specialist. I am a passionate individual, a dreamer, and I’ve been developing my life under friendship, excellence, focus and education, always starting small but thinking big, with a wide vision.

Achieving the Dream

Colganados It isn`t surprising that someone whose family, studies and passion all revolve around cows would want to own them as well. Sure enough he confirms, “Since I was a kid I had a dream of my own registered Holstein herd, I liked my Dad’s commercial cows but that was not enough for me, I wanted purebreds, I wanted to become a real breeder.”  With that end in mind he worked very hard to make it become reality.  He outlines what it took. “Simultaneously with my position at DeLaval, in 2007 my parents and I founded Colganados RV.” Colganados is a dairy business based on added value strategies, particularly genetics.  Francisco explains how they carried out this philosophy. “Colganados started with 15 cows, 30 heifers and 25 embryos selected from the best cow families available in the Colombian Market, most of them coming from well known Canadian and American Blood lines. Today Colganados RV milks approximately 200 registered Holsteins and develops one of the most aggressive Holstein breeding programs in Latin America.”

Open to A New Opportunity

For many, this would have marked the high point in a fast-rising career.  For Francisco – dairyman- veterinarian- breeder- businessman it was just the beginning. In 2010 DeLaval offered to relocate Francisco to Madison, WI as the Dairy Management Advisor – Automatic Milking for North America. In describing what this felt like, he says, “I compare it to a pilot being asked to race in Formula 1.” Joking aside he admits that it was a tough decision to make. “I had a life built in Colombia and at the same time I had a unique opportunity in the heart of the dairy industry. My parents and employees gave me the strength and then I accepted the challenge and moved to Madison in 2011.”

Francisco Rodriguez and his wife Sofia Cordabo

Francisco Rodriguez and his wife Sofia Cordabo

Love and Marriage

2011 marked special changes in Francisco’s life. He sums it up, “I got married to a wonderful woman, met wonderful people, made new friends and of course that put in the best place to continue reaching my dreams and accomplishing goals as a professional and as a breeder.”

Seen here are (l-r) Juan David Rodriguez, Francisco Rodriguez and his wife Sofia Cordabo with KHW Regiment Apple A1-Red-ETN.

Seen here are (l-r) Juan David Rodriguez, Francisco Rodriguez and his wife Sofia Cordabo with KHW Regiment Apple A1-Red-ETN.

Enter Robotic Milking

An interesting facet of Francisco’s career opportunity would be that he would be working with Robotic Milking and high end technology. This has been tremendously positive he reports. “It has exposed me to the most progressive farmers and advisors around the world, especially in the North American Market. On average I visit two robotic herds every day, it is amazing to evaluate the quantity of miles and farms we see in a year!!!”



Building on a Firm Family Foundation

Even more amazing than the miles Francisco travels, are the achievements he makes on several fronts simultaneously.  “In the beginning of 2012 I was missing having my own herd so together with my wife we started looking for the next level. For us that would mean being a dairy breeder in the North American Market with a global Scope.” Never one to dream big without doing his homework Francisco tells what they did next, all the while making it sound easy. “After visiting some of the most influential herds in the USA and Canada we met the foundation of our new project KHW Regiment Apple A1 RED-ETN a clone of the R & W world champion 2011 and million dollar APPLE.”  This purchase is a fascinating story on its own.  Another day perhaps.



The Bullvine Bottom Line

And so a passionate cattle man continues on several fronts to build his dream. In April 2012 Colganados began its history as a member of the USA Holstein Association. There have been many dimensions to the journey so far but Francisco recognizes that the diversity is what keeps him passionate “At the end of the day, the combination of all different kinds of knowledge, experiences and daily life bring a unique vision for every person.”  Exactly!

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