Archive for Mario Perreault

Mario Perreault – Leading From the Holstein Heart

We have all heard the buzzwords that claim to be the answer to moving the dairy industry forward: cow sense; walk-the-talk; strategic marketer; team player.  There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these descriptions. In fact, Holstein Canada President Mario Perreault embodies all of these, but he goes beyond labels to another level altogether. Mario recognizes that dairy industry growth is not simply the external label that we give Holstein breeders … or even Holstein cattle … it goes much deeper than that.

Holstein Breeders with a Common Goal

Although his experience with cows brought him to this role, it is his passion for the people of dairy breeding that excites this dairy industry leader. “I made a clear statement in my first editorial of the Info Holstein: I will focus on teamwork – with our Board members, with our very qualified staff and with our industry partners. The reason is simple: the more goals we have in common, the more benefits our members will receive.” Mario believes passionately in Canadian Holsteins.


Holstein Canada’s Ambassador Walks the Talk

As is often seen in the dairy industry, passion is the foundation for successful dairy operations. This is certainly the case for the current President of Holstein Canada who is a successful dairy farmer from Quebec (Read more: Vieux Saule Holstein: Rooted in family Values). It has been seven years since Mario was elected to the Board of Holstein Canada. With the support of his wife Linda, he has not only become fluently bi-lingual but he also speaks the language of passionate dairymen everywhere and is an enthusiastic and approachable ambassador for Canadian Holsteins.  This owner operator of Ferme du Vieux Saule in the Lanaudiere region enjoys sharing his personal experience of the potential of the Canadian dairy breeding industry and is always excited to attend shows, visit farms and work with people who share his enthusiasm for Holstein cattle.

Vieux Saule Allen Dragonfly Ex 94 2E
14* NOM. ALL-CANADIAN 4-H JR.1-YR 2003
2 Superior Lactations
Nominated Holstein Canada Cow of the Year 2013

Supporting and Listening to the Next Generation of Holstein Leadership

There are many challenges in attracting the next generation into the dairy business and doing so is high on Mario’s and Holstein Canada’s priority list. “The younger generation is very important to Holstein Canada – after all, they are our future!” He outlines how Holstein Canada is taking action to support that priority. “Our Young Leaders program has been enhanced to support, motivate and train tomorrow’s leaders, in collaboration with our Industry Partners. Our activities range from scholarships, domestic and foreign exchanges (6 young Canadians will represent us the European Breeding School this fall), to a Young Leader program at our annual convention, and supporting youth in our Branches and at the Royal.” Mario and the Holstein Board are always looking for new and creative ways to support the next generation. “We are working on other new things such as a Leadership Convention similar to the Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI) held in the United States.” Holstein Canada is committed to bringing finding new opportunities that build on experience and enthusiasm. “Projects are endless as we get our ideas directly from our youth.” The entire association benefits from that kind of commitment to and connection with the next generation.

Mario and wife Lynda as well as son Jimmy Perreault operate a 200 acre family farm in Saint-Esprit, in the Lanaudière region of Quebec.  Pictured here is son Jimmy as well as his son.

Mario and wife Lynda as well as son Jimmy Perreault operate a 200 acre family farm in Saint-Esprit, in the Lanaudière region of Quebec. Pictured here is son Jimmy as well as Mario’s grandson.

Holstein Canada is Pulling down Barriers and Losing the Labels

Less focus on internal differences and more focus on profitability for the breed.Squabbling is counterproductive agrees President Perreault,who is happy to see changes in how breeders see their peers. “Labels such as ‘commercial’ and ‘breeder’ are not used by Holstein Canada – all producers strive for increased profitability, and the source of income is first and foremost the milk cheque! Each farm is diverse and takes a different road to reach this goal but the goal remains the same!”

Mario Perreault  with his first official signed registration as Holstein Canada President.

Mario Perreault with his first official signed registration as Holstein Canada President.

HOLSTEIN CANADA VISION: Creating a Competitive Advantage Beyond Registration

Mario appreciates that interesting ideas come from many sources, including those who occasionally ruffle feathers.  He embraces the fact that in our common goal is a sustainable industry.  “To this end, Holstein Canada’s services are tools to support increased profitability. We are talking more in terms of economics and added value – for example genotyping heifers is to decide which ones to breed, while classification is an indispensable herd management tool: cows with good conformation last longer, etc.” With characteristic enthusiasm, he looks forward to great things. “Holstein Canada will  soon unveil the results of a study completed by a third party, revealing the financial benefits of our services – expect great things this fall.

Educate the Breeder.  Elevate the Breed. “Registration. Education. Elevation”

President Perreault is committed to making sure that Holstein Canada Members are up to date on advances in the dairy breeding industry. “We know we must better inform and educate our members – it is always the key to success when introducing something new on the market.  We must especially deal with misinformation or misinterpretation.” In particular Mario is gratified regarding the uptake of genomics. “The use of genomics increases each year – we had 20% more genomic tests in the first six months of 2014, as compared to last year.” He reports on steps taken to keep this trend growing. “Holstein Canada has hired Extension and Education staff, to better inform our members on the value of using this new tool in the future. I believe the percentage will gradually climb each year, so my forecast for 2016 would be approximately a 20 – 25 % increase. The more we learn about properly using genomics, the more important this tool will become for all milk producers.” Mario balances his optimism with a definitive statement that genomics is not the only answer to advancing the Holstein breed. “We cannot repeat it enough – Genomics is a tool to be used in conjunction with other important factors: classification and cow families.”

Holstein Canada Classification and Field Service Team

Holstein Canada Classification and Field Service Team

Classification Provides Added Value

Change is the only constant in the dairy industry marketplace.  Holstein Canada has to adapt to new goals of Holstein members and the dairy marketplace. “We have changed our approach in these changing times. People no longer just want to talk about four generations of VG or EX – they want to see the added value of our functional Holstein cow.”  Mario acknowledges that other industry partners are also addressing these changes. “Our AI Partners still support their clients (beyond paying for bull daughter classifications) and some are simply doing it in other ways, such as price discounts.”  He sees an important role for the breed association. “It is up to Holstein Canada to promote the economic value and return on investment of classification – it is a Herd Management tool, first and foremost.” He is proud of ongoing and future plans in this area. “The goal remains the same: to promote a well-balanced Canadian Holstein cow that produces a lot of milk for many years, all while improving its health traits. Our very devoted classification team is doing this every day – and stay tuned this fall for more on this level.”

Holstein Canada Board of Directors (back row, l-r): Robert Chabot (QC); Doug Peart (ON); Gilles Côté (QC), Ron Sleeth (ON); Gerald Schipper (ON); Harry Van Der Linden (Atlantic provinces); Ron Boerchers (SK & MB); and Orville Schmidt (AB). (front row, l-r): John Buckley (ON)- Vice President; Mario Perreault (QC)- President, Richard Bosma (BC); and Elyse Gendron (QC).

Holstein Canada Board of Directors
(back row, l-r): Robert Chabot (QC); Doug Peart (ON); Gilles Côté (QC), Ron Sleeth (ON); Gerald Schipper (ON); Harry Van Der Linden (Atlantic provinces); Ron Boerchers (SK & MB); and Orville Schmidt (AB).
(front row, l-r): John Buckley (ON)- Vice President; Mario Perreault (QC)- President, Richard Bosma (BC); and Elyse Gendron (QC).

The Future of Holstein Cattle Data Capture Changing with the Times

The Canadian dairy cattle improvement industry has a very progressive approach to making animal information universally available. With automated animal data capture increasing at a rapid rate and less third party verification, The Bullvine put forth this idea to the Holstein Canada President. “Do you see it possible that information from automated systems will be used by the Association and made available on the Association website?” Mario responded with characteristic passion regarding the potential in this area. “This is an excellent question!  I also have the opportunity of sitting on the CDN Board, and we have formed a committee to study this issue.  Other partners, as well as a few producers using automated systems, also sit on this committee.” Mario sums up that this area of research is a given. “Of course Holstein Canada is there. We must change with the times!”

Holstein Canada's CEO Ann Louise Carson attending the  World Holstein Friesian Federation (WHFF) Council meeting in Berlin, Germany.

Holstein Canada’s CEO Ann Louise Carson attending the World Holstein Friesian Federation (WHFF) Council meeting in Berlin, Germany.

Collaboration -At Home and Abroad – Expands the Holstein Marketplace

When it comes to marketing Canadian Holsteins Mario is especially enthusiastic. “This comes back to my strong feelings about teamwork! Yes, we want to help our member’s market Canadian genetics, and our way of helping is to work closely with The Canadian Livestock Genetics Association.  In fact, our CEO sits on the CLGA Board.” He elaborates how working with CLGA is part of an ongoing Holstein Canada strategy. “Our goal is to work with exporters, to contribute in lobbying Government and to promote the quality of our Canadian Holsteins around the world. There are some things a generic and neutral association can do to help international marketing. This will be a priority in the coming years.”  As well, Mario eagerly points out that collaboration within Canada is also a high priority for Holstein Canada. “Another very important issue for me is to put even more emphasis on the work accomplished with Dairy Farmers of Canada in the last couple of years.”  His reasoning is not only based on “protecting our system of supply management” but also goes back once again to a basic commitment to all Holstein members that is best realized through teamwork. “Together we are stronger in promoting Holstein Canada’s profitable tools to all Canadian milk producers.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

We must never underestimate how the world looks in on our national dairy associations. It is so easy (from the outside) to see where the other national association has cracks, negativity or blind spots.  Getting to know Mario Perreault is a positive experience.  He speaks with pride, enthusiasm and passion about the Canadian dairy industry and especially about Holstein people.

All the best to Holstein Canada President Mario Perreault from the Bullvine and our readers. Congratulations for helping our industry to succeed not only on the balance sheet but from the heart as well. 




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Vieux Saule Holstein: Rooted In Family Values

The most successful family dairy operations have strong values that are deeply rooted in shared goals and memories.  Every generation looks back fondly on that special purchase, special ribbon or memorable record or classification score! These are the underpinnings of the decisions that are made every day at Vieux Saule Holsteins were the family roots have physical representation in the 100 year old willow tree that inspired the farm prefix.

The Perreault Family Farm: Around the Ring to Around the World

Lynda, Mario and Jimmy Perreault operate a 200 acre family farm in Saint-Esprit, in the Lanaudière region of Quebec.  This Master Breeder herd milks 44 cows and grows seed corn, silage corn, hay and oats. In 2009 they built a new barn.

Show Winning Inspiration

Everyone has a vision of what they would like their dairy breeding success to look like.  For Jimmy Perreault it was the first taste of success in the show ring that reinforced the passion he shares with his father, Mario who is his biggest mentor. “In 1993 I first showed Vieux Saule Prelude Josiane (great grand dam of Vieux Saule Malicieux EX, #6 TPI bull in 2008). I started in the 4H and always washed, walked and clipped heifers from our family farm back them. The dream started when in 2003 I went for the first time at Hays Classic Royal Toronto (now known as Canadian Dairy Classic) and showed Vieux Allen Dragonfly. When Dragonfly finished 2nd in a class of 91 spring yearlings, I was on a cloud. After in 2008 I went with Vieux Saule Dolman Shaina (Dolman x  Dragonfly) I finished 3rd and 5th in the open Royal show. It gave me the taste of showing and meeting people.” Today they emphasize, “We love to show at the Royal and Madison.” And, like their family generations, one success begets another one, “We export to 26 countries.”

Vieux Allen Dragonfly

The Speed of Genetic Change

Having been bitten by the show bug, Jimmy was also bitten with the passion for breeding exceptional cattle. This too presents challenges and opportunities. He recognizes that show winners have their value but to put it simply, “If you don’t have a bit of genomics, it is hard to sell.” Having said that there are challenges in changing your breeding approach.  “To adjust your breeding program quickly and see results can be time consuming. Now, with genomics, we ask ourselves, what do we choose, gLPI or gTPI? Personally I like both systems even though I still have questions. Which system will produce the cow the world would like to milk?”  If only all winners were easily identified. Jimmy looks back on his favorites. “Three bulls that I respect the most are Comestar Outside, Sandy Valley Bolton and Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie. I love what they bring to the breed. Although very different, what I like is how they have changed the breed and the way they are consistent.”

Vieux Saule Genomics:

In 2008 when genomics arrived is when it all started for Vieux Saule. “We tested 60 offspring in the Dragonfly family and we were surprised at the high results and consistent offspring. Dragonfly had 4 daughters by Toystory 2 went 85 2yr and 2 86 2yr we didn’t know which one to flush so we flushed them all.”

Hail to Haley

Genomics is still a new learning curve for many and that also happened for Vieux Saule. “The one that tested higher wasn’t the fanciest one but we discovered that she was our hidden card in 2013. Her name is Toystory Haley she starts her legacy with one 86 2yr Freddie, one 85 2yr Freddie,  one Man o Man (at Bryhill),one Freddie and super are 83. We expect two 86 2yr next week (2 other Freddies). Haley has more than 200 embryos produced sold in 11 countries and has 7 Bulls in AI. She transmits her health trait very strongly. Now we work with her daughters to make numbers and show ring. Freddie Isabella NC finished fourth junior 2 at Rive Nord Show 2013. She has daughters by Shamrock, Freddie, Super, Sid, Atwood in the barn we can count 56 females!!

Hurrah for Halia

Jimmy emphasizes that Halia VG 87 2yr must not be left out of the success story. “This beautiful Bolton daughter transmits genomics on both side of the border. So far she has one 86 2yr Bogart, 2VG Freddies, one 83 Freddie. We expect 3 more VG x Freddie next week.  Halia sold for 72 000 in the Sale of Stars in 2009. Her offspring sold very well last year now the third generation from Halia are well known all around the globe with August new sensation Vieux Saule Flame (Uno x Freddie Felicia). One of our favorite bull is out of Freddie Cynthia her Mogul son is Vieux Saule Madden over 3450 DGV +15Conf 16MS 114 HL (was 2434 GTPI in April) no Goldwyn, no Shottle, no Planet and no Man o Man which is very rare these days. Madden is born in November. His Brother x Lexor (Vieuxsaule Cynique) is at GenerVations over 3300DGV +15 conf +16 MS and 400health and fertility


GPA LPI 2973 DGV 2991 GTPI 2286
Her son Vieuxsaule Flame is the #1 GTPI Genomic Young Sire at + 2561

Seeing Red at Vieux Saule

On the Red side Vieux Saule has sold 2 Red bulls Vieux Saule Lucas Red (Shaquille x Salto Rouquine Ex 91- 1*) and Vieux Saule Toppi (Mr Top x Salto Rouquine Ex 91- 1*) same family as Prelude Josian and Vieux Saule Malicieux. Vieux Saule Toppi is very popular +16conf +16 MS DGV and Red (August proof).  Toppi sold to Browndale sires.  Jimmy points out that they also have a notable red carrier cow. “One cow that we put a lot of emphasis on is Vieux Saule Destry Dreamy RC  VG 87 2yr 88MS she is 2024GTPI and 2.84Type + she is the #1 GLPI and Type Destry in Canada.”


Vieuxsoule Salto Rouquine Ex 91- 1* Dam of Toppi at Browndale Sires

Vieuxsoule Salto Rouquine Ex 91- 1*
Dam of Toppi at Browndale Sires

Moving with the Times

Polled is coming at Vieux Saule we have a Dolo P brother to Flame that will be tested in September. We have several pregnancies x Venture Freddie Maria P RC #5GLPI polled cow in Canada (around 1900GTPI). Her Red and polled Ladd daughter is at 2180GTPI and over 2800 GLPI.” Sometimes the most special attributes a cow can have are because of what she is missing. “We love her. She has no Lawnboy, Colt, Magna, Mitey, Goldwyn, Man o Man, Planet or Shottle in her pedigree.”

While they firmly move with the marketplace of today, they also look ahead to the future. “We work currently with Freddie daughters from Haley and Halia and also Lexor daughters out of Freddie Cynthia. Later we will work with Day x Seagull Bay Planet Pauline and Determine and Shan x Freddie Felicia.”

At Vieux Saule the main bull lineup is as follows:Vieux Saule Toppi, O Style, Long P, Vieux Saule Madden, Vieux Saule Flame, Atwood, Aftershock, Goldwyn, Sid and Destry

As they look toward the future Jimmy sees changes in the marketplace. “    I see less players for genomics but more competition probably more investors and I see also that all breeders in the world will play an important role and the AI will have to adjust to buy those superstar bulls.”

Planning: Based on Parents, Partnerships and Programs

“We have partnerships and investors and we try to diversify our revenue streams by providing good cow families that are outcross or different. We work both the show side and genomics.” This family operation is entering its third generation and Jimmy gives credit to his father Mario for his support and encouragement. “My dad is the one who had the biggest influence on me. He challenged me every day. He let me buy sell and he let me travel in Europe and US so I could learn from the best ambassadors of the breed.” Jimmy also learns from the advice of others in the breeding business. “Several AI persons, mainly from Semex, Genex, ABS and TAG, have helped me make decisions.”  For those new to the industry he advises, “Listen to the mentors.  Analyze your options. Then make it happen.” But he cautions that staying grounded is important. “Most of all, even if you finish first at the Royal or breed that great bull, always stay simple and be yourself.”

The You Tube Point of View

Vieux Saule put videos on YouTube. When their videos hit more than 40,000 visits, Jimmy reports with classic understatement. “That is pretty cool I think.” Cool indeed. When considering Vieux Saule achievements he goes back to their vision. “Our show successes with genomics combined have been quite an accomplishment I think.” Jimmy sums it up his personal feelings this way. “To have Mary Sol at 14 years of age in December and 12 Year old Dragonfly watching their progenies having success is pretty exciting.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The pace of change is a challenge for everyone but Jimmy Perreault shares his best Vieux Saule advice.”Try to be in the show market and Genomics and make room for family values even though this world moves fast and makes less and less time for family farms. I still believe Family is first and Cows second, but it is a drug and it’s hard to walk away from it — even for the new generation.” Whether it’s cow families or farm families, at Vieux Saule the family tree is the focus that keeps them successfully rooted and growing their dairy business.

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