Quality Cattle Look Good Every Day

For years the comments have been made that show cows look very different in the ring than they do most other days of the year.  I have heard breeders make comments about some great show cows that look All-World in the show ring and not even All-County in the barn.  One of the biggest changes I have noticed in the past 10 years is how much this situation has changed.

More and more we are seeing cattle with consistent show pedigrees or type winning the shows.  Does that mean that there are not as many “freaks” out there?  Or, does it mean that show ethics and better management practices have led to the top genetic animals rising to the top?  I think the latter is true.

Here are two great examples from my recent visit to Quality Holsteins


This past week Flansco was scored EX-95 and I wanted to check her out.  Flansco is the first third generation EX-95-CDN cow.  Her dam was QUALITY GIBSON FINSCO who was HM. ALL-ONTARIO 5-YR 2008 & 2ND 5-YR ON DISCOVERY 2008 and her 2nd dam was none other than QUALITY B C FRANTISCO EX-96-3E-CAN 18* and 2 time Royal Grand Champion as well as the 2005 Holstein Canada Cow of the Year.  So there is no question that Flansco has a female line as well as strong type sire stack (Goldwyn x Gibson x Charles) behind her

Therefore it is certainly not surprising that I was able to get this great udder shot.  After all, Flansco won grand at the recent Autumn Opportunity show (Read more – Autumn Opportunity Holsteins Show Results)

QUALITY GOLDWYN FLANSCO - EX-95-CAN  Grand CHAMPION 2012 AUTUMN OPPORUNITY SHOW  (Taken at the 20012 Autumn Opportunity Show 17/10/2012)


She looked this good when I visited just before milking time

QUALITY GOLDWYN FLANSCO - EX-95-CAN  1st 3rd Generation EX-95-CDN Cow in the world  (Taken at the farm just before milking time 11/30/2012)



It’s also not surprising that, when I took a quick peek at Rae Lynn, the recent 2nd Sr. 2yr Old from the Royal (Read more – The 2012 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show – One of the greatest stories ever told!), I got this shot

Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89-2YR 2nd Senior 2yr old RAWF 2012  (Taken at the 2012 Royal Winter Fair (09/11/2012)

She looked just as good on an average day on the farm

Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89-2YR 2nd Senior 2yr old RAWF 2012  (Taken at the farm just before milking time 11/30/2012)

It’s obvious Rae Lynn has the complete package.  Her dam is an EX 2E Champion sister to the 2011 Royal Winter Fair and Madison Supreme Champion EASTSIDE LEWISDALE GOLD MISSY, from the great STADACONA OUTSIDE ABEL VG-88-4YR-CAN 29*.  Rae Lynn is also in the top 10 in Canada for her EBV for Conformation.  However, as we all know it takes more than just great genetics to win at the big shows.  More is exactly what these two cows have.  The care they receive from the team at Quality Holsteins (Read more – Quality Holsteins – Well-Deserved Congratulations) and key team member Don Schwartz (Read more – Don Schwartz: “Love what you do and do the best you can!”) is second to none.  It’s for that reason these cows that have the great genetics are all able to fulfill their potential.  It is also the reason why these cows look so amazing day in and day out.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Gone are the days when you could take a complete meat bag cow to a show and expect her to do well.  Between the progress in show ethics and in how we evaluate cows, the cream really is rising to the top.  For me there is nothing better than going to the herds where  these top cows reside and seeing that they look just as good in the barn as they did in the show ring…..well with a little more sh*t on them.


DON SCHWARTZ: “Love what you do and do the best you can!”

Don Schwartz is definitely a gentleman and a quiet one at that.  Don opens up when talking about cows but is very humble when speaking of his own success.  As the 26th recipient of the Curtis Clark Achievement Award he declares quite simply, “This is a wonderful honour.” Like Curtis Clark himself, Don does not seek the spotlight. “It was the last thing I was thinking of.”  Being called to the show ring during the 2 yr old class was both “a surprise” and “a bit of a funny story.”

“It was All a Blur”

Looking back on how he learned of the award Don says, “Apparently Ari told my brother David at nine on show morning and the crew also knew.  The big question was how they would get me to the ring.” Don is definitely most happy to be the guy in the barn. He goes on, “The two year old had gone out and someone called out that she was having trouble and I had to get to the ring. I grabbed an antihistamine and a needle and took off.” It’s been reported that Don could have won the running with the bulls in Pamplona he was moving so fast!” He continues the story. “When I got there I looked at her to see if she was hiving up or reacting.  She seemed okay. I couldn’t understand it!” And then the conspiracy continued. “Ari said, ‘I just wanted you to be here to see her show.’ Still confused, I replied, “I’ll take her back to the barn.’ Ari said, ‘Let Manuel take her, you stay here.’ As the plot thickened, Don was still in the dark, “I thought that was really strange. Then I looked around and Steve Fraser and Gary Vanderpost were nearby.” A light went off. “I asked, ‘I didn’t win that award did I?’ Gary squeezed me so hard I couldn’t believe it! The next thing I knew I was joining that amazing lineup.” Don says he has no idea what they actually said about him over the microphone. With only 4 minutes to prepare himself, he concludes, “The rest is all a blur!”

DON SCHWARTZ Curtis Clark Achievement Winner

Family Role Models and Lifelong Friends

Clearly moved by receiving this recognition from such respected peers, Don says “I never dreamed of such a thing. From day one it has always been about my passion for dairy cattle.” His admiration for his father Jim inspired his lifelong desire to be a farm manager.  “At home we showed a Guernsey Herd. Hank Vanderpost was herdsman there for 15 years.   Tannery Hill Farms earned 23 Breeder and Exhibitor Banners.” In his usual understated style he says, “That was quite a thing.” Indeed, for Don, it laid the foundation for what would lead him to his future career.

“I had the opportunity to be around the best showmen of all breeds.  I learned from the respect that was given to these ‘guys in overalls’ that they were important people. I have always tried to learn from the best.” 

He points to his 23 years with Quality Holsteins and what it means to him. (Read more – Quality Holsteins – Well-Deserved Congratulations)  “The passion and dedication of Paul – the perfectionism for fine detail of Ari – they both reinforce what I believe in.” It has been a wonderful team says this modest man who feels that his role is to fill in the blanks. “I love to see the udders bag up and feed to fill the frame.  I want them to eat as much as they can.” He enthusiastically expands, “I like to develop the cow.  I do all the feet and trim them three or four times before showing – always planning ahead for who will be there on the day and who isn’t quite ready.”

“Keep An Open Mind”

The annual trip to “The Royal” is a never-miss-family-tradition.  Although, it may seem that it’s easy, there is always something to learn.  Don advises those who aspire to winning. “I think the best thing you can do is to keep an open mind.  When you’re working at shows always look back afterwards at what worked and what didn’t.  I model myself after others who are willing to try things.  When you try new ideas some might think it’s crazy but it’s always best to keep an open mind.”

He has coped with many challenges in his years in the trenches of cattle preparation.  You never know what surprises will pop up.  Your window of opportunity may be only 30 days from calving to the show ring as Don reports it was with Valleyville Rae Lynn. No wonder he was pleased that they met the challenge and was second place two year old at the Royal.

Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89-2YR  2nd Senior 2yr old RAWF 2012

Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89-2YR
Under Don’s watchful care

“The Goldwyn Factor”

Over the years, Don could have written a veritable how-to book on cattle preparation.  In that time, he has witnessed many changes. He gives one example. “There’s what I call, the Goldwyn Factor.  Udders are so much better. Cows are more dairy.  Commercial breeders can appreciate the cows that are winning in the show ring today.”  This improvement has impacted preparation of cattle. This year’s 2 yr old, Rae Lynn is an example. “I only had 11 hours of milk in that cow.  People walking by were commenting. “They’re not going to have enough milk in the cow.” He chuckles, “They were probably wondering if they should have trusted this guy to get the job done?” The show ring results support the confidence in Don, with a resounding, “Absolutely!”


Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89-2YR 2nd Senior 2yr old RAWF 2012

Valleyville Rae Lynn VG-89-2YR
2nd Senior 2yr old RAWF 2012
2ND SR.2-YR ROYAL 2012

Winning Spirit.  Winning Record.

Don points with pride to previous Curtis Clark Award winners, such as Harold Patterson. “I was so honored to be in that lineup and shake his hand.  I’m sad that Milking Shorthorns are out of the Royal! Think of the great ones, you’ll never see!” Like this man whom Don admires, the sheer volume of successes of the Quality show strings sets him apart as exceptional too. “I love to develop each cow.” This hands-on, 24-7 dedication has contributed to 20 Quality Breeder’s Herds and a record setting seven All-Canadian awards.” It’s no surprise to hear that his favorite thing to do on his day off is to “drop in on my neighbours and look at their cows before milking.”


GRAND ROYAL 2005, 2004

“It’s always all about the cows” 

Don admits that he never considered any other career. “I always admired a good cow, whether it was a good Jersey or Ayrshire.” He affirms his passion for Holsteins and then adds, “I can be happy to see a great Brown Swiss too.  That’s what I love about the Royal. I get the chance to socialize as much with Jerseys as with Holsteins.”  If you want to gets his enthusiasm really overflowing, talk to Don about the many, many cows that are his favourites. “Of course there is Quality BC Frantisco (Ex-96-3E-18*) and Quality Astre Felice (ex-27*). Quality Carlton Pam (Ex-97-6E-3*) and Quality Leadman Lady have also won his permanent affections, although Lady’s life was cut short when she was struck by lightning.



“Home Bred Makes Me Happy”

Don has seen many changes over his years preparing for the show ring. “I miss that you don’t see as many herds like Spring Farms and Romandale .. the homebred herds.” He respects herds like Ferme Jacob and explains,” That is what I love about Quality Holsteins.  People think of you as a breeder first.”  He is amazed at some aspects of the modern cattle breeding business. “Now days it’s kind of funny.  You read who won Madison and two days later she’s sold to someone else.” This accepting and adaptable guy says, “That’s okay but for me I love taking care of homebred cows. From the day they are born until they are famous, I take pride in the success of our homebred herd.” He would never criticize other’s paths. “It’s great to have a good eye for a cow and I like to make great purchases” but this Curtis Clark winner admits, “I want to look back on the success of the cow and her mother and her grandmother before her. That is the true measure of what success means to me.”  He proudly points out how the offspring from Frantisco and Astre Felice are making their way to the winners circle today.


Grand daughter of Frantisco

Not Just Show Day But Every Day

Even though Don always sets his personal standards very high, he is humbled to be with the smart business men and cattle men who have preceded him as Curtis Clark winners. “I’m the barn guy 24-7 at the barn. I have no desire to be a leadsman but I take pride in taking show cows home after the show and having them look as good as they did at the show.” Like Gerald Coughlin who Don admires he says, “I’m happy to be in the trenches.” Regardless of what challenges face Don he feels that the cows are a blessing that will see him through. “If I have a tragedy, or people are sick … or when my Dad died when I was thirteen … I always know I can go out to the barn, where the cows are calm, and I will feel their calmness.” Unconditional love works both ways.

Don being presented the 2012 Curtis Clark Achievement Award

Don being presented the 2012 Curtis Clark Achievement Award

Gentle Man. Powerful Example.

Son Randy signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a non-draft free agent in January 2009.

Son Randy signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as a non-draft free agent in January 2009.

With emotion in his voice, Don shares a family concern that the “Royal” cattle tradition could end with him and his brother David, whom he admires and respects as a mentor too.  It’s been talked about by his son and daughter.  Son Randy had been drafted by The Blue Jays baseball team and is now married and teaching in Florida and daughter Erin manages a marina in Parry Sound.  He talks so proudly of them and concedes that “perhaps” their success is part of that 24-7 gene that he has passed on. “Oh my wife has that too!” he enthuses. “Linda works in the Quality Seed business.  She is a tremendously hard worker.” He pauses to recall how happy Linda was when he came home with his award.”I never saw her cry so much ” he says with modest amazement. “It was an emotional moment for both of us.”  When Don called his mother with the good news her voice was also filled with emotion when she said, “Look what my boys have done!” There may be new places and different careers, but Don and Linda needn’t doubt that the Schwartz family legacy lives on.

The Bullvine Bottom Line.

Following the example of other special men in overalls, Don Schwartz is a very special man himself.  He is a fine example of how far you can go by loving what you do and doing your best every day.

It is a pleasure to extend heartfelt congratulations to Don Schwartz the 2012 Curtis Clark Achievement Award Winner!


The 2012 Royal Winter Fair Holstein Show Preview

It would be easy to just take the winners from this year’s World Dairy Expo (Read more – World Dairy Expo 2012 Holstein Show – A battle for the ages) and predict that they will win at the Royal.  But that is not always the case.  It’s a different day, different judge, and new animals have calved and others have been fresh longer.  Instead let’s take a look at the highlights of what is sure to be a truly Royal show.

The Judge

Callum McKinven - 2012 Royal Holstein Show Judge

Callum McKinven – 2012 Royal Holstein Show Judge

At Lookout Holsteins in North Hatley, QC, Callum McKinven, his wife Kathy Beerwort and their three daughters work hard to create a comfortable, low-stress environment for their herd of show winners and genomic stars.  When they first built their facility in the beautiful hills of Quebec, all details were put into place for sensible cow comfort.  Callum has shown well-known heifers and cows to victory at major shows, including World Dairy Expo and the Royal.  McKinven is a very active, respected judge, both domestically and internationally.  Lookout in partnership has had several  sale toppers lately including LOOKOUT PESCE EPIC HUE at the Planet Holstein Sale (Read – The Planet Explodes at World Dairy Expo – 2012 Planet Holstein Sale Recap) and RALMA-RH MANOMAN BANJO VG-88-2yr at the Gillette Visions sale (Read – Gillette Visions 2012 Sale – Great People, Great Cattle = Great Results)

The Contenders for Junior Champion

Lafontaine Aftershock Arrie - Junior Champion World Dairy Expo 2012

Lafontaine Aftershock Arrie – Junior Champion World Dairy Expo 2012

While the Junior Champion from Madison, Lafontaine Aftershock Arrie, certainly has to be considered the early favorite, it really could go any way.  Nowhere is there greater variance every year than in the nod for Junior Champion.  While many might go on to win their class at the Royal, winning Madison does not guarantee the Royal win that many would expect.  Other heifers to watch for include the recent Quebec International Holstein Show Junior Champion Jacobs Jordan Babe (Read more – Expo International Holstein Quebec Heifers Results).  Another one to watch for is Crovalley Knowledge Akika who looked very impressive winning junior champion at the recent Autumn Opportunity Show (Read more – Autumn Opportunity Holstein Show Results).  In addition, note that the Madison Reserve Junior Champion Jaslyn Aftershock Avila will not be there as she is owned in partnership by Lookout Farms.

The Contenders for Intermediate Champion

Cookview Goldwyn Monique (Right ) and Whittier Farms Jasp Kinetic (Left) - World Dairy Expo 2012

Cookview Goldwyn Monique (Right ) and Whittier Farms Jasp Kinetic (Left) – World Dairy Expo 2012

While Cookview Goldwyn Monique looked extremely impressive (Read more – World Dairy Expo 2012 Holstein Show – A Battle for the Ages) and is the early front runner, other contenders include fellow class winners from Madison, Butz-Butler Gold Barbara and T-Triple-T Gold Prize (Read more – World Dairy Expo Winners: Investment Worthy). Other contenders would have to be the recent Intermediate Champions from Quebec, Robrook Goldwyn Cameron and from Ontario Quality Gold Danzi (Read more – Quality Holsteins – Well-Deserved Congratulations).  Another X Factor might be Craigcrest Rubies Gold Rejoice.  While not looking her best at Madison, don’t let her fall too far off your radar.  With her massive frame and dairyness, the two times All-American and All-Canadian is always within striking distance.

The Contenders for Senior Champion

RF GOLDWYN HAILEY- Grand Champion Quebec International Show 2012

RF GOLDWYN HAILEY- Grand Champion Quebec International Show 2012

I would like to say it’s in doubt, but that simply is not the case.  If RF Goldwyn Hailey EX-97 comes out looking as good as she did at Madison and the recent Quebec International Holstein Show, there really is no doubt.  She is on a roll that doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, and she should easily assume the crown (Read more – The Story Behind How Two Full Sisters Dominated Expo Quebec).  Other cows to keep an eye out for include Boulet Goldwyn Chalou and Quality Goldwyn Flansco.

The Red and White Story

Blondin Redman Seisme EX-96 (98-MS)

Blondin Redman Seisme EX-96 (98-MS)

Just like Hailey, Blondin Redman Seisme, should be considered the strong favorite to win Grand yet again.

The Bullvine Bottom Line

While you never know how the cows will settle in and what they will look like on show day, this group certainly has to be considered the early contenders.


Quality Holsteins – Well-Deserved Congratulations

“Congratulations on winning!” That’s one of the nicest things you can hear when you show cattle.  Congratulations  is fine for winning the lottery or celebrating a birthday, but “well deserved” is reserved for people who put in the effort and the time and took the risk to get somewhere. Today we are looking at why the success of Paul and Ari Ekstein of Quality Farms Ltd. in Woodbridge, Ontario is well-deserved

Quality Shows to Win



Quality Holsteins is at the forefront of dairy cattle breeding and showing and Ari Ekstein of Quality Farms Ltd. attributes much of that to one cow, QUALITY B C FRANTISCO EX-96-3E-CAN 18*(Read more – The 8 Greatest North American Show Cows of All-Time). “Frantisco is having a great impact on our herd.  There is no doubt that the two years that she was Grand at the Royal the Quality herd became more famous in the world.  Her greatest impact is through her daughters and granddaughters (Read – Great Show Cows Can They Pass It On).  This family is one of the most consistent breeding families in the world.  The success of this family has helped keep Quality in the forefront of the Holstein industry. Both the Grand and Reserve grand cows at this year’s Autumn Opportunity go back to the Frantisco family.” (Read – Autumn Opportunity Holstein Show Results)



QUALITY GOLDWYN FLANSCO EX-94-CAN – GRAND AUTUMN OPP. 2012 – Grand daughter of Frantisco

Quality Winners Don’t Happen by Coincidence

You can’t count on luck or chance in cattle breeding. You have to make a plan and stick to it.  When you breed show cows, you’ve got to prove it with winners at the major shows.  Ari is familiar with analyzing and planning for show success. “There is no doubt that WDE is one of the greatest shows in the world.” However he points out that Quality’s plan was different.  “The last time we exhibited at Madison was with Quality Astro Sheri.  She was second prize three year old in 1988. We are only a half an hour from the Royal and we decided to continuously show there rather than Madison.”  They have had tremendous success at the Royal.  Perhaps this will be doubled in the future as Ari reports “You will see Quality at Madison again in the next few years.” Obviously, the key is to know where you’re showing and how to win there.

Winning today (vs. winning tomorrow)


QUALITY GIBSON FINSCO EX-95-3E-CAN 4* – HM. ALL-ONTARIO 5-YR 2008 – dam of Flansco and daughter of Frantisco

There can be high excitement and frustrating disappointments in the show ring … but everything you do today has an impact on tomorrow’s successes.  Quality’s winners, in the barn and in the show ring, start before each cow is mated. Current stars in their lineup are,Quality Goldwyn Flansco, Quality Gibson Finsco, Quality Gibson Ficoe, Quality Gibson Fantisco, Quality Carlton Pam, Quality Gold Danzi, Pine-Tree Finley Minnie and Valleyville Rae Lynn.



The Quality Strategy

“We try to breed the best type cow possible that will milk easy with no health issues.  We are very particular in what bulls we use and we try and make sure we make the best mating every time.  We love great type cows and we will continue to try and breed a “champion” cow every time.” Quality sets the benchmark high.

Change is Part of the Breeding Business

Everyone must find a way to deal with change and usually it starts with recognizing that it is happening. “I am sure everybody involved in this industry will tell you that genomics has had a huge impact in the value of cattle.”

Ari feels it isn’t’t just the sales ring but also the show ring that has seen change. “We have also seen a dramatic change in the style of today’s show winners. Goldwyn has set the new standard in today’s show ring.” says Ari, who then goes on to point out the benefits brought to the dairy industry because of evolving genetics. “Today’s modern dairy genetics have also bred cows that are profitable because they have the ability to milk throughout their lactation.  The days of cows peaking in the first three months and barely milking in their last three months should come to an end.”



Genomics Is a Quality Tool

Ari reports that Quality Holsteins uses genomics. “We have concentrated more on the bulls that combine the extremely high type with high production and health traits.” This may surprise those who feel genomics and type are mutually exclusive.  The top 10 bulls that Ari lists are: Windbrook, Sid, Goldchip, Fever, Dempsey, Braxton, Atwood, Brokaw, Bradnick, Brawler. When you break down their attributes you see that they are all high type and that there is a 70/30 split between proven and genomic sires.  (Read more – Does Genomics Belong in The Show Ring and 7 Sires to Use in Order to Breed the Next World Dairy Expo Champion)


PINE-TREE FINLEY MINNIE EX-91-CAN DOM 2* – Dam of PINE-TREE SID – Owned by Quality Holsteins

Type Leads the Way

Ari points out that even with genomics, he focuses on type. “We believe that type is still very important and we refuse to give up type for the sake of numbers.  Whether you are a commercial breeder or someone who is trying to breed a show cow, the better typed cows are always worth more. When you go to a commercial sale barn the better typed cows always sell for more than the poor typed cows. Needless to say the cow in first is usually worth more than the one in 10th.”

Quality Formula Based on Hard Work

You could be forgiven for assuming that it has been easy for Quality Holsteins to achieve their outstanding show ring success.  After all they are in the winner’s circle year after year.  Sometimes we forget that the hard work really begins long before the ribbon is awarded. There is no book, “The Lazy Man’s Way to Champions!” Ari attributes success to this finely honed formula: “The combination of dedication, hard work and passion from the Ekstein family and some of the best employees in the world has contributed to our success.”



Only Elite Breeding will have Value in the Future

Experienced in the seed industry as well as the dairy industry, Ari knows that all businesses evolve with changing markets. Ari points out where the future is headed. “The farms keep getting bigger and the importance of high producing, healthy typey cows continues.” Rather than fret about this and worry about the impact, Ari analyzes what lies ahead. “As we move forward we will see that only the true elite animals will hold their value.  Anything that is rare will always be valuable. The extremely high genomic animals and the great show cows of the breed will always be valuable.  It is very hard to breed both of these and the cows in between will not increase in value.” Simply put, when all of your competitors are busy increasing value by cutting prices, Ari points out that you can actually increase your returns by breeding only the cows that are valued in the marketplace.

Quality Focuses on Success

Sometimes we assume that if we just copy the bull selection of an elite breeder like Quality Farms Ltd., our herd will rise in the rankings too.  Ari’s advice disproves this simplistic idea. “I think it is important to realize what your goal is as a breeder, and make sure you focus on what your idea of success is.” You have to know your herd, your cow and yourself before you make even one mating decision. Of course, there are some basic rules to follow. “It is very important to try and breed from the most consistent breeding families in the breed.” Ari says. “There are many good cows with good pedigrees but very few have the ability to consistently breed.” The third piece of advice is probably the most important, “Once you realize what family you want to focus on it is equally as important to use the right bulls.  Making the proper mating is very important and do not just use a bull because he has a good proof.  It is important to use the bull that is the best mating for each cow or heifer you are breeding.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

You might think a breeding discussion with Quality Holsteins would boil down to a choice between genomics or type.  Again, the assumption would be wrong.  The Quality answer is that, based on your own clear goals, there is something of value in the proper use of both tools. The real foundation of success Ari points out is that,”The will to succeed, devotion and hard work will eventually pay off.” That’s when the title “Quality” is well-deserved.

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