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The Top 10 Editor’s Choice Articles of 2021

Entering a New Year gives The Bullvine two good reasons to review the year just past. The obvious first look allows us to (ascertain) whether goals were achieved. Secondly, this look back reveals what challenges remain. Of course, everyone reading this did not face the same choices in 2021.

The right choice for a dairy breeder might be less than perfect or even unnecessary for a dairy scientist or the milk marketing department in your area. Relevant action is different for a dairy veterinarian than it is for a supplier of genetic or nutrition services.

Every year we enjoy this process and are pleased to invite you to join us in reviewing 2021 from your dairy point of view.


Dairy problem solving and dairy decision-making belong together. Nevertheless, before dairy breeders can use current and future genetic indexes to breed problem-free dairy cows, they must identify what problem they are targeting.

This article starts with identification and then provides 5 steps to undertake. From the outset, the writer makes it clear that “Dairy farmers and their advisors must be open-minded in sire selection and include traits that will reduce animals with problems.” In 2021 being open-minded was intended to allow breeders to approach their herd genetics problems and find new strategies. (Read more: How Milk Producers can Breed Problem Free Dairy Cows)


Dairy breeding would be much simpler if we only had ourselves to please but producing what buyers need and will pay for cannot be overlooked. In prioritizing dairy managers are aware that feed costs are seventy percent of the variable on-farm costs. As a result, income over feed costs (IOFC) is being more closely monitored and used by dairy farmers and their advisors. Feed efficiency indexes are a new tool in the genetic toolbox. Many feed efficiency indexes are published for breeders to use and other countries, primarily from western Europe, are developing more. Five International indexes are pointed out in this article. (Read more: Feed Efficiency Indexes – Which One Will You Use?)


There is a momentary temptation to substitute “high-ranking politicians” for “high-ranking sires” when looking back at this article.  Is it too much of a reach to recognize that politics has an impact on dairy farming?  Having said that no matter what you choose you will face limiting factors.  In 2021, The Bullvine encouraged all dairy cattle breeders to expand their use of genetic indexes. “As sires account for over 90% of a herd’s genetic improvement, refining and focusing sire selection to include more economically important traits will be a wise business decision.” (Read more: Today’s High-Ranking Sires Are Not All Equal)


Dairy farms in the US are consolidating at a faster rate today than any other agricultural commodity. Depending on your personal situation that can mark new beginnings or a fast ending. We realize that consolidation does not boil down to a simple “either” “or” decision. In simplest actual fact terms, less than 6% of dairy farms are milking almost 60% of the total number of cows. At the top end of the scale, the average herd size is more than 3,000 cows. The total number of cattle is not getting smaller even as the total number of farms is dropping dramatically but this article notes, “It is all too easy to get mired in milk, money and politics.” (Read more: The Future of Dairy Consolidation)

#6. STUD WARS MAY ’21 Attack of the Clones

Modern society seems to be driven by competition.  Having said that, we need to take a moment to acknowledge that progress is never made by simply standing still. As in the national dairy herd, national AI organizations are consolidating. In this article, which is graphically supported by colorful pie charts, dairy breeders are given numerical percentages that show who is winning the Stud wars — based on the selected criteria that drives decision making. More than 10 lists are analyzed including TPI; NM$; PTAT PROVEN; PTAT GENOMIC; POLLED; RED and WHITE; PROVEN SIRE LINEUP; GENOMIC SIRE LINE-UP and TOP PROVEN SIRE LINEUP. (Read more: Stud Wars May ’21 Attack of the Clones)

#5. LEARN FROM THE BEST HERDS – A Canadian Perspective

We are midway through our Top 10 and we are looking back nine months to present another dairy perspective. Dairy Farmers gauge their practices and performance by comparing their herds to those of fellow farmers.  In Canada, one way to compare dairy herds that participate in Lactanet’s recording, testing and management services is the annual Herd Management Score Report. The Bullvine thanks Harley Nicholson for his generous time and commitment in conducting the survey. Special thanks go to the 12 progress dairy farmers who have achieved superior performance and willingly shared their vision for their farms and herds. (Read more: Learn from the Best Herds)


At this time one year ago, we probably thought we were nearing the end of the Coronovirus, however, dairying worldwide continues, at this very moment “in the continuing shadow of Covid”. Re-reading this article, we see how even as everything remains the same, there is much that is changing. Were we ready for the challenge?  Did we meet it?  Are we better prepared to move forward now? (Read More: Dairy Farming in the Continuing Shadow of Covid)


When this video was presented we urged everyone to “get inspired by the mega-successful Master Breeder Marc Comtois and his son Steve as they present this inside look at Comestar with their move to DeLaval robots.”  We also extended thanks to the Semex Alliance and DeLaval for presenting this great session.

Certainly, 2021 was a year where unusual connections and improved alliances were the order of the day.  Dairy Breeders are justifiably proud of progressive breeding, ideas, and management.  There is much to learn from this video produced by Comestar, Semex Alliance, DeLaval. (Read more: Robots at Comestar Holsteins – Video Tour)


Despite lockdowns and cancellations, THE BULLVINE once again rose to the challenge of providing their loyal audience with interactive competition.  Many in the dairy industry see themselves as amateur geneticists and enjoy the thrill of the hunt for first place.  Sometimes there are those who reach for the golden ticket by picking the wild card. Whether visiting barn stalls, show rings or browsing through online pictures and videos, dairy amateurs turn into dairy professionals in no time at all.  The Breeders Choice Awards, like this annual Bullvine review, offers the added stimulation of competition.  The prize and bragging rights are keenly sought after. (Read more: Breeders Choice Awards) 


It is appropriate that our look back at 2021 climaxes with an article that wraps up the best parts of everything we value in the story of Erbacres Snapple Shakira – The New International Superstar.  Here we find a great story, exceptional breeding, hard work and vision, interweaving in the best of all possible ways! The people are passionate.  The love of this very special queen of the showring is heartwarming. “With so many facts already recorded in the historically exceptional story of Shakira, the question becomes, “Where will Shakira go from here?” Each person who has known her best answers from a different perspective, but they all share the same confidence, “Whatever happens next, Shakira, will continue to set new records and leave outstanding genetics.” And so we wrap up an exceptional year with an exceptional dairy cow who epitomizes the mantra, “On with the Dairy Show!”  (Read more: Erbacres Snapple Shakira – The New International Superstar)


As we at The Bullvine wish you “Happy New Year”, we extend sincere thanks for the hard work, discipline, and determination of readers, dairy breeders, photographers, videographers, writers, and dairy industry businesses that accepted new responsibilities during these sometimes strange and often difficult times. 2021 taught us that dairy must continue to have an agile, flexible culture and be willing to adapt to changes as fast as possible. It is a privilege for The Bullvine to journey beside you into 2022 in search of the best that dairying has to offer.




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