Today it is my pleasure to select a dozen personal favorites from articles published in 2015. The readers of the Bullvine are passionate about every area of dairying and they too have favorites that they appreciated with their interest, comments and feedback. Now I have the opportunity to dig deeper and reveal even more of the loves and even the un-loved issues that hit close to home for all of us this past year. With twelve articles in hand, I see that they appeal to me because they show how dairy breeders are seeking the best for their cows, their families and the dairy industry. I hope you will join with The Bullvine and be inspired by the heartwarming stories, passion and leadership that motivate our days all year round.
I never know exactly what will be coming across my desk but it’s never dull and the titles regularly range from catchy to controversial. That was the case with “Smoking is good for you.” This article about Genomics put attention on what was one of the biggest recurring focus points of 2015. It was noted that breeders feel that “AI companies ‘are forcing’ genomics down their throats, in the same way that the tobacco companies ‘forced’ smoking down the throats of millions, by using the weight of doctors’ credibility.” However, what I like best about this article is that everyone was encouraged to take a more reasoned approach, “Unlike cigarettes, where there is certainly no question left about the health risks of smoking, genomics and cigarettes are not interchangeable. There is significant proof that genomics does, in fact, provide good ‘health’ for your dairy breeding program.” To genomic detractors, The Bullvine asks “Where is your smoking gun? Where is your proof that genomics does not work?’ (Read more)
Many of the issues in the dairy industry require each one of us to make a personal decision about how we feel about them. Having said that, the health of our dairy cattle is less subjective and The Bullvine takes the reporting of accurate information as a serious responsibility and we always encourage breeders to act responsibly. “Regardless of who is the “most” right or wrong, if you are anywhere on the spectrum between production and consumption, you must share the responsibility. And the appropriate ACTION!” (Read more)
While The Bullvine doesn’t hesitate to put the spotlight on the controversial issues it is obviously much more satisfying to bring attention to positive and inspiring people and events. Both came together at the Dairy Girl networking evening at World Dairy Expo in October. Laura Daniels Dairy Girl Network founder and president from Heartwood Farm in Cobb, Wisconsin welcomed one hundred and eighty women and expanded on the goals of The Dairy Girl Network. It was exciting to applaud the many ways that dairy women are making a difference, not just because they are different, but because, especially when networking together, they share and expand the same dairy passion.” (Read more)
Spending most of your life working in and connected with the dairy industry, means that you directly experience a full range of the joys and sorrows connected with working with cattle. The entire Hunt family has personal experience with those emotional times but Murray and I were particularly moved by Andrew’s heartfelt perspective on the sale of dairy cattle at Huntsdale. We loved the way he summarized the beginnings, development and ongoing legacy of Huntsdale Farms in a way that made us appreciate the life work and legacy of generations of our family. (Read more)
#8 – The Lighthearted Side of the Bullvine
Balance is important in cattle breeding and in life. The next articles that struck a chord with us both expressed the themes of love, marriage and humor – not necessarily in that order. Last week we published “Take that Off!”which was a follow up piece to one we posted earlier entitled, “Take This Farmer and Laugh Ever After” Judging from the feedback received on both these pieces, it seems clear to me that there are many parts of the dairy community that everyone relates to. That common experience brings us together and I am thankful that Murray is such a good sport and great husband.
It probably isn’t surprising that the next article, “Are Breed Associations Missing Important Breeding Signals”, continues to highlight how important relationships are in the dairy industry. In this case, the issues move out of the family and into the leadership of the industry. Although it isn’t about marriage it is about trust and shared goals. “The relevance of “right” or “wrong” depends on where the reader sits. It isn’t a battle to claim victory. It’s an effort to initiate conversation and, where needed, promote active change.” (Read more)
Change is difficult. Change when it comes to the cattle we love is an even more threatening concept. Having said that, a sustainable dairy industry will depend on how well we deal with issues that can help us grow, regardless of where our specific breed focus currently is. “Today breeds are more than color markings, unbroken lineage, and tradition. Breeds in the future, on a global basis, will be about their genetic makeup and how they serve the needs of the dairy food industry. “Accurate visioning, strategic planning, research and development and effective service provision are all integral to what breeds need to do on a continual basis. If that means there will be increased competition for market share amongst breeds, so-be-it.” (Read more)
Standing in fifth place in The Bullvine Editor’s Choice 2015 selection is “Rump. Is it Beauty of Utility?” One of the most exciting aspects of writing articles about the dairy industry happens when we are able to research the answers to questions raised by dairy breeders. In this case, years of experience had us asking the question ourselves. We brought together the information and summarized, ‘In short, the reason rump may be significant is because of its role in ‘getting the cows in calf and getting the calf out’. It does not require beauty to do that. It’s about utility when it comes to the rump. Why should breeders emphasize rumps at the expense of other body parts known to have more influence on profit?” (Read more)
With so much access to and experience with the dairy industry, there is always a temptation to look into a crystal ball and forecast the future. “In 50 years the world population will require 100% more food and 70% of this food must come from efficiency-improving technology. Unless someone discovers how to dairy on the moon, we are going to have to become significantly more efficient in our milk production methods. Gene editing offers the potential to meet this demands. Current genetic advancement rates will be hard pressed to meet in 50 years what gene editing can offer in under ten years’ time. Sure a small number of very vocal consumers will be opposed to gene editing, but the masses want cheap, safe milk. Gene editing, since it is not transgenics, offers this possibility. This raises the question, “Are the dairy breeders of the future actually scientists sitting in labs?” (Read more)
The Top Three Editor’s Choices of 2015!
#3 A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Number 3 on my list is not actually inspired by the written word of an actual article. In 2015 we at The Bullvine challenged ourselves to go to the next level in making information fast, informative and relevant for our readers. This meant attending meetings, shows, sales and dairy farms and, simultaneously, the creation of a huge data base of pictures, videos and audio interviews. I am always astonished at the way a great picture adds that real time reality that inspires even greater passion for dairying. You can write articles ‘until the cows come home’ but then it’s the pictures like the ones taken at World Dairy Expo, The Royal and Le Supreme Laiteir and more.
#2 The Bullvine as Hosts, Tutors, Students and Teachers.
When The Bullvine began, the goal was to initiate give-and-take with dairy breeders. We have been honored and delighted to share the insights, questions, hard work and vision of dairy enthusiasts. In 2015 this communication became even more real time when we began hosting webinars. This has been particularly effective in answering questions around Genomics. Now those in the labs and those on the farms can raise their concerns and work together to make sure that everyone knows where the other side is coming from. Check out our webinars section to see how this new interactive feature allows us to give, receive and discuss information.
First Place On The Bullvine Editor’s Choice List Brings Us Back To Our Most Important Dairy Asset …. Dairy People!
With the 24/7 nature of dairy farming, all of us have been asked what keeps us going. Of course, the cattle are at the center of everything, but the key to success is the people. Whenever there’s a challenge, we turn to those with experience. Every year the most viewed articles and largest body of feedback is for those about people who describe the passion, methods and vision which has brought them to where they are today. At Oakfield Corners Dairy, Alicia and Jonathan Lamb and key team members Kelly Lee and Adam Dresser are a great team and they shared their perspective with The Bullvine. With 6000 cows and three dairies, it is fascinating to learn how they face the issues and challenges of modern dairying. Through the video interview we can learn and be inspired (Watch video here)
The Bullvine Bottom Line for 2015
Throughout the year we loved reflecting the innovation that takes place in the dairy industry. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you all the best as we continue this amazing journey together in 2016!