An Interview with Brian Carscadden

by Hu Team on July 11, 2014

briancarsBrian Carscadden was born and raised on a registered Holstein farm in eastern Ontario and still resdies in Guelph, Ontario, Canada with his wife Linda and  3 children; Craig, Lauren and Colin.

He graduated from the University of Guelph with a bachelor of science in agriculture degree in May of 1994.   Upon graduation of University Brian was hired as a sire analyst for United Breeders of Guelph, Ontario.

Then in 1998 the Semex Alliance was formed and Brian was hired on to the Semex Alliance Sire Analyst Team where he continues today purchasing bulls across Ontario, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana as well as in the UK and Ireland.  Before his A.I. career Brian was very successful as a professional dairy cattle fitter, preparing cattle for top Holstein, Ayrshire and Jersey breeders around the world.

Brian remains active with various youth programs and is a big promoter of youth in agriculture.  He speaks at many youth events and promotes youth involvement in the annual Semex Alliance Walk of Fame at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and World Dairy Expo, which he heads up each year.


HU: What countries have you judged in?

Australia, New Zealand,  Japan,  Korea, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, USA , Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland , Holland, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal

HU:  Which show had the best ‘atmosphere’?

The shows with the best atmosphere would be the Swiss Expo in Lausanne , Switzerland, The Dairy Show in Verona ,Italy and of course WDE(2008) .

HU: Which show was the most memorable and why

WDE (2008) was the most memorable for me as it was a big show(520+ head) and it was the first year that Canadians were able to cross the border again and show there . Because of this, there seemed to be an excitement in the air leading up to the show that I have  not experienced since . The show didn’t disappoint either as it was the best quality Holstein show that many people had ever witnessed. Someone asked me in the Spring of that year what my greatest fear of judging WDE was – my answer  “ to have a Grand Champion that people would remember and talk about for generations “ !!  As you can see by my next answer, my wish came true !!

HU:Who is your favorite cow that you have judged?


HU: What show was the first one you judged?

It was a very small 4-H show in Rocklyn,Ontario and it was in 1994 . I believe there were less than 30 head and I was more nervous than I have been for any other show since. My 1st show in the US was the Kentucky State Show.

HU: Madison or the Royal – which one was more stressful to judge?

I don’t think that one show is more stressful than the other; however both require immense concentration and focus. I feel that being asked to judge either one of these shows is one of the greatest honours that can be achieved in the Holstein industry. When I was asked to judge WDE, I made the decision to remove myself from all shows and sales leading up to Oct 2008. When I entered the coliseum , I had very little knowledge of any previous placings or sale results of any of the animals that I was about to assess. This allowed me to focus using my cow sense and place the animals without any pre-conceived ideas or knowledge about them. By doing this, I was able to alleviate any stress that I may have otherwise encountered and could then focus on the job at hand. I attempted to take the same approach at the Royal in 2011 and, although it is the last show of the season and not as easy to accomplish, I was able to walk into the arena with very little knowledge of previous placings. In fact, after the 4 yr old class , my associate(David Crack) mentioned that the winner looked even better than she did the week before . My response was “ Who is she and how did she do last week ?? “ – I had no idea that she had been Grand Champion in Quebec the week before.

     HU: Are you nervous when judging?

I would say that I am more anxious than I am nervous. I have judged enough shows that I have the confidence to place them how I see them on the day and don’t rely on any previous placings or history of the animals to help me make my decisions.

    HU: Have you had any ‘bad moments’ while judging?

My worst experience judging was during the National Show in Spain in 2009. I encountered a stomach flu and was forced to use the restroom after every class and there were 18 classes. Lets just say that it was a “very” long day full of “bad moments “!

  HU: Can you explain how it feels to the person standing in the middle of the ring with the        ultimate decision on their shoulders at the show like Madison or the Royal?

In a word I would call it “exhilarating”!  It is truly exciting to witness so many great animals coming towards you one after the other – I literally get the chills!  Just when you think you have the top 6 figured out – 6 more great ones walk in ….

   HU: Who is your ‘judging mentor’; a judge that you really respect and admire?

I have a few : Lowell Lindsay, Bob Fitzsimmons, Mike Deaver and Callum McKinven . These are 4 of the best cowmen/judges in the World and every one of them supported and believed in me as a judge at one point or another.

HU: Was judging ‘major’ shows something you always aspired to do?; or it just sort of    happened?

Yes it was always something that I always aspired to do.

HU: Do you have any tips or advice for young aspiring judges?

I would give 5 tips to young judges:

  1. Always be respectful of whatever show you are asked to judge regardless of its size or importance.
  2. Always treat the role with the professionalism that it deserves.
  3. Judge them like it is the first time you have ever seen them
  4. If you encounter an overgrown heifer in a class – shrink her to the same size as the rest –   if she is still the best one – then it is okay to win with her!  Don’t penalize her for being big; however, she must be good before she can be big .
  5. Avoid controversial placings with animals that you have owned, bred or sold. There is always someone available to place that animal

HU: Is there a show that you have not judged that you would really like to judge?

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to judge many of the best shows around the World and I feel that is time for other young judges to enjoy the same experiences that I did. I was asked to judge the European Confrontation Show last year but the committee decided after asking me that they needed to have a European judge and so they did. I went to the show regardless and it was a tremendous event with many world class cows from 16-17 different European countries. I guess this would be a show that I would like to be asked again to judge.

HU: Any embarrassing or funny stories while judging?

I remember judging a 4-H show years ago and made the mistake of identifying a leadsperson as a boy when in fact it was a young girl – that was embarrassing and needless to say, I avoided using gender in my reasons from that point forward .

HU: Give a brief description of ‘your kind of cow’; what are you looking for in the ring?

“My kind of cow” has a great mammary system, has tremendous mobility and can survive in any type of environment. I don’t always need to have the tallest cows but they need to exhibit dairy strength and they need to be productive. The best uddered cow will quite often be one of the top 2 placing cows when I am judging.


HU: In the genomic era how do you see the “show cow & heifer” changing?

I don’t see the show heifer and cow changing at all as long as breeders continue to select for high type. We have more high type bulls available today through proven and genomic sires than ever before. High type bulls don’t always transmit showring style but breeders are usually quick to figure out which ones do. As long as breeders embrace the high type genomic bulls and realize that, even though we know they are overrated, they still have a good shot at being good proven type bulls. In recent years, we have witnessed the successful graduation of several high type genomic young sires such as Windbrook, Fever, Lavanguard, Atwood and Aftershock.

I feel the industry needs to think about adding a genomic class or 2 at major shows.  Animals would need to be above a certain level of GLPI to qualify. It may add some new interest/participation to the shows and add value to certain animals?

HU:  Will we ever witness another dominate show ring sire like Goldwyn ever again?

People probably asked the same question after the Starbucks and Durham eras and nobody knew who Goldwyn was at that point. There is no doubt that Goldwyn is probably the most dominate sire the breed has ever known on so many levels. It is hard to believe that he could ever be surpassed again; however, I am employed by Semex and will continue to try and buy the next Goldwyn everyday!!


Milk Production in India

by Hu Team on June 27, 2014

Dr. C.S.Thomas, MSc, Ph.D Animal Sc –  SLU , Sweden.

Historically the Indian sub-continent was where the Bos Indicus was first domesticated.  Since then these animals have developed into about 37 pure cattle breeds. Breeds were mainly selected for their ability to plough the fields and since most of India is vegetarian; milk was the only source of animal protein and fat in their diets . This led to the natural selection of about five distinct breeds  that were excellent milk producers; Sahiwal, Gir, Red Sindhi, Tharparkar and Rathi.  While others evolved as dual purpose breeds  such as Kankrej, Ongole and Hariana, and the rest being draught resistant breeds.

These Bos Indicus breeds have evolved in conditions that are harsh with high temperatures, humidity and high disease pressure along with very low nutritional levels. Thus these animals have a robust immune system, they have high levels of tolerance to heat stress, strong feet and legs, and are able to subsist of a high fiber diet compared to other lactating bovines. In the last fifty years due to the increasing demand for milk there have been cross breeding programs implemented with the intention of increasing milk production by the introduction of Holstein and Jersey blood lines.

India 3

Today India is the world’s largest milk producer, but the average production of Indian animals is low in comparison to the European countries and the US owing to the genetic makeup of these animals. Apart from this; the Indian milk production is a medium to low input system.  These systems are also described as backyard type or small holder microenterprises. However the livestock sector plays an important role in the welfare of India’s rural population and it is a well-established sector that is important to leverage the growth of the Indian economy.

There is a large population of landless, marginal and small farmers who are small holder dairy farmers and these form the bulk of the producers.  As a large proportion of the small holder farmers are from the backward communities it is a challenge to get there participation in the main stream organized milk production sector by getting them fully integrated in the main stream of dairy business.

India 2

There is an overpowering significant role of women in handling most of the dairying activities like fetching fodder, crop residue, feeding, watering, manure handling, milking, calf and heifer rearing and milk delivery. However; the participation of women in decision making in minimal. Eg. (Selling of milk, buying of livestock, vaccination, training, exposure, etc).
Fodder crop production is another area of concern as currently it has minimal space in the cropping programs and usually only larger farmers in irrigated areas produce fodder crops. The bulk feeding is in the form of crop residues and biomass from grazing.

Almost all animals (95%) are tethered and housed in back yard while being stall fed and supplied approximately 30 to 50 liters of water in buckets twice a day. Most animals are fed cereal bran and oilseed cakes however there is little knowledge about balanced rations etc.   AI is accepted as a vehicle for breed improvement and most producers access services like feed input, AI, and treatment for sick animals  from dairy cooperatives and free vaccination form government departments.

Operation flood (OF) one of the world’s largest rural development programs; was launched in the 1970’s and  the foundational doctrine of the OF programs have been village level producer cooperatives that procure milk and provide inputs and  services making modern management and technology available to the milk producers. The OF objectives included increase milk production, augment rural incomes and providing reasonable prices for customers.  As a result  of the OF I (1970-80), OF –II ( 1981-85) and OF-III (1986-96) the total milk production increased from  1/10th of the world production fifteen years ago to the current production where it  now accounts for 1/ 6th of total global milk output.

A combination of factors in addition to OF that also influenced the dramatic increase in milk production are;  assured procurement prices for producers, technological progress, and the increased availability crop residue (a byproduct of the green revolution). However with the growing demand for milk and milk products the  Indian Dairy Industry needs to step up production from the current 121.8 million tones (2010 -11) to 220 million tons by 2021-22 by maintaining an annual growth rate of 4% for the next fifteen years.



For the Everyday Love of the Industry

by Hu Team on June 20, 2014

To celebrate and honour the late Andrea Crowe of Hi-Calibre Holsteins, Burntcoat, N.S., and her legacy as a passionate Holstein breeder and exhibitor and community minded individual, a committee of her friends has created an annual award that recognizes:

* Ability to inspire others through positive attitude and industry involvement.
* Fostering industry knowledge and interest in youth.
* Good sportsmanship.


Andrea Crowe loved to work hard with family, friends and industry peers for the betterment of the industry, the breed, and for the pure joy of being part of something that wasn’t just a job, but rather a way of life. This award is meant to honour Andrea’s passion for life, positive attitude, and most of all her determination; attributes speaking to the “Hi-Calibre” of Andrea’s character and a life well lived.
Annually a committee will select a deserving candidate to receive the Andrea Crowe Achievement Award. The award will be presented during the heifer show of the National Holstein Show at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ont., in November.

The inaugural presentation of the Andrea Crowe Memorial Award was held on November 8th, 2013. The award was presented by the Crowe family to Joel Phoenix of Dappleview Holsteins, Cannington, Ont.

Like Andrea, Joel possesses the “everyday love of the industry” and is a valued member of the Holstein fraternity. Phoenix was a 4-H member for 12 years and developed his skills to a level which enabled him to become a world renowned cattle fitter. He was always willing to help others in his 4-H club and continues to volunteer his knowledge to members and provides leadership to many young people working with their cattle in the industry.
Phoenix actively encourages dairymen to exhibit their animals and get involved in the show business, and will care for any animal in his string and assist other exhibitors. At the shows he is known for his sportsmanship. He never has a negative word towards a judge after a difficult defeat and is extremely humble when he often has show ring success. He is a knowledgeable source of advice for anyone who asks, and his honesty makes him a valuable partner to those who purchase animals with him.

Joel, along with his wife Jessica and son Jacob, farm at Cannington. The farm company name is Phoenix Equestrian & Holsteins and their prefix is Dappleview. Their herd of 25 registered milk cows is housed at other locations, with around 20 heifers at Dappleview. Joel and his father, Jim, have owned and merchandised many nominated All-Canadian and All-American animals over the past ten years.
When someone was asked about Joel, they said, “One of the most admirable things about Joel Phoenix is that even when he is working with some of the biggest, most prominent names in the industry he is still Joel. He never hesitates to use his skill and strengths to help people when they need help. He never forgets where he came from and who his family and friends are.”


To be the first recipient of this award was an overwhelming experience. Andrea was an amazing person and a true inspiration to all those who knew her, including myself and my family. She was a great friend, a smart cattle person, and she had a passion for showing cattle unlike anyone else I have ever known. Andrea was hard working, energetic and never complained no matter how big the task was ahead of her. Her amazing, uplifting attitude throughout her illness showed her true strength and character. Despite all she was going through, she remained positive. Andrea was a true joy and blessing to be around and whenever I was fortunate enough to spend time with her, I came away with a better outlook on life. Simply put, she was an inspiration! This award is a true honour and holds a very special place in my heart.
-Joel Phoenix

Young Canadian adults who demonstrate enthusiasm and dedication to the dairy industry, as well as active involvement in their communities, will be considered for the award. Candidates will be judged on their level of participation in any of the following areas: showing, exhibiting, and breeding – in any dairy breed, as well as volunteerism. Like Andrea, the individual must possess “the everyday love of the industry” through their personality, integrity and knowledge to make them well respected in the dairy fraternity.
Nominations for the award, along with a brief written biography of the nominee, should be e-mailed by October 1, 2014 to


Andrea Crowe – In Her Mom’s words

by Hu Team on June 13, 2014

andrea2Andrea always had a fantastic attitude. From a toddler saying “me do it”, to her fighting to stay alive in the face of her life threatening illnesses. When they told her that she wouldn’t be able to see again, she did. When they told her she wouldn’t be able to walk again, she did. With her sheer determination she proved everyone wrong. Her “just give me an inch, and I’ll do the rest” challenged all of the medical staff. She always gave them a firm deadline of when she was to be better by, usually, the next cattle show.

Andrea was only 15 months old when she started her severe illnesses. They would pick one system at a time to attack until, finally, they seemed to attack all her systems at once.

Illnesses did not control Andrea’s life. She would not allow them to. She never complained about being tired or unable to work. She always did what she could with what she had, to make everyday count.

Andrea missed a whole year in 2000, but still managed to get A’s and B’s, doing all her school work in the hospital. She was on the honours list every year; won science, math, school spirit, and most effort put forth awards in high school. Andrea was also an active member in 4H. She served in all of the executive spots, made it to the pro show every year, and was a member of the Scotiabank Hays Classic Team for many years. She won many awards in all her projects, but her passion was dairy. She was the top All Atlantic 4H judge for many years. She was also a champion at the EBI competition.

At 16, Andrea started her own Hi-Calibre prefix and business. She was very successful buying, selling, and breeding cattle. Her All Atlantic and All Canadian awards are a testament to this. Andrea started making a lot of our breeding decisions at the age of 12.

A big part of Andrea’s life was giving back. She became a 4H leader, and had a baby farm yard at the IWK Kermesse every year. In 1996 she had been the IWK’s first Miracle Child. She spoke on the behalf of the hospital whenever needed. She received the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award for her efforts in volunteering, the Howard Roper Memorial Award, and in 2005 was a finalist in the Top 20 under 20 in Canada.

Andrea’s many doctors and nurses, both at the IWK and QEII said that they have never seen someone fight so hard to stay alive. She fought her battle with grace, humor, appreciation, and determination. About two months before the end of her life, she said “Mom, we need to talk.” She had things that she wanted done because she was pretty sure that they were not going to be able to find the answer for her. If she couldn’t come back to when she was healthy, like her last time in the show ring, she was ready to go. She said “I’m not giving up, but you need to know how I feel.”

Her friend, doctor, and “adoptive uncle”, Dr. Patrick McGrath said in his eulogy: “Andrea was defined by her love of the people she knew, by her love of the farm, and her passion, love, and incredible skill with cows. Andrea was a fabulous daughter, a deeply loved sister, a wonderful friend, and a “cow girl” extraordinaire. She cared, she laughed, she teased, she joked, she had fun. Andrea was a perpetual joy machine. Andrea lived life to the fullest. She enjoyed her life more than anyone else. She extracted joy from every moment of her life. Hundreds of people around the world have been infected by Andrea, she changed lives. Her warm smile infused happiness into all she met. She brought happiness in all she met. She brought happiness by the truckful.  He knew her well.


Despite all her illnesses and challenges Andrea had against her, she still was still able to enjoy a normal life. She tormented her little brother Andrew, who, unfortunately for her, grew up to be bigger than her and gave it right back. It was all out of love and he was the one person who could always make her smile without fail. She could quote Family Guy and Anchorman line for line, and would send countless texts back and forth with her sister Elizabeth, doing just that. Almost as if they had their own language of ridiculous lines that only they understood the meaning of. She shared her obsession/love of the Blue Jays with her father Ensley, and the two of them could be found on many summer nights watching their ball games in the living room together.

She’s probably shaking her finger at me right now, because just as we never heard her complain, we never heard her boast. When you think of Andrea, do not feel sorry for her or think of her with pity…she would not want that. She taught us all to not take life for granted, do what you can with what you have and make every day count. She was my hero and inspiration and I miss her every moment of everyday. She must have known that, because the day after her service I found a letter to me in her breeding book, the first thing she knew I would look at.

– Anne Crowe


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The Thrill of the Win and the Everyday Love

by Hu Team on June 6, 2014

” The month of June marks a year since the passing of our dear friend and inspirational blog writer; Andrea Crowe. Holstein Universe is dedicating the month of June to Andrea.
Please enjoy the first and very powerful blog Andrea wrote for us. “

andreaHi there and thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I’ve never written anything like this before, so I hope you get as much out of this as what I put into it. I am now coming up on my 19th month of hospitalization here in Nova Scotia, and am no closer to a discharge now than I was when I was first admitted.

There have been days I’ve laid in this hospital bed with tubes stuck into my body to help me breath, stay nourished and hydrated, be monitored, and just live. There have been times I’ve wondered, “What’s the point?” or “How much more do I really want to put my body through?” I always have one thing at the back of my mind that pushes me through that hurdle: my family, friends, and cows at home that are waiting for the day I walk through those barn doors again. In a hospital you see so many people come and go, get better or get worse, live or die, that it really makes you appreciate all the things you have to be thankful for. The dairy industry can be quite a struggle at times…when it’s your best cow that you lose, or the weather doesn’t pan out, or the bills seem to pile up higher and higher. It can also be one of the greatest fraternities out there. Where else can you be cut throat competitors one minute and the best of friends the next? I have never met more genuine, loving people than I have in this industry.

There is no one specific thing that drives me to keep going, day after day. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference. It’s knowing that someone takes a moment out of their life, it can be as small as sending a text, or as monumental as organizing a fundraiser. These things all add time to my days.

You might ask what gives me the spark, the strength… what keeps me driven to stay so enthralled in this business? It’s the everyday love of the industry. Show day is great, but it’s the other 364 days of the year that make it all worthwhile. It’s getting up long before the sun rises, just to wash my calf while it’s still cold outside. It’s that one cow that makes me never want to miss a milking because I don’t want to miss something wrong with her. It’s when someone I idolize tells me how proud they are of me.

All of these little memories gather in the pit of my stomach the moment I’m out there, in the middle of the ring; when I realize that all the pain, hurt, and tribulations that I’ve pushed through have all been worth it.

And I know that I’ve made it.


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Traveling through the Holstein Universe

by Hu Team on June 1, 2014

Fasten your seat belts, sit back, enjoy and relax. Our journey begins here.

Francisco Rodriguez, DVM
Dairyman & Holstein Breeder Market Development Manager
AMS and Feeding DeLaval – North America


Francisco Rodriguez

In a globalized world of doing business and living life, it is necessary to understand the different markets and cultures in order to build and develop successful businesses. The concepts of local markets and borders from the trading and networking stand point have been completely reevaluated due to communications, infrastructure, modern technology and social media. Those changes have made our world more fascinating than ever, however there are some challenges that come along with it, and we must be prepared. Traveling through the Holstein universe pretends to offer a fascinating opportunity for all of us to learn and share ideas about two crucial topics. Our globalized customer and the unstoppable dairy industry trends.


If you think about it, not many years ago as Holstein Breeders our customers were neighbors, family, friends, or in the best case scenario people with access to written magazines or traveling possibilities. Those times are gone and technology has changed the way we do business for ever. Now your next customer could be somebody you don’t even imagine today.

A few days ago I saw on facebook a young passionate man from India, asking for advice to some of the most prominent and elite breeders in North America, the question was very simple, how can I make my calf look great for our local dairy show? Do you have any ideas or tips? Now, when you look at the way dairy shows are run in India or some other developing countries, those could be really different from that in North America. However, this dairy farmer shares the same passion, objectives and similar challenges as the ones you may have as a breeder in Wisconsin, Ontario, Quebec or New York.


What is truly amazing is that this person could be following you in a daily basis developing a strong connection with your statements, philosophies and ideas. Very easily you could influence this facebook friend located 8.500 miles away from you, even becoming his source of inspiration. Of course he knows he is not the owner of Hailey, Missy, or Apple, etc. although he would love to be, as all of us would!  Who knows if in the years to come he is going to become the owner of a similar one?. At the moment all he wants is to do his best in a country where still dairy farming and showing cows is at a totally different level. So, the questions would be, are you aware of the level of influence you are having in people you don’t even imagine? What are we doing to plant the seed in order to expand our networks to international customers? Could this friend become the owner of the next great cow? What will be his customer’s needs as a genetics customer or milk producer? What kind of added values or services could you offer to him? Let’s review some simple facts in order to realize how much we need to learn every single day about our future customers and my top 10 business trends moving forward:



  1. Although North America, especially the USA has had record milk prices in 2014 and expecting a great profitability for the rest of the year, the region with the highest profitability a year ago was Oceania were grazing systems are predominant. This illustrates in a simple way, that we face a very dynamic – fluctuating industry, where regardless of location, herd size, volume, or production system, the most important aspect to keep in mind as dairy producers is flexibility and capacity to  adapt to change. Most of the variables that influence milk prices today are out of our control, the only thing we can do is to make the right decisions to protect our margins.
  2. Largest milk producer in the world is India, with 120 million milking cows and water buffaloes (12 times more the number of milking animals in the USA and 120 times more the number of milking animal in Canada), of course productivity per cow is very low but just imagine the impact if daily yield improves by 1 lt or 2.2 lbs per cow in a yearly basis for the next 10 years due to improved management skills and genetic selection. Just remember our facebook friend  learning and benchmarking from the North American breeders!
  3. Due to volume, size and economic growth the country that is defining the global milk price is and  will be for a long term is China, where 1.4 billion people (4 times the population of the USA) is increasing milk consumption every day. Farm gate milk price was the highest in 2013. Production costs are one of the highest as well due to big limitations from the production stand point, becoming the milk importer by excellence. This represents unlimited market opportunities for milk producers, breeders, professionals and industry people.
  4. Largest importers of dairy cattle today are China, Russia, Turkey and some countries located in South East Asia, especially Vietnam, were mega projects have been built. On the other hand, some countries in Latin America have been developing interesting mega projects representing a big potential for milk production and cattle trading. However, political stability could represent some important challenges.
  5. The regions with the highest milk yield per cow are North America, Western Europe and Middle East. Now, Oceania represents an icon from the competitively and flexibility perspective. In any case the key for that success has been feeding research, genetic selection and education; in simple terms ‘knowledge’. My invitation to all of you as dairyman from this region is to realize that the rest of the world is hungry to learn from you, and you must capitalize that in a way that you add value to your genetic and dairy products.
  6. The biggest change in the European Union will be the end of quota system the next year, for many that will represent a threat but for some others it represents exciting opportunities. No doubt it is going to have a huge impact on the global dairy market as some countries will need to expand and gain efficiency and possibilities to compete head to head for international market shares. It will represent very important businesses opportunities for the overall industry as new challenges will need to be solved.
  7. More than 11.000 farms are milking cows with robots, with more than 22.000 robots milking cows globally. Although, many AI companies are offering “Robot” genetics based on the combination of specific traits, Holland is the first one developing an exclusive Robotic Milking index, that will represent a very important competitive advantage as AMS is very well established in developed countries and rapidly expanding to developing countries as well, actually out of the BRIC countries (Brasil, Russia, India, China) India is the only one that hasn’t seen robotic milking as a reality, Russia, Brazil and China are now on Automatic Milking mode!
  8. Social media has become the way to communicate, by last year facebook had 1.26 billion users (4 times the total population of USA), 757 million daily active users (2.5 times the total population of USA) and the country with the most active users is Canada! So, we better continue developing strategies in order to communicate effectively to newer generations.
  9. The Holstein breed remains as the most popular for both pure and crossbreed operations. It is crucial to continue making progress towards production and fitness traits in order to fulfill the economical expectations of commercial milk producers around the world as well as seed stock breeders. However, new opportunities could be represented in the dual purpose segment and crossbreeds of Holsteins and Cebu breeds as it remains very popular in regions like Asia, Africa and Latin America due to hot and humid tropical weather conditions. For instance the Girolando breed (Holstein x Gir) developed in Brazil has become the predominant dairy genetic program in this country representing a very important source of income for AI studs and Holstein Breeders as a source of oocites to produce the F1 females. It is fascinating to travel through some of the regions in Brazil, and see pure Holsteins housed in freestall facilities “North American style” and a neighbor farm milking Girolandas under grazing strategies with very limited grain supplementation and low costs. Both are  equally competitive and profitable under the two breeding programs and production systems.
  10. Milk is and will be the most complete food ever,  despite some different opinions from specific and activist groups, all I can say is that while in developed countries and regions people have the luxury to care about milk content, fat content, BST, natural, organic, etc. Millions of people still die because of hunger and the majority of the world is still looking for more and better food, so as dairy producers we must keep the larger scope and our main commitment which is feeding the world and while some may criticize us, some others appreciate our hard work and love having that glass of milk on the table.


The following are what I consider my top 10 trends of the dairy industry globally. The objective is to start developing an index of topics to discuss with you towards the future, and based on that raise productive and constructive discussions contributing to the thinking and progress of our dairy sector:

  1. Both Family and corporate dairies will remain sustainable
  2. Automatization of dairy farms, including Automatic Milking, feeding, etc will grow in all farm segments at an exponential rate.
  3. Clustering of farms and farm consolidation.
  4. Genomics will lead the genetic selection programs.
  5. Organic and natural milk production will continue gaining share as global average income increases and consumers raise their standards.
  6. Foreign investors partnering with locals to develop mega projects. Knowledge will be the most valuable exporting product.
  7. Supply chain management will have a hard time to survive, as free trade agreements become stronger and involve wider interests from other sectors.
  8. Countries buying land and building dairies in other countries with better natural conditions.
  9. Professional dairy farming will be the rule as the only way to overcome milk price fluctuation.
  10. Exports and international trade will force to local production system standardization. Business decisions will drive our industry.

As a dairyman or Industry professional, we may or may not be interested in making a difference, and that is ok as it is a personal choice, what is not negotiable in order to build a healthy and prosperous industry is our commitment to learn every single day. You may or may not agree with these statements and ideas, and that is great, as diversity builds society and all different angles are important to build the house. At the end of the day, remember that this is all about enjoying the journey, not just reaching the destination!


Fleyas Holsteins was created in 2010 and comprises of myself Jessica Fleming, my husband Geoff and our two young children.

We were essentially a commercial herd that has purchased in a small handful of stud cows picked up at various auction and private sales between 2009 and 2013.  We appendix registered a small portion of the commercial herd and our first classification saw cows classified up to VG89.

23/07/2010 NEWS: Gorae West Dairy farmer Jessica Dey with cow Vicki.

Never in our wild dreams when we first started on our stud Holstein venture that we would end up purchasing international and Australian based embryos.  Or that we would start showing.
But never say never, as we all know that plans change and life changes – often for the best!

The path to Fleyas Holsteins purchasing embryos started in 2012 when we received a sale catalogue, and right at the back was a beautiful heifer that Geoff picked out.  Unfortunately we could not attend that sale and the heifer was sold.  Upon further investigation we discovered that the dam of that heifer had more embryos available for sale and I made contact with the owner.
Safe to say we have not looked back!

September 2012 we had our first purchased flush performed, using Ladd-P as a sire which resulted in five (5) A grade embryos. These were implanted into beef recipients some seven hours away for 100% conception. We were off on a journey we would soon learn would be highly addictive and full of both highs and lows.
By mid 2013 we had implanted more than 35 embryos with an average conception rate of 78% – beginners luck we were told. I would have to agree, as further implants have proved not as successful. However, beginners luck aside – we were excited.

We always look for something a little different when purchasing embryos, with our passion for polled, red and VRC at the fore of our purchasing decisions.   The polled conversation in Australia was quite limited back in 2012, with only a very small handful keen to try something so “risky”, and when we announced to friends we had purchased a flush and opted to use Ladd-P we had some pretty  interesting responses.   Of the five pregnancies, they resulted in 2 heifers with one born polled and both red.  The excitement the day we drove seven hours mid 2013 to catch these beef reared calves – to feel their heads for buds is something I will never forget. Our risk had paid off and the smooth head of our polled Ladd heifer left me smiling for days.

polled jane

Pic 1 – Polled red heifer – Ladd-P X Pooley Bridge Advent Jane VG89 X Pooley Bridge Storm Jane VG89
The potential from our embryos may be several years away, but we aim to reinvest into these embryo heifers by flushing them to suitable sires and increasing our offspring.  We are working towards three levels in our herd – the elite pedigrees and show cows, then  registered cow families built within our own herd from solid type and good production cows, then our commercial cows with a value on production and fertility.

This year we tentatively started showing two of our ET heifers – Fleyas Snow Dancer (a variant red Let It Snow) and Fleyas ManOMan Ding.
For us, this is trial and error – we have come into showing quite late and it is only through the support and help of friends that we have managed to get started.
We started showing on a smaller scale with two heifers to gain experience and to learn the ropes. Ultimately we are dairy farmers first, and as always the 300 cow strong milking herd comes before our time off farm for showing.  Oh – and the kids too!

calf sheds into training area

Converting our calf sheds into a training ground late 2013

Snow Dancer

April 2014 – Fleyas Snow Dancer Sept 2013 born. Sire: Let It Snow  Dam: Islehaven Gold Dancer

This will be our first year showing, and we are aiming to attend the first inaugural Red and White feature show in Australia – the Victorian Winter Fair in July.   This year will be about gaining experience rather than being there “to win” and we have had very encouraging feedback about our breeding and heifer development.
There have been a lot of lessons learnt in a short period of time once we started purchasing embryos, it pays to do your research and to not rush into purchasing. Although impulse purchases have paid off for us in the short term, it is not something I plan on repeating.

Research research research!

Look at the family behind both sire and dam, and also what your breeding objective is.  We had never planned to show – and one lot of our embryos we purchased were show type!  Fleyas Bradnick Lotto has recently come back at 4.04 PTAT after genomic testing.  Impulse purchasing at 3am in the morning at its best!
All our embryo heifers are genomically tested on the Australian system (APR), as well as LPI and TPI. For the small amount it costs we find it to be beneficial, especially as we are very new to the stud game (and the lingo) and the results are a great tool to refer back to.   All our future embryo transfer heifers, as well as AI bred offspring from our genetically superior animals will be tested.

23/07/2010 NEWS: Dairy farmer Jessica Dey.

The thrill of embryo calves being born is something that I do not think I will get sick of for many years to come and the day I stop is the day we will stop breeding via embryo transfer.

Although the benefits of the investment into the embryos in our herd will not be for several years yet, we are positive that it will pay itself off.
It is never too late to get involved, and you do not have to spend a lot of money to have “good stock”.  These days via social media you can chat direct to the breeders and talk one on one.
Social media itself is an asset for any stud to have – not only in connecting to other farmers, but also in reaching an international audience and participating in conversations that you would not normally get on farm. I have been quite blessed to have received the advice and support from many an experienced farmer, breeder and even semen sellers online.
Now I have a confession to make.

I am a city girl, who fell in love with a dairy farmer.  And then fell in love with the cows. I knew absolutely NOTHING about breeding dairy cows when I first walked into the milking shed and now I am well and truly head over heels (or gumboots) in love with these beautiful animals.
The pleasure received not only from embryo transfer calves being born, but also our home bred animals keeps us going, we strive to create healthier, stronger and improved dairy cattle that will withstand our Australian conditions.

We have worked hard to get to where we are, and we know we have a lot more work ahead of us – but we are loving every minute of it.

Especially when we are surrounded by beautiful cows.

Mascalese X Toystory

Fleyas Mascalese Glory born 15/5/14 and her dam Fleyas Toystory Glory GP84 1st Lact.


An Interview with Bradley Cullen

by Hu Team on May 16, 2014

Below is an interview with Bradley Cullen of Australia.



HU: Where are you from?

Brad: I’m from a small coastal town by the name of Gerringong located an hour and a half south of Sydney, NSW, Australia

HU: Did you grow up with a farm background?

Brad: Yes

(IF YES) HU: Tell us a bit about your family farm

(IF NO) HU: Explain how you became involved with the dairy industry?

Brad: My family currently runs a 120 Holstein cow dairy farm. Dairy farming has actually been in our family for quite a few generations making my brother and I the seventh generation.

HU: What is your current occupation(s) in Australia?

Brad: I am currently on the road full time photographing and when I get a chance I help out on the family farm.




HU: What was your initial interest with cattle? (showing, pictures, milking, etc…)

Brad: As soon as I could walk as a kid we were always helping dad with the farm and cattle. But it was through showing cows that my passion really took off.

HU: What sparked your interest in the professional cattle photography?

Brad: I would have to say watching and observing some of our Australian cattle photographers in Australia such as Ross Easterbrook and Dean Malcolm. From watching and talking to them my passion for cattle photography soon became my dream job for what I wanted to do once I finished high school

HU: Where did you learn how to properly photograph cattle?

Brad: I see myself as a very visual learner and it was through observing the Australian cattle photographers where I picked up the basics. I haven’t ever trained with a photographer and I have had to learn almost everything solo. I studied the photographs that the American and Canadian photographers were taking (as I see them as the best in the Business), and through studying them, I slowly got a better idea the small details that make a big difference in getting that photograph everyone likes.


HU: Where did you work/visit when in North American last year?

Brad: Last year was my first trip to America, I traveled down from Quebec in Canada to WDE in Wisconsin US with Gen-Com. I worked as an intern at Gen-Com for 4 weeks from Expo to the Royal. I also went to Arethusa Farms in Connecticut US for a few days to check out their cows and to see Veronica.

HU: Tell us your favorite memoirs or experiences of time spent in Canada and the US

Brad: I have a lot of good memoirs from my trip overseas. The first one that comes to mind would have to be working with RF Goldwyn Hailey at Gen-Com, I don’t think I have ever known a cow to have so much personality, she is defiantly one of a kind and was a very cool to observe. Another memory I had is when I was getting my photo taken with Veronica, when we put the leather halter on her I took hold of her and she nearly threw me on the ground, I later found out she wont allow you to place your hand in the halter, Veronica is also another cow that has an awesome personality and is very different to observe. I also worked with Vicki Fletcher and her crew at the Royal, it was an awesome experience and lots of fun!

HU: What are you long term goals with photography?

Brad: I want to keep on improving and growing as a business. I try to keep up with the new technology and work with experienced photographers outside the industry when I can.

HU: Is there a large enough market and demand in Australia to make photography a full time career?

Brad: At the moment yes, I believe there is more than enough work to keep me busy in both New Zealand and Australia between shows, daughter photos and photography tours.

HU: Who are you mentors or adviser?

Brad: I have had so many people both inside and outside the industry mentor me. The first one that comes to mind is MMK Photography, they are a wedding photography business in Australia that have tutored me with my photography skills and have always supported me in everything I do. Vicki Fletcher over the last two years in particularly, has helped me so much and took me back to the basics, I was lucky enough to be able to work with Vicki at the Royal last year and also on the road during a Semex tour in Quebec. Cybil Fisher and Jenny Thomas from Cybil Fisher Photography have also helped me out with my photography as well. Ella Wright has also been tutoring me over the years and helping me, Ella gave me the opportunity to photograph in the ring at WDE last year during the Jersey and Color judging, this is something I have always wanted to do and I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity. Andrew Hunt from The Bullvine recently has also been there for advice and has been helping me out as well.
I think you can learn something from everyone and for me its so important to get out their and work with as many people as you can, within the dairy industry but I also have found it helpful to work with photographers outside the industry to see there approach to photography and how they do things.



HU: Do you have any interest to do other photography jobs as well, such as weddings, babies, etc…? or just stick to cows?

Brad: To be honest I started with working for MMK Photography while I was in high school as a wedding assistant photographer. I do like photographing weddings and its there where I can put the true art of photography into practice, I love getting creative and looking for that perfect moment between the Bride and Groom. I have also done a small amount of modelling photography. My older brother Mitch, has his own photography business and when the timing is right as he has a wedding to photograph we work together. But to be honest I can sometimes find it easier to deal with cows than people  – haha. I have always had a huge passion for photographing dairy cattle and I can’t see that rapidly changing anytime soon.

HU: What is your favorite aspect of cattle photography?

Brad: I like photographing cows in their natural environment and wait for that perfect moment where she is standing right, it takes time and I certainly wouldn’t want to do that with every cow but its just something less staged and a bit of a challenge. I think the photograph of Veronica is a perfect example of this.

HU: What is your least favorite aspect of cattle photography?

Brad: There are lots of things that make the job a lot more challenging. Its so important to have a good crew as I have learned and when you don’t have enough help it can make the process a lot more challenging and difficult, at IDW I can confidently say that this year when I had a group of talented people helping me we could get the job done in a few minutes and are able to photograph around 50-70 a day. Weather can also play a big role in getting that perfect photo, if its very hot for example the cow will be a lot harder to photograph and get that nice “pop”, then you get those days where its raining that make it more challenging.

HU:  Does picturing cattle differ much from Australia to Canada? If yes, in what ways?

Brad: Yes and No. Here in Australia we can photograph pretty all year round with no problems, where as in some parts of the US and Canada the photographers are forced to move inside because of the snow. I also find it a challenge to photograph in the extreme temperatures, at IDW its not uncommon for the temperatures to peak in the high 40 degrees Celsius. For this reason when I photograph there I run two large industrial air-conditioning units for the cows to make sure they are the most comfortable they can be.

HU: Is it sometimes stressful being behind the camera and trying to get that perfect shot?  Or do you stay pretty calm at all times?

Brad: Yes it can get quite frustrating when things don’t go to plan, but I always try to stay as clam as possible and I see this to be very important. Yes its annoying when you were so close to getting her but the more worked up I get the more likely the cow is to not corporate, that’s just what I have found.

HU: Who is your favorite or most memorable cow you have photographed so far?

Brad: Two that come to mind would have to be when I was took some grazing photos of Veronica and also photographing the supreme champion at IDW this year. Veronica is a personal favorite of mine she is such a unique cow, just watching her walk around was pretty cool, whenever I saw her she was eating flat out and always had a huge fill on her. Photographing the champion cow at IDW wasn’t an easy task, Lady is one of my favorites I have always loved from the moment I first saw her, but she is a cow that will only trust certain people and if she doesn’t like you she isn’t afraid to let you know. I was very lucky enough to have some very experienced people come in and help me photograph her.



Is It Time To Crown A New King?

by Hu Team on May 9, 2014

In recent Holstein history our barns, breeding programs and show rings have been dominated by one sire ­– GOLDWYN.  Siring his first All-American nomination in 2006, Goldwyn went on to be named the Premier Sire at World Dairy Expo for the first time in 2008, and has carried that title until present day along with almost every major Holstein show in North America. At this year’s Midwest Spring National show in Wisconsin, Goldwyn was beat for premier sire by his son ATWOOD.  Atwood daughters walked away with the blue ribbon in every cow class from Junior 2-year-olds through the 4-year-olds.



Like any king’s rein, we all knew the Goldwyn ‘era’ would one day come to a close. The question, is that time now? And is Atwood the only heir to the throne, or will he share this spotlight with other sires? Goldwyn has left some big shoes to fill, for Atwood or any bull as he has sired almost 2,000 EX cows, along with numerous breed icons.

Who’s to say if Atwood will ever rival his sire in terms of show winners and All-Canadian or All-American nominations, but he is building an impressive resume.  Atwood, now seven years old, has 91% GP and higher scored daughters.  His current stats are 360 VG, 435 GP, 79 G.   With BCAS:  M225  F241  P227.  His proof is impressive with +’s in all traits except for rear leg side view and rump angle.  Not only is he dominating in young cow classes on the tanbark, Atwood also is the sire of 8 of the top ten cows for Type in the US. Atwood’s son MR. Atwood Brokaw is carrying on the family tradition of making fancy calves and with high type numbers, and will surely be one to watch as these young heifers develop into cows.

Royal Heritage

Atwood’s parentage was a sure bet for making show ring winners.  A Goldwyn from Durham Atlee EX 92 backed by Chief Adeen EX 94 2E, the stars were aligned for him to make a big impact. Goldwyn’s show ring accomplishments outweigh any sire that has ever came before him and Atlee became very well-known after winning walking away with the Sr. 3-year-old class and being named Res. Int. Champ at World Dairy Expo in 2005. She was also named All-American Sr. 3-year-old that year. Atlee’s won early fans in the show ring, but her true ability to transmit made her famous as many of her sons have become well known; such as Atticus, Attic, Aftershock, Atlantic, and Golden Dreams.

With this star-studded pedigree it should have been known from the being that Atwood would be destined for great things. But this was not the case.  A sire analyst visited Atwood and a group of his brothers when they were young bulls.  Most of the other bulls were chosen to go to an AI unit, while Atwood was left behind.  He was the runt of the group and didn’t stand out as a bull destined for greatness.  Later testing revealed his high potential and he then earned himself a trip to an AI stud.   This ‘come from behind’ brother quickly gained popularity and surpassed his brothers in the ability to sire that coveted show ring winner.

BVK Atwood Arianne

Some breeders were skeptical of Atwood and hesitant to over use him in their herds.  But as classification, high type proofs, and show results are proving; Atwood is making a positive impact on our Holstein breed.  It is a sign a bull has potential for greatness when his daughters can win as heifers and then come back the next year and win as cows.  An example of this is Cameron Ridge Atwood Beauty who was the Junior Champ at World Dairy Expo in 2013 and then won her class as a Jr. 2-year-old at New York Spring Show.

cameron ridge atwood beauty

This ‘premier sire’ change is not going to happen overnight; Goldwyn still has some years left as the king of the ring.  But, progressive as most dairymen are, looking to the future is habit. Are we ready for a change? Do we have a choice? There is a lot of talk between breeders about which bull is the ‘hottest’ at the moment, but we can all agree there is no one bull currently available that stands out as Goldwyn once did when his semen was readily available. Atwood, among other Goldwyn sons look like they will be the next closest bull to greatness. Which is another testament to just how great Goldwyn is, as his legend will live on through his sons.  The change will come gradually with time as the remaining Goldwyn semen gets used and his daughter’s age, and eventually his rein as king of the ring will come to a close. But for breeders passionate about the future of their herds and the breed, we can find comfort in the crown being handed down from father to son.


A Look into Farming in Switzerland

by Hu Team on May 2, 2014

In Switzerland we have a of total 1051063ha  of agricultural acreage. The crops grown are grass, vegetables, fruit plants or viticulture. There most commonly farmed animals are dairy cows, beef, sheep, goats, chickens and swine.

There  are 2 main farming zones within Switzerland ; the valley zone and the mountain zone.  The valley zone has many large farms; some animal farms and some crop farms.  The farmers in this zone have large barns, machinery and many hectares of land.

There is also a mountain zone. The farmers here are doing the most of their work by hand. They are not able to use machines to do their work because of the mountainous terrain.  In the summer time the animals in the mountain zone are sometime pastured as high as 2000m above sea level.

PicMonkey Collage

Each farmer is trying to find the optimum for his farm and himself. That’s why there are many varying types and methods of farming in Switzerland.

We have red and black holsteins.  The farms with dairy cows are mostly in the valley zone. The production per cow is quite high in Switzerland.   Most of  bulls being used are coming from  USA, Canada, Germany or Italy. Once in a while there is a good bull from Switzerland, but it is rare.

Then we have the Simmentaler and Swiss Fleckvieh cows. These cows are a dual purpose milk and meat breed.  These 2 breeds of cows live mostly in the mountain zones.  They do not require much grain to keep body condition and make milk. Most of the bulls used for these 2 breeds are from Switzerland, and there is a small export market for semen from these bulls.

In the Eastern part of Switzerland there are some Brown Swiss farms.  The Brown Swiss are also being used for milk and meat.

Jerseys are becoming more popular all the time.  They are liked for their high fat content in milk and their efficiency to convert food to energy/milk.  Also some farmers have old barns which Holsteins are becoming too big to fit in so the smaller Jersey breed fits perfectly.

Every Year in January is the Swiss Expo. The Holstein show is the 3rd biggest in the world.   The are cows from all over Switzerland,  and also neighoburing countries.  The entries are growing  every year. It is not an easy show to win a class.  You need to put in lots of time at home before the show, training, clipping, hoof trimming…everything must be perfect !  Showing is a lot of work but also fun.  You see friends, meet new people, learn and see the first heifers from new bulls.

The milk price is 67 cents per litre, plus additional payment for fat and protein content.  The price you are paid also can depend on which company you sell your milk to and what it is being used for.  You make more money if you sell you milk to a cheese company.

Life as a farmer is not easy in Switzerland. It is a hard full time job. But when you love it…then it is your dream job !

Bio of Sabine Jordi

Sabine is 27 years old who lives and works on parents farm in Thierachern.  Which is 30 min from Bren, the capitol of Switzerland. Their farm consists of 75 milking cows (Red & Black Holsteins), small sheep herd and 2 horses.   They have 67 ha of land used for corn, winter wheat, pasture and composting. Sabine is currently work full time on the farm and doing school courses to further her education. In her spare time, Sabine enjoys her friends or going to cattle shows; sometimes as an exhibitor, sometimes as an audience member.  Actively in her farm they are currently using the bulls Destry, Sid, Hitman, Armani, Attitude and Galba.