Breeding acumen through collection of four Master Breeder shields from Holstein Canada is evident in a Hastings-area dairy farm, which can now celebrate the rare feat of having one of its cow families achieve 17 generations classified as either Very Good or Excellent.
Enzyme can switch off livestock drugs
Glacier FarmMedia – Scientists have found that an antimicrobial resistance gene in bacteria collected at a western Canadian feedlot creates…
The first-in-Canada achievement “wasn’t something on our radar,” Steph Murphy told Farmtario in a recent interview.
Her family’s Ronbeth Holsteins was informed after a Holstein Ontario classification visit in March that two-year-old Ronbeth Jacoby Nell, scoring VG 85, was the 17th generation in a row from that family to score in the top two classification categories.
Why it matters: The achievement serves as confirmation that the family’s long-standing breeding strategies have been successful.
Her parents, Dean and Carol Warner, along with her husband, Cam, and sister, Lacey Warner, weren’t totally surprised.
“A couple of years ago we had been notified that we had the only 16th generation in Canada,” Murphy recalled. But it was still exciting to learn that the provincial organization had checked with its national counterpart and confirmed it’s a Canada-wide distinction.
The Ronbeth herd traces back to 1939, started by Steph’s great-grandparents with the herd prefix combining the names of their children. Altogether, the family has been at that location for more than 150 years, with Steph and Lacey representing the sixth generation on the farm.
They milk 52 cows in a tie-stall operation. Stalls are deep-bedded with straw, cattle are let outside for exercise for a few hours daily through the winter and overnight during the summer.
Three of the four main cow families on the farm trace their roots back to 1939, with a fourth family brought into the herd in 2010 through the purchase of a single heifer. Other than that, “we’re a home-bred herd.”
The Warners were celebrated as one of Ontario’s top farm families during the 2016 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo. Family members have been active in 4-H as members and leaders and in the show ring as contestants and judges.
“We’ve won numerous Premier Breeder and exhibitor banners,” Steph Murphy said.
After they received notification about Ronbeth Jacoby Nell’s distinction, Steph and Dean recalled the farm’s fall 2022 classification visit and suspected they may already have another 17th-generation VG or EX cow. The dam of Jacoby Nell and the dam of another high-scoring cow were sisters.
Ronbeth Sidekick Nina, in her second lactation, scored VG 86 during the fall classification.
Murphy believes the two branches of the cow family that have reached 17 generations VG or EX share key characteristics.
“There are some very similar traits that have made them successful. They’re very functional cows. They do their job. They’re made correctly and they’re the ideal cow that you want to work with every day.
“(Required)” indicates required fields
“At home, we just want to breed for a high type, high production, long-living, functional cow.” Ideally, they like to see cows achieve EX by their third or fourth lactation, Murphy said.
The Ronbeth Holsteins team is now anticipating Holstein Ontario’s next classification visit. Both Nell and Nina have daughters set to enter the herd; daughters that statistically have a good chance of becoming the first-in-Canada 18th generation of the same cow family classifying VG or EX.