The Nooyen family of Brabantdale Farms Ltd. headed to PEI in April to celebrate their third Master Breeder Shield overall. Courtesy Nooyen photo

EASTERN ONTARIO – Every year, Holstein Canada recognizes breeders who excel in their craft and foster herds with superior bloodlines.

Holstein Canada’s website explains: “The Master Breeder program is the most prolific accolade awarded by our association. Each year, since 1929, Holstein Canada has recognized breeders among our membership for their cumulative breeding efforts. This award is the pinnacle of success for any Holstein Canada member. Since its inception, over 1,000 Master Breeder shields have been bestowed to Holstein Canada members. These “Master” breeders are recognized for having the best ratio for breeding cows that possess the complete package— high production and outstanding conformation, with high proficiency in reproduction, health, and longevity.”

In Jan. 2019, three Eastern Ontario breeders were recognized for this prestigious award and attended the annual National Holstein Convention and AGM in Charlottetown, PEI to be celebrated for their accomplishments alongside the other 20 Master Breeder Shield recipients.

Brabantdale Farms Ltd.

Brabantdale Farms Ltd. in Ottawa is one of the three local breeders to achieve such success; but this is not the first Master Breeder Shield the operation has received. In 2004, the Brabantdale prefix was awarded and then in 2006 their Daisycrest prefix – which is currently dormant – was awarded. Nevertheless, owner Chris Nooyen said the third time around is just as exciting. “We’re just as excited and honoured about earning this latest award. To us, it basically confirms that our breeding and management strategies are relatively sound and to point,” he explained.

Having received their second shield, there is much to be said about the Nooyen’s farm philosophy and goals. “Growing up, we’ve always idolized breeders having reached this amazing status. Our first goal as a dairy breeder, is to strive for a profitable animal, and one that can maximize revenue, either by milk production or genetic merit for outside sales. It just so happens that our goals and those of Holstein Canada’s Master Breeder Award align together very nicely,” said Nooyen.

He added that quality genetics are always top of mind. “Our main focus is utilizing the highest possible genetics in the industry, now, at a rapid rate. Today, which means investing in modern-day relevant genetics, and by including and embracing the industry’s latest technologies such as genomic testing for herd genetic screening, and IVF’ing our top individuals. We have had enormous success performing embryo work on our top animals in the past, such as Brabantdale Triumphant Spooky (EX-2E-54*), the first cow ever in Ontario to ever achieve that level of brood-cow status, which has left her mark in Canada and around the world. For us, the ultimate success is when a buyer or investor does well with our genetics. In fact, we are very proud of the fact that 28 different herds from across Canada have contributed points for our latest MB shield due to their investments from our herd,” he said.

Getting to this point has been hard work since Nooyen’s grandparent founded the operation in 1960 after immigrating from Holland. It began as a Jersey herd and then by the end of the decade became holsteins. The Dairycrest prefix was started by Nooyen’s parents, John and Denise, in the 1980s when they joined the business. Later, in 1995 Chris Nooyen was heading the breeding side of the operation. Nooyen said that only three years later the farm was performing it’s own embryo transfers and it wasn’t long before the Master Breeder Shields were awarded.

Most recently the farm has purchased a neighbouring dairy farm and in total there are 275 cows milked between the two locations. The farm includes over 1,200 acres managed by Nooyen’s brothers Matt and Mike while he takes care of the herd management, genetic oversight and marketing of the farm. John and Denise are still involved too to help with bookkeeping and accounting.

Before leaving for the AGM in Charlottetown, PEI, Nooyen said, “We really look forward to the camaraderie among other breeders and industry personnel. It’s a time to celebrate all the hard work, risks and time devoted to doing our best, and to celebrate other’s successes as well.”

Weeberlac Holsteins

The Groniger family of Weeberlac Holsteins has been celebrating together the success of achieving their first Master Breeder Shield. Pictured here are Kristin and Scott Groniger and Tim and Diane Groniger.
Courtesy Groniger photo

Also recognized at the AGM in April, was first time Master Breeder Shield recipient Weeberlac Holsteins. The operation, owned by Tim and Dianne Groniger in Carlsbad Springs, began the Weeberlac prefix in 1989 with 12 cows, six of which were purebred; along with 300 acres of National Capital Commission (NCC) land. Son, Scott Groniger said the farm has grown to 32 milking cows in a tie-stall barn. Once he returned from school and an off-farm job, the operation began making improvements to the facility “to assist with efficiency and cow comfort. My siblings, mother and wife, also contribute to the farm in anyway they can despite working full time off farm.”

Achieving a Master Breeder Shield has been a career-long dream for Tim. “Ever since my father, began farming 30 years ago, his goal was to one day obtain a Master Breeder shield. We have used the key concepts of the Master Breeder Shield as a framework to help develop an efficient business by focusing our breeding and management on maximum production and longevity. Throughout our years of breeding, we became closer and closer to achieving this goal and finally this year it became a reality,” explained Scott.

Their philosophy for success, Scott said, is paying attention to detail. “We focus on cow comfort, reproductive health and optimal forages to help maximize genetic potential and to achieve the highest production per animal.”

Ever since 1991 the farm has been classified and welcomed regular herd visits. Scott said the classification process highlighted the strengths and weakness of the herd. “Specifically, we strive to breed for quality mammary systems, strong feet and legs and dairy strength. Our current herd classification is 8 EX, 26 VG and 6 GP,” he said.

Having achieved such an exciting goal, Scott said the whole family attended the gala and AGM. “We look forward to spending time in the presence of some of the most influential breeders in the Holstein community. We also look forward to celebrating our achievement as a family.”

He noted that everyone on the farm deserves to be included in the recognition. “We are humbled to be recognized for this prestigious award in the holstein community. Our teamwork as a family since beginning Weeberlac Holsteins has been a key factor in achieving such success and we could not be more proud of our efforts.”

Gerann Holsteins

Also being recognized with a Master Breeder Shield for the first time is Gerann Holsteins in Cardinal. The AgriNews was unable to receive more information by press-time.