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  Unborn heifer tops 2nd Edition Celebration Sale

By Glenda Eden - AgriNews Staff Writer

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  • BERWICK -- The top selling Holstein at the 2nd Edition Celebration Sale last month was an unborn heifer that sold for $70,000.

    The first pick of nine heifers, to be born this summer out of Allyndale-1 Goldwyn Albany and Long-Langs Oman Omen-ET, was consigned by Velthuis Farms of Osgoode and Select Genetics. The pick was bought by Sjendi Farms of Grimsby, Ontario.

    The second highest selling cow was Vioris Baxter Sharp (VG-87) at $21,500, consigned by Stephane and Julie Villeneuve of Hawkesbury; the eighth generation Spottie cow was bought by & Bremer Holsteins and Brian Cristensen of Sheldon, Wisconsin.

    One hundred and fifteen head were sold at the sale hosted at Barrie and Lillian Smith's Rosevine Farm, Berwick on April 17. The sale totaled more than half a million dollars with an average price of $4,689 from Ontario and Quebec consigners and buyers from across North America.

    Mark Smith of Chesterville, who organized and managed the sale with local breeders Stephane Villeneuve and Cameron MacGregor of Inkerman, said the sale was a success with about a dozen more consignments than their first Celebration Sale in 2008. There are always highs and lows in a sale, he said, but given the economy the prices were good.

    The aim of the sale, said Smith, was to not only market cattle from Ontario and Quebec but to give Eastern Ontario dairy farmers an opportunity to buy into those top genetics. In spite of its success there are no definite plans as yet for a third sale, he said.

    At $70,000 Steven Velthuis reckons the elite calf will be one of the top five selling unborn heifers in Canada this year, if not one of the top two. The price was pretty much what he expected as the heifer is from one of the most sought after cow families in the world right now. The Atlee family Man-o-Man flush was divided into two groups and Velthuis Farms had already sold a pick from the first group at $75,000.

    Backed by superior genetics, buying an elite dairy cow sight unseen is not uncommon. Velthuis recently purchased a $150,000 animal in a similar situation.

    As a breeder of elite dairy cattle the Celebration Sale allowed Velthuis to take advantage of their national and international marketing efforts.

    Velthuis Farms were both consigners and buyers at the sale. They purchased a September, show-age calf, Greenlane Jasper Sana, consigned by Greenlane Farms and Mark Smith's Sunnylodge Farm at the sale.

    She was put on a truck two days later for the Quebec Spring Show, said Velthuis, and after winning her class went on to take Reserve Junior Champion. "It's not every day you can go to a local sale and buy a show winner," he said.

    It's been five years since the family stepped it up a level and began breeding elite, high-end cattle. They breed show and high indexing cattle from cow families backed by genomics. Now a breeding reality, the DNA testing and data collection technology has changed the industry. Where once standards were specific to each country, genomics has standardized evaluations globally. Genomics brings the cows into one pool, said Velthus.

    Their aim now is to invest in cow families that will put bulls into AI studs. Playing the elite cattle game is high risk, high investment and high reward. Velthuis tries not to put all his eggs into one basket and to spread out the risk recently purchased a calf in Germany that is being housed in Holland. His game strategy also includes the not unfamiliar breeder's creed: Every cow is for sale.

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