Master Breed­ers recog­ni­tion four decades in the mak­ing

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON

News Staff David and Ann Marie MacMil­lan of the Lochiel-based Lochdale Hol­steins can add their names to Hol­stein Canada’s cov­eted list of Master Breed­ers.

The award is the cul­mi­na­tion of years of work.

Mrs. MacMil­lan says that her fam­ily has been try­ing to ob­tain the des­ig­na­tion for the past four decades.

“It’s based on 15 years of breed­ing his­tory,” she says. “You have to garner so many points for con­for­ma­tion and so many for the pro­duc­tion of the an­i­mals.” Mrs. MacMil­lan’s son-in-law, Chris Ma­cLeod – who hap­pens to be the Eastern On­tario Hol­stein rep­re­sen­ta­tive for On­tario Hol­stein – ex­plains it fur­ther. “Each cow you breed car­ries a pre­fix,” he says. “Each cow is eval­u­ated on milk record­ing, fat, and pro­tein.” But the scor­ing sys­tem isn’t just done in the lab­o­ra­tory, it’s also done on the farm. The cows are ex­am­ined phys­i­cally and graded on their ud­ders, legs, and rumps. He says that Hol­stein Canada has pro­fes­sional clas­si­fiers who travel the coun­try just to eval­u­ate cows.

He says the phys­i­cal at­tributes are just as im­por­tant as the pro- duc­tion. “You can have a cow that does Guin­ness Book of World Records pro­duc­tion,” he says. “But if your cow doesn’t look good, you don’t qual­ify.”

Mr. Ma­cLeod says win­ning the award is a very time con­sum­ing process, one that of­ten takes more than 40 years. Once you win, you’re in­el­i­gi­ble to win again for the next 12 years.

“What you win is a ti­tle,” he says. “You be­come a Master Breeder and you can re­tain that pre­fix for­ever. It’s in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized. You can go to another coun­try and tell peo­ple you’re a Master Breeder and they’ll rec­og­nize it.”

In the case of the MacMil­lans, they com­peted in the large herd cat­e­gory.

There were nearly 500 herds across the coun­try in that cat­e­gory but Lochdale was just one of two that were picked to re­ceive the des­ig­na­tion.

David MacMil­lan is a fifth gen­er­a­tion farmer who was born on the farm. Their son, An­drew, will be the sixth gen­er­a­tion. To­gether, they milk 60 head.

The 20 Master Breed­ers will be hon­oured at the 2017 Na­tional Hol­stein Con­ven­tion Master Breeder Ban­quet in York Re­gion on Satur­day, April 8.

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