Master Breeders recognition four decades in the making
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.