A clean sweep at the Calgary Stampede dairy classic was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Kooyman family of Chilliwack, B.C.
Owners of Westcoast Holsteins, they won the grand champion Jersey, black and white Holstein and the supreme championship held in conjunction with the national Holstein annual meeting in Calgary and Banff from April 19-22.
They also had the high selling lot at the Holstein sale when their December 2015 black and white heifer calf sold for $50,000 to Peak Genetics of the United States.
“She had some of the highest genomic numbers in North America,” said Jeff Kooyman. Westcoast raised the calf’s mother and a full sister to this youngster is nearly as good.
He admits some early skepticism about DNA testing and genomics in the early years but has adopted the technology and so far, it is working well for them.
Their grand champion Jersey is a two-year-old that has already had her first calf.
Westcoast Holsteins is a major operation run by seven brothers. Kooyman bought this young Jersey from a Minnesota operation before the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, last year. She was grand champion at Madison and will likely be shown again at the event next September.
Westcoast Holsteins milks more than 3,000 cows in B.C. and maintains a high genomic herd in Alberta and a separate herd of 400 in Saskatchewan.
Genomic testing has been widely adopted within the Holstein industry, said association chief executive officer Anne Louise Carson.
The first calves were tested in 2008 and many have offspring that are proving to be top animals.
“It is not a perfect science but Holstein breeders are extremely innovative,” she said.
At this year’s show in Calgary a special category for top testing genomic heifers was offered for the first time in Canada to show the linkage between good conformation and desirable genetic information.
The top heifer was the entry of Hamming Holsteins of Vernon, B.C.
There are 10,500 members in Holstein Canada and about 70 percent take advantage of the association services of genomic testing, animal classification and identification.
“They are marketing tools but above all they are management tools. By identifying your animal you really have good knowledge of who you are milking,” Carson said.