As the Genomic game continues to accelerate it has become a fast and furious competition when it comes to top heifers and bulls on the respective lists.
Ranking #1 GLPI and Pro$ herd on the Jersey April genetic run, Ferme Guimo of Saint-Gervais de-Bellechasse, Quebec, in just 14 years have shown the World what injecting a “little” bit of color from the right families can do for a herd.
A 3rd generation farm owned by Monia Lemieux and Bertrand Brisson, Monia purchased the herd of 40 milking Holstein cows and 30 heifers from her father in the early 2000’s. During this time the farm also owned 400 pigs and 2000 maple trees. Over time the pigs were sold and the purchase of more land and quota increased the herd size to 72 milking cows in the renovated tie-stall barn with heifers housed at the previous pig farm. In 2016 major renovations and the expansion of the existing barn allowed for all animals to be moved under one roof. Today 80 milking cows are housed in the tie-stall with the heifers housed in an attached 60-stall free-stall barn. Baby calves are housed in individual pens or hutches and at 2-3 months of age they are moved to group pens allowing them to adapt to a group environment before they are moved to the free-stall. On the maple syrup side, in 2018 a new building was built for their growing production which now includes 5000 trees.
A team effort at Guimo has always been important. Monia looks after all administrative management with Bertrand managing the overall business. Monia and Bertrands three children: Camille, the oldest, works in a hardware store. Joel works full-time at the farm and is responsible for the feeding. Jany will be taking agriculture in the fall at ITA La Pocatière College and helps with the night milking as well as loves preparing the heifers for the shows. All members of the family are involved in the day to day work as well as the discussion about future projects. Monia’s brother, Guillaume, also works part-time at the farm and deals mainly with the reproduction and breeding decisions. “Guillaume is for sure the most passionate of all of us about the genetics side of the business,” said Monia.
In July of 2004 the addition of Jerseys into the herd was more out of curiosity than anything. “We wanted to “inject some color” into the barn,” said Guillaume. Attending the Jersey Quebec National Sale where approximately 50 head from the best herds were on offer allowed them to purchase a third lactation cow and the only Excellent cow selling that day, Graylane Sambo Lacey. Not long after her, value and potential were confirmed with a visit from Semex. After calving in December Lacey was flushed in March 2005 with mating advice from Semex to SSF Centurion Sultan. “It was exciting the first flush resulted in 27 good embryos, however it was difficult to know what to do with them because at this time we were not invested in making Guimo a Jersey herd at all,” said Guillaume. The result of implanting 5 fresh embryos that day was two males and two females born in December 2005. In 2006 a pick of the two heifers was put in the Spring show sale with Guimo Sultan Lady selling and Guimo Sultan Lacely returning to Guimo. Now scored EX, Lacely scored VG as a 2yr Old and is the dam of the Celebrity son, Guimo Lancelot, the farms first bull to enter AI.
Another daughter from Lacey, Guimo Sultan Lylas VG-87 has also left her mark with Guimo Premier Lys EX, who was the dam of Guimo Vivaldi Lysanne VG 2yr old. Owned by Laitjoie Farm, Lysanne is currently ranked # 5 GLPI and has a daughter, Guimo Archer Lyssa at #4 heifer in the 9 months and over (2147 GLPI). She is pregnant to Legendary Bourbon with Bourbon pregnancies also coming.
The Lacey family laid the groundwork for the current herd ratio of 2/3 Jerseys. In 2009, a Junior 2 Year Old was purchased that would undoubtedly become the cow with the greatest impact at Guimo. Just 12 days fresh, Fermar Paramount Joy now EX-95 3E 11* entered the Guimo herd. Recognized for her many achievements in the show ring including 1st Lifetime Cheese Cow at World Dairy Expo in 2014 as well as
claiming the HM All-Canadian Mature cow title the same year, Joy was truly a remarkable brood cow with 34 descendants including 3 EX and 10 VG. Her combination of high type and production levels was transmitted time and again, this coupled with her domination of the lists of genotyped animals was recognized. In the summer of 2014, River Valley's interest in Joy and one of her daughters by Arrow provided the farm with a very tough and heartbreaking decision. “I must admit the decision to sell was very hard, but it was the best decision because of the international recognition both her and our farm has received,” said Guillaume.
Some of Joy’s most influential offspring include; a bull known internationally and #28 GLPI bull and #3 for type at +13, Guimo Joel, marketed by Semex. Joel’s full sister, Guimo Legal Jany EX is sitting in 12th spot for Pro$ and is the dam of the current #8 GLPI cow, Guimo Vivaldi Jezia VG-86.
Guimo Spectacular Joelle VG-87 2yr Old, who was Honorable Mention at Expo BBQ 2014 and named All Quebec 2yr Old in 2014, is the dam of Guimo Journey (a Texas son) at Semex. Guimo Dynamic Joyce EX 2E was the first cow on the GLPI list from December 2014 to December 2016 and is the dam of Guimo Limonjuice and Guimo Jamie who is ranked #4 on the Genomic Young Sire (GYS) list.
Grabbing the #1 GLPI spot from April to December 2017, Guimo Prime Joany VG 2yr currently sits at #3 GLPI and #2 for Pro$ and is the dam of Guimo Judo the #8 GYS.
The mating to a Danish bull, DJ Zuma resulted in 5 VG daughter’s. The four at the farm include: Guimo Zuma Julia VG-88 the #4 Pro$ at 1924 who’s daughter Island Vivaldi Julie is # 2 GPA LPI at 2209 and # 3 Pro$ at 2104 as well as Justine VG-87, Judith VG-86 and Jennifer VG.
Summum Vivaldi Ira VG-89 max score is currently ranked # 4 GLPI at 2103 with pregnancies by River Valley Flash, Legendary Bourbon, River Valley Change UP and Respect. Her daughter Guimo Nxlevel Irvana tops the heifers with a GLPI of +2223 and Pro$ 2158 and is one of the best purebred females in North America in the GJPI model.
On the show side of things and claiming the first Red ribbon for the farm, Pierstein Ressurect Unique EX 3E was 1st Senior 2yr Old and Senior 3yr Old at BBQ Expo in 2008 and 2009. Her daughter, Guimo Advice Ursula EX-90 3E was the first animal with the Guimo prefix to be shown at the Royal and was named All-Quebec in 2011. Her daughter Guimo Joel Urielle VG-87 2yr continues to follow in these footsteps.
Guimo is always looking for something unique along with good cow families, deep pedigrees and excellent cows with genetic indexes also playing a part. Examples of their diverse gene pool is demonstrated with: RJF Unique Topeka Martini EX from the Avonlea Mischief's Magnolia Sup-EX 92 4E 11 * family, TLJ Santana Maid 264-P VG 2yr, a polled cow from the Maid family, and Monchoix Joel Starlet VG-88 a granddaughter of Extreme Electra EX-95. “Ferme Guimo has made smart purchases and have built on these families. They are not afraid to ask for advice on genetics from various sources and use herd management tools such as milk recording, classification, genomics, embryos and registrations. The results speak for themselves,” says Jean-Marc Pellerin (Jersey Canada Extension Agent)
When discussing the goals for the farm Guillaume says, “I guess our goals have always been simple. We wanted to build a high type herd that produces quality milk. We never had high performance goals and winning at the shows and having high LPI animals was not a priority for us at all initially. Over the years and with the great advice from top breeders and industry people we have developed our own breeding
Currently using 80% young genotype bulls that rank high on both the Canadian and USA base, Guillaume admits genomics has been a big part of their program and has allowed them to reveal the potential of their herd allowing them to become more effective with their breeding decisions. A program that uses a rigorous selection process for both males and females that include animals with deep pedigrees, high
type, great components, good udders and high health traits. “We use genomics as a selection tool only and our program is not exclusive to it, we are not ready to leave everything behind to rely JUST on the numbers. I still believe in using my instinct somewhat to determine the best mating and to help meet our philosophy of breeding balanced cows. We want good udders and feet and legs and if they are good enough to show that is a PLUS. We love milking good cows and it does not cost any more then milking bad ones. On the genetic side our success is reflected by high type indexes and good levels of production with great components, if the mating is more type relevant then we tend to use a high type mating,” said Guillaume.
“No matter how much you see their index rankings seeing the cows and heifers live in person is always a great treat! Guillaume is close to a genius when it comes to matings and knowledge of new bulls! His energy is electric however everyone in the family has a key role to play at Guimo!” says Jersey Canada General Manager, Russell Gammon.
Milk recording and the use of Lac-T herd management software along with classifying and registering all animals allows Guillaume to compare their animals with the general population and continue to improve. “It’s not easy to be objective about your own cows so I believe the classifier provides us with a outside opinion which helps us to determine what needs to be improved upon,” said Guillaume.
Focusing on their own herd improvement, Guimo does not look to be better than anyone else. “We don’t feel the industry should dictate the path we take. Someone once told me, ‘trust in yourself, believe in what you are doing, and the results will come’,” said Guillaume.
Always looking for ways to promote their cows and the Jersey breed while comparing their breeding, Ferme Guimo participates in local and provincial shows and national if deemed appropriate. Picturing and advertising also play a role in the marketing of their genetics along with Facebook. “It is important to us when taking photos, whether we take the photo ourselves or get a professional photographer, that the picture is an actual representation of the cow,” said Guillaume. Live cattle sales include some fresh heifers and a few higher genetic animals sold each year with a focus on supporting Quebec sales.
It is easy to see that the whole family is proud of how far they have come in such a short period of time when it comes to breeding and operating a high-performance herd with outstanding results. “We have come a long way but moving towards the future our short-term goals include a complete transition to a Jersey herd along with some facility changes,” said Bertrand. “These goals will also be part of the transition to the next generation which will be exciting on its own,” said Monia.
Along with Jersey growth will come continued worldwide recognition for Ferme Guimo for being top rankeding on the herd, male and female lists in Canada.
- 2X Constructive Breeder Award Winner for Jersey Canada (2011 & 2017)
- #1 herd for GLPI and Pro$ (April 2018)
- 6 Cows in the top 30 GLPI, 2 GYS in the top 50, 7 heifers in the top GPA LPI list (heifers 9 months & older), 8 heifers in the top 100 for GPA Pro$
- Jersey herd average: 3-05 7757kg 5.20%F 402kg 3.93%P 305kg (264-249-274)
- Holstein herd average: 4-06 11386 kg 4%F 453kg 3.23%P 367 kg (226-232-236)
- Classification Jersey: 6EX, 36 VG, 6 GP & Holstein: 2EX, 14 VG, 10 GP
- 200 acres are for forage production, 50 acres for corn silage, 35 acres of soybeans and 35 acres of wheat. The rest is the area occupied by the maple grove
- Cows are fed with baylage (70% legumes & 30% grass), corn silage, grain corn, soybean meal and a protein top dress.
- Sires currently using; Disco, Casino, Change Up, Craze, Kingston, Respect, Judo and Jamie are currently the most used bulls.
- do 10 flushes per year mostly with sexed semen. Elite LPI or high type or best families for our own use
- sell embryos to India, South Korea, Europe