ALH Genetics – a name synonymous within the Holstein industry, not just in Europe, but around the world. With global sales of more than 50,000 embryos, and 2639 bulls delivered into A.I stations, founder Adolf Langhout has shaped a successful business and career by “Delivering Results.”
At the age of seven, Adolf’s family moved to Damwoude, a small village in Friesland, which lies in the Northern region of the Netherlands. With a passion for animals, Adolf started out breeding chickens, rabbits, goats and sheep whilst still in junior school. Always eager to learn more, he quickly progressed to helping out on local dairy farms, doing chores and assisting wherever he could.
Adolf never had any doubts which route his career would take. His future was always going to involve animals and it became quickly apparent the Holstein was going to play a starring role. By the age of 16, Adolf was working on a neighbouring farm, just 2 years later he was making all the breeding decisions and deciding which bloodlines to pursue. That farm was one of the first in the Netherlands to purchase Holstein bloodlines and to do embryo transfer. In 1993 Adolf purchased the farm with 5 hectares of land. Home to ALH Genetics, the premises have grown to 40 hectares with facilities to house around 250 head.
Since purchasing the farm Adolf has re-modelled the old barn and structural improvements and redevelopment have been an on-going project. In 2008 construction began on a new facility to house heifers. This barn is a showcase in heifer housing being light airy, spacious, and easy to manage. Always immaculate, the building houses calves from weaning age and upwards.
“Cows are my first love,” says Adolf, “I’m fortunate that my work is also my greatest hobby and something that I am passionate about.” In addition to being an extremely successful and talented Holstein breeder, Adolf also enjoys breeding birds. For 40 years he’s been breeding Wyandotte, a species of chicken originating in the United States. With aviaries housing around 300 fowl, Adolf breeds around 200 young birds each year, selling and showing them around the Netherlands. He’s also a keen gardener, with a love for fishing, and many will be familiar with his love of speed- especially those who have ridden as a passenger in a car he’s been driving!
Founded in 1989, and initially operating from Adolf’s bedroom, today ALH Genetics employs 6 full time staff. Since its inception ALH has been one of Europe’s most dynamic trading companies for livestock, embryos and as a source of top genetics.
Embryo sales remain an integral part of the business, and many top European cow families can be traced back to imports through ALH. The list is too long to include each success, but some highlights include the high genomic Mairy family at Caps Holsteins, tracing back to Jo-Wal Cleitus Macey. The Praline and Cinderella families at Giessen, the Cinderella’s originating from the Roxy family via embryos purchased from Wilcoxview feature in the maternal lineage of Semex’s KH Cinderdoor (+17 Conformation). The Classy and Regenia families at Koepon, the Eroy, and Cinderella families at De Rith, Promis and Zip at Watermolen, Carola at Southland Holsteins, White Rain (Dellia) at Riethill, Scarlett and Splendor at Schreur Holsteins, Prudence and Cosmopolitan at Neerduist, Perk Rae at Noard Easter, Converse Judy and Destiny at Heidenskipster, Lead Maes, Breeshia and Willie at Ven Dairy, Red Rose and Padora at Holec, Prudence at Holbra, Altitude, Ashlyn at Gijmink Holsteins and August, Debutante Rae and Frosty for the Wijnker family. The list is extensive, the names of cow families that ALH have marketed reads like a who’s who of the Holstein world.
ALH specialises in sourcing and supplying bulls into A.I and works with the majority of European stations and others in Russia and North America. To date ALH has sold 2639 bulls into A.I., having delivered some of Europe’s top sires in recent years.
One of the current success stories is the #1 Genomic Young sire in Italy – Heidenskipster SELLECK, a Cashcoin from the Morningview Converse Judy family. Marketed domestically by Inseme and internationally through Semenzoo, SELLECK shattered the GPFT record eclipsing his nearest rival by nearly 150 points.
Likewise the polled sensation APOLL P RED (Aikman X Lawnboy X Shottle) continues to be a clear leader in Germany’s red Holstein rankings with a RZG 161. Born at Schreur Holsteins in the Netherlands, APOLL P RED traces back to the All-American and All-Canadian Stookey Fagin Scarlet Red EX-94 3E, his dam is the Cowsmo Covergirl, Verhagens Bos Candlelight Red VG-86 2yr, a Lawn Boy daughter now on permanent flush at ALH Genetics.
Of course ALH have delivered many highly regarded proven sires too, including #1 type specialist Mesland DUPLEX to Aberekin, Spain, Germany’s most successful second crop sire of all time, MASCOL to LTR, JOTAN RED the sire of the most VG-88 2yr olds in the Netherlands, PIONEER, BAKOMBRE, LARON P RED, GOLDDAY, WATHA and many more.
A key factor in any successful business is repeat business. Appreciating and valuing the loyalty of customers, the team at ALH work hard to create a return on their client’s investments. “We respect the fact our customers choose to buy from us,” says Adolph. “It’s important and rewarding to us to see those investments make money.” Inevitably not every embryo results in a bull heading to A.I, but ALH buys bulls from the breeders they work with and resell them from the ALH facility. Around 400 jumper bulls are sold on an annual basis. All bulls are certified IBR, BVD and Leptospirosis free being sold with a service guarantee.
ALH own cattle in the Netherlands and over 20 embryo donors in the United States. Over the years they have invested in key individuals. In the early years, Delta Eugenie VG-88, a maternal sister to Delta LAVA and Delta NOVALIS was purchased by ALH and his former partner Meppelink for €45,455. A granddaughter of Walkup Bell Lou Etta, Eugenie was the foundation for international sires like MASCOL and STYLIST in Germany, RESTELL in France, EMIR in Spain and SPOOKY in the UK and grossed the equivalent of more than EUR150,000 in heifer sales some 20 years ago.
Markwell Durham Daisy EX-92 was another hugely successful investment for ALH and a source of great pride. Purchased on good friend Brian Behnke’s recommendation over the phone in 2002, she became the poster girl of the Raven family. Initially reluctant to show her, Behnke persuaded Adolf to take her on the coloured shavings of Madison. Daisy finished third in the Senior Two Year Old class and was nominated Honourable Mention All-American in 2002. Few could have anticipated the impact Daisy would have. An inspired flush to the #1 TPI sire OMAN, led to several proven sires including DUKE, DAKOTA and OSAKA, and ALH Destiny VG-87, who became a successful brood cow too, producing GOLDDAY and DANILLO and be the grand-dam of BAKOMBRE.
Encompassing a selection of type and genomics, to meet customers’ requirements, recent purchases for ALH include Crackholm Baxter Hannah the only Excellent daughter of the three time All-Canadian Mature Cow, RF Goldwyn Hailey EX-97 3E, a VG-87 2yr Mogul granddaughter of Sandy Valley Plane Sapphire VG-87 2yr and yearling heifers by Doorman from Lylehaven Atwood Lylly EX-95 and a Supersire sister to HALOGEN, whose dam is Cookiecutter MOM Halo VG-88 2yr.
Adolf really admires the Roxy, Dellia, Barbie, and Altitude cow families. He appreciates cows that milk from good udders, and who have great feet and legs and don’t have problems with SCS and DPR. Adolf agrees that certain cow families stay prolific because of ET work and since the introduction of sexed semen, these families have enjoyed continued success. “Families like the these are great breeder cows, and give satisfaction where ever they go, and have been hugely influential for the red breed. Without Dellia, you have no Durham, no Debutante Rae, no Altitude, no Advent, no Jotan or no Apple. Cow families like these remain extremely marketable for embryos,” says Adolf, “People will always appreciate good Type. Index cattle must have good type and show cattle need to be able to milk.”
Providing a platform for customers to sell their genetics is another key to ALH’s success. The Tulip sales and more recently the ALH@Home sales have become an integral part of the operation. “These types of sales are massively important for the industry because they allow breeders the opportunity to market live cattle,” says Adolf. “It’s important to keep money changing hands and these sales allow every breeder the possibility to invest in new families at every price level.”
Successful sales are of course ones where the milk prices are the highest, and they are just one day of the year. Adolf’s priority is to create a good atmosphere, and leave people with a good feeling about ALH. “The sale average is much more important than only two or three high sellers to the same syndicate of people,” says Adolf. The last 6 Tulip sales which are held at the Holland Holstein Show in December, have seen 346 females average just under EUR7000, and grossed over 2.4 million Euros.
Embryosale.com is the website through which ALH makes a variety of embryo combinations available, “It’s important to offer something for everyone, so we always have a selection of embryos available, including genomics, type, deep pedigrees and increasingly important- sexed embryos,” comments Adolf. Operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week, bidding works via a Dutch auction system, of descending prices. Since it was launched, embryo sales have increased, and certainly a greater number of embryos are being purchased by new customers.
Adolf is quick to acknowledge the importance of genomics into the industry and claims it is the most important revolution in breeding. “It’s unique that we can tell from a hair sample how an animal is looking in the flesh and her ability to perform before the calf is even off milk. This is a bigger revolution than AI or even robot milkers,” says Adolf, “Genomics is hugely important for decision making on farms and for A.I studs it is the decisive factor whether they purchase or decline a bull.” Although milk testing and classification will remain important Adolf doesn’t believe that Genomics will slow down. “I think we will see less emphasis on total indexes like GTPI, GLPI, GRZG, GPLI, and a more balanced approach to breeding,” hopes Adolf, “As people learn more and familiarise themselves with the importance of individual traits, I think more farms will select on the things which are important to them, particularly traits associated with profitability.”
With the recent decision by some A.I studs to only release sexed semen initially, some breeders are alarmed and concerned about the prospect that they are being edged out of the opportunity to create high bulls. Adolf looks at this from another perspective, “Yes that may be the case, but if we flip the coin, breeders will have the opportunity to increase the numbers of many more females, and the highest heifers will be equally as important to the A.I studs and be in massive demand.”
Given the recent downturn in milk price for farmers, Adolf stresses how it is important to be optimistic about the bright future of Dairy Farming. “Development comes through sharing and learning, we need to provide good information and show the consumer our herds and animals,” enthuses Adolf. In order to keep milk as a valuable commodity, the industry cannot underestimate the importance of maintaining credibility with the consumer. “They need to know where the milk is coming from and see that we are as passionate about our animals as they are about their food.” Adolf speaks passionately about the need to educate the general public, “Milk is a natural food, and one which is incredibly important to every family. If the consumer has confidence in dairy farmers and the quality of the product they are purchasing then dairy farming will be OK. If we lose this trust the industry will be in trouble,” says Adolf.
A massive supporter of the Young Breeders organisation in the Netherlands, Adolf’s advice for young people wanting to get started is, “Listen to the advice of people you respect or those who are respected for the right reasons. Take every opportunity to work and learn from these people, watch how they work with cows and listen when they talk. There is a reason why they are the best, and usually it is their attention to detail. If you’re smart and eager to learn, hopefully you can learn a little from them,” smiles Adolf.
Thankful for the opportunities this industry creates, Adolf’s greatest rewards and proudest achievements are the great friendships he has amassed. He has a huge amount of respect for many people within the industry including the Dutch breeder Boyen de Boer of Hol-Stiens. During the 2013 ALH@Homesale, which celebrated 25 years in the industry, Adolf seized the opportunity to assemble a panel of 3 industry professionals for whom he has the utmost respect, Charlie Will of Select Sires, Frank Regan of Regancrest and Darin Meyer of De-Su.
“The people you meet within the industry, those with whom you create long term working relationships and above everything the great friends you make, are what make me proud to be involved in this industry,” says Adolf.
With 27 successful years of trading already in the bag, ALH is unique because of Adolf; his successful formula of working with the best cows and the best people. Based on a proven track record, ALH looks set to continue delivering results for many years to come.
“Our working partnership with ALH has been extremely successful over the years, delivering the current and former #1 GPFT sires SELLECK and RODANAS.” Enrico Dadati, Inseme, Italy
“For Masterrind, he is a trusted key partner and the source of most of our top bulls from the Netherlands. Furthermore I appreciate his social persona, and admire him for his commitment to the Young Breeders, few people have done as much to encourage and support the next generation.” Torsten Lenk, Masterrind, Germany
“Adolf has a great network of friends that he relies on for trusted information. Information to help drive his business. These friendships were forged through passion and vision for the industry we all lov.e. Brian Behnke, Semex, United States
“Adolf has an incredible memory and passion for great cows. Well-travelled throughout Europe and North America, his ability to recall pedigrees and individuals is unparalleled. He has been a long time promoter of the breed’s best transmitting cow families and marketed many of them extensively.” Charlie Will, Select Sires, United States