The Legacy of Apple – One International Perspective

This article was featured in our February 2020 issue and was written by Kathleen O’Keefe. 

Juan David, Francisco & Sofia with Apple’s clone, Apple1, when they purchased her. © Photo supplied.

Like everyone else who has even a passing interest in purebred dairy cattle, we were very saddened to hear of the passing of KHW Regiment Apple-Red in early January 2020. How do you commemorate a legend that has had an immeasurable impact on the Holstein and Red & White breeds in one magazine article, when the content of her life and her legions of offspring could fill a book?(A book, we hope, someone is tackling right now!)

From the time she exploded on to the scene as a junior 2-year-old winning her class in the Holstein show at World Dairy Expo, to her ‘retirement’ days residing at Duckett Holsteins where she continued her astounding reproductive career, she was an absolute rock star. Scored EX-96 4E and a 28* brood cow, visitors couldn’t wait to get their picture taken with her.People from around the world never got tired of seeing her, and never gave up on the opportunity to own an ‘Apple’.

Apple has 298 offspring registered with Holstein USA, and certainly scores more in other herd books around the world.To date, from female offspring classified in the US, she has 48 Excellent and 44 Very Good daughters. Obviously, that is one complex family tree – even without addressing the success and offspring from the Apple clones and the bulls from the Apple line!

Apple influenced countless breeding programs, but we decided to focus in on one in particular that encapsulates the dramatic influence she could have on a single herd. We were fortunate to connect with Francisco Rodríguez, co-founder of Colganados Genetics LLC. We’re delighted he shared his story about the tremendous impact Apple had on his business and all of the relationships he developed once he invested in the family

Connor and John Erbsen, Francisco Rodríguez and Tyler
Doiron of Ferme Jacobs with Shakira after her big win at the
2018 International Holstein Show. © Ella Wrigh

Francisco grew up in Colombia where his family has farmed for five generations.He discovered an early love for cattle on their dairy and was able to expand his knowledge of North American genetics when his dad became the Select Sires distributor in Colombia. He graduated from veterinary school and later took a job with DeLaval as a sales manager in South America, but he never lost the desire to own a herd of elite registered dairy cattle.

In 2007, he and his parents founded Colganados RV, where they focused on developing and aggressively marketing some of the best Holstein genetics available in Latin America. Just a few years later, he took the opportunity with a promotion at DeLaval to move to the US, where he knew he wanted to invest in genetics that had global scope…and that leads us to Apple.

“Our involvement with Apple started in2012, when we bought her clone Apple A1. During the first year, our relationship with John Erbsen grew tremendously and we decided to partner on Miss Apple Snapple-Red (Apple’s Redburst daughter). 

“Apple A1 and Snapple were such a success that we needed to formalize an LLC in the USA, which became Colganados Genetics LLC, the same name as the business we have back home in Colombia.

Colganados D Avianca-Red-ET EX-95 (Destry x Apple1),
2019 All-American R&W Aged Cow. © Cowsmo

“We bought Snapple when she was 6 months old. We flushed her twice and exported embryos to Central America and Germany, before breeding her to O’Kaliber. Snapple calved in as a 2-year-old with a heifer that we named Shakira (I wanted a cow with the name of the famous Colombian singer, as soon as she was born that was it!). Snapple looked fantastic and we put her on the truck to World Dairy Expo in 2015. The day before the Red & White show, she was sold to Milksource, and the next day she won the junior 2-year-old class for them.

“Erbacres Snapple Shakira did exactly the same as her mother two years later, when we sold her to Jacobs before show day. The next day she was 5th in the junior 2-year-old class, then went to the Quebec Fall Show where was the Intermediate Champion. A month later, she won her class at the Royal Winter Fair. One year later, she was the Intermediate Champion at World Dairy Expo and has become one of the most popular cows globally. When we named her Shakira, the idea was that we would dance to “Hips Don’t Lie” (the singer Shakira’s big hit song), and we’re happy that we’ve been able to dance several times!

“Snapple’s branch of the Apple family through Shakira might be the highest impact we will see in the show ring in the coming years.  We have several offspring of Snapple and Shakira in Illinois and still in partnership with John.

Juan David Rodriguez, Felipe Rey, Francisco J. Rodriguez
& Francisco Rodríguez with Colganados D Avianca-Red-ET
Avianca as a 2-year-old.

“From the Apple A1 side, it has been a fascinating project. It’s the one that put us on the map of the Latin American breeding scene, to the point that when people think about Apple in Latin America, they think of us.  We made 13 daughters of Apple A1 in the US, some of them were exported to Central America and the Dominican Republic, while others remained as part of project in the US. We also made some embryos to export to our farm in Colombia – we exported seven sexed embryos, six became pregnancies, and six heifers were born. Of the whole initial Colganados group of 20 head, here are the highlights:

COLGANADOS D AVIANCA-RED-ET EX-95– sold to Oakfield Corners Dairy in NY. In 2019 she was Grand Champion of the Red& White Show in Harrisburg, Reserve Grand Champion of the Red & White Show at the Royal Winter Fair, and named the 2019 All-American R&W Aged Cow.

COLGANADOS APPLE LAMADONA-ROJA VG-87- 1st Junior 2-Year-Old, Intermediate and Reserve Grand Champion at the National Colombian Holstein Show in 2017. Apple was the best produce of dam with two of her six daughters placing extremely well at the National Show in Colombia.

COLGANADOS SHAN AIDA- when we bought the Apple A1 clone, we thought we could develop a genomic side of the family, so we IVF’d her to Man-O-Shan. One of the three resulting calves was Aida, who made it into the top 18 GTPI Red or RC females in the world. It was pretty impressive for an Apple at the time.

“Today we have more than 20 members of the Apple family in Colombia, and the family continues to grow and spread towards the south. Countries like Ecuador already have our offspring, and we’re sure we have seen just the tip of the iceberg. The number of champions and great cows we will see in the future will be amazing.

“In the US, we continue working with Snapple’s and Shakira’s offspring. Recently we became partners with John in a very exciting heifer – a full sister to Snapple: AKIVA. I’m confident you will hear more about her in the coming years!

LtoR: Colganados Apple Lamadona-Roja VG-87, Intermediate & Reserve Grand Champion; Colganados Santa Maria 499 EX-
93, Senior and Grand Champion of the 2017 Colombia National Show. Colganados Genetics was also named Premier Breeder.

“We owe 100% of the international recognition our breeding program has to Apple and her owners. The opportunity we have had to breed from greatness,to position our program, and to have a global impact from her blood has been second to none. We strive for great cows, and the Apple seed will continue blossom year after year. I have never had a better cow investment than the Apple family. Not only because of the financial aspect, but because of the emotions,the experiences, and the great friends that she gave us along the way. To her,to John and the other Apple Partners, we express our love and gratitude. I’d also like to thank my wife Sofia, our daughter Sigal, my family and my partners for their continuous support.”

It’s a moving testimony to the power a tremendous brood cow can have on a breeder’s life. Francisco now resides in Chicago as the Robotics Business Manager for DeLaval in North America, but as you can tell, he is still keenly passionate about the genetics business and looks forward to future success with his branch of the Apple family tree.

Though Apple is gone, she’s left behind a large group of young daughters – 48 females born after January 2018. So, if you’re out there writing the book on Apple, just be advised that you may have to go back and update a 2nd, 3rd or 4th edition before you capture everything this legendary cow will accomplish!