$131,000 cash cow
Sale of the decade
By Brandy Harrison
EMBRUN — It didn’t take long for the deep-pocketed buyers to show themselves at La Ferme Gillette’s Sept. 21 consignment sale: one of the first dairy cows on the block had the standing room-only crowd eagerly watching the red lights on the sale board behind auctioneer Pierre Boulet, which finally stopped flashing at a whopping $131,000 for the day’s top seller, Ralma-RH Manoman Banjo. (Photo feature on page A13.)
"She is an exceptional young cow. Hopefully, she’ll make a mark in the Holstein breed," says one of the sale’s managers, Louis Patenaude, who runs the Gillette dairy farm with his three brothers, his parents, and a nephew.
The consignment from Lookout Holsteins in North Hatley, Quebec, was bought by Alberta breeder Morris Thalen.
The first sale at the Embrun farm in 15 years drew buyers from the United States, France, and Japan, while other bidders stayed home and watched the Internet broadcast. The sale grossed over $1.3 million, with four choices of a flush and 102 cows, calves, and heifers selling for an average of $11,900.
The second top seller, owned by Mark Smith’s Sunnylodge Farms, sold for $48,000 to Campbellville semen supplier GenerVations, Len and Tracey Vis of Mapel Wood Holsteins in Jerseyville, and Ajax-based O’Connor Land and Cattle Company. The third top seller, owned by Gillette and a Japanese breeder, sold for $43,000 to Ferme Maryclerc, of Sainte-Claire, Quebec.
Prince Edward Island dairy farmers Jamie Lewis and Bloyce Thompson had a cow to sell but were also buyers, picking up the highest genomic animal in the sale.
"We’ve been approached today already about some interest in her," says Lewis. "It sure makes you think you made the right decision."
Genetics drew the crowd of up to 1,000 people but a certain famous cow was a star attraction. Gillette E Smurf (the 16-year-old cow), was awarded the highest milk yield in a lifetime by Guinness World Records this year. She is in her 11th lactation and has produced over 224,000 kilograms of milk so far and is not for sale.
"There’s only one Smurf," says Patenaude, who held a celebration for Smurf and Holstein Canada’s 2011 cow of the year, Gillette’s 2nd Wind, the night before the sale.