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Monday, January 19, 2015

Toystory the bull that earned millions and sired thousands ....

I had earlier posted about Yuvraj [translates to Young Prince], five feet nine inches tall from hoof to shoulder, stretching 14 feet from his mouth to tail, and weighs a whopping 3100 pounds.  It is a Murrah Buffalo, among the most expensive bovines on the planet. Yuvraj  is a Haryanvi – from Kurukshetra, a prized possession of Karamveer Singh who reportedly refused to sell even when the offer was astronomical 7 crores ! This post is about another bull born at Mystic Valley Dairy near Sauk City in May 2001 named Toystory which died recently.  Toystory the bull who sired over thousands of  offspring died after making his owners tens of millions of dollars.  The stud animal was immortalized on t-shirts, caps and commemorative sperm straws.  It wasn’t some milk magnate or a famed innovator, but an ornery, 2,700-pound bull named Toystory—a titan of artificial insemination who sired an estimated 500,000 offspring in more than 50 countries.

In the increasingly high-tech world of cow reproduction, a top bull’s career tends to last just a few years as farmers chase better genetics to boost milk output and animal durability, playing a numbers game not unlike a Major League Baseball manager. Rare is the bull with the genes and testicular fortitude to sell a million units of semen, known among breeders as the millionaires club. Over nearly a decade, Toystory shattered the record for sales of the slender straws that hold about 1/20th of a teaspoon and are shipped using liquid nitrogen to farmers around the world. A unit fetches anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred.

After joining the millionaires club, Toystory surpassed Sunny Boy, a Dutch bull who sold more than 1.7 million units in the 1990s and is memorialized with a life-size statue at the headquarters of his owner in Arnhem, Netherlands. When he died on Thanksgiving Day, Toystory had surpassed 2.4 million units according to his owner, Genex Cooperative Inc., and had fans from Brazil to Japan. His prowess was celebrated on hats, T-shirts and even his own commemorative semen straws. Recent posts to the Facebook page of Genex included “He was legend” and “Torazo!”—Spanish for super bull. With a neck nearly 57 inches around, Toystory was no cuddly show animal. He was blessed with a ravenous libido, typically producing sperm nine times a week, about twice the average of other bulls at Genex. One veterinarian dubbed him “meaner than a snake,” say his handlers, who were grateful some days for the safety fences keeping him penned in.

Toystory was born on May 7, 2001, at Mystic Valley Dairy farm in central Wisconsin. Owner Mitch Breunig named the promising calf after one of his daughter’s favorite movies. The bull’s father, Bellwood Marshall, was a popular sire, while his mother, Toyane, was a top milk producer at Mystic Valley. Mr. Breunig remembered Toystory standing out because he gained weight faster than other calves on the farm. At 6 months old, Mr. Breunig sold Toystory to Genex for around $4,000. The young stud moved about 150 miles to the cooperative’s facilities here, which are scattered amid dairy barns and corn fields.

After it was first used for breeding, the owner reportedly waited for more than three years, as  dairy producers had to see how the daughters of a bull turned out before deciding to buy his semen. The farmers wanted to see how much milk a cow produced, the fat and protein levels of her output, and how well she handled the rigors of milking. By the mid-2000s, producers liked what they were seeing in Toystory’s offspring, and sales of his semen started to surge. He scored highly on influential performance rankings watched by the global dairy industry. Toystory grew into a global brand through a rare mix of fertility, genetics and looks. His semen was good at getting cows pregnant and his daughters were easy to birth and dependably strong.

Over the summer, Toystory was hobbled by back problems, and his handlers decided to retire him. Mr. Gilbert feared Toystory wouldn’t make it through the winter and had a grave dug at one of Genex’s farms before the ground froze solid. His handlers chose a spot atop what is known as Stony Hill to reflect Toystory’s stature. A larger memorial service will be held in the spring when Genex plans to name the breeding campus where Toystory lived after its most-famous bull.

 “It is very possible that no other bull will ever surpass his record,” said Keith Heikes, chief operating officer at Genex. For his part, Mr. Breunig doesn’t regret selling Toystory more than a decade ago—even though the bull went on to bring in tens of millions of dollars for his new owners. In recent years, dairy farmers from Europe and Asia have flocked to his farm by the hundreds to buy semen and embryos from members of Toystory’s family. The bull also helped Mr. Breunig achieve one of his lifetime goals: being in the pages of Holstein International. The glossy monthly has featured his farm three times.

A record-breaking 'dream bull' bull who sired an estimated 500,000 offspring in more than 50 countries been laid to rest. While the story of Toystory ends, his legacy lives on through his many offspring; he remains a sellout bull with semen sold in more than 50 countries.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Jan 2015.

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