September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Three decades of breeding Red and Whites

Gransee fond of increasingly popular breed
Dennis Gransee has bred strong working cattle that combine good type and production. He milks 60 cows near Sanborn, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->BY RUTH KLOSSNER
Dennis Gransee has bred strong working cattle that combine good type and production. He milks 60 cows near Sanborn, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->BY RUTH KLOSSNER

By by Ruth Klossner- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Sanborn, Minn. - In the late 1970s, Dennis Gransee of Sanborn started replacing his grade cows with registered Holsteins, buying cattle at the Minnesota State Sales at New Ulm. When he got down to only a few grades-his favorites-he questioned why he should sell good cows.
About that time, he read an article in Hoard's Dairyman about an organization-the Red and White Dairy Cattle Association-that allowed farmers to grade up their cattle. He said, "What have I got to lose?"
He started breeding his grade Holsteins with the intention of getting red calves-calves that could be registered in the Red and White Dairy Cattle Association's herdbook.
"It took me two generations. There weren't a lot of bulls to use back then. I started using red and Red Factor bulls. It's quicker when you use all red bulls but I didn't want to sacrifice production," he said. "Netherland Tidy Skyhawk was our best bull then. H-100 was the only carrier I remember at MVBA. There were a bunch of Carnation bulls that went back to ABC Reflection Sovereign."
He said, "ABS was working with reds more than anybody. Their Triple Threat was a bull that had a big influence. They had another one, a grade-up only bull, Larry Moore Red Champion."
Ironically, Champion was a grandson of the famous registered Holstein, Snowboots Wis Milkyway, out of her off-color daughter. (Like red and white calves, the Holstein association did not register those with black in the switch or black touching the hoof at that time.)
Today, nearly half of Gransee's 60-cow milking herd goes back to two of the four grade families he started with. About 50 to 60 percent of his herd is Red and White now.
"[The red percentage] could be higher, but I still use Red Factor bulls. I've even flushed to straight black and white to bring in different bloodlines," Gransee said.
While red calves used to be undesirable to Holstein breeders, Gransee said, "Now some red people are the reverse of Holstein people-it has to be red or it's no good. They want reds for sales."
In addition to increased interest in red cattle, there's a renewed interest in polled cattle, especially if they're red.
"I've had some polled ones around for about 15 years. I didn't necessarily select for polled, but if bulls were Red Factor and polled, I used them," Gransee said. "I have five or six polled milking cows and ten to 12 head of youngstock."
Gransee has sold several bulls to studs and has a red polled bull, D&D Ottawa Patton Cal P-Red. Another, D&D Pot Arrow Paeder-Red-ET should have the first proof on his daughters soon.
"That's what I'll miss, genetic breeding and genomics and being able to tell stuff earlier," Gransee said. "I'm having a milking herd dispersal Sept. 7. I'll keep some open heifers back to put embryos in, as I have some contracts."
Asked why he thinks there's a significant growth in interest in the Red and Whites, Gransee said, "It goes back to this thing called showing. The black and white field is real crowded at World Dairy Expo and other big shows. You can breed and put Red and Whites in the same herd and show in your own show. I'm strongly encouraging that showing shouldn't be the only thing, however."
Red and Whites are even more popular in Europe, which has more Red and White cattle than black and whites.
"If farmers want to upgrade, it shows if they use black and white. Breeders can use Red and White and it doesn't show," Gransee said.
Because European farmers want to keep butterfat and protein levels up, bull studs are more selective on bulls they choose. With a quota system, volume isn't as important as fat and protein. The European market is also pushing for polled animals.
Under the farm name, D&D Holsteins, Gransee not only breeds Red and Whites, but also got involved in the state and national associations. He purchased animals on Red and White sales, hosted and organized the Minnesota Red and White Club field day in 1983, served on the Minnesota Red and White Club board for 15 years, was the association's first secretary and attended several National Red and White Conventions. He showed at Red and White shows in the 1980s and early 1990s and had the grand champion Red and White in Minnesota one year. Gransee received the Larry Moore Master Breeder Award at the 2011 RWDCA annual banquet.
Dennis and his wife Gloria have three grown children.[[In-content Ad]]


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