Oct 04, 2008
By Catherine Merlo
Marc Comtois is one happy Canadian today.
Not only is this master dairy breeder, longtime show-ring winner and international dairy judge back at World Dairy Expo after a five-year hiatus, but he’s in the spotlight too.
Thursday night, Comtois received a new award, which now sits on display at his impressive barn exhibit on Expo grounds.
Comtois was honored by the National Dairy Shrine as its 2008 Distinguished Cattle Breeder. Some 300 people were present at the
banquet in Expo’s Exhibition Hall.
|Marc Comtois with his Holstein pride and joy,
Belmoral Lee, at Expo on Friday.
“I am very proud,” Comtois said Friday, as a steady flow of well-wishers stopped by his barn exhibit.
Quick background: The Distinguished Cattle Breeder award is open to producers of all breeds and from all countries. It’s been presented by the National Dairy Shrine annually for 30 years. Each year, some 15 to 20 applicants vie for the honor.
“I don’t think Marc has any idea what a well-loved person he is,” said Dr. David Selner, executive director of the National Dairy Shrine. “He is such a warm, gracious individual, with no arrogance.”
This clear-eyed Canadian who speaks English with a strong French accent might not be considered such a titan if he was measured by dairy herd size. Comtois milks only 200 cows at his Comestar Holsteins family farm in Quebec. The full herd size is 700, but even that wouldn’t be considered much in California or New Mexico, where herd sizes easily reach 3,000 cows and more.
It’s in cattle breeding and genetics that Comtois stands tall. For
example, of the world’s 26 Holstein bulls that have produced more than 1 million units of semen, four have come from Comestar Holsteins. “That’s incredible,” Selner said.
|Comtois (left) visits with an Expo attendee from
England Friday afternoon at his barn exhibit.
Comestar is also a leader in A.I., embryo transfer and heifer production in the international market.
Comtois says he started with nothing when he was 18. His father was a master breeder, but Comtois chose to build his dairy operations on his own.
“I’m big on passion,” Comtois said. In fact, a display proclaiming “The Passion of Breeding” highlights his exhibit.
Forced out of U.S. cattle shows when the U.S. closed its border to Canada after the BSE troubles in 2003, Comtois has been eager for the Canadians to compete in the show ring at Expo this year. He’ll show four beauties in tomorrow’s International Holstein Show in the Coliseum.
For today, however, he’s reveling in Thursday night's award, this week’s reunion with old friends, and the anticipation of Saturday’s show ring.
It’s good to have the Canadians back.