We all know All West/Select Sires is currently celebrating its 75th Anniversary. But, considering Select Sires celebrated its 50th Anniversary last year, how is this possible?
More importantly, what was All West doing in those 34 years before the company joined with Select Sires in 1975?
The answer is that in 1941, a small farmer-owned group in Washington formed to create Skagit County Artificial Breeders, which later changed its name to All West Breeders. This small group of individuals decided to headquarter their growing operation in Burlington, Washington and years later eventually laid claim to the stud code 13 in 1965.
The National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB) is responsible for issuing and maintaining all stud codes. A stud code is the first number(s) before the breed designation on the code assigned to each bull and is labeled on their semen straws. For example, in the code 13HO0294, 13 is All West Breeders’ stud code, HO stands for the Holstein breed, and 0294 is the specific number for the bull.
All West/Select Sire Director of Distribution and Plant Operations Patrick Brown was working as an Assistant Herdsman at the original All West bull facility around the years 1972 to 1975 and got to witness firsthand how All West Breeders operated and how they handled joining together with Select Sires. Brown says that All West Breeders owned 120 bulls and there were only about six employees at the facility that were responsible for directly taking care of the animals. So, as with many smaller companies, Brown and his fellow employees did all the work of cleaning the pens, feeding the bulls, collecting semen, and helping process it for sale. It’s hard to imagine that in 1970’s small town Burlington, there was this local company with 120 bulls and a piece of the North American semen market right on the outskirts of town!
When talking about his time working with the bulls, Brown also mentioned that people did sometimes come to tour the facility, with the most notable occasion being the opening of their newly built distribution center. Someone decided that it would be a good idea to take out a few of the bulls to parade around for the visiting crowd outside. As you can imagine, this did not end like they intended. Brown was leading one of the bulls, Foxlease Explosion, when the lead rope snapped off from the bull’s nose ring and he got loose. Explosion then started to chase the bystanders around until Brown managed to jump on his head, clip the lead rope back on, and lead him right back into the barn!
While the incident effectively ended the once great “Bull Parade” idea, Explosion went on to be a notable bull sold by All West Breeders. The company had many other influential bulls under their lucky 13 stud code, including 13HO0294 Puget Sound Highmark (Romandale Reflection Marquis x Nockdair Leader Phoebe), 13HO2015 Wilbar Pride Admiral Peachum (Irvington Pride Admiral x Wis Captain), and Skagvale Bold Inheritance (Skagvale Royal Monarch x Skagvale Charming Dynamic). Highmark was big in the show world as he was responsible for siring an All-American and Peachum was known as a high type bull.
However, when All West Breeders officially became part of Select Sires in 1975, not all the bulls were destined for the trip to Ohio. Only around 20 of the 120 were brought over while the remaining bulls were mostly sold for slaughter.
As the once widely known stud code 13 began to fade out and be replaced with the Select Sires’ 7, the genetics from these prominent bulls were still in existence and passed on. At All West Breeders’ peak, their reach impacted breeders from coast to coast and even into Canada. The influence of these notable sires would not disappear quickly or quietly, similar to how the All West name and legacy would always be maintained on the western coast of the US, 75 years after its beginning.