The International Friend of Dairy Breeding award recognizes the outstanding contribution of an international personality in the promotion of dairy breeding in Québec. This year, Mr Jan Gowenius is being honoured as part of the 19th edition of the Québec International Holstein Show (EIHQ). An accomplished breeder, Mr Gowenius has become renowned internationally while maintaining good relations within the Canadian genetics industry.
The Swedish-born breeder has been visiting with his Canadian counterparts since 1983. Mr Gowenius who is the easiest visitor to pick out in a crowd because he always wears a red toque, has paid visits to Québec and to CIAQ every year since the beginning of the International Holstein Québec Show, which is his favourite event and the place where he has the most Canadian friends!
Jan Gowenius saw his first Canadian cattle while he was taking an AI course in England. Impressed by their quality, he came to Canada and imported 40 purebred Holstein calves to fulfill his goal and build a purebred Canadian herd in Sweden based on Canadian genetics. In 1983, when the first purebred calf was born, the Gardsby Holstein herd was created and given a new prefix. In order to increase the herd faster, Mr Gowenius and his wife Monika went to Canada in 1986 to take a course in embryo transplant. This course was the first of its kind and marked the beginning of the Semex ILMS school!
In 1987, the Goweniuses became Semex’s representatives in Sweden. Another key moment in the herd’s development was the beginning of embryo exportation which started in 1996. In 2000, Semex asked the Goweniuses to start selling embryos in Finland, and so they did. After 10 years, Semex Finland was established. The company now stands on its own thanks to the work of this pioneer who transmitted to the Finns his passion for Canadian genetics. In 2012, Semex Sweden celebrated its 25 years of existence within a most demanding market, more aggressive than that of Finland. In Sweden breeders seek to have the best cows, they look especially for quality udders, solid feet and legs as well as dairy strength. They can find all those traits in the Canadian Genetics Evaluation system.
In 2008, the Goweniuses sold their herd of 250 head since none of their children showed an interest in taking over the farm. The herd’s classification was the highest in the country with an average score of 85.9. With only one cow in the beginning, they had a total of 600 cows that were classified over a 25 year period. In all, they had 32 scored Excellent, 223 VG, 273 GP for an average percentage of 88% and over. Mr Gowenius has always shown great interest in other dairy breeds even though he owns a Holstein herd.
Through the years, he has developed meaningful friendships with breeders from Canada, notably with Marcel Chouinard, who has now retired, and with Christopher Studer from CIAQ, who during his visits to Sweden and Finland, has helped them a great deal with marketing among other things. Mr Gowenius also wants to thank personally and on behalf of his clients all the breeders who welcomed them to their farms. They are grateful for all they have learned about marketing, the dairy cattle market and the breeding industry. He particularly wishes to thank the Karon, Comestar, Deslacs, Kellcrest and Delaberge farms, all renowned worldwide.
Before he came to Canada 30 years ago, Mr. Gowenius did not know anything about dairy breeding, but he knew about horses. Coming over here to see quality herds with high performances, and meeting with Canadian breeders changed his life. Ever since, Mr Gowenius has known what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, work in order to have the best cows in his country. And that is what he is still doing today!
The organizers of the Québec International Holstein Show salute this passionate and dedicated man for his work in cattle breeding!