The Legendary Starbuck

Cows today are produced largely through artificial insemination. Those people looking to expand their herds typically look at a variety of bulls, choose one they prefer, and purchase semen. One particular bull however has been quite popular: Starbuck. This bull has over 200,000 progeny around the globe.


The artificial insemination center of Quebec (Centre d’insémination artificielle du Québec, or CIAQ) provides 45% of the Canadian artificial insemination market for dairy cattle. Sometimes, CIAQ sends representatives to inspect young bulls and make mating contracts. In May of 1979, representatives Robert Chicoine and Harley Nicholson made a trip to Hanover Hill Holsteins. Robert Chicoine recalls the first moment seeing Starbuck:

The situation was the following: we had in front of us a young sire who had captured our interest on the spot, we liked his dam and the asking price was fair. The problem was that he was a Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation son and we had already decided that we had enough sons from this sire in our proving program and that we should be diversifying. In fact, our first Round Oak Rag Apple Elevation sons were born in 1973 and some of them were already proven at the time we saw the young Starbuck.

Kellywell Starbuck Belle, a daughter of Starbuck
Kellywell Starbuck Belle, a daughter of Starbuck

After consideration, they sent a letter to confirm the purchase of Starbuck. And after further inspection, the purchase was official. Starbuck was immediately recognized as a prime example of bull.

At CIAQ we are, of course, very proud to have had Starbuck in our stables. However, when I ponder on the story of his purchase, I must remain very humble and remember that nothing had been planned from our part. We were simply in the right place at the right time.

We are therefore most grateful to Peter Heffering, this “great artist of Holstein breeding”. He is the one who planned the mating which resulted in an exceptional sire who has already made an historical impact on CIAQ and on Holstein breeding all over the world.

Beginning with “EXTRA” title from Holstein Association of Canada in 1985, Starbuck started receiving many awards and recognitions. By 1986, one of his offspring became the record selling heifer calfs at $300,000. Another daughter was sold in 1989 for $635,000. Through a variety of shows from 1987-1992, Starbuck’s notoriety grew large. People from around the world began to request his semen, and demand skyrocketed. By 1992, exports were reaching 42 nations!

One of Starbuck's great grandsons
One of Starbuck’s great grandsons

Starbuck gained another record in 1990, when he reached 50,000 progeny around the world. When Starbuck died in 1998 (at 19 years and 4 months), he was the oldest bull to serve in an artificial insemination center and had the largest impact on the world’s cattle genetics than any other. His DNA was of such grandeur that he was cloned. Hanoverhill Starbuck II was born in the new millennium; the first living clone born from a line of frozen cells of an adult bovine in Canada

Hanoverhill Starbuck II
Hanoverhill Starbuck II

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