Sabbiona Holsteins: Italian Source of Excellence for Fifty Years – 452 Homebred EX Cows!

Sabbiona Minorca EX-92 is a daughter of Sabbiona Goldfarm (a Goldwyn son out of foundation dam Sabbiona Cruda EX-93) and traces back to Tri-Day Ashlyn.

In the location where Ireneo Ciserani started exactly fifty years ago with one cow, today there is a beautiful modern operation with 650 milking cows and 750 head of young stock. Productive Holsteins (13,500 kg/29,750 lb) of exceptional quality. To be sure, the current herd at Sabbiona – the breeder’s herd of world famous Italian elite sires like Skywalker and Bookie – includes no less than 175 EX cows (27% of the total), while the number of EX for all time is now 452. And: all of the cows in the herd are bred by the Ciseranis themselves.


The early spring provides us with a sunny day in northern Italy, which we end in a beautiful way in Brembio. On the farmstead of Sabbiona Holsteins, a warm welcome by the Ciserani family awaits, after which we soon move into action. The two picture cows professionally prepared by father Francesco and son Lorenzo have been selected with care. Sabbiona Tiky – the dazzling Grand Champion of the 21st Dairy Show Montichiari – appeared already in HI May 2023. The all-round powerful Doorman daughter with EX-96 is the highest scoring, still living, Italian bred Holstein and after 220 days has now produced 10,500 kg/23,150 lb in her 6th lactation. Tiky can take pride in a deep pedigree with no less than twelve generations of the Sabbiona prefix. It’s a pedigree in which two Sabbiona sires also stand out as paternal animals: Skywalker as the sire of the 6th dam behind Tiky and Goldfarm as the maternal grandsire. Sabbiona Minorca EX-92 – the pitch black pearl who adorns this report – is a daughter of the same Sabbiona Goldfarm (a Goldwyn out of Sabbiona Cruda) and traces via daughters of O-Cosmopolitan, Outbound, Shottle, Durham and Outside back to Tri-Day Ashlyn. Minorca recently completed her fourth lactation with 14,400 kg/31,750 lb and will calve later this year with Mattenhof Harris (Lambda-Tatoo out of Hanna-Vray). Tiky and Minorca exemplify the breeding goal that the Ciseranis have pursued for years already: balanced cows with outstanding udders and feet & legs, open ribs, and optimal production. About the ideal cow, Lorenzo says: ‘I appreciate average stature, a size that is somewhere between Tiky and Minorca. Both cows are precisely what we like to see in terms of dairyness, balance, and udder.’


It is exactly fifty years ago that Lorenzo’s grandfather Ireneo started on this location just outside of Brembio (Lombardy region, northern Italy). ‘With one cow…,’ says Ireneo with a big smile. Ciserani Sr. is visibly proud of how the farm has developed through the decades. Grandson Lorenzo explains: ‘On April 23, 1973, a cow was milked here for the first time. Later, one hundred heifers with high quality genetics were purchased in Canada and the US. From the outset, our farm has always been developing, both genetically and in terms of the enterprise.’ Today, Ireneo, Francesco and Lorenzo are the owners of 650 beautiful and high-producing Holsteins, including no less than 175 EX cows (27% of the milking herd!). ‘The total number of EX cows at Sabbiona now reaches 452,’ says Francesco with an expressive laugh. So much excellence, originating from a strong North American foundation and generation after generation carefully built with the help of strictly selected sires. As such, Elevation, Valiant, Blackstar, Chief Mark, Starbuck, Formation, Outside, Bookie, Skywalker, Mtoto, Shottle, Goldwyn and Windbrook had a lot of influence in the past. Currently, the better cows being milked are sired by Doorman, Goldfarm, Unix, Crushabull, Alligator, 1St Grade, Chief, Crushtime and Delta-Lambda. ‘These sires, every single one, provided cows with outstanding udders, feet & legs, production, and dairy strength,’ comments Lorenzo with satisfaction. About sire selection at Sabbiona, he says: ‘We try to work with bulls that provide us with a guarantee on the conformation front, especially for udder, type, and feet & legs. We want sires that also have the production and management traits in good order. For us, conformation is part and parcel of breeding for longevity, a way to keep cows in the herd for as long as possible. We want to breed beautiful cows that are productive and last a long time.’


Besides the importance of correct and focused sire selection, the Ciseranis attach a lot of value to strong breeding cow families. ‘With sire selection, we pay close attention to the cow family behind the bull; we like to use sires from strong and consolidated families. Also in our herd, we like to work with deep cow families, such as the Annaba and Cruda families,’ says Lorenzo. Sabbiona Cruda came in view earlier already as the dam of the Goldwyn son Sabbiona Goldfarm. The EX-93 Storm daughter Cruda originates out of a VG-89 Demand dam and created a splendid cow family in Brembio. The same was done by the legendary Blackstar daughter Sabbiona Annaba EX-97 (out of a Valiant dam). Lorenzo: ‘In combination with various bloodlines, time and again, the members of the Annaba and Cruda families have the strength to provide impressive cows.’ In the meantime, also Tiky’s family is starting to make waves in the Sabbiona herd, not in the last place due to Tiky herself. She has now provided daughters by Chief, King Boy, Unix, Crushabull and Haniko.


Three generations of Sabbiona breeders are absolutely proud of what they have accomplished in their own herd, via various strong breeding cow families. But also far beyond, via popular sires like Sabbiona Bookie, Skywalker, Petisso-RC, Gigh and Goldfarm. This provided the Ciseranis, as the highest Italian breeding enterprise, with a well-deserved position in the top-20 of HI’s competition “Most Influential Breeders of the Last 25 Years”. Time to sit back and relax is not taken however. Just as Lorenzo mentioned already: from the very first day, our farm has been continually developing. This developing continues. In the area of management and housing, but certainly also in the area of breeding, they are using all of the necessary ingredients to combine elite conformation with high production and good health. Together with Lorenzo, we walk through the section with older milking cows (4th lactation and older), where the average daily production reaches no less than 53 kg/117 lb. Here we find many beautiful EX cows, including Sabbiona Candy EX-93. This speckled and balanced Imax daughter dazzles with parallel feet & legs and a strong udder, with eye-catching width in the rear udder. Candy originates from a Dozer-Enforcer dam from the offspring of Glo-Crest O-Man Pirate and in the meantime has provided daughters by Delta-Lambda, Pursuit and Riveting. Via one of the Pursuit daughters, she is the grandam of Royal Flush and Champion-Red sons at Intermizoo and a Tiesto son at Semex. Perhaps she will form the start of a new breeding chapter for the Ciseranis. One thing is certain: the last story about Sabbiona Holsteins has not yet been written… l

Sabbiona Holsteins in Italy

L-R: Matteo Ussi (nephew), Ireneo Ciserani, Annamaria Vairani, Lorenzo Ciserani, Liliana Ciserani, Elisabetta Corradi & Francesco Ciserani.

Located in Brembio in the Italian region of Lombardy, 45 km southeast of Milan Owned by Ireneo, Francesco and Lorenzo Ciserani 360 ha grass and corn silage 650 milking cows and 750 head of young stock (150 milking cows are marketed annually) Average production: 13,500 kg/29,750 lb 4.00% 3.50% Average conformation: 87.6, 175 EX cows Ration: grass silage, corn silage, ground corn, concentrate, hay Current sires: Blondin Detective, Farnear Delta-Lambda, Kings-Ransom Dropbox, Mb-Luckylady Bullseye, Mb-Luckylady Eye-Candy, Mr Ernestanthony Havenofear, Sabbiona Tyson, Siemers Haniko, Siemers Hanx-P, Siemers Hardy, Siemers Roztac

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