VIEW FROM THE BULL’S EYE: The Story of Robert E. Walton & American Breeders Service
Author: Dr. Robert Eugene Walton
Ronald F. Eustice
Dr. Robert E. Walton served as president and general manager of American Breeders Service (ABS), De Forest, Wisconsin from 1967 until 1992 . Walton joined ABS in 1962 as a dairy geneticist. In 1965, he was named director of the marketing and breeding division.
Dr. Robert E. Walton served as president and general manager of American Breeders Service (ABS), De Forest, Wisconsin from 1967 until 1992 . Walton joined ABS in 1962 as a dairy geneticist. In 1965, he was named director of the marketing and breeding division. He was promoted to his current position in 1967. Prior to joining ABS, he was an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky and also while still in college he worked as estate manager for Westhide Farms, Hereford, England. At ABS, his original responsibility was to design and implement the first progeny-testing program for dairy cattle. This included the selection of sires and dams for 100 young sires each year. The program also included the sampling of young sires in 800 herds, representing 100,000 cows in 25 states. The final phase was the selection of the top 20 percent of the program graduates, based on genetic transmitting ability for higher levels of milk production.
Walton also developed the original ABS Program -Estimated Daughter Superiority System. Subsequently, in 1965 USDA adopted the same system. It was renamed Predicted difference and is used nationwide by the entire A.I. industry. Walton vigorously promoted the use of frozen semen as a means of making good genetic material available on a massive scale including remote areas where normal technician service was not economically feasible. This promotion led to the development of A.I. training schools and direct sales of semen to cattlemen and ranchers who breed their own cows. While at ABS, Walton was responsible for the design and implementation of the Genetic Mating Service (GMS). This professional computer application for commercial dairy herds determines and manages the specific genetic inputs for each herd. The ABS program grew to include the annual enrollment of more than 500,000 dairy cows. The linear type system now utilized by the A.I. industry and recently adopted by the Holstein Association is an outgrowth of the Genetic Mating Service system. Computerized mating programs and genetic advisory recommendations are now universally used throughout the world.A native of Shattuck, Oklahoma, Walton earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State University. In 1961, he was awarded a Ph.D. in animal breeding, genetics and statistics at Iowa State University. He also graduated from a program for Management Development at Harvard Business School.Dr Walton served on the National Dairy Shrine’s Board of directors and was instrumental in having the NDS museum relocated to Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.Walton has been active in several organizations and has received numerous awards. Walton is a director of World Dairy Expo, the First Wisconsin National Bank and has been active with United Way and Rotary International. Walton was a leader in the Wisconsin Rural leadership program. He served on the Madison Chamber of commerce, the Wisconsin Association of Manufacturers & Commerce board and the Madison Club. Walton has also been a director of Methodist Hospital.
Walton is past president and director of the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB) and the Wisconsin Beef Improvement Association. He is a member of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science. Other organizations include, Alpha Zeta Honor Fraternity, Sigma Xi and the Biometrics Society.Walton was named World Dairy Expo Industry Person of the Year in 1982. Other honors include the Danforth Fellowship, Distinguished Animal Science Alumnus – Oklahoma State University, Newcomen Society of North America Award, Oklahoma 4-H Alumni Award, Distinguished Service Award–Wisconsin FFA, Award of Distinction-University of Wisconsin, International Stockmen’s School All Time Great Dairyman and the National Award for Agricultural Excellence – National NAMA. In his spare time Dr Walton developed a breed leading herd of Simmental cattle.