Friday, January 19, 2018

Helping Make the Ideal Commercial Jersey Cow a Reality

Scott Carson, GENEX Director of Dairy Procurement, is a longtime Jersey enthusiast and former Jersey producer and breeder. He led the team that formulated the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index for Jerseys. His background provides unique insight into this new index which was released following the December 2017 sire summaries.

Our goal was to create an index that would enable producers to select bulls that will positively impact their bottom line. The idea was to emphasize traits that are really important to our customers and weed out extra information that doesn’t really impact farm profitability.

Over the past couple decades, the Jersey breed has changed significantly. The population has grown remarkably. With that, the Jersey cow grew taller, stronger and added a lot more width. Udder confirmation improved dramatically in the 1990s and then deteriorated a bit before improving again over the last 5-6 years.

While Jersey producers have selected for these traits as well as enormous gains in yield traits, there has been a significant decline in fertility traits. That’s a natural tradeoff of selecting aggressively for yield traits. Today, that decrease in fertility is a real cause for concern among Jersey producers. It’s one of the concerns the ICC$ index for Jerseys addresses.

From my perspective, one of the things the index does best is provide producers with a way to rank bulls on fertility traits and on health traits. Through its sub-index structure, the ICC$ index is setting a framework for the industry. The sub-indexes provide producers with tools to focus on their traits of interest. The ICC$ index gives anyone interested in brown cows – the smaller cows that are more feed efficient – the tools to breed cows that are ideal for a commercial setting.

Cheese Maximizer (ChMAX$) focuses on component yields and provides equal weightings on both Fat and Protein pounds. Unique among Jersey indexes, the ICC$ index is neutral
on milk – instead focusing on total Combined Fat and Protein.

50% Protein
50% Fat

Sustainability (SUST$) consists of traits that are critical to keeping animals healthy and in production. One is a new GENEX proprietary trait, Calf Survivability (CSRV). Also included are udder traits that impact culling rate (35% Udder Cleft, 30% Udder Depth, 25% Fore Udder and 10% Teat Length). Selection for the SUST$ sub-index emphasizes udder
health, longevity, functional udder traits and calf survivability.

35% Productive Life
15% Udder Traits
14% Livability
12% Calf Survivability
12% Mastitis Resistance
12% Somatic Cell Score

Fertility (FERT$) contains five measures of cow and heifer fertility. This sub‑index includes the GENEX proprietary trait Age at First Calving (AAFC) to meet the needs of producers looking to emphasize reproductive efficiency. Selection of bulls with high FERT$ rankings results in optimal age at first calving, reduced days open and shorter calving intervals.
50% Daughter Pregnancy Rate
25% Heifer Conception Rate
15% Cow Conception Rate
5% Age at First Calving
5% Fertility Haplotypes

Friday, January 12, 2018

Quality Matters to Us, Because Performance Matters to You

By: Kari Beth Krieger, Processing Lab Manager, GENEX

Breeding cows with cryopreserved semen is really an act of faith. You can’t see the sperm cells or know they are fertile unless you thaw the straw for evaluation, thus destroying the possibility of using it for insemination. You must have faith in the company that produced the straw and in the semen handling protocols that kept the straw in good condition – from the time it was frozen all the way through shipping, storage and placed in tank inventories – until the straw is selected for breeding.

GENEX has a solid history of fertility and quality, allowing you to place your faith in our product. Let’s take a tour through the GENEX semen processing lab to understand all the ways GENEX ensures we deserve that faith.

We only keep the good stuff
After semen is collected, it arrives in the lab for a thorough evaluation of concentration, motility and percent of abnormal cells. Semen that doesn’t meet our rigorous standards is discarded and does not go any further in the process. We toss up to 25% of raw ejaculates!

A unique product
GENEX uses a milk-based extender made in-house. It takes extra time to make and process semen in milk, in comparison to using a purchased extender, but it gives our
customers several advantages. When combined with our processing methods, semen extended with milk can tolerate a wide range of thawing temperatures with no negative impact on fertility. More importantly, large field trials have indicated that GENEX milk-extended semen has a significant fertility advantage over extenders with an egg yolk base. Furthermore, the milk seems to provide the antioxidants and nutrients sperm cells
need for maximum viability. This 1.5% fertility advantage translates to a major advantage for your bottom line.

We check our work
Every step of our process is connected to the demand for high quality. From the time a sire walks into the collection room to the time his semen straws are packed on a cane for
shipment, we track sire identification and ensure accurate labeling. We test each filler/sealer machine daily to ensure the straws have functional seals, and we confirm correct function of measurement instruments like scales and spectrophotometers. Our staff members are trained to notice deviations or abnormalities and address them immediately. GENEX staff has an extraordinary commitment to producing a top-quality product.

Someone else checks our work
To ensure our protocols are working correctly, approximately 10% of all semen batches produced are sent to an independent reference laboratory for evaluation. At the reference laboratory, advanced technology is used to evaluate semen quality and count the number of cells per straw. Feedback from this analysis allows us to verify our routine quality control evaluations are accurate.

GENEX is dedicated to being your partner by offering top genetics and the most fertile semen in the industry. We follow rigorous semen collection and laboratory protocols so you can rest assured that what you are unable to see is as good as you could expect.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Five Tips for Dealing With Trying Times

I am sure I don't have to tell you things are a little trying right now. Prices are less than favorable, temperatures are downright cruel, and a lack of daylight doesn't help either. It is at times like these I need to spend more time than usual to keep myself positive. Hopefully these five tips will give you the spark you need to put a little pep back in your step.
  1. Take time to recognize positives that are occurring in your life. New calves; the cat that actually caught a mouse for once; your neighbor who stopped by with a cup of coffee because he/she knew how cold you must be; the amazing sound of, well nothing, when you wake up and walk to the barn in the morning (my personal favorite!); the beautiful sunrise allowing you to start again fresh. All of the above and more make my daily reflection time. Some people find it beneficial to write these types of things in a journal. I just spend a few moments whenever the time is right to give praise for all of the wonderful things that are happening around me.
  2. Help someone else. This doesn't have to burn through your already-stretched-thin time and
    money. It can be as simple as a quick call to a farm friend to see how they are doing or running
    after someone who dropped their glove in the farm store parking lot. The intrinsic value of helping others far outweighs the moments needed to complete it.
  3. Focus on your physical health. Since exercise isn't usually needed by most who farm or ranch (Although, many people find that a good workout, run or walk will help to alleviate stress as well.), this point is more about eating and sleeping. With the extra work this extended cold has meant, many people find mealtime to be a place they can steal from to get extra time in their workday. Don't make this a habit. Your body, and maybe even more importantly in these difficult times, mind, need proper nourishment. There are all kinds of gadgets out there that have made cooking for a busy family a lot easier. Check out all of the recipes online for slow cookers or electric pressure cookers. Great meals don't have to mean hours in the kitchen.

    So how are you sleeping? Do you even know what that word is? Find a way to unwind at night so you can get the sleep your body so desperately needs. Everything seems better when you are well rested!
  4. Take time away from the farm or ranch. Go for a drive or catch a local high school basketball game. You need some time to be away from the farm or ranch. Your mental health is important. Find the time. You will be more efficient on the farm when you feel better.
  5. Connect with another human being. I know cows can be really good listeners, but sometimes having another human to empathize with you is important. My Dad recently crushed his pelvis in an accident. He has to use a wheelchair until his bones have healed enough to start to use a
    walker and then a cane. While he has been surprisingly upbeat about the situation, a recent call from an old friend put things into perspective for him. That friend has been wheelchair bound for 12 years, and remains an incredibly positive person. He gave Dad some great tips on getting around and staying comfortable.

    Seek out someone to talk to about your situation. They may have new ideas to help. My personal recommendation would be to do this point in conjunction with numbers 3 and 4 above. Who doesn't love some great food and conversation in a nice, local restaurant?

Friday, December 29, 2017

Top 5 Posts of 2017

I love this time of year, spending time looking back and recalling all of the wonderful (and not so wonderful) things that happened in the past 365 or-so days. I never had a personal blog, but now that I have the ability to see everything we posted here on the GENEX blog this past year, it kind of makes me want to capture personal events and memories. Is this the modern version of a diary?

I had a lot of fun reliving 2017 through blog posts and thought you might too, so here are the top five from this past year, based on views.

#1  Top 10 A.I. Technique Mistakes. Sometimes even a professional can learn a thing or two by going back to the basics.

#2  My Top Tip for a Successful A.I. Breeding Project. We asked beef producers for their top tip. Then we compiled them here in one, easy-to-read list!

#3  GENEX Distribution Center. We are so fortunate to have a tremendous group of people who work for us at GENEX! Follow along as one of them, Brian Brickle gives you a little tour of our Semen Distribution Center.

#4  Using A.I. on Your Ranch. Get the costs associated with using (and not using) A.I. on your ranch.

#5  It's Quite a Production. A trip to the GENEX Production Center in Tiffin, Ohio, meant some wonderful photos and commentary from our Audio Visual Coordinator, Todd Moede.

Thank you for an amazing year. I look forward to 2018 and all of the events and opportunities that await!

Monday, December 11, 2017

December GENEX Jersey Highlights

New Sires
New release 1JE01057 CESPEDES {3} ranks second in the lineup for the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index at +954. This Marlo son also leads the industry with a +233 JPI™ and +839 Cheese Merit (CM$). CESPEDES {3} sires exceptional yield at +138 Combined Fat & Protein (CFP) while checking all the boxes for health and fertility. His numbers, including a +1.4 Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR), earned him a +325 on the Sustainability (SUST$) sub-index and +30 on the Fertility (FERT$) sub-index. Use CESPEDES {3} to improve udders (+22.6 JUI™) and component percentages. CESPEDES {3} is 92 BBR and available in GenChoice™ sexed semen only.
1JE01057 CESPEDES {3}

1JE01056 COUSINS {3} is an Avon son at +856 ICC$, +689 CM$ and +199 JPI™. He has an exceptional +19.4 JUI™ and ranks well on the FERT$ sub-index (+128) with an impressive +2.8 DPR. COUSINS {3} is 92 BBR and available in GenChoice™ semen only.

1JE00994 ASTRIX {3} debuts at +816 ICC$, +662 CM$ and +189 JPI™. This Avon out of a Magnum meets the needs of producers looking to improve daughter fertility; he stands at +3.2 DPR and +92 FERT$. ASTRIX {3} will improve udders (+18.3 JUI™). He is 85 BBR and available in GenChoice™ semen only.

1JE00991 GRIEZMANN {4} is an early Leonel {3} son at +680 ICC$. His +136 CFP makes him a yield specialist and earns him a +599 for the Cheese Maximizer (ChMAX$) sub-index. GRIEZMANN {4} is +180 JPI™ and +630 CM$ while maintaining +18.7 JUI™. He is 85 BBR.
1JE00991 GRIEZMANN {4}

A trio of 1JE00892 VANDRELL {2} sons joined the lineup with impressive ICC$ index values. These sires include 1JE00992 CONTENDER {3} at +770 ICC$, 1JE00986 TAX {3} at +763 ICC$ and 1JE00998 FEARLESS {3} at +743 ICC$. Look to these sires for component production power as each is over +430 ChMAX$. CONTENDER {3} is 87 BBR and available in GenChoice™ sexed semen only. TAX {3} is 91 BBR.

1JE00999 CARPDIEM {3}, the final new graduate, is an Avon out of a Soprano that adds pedigree diversity. He is +722 ICC$, +599 CM$ and +177 JPI™. CARPDIEM {3} is +0.7 DPR and an udder specialist at +24.8 JUI™. He is 91 BBR.

Other Highlights

1JE00892 VANDRELL {2} and 1JE00889 PROP JOE {3}, two bulls from the same maternal line, remain in the top 10 for JPI™ among daughter-proven sires. VANDRELL also tops the GENEX ICC$ listing at +992 while maintaining +710 CM$ and +215 JPI™. While he ranks well on all three ICC$ sub-indexes, VANDRELL {2} is the FERT$ sub‑index leader at +182.
1JE00892 VANDRELL Daughters {2}

Adding more daughters, PROP JOE is now +775 ICC$, +693 CM$ and +191 JPI™. He offers an elite combination of udders (+22.0 JUI™), daughter fertility (+0.2 DPR) and exceptional PregCheck™ and PregCheck+™ sire fertility rankings.

1JE00966 FUTURE {3} at +895 ICC$, 1JE00984 USAIN BOLT {3} at +874 ICC$, 1JE00962 DEGROM {3} at +873 ICC$ and 1JE00971 CURRY {3} at+865 ICC$ all had nice days moving up in rank; all four are now at or above +200 JPI™.

Friday, December 8, 2017

December Holstein Proof Highlights

25 New Sires Added to an Industry-Leading Lineup

Leading the way for the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index is 1HO12943 HEXER at
+1221. This Damien out of a Caspian brings exciting pedigree diversity while adding elite
health traits: +10.6 Productive Life (PL), +3.7 Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR), +2.50
Somatic Cell Score (SCS) and 108 Metritis (MTR). He also ranks +888 for the Lifetime Net
Merit (LNM$) index. Use HEXER in heifer pens with confidence based on his extremely low
4.8% Sire Calving Ease (SCE).
1HO12943 HEXER

1HO12980 IKE ranks second for the ICC$ index at +1207. This Jedi son also ranks well for
TPI® at +2712. He adds elite longevity (+10.1 PL), impressive daughter fertility (+5.1 DPR) andcomes in at +1.51 PTA Type.

Another new release, 1HO12917 MIKE, makes his debut with an impressive +1174 ICC$.
This Jedi son improves component percentages and daughter fertility (+5.1 DPR). MIKE can
be used universally with his low 6.9% SCE.

A Livewire son, 1HO13369 DAVARI joins the lineup at +1164 ICC$. He will improve milk
quality with a low +2.50 SCS and sire healthy daughters with his 106 MTR and 104 Subclinical Ketosis (SCK). DAVARI adds type (+1.44 PTAT) and can be used in heifer pens (5.9% SCE).

1HO12902 TAPPS is a new sire with an elite ICC$ index rank at +1128. This Modesty out of a Jabir is +893 LNM$ and +2726 TPI®. He improves component production (+130 Combined Fat & Protein) and offers calving ease (5.4% SCE).

New release 1HO12930 MALCOM earned his way to the top of our LNM$ list at +950. He is
also +1099 ICC$ with outstanding health traits: +10.0 PL, +4.4 Livability (LIV), +3.5 DPR and a low +2.65 SCS. This Damien son can be used with confidence in heifer pens at 6.3% SCE.

1HO12932 JUICY is the top GENEX bull for TPI® at +2800. This Magnus out of a 1HO10824 TANGO adds pedigree diversity and sires cows for the commercial environment as shown by his +1148 ICC$. This sire of sons has impressive values for GENEX proprietary health traits MTR (104) and SCK (100) and is a type specialist at +2.34 Udder Composite (UDC).
1HO12932 JUICY

1HO12487 JENKY-P is an exciting new polled sire. He comes in at +880 ICC$ and adds
yield (+109 CFP) while also improving health traits (104 SCK, 102 MTR). Use this Powerball-P son to improve daughter fertility (+3.8 DPR) and add longevity (+7.6 PL).

Previous release 1HO11989 ROMERO still ranks extremely well across indexes. He is
+1152 ICC$ and +2737 TPI®. He also ranks above average for the GENEX proprietary health traits: 104 SCK, 106 MTR and 101 Foot Health.

On the daughter-proven list, 1HO11096 PLATINUM continued his impressive rank. He’s now
at +2653 TPI®. This Mogul out of a Super stands at +1050 ICC$ and adds type at +1.93 PTAT and +1.58 UDC.
Co-op DD Platinum 40739

The iconic GENEX sire, 1HO10396 CABRIOLET, continues to shine. He’s now at +961 ICC$ and +927 LNM$. With over 8,500 daughters, this extremely reliable sire can be used to add a balanced genetic profile while improving component pounds (+149 CFP) and percentages and moderating frame size.
Hollermann Cabriolet 960

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Six Types of People at My Thanksgiving Dinner

Everyone on my Dad's side of the family gets together for one pretty amazing Thanksgiving celebration, but since my Dad is one of five children, and each one of his siblings had at least two children, who now have children of their own, it gets really loud and crazy! This year I found myself taking a good look around our very large gathering. Minus the toddlers, I think I can pretty much lump all of them into six categories.

The Farmer. You know the one who talks commodity pricing, eats and then immediately nods off. This year, due to unusual weather, the conversation also included how much corn still needed to come off.

The Retail Aficionado. These are the family members who bring the sale ads along and comb through every one, while making a detailed list of exactly what store, what time and in what order.

The Hunting Enthusiast. Thanksgiving falls during deer hunting season in Wisconsin, so there are plenty of photos and stories to share. When talk of deer hunting is exhausted, there are always bear, turkeys and ducks to talk about.

The Food Lover. This person may or may not be guilty of wearing stretchy pants to dinner!

The Ultimate Host. Takes your coat, your beverage order and shows you the snacks (are you kidding me, who needs snacks?) within the first 30 seconds of your arrival - all while tending to the gigantic dinner they will be serving in under 30 minutes.

The Football Fanatic. Be careful not to walk in front of the television, or you just might get scolded. It doesn't matter what teams are playing, these people are always interested.

So what does your Thanksgiving look like? Do you have a few more categories to add? What type are you?

No matter the types of people you had around your Thanksgiving table, hopefully you
were able to enjoy a good meal with great conversation. I know I am thankful for each and every one of those I am lucky enough to call my family. We may be different, but we can set our differences aside to enjoy each other's company. For this I am truly thankful!