Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ideal Commercial Cows … at the heart of every dairy operation

Hopping in a truck and traveling the back roads of rural America … who doesn’t love this? It’s there that you see the heart of America, dairy farmers, true entrepreneurs, the original business man and woman.

So what is driving today's commercial dairy operations? What is it dairy producers need and want from their genetics and their genetic partners? This question drives what we do here at GENEX day in and day out.

Heifers at a feed bunk on a commercial dairy

Healthy. Trouble-free. Durable. Invisible. Profitable. These are just some of the words you are using to describe what you need on your operation. With meeting your needs as our priority, the concept of a new, innovative genetic index for creating commercial cows was born. After that initial grassroots spark, GENEX launched the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index in August 2014. Then and now, the ICC$ index is a Holstein sire ranking tool which uses real-time economic indicators and science-based genetic principles to address the needs of commercial dairy producers – your needs. 

Sitting down with real-world dairy producers, such as Darin Dykstra of Dykstra Dairy in Maurice, Iowa, you gain a true perspective on the realities of commercial dairy farming. Darin uses the ICC$ index because it matches his dairy breeding principles. He shares, “I want a functional, durable, long-lasting cow that produces lots of high component milk. The less events she has on her cow card the better. That is a great cow for any commercial dairy farmer."

Don Bennink, an industry-leading commercial producer from North Florida Holsteins in Bell, Florida, and a supplier of elite genetics for A.I. companies across the industry, also shared his perspective on the ICC$ index. He stated, “The Ideal Commercial Cow index is probably the largest step forward we have seen in meeting the commercial producer’s needs.”

Breeding for an Even Healthier Herd
With the December sire summaries, GENEX is helping you breed for even healthier ideal commercial cows. We have announced the addition of three proprietary health traits to the ICC$ index. Subclinical Ketosis (SCK), Metritis (MTR) and Foot Health (FH) breeding values will help you breed for lower BHBA (a cause of ketosis), fewer cases of metritis and fewer foot health issues. We bring you the SCK, MTR and FH values because ketosis, metritis and lameness conditions have both a large presence in modern dairy operations and a large impact on bottom-line farm profitability.

Remember, ICC$ is the summation of five easy-to-use sub-indexes: Health, Production Efficiency, Fertility and Fitness, Milking Ability and Calving Ability. Sub-index values are available for each bull so you can narrow your genetic emphasis to these specific areas of farm management, as needed. The new health traits - SCK, MTR and FH - have been added to the Health sub-index.

Young girl looking at a cow in a hospital pen.

The proprietary traits were established by Cooperative Resources International (CRI) scientists with the International Center for Biotechnology (ICB). In developing the breeding values, the CRI ICB staff used science, research and an extensive database including nearly 4 million cows and 26 million health events. Additionally, the SCK breeding values are the result of CRI ICB staff calculations and collaborative research by professionals at the University of Wisconsin Department of Dairy Science and School of Veterinary Medicine and CRI subsidiary AgSource Cooperative Services. 

You asked. GENEX delivered.
When asked why he uses GENEX as his genetics supplier and partner, commercial dairyman Darin Dykstra answers, “Functional, durable and invisible - that is what I’m looking for. ICC$ selection provides that.”

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