Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Year of Reflection, Learning and Breakthroughs

The end of December. It’s the time of year people reflect back on the past 365 days filled with laughter, success, hard times and hope. At GENEX we also like to take the time to look at our journey in 2016. Not only do we adapt to difficult times (like those darn low milk and beef prices) and use them to learn and create something positive, but we also appreciate the successes and breakthroughs we’ve accomplished. Yes, even with the unavoidable bumps along the way, 2016 was another year GENEX could be proud of. Take a look at the synopsis below of our 2016 blog posts (and be sure to read them in their entirety if you haven’t already)!

GENEX kicked off the year by giving members and customers a taste of a standout GENESIS family: The Prudence Family. From the formidable 1HO11881 Co-op PRINCETON-ET son to Prudence’s first milking daughters, this family is sure to add profitability to any herd.
Co-op SPS Prudence 7079-ET, Co-op GRFT Prudence 7162-ET, 
and Co-op Val Prudence 7207

On January 17, while some people were celebrating Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day, our GENEX Ideal Commercial Cow was celebrating her resolutions, from maintaining a desirable Body Condition Score (BCS) to being more efficient through the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index. Be sure to check out the full blog post to read the other two resolutions our cow stuck with.

As January progressed, GENEX Beef gave readers a taste of the self-proclaimed Super Bowl of Livestock Shows - the National Western Stock Show. Read more to see who scored big.
McCurry Brothers of Sedgwick, Kansas, won the Grand Champion Pen with a pen of S A V BISMARCK 5682 daughters and Reserve Champion Pen was a group of PVF INSIGHT 0129 heifers from Bear Mountain Angus, Palisade, Nebraska.

We closed out January by highlighting one of GENEX’s driving forces behind its success - its delegates. GENEX delegate Scott Erthum took the time to explain the roles of delegates and why he chose to become one.

Check out our throwback post in February to see what was hidden in one particular semen tank. You’d be surprised at what was found (or maybe you’ve found some of those same items hidden in your semen tanks at some point).

Once you’re done reading that post (or perhaps done digging through your own semen tank to see what hidden treasures it holds), be sure to take a look at this article by Kim Egan, DVM, GENEX Dairy Consultant Manager, to understand the importance of BCS and what you can do to help your cattle maintain proper BCS.

While you’re at it, take a look at what it’s like to be a GENEX delegate through the eyes of someone who’s quite demographically different from the first GENEX delegate we covered. Alexa Kayhart is a prime example of how all members and customers can benefit as a delegate.

Members and customers not only benefit by serving as a delegate, but they also benefit by using artificial insemination (A.I.) service to breed their cattle. This blog post shows how cost effective A.I. can be!

Once you’re done reading how beneficial A.I. can be, read about PregCheck™ fertility rankings, so you can make better mating decisions.

Our March 15th blog post was uploaded in celebration and advocacy of a day near and dear to our hearts - National Agriculture Day. Revisit this post to learn how YOU can agvocate. And check out this blog post as well for a little #WisdomWednesday.

Read our post from April 19th to learn when to pregnancy check and why. Your increased pregnancy rates can thank us later ;)

To celebrate National Beef Month, it only made sense that our May 17th blog post feature one of GENEX’s elite (and no, we’re not referring to our bulls, although those are pretty stellar too, if we do say so ourselves). This post featured one of our many standout Independent Contractors, Duane Frehse.

In June, GENEX Communications Specialist Brenda Brady spent an important (and fun!) day at a local daycare to educate young and eager minds about agriculture.

Since the past six months have been a little more recent, I won’t continue to ramble on with each and every blog post we’ve written since then. However, I will list them here for you to check out for yourself (and I highly encourage you to do so! From educational to light-hearted to personable to GENEX-specific information, we’ve got it all)! We hope to see you back at the GENEX blog next year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

From a Delegate's Point of View

GENEX recently wrapped up its fall delegate meetings. Nine different meetings took place giving delegates from across the country the chance to learn of changes taking place within GENEX and an opportunity to provide feedback for the future of the cooperative. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ron Koetsier, a delegate from California on the delegate experience. Ron is a second generation dairy farmer who now farms in partnership with his son, Ron Jr. They milk 1,150 cows and farm 400 acres near Visalia.

What is the time commitment of being a GENEX delegate? 3 to 5 days a year, depending on where you live and where the meetings are located

Ron participating in the GENEX Fall Delegate Meeting.
What is your experience and/or history with cooperatives? We were members of Eastern A.I. (a GENEX predecessor). We are also members of Land O'Lakes Cooperative, and I have served as a Unit Delegate.

Why did you decide to become involved with GENEX governance? Because I then can provide input into what goes on in the cooperative. Delegate input really does matter. A recent example is the change in requirements to become a member. We were asked to provide our feedback, and the cooperative acted based on it. I also gain a lot of information from other delegates. It is certainly a learning experience. I learn way more than what I put in.

What advice do you have for others who may be considering becoming a delegate? Do it. You will pick up new ideas from the like-minded individuals you are around. It is very enlightening as you will find out how cooperatives operate. Becoming involved is an excellent growing opportunity and everyone can contribute, whether you have 50 or 5,000 cows.

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.”