Friday, July 21, 2017

Historic Postcard Prompts a #FlashbackFriday

A few months ago, an individual saw the sign outside the GENEX Distribution Center in Shawano, Wisconsin, and stopped in to drop off a vintage postcard. The postcard highlighted one of the many GENEX predecessor organizations, Badger Breeders. The front of the postcard (shown below) featured the Badger Breeders headquarters (today’s GENEX Headquarters).

The back of the postcard shared this message:

25 Years of Scientific Breeding Success
In April 1940 – just 2 years after artificial breeding of cattle was introduced into the United States – 100 forward-looking farmers formed the organization known today as Badger Breeders Cooperative.

Their faith in this revolutionary new breeding technique was fully justified by results: better herds; better production; better income and profits. It was these results – constantly improved over the years – that boosted membership from the original 100 to the present 27,100, coverage from 3 to 30 counties, and first services from a mere 1000 to last year’s 408,206 – a grand total of 5,222,343 first services in our first 25 years. Imagine the tremendous herd-improving influence Badger Breeders has exerted.

Now, 77 years after the formation of that predecessor organization, your cooperative is still forward-thinking. We’re still dedicated to ongoing genetic improvement and data-driven innovation. We’re still dedicated to better herds, better production and better profits for our cooperative members and customers.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Introducing Prospective℠ : A Semen Comparison Tool from GENEX

Today dairy producers have more options than ever when it comes to making decisions on semen products. With the addition of GenChoice™ 4M sexed semen to the marketplace and other sexed semen products in the works, it is important to have a tool for producers to be able to compare the impact of these different products on their bottom line. This is where the new GENEX Prospective℠ program can offer a helping hand.

The Prospective℠ program is a semen comparison tool that calculates the return on investment from different semen products used on cows or heifers. It utilizes a dairy’s inputs for projected conception rates, heifer ratios, calf value, and product pricing and delivers a simple, easy to understand report summarizing the dollars lost or gained from a particular semen choice by service number compared to conventional semen.

For example, a farm is wondering if introducing sexed semen on cows makes financial sense. The Prospective℠ program will take values for expected conception, semen prices and calf values and will show the farm an output similar to below. Here we can see the added asset value of producing more heifers with sexed semen and that it would cost more for semen cost and days open compared to conventional. However, in the total profit/loss analysis, it does show that the farm would see a profit for using sexed semen on their first service cows.

Similarly, on heifers, the Prospective℠ program can project how utilizing sexed semen products makes the most sense by also taking into account the additional milk income expected from heifers having heifer calves. The example below is a herd that is curious to see if the added cost of GenChoice™ 4M sexed semen makes sense to use on their heifers. The Prospective℠ program uses the inputs to calculate the difference in asset value, semen investment, milk income and days open to come up with the total profit/loss impact of that semen choice vs conventional. Here it shows the added value of heifer calves produced plus the added milk income outweighs the semen investment and added days open to give the farm an expected profit on all services.

The Prospective℠ program is just another tool GENEX offers dairies to help them make the most informed and profitable strategic breeding decisions in today’s marketplace.

Friday, July 7, 2017

GENEX Dairy Marketing Internship Provides Path to Future for Samuel Minor

For GENEX Dairy Marketing Intern, Samuel Minor of Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, this summer's internship needed to be in the dairy industry and had to enhance vital skills that would be required of him as he enters the industry in the next year. So far this Penn State senior's summer work choice has fit the bill as he has hit the ground running. Let's get to know a little more about Samuel!

Why do you feel internships are so valuable?
This internship is my second one withing the dairy industry. Both of the internships that I have been fortunate enough to receive have been extremely important to me because they have opened my eyes to actual career paths that will be available post graduation, and have taught me the skills required to obtain and work successfully in any position. These experiences have also been very important because of the networking I was able to do. I have been honored to meet and talk to countless people that are exceptionally influential within the industry. 

Why did you decide to intern with GENEX?
This internship lined up the most with my passion for dairy genetics and reproduction. 

What is your biggest take away from the intern position thus far?
I have only been working as an intern since the middle of May, but I have already taken a lot away from this position. My artificial insemination skills have increased greatly, my knowledge of GENEX products has improved, and I learned how to work closely with farmers across Pennsylvania to make genetic advances, allowing their herds to be more profitable.

What skills you are acquiring  do you think will be most important as you approaching your future career?
This internship has already shown me it is very important to be skilled at what you do, but more importantly you also have to have tremendous people skills. To be successful in this industry you need to be able to connect and communicate with farmers on a deeper level, and that is what GENEX is teaching me. 

We wish Samuel the best of luck as he finishes out his internship and college education!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Beef Brings North and South America Together

Each year international guests visit the U.S. to get an up-close look at GENEX bulls and their progeny. GENEX, part of Cooperative Resources International (CRI), hosted over 70 visitors from Argentina and Brazil on two separate tours this summer. During their visit, they learned more about the GENEX Beef lineup, as well as the entire beef industry from conception to harvest.

The Brazil tour group began in Shawano, Wisconsin, at our corporate headquarters. Over 30 guests invited by CRI Brazil, a CRI-owned company, spent a morning learning about our commitment to herd improvement through superior genetics. In addition, they spent time learning about the collection and processing of each semen straw and had the opportunity to view several bulls in-person – a highlight of the tour!

The group viewing 1AN01310 BREAKING NEWS.
From Shawano, Wisconsin, they continued their tour traveling throughout Minnesota, South Dakota and ending in Bismarck, North Dakota.

The Brazil tour group stopped in Kimball, Minnesota, to visit Schiefelbein Farms.

They also made a stop at Penrhos Farms, a GENEX progeny test herd in Britton, South Dakota, and Topp Herefords, Grace City, North Dakota.
Simultaneously, we hosted over 40 Argentine visitors from Juan Debernardi SRL, a CRI distributor. This group weaved through Kansas, Iowa, the Dakotas and Montana. A highlight of the tour was a day spent at Kansas State University (KSU) learning about the latest studies conducted by Dr. Bob Weaber and the KSU Animal Science Department. Participants also viewed the newly constructed KSU Purebred Beef Unit Headquarters. After 12 days on the road, the tour concluded at the GENEX Production Center in Billings, Montana, where the Argentines observed several bulls and learned about the semen collection process.
Observing the new Purebred Beef Unit Headquarters at KSU

While in Kansas, the Argentine visitors stopped at the Tiffany Cattle Company feedlot in Herington, Kansas, and Mushrush Red Angus in Strong City, Kansas.
Enjoying some steak at the historic Hays House in Council Grove, Kansas, on the recommendation of GENEX Beef Sire Procurement Manager Cody Sankey.

These tours allow international customers the chance to connect with staff and learn more about GENEX genetics.
After the tour, participants will have racked up over 3,000 miles, enjoyed a lot of excellent U.S. beef and gained a better understanding of the GENEX philosophy.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Intern Insight with Sydney Brooks

Welcome to GENEX. This will not be your average internship.

Just like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson's exciting and extraordinary experience in their time as interns with Google in the 2013 movie "The Internship", our GENEX Dairy Marketing Interns are embarking on an adventure unlike most internships.  I mean, how many internship job descriptions contain the words A.I. service, breeding program and semen? Unencumbered by the uniqueness of the position, nine college students took to rural America this summer to gain knowledge and skills necessary for their future careers. Throughout this time, we will be featuring some of them to give you a glimpse into their reality.

Meet Sydney Brooks, a junior who recently transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Sydney will be studying animal science and life science communication and hopes to get involved in Badger Dairy Club, Association of Women in Agriculture and Collegiate Farm Bureau. Sydney is originally from a dairy and grain farm in Waupaca, Wisconsin, and her internship has her placed in northeast Wisconsin.

Why did you choose an internship with GENEX?
I started looking for internships to gain experience and knowledge in the agtricultural field and luckily, I came across the U.S. Dairy Marketing internship with GENEX. Not only is it my intention to learn an abundance, my goal for the summer would hopefully be to take what I've learned and apply it to my final years of my undergrad and possibly bring that knowledge back to my home farm in the future.

What have you learned from your internship thus far?
Strangely enough, the people have had the biggest impact on my experiences thus far. Each day I work with a wide variety of farmers, veterinarians, nutritionists, herdsmen and milkers on farms. Furthermore, the team that I'm working with for the summer has been more than welcoming, willing to help in any way possible and always answering every question I may have. Working with them on a daily basis from farm to farm has been incredibly rewarding. I have been able to absorb their knowledge, gain experience breeding cows and build my communication skills.

We wish Sydney the best of luck as she continues her education in agriculture!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Top Five Truths About the Life of a GENEX Dairy Consultant

By: Abby Tauchen, U.S. Dairy Marketing Programs Specialist

From the CEO to the barn crew, each person is an important part of the GENEX team. With that in mind, have you ever wondered what your coworkers do? Have you thought about walking in another person’s shoes, or in this case, boots for the day? I got to do just that! I spent a day with a GENEX Dairy Consultant to get a feel of a typical day on the job. Jeff Lutz, Dairy Consultant in central Wisconsin, let me tag along on a dairy visit, giving me the opportunity to ask questions about his typical day as a consultant. Here are the top five truths, in a nutshell, about the life of a Dairy Consultant:
  1. Dairy Visits: Consultants enjoy meeting with farm owners and employees to discuss genetics, reproduction and goals to build a better future. Tasks include analyzing on-farm data and monitoring GENEX product performance for optimal results.
  2. Team Communication: Communicating with the GENEX team is a vital part of the job. Phone calls, emails and ride-alongs all happen, most of the time, multiple times a day. Team members provide extra insight and helpful tips so together they can achieve a dairy’s goals.
  3. Pride: GENEX employees take pride in our proprietary index, ICC$! GENEX listened to what our members and customers wanted and created an index that was more functional on their commercial dairy operation.
  4. Programs: GENEX provides essential advancedreproductive and genetic-focused programs to producers and partners in the industry. These programs make a Dairy Consultant's job easier and enable the team to reach a dairy's goals faster.
  5. Training: Employee development is important to every career. GENEX offers an exceptional internal career development program for employees to complete. Conferences are also conducted across departments to focus and re-energize employees, allowing them to better serve members and customers. Jeff and I both recently attended a GENEX U.S. Strategic Marketing & Technical Services Conference in Arizona. The theme of our conference was Focus.
Above are the top five truths, but believe me there are plenty more truths to gather from a day in the life of a GENEX Dairy Consultant. Whatever industry you are a part of, take a chance and get to know your co-workers and their jobs! I know that by doing this, I am better able to appreciate the entire GENEX team as well as our members and customers.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Surviving the Spring Bull Sale Season

By: Brad Johnson, Director Beef Genetics and Cody Sankey, Beef Sire Procurement Manager

With spring bull sale season in the rearview mirror, we wanted to share our lessons learned.

      Don’t be proud. Be warm. Mud boots and Stormy Kromer caps may look dumb but are awesome. It’s a challenge to get Muck® boots, gloves, hats, Carhartt® bibs and more into a carry-on bag, but it’s totally worth the effort. Brad’s fingers still tingle occasionally from his February visit to Alberta. Good thing the bulls were good!


Do your bull sale homework ahead of time. Have a short list of bulls before you arrive at the ranch. It’s going to be cold/snowy/muddy/rainy/sleeting/hailing/all of the above, so sorting through every single bull’s data while in the bull pen isn’t a good idea.

Never underestimate the value of a good rental car.  Just because you can get a Ford Fusion for $7 a day and it gets 30 mpg doesn’t mean it will be a good deal. After you’re stuck driving in a snowstorm that upgrade cost for the Ford Explorer looks pretty cheap.

One cannot own enough phone chargers. If you leave one at a hotel it’s as good as gone and so is your battery level. You can never survive a bull sale day without a full phone battery. Try raiding the lost and found at the next hotel you get to, there’s a good chance one of us left one there last time we visited. You’re welcome.

Speaking of hotels, Holiday Inn Express is our “go-to” chain. However, NEVER be afraid to try out the local establishments. Hotels like the Great Northern in Malta, Montana, Bob’s Resort in Gettysburg, South Dakota or the Hyannis Hotel in Hyannis, Nebraska are certain to have a warm bed, good shower and outstanding restaurant with great food!

Never pass up a great bull. At GENEX, we believe you can never have too many great bulls and when we find one, you can count on us to add him to the GENEX lineup. We strive to have the most powerful lineup of bulls in the business and are extremely excited with our 2017 acquisitions. Check them out on the website and Facebook.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017


GENEX has a great team of Independent Contractors across the country who serve our members and customers. Last fall we featured a group of our #RepsthatRock and decided to feature some others during #beefmonth. We’ve posted them throughout the month on the GENEXBeef Facebook page, however, these folks are so fabulous that we wanted to share their stories on the blog as well. Here’s a glimpse at three of our representatives. 

Independent Contractor John Ridder has been working with GENEX since 2011, serving customers in east central Missouri. John earned a degree in agriculture with emphases in animal science and ag economics from the University of Missouri – Columbia. John states the best part of his job is working with customers and helping them find success with their breeding programs. While he doesn’t have much spare time, he does make time to attend his kids’ activities.

When it comes to beef, John prefers a Falling Timber Farm ribeye on the grill with homegrown corn and tomatoes – yum!

Ross Beeson has been an Independent Contractor in southeast South Dakota since 2013. He grew up on a cow/calf ranch and earned an animal science degree from South Dakota State University. With the help of GENEX, he’s living the dream – he’s part of the family ranch, which has expanded and added custom heifer development and A.I. service. Ross truly enjoys the work he does with GENEX, stating the best part is talking cattle and studying each customer’s needs to help them achieve their reproductive goals.
Ross enjoys spending time with his wife and two girls. And when the girls go to bed, he can be found studying the GENEX lineup and Angus cattle. When asked about his favorite beef entrée, Ross noted, “Nothing beats a grilled tenderloin.”

Matt Swanson has been part of the GENEX team in north central Nebraska for over 10 years. What began as a good fit to his heifer developing business has grown so much that he no longer has time to develop heifers. Matt enjoys helping GENEX customers meet their herd reproductive goals. Seeing the progress of taking an average herd and developing it into something more is a rewarding process for him.

In his free time, you can find Matt doing various activities with his family, including fishing, camping, hunting and participating in 4-H shoot sports. As for his favorite beef entrée, well, he says as long as it’s beef he’s happy! 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Giving Birth Takes a Lot Out of a Cow – Including Calcium

Giving birth is no simple task. This is true for nearly all species, including cattle. Bringing new life into this world can truly be a miracle, but behind all the awe and beauty is a mother who struggled for hours, giving her all and sacrificing her own body to give life to her offspring (and to add milk to your tank).

While it is important to properly care for a newborn calf, it is also important to ensure the mother receives the care she needs. After all, she did just give birth so you could collect her milk. And giving birth takes a lot out of a cow – including calcium.

Proper calcium levels in a cow are crucial, especially post-calving. Without proper blood calcium levels, cows could experience hypocalcemia (aka milk fever). Hypocalcemia can lead to increased injury, decreased feed intake, increased risk of ketosis, increased risk of displaced abomasum and lower milk production. Therefore, preventative measures should be taken to reduce the possibility of hypocalcemia.

What can you do to maintain blood calcium levels? Typically, you administer some type of calcium bolus or supplement. The standard bolus routine is fighting a cow to swallow two (or more) giant boluses. (If only there was a bolus with a smooth shape and sleek coating to help ease the swallowing process. Amiright?) And even worse – not only do you need to try to catch the cow once, but you usually need to try to catch that same cow again 12 hours later to give it the second bolus. (Talk about inconvenient. Like you don’t already have enough on your plate.) Calcium supplementation can be a headache, that’s for sure. Luckily, GENEX continually looks for ways to make producers’ lives easier. That’s why we set out to create a calcium supplement unlike any other on the market.

Noting producers’ concerns regarding administration, shape and size, GENEX created a calcium supplement that not only provides plenty of calcium but also includes vitamin D and magnesium to help transfer the calcium into the blood stream. This product, RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement, was suggested by members and made for members. What makes this calcium supplementation different from the others?
›    RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement comes in one package (containing two boluses) that provides enough calcium so you don’t have to catch the cow a second time. Both boluses in the package can be given right away as opposed to giving the second bolus 12 hours later.
·       ›Each package contains 100 grams of calcium, a mixture between fast-releasing calcium chloride and a slower releasing Calmin. (Calmin is a seaweed-derived highly available source of calcium and magnesium that is absorbable over time.) The calcium chloride ensures the cow receives calcium quickly, while the Calmin slowly releases calcium (thus eliminating the need to give a second bolus 12 hours later).
·       RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement is missile shaped and coated which makes it easy for a Jersey or Holstein cow to swallow. (This calcium supplement is cow tested, Jersey approved.)

RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement not only provides rapid calcium absorption and supplements blood calcium; it also provides peace of mind for you.

Curious about the RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement? Need some in your life NOW? Contact your GENEX representative for more information.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Five Rules of Working in a Breeding Barn

By: Sarah Thorson, Beef Marketing and Education Manager

 I spent most of last week on a breeding project in western Nebraska, where over the course of four days we bred just over 1,000 heifers and cows. I always enjoy when I get invited to lend an extra hand on a breeding project. I may be biased, but I truly believe that I get to work with the most talented group of people in the A.I. industry, and last week the team we assembled was no exception. Joining me in the breeding barn were GENEX Independent Contractors, Matt Dolezal and Troy Carruthers, and Large Herd Beef Development Manager, Justin Hergenreder. Since we had a lot of time in the breeding barn together I asked them what their top five rules for working in a breeding a barn would be. Here’s what we came up with:

  1. What happens in the breeding barn, stays in the breeding barn. Just like in Vegas, when you get four people in a relatively small space for extended periods of time, you never know what’s going to happen or what the topic of conversation may be, but whatever it is, it stays in the barn.
  2. Sometimes things get messy… this one probably goes without too much explanation. I blame it on the fact that I am significantly shorter, with shorter arms, than most everyone else in the breeding barn, but it always seems that no matter how hard I try to stay clean, I always end up dirtier than everyone else.
  3. Just because you are dirty, doesn’t mean I should be too. This one goes with #2. The people that have managed the art of staying clean in the breeding barn, steer clear of those that have not.
  4. Be nice to the person thawing semen. I added this one myself, because I did most of the semen thawing last week! Whatever the reason though, you should be nice to the semen thawer, they can help set the pace in the barn and make everyone’s life much easier.
  5. Work hard, but have fun doing it. Because if you can’t have a little fun in the breeding barn, where can you?
What would you add to the rules? Let us know in the comments section below!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lessons From Our Rural Moms Part 4

I'm not sure what it is about a mom that makes her so extraordinary. Maybe it is her ability to seemingly effortlessly pull off amazing feats of organization or that look she can give you from clear across a crowded room that lets you know you should knock.  it.  off.  right.  now. Or, perhaps it is the magic her kisses possess to make all of the ouchies go away. Whatever it is, I can tell you there is something special about the women we are lucky enough to call mom. For the next couple of days, in honor of Mother's Day, we will share a few stories about rural moms, because I'm sure you will all agree, rural moms have a completely different set of challenges to conquer!

I didn’t grow up on a farm; I married a farmer.  My first experience driving tractor was during a time when the whole family had to pick stones. I was told to keep the tractor straight but never where the brakes were (You can probably see where this one is going!).  Someone was in front of the tractor picking stones, and I had to frantically yell out, ‘Move!’ Everyone laughed, and they then told me where the brakes were. The odd thing is, my mother had the same experience when she was younger. We now share the same type of story.

Being married to a farmer, I have repeated told my kids how to be safe on the farm. They get tired of hearing it over and over. We recently brought home a new puppy, and I am reviewing it all over again. Now it’s their chance to train the puppy with what they have learned about safety!

Thank you to all moms, but especially those who have the added pressure of raising rural kids. The job is not easy, but you certainly make it look that way!
Image credit: Pork Network

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Lessons From Our Rural Moms Part 3

I'm not sure what it is about a mom that makes her so extraordinary. Maybe it is her ability to seemingly effortlessly pull off amazing feats of organization or that look she can give you from clear across a crowded room that lets you know you should knock.  it.  off.  right.  now. Or, perhaps it is the magic her kisses possess to make all of the ouchies go away. Whatever it is, I can tell you there is something special about the women we are lucky enough to call mom. For the next couple of days, in honor of Mother's Day, we will share a few stories about rural moms, because I'm sure you will all agree, rural moms have a completely different set of challenges to conquer!

I didn’t grow up on a farm. Neither good nor bad – that’s simply fact. My mother, however, had rural roots. (I think that’s fairly inevitable since she hailed from east central Iowa. Olin, Iowa, to be exact.) That rural background impacted her personality and lifestyle, and then, in turn, impacted me.

While growing up, many of the lessons my mom taught my brothers and I stemmed from that background:

She taught us how to win and lose with class. After all, she’d been there. Sure, she’d earned blue ribbons, but she’d earned white ribbons and participation ribbons as well. She knew what it meant to win with grace and lose with dignity. She passed that lesson on to us.
She taught us how to care for and respect animals. Back in her childhood, my mom raised and showed beef cattle. Since we grew up in town, we didn’t have cows of our own. Instead she let us raise and show rabbits (lots of rabbits … probably more than city ordinance would have allowed). Still, it taught us responsibility in caring for animals. As we got older, one brother showed cattle and the rest of us showed sheep (all were housed at friends’ farms). Every step of the way, she was there beside us, supporting us and serving as an example of how to care for and respect the animals.
She taught us to do everything to the fullest, even the dreaded 4-H record books. She would never do it for us, but she’d sit next to us as we pounded away on the typewriter filling out the forms and writing stories about our projects. I’m certain it was much in the same way her father did for her.

This Mother’s Day, I thank my mom for the lessons she has taught me – the lessons that stemmed from her rural upbringing. Happy Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lessons From Our Rural Moms Part 2

I'm not sure what it is about a mom that makes her so extraordinary. Maybe it is her ability to seemingly effortlessly pull off amazing feats of organization or that look she can give you from clear across a crowded room that lets you know you should knock.  it.  off.  right.  now. Or, perhaps it is the magic her kisses possess to make all of the ouchies go away. Whatever it is, I can tell you there is something special about the women we are lucky enough to call mom. For the next couple of days, in honor of Mother's Day, we will share a few stories about rural moms, because I'm sure you will all agree, rural moms have a completely different set of challenges to conquer!

My mom wasn’t raised on a ranch, so after my parents got married, not only did she have to learn what it meant to be a rancher’s wife, but also what it meant to be a rancher.  She worked side by side with my dad at almost every odd job in the book, including milk testing cows – in eastern Montana, so they could realize their dream of supporting their family on the ranch.  She threw everything into learning the ins and outs of every aspect of ranching, and it is safe to say that we all know that things wouldn’t run nearly as smoothly without her, especially when it comes to the ranch record keeping. 

One of my favorite memories of growing up was when my mom, and couple other moms (who I over 20 year’s later still consider my “second moms”) took on the task of coaching my 4-H livestock judging team, which was made up of myself and 3 other 12-13 year old girls.  Frustrated with our inability to give reasons on a set of yearling bulls without blushing and dissolving into fits of nervous giggles, the moms had us standing in the middle of the yard yelling, “Testicle! Testicle! Testicle!” at the top our lungs!  Needless to say, I got over the fear of giving that set of reasons fairly quickly and still share a laugh about it nearly every time I happen to run into another member of my former judging team.

Thirty-seven years later, my mom is still my dad’s number 1 ranch-hand.  A couple of months ago I was being interviewed for a newspaper article that was going to be written about our family operation.  The gal that was writing the article was asking me whose job it was to do various tasks on the ranch, and I found myself repeating my mom’s name over and over.  From submitting data to the American Simmental Association, to paying the bills, to pulling the records together for the bull sale catalog and coordinating all of the advertising - my mom is truly the one who keeps the ranch running behind the scenes.  On the rare occasion that my sister, brother and I are all back at the ranch at the same time she usually takes on, what I consider, the toughest job of them all, wrangling five grandchildren ranging in ages from nine years to 18 months.  She does it with grace and patience, eager to teach them the ways of the ranch.  My 9 year old, Grace, is always eager to help, but still intimidated by the cows, but my mom is always there to guide her, keeping a watchful eye as Grace records weaning weights or mixes vaccines.  And when my 5 year old, Harper, is caught inscribing the number of her favorite calf, 661, on the door of the brand-new sale barn with permanent marker, she takes it all in stride.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and all the other farm and ranch moms out there!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Lessons From Our Rural Moms Part 1

I'm not sure what it is about a mom that makes her so extraordinary. Maybe it is her ability to seemingly effortlessly pull off amazing feats of organization or that look she can give you from clear across a crowded room that lets you know you should knock.  it.  off.  right.  now. Or, perhaps it is the magic her kisses possess to make all of the ouchies go away. Whatever it is, I can tell you there is something special about the women we are lucky enough to call mom. For the next couple of days, in honor of Mother's Day, we will share a few stories about rural moms, because I'm sure you will all agree, rural moms have a completely different set of challenges to conquer!

Farm Mom (noun): jack-of-all-trades, keeper of all things, multi-tasker, marathon runner

While growing up, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Remember those forms you’d have to fill out for school that asked for your parents’ occupations? She wrote Farm Mom in that field and would comment, “I wonder if anyone reads these things.”

At the time I never appreciated all the things she did. Somehow she managed to keep the home fires burning while my dad traveled quite a bit for his job. In addition to keeping things running on our beef farm, she was a member of community groups, church committees and helped with school activities. Like a marathon runner, she could dash outside, do chores and be done just in time to change her clothes, pause momentarily to ask ‘Does my hair smell like the barn?’ before running a kid to town for some evening extracurricular activity. She could fly around her kitchen and whip together a well-rounded meal better than any mom I knew. And if you were that kid she ran to town earlier, she’d most likely remember to come pick you up!

She taught me many life lessons but here’s a few I wanted to share:

  › You can do anything you set your mind to
  › Quitting isn’t an option
  › Wearing nail polish in the show ring isn’t appropriate (I’m not sure where she came up with this one?)

  › Be respectful, kind and courteous to everyone because you never know where you might run across them later in life
  › She [attempted] to teach me how to cook one meal each summer, although I’m still not a good cook.

Today, as a mom myself, I aspire to be just like her. To keep the home fires burning while my husband travels, be respectful to everyone I meet and make sure my hair doesn’t smell too much like the barn!

Here's my mom participating in Mom Showmanship (circa 1993) and it doesn't appear she was wearing nail polish. Practicing what she preached!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Selecting Recipients for Embryo Transfer

For commercial dairies looking to increase herd progress and improve their overall bottom line or purebred operations striving to produce the next great cow or bull, embryo transfer (ET) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) programs are becoming increasingly common. Technologies, such as donor aspiration and IVF lab techniques, are contributing to the popularity of ET and IVF programs among many types of operations.

To establish an effective and efficient ET or IVF program, a dairy’s management team must consider both the donors and the embryo recipients. Selection and care of elite genetic merit donor animals is critical for obvious reasons, but the selection and maintenance of recipients has significant implications too. Selecting recipient animals based on health, genetics and fertility – and maintaining
optimal conditions throughout the pregnancy – results in more high genetic merit calves on the ground.

Consider these factors when selecting and caring for embryo recipients:

Health. The basics of a healthy recipient are like that of the donor; she must be reproductively and
nutritionally sound. Heifers serving as recipients should have reached puberty, have a sound reproductive tract and have exhibited a first heat. Ideally, cows should have calved without any problems and be free of ovarian cysts, metritis or other issues. As a general rule, recipient candidates should be on a good nutritional plane and have proper body condition to support a healthy pregnancy.

Genetics. The genetics of the recipient animal have often been disregarded since she is “only carrying the embryo.” Donors are selected based on their high genetic merit, but those same traits are not applicable to recipients. Instead, it is important to consider traits which might contribute to getting the most calves on the ground.

When looking at a group of lower genetic merit animals as potential recipients, the dairy management team should sort those animals by traits that can contribute to conception and calving rate. A reliable Daughter Stillbirth (DSB) and Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) evaluation can more accurately determine which animals should be used to carry embryos of high genetic value with the most success.

Fertility. Numerous studies show conception rates in dairy cattle are typically higher when heifers
are used as recipients versus cows. This is true for several reasons. First, heifers do not have the lactational stress cows do, particularly first lactation cows which are transitioning for the first time and still growing to reach their mature size. Also, heifers typically have less reproductive issues such
as cysts or infections from a hard calving. However, using only heifers as recipients is usually not practical or viable either, and cows can make perfectly acceptable recipients.

Consider this scenario. Many dairies are genomic testing their females, and often cull older, low genetic merit cows in favor of younger, high genomic animals. Still, these older cows typically produce quite a bit more milk than their 2-year-old counterparts. In this scenario, it can make sense to use older, lower genetic merit cows as recipients. By serving as an embryo recipient, the cow gives birth to a valuable calf and remains in the herd contributing significant pounds of milk. When selecting which older cows should serve as recipients, DPR and DSB are again the traits on which to sort them.

In conclusion, as ET and IVF continues to become more common in strategic breeding programs, strive to use healthy heifers or lower-ranking cows with desirable DPR and DSB values to carry high value pregnancies. Higher genetic merit females can then be used as donors or bred with more valuable semen. Ultimately, the genetic progress made through ET and IVF can lead to profitable future generations and dollars in the producer’s pocket.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Award Winners

This year's GENEX Excellence in Genetics & Reproduction Award Winners represent six states; several are repeat winners, and for some, this is their first time on the list. However, they all know about the commitment it takes to maintain an efficient reproduction program. Here are the winners and a few of the things they have in common.

For more on each individual platinum-winning farm, check out our Horizons Dairy Edition, pages 27 through 31.

Friday, April 14, 2017

GENEX Jersey April Sire Summary Highlights

It was an exciting proof run for GENEX as our Jerseys captured 14 of the top 25 spots on both the genomic Cheese Merit $ and genomic JPI™ lists!

New Sires

1JE00966 FUTURE {3} leads the new releases. He debuts with an impressive +208 JPI™ and tops our Cheese Merit (CM$) list at +733. An early Marlo son out of an impressive Marvel dam, FUTURE {3} is an elite Combined Fat & Protein (CFP) sire at +125, carrying positive percentages for both Fat and Protein as well. He will also add daughter fertility with a +0.5 Daughter Pregnancy Rate (DPR) and elite udders with a +29.4 JUI™. His full brother, 1JE00962 DEGROM {3}, was also activated. He transmits elite production and impressive udders. He comes in at +697 CM$, +194 JPI™ and +27.0 JUI™. With positive component percentages, DEGROM {3} adds production profit (+114 CFP) and also longevity (+7.4 Productive Life).
Dam of FUTURE {3} and DEGROM {3}: Faria Brothers Marvel Messi {4}, VG-84%
1JE0967 FRANKY {4} is a Harris out of an Aztec that adds elite component yield at +80 Fat and +54 Protein for a +134 CFP. He is +632 CM$ and +172 JPI™. Use FRANKY to also improve milk quality with his low +2.77 Somatic Cell Score (SCS).
1JE00967 FRANKY {4}

1JE00961 FRODO {3} joined the lineup at +173 JPI™ and just over +600 CM$. A VANDRELL out of a Very Good Galvanize, FRODO {3} adds balanced production at +1189 Milk and +120 CFP. He will be ideal to use in the heifer pens with a +2.6 Heifer Conception Rate (HCR).

1JE00956 RUTH {3} is a production powerhouse. This Harris son tops the production list at +1951 Milk and an impressive +144 CFP. RUTH {3} is +578 CM$ and +176 JPI™. He will also improve udders with a +15.7 JUI™. Note RUTH {3} is JH1C.
1JE00965 RUTH {3}

1JE00958 NICO {5}, another Harris son, provides a balanced genetic profile for production and type. He is +175 JPI™ and +573 CM$ with +118 CFP. NICO {5} also improves udders (+18.5 JUI™), longevity (+4.7 Productive Life) and milk quality (+2.82 SCS).

1JE00968 INTEL {3} another VANDRELL son, earns a spot in the lineup at +164 JPI™ and +561 CM$. He is +108 CFP and adds fluid production at nearly +1400 Milk. With a +0.7 Cow Conception Rate and a +2.0 HCR, INTEL {3} should add some fertility to any breeding program. Note INTEL {3} is JH1C.
1JE00968 INTEL {3}

1JE00937 BIRDMAN {3} rounds out the new releases. This Harris out of a Renegade is another elite production sire. BIRDMAN {3} is +146 JPI™ and +509 CM$ with +1650 Milk and +121 CFP.
1JE00937 BIRDMAN {3}
Other Highlights

Continuing her elite genetic stamp, JX Faria Brothers Action Dean Smith {1}, EX-92 family members remain at the top of the elite lists. 1JE00892 VANDRELL {2} maintains his elite CM$ yield at +713 and is our highest JPI™ sire at +217. From the same maternal line as VANDRELL {2} is 1JE00922 RONALDO {3}. He posts our highest CFP value at +153 and is +206 JPI™ and +696 CM$