Friday, February 17, 2017

It’s Calving Season

All the hard work and dedication you have put in throughout the last nine months is about to pay off – it’s calving season!

Let’s turn back the calendar to late spring 2016 when you started going through calving records and bloodlines to find the perfect mating for your heifers and cows. You started virgin heifers on a nutritional program to prepare them to conceive, calve and catch up with the rest of the group. Next, you focused on the second calvers so they were prepared to breed back and get established into the program (which we all know is a challenge in itself). All this preparation eventually led to A.I. day, and since then you have patiently waited for calving season.

The moments leading up to calving season mean you must brave the cold, windy and possibly damp conditions. More importantly, the cattle need to be properly cared for in these conditions to ensure a successful survival rate throughout winter. The nights get long and sleep becomes few and far between. Checking the cattle every second or third hour on the clock can take a toll on your body. Although your mind and body grows weary during this time of year, seeing the results of hard work and dedication hit the ground is more rewarding than one can explain.

Seeing first calf heifers become mothers for the first time, and watching second calvers begin to establish themselves within the herd, is remarkable. Seeing that calf hit the ground wet, full of life and vigor, makes you appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature. It is that moment you remember why you love what you do and wouldn't change it for the world.

Do you have any #calvingseason17 stories? What are you seeing in GENEX progeny? We would love to hear about it.

Author Colten Muir is an Independent Contractor for GENEX. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

This Farm Has No Love for Valentine's Day

It was a typical cold winter day in Wisconsin, but the events that took place on our farm the afternoon of February 14, 2002, were anything but ordinary. Our farm’s main operator, my Mother-in-law, Juli, was in the process of letting cows in for the night milking. A first-calf heifer wasn’t as eager as the rest to come in, so Juli was going out to fetch her. When Juli was several steps out of the barn, she caught a glimpse of the herd bull coming at her. In that split second, Juli was able to make it to the gate, but not before the bull had hit her several times. Adrenaline and sheer muscle allowed Juli to pull herself over the gate, but her broken body now lie on the snow and ice. Thankfully, my Father-in-law came home from work about 15 to 30 minutes after the attack and found her. Juli was rushed to the hospital where she underwent several surgeries. She still has scars and aches and pains as a result of the incident, but we can rejoice that she is still with us as we approach the 15-year anniversary of that day. We now look at Valentine’s Day a whole new way. It is a day we remember how precious life is, and how quickly everything can change.  

I grew up on a farm that exclusively bred artificially, so when I met my husband, and heard this story, I tried to understand the reasons behind a herd bull. Now, working for GENEX, I understand it even less. I am thrilled to be working in the agriculture industry and passionate about A.I. and how it allows farmers:

› Safety. (Refer to the above story, enough said.)

› Maximized Reproductive Performance. By utilizing bulls with known high fertility levels, you can improve conception rates and those of future generations as well

› Improved Herd Genetics. Lifetime Net Merit $, calculated by the USDA, measures the net profit over the lifetime of a bull’s average daughter. USDA comparisons show daughter-proven active A.I. bulls average a $254 LNM advantage over non-A.I. bulls averaging -51. Genomic-tested active A.I. bulls average a $496 LNM advantage over non-A.I. bulls.*

› Improved Production. The USDA calculates milk production in pounds, reflecting the expected milk production of each bull’s future mature daughters. USDA comparisons show daughter-proven active A.I. bulls average a 709 lb advantage over non-A.I. bulls. Genomic-proven active A.I. bulls average a 1,049 lb advantage over non- A.I. bulls.*

I know, I know, you are saying, but it is more work without a bull; they can detect heat better. With today’s synchronization protocols and/or cow monitoring systems, heat detection is relatively easy.
There is a cost advantage to having a bull, you say. Is there really? Plug your numbers into this worksheet to determine some of the hidden costs of bull breeding.

So this Valentine’s Day, do your herd, your checkbook and your family a huge favor and switch to artificial insemination.

 *According to the USDA AIPL Summary of April 2015 Evaluations (

Monday, February 6, 2017

Top 10 Reasons to be a GENEX delegate

The third week of January is often characterized by blowing snow and frigid temps, but in most cases, that doesn’t stop GENEX delegates from convening in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the cooperative’s annual meeting. This year, delegates from 26 states made the trek. For repeat visitors, the annual meeting is a time to catch up with fellow producers and GENEX management. For new delegates, it’s an opportunity to really learn more about the inner workings of the co-op.

Much more than a meeting. While “annual meeting” may sound like a bore, the GENEX meeting is so much more! In addition to the business meeting and evening entertainment, the event includes educational opportunities. This year the co-op held five breakout sessions featuring 11 topics for delegates to gain cooperative or farm management insight. Topics ranged from cybersecurity to beef in Brazil and from research updates to the beef lineup and the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index. Time and time again, these breakout sessions are a fan favorite. This year was no different. Here’s what a few delegates had to say:

Delegates attend breakout sessions at the annual meeting
Your reasons. How does a GENEX member get the opportunity to attend the annual meeting? First, you must self-nominate to be a delegate. Then the members in your local membership district cast their vote on who should be a delegate. If you are elected, you are invited (and expected) to attend the annual meeting in January and an input meeting in the fall.

Why would you want to become a delegate and attend the annual meeting? Here’s the Top 10 reasons, as shared by delegates at this year’s GENEX annual meeting

   10. Gets you away from the farm or ranch and that daily routine!
    9. A chance to meet producers from across the country.
    8. It’s a matter of give and take (contribute to the co-op and learn).
    7. It’s a family affair – My family’s been members of co-ops since the 1920s.
    6. GENEX is the best show in town, and we want to keep it that way!
    5. Delegate input keeps the organization healthy.
    4. Reuniting with fellow delegates that I only see once a year.
    3. Cooperatives educate their delegates and members. 
    2. Find out the inside-scoop on the new happenings at GENEX.
    1. We got voted in!

If becoming a delegate and attending the annual meeting interests you, watch for your next opportunity to self-nominate. In the meantime, here's some additional highlights from this year's annual meeting: