Friday, October 19, 2018

Don’t Leave it to Chance - Use a Planned Approach

Strategic breeding plans are becoming more common among commercial herds. Producers are considering their future goals and breeding different groups of animals to certain types of semen to create the most profitable breeding plan. Beef semen and conventional and sexed dairy semen are among the options. Before leaping into a strategic breeding plan, however, it’s important to strategize so the results better meet the goals.

Think and Act Strategically
Developing a strategic breeding program involves critical thinking. It’s about examining the options, conducting the research and gaining insight before making decisions. For this purpose, GENEX developed the Calf Math℠ program. This program has been available for a decade but is perhaps even more applicable today than it was during its 2008 debut.

The Calf Math℠ program, available through consultation with a GENEX representative, enables producers to see the impact breeding strategies (or strategy changes) can have on future animal inventories, herd genetic improvement and farm financials. This information helps producers decide which semen products to use and how much of each are needed to achieve herd goals and maximize farm profits.

What more is in it for producers? The Calf Math℠ program provides many benefits:

1. An evaluation of the dairy’s current breeding program success, replacement numbers and opportunities.

2. Analysis of where changes can improve profitability in an efficient and cost-effective program as well as customization based on future expansion or growth plans.

3. Return on reproductive investment through genetic-based improvement of herd performance.

4. Real-time savings through “right-sizing” the replacement heifer inventory.

A simple version of the program is available online. Herd-specific inventory, conception and event data can be entered to test breeding strategy ideas and to get updated projections. This online version does not include the genetic value or financial impact projections. Contact a local GENEX representative or call 888.333.1783 for the more in-depth analysis.

Working in Concert
The Calf Math℠ and Sort-Gate℠ programs complement each other. While the Calf Math℠ program helps producers determine how many replacements are needed, the Sort-Gate℠ program helps identify which animals to get replacements from and which animals to breed for other purposes (or not at all).

Through the Sort-Gate℠ program, GENEX consultants rank each cow, heifer or calf based on genomic data, pedigree information and/or on-farm performance data. Once ranked on an index that best meets the herd’s needs – i.e., a customized index or an industry index – the females can be sorted for different breeding purposes. For instance, the female may be bred with beef semen to produce a beef x dairy cross calf or to high genetic merit GenChoice™ sexed semen to produce a valuable replacement.

While the Calf Math℠ program helps define the destination, the Sort-Gate℠ program helps determine the roadmap to get there.

The Next Step
Dairy producers have experience in choosing high genetic merit dairy bulls to sire the next generation of replacements, but what about experience in choosing beef sires to create ideal cross calves that are of value to beef processors? That’s where the new GENEX Beef x Dairy (BxD) program and sire catalog can be of benefit.

The BxD program pinpoints the most relevant beef breeds and sire options to use on dairy animals. The program features Limousin, Angus and Simmental/SimAngus™ sires, as these breeds meet the needs of dairy producers looking to make a profit through beef x dairy breeding. Each of these breeds has the ability to produce feeder calves that are homozygous polled and homozygous black for coat color. The designated sires also have the elite EPD rankings end-processors require, as well as calving ease and fertility which are a must for commercial dairy producers. Based on current market conditions, end-processor needs and commercial dairy producer desires, the BxD sires check all the boxes.

Keep in mind beef x dairy animals are terminal crosses, so no emphasis is placed on maternal beef traits.

Turning Vision into Reality
After the goals are developed, the destination defined, the roadmap developed and the sires chosen, it’s time to make sure the breeding protocols are clear and, for best results, meticulously followed. This is the way to formulate a planned approach instead of leaving the future to chance. This is the way to use the Calf Math℠, Sort-Gate℠ and Beef x Dairy programs in concert to bring even greater precision to a strategic breeding program.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Internship of a Lifetime

The following is a excerpt from GENEX Beef Intern, Anna Whitt's article which appeared in the September Horizons Beef Edition.

Never would I have imagined the opportunity to travel out west for a summer, much less participate and become more educated on what I truly care about: breeding cattle and all the factors that go with it. However, being the GENEX Beef Intern gave me that opportunity and more.

Coming from a smaller, 40-head black Angus herd in Spring Hill, Tennessee, I never realized how different things are out west! The fast pace, hard work, dedication and care for cattle that goes into artificial insemination (A.I.) breeding projects is more than I ever imagined. Additionally, knowing synchronization protocols and bull EPDs are major factors that create the desired genetics producers want in their herds.

Throughout the internship, I was often asked, “What’s your favorite place you’ve been so far?” I can honestly say I didn’t have a favorite. I saw mountains, valleys, hills and canyons. I was around all ages, sizes and breeds of cattle. One thing was certain, though: I met so many wonderful people along the way who share a love for cattle.

As the saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” This statement couldn’t be any more accurate for the GENEX teams I worked with during my internship. Everyone cared not only about their quality of work, but also the relationships with producers they built along the way.


This internship was the experience of a lifetime. I was able to further my knowledge, skills and hands-on experiences in something I am truly passionate about. After helping breed over 4,000 head, traveling over 6,000 miles and visiting eight states, I’d say GENEX has provided this ole homebody Tennessee girl with the perfect start to pursuing her dreams. And, I couldn’t be more thankful or blessed!

Watch for details of this spring's internship coming soon, and find your experience of a lifetime.

Friday, October 5, 2018

GENEX Herd Consultancy Introduced Internationally

Herd management consultancy is a relatively new concept outside of the U.S. GENEX has begun to bring this successful practice to Europe and Latin America, with the hire of two Progressive Herd Consultants, to better serve our customers.

David Ellis, GENEX Progressive Herd Consultant in Europe, recently wrote about his experiences. “We listen intently to the farms’ potential areas of opportunity, helping to find solutions to improve productivity and proficiency,” he said. “Every farm is treated on an individual basis, understanding the farmer’s needs and preferences is of paramount importance when suggesting possible management changes and solutions. We need protocols and targets in place to help optimize cow performance, while keeping a lid on costs.”

A success story David shares occurred on a farm in Germany that had transition issues. Cows were not milking well, and they had low conception rates until about 100 days in milk. Fresh cows appeared to have sunken eyes with poor rumen fill and a high number of retained placentas. After a thorough examination of every aspect of the current management strategy, David presented several suggestions for changing the transition/fresh cow management protocols. At a return visit six months later, he saw marked improvement. Second lactation and greater cows were peaking at 42 liters instead of 30, and the herd owner was extremely happy with how they were transitioning. Implemented changes also resulted in an increased conception rate of 21% from days 50-69 and pregnancy rates increased from 15% to 20%.

Oftentimes, an extra set of trained eyes is all it takes to identify areas where small changes can lead to large improvements. Ask your GENEX representative about herd management consultancy.  We are committed to being the industry-leading supplier of science-based cattle genetics and customized reproductive solutions. We are committed to earning your trust each and every day.